Social Scientist. v 12, no. 138 (Nov 1984) p. 57.

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United States and the Asia»Pacific Region in 1980s

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA came into the picture of world politics much .before the Second World War. Interestingly, in the 19th century itself serious debates took place in the American Congress regarding the vital importance of sea-lanes all over the world which would be instrumental in serving the interests of the United States, and the need to control them. But the turning point for the U S was the Second World War which enabled it to arrogate to itself the leadership of the "free world".

The American involvement in the Asia-Pacific region can be traced back to the 19th century when the United States defeated Spain in 1898 and annexed the strategically crucial island, Guam, in the Pacific, and the Philippines in Southeast Asia. It should be noted that the Americans had been at work to safeguard their position in East and Southeast Asia much before the World War II. The U S had started making efforts to secur the rear position in Indochina and Korea long before it abandoned all hopes of propping up Chiang Kai-shek in China. After the World War II, two reasons prompted the U S to intervene militarily in the Asia-Pacific region: firstly, the liberation and formation of the People's Republic of China under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and secondly, the militant nationalist movements against the former metropolitan powers in the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. Looking upon the Asia-Pacific region as the highly vulnerable rearguard of the world capitalist system, and with the aim of protecting this rearguard from falling to the communist system, the United States pitted itself against the aroused nationalism of the Vietnamese people led by the communists.

The "vacuum" created by the defeat of Japan, the necessity of access to the natural resouccs of the region, and the perceived threat of spreading Sino-Soviet influence in the early 1950s—all these factors combined to lend an urgency to the efforts of the United States to entrench itself in East and South-east Asia. In 1971, the control by American-European capital over world mineral resources was: copper 70.9 per cent (10 companies), nickel 74.5 per cent (8 companies)

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