Tuesday, February 15, 2005

SET II: Asia is Smaller Than You May Think

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In 1989, Japanese politician and arrogantuer Ishihara Shintaro wrote a book entitled "The Japan That Can Say No", based on the premise that Western Supremacy in all things was coming to a close, and that Asian powers were coming to their deserved prominence. At that time, there was reason for his optimism: Asian stocks were booming, American military might was increasingly seen as irrelevant, especially now that the threat from the Soviet Union was dissipating (the Asians seemed to assume this was more an act of nature than from any American action or plan), and new alliances of Asian nations seemed poised to start the next Millennium as the Pacific Century. That same year, Francis Fukuyama wrote an essay in The National Interest about the waning of Western influence. The essay became a best-selling book in 1992, entitled "The End of History". But it was already obsolete by the time it reached the shelves of bookstores.

The crash of the Nippon Stock Market, the wave of earthquakes and natural disasters in the Pacific in the past decade, as well as crises in North Korea, Burma, the Yellow Sea, and the uncertainty of the PRC intentions, all contributed to the failure of Asia to grasp its vision, but there is a more fundamental cause and problem to observe: Asia, for all its potential, remains unable to cooperate honestly in financial ventures beyond the very short term, unwilling to commit to the reforms to establish viable infrastructures for business and science, and cannot its people enough to commit to essential political reform. As a consequence. each nation is able to advance only marginally, by the strength of whatever national resources it possesses, while consigning itself to pursuit of the established leaders in medicine, science, technology, business, and of course, military operations. In any one of these venues, the United States has more operations in progress than all Asian nations combined.

As we move forward, it appears to me that the Bush Administration, however subtly, has arranged things to move even more towards American Leadership. No, they won't like us. But they will follow us.

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