As the Clinton Administration prepares for a potential trade war with Japan, historian McGlothlen—drawing on interviews with contemporaries of former secretary of state Dean Acheson (Dean Rusk and Paul Nitze among them) and quoting from original policy memoranda—outlines in detail the evolution of US policy toward Japan's trading partners. First as undersecretary of state and later as secretary under Truman, Acheson, says McGlothlen, viewed America's Asia policy not as one of containment but rather as an essential element of Japan's postwar recovery. Japan was the ``workshop'' of Asia, dependent upon the other countries of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere—Korea, China, Taiwan, and Indochina- -for raw materials such as oil, iron, and coal, as well as for food to feed its growing population. Only by rebuilding Japan's delicate balance of trade with its Asian neighbors could the US ensure its control over ``every wave in the Pacific Ocean'' and continue to expand its own trade in the region while protecting itself from the drain of the collapsed Japanese economy. Acheson sought Japan's economic and political security by revising reparations obligations, replacing the US military economic staff, and negotiating a final, less burdensome, peace treaty. But these efforts, McGlothlen argues, brought about more than Japan's stability: They also drew the US into conflicts in South Korea (which provided much of the food for Japan) and in Vietnam (which, as China turned Communist, became an important export market). And Taiwan became an Asian linchpin as well, dominating Japan's trade routes. It's ironic, McGlothlen notes, that Japan's economy—rebuilt at great American expense—has risen up to challenge the US trade dominance that Acheson's plans were designed to protect. A provocative and—given our concern about an imbalance of trade with Japan—unusually relevant examination.
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