East Asia's New Old Cold War

As President Bush tours East Asia this week, the region's online media simmers with palpable resentment between Japan and its neighbors. While Bush seeks closer military relations with Japan, other host countries in the region are preoccupied with animosities against Tokyo rooted in a war that ended 60 years ago.

Sometimes it's the smallest issues that are the most telling.

The opening of the new movie, "Memoirs of a Geisha," for example, has stirred controversy in China because one of the country's best known actresses, Zhang Ziyi, stars in a movie that is essentially about Japan and its culture.

"The debate over Zhang's role in the film first started online, perhaps with a photograph of Sayuri and her lover, The Chairman (Japanese actor Ken Watanabe), cuddling and kissing," reports the China Daily. "That set the tongues, especially in Internet chatrooms, rolling. "

"'Why did Zhang accept the role of a Japanese 'prostitute?' 'Why did she allow a Japanese man on top of her?' These are some of the more common questions asked in the chatrooms. The responses were equally strong, the gist of which would be: 'It's an insult to national pride.'"

On larger issues the political language of normally polite Asia has become unusually blunt.

When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last month paid his fifth visit to the Yakasuni shrine where several World War II war criminals are honored, the People's Daily in Beijing ran a story quoting two European analysts describing his move as "stupid."

In response to the continuing controversy over the shrine, Asahi reports that members of the Japanese parliament are proposing a new shrine to the dead from all of Japan's wars that would be less offensive to China and South Korea.

But other Japanese are increasingly unapologetic about past. The granddaughter of Gen. Hideki Tojo, one of the most notorious World War II war criminals, has emerged as an influential Japanese political commentator, notes a piece in the Asia Times

Yuko Tojo says her grandfather, the man who ordered the Pearl Harbor attack, led a "war of freedom" in Asia. "Essentially he was a kind man who loved peace," she said. "He was defending his country against foreign aggressors. His greatest crime was that he loved his country."

Yuko Tojo, says author David McNeill, "articulates a set of views that resonate in a country floundering since the end of the Cold War and spooked by the rise of China," where the desire for "a more muscular, independent foreign policy backed by a strong military" is growing.

Several Japanese commentators call for moving away from the principles of the country's pacifist constitution. They endorse the Oct. 29 military agreement between Japan and the United States that calls for increased cooperation between the two countries.

"Japan needs to face up to the fact that the Cold War is not yet over in Asia and that new risks are increasing," says the Japan Times. A business leader writes in the Daily Yomiuri that "Chinese military power is undoubtedly a threat that must be squarely faced."

The U.S.-Japan military agreement, replied a commentator for the People's Daily last week,  displays a "Cold War mentality that goes against the trend of the times." By mounting "the war chariot of the United States," Japan "will not make itself more secure, but instead will harm its long-term national interests."

After being the target of widespread criticism at the Latin American summit last week, Bush may be glad the Asian media isn't talking about him.

By Jefferson Morley |  November 15, 2005; 9:33 AM ET  | Category:  Asia
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The rise of a militantly re-armed Japanese nation is the goal of US policy. They are to be partners in our global hegemony. Like other members of the Destroy Iraq coalition, Britain, Australia, Italy, etc., they have endorsed a nihilist world-plundering ideology of elites who support each other's warmongering and faux-democratic propaganda farces in their own countries. This allied madness can only result in blocs forced to war to counter the hegemony. Better that the US and its coconspirators be checked now, by whatever means necessary.

Posted by: GaryandAbby | November 15, 2005 11:01 AM

Me Chinese me no care me make piss piss in your hair!

Posted by: Wang | November 15, 2005 11:36 AM

It is US that has created this Chinese dragon. Communist China was a pariah state, just like today's North Korea until Richard Nixon in his infinite wisdom decided to embrace China's communist dragon in order to counter Russia's soviet bear in 1972. All the European and far-east countries including Japan were shunning China until then.

In order to save his place in history after his impeachment, Nixon encouraged democratic Carter to advance those relations. Then Nixon advised republican Reagan/Bush to open up vast American consumer market to cheap Chinese goods, thereby allowing China a foothold in US as well as letting China earn all the foreign exchange she needed to buy all the weapons in the world. Foothold in US also allowed China to smuggle out weapons and missiles technologies.

