American Security Policy in the Pacific Rim1

  • Harry Harding
Part of the Issues in International Security book series (IIS)


The present strategic environment in the Pacific Rim consists of four interconnected elements, which have emerged at various times since the end of World War II. These four elements, which will continue to shape the East Asian scene throughout the 1990s, include:
  • The regional disputes in Korea, the Taiwan Straits, and Indochina, in which the United States has had an interest since the late 1940s and early 1950s, but in which the American role is gradually becoming less central and less direct.

  • The rise of the Soviet Union as a significant military power in East Asia in the mid 1960s, followed first by the creation of a loose anti-Soviet united front in the 1970s and then by the moderation of Soviet policy in the region under Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid 1980s.

  • The economic dynamism that spread across most of the region in the 1970s and 1980s, producing greater interdependence and competition and raising economic issues to higher prominence on both domestic and international agendas.

  • The gradual emergence, beginning in the 1980s and continuing into the next century, of a number of significant independent regional powers, including China, India, and Indonesia, and the resulting pressures toward a more multipolar balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.


Korean Peninsula Taiwan Strait Soviet Policy Economic Dynamism American Force 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    This essay was prepared for delivery as a lecture on December 9, 1988, and was slightly revised and expanded for inclusion in this volume. It draws, in part, on two of the author’s previous essays on American relations with East Asia: Harry Harding, “The American Strategy in the Far East,” in Kjeld Erik Brodsgaard, East Asian Security and Foreign Policy in the 1980s, Copenhagen Papers in East and Southeast Asian Studies, no. 2/88 (Copenhagen: Center for East and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, 1988), pp. 81–97; and Harry Harding and Edward J. Lincoln, “The East Asian Laboratory,” in John D. Steinbruner, ed., Restructuring American Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1988), pp. 185–220.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the Vladivostok speech, see Moscow Television, July 28, 1986, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report: Soviet Union, July 29, 1986, pp. R1-R20; for the Krasnoyarsk address, see TASS, September 17, 1988; for Gorbachev’s speech in Beijing, see Moscow Television, May 17, 1989, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report: China, May 18, 1989, pp. 12–18.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The New York Times, February 16, 1990.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gaston J. Sigur and Richard L. Armitage, “To Play in Asia, Moscow Has to Pay,” The New York Times, October 2, 1988.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Harding
    • 1
  1. 1.The Brookings InstitutionUSA

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