If This Be Hope, Color Me Hopeless

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Timothy Garton Ash, historian of Central Europe's liberation and (like me) an increasingly pessimistic Atlanticist, has written an interesting Washington Post op-ed arguing that a second Bush term will trigger a "Euro-Gaullist attempt to create a rival European superpower," which would play into the hands of … China.

Chirac has been pursuing a shameless policy of wooing China, for French economic advantage and to poke Washington in the eye. He has endorsed Beijing's position on Taiwan and said the E.U. embargo on arms exports to China should be lifted. This raises the grotesque prospect of European weapons being pointed at American warships in the Taiwan Strait. But of course it's not France that is calling the shots here. In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger played the China card against the Soviet Union. Today, China is playing the European card against the United States.

While Garton Ash doesn't think a Euro-Gaullist project would succeed, it is interesting, from a pure game theory point of view, that the Weekly Standard idea of overtly blunting the EU's ambitions may end up galvanizing them instead.

One other note: Garton Ash concludes that basically the only hope for "reconstructing the transatlantic West on a new basis" is if Americans elect John Kerry, in part because that "would encourage the silent majority of Euro-Atlanticists in Europe to speak up." This strikes me as not just wishful thinking (even if I share the wish), but also rather defeatist about the responsibility and independent thinking of European citizens and their governments. To put it plainly, if European public opinion about the U.S. depends primarily on us electing a president who doesn't offend their sensibilities, then the Transatlantic relationship may have already become too pathological to repair any time in the foreseeable future. (Link via Fistful of Euros)

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  1. Matt Welch,

    What do you think of the Bush administration sucking up to the PRC then? Is that also a “shameless” policy? Or is it merely “shameless” when the French follow their own national interests (one being the need to play catch-up in China regarding trade in comparison to the U.S. and Germany)?

  2. i too wonder if improving sino-french relations isn’t all about the united states. couldn’t that view simply be a typical bit of american arrogance (“it’s all about us!”), considering that both nations have a selfish economic interest in developing better relations?

  3. “Euro-Gaullist attempt to create a rival European superpower”

    And how are they going to pay for this? Europe has it’s back to the wall just keeping up with the welfare state they’ve built. Being a superpower depends on arms, and arms ain’t cheap.

  4. Matt Welch,

    Also, what is wrong exactly with the relations between Europe (given how divided Europe is, using the term Europe as if it represented one particular opinion or insight is problematic) and the U.S.? And what exactly is wrong with a rival European superpower? And when wasn’t “Europe” ticking off one U.S. administration or another (think of “Europe’s” relationship with the U.S. during the Viet Nam war, or “Europe’s” willingness to deal with the USSR over that pipeline, etc.). Quite frankly, I think that there is a lot of hyperbole and ahistoricism going on here.

  5. Ted — Yeah, well, that’s probably why TGA doesn’t think it will succeed. That, and the whole cat-herding problem; I guess his point is that second-term anti-Bushism will create the motivation to eliminate the latter of those obstacles, and may even make a dent in the former.

  6. JB — I’ve actually on multiple occasions argued in *favor* of the U.S. encouraging Europe (by which in this case I mean the EU) to become a rival power, on the grounds that that would encourage more European participation in, and responsbility for, global affairs. Thereby reducing the American workload, shrinking the target on our backs, lessening the pathology of knee-jerk anti-Americanism, and fostering the notion of shared democratic values.

    And I agree with you that there has been ahistoricism regarding the prickly relationship (anti-hyperpowerism certainly motivated French policy during Clinton, and I can imagine that the Cold War divisions between Reagan & Western Europe were stronger than what we are seeing now). But that doesn’t meant that the Transatlantic relationship hasn’t deteriorated significantly over the past three years.

  7. Todd Fletcher,

    Europe (or supporters of European superpower status) has an excellent foundation as far as arms and professionalism is concerned in the French military. The problem is that U.K. may be reluctant to join such an enterprise, Germany has been downsizing its military since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, etc., Italy’s military largely exists to be involved in peace-keeping missions, and Spain is still playing catch-up.

  8. China’s rise is an issue that hasn’t gotten enough play in the foreign policy debate surrounding this election. To the extent that I’ve favored Bush over Kerry on foreign policy matters, it’s because because of his policies on East Asia rather than the ME. First, in opposing unilateral negotiations with North Korea on the nuclear standoff, and second, in making it clear that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. Kerry, as we know, supports taking the unilateral route on North Korea, and was among the first to criticize Bush in 2001 when he said that he’d “do whatever it takes” to defend Taiwan against China.

    Garton Ash raises an interesting point about France’s attempts to end the EU arms embargo, but I think he overstates the importance of the US election on influencing the debate. First, because France will continue to push for an alliance of convenience with China regardless of who gets elected, and second, because even if Bush gets re-elected, the Brits will remain opposed to lifting the embargo, as will a number of other states. Germany, currently in favor of lifting the embargo, might change its views in the aftermath of a Kerry victory, but Germany’s support probably isn’t enough to lift the ban given the current opposition.

    Jean-Gary Bourne, put your knee-jerk Francophilia aside for a moment and ask yourself what arms deals the US has on the table with China right now. Also let me know when the US moved beyond its “status-quo” rhetoric and endorsed the Chinese government’s desire for a “one party, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan similar to Hong Kong.

  9. What I find most interesting about the notion of an EU “superpower” is that the EU has been far more successful at imposing a common domestic policy than it has been at imposing a common foreign policy. It’s the exact opposite of how the US was formed.

    I’m hesitant to say too much about federalism and the founding on this message board because of possible controversies. But the general notion at the founding of the US certainly seemed to be that the feds would primarily handle diplomacy and defense and some aspects of interstate commerce, while the states would concentrate on domestic policy. Of course, the precise details in that balance of powers were debated even back then, and the controversies haven’t diminished. But it’s pretty clear that foreign policy quickly became a concern for the feds while federal involvement over internal matters under the rubric of “interstate commerce” took more time.

    In Europe, on the other hand, quite a few matters of domestic policy are already handled by the EU, while the member states are autonomous on matters of foreign policy. Sure, EU nations still retain considerable discretion over economic and social policies, but power over those matters has flowed to the EU much more quickly than matters of foreign policy.

