Asia Society presents; 56
No society at present. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your host on this transcribed series is a noted off around the world winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. Many people feel that we have failed in our policy in Asia. I don't know whether we have failed totally but we don't seem to be noted for our success they had not as yet. Our guest on this program knows a great deal about this because he was born in Japan although he is American. He served as our United States ambassador to Japan from 1961 to 966. At the present time he is university professor and that is about the most Him High important thing you can be at a university. University Professor at Harvard University. His name is Edwin rush hour. Professor Raj Shah is the author of
a number of books but too I'd like to bring to your attention because they are current one is called In Japan the story of a nation. And the other one is called Beyond Vietnam. The United States and Asia now Beslan Russia. Is there nothing that we've done in Asia which we can feel a little contented about. As we model all along the line. Nobody could fail at everything. Well somebody should say we have. Well no I don't think we have a top I think we're in a rather strange mood these days where we assume that everything is wrong that we've done and our motives of always been wrong. I think fundamentally our motives have been a lot more right than wrong but the results often turned out unfortunately. Perhaps in the most important thing in Asia we've done extremely well and that is our relationship with Japan. The American occupation of Japan that helped that band back going in the right direction has helped Japan become the great nation she is there with great hope and. Great
chance to help all of Asia move ahead. That has been fundamentally a successful relationship. Our relationship with the less developed parts of Asia or the less developed parts of the world as a whole have been less satisfactory because I think we've had a fundamental misunderstanding of what the problem was I think we thought of it as being a battleground between ourselves and the Communists namely the Soviet Union and later the Chinese and this was a wrong concept of what the problem was I think the problem is to help the two thirds of the world that are the underprivileged in terms of economic advancement an opportunity today to catch up with the rest of us so that we will have a viable world for all of us. And since we haven't put our attention to that we've not done very well on this grave problem of the development of these vast masses of the world's population. Well many people wonder why aid to Japan was so successful and Japan has come through so magnificently and the rest of Asia has not although I think Taiwan is doing fairly well in South Korea I suppose not suffering too much.
Would you say that it was the success of the people whom we helped which make us look successful and that the failure of other people we have helped make us look like failures and we are taking the blame for something which is not our fault. Yes you might do it that way I think maybe more fundamentally you might say it's easier to help people who have capacities to do a great deal for themselves already. The Japanese for a whole century proved that they had certain qualities certain starting points and made it more possible for them to move forward into the modern industrialized age than other peoples of Asia. And the problem in Japan after the Second World War was quite a different one from the problem of the rest of Asia. It was a problem of restoration of a destroyed advanced economy. It was much more comparable to what happened in Europe where again we met with great success the Marshall Plan and all that was vastly successful. And so those two should be put together as our successful post-war policy is. But when we work towards the less developed countries that had fewer
capacities to move ahead we didn't understand the difference we just thought it was a matter of an easy investment that somehow it would blossom on its own. And we also had our chief attention devoted towards this problem of what we thought was a defense against a communist world so we really weren't thinking so much in terms of development. And that's why we've done so poorly. You mentioned a couple of countries have done relatively well. Taiwan and South Korea. Again this is tied in with Japan that was a part of the Japanese Empire that had a lot higher level to start with that the Second World War than the other ones there. There are other areas that will come along and are coming along very well you might mention Malaysia and Singapore are doing relatively well I think Thailand is doing quite well too. Yes Thailand is the only Asian country that has been independent throughout has managed to escape being taken over or colonized by anyone. Well I except for China and Japan of course and then if you go far enough you get to Iran and so on but it's certainly in Southeast Asia it's only area that's remained free.
