The Wages of Containment: State-Building, American Grand Strategy, and the Cold War in Europe and East Asia by James Lee
September 25, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Event co-organized with the Cambridge University Press Taiwan Studies Series
Author: James Lee (UCSD)
Book abstract: This book examines how the international politics of the Cold War affected the United States’ strategy toward state-building in Europe and East Asia after the Second World War. It focuses on how variation in the perceived severity of Communist security threats affected U.S. policies in three areas of state-building: the economic bureaucracy, the political system, and the labor movement. In Europe, U.S. officials initially considered Communist security threats to be severe; but by the mid-1950s, the prospect of armed aggression or subversion against U.S. allies diminished significantly. As a result, the United States supported relatively weak economic bureaucracies, competitive political systems, and strong labor movements. In East Asia, U.S. officials considered Communist security threats to be severe even into the 1960s because of the continuing fear of subversion. As a result, the United States supported powerful economic bureaucracies, authoritarian political systems, and weak labor movements. These features came to distinguish the East Asian developmental states from the Western European welfare states, so that the United States’ role in the creation of the developmental state can be understood as an attempt to adapt the principles of the Marshall Plan to the different strategic environment in East Asia. The book is structured as a comparative study of U.S. grand strategy in the two regions, with chapters on U.S. policies in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, West Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. It examines how U.S. officials confronted similar strategic problems in Europe and East Asia but evaluated them differently, leading the United States to play different roles in the process of statebuilding.
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