Since the start of the war in Ukraine, as the United States began devoting significant amounts of military and diplomatic resources to helping Kyiv defend itself against Russian aggression, some analysts have argued that the effort would undermine Washington’s ability to counter China. Once again, they lamented, the postponed “pivot to Asia” was being preempted by a crisis in a “legacy region” of U.S. strategic focus, diverting scarce resources needed in the Indo-Pacific region to Europe.
In fact, the reverse is true. Washington’s increasingly hawkish posture toward China, particularly with regard to trade policy, is more likely to undermine assistance to Ukraine as well as U.S. alliances in Europe and Asia.
Those alliances, and the U.S. global security role in which they are embedded, were always only a means to an end: at first to defend the market-based economies of Europe and Asia against Soviet encroachment during the Cold War, and later to expand and secure what has come to be known as the liberal international order. But Washington is now abandoning one of the central pillars of that order: the commitment to open markets in which governments interfere as little as possible with free competition, including for foreign trade partners.