    Whatever one might think of that situation, it makes me very skeptical that the EU will succeed in becoming a superpower. There’s very little unity on matters of foreign policy.

  10. Matt Welch,

    Well, I guess we are in agreement; I too want to see Europe grow to superpower status (and for largely similar reasons).

  11. There are a couple of idiots In Europe who’d like to turn the EU into a superpower, but it’s not a popular idea, and there’s nobody who wants to pay for that.

    I also think that China will not become a superpower itself any time soon, if ever. Rising properity or not, it still suffers from a lack of the rule of law, and still has the kind of institutions typical for a Third World country.

    Does anyone remember when the Asian Tigers were supposed to turn the Wetsern economies into road kill? They ended up falling flat onto their faces, and China is much likelier to share that fate than becoming a superpower.

  12. “And how are they going to pay for this? Europe has it’s back to the wall just keeping up with the welfare state they’ve built. Being a superpower depends on arms, and arms ain’t cheap.”

    Once the former Warsaw Pact members get over the hump, the share of European GDP going into welfare, broadly defined, will shrink, even if no programmatic changes are made. And that process is already well under way.

    Matt, I’ve got to congratulate you on your consistency – every other writer I’ve seen who chastised “Europe” for its military humility couldn’t backpedal fast enough once the EU expressed its desire to create a more powerful military.

    There are some people who think it is better for the world’s democracies to be more militarily robust, and there are some people who think it is better for countries that suck up to the United States to be military robust. Usually, the two overlap, but when they don’t, when there’s an either or choice to be made, is when the ideological rubber meets the road. You pass.

  13. Eric II,

    …put your knee-jerk Francophilia aside for a moment and ask yourself what arms deals the US has on the table with China right now.

    Knee-jerk? The only knee-jerking going is your knee-jerk response you have to criticism of the Bush administration. Arms deals? The American relationship with China is hardly encapsulated by “arms deals,” and the same can be said for France. Indeed, regarding France, its government knows full well that overturning the embargo is impossible right now, and calling for its end is a stalking horse for other matters. In other words, your question is beside the point.

    Also let me know when the US moved beyond its “status-quo” rhetoric and endorsed the Chinese government’s desire for a “one party, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan similar to Hong Kong.

    Didn’t you see Powell’s statement today? – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6337218/

    thoreau,

    What I find most interesting about the notion of an EU “superpower” is that the EU has been far more successful at imposing a common domestic policy than it has been at imposing a common foreign policy.

    This is a bit of a myth. When the various nations of the EU want to buck some domestic measure that the EU has created, they tend to do it rather successfully. This is exactly what happened with regard to the 3% per annum limit on deficits. What the last few years have proven is that the EU is a paper tiger when domestic policies are at issue; this will become even more so now that the expansion has occurred.

    But it’s pretty clear that foreign policy quickly became a concern for the feds while federal involvement over internal matters under the rubric of “interstate commerce” took more time.

    Federal involvement over internal matters was at issue from the start; be it the Bank of the United States, “internal improvements,” etc. Indeed, the Federalist Party was founded at least in part on pursuing these principles, and other parties followed after their collapse, including the Whigs. And I personally do not think that the “founders” were of one mind on the subject; the debates (as we know them from Madison and others) at the Convention reveal several differences of opinion on the matter.

    Sure, EU nations still retain considerable discretion over economic and social policies, but power over those matters has flowed to the EU much more quickly than matters of foreign policy.

    I’ll reiterate here that when the nations of the EU decide to buck some domestic effort of the EU, they tend to do so quite successfully. The EU is far less powerful to enforce its will than is generally understood, especially since it largely depends on the voluntary co-operation of the nation-states of the EU to do so. If anything, the EU is much like the Articles of Confederation in the power it has to enforce its decisions.

  14. Eric II,

    Also, are you stupidly suggesting that since France has asked for the EU to limit its arms embargo (when it knew that it would never have to honor such a suggestion), that this is somehow worse than American efforts to court China? Please, take your head out of your ass.

  15. psst…

    Jason Bourne is Jean Bart… and Gary Gunnells…

  16. a little bird,

    And even if I am, what of it?

  17. JB-

    I don’t deny that the EU is still fairly weak in domestic matters. My only point is that to the extent the EU does exercise power it is stronger on internal matters.

    As far as US history, I’m always reluctant to jump too far off the deep end in a place where some people know far more than I do and the rest don’t but think they do. Still, although there was certainly federal involvement in internal matters from day 1 of the Union, a common foreign policy evolved much more rapidly than a common domestic policy. Sure, there may have been cases where various states may have tried to resist a common foreign policy, and some rather significant domestic policies may have been imposed from the get-go.

    But there’s no denying that the federal government’s share of domestic policy started off small (overall) and grew, while the federal government’s share of foreign policy was quite large from day 1. Conversely, in Europe the EU’s share of domestic policy, small and weak though it might be, is more significant than its authority over foreign and military affairs.

  18. Matt, I’ve got to congratulate you on your consistency – every other writer I’ve seen who chastised “Europe” for its military humility couldn’t backpedal fast enough once the EU expressed its desire to create a more powerful military.

    Very good point!

    On China, here’s a very vague and probably wrong idea: If the EU built a larger military, that would of course drive up demand and hence the price of military hardware. Would that slow down China’s military growth?

  19. thoreau,

    My only point is that to the extent the EU does exercise power it is stronger on internal matters.

    I think that the EU is equally weak in both domestic and foreign policy areas.

    Still, although there was certainly federal involvement in internal matters from day 1 of the Union, a common foreign policy evolved much more rapidly than a common domestic policy.

    That’s an interesting statement, and one I will have to think about before I statement my opinion on it. It also depends on what you mean by “domestic policy.” Do you mean slavery, or “internal improvements,” or westward expansion, or an intercontinental railroad, or the humanitarian movement of the 1830s and 1840s, or what?

    Sure, there may have been cases where various states may have tried to resist a common foreign policy…

    The fight over tariffs was one area where there was factional dispute; the same can also be said about American expansion (especially in the Caribbean) – note I am confining myself to pre-Civil War years.

