Asia vs Europe

One of the most rewarding aspects of our work, is the tremendous network of friends and colleagues who share ideas and opinions with us regularly.  The combination of these insights often provide us with a unique perspective of the world we live in.  A family friend recently shared the following thoughts with us after reading a WSJ article with this subheading, “For the first time, the public thinks Asia is more vital to U.S. interests than Europe.”

I was reminded of a day in the Spring of 1947. Nearing the end of my  enlistment as a “Regular”, at age nineteen, my Company of the 188th Parachute Infantry was rotated to a month’s Honor Guard duty at GHQ in Tokyo. Wearing newly tailored uniforms, highly polished boots, and freshly issued forty-fives, we traveled by train the 350 miles south from Sendai to the re-building Japanese Capitol.

General MacArthur was driven from GHQ to his quarters in the Dai Ichi Building at noon, daily, for lunch with the visiting VIP’s of the day. Crowds of Japanese stood in rows, bowing to the Conqueror, as the General strode from car to entrance, and back. It was quite a scene.

One day, I was Sergeant of the Guard inside the building, positioned just to one side of the entrance to the large dining room. The Officer of the Guard was positioned a few feet away, at the opposite side of the open doorway.

The General’s guests that day were: Clair Booth Luce, and a guy named Billy Rose. Mrs. Luce was a gorgeous looking blond woman, of impressive demeanor. Billy Rose was a short, squatty, plain-looking guy, who seemed out of place. The Officer asked me whether I knew who these people were. Growing up outside New York City, I knew that Mrs Luce was the wife of the powerful publisher, Henry Luce. I also knew that Billy Rose had produced the Aquacades show during the 1939 World’s Fair, was married to Eleanor Holm, the first woman to swim the English Channel; and operated a night club in New York called “The Diamond Horseshoe”. What I did not know, was that he was the largest individual shareholder of AT&T, and had a business/financial relationship with Henry Luce.

At lunch every day, MacArthur, with his majestic voice, did most of the talking. I have never forgotten, over almost sixty-three years, what I overheard the General say that day, his voice carrying easily through the doorway:

He said this: “I cannot understand why our government in Washington, and our corporate leaders, remain focused on the Old Hag which is Europe, when the next century will be dominated by the teeming brown and yellow peoples of Asia”.

Reading the “WSJ”, it appears that we have finally caught up to General MacArthur.