In This Review

Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics
Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics
By William H. Overholt
Cambridge University Press, 2007, 366 pp

The longtime Asia hand Overholt discusses what he thinks is right (especially in China) and wrong (especially in India and Japan) with Asian cultures, politics, elites, and economic and security policies. He mixes personal observation and informed intuition with hard data, often drawn from studies by his colleagues at RAND's Center for Asia Pacific Policy, to show how hawkish nationalists have shaped Japanese security policy and why their efforts will fail, why gradualism is the right path for China and China's rise is good for the United States, why Taiwan's drive for independence is finished, why South Koreans fear the United States more than they fear China, why India will challenge China in the area of security but not economically, and why the East Asian model of developing the economy first and democracy second makes more sense than the opposite path -- the one wrongly championed by American policymakers and political scientists. Always challenging conventional thinking, Overholt zestfully bashes those who have disagreed with him in the past. He thinks Russia's policies are disastrous and that the United States is making a mistake by anchoring its position in Asia so heavily to its relationship with Japan. He would like to see a concert of open economies (China, the United States, and those of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) replace Cold War alignments in Asia, but he sees several major obstacles -- including ossified thinking in Washington -- standing in the way of such a shift.