How the U.S. Learned to Stop Worrying About the Pacific and Love the ‘Indo-Pacific’

US President Donald Trump (R) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens to members of the families who have had relatives abducted by North Korea, during a meeting at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 27, 2019. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States has a new lens for its rivalry with China.

FP – By Jack DetschForeign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter.

JULY 30, 2021, 12:24 PM

In early 2017, U.S. and Japanese strategists were poring over maps on the top floor of the U.S. State Department. Satoshi Suzuki, a Japanese official, and Brian Hook, his U.S. counterpart, zoomed in on almost every touch point in Asia: the honeymoon between then-newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the emergence of India, and a potential flare-up on the Korean Peninsula. And then Suzuki widened the lens.

The Japanese side presented a series of maps, labeled “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” Suzuki told Hook that Tokyo wanted to radically redraw the geography of the region, from the north-south orientation of the World War II era focused on the first and second island chains of the western Pacific Ocean to a two-ocean strategy that envisioned Japanese policy in Asia stretching to India and even as far as the Persian Gulf.



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