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11 November 2010

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Clifford Kiracofe

Neil Richardson,

Yes there has been some debate on the nature of the emerging international situation particularly since the end of the Cold War. And there are any number of academic schools of thought.

As you indicate, various perspectives find their way into debates and discussions...and US foreign policy.

Some see possibilities for "balancing" ("soft," "hard" etc) against the US. Others advocate same against China. Still others like to think that powers will "bandwagon" with the US. Others hope that institutions will create a new world order.

The academic literature is rife with various theories and perspectives. And force postures are constructed from theoretical assumptions and scenarios (sometimes) based on threat assessments of varying shades of "realism" and unrealism.

I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Ruggie at the UN some years back and I enjoyed our discussion.

Yes, institutions can play a positive role. But there are those who aim to weaken and euthanize "Westphalian" concepts of international order.

I have heard some argue that the US has a "security dilemma" with a rising China and thus preventive war before China gets too powerful is a solution. Others posit that as the US is a declining power whose "security dilemma"
is to hold on to its position it must strike out against potential rivals before it is too late.

Seems to me there has been some rhetoric out of the Obama administration with respect to a India-Japan-US-Australia "bandwagon" against China.

What is in the "mindset" of elites is a factor for analysis and consideration, and the international situation is dynamic and...

William R. Cumming

Coalition warfare has been the history of US involvement in foreign wars. The study of why this concept was abandoned or largely abandoned by the US leadership despite its posturing occassionally that coalitions are important would be interesting to read. Who led that abandonment and why? Perhaps that fiction will end when economics dominates the issues as to alliances, not fear of military takeover. Personally I believe that the last true effort to forge a real-time military coalition was under President George H.W. Bush and one that will be enduring as a turning point in US military and foreign policy history.

Neil Richardson


"The academic literature is rife with various theories and perspectives. And force postures are constructed from theoretical assumptions and scenarios (sometimes) based on threat assessments of varying shades of "realism" and unrealism.

I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Ruggie at the UN some years back and I enjoyed our discussion.

Yes, institutions can play a positive role. But there are those who aim to weaken and euthanize "Westphalian" concepts of international order."

Dear Prof. Kiracofe:

Actually I have no desire to rehash the IR theory debates as I'm neither qualified to assess them nor find them that interesting. However I should've clarified further about the social and institutional dimensions of the hegemony. I don't necessarily believe that institutions are either positive or negative. My premise is that they serve a function for the great powers especially in security matters. My reason for bringing up Ruggie's essay was that the character of the American hegemony matters (or IIRC he used the phrase "context" when referencing Robert Harris' Fatherland in discussing what a potential German hegemony could've been had Hitler been victorious). For domestic as well as ideological reasons the United States chose to pursue an institutionalist hegemony. That shaped how others view the United States. That was my only point as I found it resonant in my personal experience from serving and working in East Asia. The very fact that ASEAN invited the United States to join last month is an indication of how the security considerations are being played out in SE Asia. In East Asia we have bilateral security agreements due to historical reasons, but one can argue that there are possibilities of institutionalizing parts of the US/Taiwan/Japan/Korea accords if push comes to shove in devising a containment strategy against China.


"I have heard some argue that the US has a "security dilemma" with a rising China and thus preventive war before China gets too powerful is a solution. Others posit that as the US is a declining power whose "security dilemma"
is to hold on to its position it must strike out against potential rivals before it is too late."

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I have not heard these sorts of talks, but I am not privy to what US policy elites discuss in their circles.

"Seems to me there has been some rhetoric out of the Obama administration with respect to a India-Japan-US-Australia "bandwagon" against China."

I don't think it's just rhetoric but a fundamental policy shift if Victor Cha is correct. HRC's statement on July 23 this year was probably a confirmation of this (or at least that is the way many people in Seoul and Tokyo were reading it).

"What is in the "mindset" of elites is a factor for analysis and consideration, and the international situation is dynamic and..."

Actually I'm not sure if fundamental security interests of states change that quickly while elites (if we could even infer that they are of the same mindset) may come and go at least in East Asia.

Just out of curiousity, who are these elites in the US? I expect the usual suspects among the prominent neocons to dream up something like this, but do the current elites in the US really believe that a preventive war against China is anything but suicidal? This isn't 1969. The nature of the US security policy toward China from 2007 to 2009 was different from what is likely going to replace it from this point forward. The United States tried to engage the PRC as a "stakeholder" in the international system just as an institutionalist IR theorist might suggest. What I found surprising was that this started during the second term of GWB. I do believe there has been a fundamental shift away from this thinking recently. On the military side, PACOM has been trying to engage the PLA and PLAN for years in terms of bilateral and multilateral visits without much success. IMHO I think the PLA and PLAN should re-read the Pai-chan Ch'I-lüeh especially the section on arrogance.