After calling Chinese rulers 'butchers of Beijing' in 1992 elections, Clinton invited Nixon to Whitehouse in early 1993 to get lessons in foreign policy. As usual, Nixon advised Clinton the same thing that he had advised Clinton's predecessors. Within six months Clinton had changed his tune and became staunch supporter of trade with China, forgetting all about Beijing butchery.

As such Nixon has done far more for China's economic progress than Mao Tse Tung can ever do. It behooves China to erect anti-Communist Nixon's statue right next to die-hard Communist Mao Tse Tung in Beijing.

Now US is afraid of the monster that it has created. And so US is looking for all the allies in Asia to counter China. One wouldn't be surprised if one day US encourages Japan to develop and deploy nuclear weapons to counter North Korean-Chinese nuclear threat.

Posted by: suresh | November 15, 2005 01:27 PM

I was born in 1937 and have some memory of World War II. In fact, The first news story on the radio I can recall was the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japan literally raped and pillaged the Far East before and during World War II. China and the Korea suffered the longest period of occupations in their conflicts with Japan. Japan began chopping off pieces of China in 1894, and Korea was occupied since 1910. 1937 marked the beginning of what would be World War II between China and Japan. The occupation of South East Asia followed from 1941 to 1945. It is therefore not surprising that hostility is still felt toward Japan, and the countries of the region do not want to see the resurgence of militarism in that country.
While Japan has the right of self defense, I don't think it is in any country's interest to see the return of militarism on the scale seen before 1945.
While there are some in the Republican Party who are hysterically Anti-Communist, I believe that the multinational companies who support trade with China will use their influence on the Bush administation to keep things on an even keel.
In deed, I believe it is in the interest of any American Administration, regardless of trade policy, to mediate any disagreements within that region.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | November 15, 2005 02:17 PM

Looks like a cold reception in Japan. Bush & wife were met by one of Japan's "baseball legends" at the airport. You would think some head of state would be there. Just goes to show how low Bush is viewed around the world. Why did it take Americans so long to come to the same view.

An observation: It seems Bush now only gives speeches from American military bases when in the USA. I've never seen a president so afraid of the people. Well, maybe not so much the people but the questions they may ask. I can't imagine the agony we as Americans will face with this president being in power for three more years.

Posted by: Sully | November 15, 2005 02:34 PM

Mr. Morley,

You don't seem to know anything about Yasukuni Shrine. Nobody is buried in the shrine -- instead, it enshines the spirits of the war dead.

Also in Japan, the status of so-called A-class war criminals was restored, and they are no longer war criminals under the Japanese law.

Posted by: pundit | November 15, 2005 03:44 PM

China's power has been slowly growing for decades. Re-arming Japan and aiding India to becoming a world power are all aimed at hemming in China a few decades down the road when the US' power in the region has faded (as it inevitably will).

Japan's war record is horrendous, and still within living memory. The memories of British prisoners of war are bad enough, but the native peoples suffered worse. So there are going to be countries that won't trust Japan and probably continue to do so for another half a century.

But should Japan not re-arm? We're pressing Germany to do just that and their own war record is worse. Though Germany has shown a level of regret that Japan hasn't.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | November 15, 2005 05:26 PM

those freakin japs

Posted by: Chinese man | November 15, 2005 05:29 PM

Getting into a lather over what one of your movie stars does seems a little oversensitive to me.

Then again, if I were Chinese, I'd be pretty unhappy with all the revisionist history in Japan, in which the 'Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere' was just what it's name sounds like, and other people started the war.

I'm a big fan of the Japanese in many areas, but if you compare Japan and Germany and how well they've come to terms with the legacy of their Axis years... Japan is a very distant second best. And as time goes by the Japanese seem to get even worse. Personally I feel embarrassed for them. Whenever I'm in Germany and see an exhibit on the Holocaust or the Nazis (quite frequently) I admire the modern Germans a little more, for having the courage to face up to what they did and not let it happen again. Japan can't seem to muster the inner will to do this; instead they take comfort in fairytale histories in which Japan was an innocent victim.

Posted by: MacMorrigu | November 15, 2005 05:39 PM

mr pundit:

A crime is a crime. Any victim of murder or torture deserves JUSTICE, what the law says is IRRELEVANT. HELLO?????!!!!!!

