But with dozens of staffers furloughed and logistics for the tour turning into a nightmare, Obama gave in to the inevitable.
Though the trip had offered Obama a chance to show his face before an Asian audience he hopes to convince of the United States’ long-term commitment – and perhaps to meet with Chinese President
Secretary of State
"The president is committed to the pivot of U.S. policy towards Asia, to the rebalancing of our policy around the world towards this important region of the world," White House Press Secretary
Homi Kharas, a senior fellow at the
But he warned: "I think the question is more one of credibility – that credibility, trust and confidence in the U.S. ability to engage on a sustained basis. That's a difficult thing to try to recover once that sense of the guarantee that the U.S. will always be there starts to erode."
The White House announced Thursday that Obama would cancel the trip to Bali, as well as a subsequent stop in Brunei, which is hosting the East Asia Summit on regional political and security issues.
Obama already had decided to cut out two other stops, to Malaysia and the Philippines, as he focused attention on the bruising budget battle with House Republicans that has had much of the federal government at a standstill since Tuesday.
The announcements did not play well in Asia.
"It shows the decline of the United States,'' said Shen Dingli, a professor of American studies at Shanghai's Fudan University. "If they can't pass a budget at home, how can they lead Asia and the world?"