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Subject: China: The Next "Necessary" Enemy? rss

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Eric Knauer
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http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11186&utm_source=...


by Doug Bandow


The Democrats hold the White House and run Congress, but military spending is going up. It's as if George W. Bush never left office.

The Pentagon budget is the definition of wasteful, unnecessary spending. The U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense. In real, inflation-adjusted terms, Washington devotes more to the military today than during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Big-spending advocates speak of America being "at war" today. Former president George W. Bush even called the war on terrorism World War III. But terrorists, though evil, pose no existential threat to America. The idea that al-Qaeda and underwear bombers are a substitute for Nazism and armored divisions or communism and nuclear-tipped ICBMs is ludicrous.

Decrepit and impoverished Third World dictatorships pose no significant threat either. Over the last three decades the U.S. has intervened in, invaded, and/or bombed a number of nations: Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Iraq (twice), Somalia, Serbia, and Afghanistan. The U.S. has threatened to attack or treated as an enemy a potpourri of other states, including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Put them all together and they collectively can't match the firepower of one U.S. carrier group.

What else is there? Russia is the enemy du jour for some, but Moscow today is a pale imitation of Moscow during the Cold War. The Soviet Union has been dismantled; its constituent states have seceded and shifted westward in orientation; the European Union alone has more than ten times Russia's GDP and spends more than Moscow on the military. Most important, though Vladimir Putin's Russia has taken a nasty authoritarian turn and exhibits near paranoid concern about the security of its border, world domination is no longer on Moscow's agenda. Even the most nationalistic Russian is not suicidal, and initiating war against America would be suicidal.

Which leaves China. For some, the Yellow Peril is the latest excuse for ever more military outlays.

A decade ago the Project for a New American Century, also busy promoting war with Iraq, declared: "Raising U.S. military strength in East Asia is the key to coping with the rise of China to great-power status." The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission routinely worries about the Chinese threat. The Rand Corporation has warned of U.S. military "vulnerability."

The Center for Security Policy even charged that China hopes to be able "to defeat us militarily." Common are "China as enemy" books, including Jed Babbin's and Edward Timperlake's Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States and Richard Bernstein's and Ross Munro's The Coming Conflict with China. The conservative web service NewMax.com once advertised Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America.

The U.S. government affects a more measured tone, but worry still underlies U.S. policy towards China. Wallace C. Gregson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, told Congress in early January: "There are other [military] capabilities China is developing that are destabilizing to regional military balances, that could restrict access to the maritime, air, space, and cyberspace domains, or that could enable China to exercise military aggression or coercion against its neighbors."

The Pentagon produces an annual report which warns of expanding Chinese military capabilities. A few weeks ago Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee, contending that the PRC's "military modernization program [had] raised concerns in the region—a concern also shared by the U.S. Pacific Command."

It seems a lot of people in Washington are searching for the next "necessary" enemy.

It is a quixotic quest. Mao's China was an impoverished and murderous madhouse. By some estimates, Mao Zedong killed more people than did Joseph Stalin. Mao's Cultural Revolution consumed many of the Communist Party faithful, just like Stalin's purges.

That China has disappeared. Today the PRC is more prosperous, open, interconnected, and responsible than ever before. True, Beijing is no ally, but it certainly is not an enemy. On some issues China is a "strategic partner." On others a "strategic competitor."

None of this should surprise U.S. policymakers. The last two decades have been an artificial moment of history, when America dominated the globe and was able to disproportionately enforce its will on other states. Despite the apparent assumption that any nation which disagrees with Washington is guilty of ill, even evil, intent, there is no reason to expect the positions of other countries to always match those of the U.S.

Washington obviously has important issues with Beijing: human rights, proliferation, military transparency, trade, North Korea, global economic cooperation, Iran, terrorism. Tensions exist: economic competition between China and America is reaching Africa and Latin America and there is nervous wariness in Washington about East Asian security. The challenge facing the U.S. is real. But the best response is thoughtful, nuanced diplomacy, not self-righteous scare-mongering.

