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Research Report

The Power of Balance:: America in iAsia

Kurt M. Campbell
Nirav Patel
Vikram J. Singh
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2008
Pages: 100

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-4)
  3. (pp. 5-8)
  4. (pp. 9-12)

    Several years ago, during a meeting in the Office of the Asia-Pacific Directorate at the Pentagon, a distinguished group of Japanese strategists were meeting with American officials to discuss the pressing challenges of the day. The able Japanese interpreter positioned between the two sides tried gamely to keep up with the fast-flowing conversation. One Japanese participant was referring frequently to the “balance of power” between the greater players of the Pacific, but the phrase kept being (mis)interpreted as the “power of balance.” Asia is the source of both ancient wisdoms, often cited, but also the occasional inadvertent insight such as...

  5. (pp. 13-24)

    From Japan to India to Australia, Asia — more than any other part of the globe — is defined by opportunity. Asia is home to more than half the world’s population. Democracy continues to spread beyond the traditional outposts in India, Japan, and South Korea. And the region is now an engine of the global economy. Politically and economically, Asians are shaping a world that is ever more integrated. New regional forums are reshaping cooperation and fostering deeper ties. Some are governmental, like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the East Asia Summit, and some are more focused...

  6. (pp. 25-57)

    Unlike in Europe, where the end of the Cold War forced an immediate re-imagining of political and military realities, Asia seemed largely unchanged by the fall of the Soviet Union. Thanks to the intransigence of North Korea, few Americans doubted the rationale for maintaining alliances and forward military deployments in Japan and Korea. The health of these alliances, dealing with North Korea, and China’s growth as a military power and a potential military adversary against Taiwan have been and continue to be the bedrock of American policy in Asia.

    Manufacturing went global in unprecedented ways and the levels of growth...

  7. (pp. 59-94)

    When American strategists look at their interface with iAsia, the threats and challenges described above loom large. A host of proverbial viruses, worms, malware, and spyware could crash the emerging iAsia system: a hostile and unstable nuclear North Korea, a rising and potentially hegemonic China, a South Asian flashpoint, and transnational Islamist terrorism in Southeast Asia. Asian strategists see these challenges as well, often more acutely due to their proximity. But amidst it all, Asia’s strategists see opportunities to be seized or squandered in iAsia and worry about security dilemmas that could be prompted by American miscalculation. The threat-versus-opportunity bifurcation...

  8. (pp. 95-96)

    This is, indeed, the first time in the nation’s history that foreign policymakers have had to cope with two vexing and dissimilar challenges — the rise of China and violent Islamist extremism — simultaneously. While it is true that during World War II the United States fought on two fronts in the Atlantic and Pacific against two very different foes — Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan — the military power employed to defeat the Axis was largely fungible and the tactics employed on each front were similar, adjusting for the inevitable variations of geography, climate, and terrain. Then, during the...

  9. (pp. 97-98)