Should the United States maintain its commitment to Taiwan, or should it consider disengaging in order to accommodate China? Shyu-tu Lee and Douglas Paal both argue that alliance with Taipei remains in Washington's interest. Not so, writes Charles Glaser.
Christendom, Europe, or, more broadly, the Western world is customarily balanced with the Orient, the East, or more narrowly, Asia. This equation, however, is a false one. While the various lands of the West do in fact share a common historical tradition and in many cases similar cultural traits, Asia is divided into major cultural traditions as far removed from one another as from the West. There are vast psychological and cultural gulfs between the Arabic-Islamic world of West Asia and North Africa, the Hindu-Buddhist civilization of India and Southeast Asia, and the Sinic world of East Asia. But within each of these major cultural units there do exist psychological and cultural bonds in some ways comparable to those that unite the countries of the West. This article explores the nature and strength of these bonds among the countries of East Asia-that is, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam-and the degree to which these affect their present political and strategic relations with one another and with countries outside this cultural grouping.
The war in Viet Nam has for so long dominated our field of vision that it has distorted our picture of Asia. A small country on the rim of the continent has filled the screen of our minds; but it does not fill the map. Sometimes dramatically, but more often quietly, the rest of Asia has been undergoing a profound, an exciting and on balance an extraordinarily promising transformation. One key to this transformation is the emergence of Asian regionalism; another is the development of a number of the Asian economies; another is gathering disaffection with all the old isms that have so long imprisoned so many minds and so many governments. By and large the non-communist Asian governments are looking for solutions that work, rather than solutions that fit a preconceived set of doctrines and dogmas.