Selig S. Harrison and Clyde V. Prestowitz, Jr. ed., _ASIA AFTER THE "MIRACLE": Redefining U.S. Economic and Security Priorities_, Washington, DC: Economic Strategy Institute (distributed by Brookings Institute Press), 1998. 351pp. $22.95 paperback, ISBN 0-8157-3487-5.

by Jing Zhao, Convergys San Jose Multilingual Center

The newest Asian Studies Newsletter’s Viewpoints column issued Ezra Vogel’s essay of U.S. troops in Okinawa. This is unusual. As for the Okinawa case, at least, we can easily list four distinct stances. (1) the Pentagon & Kasumigaseki "staying the course" policy (the so-called Nye Report), as expressed here by Vogel; (2) the "marvelously entertaining" revisionism, represented by Chalmers Johnson and supported by some liberal Japanese elite (such as former PM Hosakawa); (3) Zhongnanhai’s changing attitude, which strategically opposes the U.S.-Japanese military alliance while nonetheless tactically acquiesces status quo; (4) ordinary Asian people’s wish (to which the viewer belongs) against any military development in the area. Will the Newsletter give all of them an equal space?

Though there exist some government-sanctioned "non-government" forums on Asian affairs, from this reviewer’s experience, the best place to exchange and explore such policy-oriented issues, scientifically or scholarly, is the H-NET forum. I encourage colleagues to fully utilize this forum, and book reviews are always a good start for this purpose.

This book under review is welcome. It is the result of a study group on "American Interest in Asia: Economic and Security Priorities," under the co-editors’ co-chairmanship, initialized by the Economic Strategy Institute (ESI) during 1996 and 1997. The study group, "who were qualified to provide authoritative statements of conflicting policy approaches," "brought together a heterogeneous array of specialists representing a broad diversity of experience and the full spectrum of contending views on the most sensitive issues of Asia policy" (Forward, Harrison, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Prestowitz, ESI). It includes three parts: I. Overview: New Priorities for U.S. Asia Policy, II. Recommendations of the Study Group on U.S. Asia Policy, and III. Conflicting Perspectives: U.S. Economic and Security Interests in Asia. Part III includes eight themes and an essay of the background of Asia’s military environment. Each theme has two major papers (though not necessarily conflicting).

The first theme is the impact of U.S.-Asia economic relations on the U.S. economy. Prestowitz proposes a new approach to the Asian market after the 1997 "meltdown." He even suggests "the position of Ambassador to Asia for Economic Affairs should be created." "Only by giving Asia a truly high priority can we ensure that the long-term future of Asia will be healthy and congenial to American interests." (p.99) This stance is supported by 25 other group members, summarized as the first recommendation. Since Asia has completed its "catch up" goal, and the "Made in USA" Asian "miracle" is over, they argue that it is the time for Asian countries to open their markets, trading with the U.S. reciprocally.

The first target is Japan. Being labeled as "Japan bashing," Chalmers Johnson (Japan Policy Research Institute) requests "ending Japan’s protectorate status." He is concerned that "since the American public seems totally resistant to attempts to mobilize it to the changed environment in East Asia and American political elite are devoted to achieving short-term political advantages, it is proper to predict that, ceteris paribus, the situation in East Asia today will continue to evolve toward relations of conflict." (p.123). Shared by most other group members, their recommendation is to restructure the Japanese economy. "The Study Group believes that the United Sates can and should vigorously pursue its economic interests vis-a-vis Japan without detriment to its security interests in Asia." (p.62) "The United Sates should offer to discuss a change in the nature of the U.S. presence… to minimize its negative impact on Sino-U.S. relations and to broaden its political acceptability in Japan." "The United Sates should declare its readiness to turn over all of its bases and facilities to the Japanese Self Defense Forces within an agreed period, such as five years, and to withdraw all American combat forces from these bases, including bases in Okinawa." (p.63).

On another situation (The Daily Yomiuri, March 11, 1999), one Study Group member Steven Clemons (ESI) refuted Vogel’s essay, suggesting overhaul the U.S.-Japanese security framework. Unfortunately however, it seems to the book reviewer that no member realizes what has happened in Japan’s political structure change since the end of the "Cold War" (i.e., since the June 4th Incident in 1989) in East Asia. Japan has been directed toward a militaristic "great power" way, encouraged by the pushes from the U.S. For example, utilizing his Harvard status, Vogel went to Japan to pursue those reluctant former Fairbank Center fellows in the LDP to approve the 1997 defense Guidelines, which was passed last April in Japan’s Congress.

Theme 3 is on U.S. economic and security interests in Korea. William Taylor’s (International Security Affairs of the Center for Strategic and International Studies) view of "strengthening the U.S.-South Korea Alliance" perspective confronts Doug Bandow’s (former Special Assistant for Policy Development to President Reagan) opposite viewpoint of "time for the United States to disengage." Taylor insists on North Korea’s dealing directly with South Korea, however, North Korea’s strategy is more reasonable as long as the U.S.-South Korean joint troops are under the command of the American commander.

The book reviewer agrees that the first step toward a peaceful resolution should be from the U.S., i.e., the U.S. troops’ withdraw from the Peninsula. Moreover, as Bandow points out: "Disengagement should be total—all soldiers, all guarantees. Doing otherwise, following Jimmy Carter’s plan of gradual withdrawal, offers little advantage to the United States since it would remain committed to going to war and maintaining the forces necessary to do so." (pp.164-165). The Study Group recommended to "restructure the South Korean economy," meanwhile, for the security issue, "believes that, as soon as circumstance permit, the United Sates should move to open negotiation with the South on a timetable for the gradual disengagement of U.S. combat forces."(p.66). Rear Adm. Carroll (Center for Defense Information) further indicates that "This change should be made explicit by the elimination of Article 3 of the current Mutual Defense Treaty between the Republic of Korea and the United States, thereby revoking the obligation of the United States to intervene automatically if the ROK is attacked." (p.349). Are there any people in the Pentagon who seriously consider that the North will invade the South?

