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Soon after the American Revolution, the United States began to recognize the strategic significance of Asia and the Pacific and its vast material and cultural resources. Many asked whether the United States should partner with China, which operates at the center of Asia, or Japan, which is located in the middle of the Pacific. Where should the United States draw its defensive line, and how should it export democratic principles? In a history that spans the eighteenth century to the present, Michael J. Green follows the development of U.S. policy toward East Asia, identifying recurring themes in American statecraft that reflect the evolving nation’s political philosophy and material realities.
Drawing on archives, interviews, and his own experience in the Pentagon and White House, Green finds one overarching concern driving U.S. policy toward East Asia: a fear felt by Americans that a rival power might use the Pacific to isolate and threaten the United States and prevent the ocean from becoming a conduit for the westward free flow of trade, values, and forward defense. By More Than Providence works through these problems from the perspective of history’s major strategists and statesmen, from Thomas Jefferson to Alfred Thayer Mahan and Henry Kissinger. It records the fate of their ideas as they collided with the realities of the Far East and adds clarity to America’s stakes in the region, especially when compared with those of Europe and the Middle East.