In Asia, the American-led regional order is over — Meet the new landlord

Peace and Freedom

AT THE time, the events in Indochina of April and May 1975 seemed to mark in the starkest way the end of a period of unchallenged American hegemony in Asia and the Pacific. Cambodia fell to the brutal Khmers Rouges, South Vietnam was absorbed by the North and communists took power in Laos. Famous pictures of an evacuation by helicopter from the American embassy roof in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) captured the apocalyptic mood: the humbling of the superpower, in bedraggled retreat from Asia. Yet, 40 years later, as Vietnam marks the anniversary of unification, America’s defeat in Vietnam looks in retrospect no more than a blip in a prolonged Pax Americana. Only now is the durability of the American-led regional order being seriously questioned.


Jonathan Schell, an American journalist who covered the Vietnam war, wrote that what had led America to…

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