In This Review

International Security in the Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Region
International Security in the Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Region
Edited by T.B. Millar
University of Queensland Press, 1984, 317 pp.

This is an unusually solid collection of papers derived from a conference held by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University in July 1982. Among several provocative essays, two stand out. Professor Wang Gungwu, a prominent historian, argues that the new commitment to reduce population growth will engage China's energies for a long time to come, require a stable political system with extraordinary powers of social control, and rapid industrialization to ensure a steady and measurable rise in living standards. For this reason he projects an extended period of internal stability and external peace in China.

Equally interesting is Desmond Ball's extremely detailed essay on "The Management of the Superpower Balance." He argues in effect that the Reagan Administration oversold the notion of the "window of vulnerability" and that whatever the size of the "window" it will be no more than "a peep-hole" compared with "the yawning gap" that the Soviet Union will face in its own strategic posture by the end of the 1980s. "[T]he MX force will render vulnerable the whole Soviet ICBM force, the mainstay of [their] posture . . . . Survivability of the Soviet SLBM force will be problematical against projected American ASW capabilities . . . . The thousands of ALCM's and SLCM's programmed for deployment will reduce the Soviet air defense investment to impotence . . . ." Obviously this situation will be highly destabilizing and the author concludes ominously that the discrepancies in the strategic balance together with the lack of meaningful dialogue must increase the risk of conflict.