THE WIDENING GULF: Asian Nationalism and American Policy by Selig S. Harrison

THE WIDENING GULF: Asian Nationalism and American Policy

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Consistent American underestimation of Asian nationalism and its perception largely in European terms, Harrison contends, precluded a realistic assessment of the potentials for an American role in Asia, contributed to a misjudgment of the possibilities for the Sino-soviet split, and brought the US to the brink of total isolation in the continent. Harrison posits the primacy of nationalism over communism in Asia. In countries where the two are fused (China, Vietnam) the combination is unbeatable. Elsewhere, where non-communist leaders seized the nationalist mantle and tapped popular strivings for equity with the West (India, Indonesia), or where nationalism developed before communism (Japan) or was neutralized by it (Korea), communism has either been kept at bay or had to be imposed from outside, and by force (Korea). In the latter case, well dissected here, a stalemate developed between North and South (unlike in Vietnam) since the nationalist credentials of both were tarnished. Harrison urges the US to accommodate itself to the prospect of a Korean unification (or confederation) and to realize that Asian nationalism sharply circumscribes American foreign policy in the continent; global US interests can be protected equally well from bases in Guam and Hawaii. The work concludes with a series of policy-proposals (only mildly controversial in the post-Vietnam era) aimed at soothing Asian sensitivities and contributing to the peaceful evolution of the region. Though his main thesis is hardly new, Harrison, a former Washington Post Asian correspondent now with the Carnegie Endowment, has produced a useful study, fully documented and up-to-date.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan