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 Maverick economist Ravi Batra now has geostrategic counterparts. At any rate, Friedman (Political Science/Dickinson College) and LeBard make a persuasive case for the startling proposition that the US and Japan are on a collision course leading to war within a generation. In an exegesis all the more chilling for its understated scholarship and wide-angle perspectives, they predict, not a namby-pamby struggle for advantage in trade relations, but an honest-to-goodness shoot- out. In brief, the authors argue that the end of the 45-year cold war has ushered in a dangerous new era, one in which America no longer needs the island nation as a buffer against the threat of Soviet aggression. With the Socialist Bloc in disarray, the US is free to embrace protectionism and embargo Japanese imports, they point out, noting as well that free trade has always been more of a political tactic than a bedrock principle for Washington. Friedman and LeBard also document how a resource-hungry Japan without American sponsorship would face any number of knotty problems and hard choices. For example, its storied but debt- burdened enterprises must claim growing shares of export markets simply to stay current with loan obligations. Since Japan's domestic economy cannot sustain both an above-average savings rate (the sine qua non of capital expansion) and high consumption, the authors foresee an inevitable return to its military and imperial roots, i.e., as top gun in a revivified Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Having gone regional as well (along with Europe) in the meantime, however, the US (which has traditionally viewed the Pacific Basin as a mare nostrum) would in all likelihood feel obliged to meet this perceived challenge with force. Despite the best of intentions on both sides, Friedman and LeBard believe ``a long, miserable cold war'' is the only probable alternative to armed conflict. Beyond its arresting conclusions, then, a thoughtful and thought-provoking what-if audit of the price of dominion. The test has a wealth of tabular material and mapsnot seen.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05836-5
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991


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