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History Made; Media Blind
The American Iinterest ^ | December 20, 2011 | Walter Russell Mead

Posted on 12/22/2011 10:37:36 PM PST by neverdem

Amid the scramble in newsrooms and government offices around the world that followed Kim Jong-Il’s death, one important piece of news from Asia missed all the headlines.

The real news in Asian politics yesterday, the kind of thing that will likely show up in the history books, was a quiet meeting announced by the State Department. If you missed it, it’s because people didn’t cover it much, but for the first time ever, India, Japan, and the US held a round of trilateral talks on the future of Asia and the strategic picture. The session, reads a State Department media release, “mark[s] the beginning of a series of consultations among our three governments, who share common values and interests across the Asia-Pacific and the globe”. These three powers aren’t an alliance; the US and Japan have a treaty of alliance, but India remains non-aligned — and has no plans to change. This is an entente, not an alliance. It is a community that rests on common concerns and common views about important developments — but ententes are important. This one in particular (which besides the Big Three also includes important regional presences like Australia, Vietnam, Singapore and others) may play a bigger role in US foreign policy than NATO as time moves on.

This event received little attention in the media. Yesterday’s newspapers were awash with obituaries for North Korea’s Dear Leader. Breathless reporters gushed about a succession crisis on the peninsula; others made lists of Mr. Kim’s favorite toys. But the launching of trilateral strategic consultation between India, Japan and the US is a much bigger event than the latest twist in the Kim dynasty’s fortunes.

How did Beijing take the news of the meeting? It “raised eyebrows” according to one report. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the ”US, Japan and India are countries with great influence in the Asia-Pacific region. We hope the trilateral meeting will be conducive to regional peace and stability”. Very cautious; butter wasn’t melting in his mouth — but the PLA and the Foreign Ministry are paying close attention as China’s biggest nightmare takes a giant step onto the world stage.

We don’t have to tell you that disputes over the South China Sea, political developments in Myanmar, resource competition on mainland Asia, riparian conflict over Asia’s biggest rivers, security and terrorism issues, and much else is all connected in a competitive landscape that will drive Asian geopolitics for years to come. We’ve been writing about that for months. The US-China minuet — sometimes competitive, sometimes cooperative — taking place against this background is the most important story in world politics today, but the media is only gradually taking note.

Beijing has been thrown off its game by Washington’s diplomatic blitzkrieg in Asia this fall — and by the steady move away from Beijing’s orbit by the Burmese junta, one of only two reliable Chinese friends in the region.  Burma’s move toward the US, India and Japan is a shock for Beijing, and it makes the Dear Leader’s death even more unsettling. North Korea is China’s last reliable regional partner after the Burmese defection; now Kim is quite suddenly dead, and Beijing has to wonder what comes next.

China jumped quickly to recognize Kim Jong-Eun as the Great Successor amid reports that officials in Beijing were worried about North Korea. The foreign ministry was “shocked” by the Great Leader’s death but quickly followed up with support for his son, announcing Beijing’s “faith” in “Comrade” Kim Jong-Eun and welcoming his future first official visit to China. And let’s not overlook Chinese president Hu Jintao’s hasty excursion to the North Korean embassy in Beijing where he expressed his condolences for the Dear Leader’s passing. The details of his other meetings there are not public.

There is speculation that the Great Successor will not be quite as pro-China and anti-West as his father, but this is premature. We didn’t even know what Kim Jong-Eun looked like until last year, much less what kind of leader he will turn out to be. Suffice it to say that Beijing is worried about a Myanmar-style opening in North Korea, however far-fetched that might seem at the moment.

One suspects that the North Koreans are watching what happens in Myanmar/Burma as the generals shift towards the entente. North Korea has to worry sometimes about a too-total dependence on China; diversifying its diplomatic portfolio could make sense.

In any case, the Asian games continue. Hopefully as time goes by the mainstream press will do a better job of helping readers connect the dots that connect places like Burma and North Korea, and historic developments like triangular strategic talks between the three most important democratic powers in the region will actually be deemed worthy of attention. Until then, we’ll do our poor best at Via Meadia to help readers watch history unfold.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Japan; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: burma; china; india; northkorea
China Says Pakistan Trains Uighur Terrorists

It's a little old. It's a link in the story.

1 posted on 12/22/2011 10:37:43 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

During their Lincoln-Douglas style debate, both Gingrich and Huntsman talked about the foreseeable troubles in this very area, and their debate was held before the death of the little dear leader’s death.