    But there’s no denying that the federal government’s share of domestic policy started off small (overall) and grew…

    Well, I think that’s largely because the role of government – at whatever level – was small and grew. So it may simply be a function of the nature of government generally.

    …small and weak though it might be, is more significant than its authority over foreign and military affairs.

    I suppose the question is, why does this foreclose a dramatic rise in authority over the latter?

  20. Or is it merely “shameless” when the French follow their own national interests

    There’s nothing shameless about strictly following your country’s national interests — it’s what governments are supposed to do.

    But there is certainly something shameless about enthusiastically supporting the enemies of your supposed ally while bemoaning the decline in your relationship with that ally. If France thinks its best interests lie in strengthening the enemies of the United States, fine — but it’s asking a bit much to expect us to keep a straight face while they talk about the importance of the friendship between our two nations.

  21. while many here are discussing europe, it seems to me that an underlying first principle — china = western enemy — is where the point in the article really lies. TGA concentrates on the economic aspect, but this is also a military “conflict” that bush’s neocons have steered us toward by basing all over central asia — which we cannot hope to win.

    china is not only our largest trading partner and recipient of american direct investment — it is one of the two largest holders of american debt. china can cripple the american financial system anytime it likes simply by starting to sell treasuries at a loss.

    reactionary idiots and trostkyite schemers sit around bellowing about how china is a threat to us, how we have to do something about it — what the hell would they do? china isn’t iraq (and some seem to need reminding!). such a war would be inconceivably costly on every level — the american equivalent of the 20th c wars that catapulted europe into civilizational decline.

    imo, we have one recourse with china now: bring them closer. westernize them as best we can. hopefully spark in them the same ameriphilia that swept japan over the second half of the 20th c — and cooperate with europe in doing so, unless we want to be “divide(d) and rule(d)” as TGA notes.

    and this

    second, in making it clear that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

    we’re going to risk war with the most populous nation on the globe and our largest trading partner over a breakaway island province? please — no one believes that, i suspect, even in taiwan. the conflict could ruin us. taiwan is a chip to be bargained; kudos to bush for getting out of it what he can, but don’t anyone dream that we would defend taiwan against vietnam, much less china.

    and if bush would seriously do so! it would only demonstrate just how profoundly his simpleminded ideologies compromise his ability to manage. anyone who would conflate intervening for taiwan with something like realpolitik is either an idiot or a hypocrite. realpolitik w/r/t china means becoming ever closer allies.

  22. Dan,

    When did the PRC become America’s “enemy?” For an “enemy,” we certainly are chummy with them. If anyone is having a problem keeping a straight face, its those reading this particular comment.

  23. But there is certainly something shameless about enthusiastically supporting the enemies of your supposed ally while bemoaning the decline in your relationship with that ally.

    well said, dan — but i suspect we’re hearing two distinctly different popular voices eminating from europe on this count. these are complex societies, after all.

    as for chirac himself — you, like me i’m sure, never expect a politician to be anything if not duplicitous. 🙂 this rule certainly applies to them as well as us.

  24. Also, when did Chirac start “bemoaning” the so-called “decline?” Chirac has consistently stated over and over that the relationship remains “strong,” as has generally the French government.

  25. Well, do we agree on this, at least(?): Jason Bourne has the final word on whose head is up his ass? Let us defer to authority.

  26. Curtis,

    How I like to fuck is my own business. 🙂 Are you cut or uncut? 🙂

  27. joe,
    “Once the former Warsaw Pact members get over the hump, the share of European GDP going into welfare, broadly defined, will shrink, even if no programmatic changes are made. And that process is already well under way.”

    I’ve read that demographics are against them though, with the aging of the population and the declining birth rate, a problem the US faces too, but less so.

    But all this aside, I’m very much in favor of a strong independent EU. I think it’s unlikely that the violent past of Europe will raise it’s ugly head again, since it’s a free democratic continent. And I think it would make US/EU relations less of a pissing match, on both sides, without the emotional complications of the US defending the continent.

  28. You’re wandering a bit off topic, JB.

  29. I work as a copy editor for a defense-industry consulting firm, and as such in the past few months I have read literally hundreds of articles about various aspects of the defense industries of basically every country in the world. This is all open-source, non-classified information, but it’s usually the kind of stuff that is reported not in the mainstream media but in industry journals that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a subscription, so not too many people know much about such matters.

    Europe could, in theory, work its way up to US-rivaling superpower status in less than a decade if it so chose, and probably give their economy a huge boost in the process. Their weapons industries are producing large amounts of very impressive stuff, some of which is in some ways better than ours, and if they somehow really banded together they could certainly do it.

    The idea of Europe as a superpower doesn’t disturb me; I would actually welcome it. China is the country I’m really worried about. Luckily, their current military status is currently that of a Chinese fire drill, but even they could whip themselves into shape quicker than we’d like to believe.

    And you know what scares me the most? All the mind-boggling weapon and spy gear is just the stuff the world’s militaries don’t care if we know about–just imagine all the stuff they’re keeping quiet. Us, too.

  30. When did the PRC become America’s “enemy?”

    First of all, I said “enemies”, not “enemy”. China is not the first hostile power France has enthusiastically supplied with weaponry and technology.

    Secondly, the PRC has supported (diplomatically and/or militarily and economically) every nation the United States has fought a war with since World War II. So the answer to the question “what makes them our enemy” is simply: they are, consistently, the ally of our enemies, and the enemy of our allies.

    For an “enemy,” we certainly are chummy with them.

    We’re not “chummy” with them; we use them as a cheap labor force.

  31. Curtis,

    You gave me carte blanche to do so. 🙂

  32. Europe needs to be more superpowerish. The current state of transatlantic relations is the natural result of the US being the only military capable of doing anything other than hunkering down on its own borders.

    International relations are always about military power to some degree, and when push comes to shove, everyone knows who will be backing up the will of the ‘international community’. In the absence of a self directed military to influence affairs, Europe increasingly appeals to toothless international institutions in the hopes that they will legitimize certain actions and make outcasts of those who don’t get on board. Problem is, those institutions are largely laughed at. Despots the world over, having seats at the UN, vote on resolutions, get named to human rights councils, and so on. Resolution after absurd resolution is passed as a result of this glorious ‘democratic’ system until the folly becomes too much for anyone to swallow. UN mandates are meaningful exactly to the extent that the US will commit troops to enforce them, and no more.