Most important, as serious as are some of the differences between Washington and the PRC, none of them is important enough to trigger war. For all of the discussion of conflicting security interests, Beijing has neither the will nor the ability to threaten America. And it is hard to imagine the time when China will be able to seriously threaten America.

Beijing's military build-up is real but measured. Official PRC military spending was $71 billion last year; estimates of China's real defense outlays range up to $150 billion.

That's more than any other country — except America. U.S. military outlays this year will run around $700 billion. Strip out Afghanistan and Iraq and spending will still exceed $530 billion. So Washington starts with an enormous head start over the PRC: the U.S. possesses the most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, advanced air wings, numerous carriers. And America continues to spend four to seven times, depending on how one measures what, as much as Beijing on the military.

Moreover, the U.S. is allied with every major industrialized state other than Russia, while China is surrounded by countries with which it has been in conflict: India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and Vietnam. The PRC is not well-positioned to launch a war of aggression even if it had both the ability and desire to do so.

The real issue for Washington is dominance, not defense. For instance, Adm. Willard complained that China's military capabilities "appear designed to challenge U.S. freedom of action in the region and, if necessary, enforce China's influence over its neighbors — including our regional allies and partners." House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) opened the recent hearing: "the United States must demonstrate our own interests in the Asia-Pacific region including our ability to project power effectively there."

In short, what worries U.S. officials is the difficulty of preserving Washington's ability to intervene every where at any time, even along China's border. Over the last two decades the U.S. has had the world's air and ocean space largely to itself. But, observed Assistant Secretary Gregson, "As China's international role expands, our two militaries will increasingly find themselves operating in the same space." What he meant, though was unwilling to say directly, was that Washington will no longer be able to threaten the PRC with war.

That ability is fast disappearing. To deter the U.S., Beijing need not match American military power. Rather, China must modernize its nuclear force, to forestall atomic coercion, build missiles and submarines, to sink U.S. carriers, improve its air force, to end automatic American superiority, and develop asymmetric weapons, to take out U.S. satellites and attack America's information infrastructure. All of these the PRC is doing.

Thus, the Chinese build-up looks threatening — but only to Washington's global ambitions. To no longer be able to intervene at will might unnerve U.S. policymakers, but that was the world which faced America for most of its existence. And it is the world in which every other country finds itself today.

Moreover, Washington can only delay, not prevent, its return to normalcy. Beijing can build a solid deterrent force at far less cost than the U.S. can maintain its offensive capability to overwhelm China's military. And in a time of extraordinary financial crisis and widespread social need, America doesn't have the money to waste trying to remain the globe's "unipower." Far better for friendly states, including Japan, South Korea, and Australia, to cooperate defensively to encourage Chinese restraint than to assume America must defend every state against every possible adversary under every circumstance.

Why the seemingly incessant search for a new enemy by Washington? Is peace too boring?

The U.S. has vital interests, but not all interests are vital. Moreover, not all interests are worth war.

Rather than continue a foreign policy of promiscuous intervention, which requires an ever larger military and military budget, U.S. policymakers should gratefully embrace the benefits of peace. Instead of finding another enemy, Washington should end global meddling, avoid foreign confrontations, demobilize unnecessary armed forces, and cut wasteful military outlays.

Finally, the U.S. should pursue a cooperative relationship with China. Differences between the two nations are real and serious. But the outcome of the 21st century depends much on the nature of the relationship between the globe's current superpower and likely next superpower. The international order accommodated America's rise without causing world conflict; Germany's rise triggered the two worst wars of human history. It is in the interests of the world's people that China's entry on the international scene follows the former, not the latter.

It is time for genuine change in U.S. foreign policy. It is time to make defense rather than dominance the cornerstone of American strategy.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics (Crossway).
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John Taylor
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I want bourbon chicken.
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Sam I am
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I'm more worried about Canada. laugh

The military industrial complex will find someone. China has a very short history of military intervention outside China. The are more of a soft threat than a military one. I'm pissed at the billions wasted on DOD. We need to cut it by at least 50% NOW.
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Interestig article. I too agree. Didnt we have a discussion about American dominance recently?
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Xavier Salvador

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Too late, pals
I though it was self-evident that America has already lost the conflict with China.
Look at who's got eachother money in his pocketts.
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Matthew M
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Sr. Ulé wrote:
I though it was self-evident that America has already lost the conflict with China.
Look at who's got eachother money in his pocketts.


