319. Editorial Note
Director of the Policy Planning Staff Richard Solomon discussed “Pacific Development and the New Internationalism” in a March 15, 1988, address before the Pacific Future Conference in Los Angeles. He began his remarks: “We live in a time when for many people the words ‘Pacific’ and ‘future’ are nearly synonymous. The nations of the Pacific rim have grasped the technological and economic trends that are transforming our world. They are the pace-setters of a new internationalism that is reshaping our lives and the world order of the 21st century—now little more than a decade away.
“• The economic dynamism of the Pacific rim is now a crucial source of growth for the global economy. Japan, of course, has led the way and is now an economic superpower with major global responsibilities, as well as our anchor in East Asia.[Page 1461]
“• The new centers of economic power and political influence in the Pacific are steadily moving the world away from the bipolar era of the post-World War II years.
“• The struggle for democracy in the Philippines and South Korea reflects a worldwide surge toward more open politics.
“• And—of particular concern to those of us involved in foreign policy planning—important changes, now underway among the region’s major communist powers, may hold the prospect for a more secure Pacific.
“As the 14th Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff—whose founding fathers were George Kennan and Paul Nitze—I am keenly aware that for nearly three decades our internationalism remained firmly centered on Europe. It was with Europe—through the Bretton Woods agreements, the Marshall Plan, and NATO—that the structure of the postwar international system was created; a system that, four constructive decades later, has brought us to the edge of a new world.
“When the Policy Planning Staff was first established, in the spring of 1947, the Pacific was anything but ‘pacific.’ When Americans faced Asia in those days, they saw the newly victorious communist regime in China, the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean war, and then—in the 1960s and early 1970s—the war in Vietnam.
“Yet, in the past decade, our perspective on the Pacific has changed dramatically: from the challenges of warfare to those of economic competition; from hostile political rivalry to normal relations with former adversaries; from distant countries with esoteric cultures to new partners in a global process of change. We have had to broaden our international outlook to include a dynamic region that increasingly rivals Europe for influence in world affairs.
“Our challenge as Americans is to grasp the essence of the trends that are transforming the Pacific and to balance our relations with the region with our continuing commitments to Europe. America is an island continent that links the two great oceans, and we cannot pursue our Pacific interests at the expense of those across the Atlantic, or vice versa.
“Nothing illustrates this truth better than the recent arms control treaty on eliminating medium and shorter range nuclear missiles. We made it clear in the course of negotiations with the Soviets that we would not sign an agreement which merely shifted the SS–20s from west of the Urals to the east. We could not tell our allies and friends in the Pacific that the price of greater security for Europe must be greater insecurity for Asia. We could not, and we did not. [Page 1462] And we will not do so as we now pursue a much broader arms control agenda, including restraints on strategic and conventional arms, chemical weapons, and the growing global market for high-technology weaponry.”
Solomon then addressed the four challenges the United States faced in its relationships with Pacific powers. These included structural adjustments in a changing global economy, the strengthening of democracy in Pacific nations such as South Korea and the Philippines, regionalism and the linkage of the Pacific to the global economy, and new security challenges aided, in part, by technological innovations. He concluded his remarks, stressing: “So that is the new internationalism—the opportunities and the challenges—as we deal with change in the Pacific and the broader transformation of the international system:
“• An ever-more integrated, high-technology global economy, where rapid growth and the need for restructuring threatens to produce a protectionist backlash against an open trading system;
“• Popular pressures for more open politics and the dangers to fragile democratic institutions from the totalitarian left and the authoritarian right;
“• The erosion of national boundaries through instantaneous electronic communications and through economic forces that are integrating national economies into new regional and global patterns; and
“• The struggle of the communist states to become competitive in a world in which market-oriented economies, the trend toward democracy, and international associations of free nations are leading the way into the 21st century.
“No one should underestimate the potential for disruption as we go through these changes. Yet, we have good reason for confidence about the future. After all, our challenges are those of social progress; of cultural innovation; of growing prosperity and greater security for the United States, its allies, and its friends. The challenges play to our strengths.
“As Secretary Shultz likes to put it, if we face up to our responsibilities as well as our opportunities, it is clear that the democracies of the Pacific rim hold the winning hand.” (Department of State Bulletin, May 1988, pages 33–37)