Mr. Armitage voiced his worries about the repercussions of the U.S. flirting with temporary isolationism. He argued that this could encourage a certain amount of adventurism from countries like China or North Korea, who could threaten our friends and allies, particularly through “small wobbles developing something large.” However, he also noted, “We may identify China as a potential threat, but we should also assess in real-term how strong and how tall it is. China is not ten-feet tall at all, for the first time in my memory, the leader of China has a bad relationship with the PLA (People’s Liberation Army).”

Mr. Armitage emphasized the need to stand and think “beside” allies rather than from the commanding heights. He states,” We must understand the “tyranny of proximity” these countries face, they live with China like ‘cheek by jowl,’ they don’t have the luxury like the U.S. that has time and space.”

When asked about the role the U.S. wants Tokyo to play in a potential Taiwan contingency, Mr. Armitage stated, “Japan has a clear recognition of the vitality of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait to its interest. However, we are not looking for Japan to get involved militarily, but to support the U.S., if necessary.” In regards to India, Armitage stated, “India has their own neuralgic issues with China and Pakistan. It is their judgement where their interest lies and because of their own necessity and need to get involved .”

When asked about the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts, Armitage said, “I will give his administration a ‘B’. They may score well in aligning with countries like Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, but they manage less well with Southeast Asian countries.” He emphasized the importance of understanding allies’ hopes and aspirations, rather than trying to “win polls.” Furthermore, Armitage argued that the U.S. needs to “put our own house in order before we give sermons to others.”

As the United States grapples with two ongoing wars, Mr. Armitage reflected back on lessons from the Cold War. During that period, the U.S. was simultaneously engaged in struggles with the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Central America, and Africa. He suggests we can do more than one thing at a time if we “enjoy the company of good allies and friends, such as Japan.”

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