The Asian Century

Former columnist Doug Bandow writes this week in The National Interest

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is off on her first foreign trip, and the destination of Asia is well-chosen. Economic, cultural and political ties with Europe remain strong, but Asia is likely to dominate the future, containing two possible superpowers as well as several other states with growing international influence. American power won’t disappear anytime soon, but the twenty-first century seems likely to be the Asian Century.

More challenging than the destination is the agenda. The Bush administration remained committed to U.S. domination in Asia just like everywhere else. Multiple alliances were to be strengthened, potential adversaries were to be contained, client states were to be defended, U.S. leadership was to be asserted.

But domination will be increasingly hard to maintain. China has started from a low economic and military base and faces enormous social challenges as it develops, but is not inclined to passively accept U.S. hegemony along its border or elsewhere. Helpless dependence on Washington once characterized South Korea and Japan, but nationalism has stirred in both countries, whose interests will increasingly diverge from that of America. India is moving from a south Asian to an Asian power, and, like Beijing, has larger global ambitions.

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