Posted by: HYME | November 15, 2005 05:47 PM

I'm always mindful of the adage "history can teach us nothing," and its somewhat ironic meaning. First, history rarely shows us what to do, but often what not to do by revealing our mistakes. Second, it is a caution that we must not live in our history but build a world moving forward. My dearly departed uncle was captured on Corregidor and spent all of WWII in a Japanese POW camp, so I have a fair idea of what atrocities the Japanese committed then. But to argue that such history should preclude Japan from protecting itself vigorously from the clear threat posed by China's military build-up, and increasing reports of Chinese military espionage in the US, ignores the consistent historical lesson that a society unprotected that seeks only peace with powerful competitors is destined to be consumed. We must look forward, not back, and allow Japan to defend itself and its interests against an increasingly powerful and aggressive China.

Posted by: Bryce | November 15, 2005 05:50 PM

We have seen a lot of movies based on what had happened in Europe during WWII. What we are lacking is the documentary or movie to describe what had happened in the Asia during the same time. Usually movie is more effective to educate people than the text books. If we do not learn from history, history will repeat. Surviving victims are getting old and dying. No body will be live to tell their live experience, soon.

Posted by: A survivor from Japenese murder | November 15, 2005 06:50 PM

I m a Islamic scholar residing in Iran and a student of mathematics....seeing the ongoing events and referring the history and old books it is for sure that an armageddon is going to take place..China is for sure going to rule the world...it has a great military buildup...

Its a general observation that US is taking wrong decisions day by day...it didnt learn from history

see this pages

http://www.mindprod.com/politics/iraqwarpix.html#IRAQWARPIX

http://www.mindprod.com/politics/iraq.html

Posted by: hossein | November 15, 2005 06:52 PM


Japan is fading quickly. Even as their economy bounces back, their population heads towards old-age implosion. In the past the Chinese have shown themselves masters of the use of TIME. Time is not on Japan's side, regardless of how many bombs they build. The rising sun is not that of Japan, they would do well to understand that. Appologizing for the war will be much more expensive later, when they will have no choice.

Posted by: Xenophon | November 15, 2005 06:54 PM

Predictions of armageddon from an "Islamic scholar"?

Quotes like "Better that the US and its coconspirators be checked now, by whatever means necessary"

Blatant demosntrations of anti-American sentiment and preference towards Communist China???


Is this what the Washington Posts's readership has sunk to?

Posted by: ende | November 15, 2005 07:33 PM

suesh -
A pariah state? I hardly think a country with one fifth the worlds population could have been ignored. Anyone not looking through their long-haired-hippie-anti-establishment-timothy-leary-loving glasses can see that making China a friend was a good move. Keep your freinds close, and your enemies closer. I am suprised you did not mention how Nixon was behind the JFK assasination. And by the way, I think I heard he was responsible for Katrina.

Mr. GaryandAbby -
I'm pretty sure you have used that same response for every international news story that reports on something other than sunshine and rainbows. Try thinking about each issue independently, leave your closed-minded liberalism at home.

This is an issue that long predates the world's anti-american sentiment created by the media. It even predates any American involvement in this region. I know it is hard to believe, but it is not always the U.S.'s fault. These countries do not like each other. It is that simple.

Posted by: CommonSenseSupporter | November 15, 2005 07:42 PM

Chinese, Japanese,dirty knees, what are these?!

Posted by: Chunk | November 15, 2005 08:18 PM

I'm not sure I'd call today's China a 'friend' of the United States. At best the two have mutual points of interest in some areas. In others, it isn't so mutual (Taiwan, basic societal principles, the balance of power in Asia, etc).

There's no doubt that China is a rising power, but it's a mistake to assume they're on an inevitable climb to domination. You heard the same sort of thing about how Japan was going to buy out America in the 80s, and in the 90s there were fears about a reunified Germany. Likewise, while the United States has been acting awfully stupidly on many fronts in the last four years, there are some signs that things are turning around and that policy is going to be made with more pragmatism and less ideology. We can hope. It's frustrating to want a country to succeed and then have to watch them shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.

