In This Review

The United States, Japan, and Asia
The United States, Japan, and Asia
Edited by Gerald L. Curtis
W. W. Norton, 1994, 288 pp
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The Strategic Quadrangle: Russia, China, Japan, and the United States in East Asia
The Strategic Quadrangle: Russia, China, Japan, and the United States in East Asia
Edited by Michael Mandelbaum
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1995, 221 pp
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The book edited by Curtis offers eight thoughtful essays, which focus on challenges to U.S. policy in the Pacific and stress the critical importance of U.S.-Japan relations. Particularly important is how the United States and Japan relate to China. Virtually all the contributors agree with Tom McNaugher's conclusion that "the central strategic challenge in East Asia" is coaxing China into a constructive, cooperative regional and global role. Both Akira Iriye and Michel Oksenberg provide the historical background demonstrating the dangers of the United States and Japan going separate ways in dealing with China, as they did in the 1930s. As Oksenberg points out, however, the United States and Japan will have to deal with a China that is "culturally confident but socially undisciplined, economically vibrant but politically messy, huge in size but territorially amorphous."

Despite these difficulties, there is room for cautious optimism. Both the United States and Japan are aware that China will be a difficult partner to deal with in world affairs, and they are both conscious of the need for consultation, dialogue, and a mixture of realism, patience, and firmness.

The book edited by Mandelbaum explores some of the same ground but concentrates on the interactions among the four major powers in the region--Russia, China, Japan, and the United States. The essays in this volume are also of uniformly high quality. Richard Solomon offers a concluding chapter that aptly sums up the situation: "The most promising future one can anticipate for the coming period in East Asia is that of a loose balance of power among the states of the Strategic Quadrangle."