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Re: The Decolonization of Europe and Japan?
by Elson Boles
20 February 2002 20:06 UTC
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Steve -

The subject heading of this email, to which I reply, is problematic.  First,
by US "colonization," I refer to US troops, advisors, permanent military
installations, etc. which occupy not only Europe and Japan, but also
numerous semiperipheral and semiperipheral states, and which patrol
international waters.  My reference to a Europe-Japan (China) call for US
"de-colonization" refers to the "retreat" or partial withdrawal of those
troops, installations, and activities.  I didn't have their removal from
Europe or Japan primarily in mind, as those US forces are not the acting
agents in the US racket.  Rather, I had in mind US troops in other places.
It should be pointed out that Europe and Japan would not be alone in seeking
US withdrawal.  In fact, other weak states have already done so, including
the Philippines.

Obviously Europe and Japan are not colonies, but they are occupied.  I
agree, and made a point of noting, that there will be (already is)
ambivalence about calling for US de-colonization or withdrawal.  Some
factions oppose because US troops do provide protection.  A strong military
presence that all can agree upon creates stability.  However, other
factions, often nationalistic forces, want to protect themselves and reduce
US political influence in their state and abroad.  And it seems that in the
coming years, as the US racket stirs up more trouble than it keeps peace,
the costs of the "partnership" under the US military umbrella will exceed
the benefits.  This is my prediction.  I think there are signs that some
core factions are thinking along these lines today, both in Japan and

US "de-colonization" by Europe, Japan, and others would be comparable to the
earlier US call for European de-colonization insofar as it would weaken US
power and enhance the power of others, just as European de-colonization
weakened European power and enhanced US power.  That's where the analogy
ends for my purposes.

As for the semiperiphery and periphery, I didn't address their prospects.
There is no doubt that within a capitalist world-empire, some areas will
gain in power (econo-politico-cultural), and China is a top candidate.
China is also among those wishing to see a retreat of US forces in its
regional sphere of action.  It is conceivable that China would become a
major force to uphold a neoliberal Empire as envisioned by the liberal
European-Japan core.  Regionally, Japan would likely follow a China call for
US withdrawal, but for different geo-political reasons.  As argued, I
suspect, the costs of US protection will exceed its benefits for Japan.
Also Japan's military forces are currently quite capable in the region and
the majority of Japanese is not opposed to Japan raising the hinomaru and
maintaining a strong "national defense."  Japan's recently popular Prime
Minister was indeed pushing through legislature to change the title and
purpose of Japan's military forces.  Thus, contrary to your perception, I am
in agreement with Arrighi, among others, on Asia's ascent.

- Elson

> -----Original Message-----
> From: wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu [mailto:wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu]On
> Behalf Of Threehegemons@aol.com
> Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 9:28 AM
> To: wsn@csf.colorado.edu
> Subject: The Decolonization of Europe and Japan?
> Elson--I don't agree with your metaphor that Europe and Japan
> will insist on being decolonized by the US in a way that
> parallels the earlier decolonization of the non-Western world.
> Neither Europe nor Japan are colonies metaphorically or really.
> They are the partners of the hegemonic US.  In other words, they
> reaped quite real rewards from this partnership, and indeed, in
> crucial measures these societies are more comfortable than the US
> itself. They are likely to be worried in coming years about the
> deleterious effects of US policies on world order, which needs to
> be maintained to continue their economic prosperity and physical
> well-being.  By contrast, the non-Western world at the beginning
> of the twentieth century needed to decolonize to make even
> minimal efforts to address the destruction of livelihood wreaked
> by colonial rule.
> The semi-periphery and periphery remain the place where metaphors
> of decolonization remain relevant--in fact, a 'second
> decolonization of Africa' is a fairly popular slogan among some,
> and 'decolonization of the mind' is something you hear a good
> deal from postcolonial thinkers.  In the future, decolonization
> will probably not only involve sloughing off the Eurocentric
> aspects of the enlightenment heritage, but also the creation of
> regional financial and security arrangements to gain some room to
> maneuver and to strike fear in the hearts of the US or any other
> Western power inclined to bomb whomever they dislike.
> In general, I don't find your total pessimism about the prospects
> of the periperiphery and semi-periphery altogether convincing.
> Alice Amsden's argument that the last twenty years should be seen
> as a temporary setback in the face of a general trend of creating
> some globally competitive industries strikes me as equally
> plausible (putting aside the issue of East Asian development,
> which is another story).
> Finally, although you reference Arrighi's theories about the US'
> turn to coercion, you ignore his emphasis in nearly everything he
> writes these days on the likelihood that East Asia will be a
> major player in shaping the emergent order.
> Steven Sherman

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