ASIA-BASHING A Cultural Oldprop
American diplomacy and propaganda long have been frustrated by Asian cultural barriers. In Japan, the impasses have been brought about by the de facto management of the economy by bureaucracies, the protectionism that shapes trade policies, and uniquely cultural approaches to the negotiation of differences. In China the barriers include an intense trading and political culture that is obsessed with hegemony. Both cultures profess openness, but each practices a political, economic, and cultural hegemony.
Our relationship with Japan has been likened structurally to a three-legged stool -- one military, one political, and the other economic -- but the legs are held together precariously. Presidents Reagan and Bush stressed the military and political dimensions of the Japan relationship and sought to gain economic concessions by a newprop of accommodation, but Perot and Clinton pursued an oldprop that insisted that this agenda had sold out America.
Clinton vowed to place economic relationships first, and when Japan delayed a long-standing agreement to trade commercial technology for U.S. military technology Clinton retaliated by pushing U.S. commercial efforts in that field. The Japanese cultural shield had evoked a retaliatory oldprop of the deed, and that tendency conitinued. 1