Just give me what I wantI have been thinking for a very long time about writing a post on the Accommodate China group of scholars and writers and its sister group, the America's Asian Alliances Are A Burden group.
And no one gets hurt
- U2, "Vertigo" (2004)
The problem has been trying to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable -- to the Chinese people, to responsible officials in the Chinese government , to those who argue that the Unites States has to to spike the hopes of its Asian allies.
In the interim, a few initial propositions:
1) As regards historical inevitability, one cannot have it both ways. One cannot at once argue that
- China is returning to its historical level of influence and activity in world affairs
- "No, no. Don't worry, the Chinese are not going to walk down the path of conflict we have seen in previous rises of great authoritarian states."
Does history repeat itself or not? Decide. Please.
2) A free people never accommodates itself to the demands of a tyrannical state unless it is to join in common cause to defeat an even more threatening tyranny.
3) Criticizing the governments of smaller, weaker states for standing up for their rights and interests and complimenting them for being pragmatic when they go down on bended kneed before another power is not the wise counsel of a friend.
4) The value of a state can be measured by one's willingness to still live in it after being stripped of all wealth, influence or power.
Corollary: if you would not ever want to be reduced to the position of the least of citizens of a state, then you should not be an advocate for that state or for good relations with that state.
Peaceful relations? Sure. Good relations? No.
5) Selfishness, willful ignorance and narcissism, combined or separate, are not realism.
6) It's all in the timing. In 2007, Abe Shinzo and his friends were freaks because they were paranoid about China's military rise and a global public-private effort by Chinses to undermine Japan's stature in the world.
In 2014, not quite so freakish these views are, eh?
As an aside, not directly connected to the rise of China but which bubbled up during my reading of one particular recent, much-circulated essay on the unconsidered costs of U.S. alliances in East Asia:
7) What is it about a unified Korean people that should get us all misty-eyed? Should we not give as little of a damn about a unified Korea as we do about a unified Kurdistan?