I don't think anyone can really be blamed for Japan-China hostility except... Japan and China themselves. While I find Japan to be a more likeable nation in most respects (current peaceful democracy vs repressive pseudocommunist police state) I have to say that they're the ones who need to do more in this instance.

Posted by: MacMorrigu | November 15, 2005 08:24 PM

They are no longer war criminals ?! Who said that, the granddaughter of the war criminals, lol..... Please refer to Tokyo Trial document when you want to say something.
Hitler is always Hitler. I just don't understand the attitude of U.S. administration. If the Prime Minister of Germany pays his(her) highest respect to Hitler, and calls for the whole country to come to worship Hitler, can US keep silent any more.... That is exactly what is happening in Japan.
Justice is no more than a joke when facing so-called communist threat.
.

Posted by: They are no longer war criminals ?! | November 15, 2005 08:35 PM

I do believe the so-called 'military threat' of China is a bit overrated. In our times, perhaps call me an arch-opponent to the IR Realists, but, offensive war is mostly a nightmare for ANY modern power and is hardly worth worrying about. Currently, even conventional arms build-up operates in a defensive MAD-oriented logic -- essentially, Japan needn't militarize aside for territorial defense which, under the conditions of 21st century war, territorial invasion is quite lacking in profit and purpose and thus militarization is only neccessary to invite negative imaginations in the mind of the invader.
Any concern about China that one could raise, should've been raised before now. The fact that China almost pegs the yuan to the dollar and also purchases numerous dollar reserves perpetuates a cycle of Federal Government spending abuse, Chinese backing of American debt, Chinese production of material goods that contribute to American Consumer debt which in turn keeps the economy strong enough to keep from investor flight and subsequent American economic decline over concern of Federal spending binges!
This is brilliant long-term economic strategy on the part of the Chinese and very stupid or short-term American policy. The Chinese are piggy-backing on existing American wealth to generate thier own wealth, and creating American dependence on China in the meantime.

Posted by: DinMN | November 15, 2005 10:41 PM

Bryce,

It all depends on the angle from which you see things.

For many years, the military expenditure of Japan is the 2nd largest in the world, only behind that of the US, although that's only a tiny portion of the country's total GDP. And the country's got a Peace Constitution technically not allowing military force.

With those facts in mind plus the way the Japanese politicians try to erase the memory of the war crime in the country's history, what do you think how the other Asian countries that fought with Japan during WW2 see this?

So is China's military build-up a catch-up or what?

Also, I am not sure about what the Pendegon's intention is to claim that the Chinese military expenditure is "3" folds of their offically published figure. So that would make it, instead of Japan's, the 2nd largest?

I do agree that we should NOT preclude Japan from protecting itself. For it is a right a country should have. But let's not go down the violent way again to make human history another horrible page.

Posted by: YWu | November 15, 2005 11:26 PM

I am grateful that Mr. Morley finally talks about Asia.(Yes, I'm a regular reader, sort of, of Mr. Morley's) It gives me a chance to show the viewpoint of mine (as an Asian/Chinese/Taiwanese) and to observe the American readers' (and/or readers from other regions) reaction to Asian affairs.

Posted by: YWu | November 15, 2005 11:46 PM

The level of guilt that Japan bears, the suffering that it inflicted in E. Asia, and the poor way that it has faced up to it are very real issues, certainly. They shouldn't be forgotten and they shouldn't be downplayed.

But none of that means that the Chinese government hasn't been cynically using the past as a tool in the present. By whipping up anti-Japanese fervor and allowing (and encouraging) anti-Japanese demonstrations, especially when the Chinese government wants to put pressure on Japan over some contemporary issue, the Chinese leadership gains added leverage over Japan.

As for Korea, which also suffered horribly under the Japanese, again the past shouldn't be minimized or forgotten. But Koreans also shouldn't let the past blind them to their own best interests now. The fact is that China now poses a bigger potential threat to Korean interests than Japan does. A greater willingness to coordinate with the Japanese would serve Korea well.

Posted by: Beren | November 16, 2005 01:45 AM

I am a Taiwanese American living in California and I feel very angry about Japan's denial of its war-time history, and the US support for Japan's rearmment. Taiwan used to be a part of China until Japan occupied it during the WWII. This is why China wants it back. I know the history of China, and can understand why the Chinese are so angry.