And so one can't explain that by something in the people's national character. It's a matter of luck. Do you have a good location. I think in the case of Thailand the distinction between it and let's say Vietnam on the one side and Burma on the other side. And Malaysian Indonesia to the south is probably more geographic location than anything else. But how does one account professor for the enormous success of the Japanese. They were open to the west perhaps before other countries by Commander Perry but what has given them this prominence now actually they're open to the west later than the others. They managed to keep the west out you know your western already fought great wars with China and forced trade treaties on China long before Japan was opened up the west virtually taken over the whole of India. And what and some of Southeast Asia before Japan was up and now here we get back in the deep history. Yeah I get lost in history we don't watch out you have in each of these countries a very distinct unit and there's a danger in the whole
term Asia because an easy way for us to be lazy in our thinking putting everything all these countries together and assuming they're all alike they're quite distinct. And among them are perhaps Japan as the most distinct having had. The most unusual of all histories that is a more isolated country and it happened to go through a full or feudal experience which was very much like the feudal experience of the West and conceivably certain things come out of feudalism. Certain habits of thought and activity and organisation which accidentally proved to be useful in modern industrialization. It's an accident of history. They can't be just a happenstance that the two parts of the world that went through a full futile experience are the two parts of the world that are the advanced industrialized parts of the world namely the western one end of the Eurasian mass in Japan about opposite. Are you saying that feudalism prepared people for a corporate life responsibly so maybe the irregularities of feudalism is because it is a
very irregular and really a very poor system of organization they regularities prepared people for more complexity than the more universally organized empires which had less variation within them. But if we go back to the mistake you feel we've made in helping the less developed countries in Asia that we were more concerned with regarding communism than we were with helping them along lines which you think we should have helped them. If we did not send the military aid and participate as we have what would have happened. Well what would have happened would be probably they would have maintained their independence anyway. How could they have. But if you're being subverted violently and you're being taken over militarily how do you protect protect yourself from it you know. Well we have to distinguish between the different kinds of menaces that exist actually in Korea there was a very different thing that was a very clear cut invasion type of war between two units that by accident of history been sorted out as being completely separate
units both very militarized and so on. So you had something very much more like a less aggression across boundaries if it were to happen in Europe has been a very different thing. It's been largely a matter of internal instability internal subversion that's very different from a formal. Foreign aggression. Actually foreign participation usually has proved to be not very helpful in the situation of internal instability. It gets larger and larger but it's a difference in technique isn't it. But isn't it the same in kind where you're being subverted or attacked across the border or from within. Around You. Won't the result be the same. One of the vast difference here being subverted from within it's your own people this is a matter that's being decided between Vietnamese U.S. or between whoever else it may be. But that does matter doesn't it. How much the people within who are doing this subversion are being helped by an outside agent.
Well help isn't valid keyword so much as control control and actually I think there's no case of control from outside. But North Vietnam is certainly fighting itself you know North Vietnam South Vietnam are the same country and they never got sorted out the way North and South Korea did you see that's where the distinction was the South Korea's fall of the north. I mean South Vietnam's full of North Vietnamese it's full of people whose sympathies lie with the regime on the other side you see and so it's always been basically an internal movement an internal movement that started actually long before that. Post-war period had a running start back on before China becoming a communist state. But South Vietnam is also filled to some extent with people who have left North Vietnam because not that they like South Vietnam better but they certainly don't like North Vietnam. Yeah that's quite true there's that element to it too. You think that if there had been no help on our part for South Vietnam that South Vietnam would have retained its independence if you think it would be won by now and it would be under a
communist kind of government. Well the chances are that if we had never gotten involved there long long ago North and South Vietnam would have been a unified and probably communist state. That's quite true in terms of the Vietnamese interests in our interests that probably was better than what has been produced or has been produced has probably been the ultimate catastrophe for both you and me if you had us and there's very little chance of the present operation producing a healthy South Vietnam that is completely independent of the north. Do you think it's not to our interest at all that Vietnam would have been unified under a communist form of government and that Laos and Thailand. Cambodia all of whom are being attacked on their borders if not internally would also be under a communist form of government. And you think that we could live with that without any difficulty. Well I mean if you're going to put an extreme you know I don't know maybe we all know that Southeast Asian
countries going communist that we the United Nations have obviously of course we could live with it I mean there's no real basic menace to the United States this does not add to the strength of any real enemy of ours. It couldn't be controlled by the Chinese or the Russians it would just be a lot more headaches for both Chinese and Russians if they tried to control it at all without adding a toll of their strength so I don't think we have anything to fear from that. Why do so many people feel that we do because of a complete misreading of history. Oh still it is Russia who is assisting North Vietnam in surprise. So we must be of interest to Russia. Yes but if you if you look just why there is helping North Vietnam largely because they're caught in competition with the Chinese for leadership in the communist world if they were not to help North Vietnam and China and China were to then this would put them in a very bad light in this competition to be world leaders of the Communist movement you say you think that if Russia then is not
in competition with us in Asia but rather with China. Oh I think actually in Southeast Asia certainly they feel themselves much more in competition with China than with us. And from that point of view I'm sure Russians must be very much two minds about the whole thing. They are complete communist success is more likely to be of some value to China than to Russia from this point of view they probably not like to see too much success there on the other hand if they don't help the communist side there they lose out in the world communist movement so they find themselves in a very anomalous position when it seems as if no side can leave Asia alone. Southeast Asia alone and give them what you have suggested in your book Hope on their own terms. But I think we can. I was just noting that we haven't done that and the body has done that as yeah nobody's done it in the past but I think if we were to read history correctly we would see that these countries cannot be controlled from the outside to the benefit of the outsider. It can only be a loss. And this applies not just American supplies the Russians the Chinese to anybody else.