Themes 4 and 5 are on China and Taiwan. Charles Freeman, Jr. (former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs) and Allen Whiting (University of Arizona) realize that, the Taiwan problem, as the core issue of Sino-American relations, "poses one of the most difficult moral dilemmas U.S. policy faces in the post-Cold War because of its origins and its evolution over time." (p.199) "The current policy of ‘creative ambiguity’ buys time to postpone a final choice." (p.201). The authors here completely avoid the hypercritical pretext of "American values" from anti-communism to "promoting democracy." Carroll suggests "As a means of reducing the military aspect of that relationship, the United States should privately communicate to Taiwan authorities that there will bee no more ‘shows of force’ by U.S. military units during any period of heightened Taiwan-China tensions." (p.347). Though "the Reagan Administration explained to the Congress that the TRA, as the law of the land, would take legal precedence over the communique" (Nicholas Lasater, Brookings Institute, p.213), the Study Group "recommended a determined and unambiguous U.S. posture to forestall a confrontation between Taiwan and China." (p.69).

The Chinese government, as well as its people, would be pleased to know that not all American think tanks can be bought by the Taiwan money: "Such a policy would require implementation of the 1982 ‘Second Shanghai Communique,’ under which the United Sates pledged to phase out gradually its arms sales to Taiwan." (p.70). They also wisely recommend the suspension of the Theater Missile Defense system (p.71-72). The reviewer still remembers the first time when he read such an opinion from Harrison in a 1996 Asahi Shinbum.

The Study Group also recommends that the U.S. encourage China to join WTO, with certain conditions. The issue here is not how China enters the "world" market, but how China allows the strong Western multinationals (especially in banking and financial services, telecommunications) enter China’s market. A widening U.S. trade deficit with China also raises criticism from American side, but this is different from that of Japan: China’s deficit is mainly created by foreign enterprises or joint ventures. Zhu Rongji rightly pointed out this. China is not so eager in this issue; actually, within China, the opposite voice gets stronger and stronger.

On Southeast Asia, idealist Jeffrey Winters (Northwestern University) criticizes America’s "nakedly corporate policy," appealing for a new policy with "concrete action" on such fields as human rights (especially labor’s rights) so other companies outside of Southeast Asia can have a fair right to compete. In the security consideration, here again we see that Asia policy means China policy. James Clad (Georgetown University) suggests that the ASEAN countries "must be prepared for the United States to be equally engaged in the pursuit of its economic interests in the region" if they wish the U.S. to remain a "skillful balancer of China they fear" (p.256).

Theme 7 is on U.S. economic and security interests in South Asia. Since "U.S. commodity trade with all South Asian states in 1996 was only marginally greater than with the Philippines alone," along with the instability in the region, both Paul H. Kreisberg (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) and Geoffrey Kemp (Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom) do not see much significant importance of American interest. However, connected to both the Gulf and Caspian Basin, especially due to the undoubtedly growing importance of "China issue," South Asia (mainly India) has the potential of a new U.S. security equation, thus, balancing U.S. security and economic interests becomes necessary. (The book added a final recommendation of how to bargain with India after India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998.) This is crucial. Besides economic and security factors, do we need consider other human factors such as culture, population aspects in international relations?

The last theme argues U.S. economic and security interests in the next decade in Asia. Contrary to Vogel’s "staying the course" view, Ted Galen Carpenter (Cato Institute) advises a "sustainable strategy," "from intervenor of first resort to balancer of last resort:" "Instead of creating a situation in which the only alternative to a dangerous power vacuum is American’s continuing willingness to be point man in every East Asian crisis, the United States should move toward fostering a reasonably stable balance of power in East Asia," (p.304).

Furthermore, for the sake of "nearly total agreement in Washington that overall U.S. military programs today are excessive and unaffordable" (p.345, the viewer doubts this, though) in Asia, Carroll concludes, "Our great political and economic strengths must form the foundation of U.S. leadership efforts in support of a cooperative world order, not our tanks, troops, bombers, and carriers." Let us hope, at least in Asia, the U.S. would not repeat its policy failures in Iraq or Yugoslavia. As a general conclusion, now the "firewall" between economic and security issues has disappeared, "economic policy IS security policy" (Harrison and Prestowitz, p.9). "To untie the bell," as the Chinese parable advised, "it needs to be done by the one who tied it." In the region of East Asia, ending the Cold War frame can be done by the initiative from the U.S.

While it is not this viewer’s stance to judge which policy best benefits the U.S., such policy studies do really offer new stimulus promoting mutual understandings, especially among various powers with interest confrontations. Policy makers in Washington, as well as concerned American citizens, will find "middle range" policy alternative from this book. Authorities in Beijing and Tokyo will also benefit from this volume by learning the undercurrent discussion of the U.S. Asia policy. For example, the U.S. domestic politics has offered Taiwan an opportunity to use its wealth to influence America public opinion and policy making (such as Lee Teng-hui’s "private" visit), any similar attempt, true or false, always raises the American media’s allegation.

From the U.S. side, rather than utilizing NGO organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy to implement a new interventionism, introducing concerned Asian countries to such opinions expressed in this book is more significant. Without much expository background (as we usually read from inter-disciplinary collections) but emphasizing policy argument, this book also offers an excellent reference for Asian counterparts. Let us expect similar policy discussion from the other side over the Pacific Ocean.

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