Suppose you're a Jewish person, how would you feel if the German's leader begins to refute Nazi atrocities, openly pays tribute to Adolph Hitler, and then talk about rearmment? Would you be angry?

Where is America's sense of justice? I guess after Iraq, anything goes.

Posted by: Chen | November 16, 2005 09:55 AM

Beren, you hit the nail on the head. The Japanese do need to face up to their past.

The reasons they do not are rooted in the 1950's when the Korean War broke out and the US suspended further prosecution of war crimes investigations against the Japanese government. At that point it was more necessary to have a strong ally as a bulwark against China and North Korea (communism) than worry about punishing war criminals. As a result, the Japanese were never forced to face their past. But Chen, you're wrong about your history vis a vis Japan and Taiwan. Taiwan was actually occupied by the Japanese in 1895 after fighting a brief war with the Qing dynasty, not during WWII.

As Beren said, Japan's attitude does not excuse China's current behavior. I spent the past three years in China and I observed the following: China is using the peoples' anger at Japan to distract from the multitude of problems that face their own country (common tactic, blame someone else for your problems). I've seen this through state sponsored riots, television shows depicting the Japanese as debased horrid butchers, magazine articles written by various party propaganda offices, etc. There is a very strong, very dangerous undercurrent of nationalism that masks itself as patriotism and anger at wrongs committed by the Japanese, Americans and Westerners in general. Books, magazines, television shows, even children's books, describing various weaponry, from guns to naval vessels, are proliferating at an alarming rate. The government continues to encourage these trends in order to distract their people from the reality that China is still an incredibly poor nation with some very confused priorities. What they fail to understand is that the situation could quickly get out of control if a coup d'etat or general uprising replaces the government with something worse.

The reality of China is that it is run by a proto-facist junta; a gangsterocracy. The amount of corruption plaguing the government will never be solved by the regime simply because they won't be able to steal as much. The economy is dangerously shaky and is not nearly as strong as people would like to believe and it would only take an incident similar to Tiananmen to bring the entire structure down. This endemic instability is not readily seen on the surface, but it is there and the potential for major problems in the future is huge. The government simply uses the same excuse that middle eastern governments use for their problems: it is the fault of westerners that you're poor.

Posted by: Brian | November 16, 2005 10:46 AM

Let's say you are a worker in the U.S. here making minimum wage, but you still managed to save something over the years. Then you use the hard-earned lifetime savings to buy bonds from a corporation.

Now, do you want that corporation to be successful all the time? Well, you just bet yourself in whole on the corporation's continued success. You just passed the limitus test of employee's loyalty to the corporation.

Suppose you are China and the corporation is the U.S.

Posted by: Johnn | November 16, 2005 12:25 PM

China is buying the corporation, Johnn, piece by piece.

It will not always be in the interest of China to keep America strong. In time they will see an opportunity to weaken America and move in themselves. It's clearly their long term plan.

I just hope that with prosperity comes a bigger drive for democracy, but it seems very unlikely.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | November 16, 2005 05:26 PM

For those you has no objection on Japanese's behaviour on the war and think they should re-arm, try google 'Nanking massacre'.

If you're human (Jap or not), do you feel bad after reading the history? Jap still do not admit they comitted a war crime.

Jews were luckier in dieing without losing their dignity.

Posted by: TP | November 17, 2005 01:55 PM

Japan did some horrible, horrible things to the Chinese in WWII. Nanjing Massacre was one and another was "Unit 731" (I think that's the name). Countless others are recorded as well, against the Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, British, etc. Japan's atrocities made some Nazis pale. The Japanese most certainly have amends to make.

The difference between now and then is the role reversal between China and Japan. Japan's current government may talk tough and think about rearming, but when it comes down to the very basics, Japan's alliance and closeness to the U.S. precludes them in many ways from carrying out any type of unauthorized military adventure. Things may change in the future, but as long as the U.S. and Japan are allies, Japan's interests will not deviate too far from our own.

