Clinton Team Must Awaken to Pacific Rim

By Perlmutter, Amos | Insight on the News, July 19, 1993 | Go to article overview

Clinton Team Must Awaken to Pacific Rim


Perlmutter, Amos, Insight on the News


While the United States and Europe dither falteringly in the hopeless quagmire of Bosnia and the disintegrating former Yugoslavia, the shadow of an imposing new potential economic and military colossus rises in the East.

The power of the Pacific Rim -- that is, Japan, China, Taiwan, the Koreas, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and even India and Pakistan -- is expanding enormously and promises to be perhaps the decisive power in the early 21st century. This is occurring with negligible influence and participation from the Clinton administration, the tepid foreign policy energies of which have been wasted elsewhere.

By the time the 21st century rolls around, Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan will have become the largest economic and military powers east of Russia and Europe. Consider for a moment that Taiwan's gross national product is $100 billion, Japan's runs into the trillions, and South Korea is catching up to Japan. By 1995 there will be about 3,000 fighters and bombers held among Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea. The missile and submarine arsenals of the former Soviet Union and East Germany are moving eastward.

China, with its capacity for slave and cheap labor, will swamp the European and American markets at a rate that will make Japan's growth seem snaillike. The modernization of China under its party patrimony resembles that of a totalitarian state, much like Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union in the early 1950s, which was also militarily and economically aggressive and ambitious. The difference is that Chinese communism is evolving into party-family-capitalist-corporative-type rule. It is a system characterized by a slave economy at home and ruthless competition abroad.

The Clinton administration's exercise of foreign policy is so wafer-thin, negligible and unimaginative that it's very likely that the East Asian Pacific system's rise to prominence and perhaps dominance will take place without the benefit of American participation, influence and leverage. We still possess the power to direct this surging regional and international system in the direction of a Western-style market capitalism and democracy, but time is running out quicker than we know.

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