Back to the Water's Edge? Historicizing Current American Security Policies in the Asia-Pacific

Asia Center Seminar, Fall 2021

Speaker: Mesrob Vartavarian, Fellow, Harvard University Asia Center


Vincenzo Bollettino, Director, Program on Resilient Communities, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University

Aki Nakai, Policy Innovations Fellow, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University

Chair/Moderator: James Robson, James C. Kralik, and Yunli Lou Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Harvard College Professor; Victor and William Fung Director, Asia Center, Harvard University

Co-sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center; Korea Institute; Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

Presented online via Zoom webinar on November 16, 2021

Abstract: The recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised a host of questions regarding America’s future strategic direction and geopolitical policies. By all indications, President Biden’s hard pivot to Asia signals a rapid redistribution of strategic power to rimland Asia geared toward containing Chinese expansion. In certain respects, American strategy is reverting to where it stood during the early Cold War. Yet, administration officials must now factor in a radically altered regional context. This lecture argues that the Biden administration can potentially succeed in curbing China’s revisionist aspirations if it takes the needs and distinct historical trajectories of America’s Asia-Pacific alliance partners into account. It uses Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippines as case studies.

Harvard University's Asia-Related Resources