Tuesday, February 2, 2010

236) Power Shift: Asian Dominance

Power Shift: How the West Can Adapt and Thrive in an Asian Century
Ashley J. Tellis
The German Marshall Fund of the United States, January 22, 2010

Without a doubt, the Asian miracle has been owed greatly to the preponderance of power that the United States enjoyed during the postwar period. This dominance created a distinctive international order in Europe and Asia, which allowed the regional states to emerge from the devastation of the Second World War into the success stories that they are today. Although enlightened elites in these countries certainly contributed to this achievement through both their conscious pursuit of growth-maximizing economic strategies and their investment in appropriate national institutions, their effectiveness ultimately derived from the two complementary benefits provided by superior American power—assured security and assured markets—which when synergized had explosive systemic effects.

The United States provided assured security to its Asian and European partners through complex alliances which, despite their differences, delivered certain common dividends: Washington guaranteed the security of its smaller partners and thus enabled them to mitigate the most acute tradeoffs between guns and butter within each country while simultaneously avoiding the destructive security competition that might have otherwise arisen between them. These gains, consequently, permitted the alliances to successfully deter common external threats such as the Soviet Union (and initially China as well).

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