2 posted on 12/22/2011 10:42:14 PM PST by onyx (PLEASE SUPPORT FREE REPUBLIC:DONATE MONTHLY! Sarah's New Ping List - tell me if you want on it.)
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To: onyx

What about Huntsman for CIC? His experience with China intrigues me. Maybe he’ll get a chance to be the front-runner next.

3 posted on 12/22/2011 11:01:52 PM PST by DrGunsforHands
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To: DrGunsforHands

His reputation as a RINO is due to social issues entirely. Fiscally he is a lot more conservative than Romney and probably Gingrich too. He was not a bad governor of Utah. I’d be fine with him, and I do believe he would be a decent competitor for Obama with the independents and moderates.

4 posted on 12/22/2011 11:08:30 PM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: onyx

There’s nothing about the chats Gingrich has had that in any way resembles the Lincoln-Douglas debates. If he’s the “in demand” historian he wants everyone to believe, he should know better than to perpetrate that lie...

5 posted on 12/22/2011 11:22:56 PM PST by stormer
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To: neverdem

I’d feel better if South Korea and Taiwan were conspicuous parts of this new entente.

6 posted on 12/23/2011 3:58:08 AM PST by zeestephen
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To: zeestephen

“I’d feel better if South Korea and Taiwan were conspicuous parts of this new entente.”

Ultimately, I think the new global power aliance will be Israel, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. I think the US will play little role as every four to eight years the US can fall into enemy hands.

7 posted on 12/23/2011 4:59:12 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: neverdem

Now for today’s onslaught from this barnyard Solzhenitsyn.

Before admiring Walter Russell Mead’s fresh insight , where were the warnings from this journalist in 1972 when Nixon went to China and set the currently unfolding disaster up with immoral posturing.
I said “Don’t awake the slumbering dragon” in 1972 and I say it now.
I said in 1972 that commerce with China is immoral and I say it now.

Bill Buckley gave a 2 and 1/2 hour speech, after he returned from China in 1972 (Boca Raton), saying the much same thing and making me think that perhaps I wasn’t crazy.
Nixon was wrong because he forgot ethics and morality in favor of a suicidal “Realpolitok”.
He was behind kicking Taiwan (the real China) out of the UN and gave their seat to the People’s Republic.

Interacting with China did not have to mean giving away the family farm.
Or dancing with Mao, Pat Nixon.
Most of us are still asleep about China. We will wake up and be dancing with Mao’s ghost during the exterminations.


8 posted on 12/23/2011 6:49:26 AM PST by De La Marche (Suggestion for Debates)
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To: ccmay
His reputation as a RINO is due to social issues entirely.

A socially LIEberal country will never, can never, have a conservative fiscal policy. To think otherwise is mere placation of the socialist and wishful thinking. It is a losers hand.

9 posted on 12/23/2011 6:56:10 AM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: DrGunsforHands

Regarding Huntsman, I don’t want anyone BHO has appointed, plus he’s an obvious Globalist.

10 posted on 12/23/2011 7:17:35 AM PST by llandres (Forget the "New America" - restore the original one!!)
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To: DrGunsforHands

Also, like Mittens (and Harry Reid), he’s Morman.

11 posted on 12/23/2011 7:26:05 AM PST by llandres (Forget the "New America" - restore the original one!!)
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To: Gen.Blather

“...every four to eight years the US can fall into enemy hands.”


Wonderful metaphor.

I shake my head in disbelief when people say “America...this” or “America...that.”

Foreign policy and military policy flow directly from the White House.

They are personal, not national.

12 posted on 12/23/2011 12:06:06 PM PST by zeestephen
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To: central_va
A socially LIEberal country will never, can never, have a conservative fiscal policy.

I've never, myself, really understood the locution "economic conservative" except as an attempt to gull and deceive.

Socially liberal is liberal; and all the rest is just arithmetic.

An "economic conservative" is a liberal who knows how to count. A "Neoconservative" is a liberal who knows that being shot dead by a Manchu or Siberian soldier is, as the lame teacher said, "baaaahd, 'ngkay?"

"Economic conservative" means "I don't mind selling my soul and my countrymen down the river, but I know how to get a good price!"


13 posted on 12/23/2011 7:36:16 PM PST by lentulusgracchus
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To: De La Marche
Most of us are still asleep about China.

My Dad served in the Korean War. We knew what the Communist Chinese were then, and that has not changed as much as many seem to think.

14 posted on 12/24/2011 1:36:54 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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