We're sharking them. Next game will be double or nothing. What could go wrong!?!
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Paul DeStefano
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The next world war will clearly be fought with China on one side, vs the US, the Dalai Lama and Google.
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Eric Knauer
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Bring Our Marines Home
Nice companion piece by Buchanan.


Bring Our Marines Home
by Patrick J. Buchanan



A month after Germany surrendered in May 1945, America's eyes turned to the Far East, where the bloodiest battle of the Pacific war was joined on the island of Okinawa.

Twelve thousand U.S. soldiers and Marines would die – twice as many dead in 82 days of fighting as have died in all the years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Within weeks of the battle's end came Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three weeks later, Gen. MacArthur took the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri.

That was 65 years ago, as far away in time from today as the Marines' arrival at Da Nang was from Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill.

Yet the Marines are still on Okinawa. But, in 2006, the United States negotiated a $26 billion deal to move 8,000 to Guam and the other Marines from the Futenma air base in the south to the more isolated town of Nago on the northern tip. Okinawans have long protested the crime, noise and pollution at Futenma.

The problem arose last year when the Liberal Democratic Party that negotiated the deal was ousted and the Democratic Party of Japan elected on a promise to pursue a policy more balanced between Beijing and Washington.

The new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, indicated his unease with the Futenma deal, and promised to review it and decide by May. Voters in Nago just elected a mayor committed to keeping the new base out.

This weekend, thousands demonstrated in Tokyo against moving the Marine air station to Nago. Some demanded removal of all U.S. forces from Japan. After 65 years, they want us out. And Prime Minister Hatoyama has been feeding the sentiment. In January, he terminated Japan's eight-year mission refueling U.S. ships aiding in the Afghan war effort.

All of which raises a question. If Tokyo does not want Marines on Okinawa, why stay? And if Japanese regard Marines as a public nuisance, rather than a protective force, why not remove the irritant and bring them home?

Indeed, why are we still defending Japan? She is no longer the ruined nation of 1945, but the second-largest economy on earth and among the most technologically advanced.

The Sino-Soviet bloc against which we defended her in the Cold War dissolved decades ago. The Soviet Union no longer exists. China is today a major trading partner of Japan. Russia and India have long borders with China, but neither needs U.S. troops to defend them.

Should a clash come between China and Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, why should that involve us?

Comes the retort: American troops are in Japan to defend South Korea and Taiwan. But South Korea has a population twice that of the North, an economy 40 times as large, access to the most advanced weapons in the U.S. arsenal and a U.S. commitment to come to her defense by air and sea in any second Korean War.

And if there is a second Korean War, why should the 28,000 U.S. troops still in Korea, many on the DMZ, or Marines from Futenma have to fight and die? Is South Korea lacking for soldiers? Seoul, too, has been the site of anti-American demonstrations demanding we get out.

Why do we Americans seem more desperate to defend these countries than their people are to have us defend them? Is letting go of the world we grew up in so difficult?

Consider Taiwan. On his historic trip to Beijing in 1972, Richard Nixon agreed Taiwan was part of China. Jimmy Carter recognized Beijing as the sole legitimate government. Ronald Reagan committed us to cut back arms sales to Taiwan.

Yet, last week, we announced a $6.4 billion weapons sale to an island we agree is a province of China. Beijing, whose power is a product of the trade deficits we have run, is enraged that we are arming the lost province she is trying to bring back to the motherland.

Is it worth a clash with China to prevent Taiwan from assuming the same relationship to Beijing the British acceded to with Hong Kong? In tourism, trade, travel and investment, Taiwan is herself deepening her relationship with the mainland. Is it not time for us to cut the cord?

With the exception of the Soviet Union, few nations in history have suffered such a relative decline in power and influence as the United States in the last decade. We are tied down in two wars, are universally disliked and are running back-to-back deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product, as our debt is surging to 100 percent of GDP.