Has anybody learned this lesson yet but we're learning it fast I hope you think so. I would hope start and I think the Russians already know what to certain extent and the Chinese are deadly enough I think know what the Chinese have never put man there. Even though it's right on their borders and they can feel much more menaced by the fact that American troops are so close to them knowing we should feel most menaced about it yet know how to help them has come from China mainland China whatsoever and not not in terms of fighting men in the way if they had of course a lot of you know small arms and other equipment food things of that sort. They've also had labor battalions in there whether they are still there or not I don't know but they have seen us at a supplied some of the labor I think but no fighting man. Well what would be China's motivation in giving this assistance. Oh I think they really very much in fact trying to spread world revolution and they'll help anyone anything that seems to be of this sort they will go on doing this. They've been terribly unsuccessful everywhere. Not many had any success in Africa
when they tried this and their support of communist movements even in a very weak country like Burma I still never led to the collapse of what is probably the weakest regime in the whole world. For a country that size where they got rather involved in it in Indonesia they fell flat on their faces I think the fact that the Chinese were behind a local communist is one of the chief reasons why the communist failed in Indonesia. Here I'm getting around to what you might almost call the reverse domino theory. The fact that the neighboring country that is suspect in one way or another is communist. There's a reason for the country next door to lean away from it. Communism apparently is not popular among Southeast Asian people should know is popular to many groups I'm sure but it has not taken over any country really except North Vietnam and North Korea and I might point out that communism has not spread anywhere that I know of except through military conquest associated with the Second World War. North Korea is communist because the Russian armies came in there just like
just as Eastern Europe is communist because the Russian armies came into the second world war. Well that's that's our point those of us who wonder what would happen if there had been no American military intervention. You may not want communism but if it's forced upon you in Eastern Europe or North Korea North Vietnam you get it. Now if nobody helps the side that doesn't want the communists in the communism is forced. I know what I'm saying and last 25 years it's not move that way one time to try to move that way it was in Korea and it was done quite correctly All right before and it hasn't since and it's been tried through revolutions one big successful one in. China. But that was already written into the cards by 1945 no one could look at China during the latter part of the Second World War without realizing that the going down was something that was going downhill very fast. It would have been I mean I was coming up very fast that was very hard to stop again it was almost the result of the turmoil of the Japanese war had forced upon China. The other place where it has moved has been
Vietnam. But again it started in the turmoil of a world war and a revolutionary movement against colonialism. But you do say about the Russia that without intervention on the part of the United States on behalf of South Vietnam the whole country would be united under a communist IC form of government. Even though South Vietnam might not want it and for that matter maybe North Vietnam doesn't want to live there. But if you asked me and what do you guess will be the situation 10 or 20 years from now I still say it will probably be that. After we've paid these vast prices so we pay those vast prices for nothing. We really think if nothing ever happened if they'd never gotten involved in Vietnam what you mean and these people were being supported by us against the Japanese during the Second World War. All Vietnamese have always cast their history in the light of the menace of the great mass of people to the north of it namely the Chinese who
conquered Vietnam at various times in the rather remote historical past not very recently. But this looms very large in their mind. The man and his government would have had as their chief foreign policy problem insurance that the Chinese did not nominate them for which purpose a friendly America would have been essential. In other words a classic Tito ask position as in Yugoslavia. This is probably going to be the long run result. Anyhow there's going to be much more difficult and several decades delayed because of our unwise involvement in this war. I know many people feel it's unwise but on the other hand and I should press this point too much because there are so many other things to discuss. It's just that you have said that without something to stop it the violence does force communism upon people. I'm repeating what you said it did force in eastern Europe it did force it in Korea and many of us didn't want to see it forced any further than Vietnam
