By David Hutt February 18, 2022
Withdrawing from Europe and the Middle East to focus on the Indo-Pacific would be a misstep for Washington.
On February 21, 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon set off on his secret visit to Beijing, ending Washington’s 25 years of no open communication with China. Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the trip, and reflections on the event’s importance are ever more prescient today. According to some, the lesson from 1972 is that grand geopolitical battles are difficult to fight across two fronts (a superpower “truel,” if you like).
By making friends with China, not only did Washington remove Beijing as a rival, but it also widened the divisions between the Chinese and the Soviets, the so-called “Sino-Soviet split.” Washington wanted to engineer a Sino-Soviet split so as to better extricate itself from the Vietnam War, and from other conflicts in Southeast Asia, such as the Cambodian civil war. Where would the United States intervene after 1972? The Middle East, the Caribbean and, in the late 1990s, the Balkans. Not, indeed, in Asia. One might argue that it was a mistake for the U.S. to “leave” Southeast Asia in the 1970s, a period thereafter marked by “benign neglect,” and that President Barack Obama’s “pivot” back to Asia in the early 2010s was a correction to that mistake.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE : The Indo-Pacific Should Not Command All of US Attention – The Diplomat