    At the end of the day, we have an international body that says much but only enforces what the US wants to enforce, we have an over tasked US military that gets accused of being an instrument of imperialism, and we have no other force alternative on the Earth. They resent our power and we resent their freeloading.

  33. Dan,

    First of all, I said “enemies”, not “enemy”. China is not the first hostile power France has enthusiastically supplied with weaponry and technology.

    First of all, the write-up concerns China and you mentioned no specific country, so its not strange for anyone to assume that you meant at least in part China. Quit being disingenuous. Second, can you name those “hostile powers” please? Or are we going to be left to guess (again) as to your meaning? If that’s the case, don’t blame anyone for guessing wrong. If you mean Iraq, France stopped supplying them in 1990; prior to that Iraq and the U.S. had normalized relations (under the Reagan administration).

    Secondly, the PRC has supported (diplomatically and/or militarily and economically) every nation the United States has fought a war with since World War II.

    They supported Panama under Noriega? Panama has never established formal relations with the PRC, BTW; it still maintains that that the Republic of China is the proper Chinese government. So much for the veracity of your remarks. Ahh yes, Dan and hyperbole are like two peas in a pod.

    So the answer to the question “what makes them our enemy” is simply: they are, consistently, the ally of our enemies, and the enemy of our allies.

    Not as consistently as you appear to clai (see my comment above). Your manichean worldview doesn’t allow for the reality and complexity of the situation, so you make up a reality to fit your worldview.

  34. “Europe could, in theory, work its way up to US-rivaling superpower status in less than a decade if it so chose, and probably give their economy a huge boost in the process. Their weapons industries are producing large amounts of very impressive stuff, some of which is in some ways better than ours, and if they somehow really banded together they could certainly do it.”

    You have to get the nanny states out of the game. You think OUR system of development is statist? You haven’t seen anything. Giat anyone? de Gaulle class carrier? Rafale (there’s a plane that started out way cool on paper and turned into an expensive F-16 in a hurry)?

    The euro consortium model doesn’t seem much better. How long has the Eurofighter been in development? When it is done, will it be competitive with F15s, never mind F22s?

    It is all micro managed by the state, subject to nanny state requirements (30% of steel must come from place X, while 5% of electronics must be domestic, and so on.

    I don’t know if it is good or not, but our military industrial complex is the best in the world by far.

  35. Jason Ligon,

    The first Eurofighter Typhoons were delivered in 2003; the full complement of 620 should be done by the end of this year, or the start of 2005.

    Go to Eurofighter’s website.

    Rafale is now in service. I think that its a great aircraft. Indeed, one of the reasons why the US is building the F-22 is because the Rafale, Grippen, etc., our now outclassing the F-15.

  36. By the way, from what I’ve read the European defense industry has certainly produced its share of turkeys lately (as have we), but they’re also producing some damned impressive stuff. And a lot of what they’re not producing we are giving them, as part of the NATO interoperability program.

  37. F22 came about because of Su27 / Su35. Su35 scared the crap out of everyone.

    F35 JSF was in part a response to MiG29 and how it appeared to stack up against the F-16.

    Eurofighter started waaay back in the early 80s, and spawned the Rafale when the French pulled out of the project in something like ’86. My only design gripe is that they fall into the semi-semistealth category that seems not to be worth the design compromises. Best thing about them is the radar that couldn’t fit in previous airframes. I don’t know that they are three times better than a top tier F16 based on the pricetag, either. F16s are just cheap and good. I think Europe would have been better off waiting for the next full generation of technology to be complete, holding themselves over with F16s like everyone else. Eh, who knows …

    I thought I’d read in Jane’s or somewhere that Saab had laid an egg with the Grippen, cool though it may look. For some reason, they have a love for the single very large engine.

  38. Jason Ligon,

    F22 came about because of Su27 / Su35. Su35 scared the crap out of everyone.

    I think there was a broad concern about the development of advanced fighters by other countries, not just the Su35.

    Eurofighter started waaay back in the early 80s…

    Well, that length of design and development history isn’t particularly rare in the world of defense industries.

    …and spawned the Rafale when the French pulled out of the project in something like ’86.

    They wanted the Eurofighter to the design they came up with, and which turned out to be the Rafale.

    I think Europe would have been better off waiting for the next full generation of technology to be complete, holding themselves over with F16s like everyone else. Eh, who knows …

    Well, I often wonder who they are designing their aircraft to confront. At this point, France wants between 400-450 Rafales (that’s a lot of aircraft for a country so small). I just find the obsession with fighter aircraft in the post-Cold War period odd. I wonder how much mere inertia is at play here.

  39. Jennifer, I’m sure they can build amazing things – European engineering and all that – but how are they going to pay for it? Where’s the cash going to come from? They have to either cut like crazy or raise taxes. Niether of which are going to be popular, especially in the environment of the nanny state that’s been fostered.

    Point is, this will put enourmous pressure on the whole system and require the governnments of Europe to confront some serious problems. Which can also be a good thing.

    One way or another they’ll have to face this, cause we aren’t going to be there much longer.

  40. whoa, whoa, whoa… France hasn’t supported Iraq since 1990? Well, I guess in the oil-for-food bribes, it was actually Iraq supporting France. But I’m guessing the French got something in return.

  41. that is, I’m guessing Saddam got something in return. Sorry about that.

  42. “The only knee-jerking going is your knee-jerk response you have to criticism of the Bush administration.”

    Ha! Quit projecting your own fears of reflexive partisanship, you once-Democratic twit. Even a cursory look at my recent posts shows that I have nothing but contempt for the Bush Administration. If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to pick between Bush and Kerry, I’d probably go for the long-face. Fortunately, I’m not in that predicament.

    “The American relationship with China is hardly encapsulated by “arms deals,” and the same can be said for France.”

