Should the U.S. Reduce Its Pacific Forces?

April 20, 1990

Report Outline
Special Focus


The lessening of tensions with the Soviet Union has led many in Congress and elsewhere to suggest that the United States cut its troop strength in the Pacific as well as in Europe. But the Soviet navy is not the only threat to peace in the Pacific, and some strategists worry that reducing the U.S. military presence could actually increase the likelihood of conflict in the region.

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The fundamental political changes taking place in Eastern Europe have led to changes on the other side of the globe as well—in the Pacific Rim, an area also of great concern to the United States. While the Soviet army is pulling out of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, so, too, the huge Soviet Pacific fleet is spending less time on the waves and more time in port. Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev has said he plans to make large cuts in the fleet and has indicated he is interested in resolving regional tensions in the Pacific.

These developments in the Pacific Rim clearly have not received the kind of attention given to events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. “Mikhail Gorbachev's dramatic diplomacy has transformed Europe and transfixed Americans. … [H]e has also started breaking the Cold War ice in the Far East,” observes a recent editorial in The New York Times. “But President Bush acts as if there's nothing new on the Pacific horizon.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Policy in the Pacific
Apr. 20, 1990  Should the U.S. Reduce Its Pacific Forces?
Apr. 07, 1989  Pacific Rim Challenges
Apr. 25, 1986  The Strategic Pacific
Jul. 05, 1985  Dawn of the Pacific Era
Jun. 06, 1975  Changing Status of Micronesia
Aug. 17, 1966  Australia: Pacific Ally
Nov. 04, 1964  Indonesia vs. Malaysia
Jul. 24, 1963  Malaysian Federation: Union of Convenience
Jul. 05, 1962  West New Guinea: Pacific Trouble Spot
Jan. 28, 1953  Pacific Defense
Sep. 09, 1949  Pacific Dependencies
May 03, 1945  Trusteeship in the Pacific
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific