Finally, the military conflicts that loom on the horizon are far more distruptive in the Pacific Rim region than they are in the Atlantic Rim. Major conflict in ex-Yugoslavia hardly caused a ripple in Western Europe and in the trans-Atlantic relationship. But the instability that could be caused by aggressive action by North Korea or by the continuing conflict between mainland China and Taiwan, to mention only two of the foremost areas of potential conflict, will certainly be such as to bring the entire Asian economy to a halt and to have major political and economic consequences in several of the other countries in the region.
It is in comparison with this recent history and the prospect of future instability that the Atlantic Rim gains its appeal. Latin America shows promise following the economic and political reforms that have put almost all of the countries in the category of democratic and market-oriented. Europe is showing significant signs that its decade of stagnation is coming to an end with increased growth rates and increased competitiveness. The big question, of course, is whether unemployment can be brought down from 11 per cent toward rates that will distribute the gains from growth more equitably. If this is not done, the European voter may become disenchanted with ‘the grand adventure’ and may opt for protectionism and subsidies. North America has had a remarkable record during the past decade of growth and reduced unemployment in Canada and the United States and of reform and recovery in Mexico. It is true that at this stage in the process the performance may not be sustainable for much longer. Africa is a mixed picture of some successful reforms and of reversion to civil war.
In spite of important national cultural differences among the nations of Europe, North America and Latin America the legacy of centuries of migration, colonialism, economic interaction, and intellectual exchange is that there is an extensive sharing of basic values and institutional structures throughout this region. Of the Atlantic Rim regions only Africa must be considered to have distinctive cultural characteristics that make interaction a complex affair. The same must be said of Pacific Asia. As firms and governments in North America and in Europe have discovered they do not always share similar outlooks with regard to politics or economics with their Asian counterparts.
Indeed, one can note that when Europe defines its culture or identity it has always been done as a counter to the neighboring civilizations – Islam, Africa and the Slavic world. Europe has stressed individuality, private property, the separation of powers, secularism, the territorial-based notion of the nation, and intellectual freedom, in contrast with theocracy, communalism, tribalism, the ethnic-based notion of the nation, and the other characteristics that define its neighbors.xlii The United States and Canada began their definition of a distinctive identity in the nineteenth century through reference to the experiences of emigration, establishment on the new continent, conquering the ‘wilderness’ and indigenous peoples, and developing governmental and economic processes and institutions that were appropriate to this new existence. Once a North American identity was established, in contrast to that of the European mother lands, both countries saw the need to differentiate themselves from the other society across the 49th parallel. But the values espoused by Canada and the United States are merely modifications of those that they brought with them from Europe – that is, they put their own twist on individualism, democracy, private property, and so forth. Latin