    Excuses, excuses. China could buy plenty of F-16s and Aegis submarines if they wanted, and I’m sure they’d be glad to if the US ever gave the chance. Likewise, I’m sure American companies would be given a lot of preferential business deals by the PRC in return for the US abandoning the Taiwan Relations Act. For all their pandering, the US hasn’t sunk to the same level as France on this matter.

    “Indeed, regarding France, its government knows full well that overturning the embargo is impossible right now”

    More excuses. Do you really see Chirac backtracking if other EU nations came around to lifting the embargo?

    “Didn’t you see Powell’s statement today?”

    At the time I made that post, I hadn’t. It was a dumb thing for Powell to say, and is in line with his habit of kissing up to foreign governments on diplomatic visits. But it’s still not in the same league as Chirac effectively supporting “one country, two systems”.

    Also, the AP article didn’t cover all of Powell’s comments. In addition to the “Taiwan isn’t independent” rhetoric, he reiterated US support for the Taiwan Relations Act, and supported the Taiwanese government’s effort to restart cross-strait talks without recognizing the “One China” principle, something the PRC criticized him for.

    “Also, are you stupidly suggesting that since France has asked for the EU to limit its arms embargo (when it knew that it would never have to honor such a suggestion), that this is somehow worse than American efforts to court China?”

    Yes, it is. Whether the EU would sign off on it is besides the point. If a Congressman votes for an unconstitutional law knowing the law will never be enforced, that’s no excuse for the Congressman. The same goes for France’s votes within the EU.

    “Please, take your head out of your ass.”

    First do the same for all three of yours.

  43. “china can cripple the american financial system anytime it likes simply by starting to sell treasuries at a loss.”

    “Cripple” might be too strong a word, but they could sure wreak a lot of havoc. But it would amount to a declaration of economic war if they did. Such a war would cut both ways.

    “reactionary idiots and trostkyite schemers sit around bellowing about how china is a threat to us”

    Whether it’s a threat remains to be seen. As I wrote elsewhere, China may be like Taiwan in the 1970s (modernization and gradual reform leading to democracy), or like Japan in the early 20th century (modernization and ultra-nationalism leading to hell). You try to encourage the former path, but also prepare for the latter.

    “we’re going to risk war with the most populous nation on the globe and our largest trading partner over a breakaway island province?”

    Yes, because:

    1. Giving up on Taiwan would amount to a de facto ceding of Asian political/military hegemony to China, and grant China the ability to shut off the northern entrance to the South China Sea (unacceptable to Japan as well as America).

    2. Sea invasions tend to be very difficult to pull off if you’re up against a superior navy – or in modern times, a superior navy and air force. Just ask Napoleon and Hitler.

    “the conflict could ruin us”

    Done anytime during the next couple of decades, given the gap between Chinese and American naval power, it would ruin China even more. Which, combined with the growing socioeconomic integration between China and Taiwan, is why I tend to doubt that China will try it anytime soon. But the PRC has stoked nationalist sentiments on this issue to such a fever pitch that they may have no choice if Taiwan declares independence. Or if an economic recession/depression spawns an internal crisis and they feel they have to start a war to hold onto power.

    Are you Chinese, btw? Your writing style reminds me of a couple of Chinese friends.

  44. Todd Fletcher,

    “I’ve read that demographics are against them though, with the aging of the population and the declining birth rate, a problem the US faces too, but less so.”

    Seen Europe’s immigration patterns lately?

    21st Century Europe: Not Just for White People Anymore! The solution to their pension problem, like the solution to our Social Security problem, is also the solution to many developing nations’ own demographic problems.

    I have to go back and read the whole thread – lot of interesting directions, by my skimming.

  45. Steve,

    If the Oil-for-Food program is “support,” then throw in Australia, Britain, the U.S. and few other dozen countries. Note that Volker has yet to say anything definitive about corruption in the program as well.

    Eric II,

    Ha! Quit projecting your own fears of reflexive partisanship…

    No, I’m just throwing a silly charge right back in your face with an equally silly charge. Get over yourself, you pompous ass.

    Excuses, excuses. China could buy plenty of F-16s and Aegis submarines if they wanted, and I’m sure they’d be glad to if the US ever gave the chance.

    Actually, they perfer to develop their own fighters (and they are doing a pretty job of doing so, especially with all the advanced technology they are getting from Europe and the U.S.). Please, at least take the time to understand the nature of the issues that you discuss (getting a subscription to Jane’s would do you wonders).

    Likewise, I’m sure American companies would be given a lot of preferential business deals by the PRC in return for the US abandoning the Taiwan Relations Act.

    More than they already have now? You act like the U.S. isn’t up to its neck in deals with the PRC government and Chinese businesses. Its hard for me contemplate even more penetration than already exists.

    For all their pandering, the US hasn’t sunk to the same level as France on this matter.

    Oh, I see, so the U.S. government and U.S. businesses only pander somewhat less than the French government and business interests, is that your point? Wow. That’s a distinction. Of course its not true, but still, it would really be something to be proud if it were true.

    Also, if you want to see pandering, note that when the U.N. attempted to pass a resolution in 2003 condemning certain human rights abuses by the PRC, the U.S. and the U.K. blocked it. There have been dozens of similar instances since 1989 by the U.S. government with regard to the PRC (granting MFN status, behind the scenes efforts to get the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, WTO membership, etc.). No, the U.S. government doesn’t pander to the PRC, except when it panders heavily to them.

    More excuses. Do you really see Chirac backtracking if other EU nations came around to lifting the embargo?

    They weren’t going to, so there was no risk of that happening. And its not an excuse, its an explanation. Indeed, the only one making excuses here is you.

    At the time I made that post, I hadn’t. It was a dumb thing for Powell to say, and is in line with his habit of kissing up to foreign governments on diplomatic visits.

    Pandering you mean?

    But it’s still not in the same league as Chirac effectively supporting “one country, two systems”.

    Powell essentially told Taiwan that’s its opinion was meaningless on the matter; and that’s basically what Chirac has been saying.

    Yes, it is. Whether the EU would sign off on it is besides the point. If a Congressman votes for an unconstitutional law knowing the law will never be enforced, that’s no excuse for the Congressman. The same goes for France’s votes within the EU.

