“By More Than Providence” is an overview of U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific region since 1783. Michael J. Green first examines the rise of the U.S. in this arena from independence to Theodore Roosevelt. He then turns his attention to Japan in the first half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and China from 1989 to the present day. The final chapter is an examination of President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia.
COLOMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, Nonfiction.
Green served on President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council until 2006, producing strategic planning documents on the region, and this book combines his academic expertise with a firsthand understanding of the realities of foreign policy and statecraft. When he describes U.S. statecraft in Asia in the decades leading up to WWII as “the worst in the history of American grand strategy,” for example, it has a convincing heft.
Overviews always suffer from the need to keep moving, and Green raises many issues that could benefit from further exploration, but he has a keen eye for a new perspective and his reappraisal of events such as Perry’s arrival in Japan and the diplomatic buildup to Japan’s annexation of Korea are fascinating.
Written in clear, compelling prose, this book is a welcome addition to the subject for both scholars and the casual reader. His central argument that “the United States will not tolerate any other power establishing exclusive hegemonic control over Asia and the Pacific” is one that should give us pause in 2017.