Skip to comments.Asia Rising (The future is happening there, for better or worse).
Posted on 04/23/2006 3:34:40 AM PDT by jome
Donald Rumsfeld infamously made a distinction between Old Europe and New Europe. He has been scored ever since for his sweeping and impolitic language, but he wasn't sweeping enough: In geopolitical terms, all of Europe is old, the world's most tourist-friendly museum piece.
For the future of high-stakes U.S. diplomacy and of great-power politics, look no further than Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S. It is Asia that should occupy an outsized place in our strategic thinking, and it is Europe that should be the relative afterthought, not the other way around. The media and foreign-policy establishments haven't yet gotten their minds around this, which is why the Bush administration's giving Dominic de Villepin a case of the vapors has gotten so much more attention than its shrewd work of making friends in Asia.
Europe obviously still matters. It has an economy roughly as large as ours; a bigger population; and more men under arms or at least wearing nice uniforms. America needs to remain the leader of the united West, which means working with Europe, no matter how annoying that is. But in our mind's eye, Europe should be hung with an enormous sign: "The future used to happen here."
Europe's stasis is a benign and even enviable one, peaceful and relatively prosperous. The continent's grand project of creating a European Union superstate to rival the United States has, fortunately, foundered. Recent elections in Germany and Italy have produced sullen deadlocks. And student protests in France show how vested even the youth are in the status quo, in contrast to the electric dynamism of India and China.
India has been shedding its deadening Fabian socialism, an import from Europe, and is a burgeoning economic power. China has created a kind of ramshackle free-market economy in a bizarre shotgun marriage with a communist state hat is producing robust growth. Both countries are on the rise. Japan has been in a decade-long rut, but is still the world's second-largest economy. The trend lines in terms of economic and military power all say "Asia."
The future is happening there, for better or worse. If we offend Europe, it still putters, and sputters, on. The stakes in Asia are much higher. Taiwan could be an occasion for a war. India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed adversaries. China could break up into feuding fiefdoms. Then, there's the psycho-state of North Korea. Given the region's importance and potential pitfalls, Bush-administration diplomacy should get more notice.
President Bush has hitched a rising India to the U.S. At the same time, he has forged a close relationship with India's historic rival, Pakistan. The U.S. alliance with Japan has never been stronger, and relations with China are relatively friendly, too. The administration has been firm in its defense of Taiwan's de facto independence, while keeping the island from any unnecessary provocations. Diplomatically putting aside the intractable North Korean nuclear problem his is as close as it comes to running the table.
The strategic goal is to create a sustainable balance of power so Asian countries can continue to liberalize. As Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations argues, if the focus is exclusively on China's rising power vis-à-vis the United States, the historic model is Europe circa 1914, with China in the role of Germany. If the focus is widened out to include Japan and India as Bush has sought to do hen the more congenial model might be Europe circa 1815, with a balance between several powers and the United States as Britain, which maintained that balance at very little cost to itself.
All of this means our lingering Eurocentrism is out of place. We should care less about Jacques Chirac taking offense at our latest alleged gaucherie and more about what Dr. Manmohan Singh he prime minister of India thinks of attempts in Congress to torpedo the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Europe is yesterday's news; Asia is tomorrow's.
for better or worse? u tell me
None of this matters at all. Bush needs to be investigated for whether he was the reason that Valerie Plame was outed.
A generally good article. Some points I notice:
"As Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations argues, if the focus is exclusively on China's rising power vis-à-vis the United States, the historic model is Europe circa 1914, with China in the role of Germany."
Funny enough that I was reading a biography of Nicholas II of Russia the otehr day. It was written in 1993, just soon after the Soviet Union's dissolution. The author was British (can't recall his name) and he put forth taht the world order was much nearer to pre-1914 world than the previous 70 years, with the United States as the equivalent of the British Empire's position vis-a-vis Japan recasting the pre-1914 Germany's role. Of course the noise is much different, and now these same people consisder (P.R.) China rather than Japan now cast as the new Germany.
"All of this means our lingering Eurocentrism is out of place. We should care less about Jacques Chirac taking offense at our latest alleged gaucherie and more about what Dr. Manmohan Singh he prime minister of India thinks of attempts in Congress to torpedo the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. Europe is yesterday's news; Asia is tomorrow's."
Europe is also trying to build up diplomatic, trade, and military focus in Asia, although efforts so far have been rather "dialogues" (read: confabs) like the annual Europe-Asian summits. Asian countries still consider Europe important at least on lip levels, but in reality the only thing that matters to Asian countries about Europe is trade.
Also it is interesting to notice that when the US makes signals about shifting focus to Asia away from Europe, the US liberals, and professional diplomat circles will then wail out about "alienating and cold shouldering our traditional allies in Europe", but nary a peep is heard from them when we watch news about European countries' and Canada etc's statements that they are to focus on Asia away from the US.