Thailand Laos Cambodia. However when you're saying that we want to give hope to Asian nations on their own terms would you briefly describe what that would be on their own. There was an almost got back to Vietnam itself. Yeah we would. I personally think that communism is not a good model even for less developed countries. An even worse model for advanced countries as anyone can see but for less developed countries it seems to give a quick way to get together and get organized moving ahead. North Korea did better than South Korea right away and so on. But it very quickly runs into blind allies particularly in their desire to organize agriculture a communist way but this is an evitable Brown summit sort of destroys agriculture and less like going to have agricultural surpluses and never get really started on industrialization and other things since an unfortunate way to go. All right. If we want to see a world that is viable we have to help these parts of the world catch up with the rest of us. So you don't have
two thirds of the world of your own self to be seriously underprivileged yet you have to be more powerful because modern power proliferate inevitably. If you're going to help them get ahead we should try to get them away from a rigid communist model. How is it best done by their own development. I think that nominees have more chance of not being a communist country 30 years from now let's say if we had never opposed coaching men in Vietnam I just cooperated with them and let them evolve until they got past that as they could very well have done. If we don't want to have Thailand and other countries go communist The best way to do it is to help them in their economic development that is really about the only thing that would stand against communist takeover. They have hope and some success in what they're doing they are going to be taken over by internal subversion if they don't have much local hope and aren't moving ahead. There's nothing we can do in a military way to keep them from taking over.
Final question. That's Iraq. Why only do we have the notion in this world that all countries can reach an equal stage of development. Why do we think that if one country has developed far and has a great deal of money if he gives country too money to a lesser developed country that will bring that lesser developed country up to the same level. What hasn't worked. No are we really naive about it you know in the early post-war years. I think largely because a misreading of the Japanese model Japan to become a nation state and organize decided to move ahead and did brilliantly that assumption therefore was that any country that then becomes independent as a German nation will do what the Japanese did NOT a much more complicated thing that it takes many generations and you often have to have the educational preparations and other kinds of preparation before you can really begin to have significant motion forward. And so it takes a lot longer than we assumed in this post-war period has everybody been so disappointed because they had false dreams.
But if you look at history over the long run history has a process of people catching up with each other. That's nine tenths of what history yes. If that weren't the case we'd be way behind the Chinese today because a thousand years ago. The West Europe was a very backward place compared to China. Meantime we've caught up in many things and went ahead in many ways is nice no doubt about it but the parts of the world that are considerably behind technologically today will someday catch up and fortunate enough to catch up awfully fast without oversimplifying it which I know I am. Doesn't it come down very much to a matter of geography. Can a country in an impossible zone in a tropical zone ever catch up to a country in a temperate zone. It's harder because a certain habits of life in the tropics that fit in less well with modern industrialized society. But of course you don't have to be as controlled by the climate today as we once were. It will take longer because you have these
long habits of life under in heat which is very different from light inside as I can imagine in development it's such a long one. It's a long one. Yes. About it you have such a realistic way of approaching these problems that I must say one must respect and admire your thinking. Professor rush I thank you very much for being part of our series and to tell our guests that you have had the privilege of listening to Edwin Rochelle a university professor at Harvard University now formally our ambassador to Japan serving from 61 to 66. To read his books I'd like you to know about one is called Beyond Vietnam. The United States and Asia and the other one Japan. The story of a nation. Thank you very much and goodbye. But concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. The series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you
can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents.
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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