How and why was the course of America's relationship to Asia changed? What are the prospects for detente with the People's Republic of China? How might the new course affect America's economy and her relations with other nations, especially Japan and the USSR?
These questions form the basis of a wide-ranging inquiry held recently at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and recorded in Peace with China? Government officials candidly discuss emerging foreign policies. Former members of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations analyze the political and military realities as they saw them. Finally, critics of America's actions in Asia-including spokemen for New Left and revisionist positions-contribute their viewpoints and alternatives.
The result is a unique scrutiny of the complex processes by which the White House, State Department, and Pentagon devise strategies, as well as a lively but scholarly debate on American options in Asia.
Papers and reactor discussion from an Institute for Policy Studies conference held in September of last year; the 18 participants represent "two functional poles. . . the radical policy critic and the government servant" and include editor Ravenal, Leslie Gelb, Morton Halperin, Richard Falk, Pierre Sprey, Seymour Melman, Richard Kaufman, and Daniel Ellsberg, obviously warming up for l'affaire Pentagon Papers with (then) cryptic references to the "internal record," etc. Most of the heavy thinking centers on trying to make sense out of the amorphous Nixon Doctrine, agreed by the conferees to be the cornerstone of our current Asian policy. About the only concrete conclusion to emerge is that the Doctrine means practically anything Mr. Nixon wants it to - a seemingly weary Ravenal epilogues it like this: "It is difficult to discern what, if anything, it confers on the diverse and sometimes irreconcilable actions that are identified as flowing from it." There are some useful, still pertinent pieces here - for example Melman's polemic on the economic consequences of military disengagement and Falk's skeptical "Never Again?" with a lively follow-up discussion (in which pro-Nixon Gelb declares himself "agnostic, not conservative"). But most of it is high blown, circumvolutory, veiled, excessively qualified musings by men looking through the sinological keyhole because that's the only view available. An examination of the logic of our China policy for those hands who want to feel the quintessential confusion. (Kirkus Reviews)