    Actually, it isn’t beside the point, unless you’re some sort of dimwitted Kantian (which apparently you are).

  46. Eric II,

    I have to ask, why are you so obssessed with my identity? You want to go on a date or something? 🙂

  47. “No, I’m just throwing a silly charge right back in your face with an equally silly charge.”

    Sure, sure. Self-serving revisionism really seems to be your strong point.

    “Actually, they perfer to develop their own fighters (and they are doing a pretty job of doing so, especially with all the advanced technology they are getting from Europe and the U.S.). Please, at least take the time to understand the nature of the issues that you discuss”

    So is disingenuous obfuscation. You know all too well that the specifics of which American arms China would buy is besides the point. The point is that American arms dealers would make billions selling to China if the US arms embargo was lifted, but the US has opted to keep the embargo there anyway.

    But since you mentioned it, if you ever bothered to study the issue, you’d know that China has been buying a fair number of Sukhois from Russia in addition to manufacturing them indigenously. And the ones that are manufactured locally still require technology licenses from Russia.

    “Its hard for me contemplate even more penetration than already exists.”

    Yes, it would be hard for you. But it doesn’t change the fact that the Chinese government could easily shift billions in deals going to non-American multinationals to American firms. And they certainly would if the US offered to scrap the Taiwan Relations Act in return. Hell, they might even float their currency in return for that.

    “Oh, I see, so the U.S. government and U.S. businesses only pander somewhat less than the French government and business interests, is that your point? Wow.”

    That’s been the point all along, dipshit. Though the financial costs of America’s policies on arms deals and Taiwan make the difference a little more than “somewhat less”. Point out one instance prior to that line where I said the US doesn’t pander to China. But following a discussion from one post to another has never been your strong point.

    “Powell essentially told Taiwan that’s its opinion was meaningless on the matter; and that’s basically what Chirac has been saying.”

    Chirac made a comment supporting China’s “one country, two systems” line, in which China has offered to have Taiwan governed under the same conditions as Hong Kong. Powell made some inane remarks about Taiwan not being a sovereign state, while endorsing Taiwan’s attempts to restart cross-strait talks on terms different from the ones that China wants. Distort all you want with your reams of sanctimonious BS, there is a difference.

    And since you keep using your considerable obfuscatory skills to evade the issue, I’ll note again that the big difference involves the US caring about Taiwan’s opinion that it should remain politically and militarily autonomous of China for the time being, and its willingness to use the Seventh Fleet and billions in arms deals (both of which infuriate China) to back it up. Chirac, meanwhile, has stated his support for selling weapons that China could use in the event that it follows up on its threat to take violent objection to Taiwan’s opinion.

    “I have to ask, why are you so obssessed with my identity? You want to go on a date or something? :)”

    There’s no obsession at all. But the sight of you running around with three online personas, each one as pompous, sanctimonious, and full of itself as the next, all while denying the relationship of any one to the other, is amusing in a Pythoneseque way, and is hard to overlook. Like I said before, if you ever decide to own up to this charade, I’ll gladly drop the issue.

  48. Eric II,

    Sure, sure. Self-serving revisionism really seems to be your strong point.

    Actually my strong point is mocking you.

    The point is that American arms dealers would make billions selling to China if the US arms embargo was lifted, but the US has opted to keep the embargo there anyway.

    Yet there is no embargo on technology which helps the PRC build its own weapons systems. In other words, you’re the one obfuscating by suggesting that the U.S has some all-encompassing policy which attempts to retard the PRC’s efforts to enhance its military. Sorry, it doesn’t exist.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that the Chinese government could easily shift billions in deals going to non-American multinationals to American firms.

    How do you know this? This assumes something not yet proven. You are – as usual – getting the cart before the horse.

    Though the financial costs of America’s policies on arms deals and Taiwan make the difference a little more than “somewhat less”.

    Again, stating something not yet proven. You have as yet to actually prove that America’s timid policies toward the PRC cost American businesses anything – especially outside the very small area of defense related industries (which themselves sell technology to China, just not entire weapons systems – the former being just as lucrative as the latter).

    Point out one instance prior to that line where I said the US doesn’t pander to China.

    You purposefully tried to downplay as no big deal. Furthermore, I never claimed that you stated that U.S. never panders to the PRC, so I don’t see why I should be pointing out such language in the first place. Please, if you can’t be truthful, shut up.

    Powell made some inane remarks about Taiwan not being a sovereign state while endorsing Taiwan’s attempts to restart cross-strait talks on terms different from the ones that China wants.

    Quit making excuses. That’s throw-away language. The heart of the matter is in what Powell stated about Taiwan’s choice; that they have no choice as far as American foreign policy is concerned.

    And since you keep using your considerable obfuscatory skills to evade the issue…

    The only one evading anything here is you. I’ve impliedly – and now explicitly – stated that France’s position is wrong on the matter of Taiwan. You on the other hand excuse Powell’s remarks by trying to spin them away. All your handwaving won’t hide your attempt to spread the bullshit pretty thick.

    …I’ll note again that the big difference involves the US caring about Taiwan’s opinion that it should remain politically and militarily autonomous of China for the time being…

    But that its fate is sealed no matter what. Hell of a choice.

    …and its willingness to use the Seventh Fleet and billions in arms deals (both of which infuriate China) to back it up.

    Much to your chagrin, I’ll note that it was France providing Taiwan in the 1990s with much of the fleet it uses to patrol the waters between it and the PRC. Don’t let reality get in the way of your arguments though.

    There’s no obsession at all.

    More spin.

    But the sight of you running around with three online personas, each one as pompous, sanctimonious, and full of itself as the next, all while denying the relationship of any one to the other, is amusing in a Pythoneseque way, and is hard to overlook. Like I said before, if you ever decide to own up to this charade, I’ll gladly drop the issue.

    Again, even if this all true, why the hell does it matter? It doesn’t. As to being pompous, well that term describes you better than it descibes me.

