The Geopolitics of the Asian Crisis

By Gill, Stephen | Monthly Review, March 1999 | Go to article overview

The Geopolitics of the Asian Crisis


Gill, Stephen, Monthly Review


The Chinese character for "crisis" combines the ideas of danger and opportunity. In the span of about one year, a regional economic "miracle," with its promise of continued high economic growth and opportunity for all, was transformed into a severe regional, and potentially global, economic collapse. It has seriously endangered the livelihood of millions of people, causing untold misery and suffering.

The Asian economic crisis has not been simply a matter of movements in the global markets. Geopolitical factors have also been at work. This article will consider the ways in which the crisis has been linked to the reassertion of U.S. strategic power and supremacy in the region, through the increasing internationalization of capital. The East Asian crisis shows how, in the so-called new era of "globalization," there is intense interstate conflict over the form and direction of regional and global patterns of capitalist development. Central to U.S. strategy is the imposition of a specific neoliberal model of restructuring. In the context of recent crises, state-directed and controlled forms of political economy have been, and are being, pressured to liberalize. This general pattern can be identified not only in the recent developments in Asia, but also in the restructuring of Latin America following the debt crisis of the early 1980s, and in strategies to transform the communist-ruled states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Thus, the East Asian crisis represents the third phase of a longer process involving the reassertion of U.S. strategic dominance. So on one level, the crisis is that of an authoritarian state-directed capitalism that blocks a specific type of internationalization of capital. The U.S. aim is a global free enterprise system, which allows large institutional investors and giant transnational corporations to gain greater control over future profit-flows in the region, insuring freer labor markets which can better exploit labor.

This scenario requires governments in the region to continue to act, and actually be able, to maintain political order, because the process of structural adjustment is, and will continue to be, a wrenching one. Whether these governments will succeed remains to be seen. It is in this context - despite the obvious dangers of repression in a region characterized by authoritarian and dictatorial governments - that the crisis is opening up opportunities for new political forces to organize further. It also allows for the possibility of alternative forms of development based, for example, on concepts of human advancement and democratization of the state and the economy.

The "Usual Suspects": Ideology and the Imposition of Neoliberalism

As in the Latin American and Eastern European cases, when crises emerged, there was a debate among the G7 nations (the advanced capitalist countries: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States) about strategic responses. Ideology has played a major part in this debate, which has been dominated by strategists of the liberal approach. I call these strategists the "usual suspects" - as in the phrase from the movie Casablanca, in which the French police inspector would routinely order his policemen to "round up the usual suspects" when a crime had been committed, ostensibly so they would report to the occupying Nazi authorities.(1)

In the debate over East Asian restructuring, there is a lineup of experts who are regularly wheeled out whenever a crisis occurs. At least in the mass media and politics of the West, these usual suspects advocate a liberal framework for the internationalization of capital. They are invariably drawn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve, Wall Street, Ivy League universities, think tanks. mega-corporations, and the governments of North Atlantic nations.(2) All of the usual suspects advocate some form of structural adjustment, although there is some debate about the nature and scope of the role of the IMF in this process. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Geopolitics of the Asian Crisis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.