NYT article on Asian economic crisis

charles brown cdehbrown at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 13 10:26:17 PDT 1998

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>From: "Charles Brown" <CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us>
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>Subject: Re: NYT article on Asian economic crisis
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>>>> "Charles Brown" <CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us> 07/12 7:29 PM >>>
>The following article ( in parts here) appeared in the NYT on July 10,
>"Will Asia Turn Against the West ?"
> by Fareed Zaharia
>The fire raging in East Asia today jeopardizes one of the
>central achievements of postwar American foreign policy -
>the stabilization and growth of East Asia. Even more dangerously,if
>it continues to fester, this crisis could undermine support for an open
>global economy and economic and political liberalization across the
>The facts are bleak. In the last two years Indonesia's
>economy has shrunk by almost 80%, Thailand's by 50 %, South
>Korea's by 45 %, Malaysia's by 25%. Even islands of
>prosperity like Hong Kong and Singapore are in deepening
>recessions. Currencies and stock markets have plunged
>to unimaginable lows; unemployment and poverty are
>climbing to new highs.
>Chas: Gee, capitalism don't work too good.
>It seems like it uses you , then loses you.
>article continued : To take the worst example,
>Indonesia's per capita gross domestic product
>has dropped from $3,500 to less than $ 750,
>wiping out 25 years of economic progress. Some
>100 million people - almost half of that vast country
>- have sunk below the poverty level, and
>fears of a famine are growing. President B.J.
>Habibe has called on his citizens to fast twice a
>week to lessen the need to import food. Japan,
>the only nation that could spur a new round of
>growth in the region, has now slipped firmly into
>its second recession in five years.
>Chas: The business cycle and crisis seems
>to be still part of capitalism.
>The Clinton Administration and the International Monetary
>Fund had an initial strategy to deal with what began as
>a financial crisis in Thailand in June 1997. First, they assumed
>it would be temporary, "a few small glitches along the
>road" in President Clinton's words. Second, they assumed
>it would be localized. Third, they assumed that the IMF
>would restore stability.
>All three assumptions have been proved wrong.
>The IMf's prescriptions have not worked; currencies
>and stock markets continue to fall. The panic is
>now a depression and has spread beyond East
>Asia. Markets as large as Russia and Australia
>and as distant as Mexico and South Africa have
>been battered.
>If official responses have been inadequate, the
>reactions of American foreign policy pundits to
>the crisis have been worse. Much of this
>commentary has been to note gleefully that
>Asia's troubles confirm the virtues of the American
>system and the bankruptcy of "Asian values".
>In the late 1940's, as Europe struggled to cope
>with similar economic hardships, George Marshall
>warned Americans that "the patient is sinking
>as the doctors deliberate." Today it is as if the
>doctors are vivisecting the patient to score
>points about anatomy.
>The prosperity and stability of East Asia are -were ? -
>extraordinary achievements. Thirty years ago, most of
>these countries seemed stuck in the dismal poverty
>that afflicted the third world, and the region was the
>was the most troubled part of the globe.
>Chas.: Evidently it wasn't "stability" that
>Asian Tiger capitalism had. The "properity"
>was in the hands of a very few. Can
>this be generalized to all capitalism ?
>In Indonesia, more than 300,000 people had died
>in mob riots after a failed Communist-backed military
>coup in 1965...
>Chas.: This is some of that questionable blaming
>of communists for a large
>number of deaths, of the type for which I have criticized
>list member DeLong . And in Indonesia there was mass murder of
communists by capitalist democrats.

Zakaria says:

Malaysia, in civil war from 1948, lifted its state of emergency only in 1960. China , Taiwan and the Koreas had been through grueling conflicts in the late 1940's and 1950's. And the Viet Nam War was still in full fury.

Chas.: Here we have a lack of discussion of body counts. U.S./bourgeois-democratic imperialism murdered millions in this era in the area discussed. Zakaria's bloodless prose in this spot is a coverup for another Western holocaust.>>

Zakaria: One generation later,most of these nations had dramatically raised their living standards, substantially alleviating poverty and disease. Many, like Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia had begun liberalizing their politics as well. It was the fastest move out of misery in history.

Chas.: The illiberality of these governments before, i.e. fascism is part of the bourgeois political structure that is never discussed in measuring communism and capitalism. Here it is only admitted by implication, for what were they liberalizing their politics from but tyrannical rule.

Zakaria:The success of the region owes much to the hard work of its people but alos to American foreign policy. The United States fought two wars after 1945 to maintain stability in East Asia. It advocated economic and foreign policies that were adopted in much of the region.

Compared with countries like Brazil, Egypt and India --whose protectionism and central planning were cheered on by socialist governments and lef-wing economists __ East Asian regimes adopted policies that were broadly hospitable to free markets and free trade.They opened themselves up to foreign investment and multinational corporations and allowed the private sector to flourish.Throughout the cold war they were consistently anti-Soviet, banding together to form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, practically the only pro-American regional grouping in the world outside of NATO. For these policies they became the pariahs of the third world, often branded as American stooges.

Chas: So now what is good ole America going to do for them now that they are in trouble ? Mr.Zakaria is worried and telling the ruling class, if capitalism can't do right by its faithful servants what will they turn to ? Their own capitalist system , not allowing the West to remain as parasites on the backs of the Asian countries' production ? Of course, they couldn't turn to socialism, because we all know communism is dead. So Mr.Zakaria wouldn't be worried about that old spectre that used to haunt Europe, would he ?

to be continued


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