U.S. President Joe Biden welcoming leaders from the U.S.- Pacific Island Country Summit, Washington, D.C., September 2022
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In its policies toward Asia, the United States has long sought to reconcile its unsurpassed military, economic, and rule-setting prowess with a desire for stability. Until recently, this was not hard to accomplish. Washington’s international dominance coincided with the post-1979 “Asian peace”—a period of remarkable stability in East Asia and the Pacific—and so the United States had little trouble holding sway over the region without provoking any conflicts. Over time, Washington even came to believe that U.S. supremacy and regional tranquility could not just coexist but were causally related. As a result, U.S. policymakers made

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