  49. Eric II,

    Also, there really isn’t anyone more pompous and self-centered than an individual who harries another person – presumably because of some offended moral stance – about the issue of multiple identities on an anonymous blog. It has no bearing on my arguments after all, so one can only presume you are being sanctimonious. This comment seems especially true light of the fit you had a few weeks ago regarding the issue, where you attempted to meddle in my private life presumably for “my own good.” To be frank, there is nothing more conceited than the sort of self-righteous behavior you’ve demonstrated on this issue, and I and others (and I know this includes at least some of the owners of this site) would appreciate it if you would keep your thoughts to yourself on the matter.

  50. JB:

    “Well, I often wonder who they are designing their aircraft to confront.”

    It looks odd at the outset, but I think it goes back to modern strategic thought that nobody in the west ever wants to engage in any conflict where they don’t have complete air superiority. You read the phrase ‘air dominanace’ a lot these days, as if to say that air superiority is insufficient. The goal is to be able to airlift assets at will over hostile territory because you completely own the z axis. Everything else every other branch does these days sort of assumes that there is no contest up there.

    More cynically, the Air Force can always point to the Navy as being the really expensive branch, so what’s a few planes?

  51. Jason Ligon,

    It looks odd at the outset, but I think it goes back to modern strategic thought that nobody in the west ever wants to engage in any conflict where they don’t have complete air superiority. You read the phrase ‘air dominanace’ a lot these days, as if to say that air superiority is insufficient. The goal is to be able to airlift assets at will over hostile territory because you completely own the z axis. Everything else every other branch does these days sort of assumes that there is no contest up there.

    Oh, I agree; I just think that there are perhaps cheaper ways to do this (more advanced UAVs for example). Certainly the F-22A is no model for designing a new aircraft, given that its been in development since what, 1981, and was designed to confront a world that no longer exists (and is five times the expected cost – what $275 million per aircraft?).

    More cynically, the Air Force can always point to the Navy as being the really expensive branch, so what’s a few planes?

    I thought Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to change all that. 🙂 I wonder how many of the Pentagon brass are voting for Kerry?

  52. “Yet there is no embargo on technology which helps the PRC build its own weapons systems.”

    Your ignorance knows no limits, does it? Take a look at American export controls on semiconductor manufacturing technology and supercomputers, for beginners.

    “How do you know this? This assumes something not yet proven.”

    There’s a hell of a lot more proof for it than your hollow claim that France only supports lifting the embargo because they know the idea will go nowhere. Namely, that China has often lavished financial rewards on countries who have supported their position on Taiwan. Take a look at the small fortune they’ve given to third-world hellholes and two-bit Caribbean islands for simply shifting diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. This shows quite clearly that the benefits to the US for scrapping the TRA would be considerable.

    “The heart of the matter is in what Powell stated about Taiwan’s choice; that they have no choice as far as American foreign policy is concerned.”

    So where did he say that the US won’t use military force or arms deals to support Taiwan’s choice to remain autonomous, you word-twisting hack?

    “But that its fate is sealed no matter what.”

    Really? So when’s the date that the US is scheduled to abandon the TRA and take up Chirac’s position?

    “Again, even if this all true, why the hell does it matter?”

    It only matters to me in that’s a pathetic but amusing joke, much like much of your rhetoric. Your opinion of yourself is even more inflated than I thought if you think that I’d be morally offended by actions so juvenile. But I do find something particularly lame about you getting into a fit of outrage over being called out on such a laughable and absurdly obvious charade.

  53. Eric II,

    Your ignorance knows no limits, does it? Take a look at American export controls on semiconductor manufacturing technology and supercomputers, for beginners.

    I am fairly well versed with regard to these controls. Now I suggest that you look at the actual application of these laws by the regulatory bodies that enforce them; last semester we went into some detail regarding this issue in my National Security Law course, and we found that enforcement is lax and often contradicts the spirt of the law, if not its letter. You’ll find that I am right and that you are wrong.

    There’s a hell of a lot more proof for it than your hollow claim that France only supports lifting the embargo because they know the idea will go nowhere.

    Which you have yet to show me.

    Take a look at the small fortune they’ve given to third-world hellholes and two-bit Caribbean islands for simply shifting diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

    Which of course would never work with the U.S. because it is in a far different position with PRC than those countries are. This isn’t proof, its grasping at straws.

    So where did he say that the US won’t use military force or arms deals to support Taiwan’s choice to remain autonomous, you word-twisting hack?

  54. Eric II,

    I’ll also reiterate that the owners of this blog have asked that we (meaning individuals on this blog) cease discussion of the matter of my identity. I’m going to respect their property rights and not discuss the matter, are you?

  55. Done anytime during the next couple of decades, given the gap between Chinese and American naval power, it would ruin China even more.

    *gasp*

    and that makes it worthwhile? mr eric, have you considered any meaningful benefit analysis as to what we *gain* from a free taiwan? i can think of almost nothing — and certainly nothing that justifies expending a single missile against a rising superpower with whom we are economically closely linked and is potentially both our greatest ally and greatest enemy.

    or is it for you, as it is for the neocons, a matter of global revolutionary ideology? or is it a thoughtless, primal alpha-male issue, as it is for so many? i assume you’re talking as a pragmatist, but maybe that isn’t a safe assumption…?

    Which, combined with the growing socioeconomic integration between China and Taiwan, is why I tend to doubt that China will try it anytime soon.

    brinkmanship is a dangerous game — and, when it involves national sovereignty issues (in which we don’t even have a claim!), it is especially unpredictable.

    i would not contest, were i you, that war is ruinous to both sides. your unseemly militaristic implication is that the united states would somehow come out *ahead* in such an engagement with china. such was the logic of the arrogant european powers in 1914.

    war is not predictable. there is simply too much that spirals out of control immediately once the shooting starts to say where the ultimate outcome would lie to chance such a potentially catastrophic war — and for what? self-determination for the chinese texas?

    i’m comfortable enough with both non-western cultures and my dick to simply treat china with respect and let them settle their territorial issues for themselves. 🙂

  56. “Which of course would never work with the U.S. because it is in a far different position with PRC than those countries are. This isn’t proof, its grasping at straws.”

