The idea that the U.S. needs to extricate itself from the greater Middle East to get serious about the Indo-Pacific has a natural appeal. It is also not new. The Obama administration similarly justified its withdrawal from Iraq as part of a pivot to Asia.
Yet as details of the Biden administration’s post-withdrawal strategy for Afghanistan emerge, its benefits for American competitiveness against Beijing look nebulous. In fact, the U.S. departure from Kabul could end up undermining, rather than strengthening, America’s strategic hand against China.