Why Colby’s strategy of denial is aggression packaged as ‘management’, responsiblestatecraft.org

Daniel Larison, contributing editor at Antiwar.com and former senior editor at The American Conservative magazine.

Elbridge Colby’s “The Strategy of Denial” is a carefully argued, methodical book, but a key part of its thesis would commit the United States to overextension in East Asia that would be dangerous for U.S. and allied interests.

Colby lays out a reasonable case that U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East are not as important and not as threatened as those in East Asia. He also acknowledges that the U.S. has too many commitments in these other regions, and he proposes reducing or ending at least some of these commitments in order to direct U.S. resources and attention to East Asia. All of this makes sense to advocates of foreign policy restraint. In some respects, Colby is making arguments about Europe and the Middle East that restrainers have been making for years. […]

While it is true that the U.S. and the Soviet Union managed to avoid a conflict that might have escalated to a nuclear exchange, the near-misses during the Cold War hardly inspire confidence that the U.S. and China could actually go to war without significant risk of nuclear escalation. The U.S. never tried setting its defense perimeter so that it included territory that the USSR claimed as its own. Doing this with China introduces a new variable into the equation, and we shouldn’t assume that a fight over Taiwan wouldn’t turn into something much more dangerous. Even a limited, non-nuclear war with China would still be very costly and would likely incur greater losses than the U.S. has suffered in any conflict since Vietnam, and that is a risky gamble that U.S. strategy in East Asia should be actively seeking to avoid. Läs artikel