Unification Issues in Asia: Rethinking U.S. Policy

The United States’ strategic policies toward Europe and the regions of Asia—East, South, Southeast, and Central—have often reflected the prevailing cultural ethnocentrism of most Americans, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.  For example, Europe and Asia are routinely defined as separate “continents,” even though they are obviously parts of the same land mass.  Given American concerns about the uncertainties associated with the rise of China as a competitor, Russia’s increased geopolitical assertiveness, and the European Union’s struggle to develop a pan-national identity, there are growing reasons for the United States to pay careful attention to the balance of power among the different parts of what really is a Eurasian continent.  While most Americans are inclined to play their European cards in this strategic game (as they should), a strong argument can be made that the United States should pay more attention to the Asian subregions of the Eurasian continent in order to increase our ability to foster a better balance of power among them.  This will, in turn, enhance the United States’ position in global affairs.

Since the late 19th century, U.S. foreign and defense policies in the Asia-Pacific region have been dominated by American concerns about regional stability and rivalries.  The United States was involved in several major wars—notably, the...

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