Fred

WRC,

I don't think there was any coalition during the US war with Spain, 1898; nor in the US War against Mexico in 1846-1848.

Clifford Kiracofe

NR,

IR theories, such as they are these days, leave much to be desired.

US elite opinion traditionally is found, for example, in the Council on Foreign Relations crowd. As there are various circles, there are various perspectives. The Neocons ("pro-Taiwan") tend to the preventive war side and their views are found at AEI and other think tanks they influence.

Since the end of the Cold War, various interpretations of the emerging international situation have been put forward. As I indicated, some argued we were in a "unipolar" world in which the US could engage in "unilateral" policy.

Others argued that a multipolar situation was developing. In this context, some argued for cooperation among the great powers in a "concert" type arrangement. The US would work out some mutual beneficial arrangements with Russia and China and so on.

Others argued for continued containment of Russia and also the containment of the rising China. This would be a variation on the older "Trilateral" concept of containment of the Eurasian landmass (Russia and China) via US-Europe-Japan. Brzezinski's Neo-Mackinder game.

Today, I would agree that it appears the US-India-Japan-Australia concept to contain a rising China is in the works from a US point of view. I agree with your sense that HRC's comment is indicative. I noted ASEAN's move.

The Neocons tend to be "pro-Taiwan" and anti-China. Taiwan and Israel traditionally have close ties. Israel and India traditionally have close ties. Pro-Israel circles express concern about Chinese inroads in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Thus, I think various pro-Israel elites in the US could develop a consensus around a China containment policy.

I would add that the Fundamentalists put China into the evil Last Days-Armageddon combination with Russia and Iran ("Medo-Persians"). Thus there is a political base in this segment of US opinion (so important to Republicans in particular) for a forward China containment policy.

Overall then, it would seem possible at this time to construct a forward anti-China political consensus in the US to support a US-India-Japan-Australia gambit.

Jose

Let me play Devil's Advocate:

Australia is totally dependent of selling raw materials to China, The Middle Kingdom can apply a lot of pressure if needed.

Japan has lots of investments in mainland China plus generally wants us out of their country, so make the Rising Sun another question mark.

India will never trust us due to our positions on Kashmir and Pakistan plus Tigers are solitary animals.

Their is no Iron Curtain, no great ideological divide, so any coalition building will be very difficult since we are looked as getting weaker every day versus China getting stronger every day.

We need to fix our problems before we attempt to fix the rest of worlds problems.

I'm sure the Colonel will remember, "Lead by Example!"

walrus

Jose:

"Australia is totally dependent of selling raw materials to China, The Middle Kingdom can apply a lot of pressure if needed."

With the greatest respect, No. Our current mining boom is somewhat related to Chinese demand for coal and iron ore, but the Chinese have already been shown the door more than once, and will continue to be told where to go when it's appropriate.

Just last week we agreed to increased defence cooperation with America that apparently involves pre positioned equipment here as well as increased access to Australian defence facilities and ports. There have been jointly staffed "communication bases" here for Thirty plus years.

The American Defence forces often join the exercises we hold here and vice versa. Our subs have taken out the carrier in RIMPAC more than once.

Clifford Kiracofe

Jose,

Well yes indeed. I am not advocating a forward China containment policy but many are.

My own preference is trying to work out some reasonable arrangements with China and Russia as well as with Japan and India, for example. More along the "concert" of major powers line.

But there are other options in circulation which seem more interesting to those who seek long or permanent states of confrontation and war.

For example, if one were planning a preventive war against Iran, it would make sense to leverage against China and Russia. Some might think China can be squeezed with the above India-Japan-Australia gambit.

As for Russia, one might try to build up Medvedev against the nationalist Putin. To curry favor in Western circles, Medvedev could say pardon Khodorkovsky in the coming months. Medvedev might be more amenable to suggestion from some Western circles and take a pass on Iran as well as open up Russia to foreign financial and business exploitation.

Given our present White House and Congress (and incoming Congress) it seems rather remote that we will fix our own house any time soon.

And the Washington Post is already publishing articles recommending preventive war against Iran...part of the process of "preparing public opinion" perhaps.

