April 25, 2005

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Asia by Barnett

Earlier, when analyzing the comments Democratic Underground and Free Republic, I noted a left-right divide in the United States. American politics can also be divided into two left-right divides: globalization and women. It is also too simplistic, but cutting politics like this can be a useful tool.

The Global War on Terrorism may one day be called the Globalization War, or even the Second Globalization War if Britain's early efforts are recognized. In mainstream American politics, this spectrum runs from the far left (those opposed to free trade and the wars used to defend the globalization system) to the far right (those who support free trade and the free trade system).

Examples of these politicians are

Dennis Kucinich (Far Left), Patrick Buchanan (Left), John Kerry (Center Left), John McCain (Center), George Bush (Center Right), Hillary Clinton (Right), Richard Perle (Far Right)

Thomas Patrick Meussling Barnett is a former Professor at the Naval War College, has worked with the Center for Naval Warfare Studies, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Central Command, and the Office of Force Transformation. Politically, he is close to Hillary Clinton on globalization -- mainstream Right. He runs a popular weblog, and this thoughts are....

On Hu Jintao assuming power in China

Good news finally on the Chinese leadership front. When Jiang Zemin gave up his control over the military yesterday, the 3rd generation of leadership truly left the stage. Now, Hu Jintao has more control at an earlier age than any leader since Mao, which suggests that the 4th generation's run of leadership will be a vigorous one.

But don't see danger for the U.S. necessarily rising in this pathway, because remember that it's Hu who is pushing the theory of the "peacefully rising China.". Indeed, most experts expect Hu to now be able to chart a more flexible course with Taiwan and Hong Kong since Jiang won't be around any more to trump him with calls of being a soft nationalist. You want a sense of who Hu is? Remember his response on SARS. China did the usual cover-up until Hu stepped forward and forced a level of transparency unseen before in Chinese history. Doesn't make him a perfect guy, but it means his instincts are good, such as his focus on the rural poor in China.

On the North Korean question

What this tells me is that America has it within its power to enlist China's support for Kim's removal from power, but that we're not signaling in the right way to make clear to China what benefits would accrue to it for this major effort on their part. And that's because we're of two minds on China, and that's too bad, because absent these sorts of Cold War leftovers (Taiwan defense guarantee, North Korea), there isn't much to divide us. China wants our ways, our advice, our progress.

What we can't decide is how important China is becoming to us, and so Kim lives on in our state of strategic confusion.

Again, too bad, because with China's help, Kim is eminently vulnerable. Clearly, we prefer fearing China more than getting rid of Kim. It's really that simple.

On China's Rising Military

China builds a military that's clearly designed to counter our ability to do whatever we damn well please in Asia. Hard to believe, isn't it? Doesn't being the world's Leviathan mean we get to have everyone unable to stand up to us no matter what we do or where we do it? No, it just means it's impossible to wage war successfully unless the U.S. agrees to that proposition. That's real power all right, it's just not unlimited with regard to our own desires. Being Leviathan doesn't mean you're God, just that you can prevent anyone else from assuming that role on anything significant.

When someone gets to the point of accumulating power that calls into question your ability on some specific issue, then you have to start viewing both the rising power and the issue in question differently. We are not doing this yet. We see only the danger, not the possibility. We ask, Will China "behave" in the Gulf? Hopefully not like America does! One Big Banger in the region is enough, I would say.

China's just waking up to a world in which the Core relies on the unstable regions of the Gap for its short-term economic security via energy. You can change that dependency if you want, but it will take some time. Other route is to work the issue with military, but that's takes a military, now doesn't it? We've got one, so we work it. China doesn't, so it's getting one. Sound odd to you? Sounds pretty "real" to me.

On China entering the global power structure

The Communist Party is gearing up for its annual session of the National People's Congress in the Great Hall of the Peoples in Beijing. Everyone on our end is concerned about the likely passage of the "antisecession" law, but the real topic of the congress will be making sure the rural poor don't fall too far behind. This is a big topic of PNM-II [Banett's upcoming book, now called Blueprint for Action], and it should remind us that the Gap is all around us here in the Core, in pockets in the Old Core but in big swaths in the New Core. It reminds us that the Core can't move ahead without bringing the Gap along. This isn't neoimperialism or any of that other quasi-Marxist nonsense. This is the reality that the Core needs the Gap to get better if the Core is going to remain the Core. China is that microcosm of the whole, as is India.

We focus only on seeing the threat. We think China's going to get dangerous technology with arms sales from the EU, and we think we can control that transaction. We cannot. China is going to be a global center of high-speed computing. It doesn't need EU arms to pull that off, but the EU needs those arms sales to get access to China. We are tying to manage China's rise by negation, by interdiction, by denial. Think that would have worked for England with the U.S. in the early parts of the 20th century? Think again.

On China's Future

Truth be told, I consider myself the ultimate realist on China’s future. I just define my realism in terms of economics, not ideology or the fanciful notion that national power is only truly expressed through military means. I believe China is “rising,” and that it will be our “near-peer” along a wide variety of diplomatic, economic, and social means not in some distant future, but over the next ten years. I believe we are woefully unprepared for this development, allowing China’s myopic security fixation on Taiwan to blind our vision regarding the true nature of their rising influence not just across Asia, where the vast sucking sound known as China’s demand for goods and raw materials is already reshaping the regional economy, but likewise across the planet, precisely because China is not just hell-bent on synchronizing its jumbled internal rule sets with that of globalization’s ever-more solid rule sets, but intends to forge more than a few global rule sets of its own—especially in the realm of technology standards.

China’s real power on the global stage will ultimately be expressed much like America’s—through its consumers. Right now, only about 120 million of China’s 1.3 billion can be classified as middle-class, but that number is growing by leaps and bounds. Already China boasts the world’s largest cell phone market at 269 million users, and the second-largest pool of Internet users at 78 million. In an advancing global economy defined by connectivity, China can remain greatly under-connected on a per-capita basis and still zoom past America’s totals without breaking a sweat.

Conclusion: Barnett, and by extension the mainstream American Right on globalization, believe

  • China is a rapidly emerging power, and it is "peacefully Rising"
  • China's rise will be determined by materialistic concerns -- by pure economics
  • American policies are helping China rise, but not properly managing that rise
  • China's leadership is getting progressively better
  • America lets her relationship with Taiwan entangle America's relationship with China

It's interesting to note where Barnett disagrees with the mainstream far left and the mainstream far right

  • Unlike DU and FR, Barnett is optimistic on China growth
  • Unlike DU and FR, Barnett believes our mismanagement of China is easily fixed
  • Unlike DU and FR, Barnett does not believe China is ambitious to be a super-power

Is this an accurate description of Barnett's views? Does Barnett represent a true mainstream Right in American politics? What are the hidden biases in his approach? What are my hidden biases in this article?

Those questions are left to the reader...

posted by Dan tdaxp on 04.25.05 at 03:38 AM in the


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4GPS1: Node Takedown and the Politics of Personal Destruction
Excerpt: "'Reactive' Politics," by Hunter, Daily Kos, 23 April 2005, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/23/231512/044. by Hunter Sat Apr 23rd, 2005 at 20:15:12 PDT Earlier I wrote about the 4GP: the four generations of modern politics or modern peace. 4...
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