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The lesson to be drawn from recent years is not, then, that the United States should scale back or shun overseas commitments as such, but rather that we must be more discriminating in making and acting upon them. A total US unwillingness to intervene would pull the rug out from under the US-led structure, leaving the international system prey to disorder at the least, and at worst to chaos or dominance by others who could not be counted on to look out for US interests.

We need to focus on making the right interventions, not forswearing them completely. In practice, this means a more substantial focus on East Asia and the serious security challenges there, and less emphasis on the Middle East.