Lysander

Some points I would make.

1) For alliances to form, there has to be some prospect of success. For an Asian alliance with the US against China to work, the smaller Asian nations have to believe the US is both willing and capable of providing security, deterring China..however you want to phrase it. If there is a perception that China is simply rising too fast, or the US is declining too rapidly, then no Asian nation will want to be part of a loosing alliance. Better to make a separate peace with the future hegemon. For the same reason, you will not soon see Mexico in alliance with Russia/China against the US.

2) That leads us to this: The US has "security commitments" all over the globe. Not just Asia. In the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan maybe, maintaining Israeli regional dominance, expanding NATO against Russia, etc. To manage all this, the US has to borrow exorbitant sums of money from...you guessed it, China.

3) While we hear a lot of talk about Americans being "naive but well intentioned" and a lot about Chinese Nationalism, jingoism and so on, the fact is the last war China fought was a brief border skirmish with Vietnam circa 1978 (IIRC) How many wars has the naive but well meaning United States fought during that same time? Point being that while Americans see China as an aggressive power and themselves as a benevolent force, I would not assume that everybody in Asia sees things that way.

4) I'm no expert on the region, but my understanding is that lots of Asian nations have large, well to do and influential ethnic Chinese minorities. I'm just sayin'.

Neil Richardson

Jose:


"Japan has lots of investments in mainland China plus generally wants us out of their country, so make the Rising Sun another question mark."

Actually the recent trend has been the opposite of that. In fact Kan Naoto reversed his position once he became the prime minister regarding the Okinawa basing arrangements. The JMSDF is in the process of building "destroyers" that are in truth helicopter carriers. There is no doubt the JMSDF is planning on substantially upgrading its ASW capabilities. They aren't doing it for show given all the trouble they went to circumvent Article 9 in doing so. And the US-Japan cooperation on TBMD is well publicized and the message resonates quite well in Beijing. As I mentioned some time ago, I think we have to be careful about weighting too much on economic interests preventing military conflicts. It just hasn't happened too often historically.


"India will never trust us due to our positions on Kashmir and Pakistan plus Tigers are solitary animals."

Well, I'll defer to South Asia specialists here as I can't comment on this with any degree of certainty.

"Their is no Iron Curtain, no great ideological divide, so any coalition building will be very difficult since we are looked as getting weaker every day versus China getting stronger every day."

Actually it's quite easy and we're seeing increasing possibilities more every day. The JMSDF is cooperating and engaging in joint training with ROKN which would've been unthinkable just five years ago. There is no need for ideological divide for coalition building. Simply if a state feels its terrorial sovereignty is threatened it will either try to increase defense capabilities or align with a stronger outside power (often times do both). Whether these states perceive that the United States is a declining power or not, it's irrelevant. In the 1970s that was the perception of the United States vis-a-vis the Soviet Union after Vietnam (The withdrawal from RVN, the withdrawal of the 7ID from Korea, the dual Nixon shocks for Japan, etc etc). What we saw was the tightening of security arrangements in these key East Asian states not loosening. South Korea was fully embarked on nuclear proliferation until they received a guarantee that they would be protected with the extended deterrence of the American nuclear umbrella (We had to assure them that our nuclear weapons would be on ROK soil just to provide credibility).


"We need to fix our problems before we attempt to fix the rest of worlds problems."

I agree but I don't think I've been clear on my views here. I'm not advocating that the United States ought to be the world's policeman. In fact my views are opposite of this. However, there are crucial national interests at stake when it comes to our national maritime strategy. We are a nation dependent on trade as are Japan, Taiwan and South Korea (their sensitivities are far greater than ours). If the PLAN thinks it can start throwing its weight around disputed areas that has a significant potential impact in East and SE Asia. I suspect PLAN senior leadership has been overly arrogant and myopic (PACOM has invited them to observe if not participate in RIMPAC, WESTPAC as well as multilateral or bilateral exchange programs). When a rising state miscalculates its own capabilities as well as those of potential adversaries, that's when deterrence often fails. It wouldn't be the first time the Chinese leadership would try to engage in social imperialism while facing significant internal problems (e.g., Quemoy and Matsu crises during the Great Leap Forward). Here in the West I think many hold a very skewed perception of China. Obviously the PRC is an economic dynamo but it also faces significant internal problems common with rapid economic modernization. Anyone who has travelled beyond the coastal regions would have seen some of this. We will have to wait and see if the PRC can avoid some of the problems that Kaiserreich had faced internally. In the meantime, I don't believe the United States could afford to wait for merely our own self-interest. IF the United States withdraws to Hawaii and lifts the protection afforded by the 7th Fleet, we will likely see a rapid spiralling of arms race in East Asia and probably SE Asia as well. In fact I would not be surprised if ROK, Taiwan and Japan actively consider proliferation.