A strategic retreat from Eurasia to our own continent and country is inevitable. Let it begin by graciously acceding to Japan's request we remove our Marines from Okinawa and politely inquiring if they wish us to withdraw U.S. forces from the Home Islands, as well.
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I've got no strong opinions here, but just want to add some anectodes:

eknauer wrote:
Yet, last week, we announced a $6.4 billion weapons sale to an island we agree is a province of China. Beijing, whose power is a product of the trade deficits we have run, is enraged that we are arming the lost province she is trying to bring back to the motherland.
A former colleague at a research institue in Taiwan told me that US is in Okinawa to protect Taiwan. He said that US is trying to get Taiwan to keep enough strength to hold off a Chinese attack for one week, which is what US would need to get to Taiwan with enough strength to hold it. He said that Taiwan (and US) calculate that the current Taiwanese defence is enough to hold on a Chinese assault for 2-3 days, which is 4-5 days too short. He said one reason for this is that the Taiwanese defense budget is burdened with unproportionately many high-paid top-ranked officers, as the administrative structure of it is designed to keep control over everything they regard as "Republic of China", encompassing China, Taiwan and Mongolia. The political influence of the generals in the KMT party prevents this country to get rid of this anachronism and adjust to reality. As a second reason for Taiwan's military insuffiency, my colleague claimed that the equipment they have is obsolete, that they used what has been phased out by the American defense. He claimed that Taiwan pays for this tacit alliance by buying whatever US wants to get rid off, at the price they choose. That's the opinion of a Taiwanese economist, for whatever its worth

eknauer wrote:
A strategic retreat from Eurasia to our own continent and country is inevitable. Let it begin by graciously acceding to Japan's request we remove our Marines from Okinawa and politely inquiring if they wish us to withdraw U.S. forces from the Home Islands, as well.
Studying US-Asian relations in Japan, I had a Korean classmate whom we nicknamed "the doll". Many Asian women come across as a bit dollike, but this was the dolliest of them all. 1.50 tall and 40 kilos, dressed up as a little lady from some kind of fairy-tale Disney movie from the 50-s. Never spoke in public, and when speaking in private, did so with a very faint voice and a hand in front of the mouth. She seemed so shy that you wondered how she managed to do grocery shopping. One day she was up for having a presentation in class about Korean-US relations. I guess most of us wondered if we would hear anything at all, or if she'd faint out of shyness on the first power-point slide. But it was us that almost did. Her first slide, before uttering a word, was a gory picture of mutilated bodies lying on a road. She started: "One day, the two teenagers N and N were walking home from school and were ran over by an American army vehicle. No one was ever prosecuted for the crime". And what followed was a hate-speech against the troops in South Korea. After which she went back to her seat and returned to doll-mode. After a period of awkward silence, the professor cleared his throat and continued his lecture. She stayed in doll-shape for the rest of the semester. It was all a bit surreal.

Don't think this resentment is very representative though, as I've never heard anything like it from any other Koreans.

Whatever. My personal belief is that the Chinese government knows what it's doing. They know that an international war would serve them poorly. So if those were my troops, I'd rather have them in Afghanistan. But that's just my uninformed opinion : )
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IMHO: China will get Taiwan back through soft power (cashing in the debt card.) and not a shot will be fired. It is time the US realized if they will not defend themselves tough titty. ALL but a few 7-10 foreign bases should be closed. Korea is a HUGE joke if the north invaded the first thing they'd probably do is loot. When they see the huge difference in standards of living N vs. S, shoot their leaders.
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Re: North Korea. Hitchens had a great article on Slate the other day:

A Nation Of Racist Dwarfs: Kim Jong-il's regime is even weirder and more despicable than you thought

Frickin' bizarre. The average North Korean is SIX INCHES shorter than the average South Korean! Due to an official policy of malnutrition, as they come from essentially the same genetic stock. And that's hardly the weirdest thing about the regime either.

ETA: From the Paradox Dept., the feeling of reading an article by Pat Buchanan without it setting off my crazymeter, sets off my crazymeter.
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Without reading the OP, HELLS YES! Fucking commies deserve it. Let's start in Taiwan before they invade San Francisco! Conservatives rejoice, the Cold War is back!
 
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