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America in Asia: Emerging Architecture for a Pacific Community

Courtesy Reuters

In Asia as in Europe we are in the midst of the first transformation of the international system this century that is not the direct result of global conflagration. This rare moment presents us with new possibilities for reshaping international relationships in Asia to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War world.

President Bush's trip to East Asia marks a point in time when disparate historical lines are intersecting: the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor; the end of the U.S.-Soviet confrontation; and the prospect of laying to rest the Vietnam War era. The end of 1991 should see the closing off of several tragic, defining episodes of the American experience in Asia and open a new chapter of U.S. engagement in the region as we approach the 21st century.

I have presented elsewhere the administration's ideas about the new post-Cold War architecture of the Euro-Atlantic community.1 But America's destiny lies no less across the Pacific than the Atlantic. We have fought three major wars over the past half-century in the Asia-Pacific theater. U.S. economic involvement and defense commitments in the region have been-and remain-defining realities. We also have large and growing interests in the human and material development of the region, as well as in its security. Our success in forging a new international system will require sustained engagement in this diverse and dynamic part of the world, just as it does in Europe and the Americas.

The global trends that are reshaping Europe and the Soviet Union have also been at work in the Asia-Pacific region: the bankruptcy of communism as an economic and political system; a movement toward democracy and market-oriented economics; global economic integration of markets for trade, capital and information; and the emerging recognition that transnational challenges in such areas as narcotics, the environment and migration are important components of a comprehensive approach to security. At the same time the dark countertrends that President Bush pointed to in

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