Friday, April 30, 2010

Why East Asia and Not Africa

East Asian tigers were bolstered through US policy as a buffer to contain Communism.

As Hung Ho-Fung writes:

As Communist China’s support for guerrillas and its involvement in the Korean and Vietnam wars had led the region into a permanent state of emergency, and Washington regarded East Asia as the most vulnerable link in its strategy for containing Communism. Considering its key Asian allies—Japan and the four Tigers—too important to fail, it provided them with abundant financial and military aid to jump-start and direct industrial growth, while also keeping American and European markets wide open to Asian manufactured goods. This access to Western markets constituted a further advantage that other developing countries did not enjoy, and without which it is unimaginable that the Asian economies would have had such success. Viewed in this light, the rapid economic growth of East Asia was far from a ‘miracle’.

East Asia is no longer important in this way and priorities have changed.

Washington needs doors open for US products and respect for the so-called intellectual property rights of US companies. Countries that do this will prosper as 'Head Servants'; countries that don't will face isolation. This is Japan's choice at the moment, and South Korea's when it comes to the outstanding issues in the free trade agreement on the table.

In another part of the world, the flip side to the same coin: Israel, which faces a political decision. The US no longer needs it - with the holdout Saddam dispensed - as a counterweight to Arab nationalism and will eventually demand an agreement to the Palestinian issue. This means the ultra-right forces in Israel will have to be tamed or dismantled.

Stereotypes are temporal. As Poland is a crucial hotspot of geo-political friction, the US is now pushing policies that will bolster it in much the same way previously mentioned countries have been over the last half century.

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