    Wow, that’s truly incredible. Obnoxious, disingenuous, sanctimonious twit though you may be, I’m truly in awe of your obfuscatory skills. You ask me why I think the Chinese would be willing to give billions in business deals to American companies in return for the US scrapping the TRA. I respond by pointing out the largesse they’ve bestowed on largely inconsequential countries for abandoning diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. You respond with the non sequitir that the US wouldn’t go for such a deal. All while acting as if you’re arguing the same point!

    Someone tell Karl Rove to put you on his payroll. Given his boss, he may even found your little self-rghteous outbursts to be amusing.

  57. What’s the deal with people always trying to figure out “Who is ….?”

    I say: Get out of Jason Bourne’s way. Just get the hell out of his way.

    Who is me?

  58. “and that makes it worthwhile? mr eric, have you considered any meaningful benefit analysis as to what we *gain* from a free taiwan?”

    If China wasn’t a dictatorship that kept its people weaned on a steady diet of hard-core ultra-nationalism, and didn’t have a history of waging war and making territorial claims against its neighbors, I’d agree that we wouldn’t have much to gain. Certainly not enough to precipitate a war. But then again, if that was the case, China wouldn’t be threatening to invade Taiwan right now, and would respect the right of an island that’s been de facto independent for 55 years to choose its own path. In other words, China’s ongoing threats towards Taiwan explain why the US should remain committed to defending the island.

    Again, I think China will either go the way of KMT-run Taiwan, or the way of Imperial Japan. Some of the internal reforms going on make me believe in the former possibility, but the ongoing bellicosity towards Taiwan and the ultra-nationalist propogranda that fuels it leaves me wary of the latter. If, God forbid, the latter turns out to be the case, then an isolationist approach by the US could be as ruinous as it was the last time around.

    “or is it for you, as it is for the neocons, a matter of global revolutionary ideology? or is it a thoughtless, primal alpha-male issue, as it is for so many? i assume you’re talking as a pragmatist, but maybe that isn’t a safe assumption…?”

    If I were you, I’d ask those questions to the Chinese right now, particularly given the ongoing socioeconomic integration happening between China and Taiwan. And your subsequent, largely reasonable comments regarding war would be as well-heeded in Beijing as they would be in Washington.

  59. If China wasn’t a dictatorship that kept its people weaned on a steady diet of hard-core ultra-nationalism, and didn’t have a history of waging war and making territorial claims against its neighbors, I’d agree that we wouldn’t have much to gain.

    mr eric, respectfully, this uselessly reductive characterization is not a self-evident case as to why we need to interfere in china’s territorial conflicts with its neighbors and breakaway provinces at terrible risk to ourselves.

    and i might note that american kids are “weaned on a steady diet of hard-core ultra-nationalism” every bit as much as chinese kids are. it explains a great deal of the public confusion and idiocy over iraq.

    the fear that a gradually-liberalizing china might become imperial japan is just a fear, and a remote one — and it would be, if anything, precipitated by american strategic antagonism, as japan’s was. such plain militarist paranoia is ridiculous and dangerous (but altogether american these days) without evidence. one would hope that this would be the lesson of iraq.

    moreover — THE ISSUE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US. what historical or strategic interest do we have in taiwan? none! we are the very definition of “irrelevant third party” in taiwan. the only possible excuses for intervening have to do with misguided wilsonian idealism or militarist/imperialist aspirations run amok in asia.

    and yet, for this trifle, you would risk catapulting the united states into bankruptcy and decline as europe went. perhaps wild militarism is even more advanced here than i feared.

    why does your basic viewpoint seem to be that china must be your enemy because it could be? do you imagine that we cannot coexist with any other powerful empire? does any nation that accumulates wealth and power have to be destroyed by us? because that’s a very dangerous — inevitably fatal, imo — line of thought.

  60. Eric II,

    Wow, that’s truly incredible. Obnoxious, disingenuous, sanctimonious twit though you may be, I’m truly in awe of your obfuscatory skills.

    We’ve seen that you can string insults together, but can you make an honest argument? It appears not.

    You ask me why I think the Chinese would be willing to give billions in business deals to American companies in return for the US scrapping the TRA.

    No, I asked you for proof that was possible. The proof you gave me had significant problems from the standpoint of factual predicates. Namely that the U.S. is not Barbados vis a vis the size of its economy, standing in the world, etc. In other words, your attempt to analogize falls flat on its face; there is nothing disingenuous or otherwise underhanded in poiting out this lack of fit. Anyway, you mischaracterized my question. Now, please try again.

  61. “this uselessly reductive characterization is not a self-evident case as to why we need to interfere in china’s territorial conflicts with its neighbors and breakaway provinces at terrible risk to ourselves”

    My question, again, would be why China is having these territorial conflicts with its neighbors, and what the ongoing existence of these conflicts suggest about China. The Taiwan issue is particularly telling. Why does China feel the need to invade a country that’s been de facto independent for 55 years, possibly bringing ruin upon itself in the process? It’s as if India was threatening to invade Bangladesh since it’s historically been a part of the land known as India. Can such a country be trusted to act peacefully in the future?

    I should also note that America’s support of the Taiwan Relations Act arguably works towards the goal of maintaining peace in the region. If the US abandoned the TRA, and Taiwan refused to become another Hong Kong, China is much more likely to go ahead and try to invade, and regardless of who won, the economic outcome would be disastrous for us.

    “and i might note that american kids are “weaned on a steady diet of hard-core ultra-nationalism” every bit as much as chinese kids are”

    Have you been reading any of the columns on the English-language web sites of state-owned Chinese papers? There’s a significant difference between the the nationalist rhetoric of, say, The Washington Times or The Wall Street Journal, and what these papers deliver on Taiwan, America, Japan, etc. Take a look at this column, for one example.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-07/02/content_344924.htm

    Hanjian, btw, means traitor to the Han race.

    “the fear that a gradually-liberalizing china might become imperial japan is just a fear”

    From my perspective, the parallels are numerous. Certainly not inevitable, but more than just a fear. Remember that Japan was also showing signs of liberalization in the 1910s-20s.

    “and it would be, if anything, precipitated by american strategic antagonism, as japan’s was.”

    So was Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation of China brought about by American antagonism?

    “we are the very definition of “irrelevant third party” in taiwan.”

    From my perspective, hardly moreso than the PRC.

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