China on the other hand is run by a bunch of totalitarian gangsters. Whether you want to believe it or not, the Chinese government is dangerous, feeling confident and seeks to project their power in the region. Regimes of this nature are by definition dangerous; the same type of regime ran Japan before and during WWII. The basic situation is one where a group of corrupt leaders run the country (and the military) and are seeking only to enrich themselves while remaining in power (very similar to the Soviets). China could easily slip into control by the generals or another Mao figure; control of China's Central Military Committee means you can pretty much do anything you want. Such a situation would be catastrophic for the region.

The facts remain that the Chinese just cannot be entrusted with a leadership role in Asia at this time. Historically speaking, China may not have projected massive occupational power over the rest of Asia in great amounts, but it still saw itself as the lord of the region. Their newfound power and influence, combined with a dangerous form of government is detrimental to the region and will most certainly cause problems in the future that will have to be dealt with.

Posted by: Brian | November 18, 2005 10:51 AM

China is a frightening place in many ways but even more frightening today is the United States under George W. Bush. If it comes down to a fight between China and America under Bush, I'll choose China. For all its wrongs, at least China doesn't violate international law by starting "pre-emptive" wars and using known lies to sell them. On balance, China can do less harm to the world than the U.S. That's why we non-Americans must start building new alliances with China -- if only as a counterweight to U.S. global dictatorship under Bush.

Posted by: Ramon Hernandez | November 20, 2005 12:01 AM

Ramon, I share your deep apprehension about where the US is headed under George Bush. But I still think your position makes more sense emotionally than intellectually. China has, lately, been smart enough to grow quietly, and to avoid unnecessary confrontations. That doesn't mean that its aims are peaceful, or that its policies aren't threatening. And at least Bush, Wolfoqitz, Rummy, Cheney & Co. will be out of office in another three years. With the Chinese government, you have no such guarantee.

I don't say this to disparage your opinions. On the contrary, I wish more Americans could see them - they're what more and more people are saying, and still more will be saying around the world, as a result of Bush's behavior.

I'm not going to attack your position. But I am going to ask you just to reflect on whether you really mean that you'd rather live next to China, than next to the US, or in China, rather than in the US, and whether you really think, in the long term, that China poses less of a threat over the next hundred years (at the end of which it will probably be the dominant power) than the US does. If you still think that, I'd be interested in hearing why you think that.

Thank you for posting.

Posted by: Beren | November 20, 2005 10:00 PM

Beren makes good sense here. The Americans remind me of that old saying about how Democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the others. The United States has been a particularly annoying and obtuse superpower lately, but they're saints next to the Chinese government. You want that lot running the world? Ask them in Tibet how that'll be. At least when the Americans invade somewhere half-cocked they leave again eventually. (Unless you're Northern Mexico.)

And as Beren pointed out, Bush has three years left in power, and his countrymen have finally largely figured out that his administration is simply not very competent. It is a pity that they couldn't have reached this conclusion last year. Things may actually improve before he leaves if he realizes that he can turn things around by turning to expertise over ideology.

Posted by: MacMorrigu | November 21, 2005 06:06 AM

Sorry, no, the U.S. are not "saints" next to China. The doctrine of "pre-emptive war," on its own, is a far greater threat to humanity than anything the Chinese can do or have done. We are witnessing the results in Iraq, and this is but the tip of the iceberg. The danger represented by Bush's America is so great that we must now rely on other powers like China and the EU to act as a counterweight to his administration's openly stated U.S. plans for global domination.
If you want permant global war, stick with Bush's America. If not, one has no choice but to side with the second-string superpowers, China and the E.U., in hopes of establishing a counterweight to U.S.-sponsored terror.

Posted by: Ramon Hernandez | November 21, 2005 10:49 PM

As a person loves world peace, I beg Japanese politicians, stopping visiting that freaking shrine, your attitudes and moves are stimulating Chinese and Korean nationalism. I don't care that Japanese do not consider themselves as a part of Asia (they call themselves an oceanic nation since Meiji time), however stop practicing discriminations against your neighboring people. That hurts peoples feeling.

Posted by: peacelover | November 21, 2005 11:26 PM

Ramon,

Thanks for your reply. You write, "The doctrine of 'pre-emptive war' on its own, is a far greater threat to humanity than anything the Chinese can do or have done."

