Getting Realism: U.S. Asia (and China) Policy Reconceived

True realism about Asia transcends the Bush Administration's narrow focus on geopolitics and China.

Issue: Fall 2002

Seen historically, American grand strategy has tended to be both Eurocentric and oriented toward meeting military threats. Both characteristics are easily understood. It was only for fear of war coming to North America from the Old World, or actually during wartime in the 20th century, that the United States developed strategies for specific regions of the world. Not only was Europe the main source of such concern, but cultural contiguity and a good bit of history, going back to the origins of the American polity, gave Europe pride of place in American thinking. Even today we have an easier confidence in our ability to understand the major factors at play in Europe than we do with regard to Asia. As a result, America's Asia policy seems conceptually less mature and, in practical terms, more fragmented, with individual countries or particular functional issues like trade or weapons proliferation tending to drive policy as a whole.

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