Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Where does the US hedge its bets in Asia?

Historically, it’s been Japan.

William Overholt of the RAND Corporation argues that the US stabilized Asia very effectively by developing and allying with Japan post World War II. But is Japan still the safest bet? On this, he is doubtful. Read Observing Japan‘s excellent review of Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics.

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Tobias Harris writes:

“With the prime ministers of Japan and Australia, the US secretary of defense (and other defense ministers in the region), and the Republican presidential candidate issuing statements on the future of Asia over the past month, it has been a fascinating time to ponder the shape of the region over the coming years, especially as the US transitions into the post-Bush era.

“William Overholt, director of the RAND Corporation’s Center for Asia Pacific Policy, has produced an indispensable contribution to that discussion in Asia, America, and The Transformation of Geopolitics.

“In this book, Mr. Overholt examines the transition from the post-cold war to the post-post-cold war period in Asia. He has a clear purpose in doing so: Mr. Overholt thinks that the US did an extraordinary job winning the cold war in Asia by contributing to the development of Japan, South Korea, and countries in Southeast Asia (putting development before democracy), and using its alliance with Japan to stifle Sino-Japanese antagonism (defending Japan from China, while restraining Japan to ease Chinese fears). He fears that the US insufficiently appreciates the scale of its achievement in Asia — the creation of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Asia — and risks blundering down the road that leads to war and ruin for the region because of misguided fears of China. The result is a thoroughly researched polemic, one that may not sit well with American policymakers (or Japanese policymakers, for that matter).”

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