Asia is not rising, they are just multiplying.
"traditional allies in Europe" means our former enemies, ironically.
That was funny. Unless you have a death wish you should not drive a moped there.
Absolutely. This also illustrates the US liberals' lack of historical perspectives. Or perhaps they don't allow historical perspectives to be employed for the US but make the other case for all other countries.
LOL! Economically, that should be a good thing, as long as they have a free economy at the same time.
"Europe is old, the world's most tourist-friendly museum piece."Let me know when the garage sale begins. European junk should have a good resale value in those hot Asian markets.
"America needs to remain...working with Europe, no matter how annoying that is."It's not a matter of annoyance. It's a matter of drain--how much propping up we're willing to to and is it worth it--whether we're willing to save them yet again or just shrug as they go down the drain into Islamic theocracy.
We saved them from mutual destruction We saved them from Naziism. We saved them from communism. Is it worth it to save them yet again?
(Speaking of garage sale, maybe we'd better pick up the European nukes as soon as we can. No need to leave them just sitting there when the Muslims take over.)
"If we offend Europe..."...so what? We offend Europe merely by existing. They can't scrape together the energy or the will to survive. They're going to do something about the offensiveness of the U.S.?
"Taiwan could be an occasion for a war."Okay. Why not tell the Taiwanese to come over here to America? Make them U.S. citizens. They're strongly anti-communist. Then China can have Taiwan. This will also avoid a Fall-of-Saigon scenario.
"India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed adversaries."This is bad, but it does keep India in strong alliance with the U.S.
"China could break up into feuding fiefdoms."Anything's possible, but this is highly unlikely.
"Then, there's the psycho-state of North Korea."Essentially a Chinese puppet. Not likely to do anything serious as long as China's kept happy.
Asia's population multiplies as its economy rises. It it necessary that the US in its role as that of Britain circa 1914/1915 should put history on a leverage and prepare for the threat that China poses/will pose. Pakistan will switch allegiance when China challenges the US (whenever it is that the chicoms think they have enough power to do so). Given this, the only reliable allies that the US really has is India and Japan. Vietnam is another potential ally in countering China. This would in effect serve the US well if it would make concrete, the relationship with these 3 countries and then also concentrate on certain central Asian states like Kirghizstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Kazakhstan's fallen to the chicoms).
Vietnam is NOT an ally. They would as soon ally with China in a war against the US, and settle their differences later.
"Asia is not rising, they are just multiplying."
I agree, to an extent. The fact is, so far looks like the future is still the United States. Unless we blow it somehow, we should dominate the world for some centuries to come. It is in fact difficult to determine who would eventually be our successor after such a great period of time.
Chinese economic growth is way overblown. China is still a country of massive poverty. In fact, they have deliberately provoked Japan to provide a distraction for their people and an excuse for their totalitarian government (protection against Japan).
I believe they realized that the US was not working as a threat to their people. The idea that the U. S. preventing China from invading Taiwan was a threat to the security of the average Chinese person was a joke---even to the Chinese.
However, as Japan rearms, presumably the Chinese government will be able to stir up some real fear inside China---based on historical reasons---not current reality.
Japanese militarization will create real problems for China---but they had to pay that price to create a credible external enemy. That is because they cannot solve the problems of their society. There is too much poverty.
India has potential, but they would have to undergo some major shifts to really start getting there.
Japan of course, is a different story. In the 70s, Japan scared the crap out of us. They seemed unstoppable, and I haven't forgotten it. Their manufacturing is superb---ours has lots of problems.
But so far, Japan has not quite made it either---in terms of surpassing the US. Japan, remember, has never experienced a democratic shift in power from one party to another. They have had a democracy since 1945 or so---but with only a single party in power.
The Japanese obsession with "face" is a significant problem. It turns out that transparency is vital to capitalism. And transparency and saving face are not compatible.
Nonetheless, this problem could be solved. If it was, Japan could truly challenge the US for worldwide economic supremacy.
I feel that Mr Lowry is saying Asia is rising in the sense that most nations that will really matter on the international stage in the future, besides the United States, will be Asian. He doesn't mean that Asia will be the only place that matters to world's affairs in the future, only that the United States will be the remaining non-Asian countries that are still consequential in thw world (with very limited exceptions of Britain and Israel).
In a sense, China, India, Japan etc are rising that France, Germany, Italy etc aren't. But as a Chinese, I dount China will really be a great contributor to world affairs until the Communists are no longer in power - that may happen in 10 years.
""Then, there's the psycho-state of North Korea."
Essentially a Chinese puppet. Not likely to do anything serious as long as China's kept happy."
Excellent observation. Not many people seem to understand this apparently obvious fact.
"But as a Chinese, I dount China will really be a great contributor to world affairs until the Communists are no longer in power"
"- that may happen in 10 years."
Wish you luck in that regard, but I am guessing much longer.