Do you think the current Chinese government wouldn't launch a pre-emptive war? Why? Admittedly, the situation with Taiwan is complex and there are arguments China can advance, but still, they have essentially declared that they would launch an preemptive war if Taiwan declared independence. Not the same thing as invading Iraq, by any means, I know, but what is the source of your confidence that this Chinese government would never launch a pre-emptive war?

You also write, "The danger represented by Bush's America is so great that we must now rely on other powers like China and the EU to act as a counterweight to his administration's openly stated U.S. plans for global domination."

Actually I agree with you that a more multipolar world is desirable, even from an US perspective. For one thing, it would be much better for America's image around the world. Of course, Bush has governed really incompetently, but even a very good, competent president would find the role of sole superpower a very difficult challenge; the expectations are different from what they would be in a multi-polar system. Domestically, too, a multipolar world would relieve some of the strain upon our system that America's international position is causing.

You also write, "If you want permanent global war, stick with Bush's America."

But Bush's America isn't permanent. He'll be out of office in three years. That wouldn't be the case with a Chinese government that acted like this.

Also, there are at least two fairly effective checks on imperial adventures in the US system, which are cost and the absence of a draft. As closely as Congress manages to resemble a herd of somnolent sleep at first, once a war starts costing a lot (as it inevitably does), they start asking questions. And since the US has no draft, and it would be political suicide to propose one for the purpose of waging a war of choice, there's also always a limit on what even the most ambitious neo-con can actually do.

Do those checks exist to the same degree for the Chinese government?

I'd be interested to know what you think. Thank you for posting.

Posted by: Beren | November 22, 2005 04:51 PM

Does it occur to anyone that we are debating if the Japanese government should worship Class A war criminals of World War II ???

Yes, Japan is now a democray and U.S. allie, but class A war criminals? I thought the world is progressively more civilized than 1930s. Sigh...

Posted by: Confused | November 22, 2005 04:52 PM

If you want to find out how someone (or some nation) would behave when in charge, it is best to observe how they treat the people they already do have control over. China leaves a lot to be desired from this standpoint. A few years ago I could have pointed to their habit of arresting and torturing any dissidents they felt like, but the Americans have cunningly managed to take the low road here as well.

You know, we're debating whether or not the US is a threat that needs to be destroyed or currently just going through a rather stupid phase. And we're doing it on a major US newspaper's board. Think we could do this in China? Might be an interesting experiment.

I wouldn't mind seeing the EU bumped up to superpower status, though.

Posted by: MacMorrigu | November 22, 2005 07:11 PM

No, we're not debating whether the U.S. is a threat that "needs to be destroyed." We're debating whether the U.S. has become a sufficient threat to world peace that we need more powerful counterweights against it.
As for whether China "might" launch a "pre-emptive" war, that's speculative. The U.S. already has. And its leaders make no apologies about it.
So, notwithstanding the rights violations in China, I still think a strong China is needed as a bulwark against U.S. supremacism. Of course we'd rather it be the EU alone, but the EU on its own probably isn't enough. The EU and China, combined, might be able to effectively constrain U.S. terror and megalomania.
All of this is why many of the biggest Latin American nations (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and soon Mexico) are now in the process quietly downgrading our ties with Washington and strengthening our links to China and the EU. Our people know that America has too much power, that it has abused that power, and that it needs to be brought down a notch or two. So we're building new alliances, as we must in the circumstances.
As for the EU, it's heartening to see all the investigations into U.S. crimes (abduction, illegal detention, torture) its member states are currently carrying out. Let's hope charges are laid, and that they don't stop at the CIA officers who've been executing the orders of higher-ups. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush should be prosecuted too. They may think they are all-powerful now, but that's what Augusto Pinochet once thought, and look where he is now.

Posted by: Ramon Hernandez | November 26, 2005 10:35 PM

Beren: "Admittedly, the situation with Taiwan is complex and there are arguments China can advance, but still, they have essentially declared that they would launch an preemptive war if Taiwan declared independence."

I'm sorry, China invading Taiwan after Taiwan declares independence is not a pre-emptive action. That is the same as the British going to war with the American colonies after the colonies declared independence. It's not pre-emptive, because a declaration of independence is A DECLARATION OF WAR for the country claiming sovereignty.

Posted by: naus | March 2, 2006 02:00 AM

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