Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics (英語) ペーパーバック – 2008/1/31
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American security and prosperity now depend on Asia. William H. Overholt offers an iconoclastic analysis of developments in each major Asian country, Asian international relations, and US foreign policy. Drawing on decades of political and business experience, he argues that obsolete Cold War attitudes tie the US increasingly to an otherwise isolated Japan and obscure the reality that a US-Chinese bicondominium now manages most Asian issues. Military priorities risk polarizing the region unnecessarily, weaken the economic relationships that engendered American preeminence, and ironically enhance Chinese influence. As a result, US influence in Asia is declining. Overholt disputes the argument that democracy promotion will lead to superior development and peace, and forecasts a new era in which Asian geopolitics could take a drastically different shape. Covering Japan, China, Russia, Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Korea, and South-East Asia, Overholt offers invaluable insights for scholars, policy-makers, business people, and general readers.
'A sweeping tour d'horizon of Asia's profoundly changing geopolitical landscape, presented with zest and bold judgments. An important and timely dissection of the implications of the ongoing eastward shift in the world's center of gravity.' Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States
'Deng Xiaoping is right; Gorbachev is wrong. Which American dared to say this when they were in office? Bill Overholt. In this volume, Bill Overholt continues his tradition of challenging Western conventional wisdom on Asia. As he says 'old ideas burn themselves into the minds and can be excised only by some searing experience'. If his book is read by critical policymakers, the world may well be spared a 'searing experience' in handling the inevitable rise of Asia.' Kishore Mahbubani Dean, author of Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World
'Overholt draws on decades of diverse experiences throughout Asia to provide a book profuse with fresh perspectives on its changing geopolitics. This will be must reading for both specialists and generalists.' T. J. Pempel, University of California, Berkeley
'This work analyzes Asia in its broadest dimensions - economic, political, and strategic. It then applies its findings to implications for American foreign policy, and concludes with a survey of possible future scenarios for Asia and the U.S. While the reader may differ with the author on certain interpretations, the study provides an unprecedented opportunity to reexamine Asia's past and present, and to explore its future as well as that of the United States.' Professor Robert A. Scalapino, Robson Research Professor of Government Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
'Mr. Overholt also presents perceptive and … provocative assessments of Southeast Asia, South Asia.' Far Eastern Economic Review
'… Overholt offers a comprehensive survey of trends in Asia and arrives at a set of possible scenarios for future developments. …' The Royal Society for Asian Affairs
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Overholt brings a long and successful career of working with Asian and US diplomats and corporations to his masterful analysis of the history, present, and likely future of the geopolitics of the East vs. West discussion. His thoughtful explication is both highly informed and informative AND intellectually satisfying. With Mahbubani, you left the book feeling like you'd been beaten up, but not enlightened. With Overholt, the detailed and highly perceptive explanations -- based on years of high-level experience in China and Japan -- are given. Overholt's writing is clear, concise, and keeps your attention throughout. He also supplies ample footnotes and references to specific conversations, correspondence, and public statements that underpin his explanations.
He is best when discussing northeast and southeast Asia -- specifically, China and Japan, where he spent much of his professional career. Within these subjects, he is profoundly insightful. He is equally trenchant when discussing the Asian Tigers and their ASEAN neighbours. His treatments of India, south Asia, and Russia are much more on the order of short surveys, but still very helpful. And his final discussions of what America can and should do about its out-of-date Cold War diplomacy is excellent.
Overholt's book contains everything that Mahbubani's book lacks, including hard facts and penetrating analysis.
Happy New Year! From Bo-Woong CHANG.
Perception #1 - ASEAN countries perceive the U.S. with its relatively strong economy, personal freedoms, strong military (for security), and Democratic government as a more appealing partner than China - Mostly Inaccurate: The first ASEAN summit purposefully excluded the U.S. According to the author, the meeting symbolized an attempt by the ASEAN members to distance themselves from the U.S.
Because China opened its markets faster than the U.S. or Japan it has become the primary source for ASEAN's increased wealth and global stature. "Given China's rising influence relative to Japan and the unpopular U.S. shift toward emphasis on military power and democratization at the expense of its earlier focus on economic development and regional institution-building, these trends severely weakened U.S. influence in Pacific Asia." However, to counterbalance China the members still want the U.S. in the region.
Perception #2 - Continued cold war perception - National stability, peace and economic development can only be achieved by Democratic countries with interdependent economies and not by countries with other forms of government" - Inaccurate: The order of the U.S. Cold War strategic priorities was first to aid in the development of targeted countries' economic revitalization; then to leverage the military to protect the process; with democratization desirable but consigned to third place. The order and implementation of those strategic priorities "transformed Asia and changed world history."
Several countries (i.e. South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore) gradually moved toward and successfully achieved democracy but only after a period of development under authoritarianism. Economic development led to an increased population of middle-class citizens whose higher levels of education and increased economic and political power enabled them to demand and achieve more freedom which led to a successful transition to democracy. Also, the higher standard of living in countries with vigorous and growing economies reduced the power of fanaticism and further stabilized the countries.
Perception #3 - China is a threat to stability in Southeast Asia and U.S. economic prosperity - Potentially: Deng Xiaoping, former leader of the Communist Party of China, followed Taiwan and South Korea's examples of economic reforms and reduced the military budget to less than three percent GDP. The Chinese leader also replaced support for subversive efforts in neighboring countries with support for neighboring country stability. Also, the terms of land boundary disputes China negotiated were agreeable to all parties involved, with Nepal being the exception. China has, as previously mentioned, supported ASEAN without being a member of the state and has opened its markets far more than has Japan. Rather than destabilizing the region China seems to be stabilizing and encouraging its continued development.
The U.S. plays a key role in the stability of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military bases in Japan protected the Japanese so they could invest in building their economy but the U.S. presence also prevented Japan from re-arming which protected and reassured other Asian countries so they too could invest in their economic development. However, if Japan re-arms it may upset the balance of power in Asia resulting in increased tension and potentially a diversion of funds from economic to military development which could have a domino effect on the global economy and security as alliances become reshuffled.
Finally, the book was logically arranged and the chapters could stand on alone so if a reader is interested in a specific topic she/he could read the chapters out of order. Although, there was some unnecessary duplication, overall the analysis was exceptional. This book would benefit anyone preparing to conduct business in Asia to be sensitized to how and why American citizens and the U.S. government are perceived by the local citizenry.
Overholt provides analysis on the countries in Asia individually and on how their individual and shared history create the dynamics of the region as a whole today. I enjoyed the depth of analysis on China and Japan, how they're power struggle for hegemony affect decisions they, the smaller countries in the region, and the regional organizations (e.g. ASEAN) make. I also appreciated the assessments of the smaller countries such as Vietnam and South Korea.
The book was logically arranged and the chapters could stand on their own so if a reader is interested in a specific topic she/he could read the chapters out of order.
The possible future scenarios were tantalizing and have some predictions in common with predictions in George Freidman's book, "The Next 100 Years."
There was some duplication of explanations that may not have been necessary, but overall the analysis of Asia was exceptional. This book would benefit anyone preparing to conduct business in Asia to understand how American citizens and the U.S. government are perceived by the local citizenry in general.