Courtesy Reuters

Korea and the Emerging Asian Power Balance

Even before the Nixon Doctrine was enunciated in the summer of 1969, the international power alignments in East Asia had already been undergoing a fundamental change. The phenomenal growth of Japanese industrial might was clearly making itself felt throughout the world. The polite Japanese did not have to force themselves to be querulous in compelling the world to sit up and take notice of this new Asian industrial state. Their economy was enough of a "miracle" to attract everyone's attention. Indeed, they did everything in their power to belittle their own economic achievement. It was the prodigious yearly jump in their international trade surplus which advertised their truly embarrassing riches almost against their wish.

It is an interesting fact of world history that this conclusive demonstration of explosive Japanese economic power has coincided in the United States with the budding mood of self-doubt caused largely by its inability to win a decisive military victory in Vietnam.

The changing international power configuration affecting Asia, however, was not entirely due to Japan's remarkable economic growth, nor was it wholly explainable in terms of the relative decline of American economic and military power. To be sure, the principal damage inflicted upon the United States by the Vietnamese war was economic. The deteriorating balance of international trade and the domestic inflation has been among the most significant liabilities of the frustrating war in Indochina. But the Vietnamese war was destined to have a much wider significance than the economic difficulty for the United States. It signified in essence the end of the cold war. The United States suddenly discovered itself deprived of the loyal support of most of its allies for the first time since 1945. The cold war, which had been characterized by bipolar power alignments with strong intra-bloc cohesion, was definitely coming to an end by the time the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war was reaching its climax.

The fact that most of the West European allies not only refused to coöperate

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