Neil Richardson

Lysander:

"1) For alliances to form, there has to be some prospect of success. For an Asian alliance with the US against China to work, the smaller Asian nations have to believe the US is both willing and capable of providing security, deterring China..however you want to phrase it. If there is a perception that China is simply rising too fast, or the US is declining too rapidly, then no Asian nation will want to be part of a loosing alliance. Better to make a separate peace with the future hegemon. For the same reason, you will not soon see Mexico in alliance with Russia/China against the US."

Actually that's not the case historically. In fact if you looked at the economic growth rates in 1914, it was clear that Imperial Germany was the ascendant power in Europe while Britain was a "declining" power. Yet Entente Cordiale emerged in 1904. And how often had Britain and France fought over the prior eight centuries? It was the French who had coined the term "La perfide Albion." I don't think the French leadership could ever be certain of the British support until August 4, 1914. Yet desperation led to the Entente. As for East Asia specific considerations, we already have bilateral defense agreements in place. Whether it takes a multilateral form or expansion of bilateral form is not clear at this point.


"2) That leads us to this: The US has "security commitments" all over the globe. Not just Asia. In the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan maybe, maintaining Israeli regional dominance, expanding NATO against Russia, etc. To manage all this, the US has to borrow exorbitant sums of money from...you guessed it, China."

Well, there is an old proverb that goes something like: "If you owe a bank a hundred thousand dollars, then you have a problem. If you owe a bank 1.4 trillion dollars, then the bank has a problem." Economic warfare usually the mantra often thrown around every time there's a disagreement between the United States and China usually by non-specialists (on trade issues as well as the Straits). It's not that easy because it would be akin to a Mutual Assured Destruction once there is a run on US T instruments. This isn't like France undermining the fixed peg in 1967-68. Besides who benefited from the fall of the Bretton Woods? Who paid the cost? I am certain the economists at the PRC MOF are well aware of the pitfalls.


"3) While we hear a lot of talk about Americans being "naive but well intentioned" and a lot about Chinese Nationalism, jingoism and so on, the fact is the last war China fought was a brief border skirmish with Vietnam circa 1978 (IIRC) How many wars has the naive but well meaning United States fought during that same time? Point being that while Americans see China as an aggressive power and themselves as a benevolent force, I would not assume that everybody in Asia sees things that way."

Actually I am quite certain of this at least in East Asia. I cannot speak for South Asia, but as I posted earlier ASEAN has invited the US and Russia to join. If that's not a clear indication of what I've been pointing out in terms of security dynamics, I'm not sure what is. The PLA was humiliated by second echelon PAVN forces in 1979. I suggest you read up on Deng's messages to the Soviet Union during the conflict. Of course there was a small matter of Zhenbao in 1969 and the Soviet inquiry on a possible US reaction to a nuclear preemption.


"4) I'm no expert on the region, but my understanding is that lots of Asian nations have large, well to do and influential ethnic Chinese minorities. I'm just sayin'."

This is a rather simplistic statement. What "influential ethnic Chinese minorities" are present in ROK and Japan? (Park Chunghee evicted the Chinese Koreans in the 1970s. As for Japan that notion is pure fantasy) Vietnam?

William R. Cumming

Thanks Fred! You are correct! And both these wars were declared by Congress.

Clifford Kiracofe

China does have quite significant internal vulnerabilities which could very well cause the leadership to opt for a more forward (and imprudent) posture externally.

Both the US and Russia had extensive commercial relations with Nazi Germany in the 1930s...the US had extensive economic relations with Stalin's Russia in the 1930s.

While some note China's aggressive resource activity in Africa, Chinese penetration of Latin America is ongoing. Failing working out arrangments with respect to Latin America, one can argue chances for (very) serious confrontation between the US and China are rising on this matter alone.

As to maritime perspectives, I recall a fascinating exhibit at the National Geographic Society per Admiral Zheng He's voyages. These Ming Dynasty voyages are covered, including a map, in the introductory World History textbook I use at VMI. Students who had previously thought (vaguely) in terms of Christopher Columbus thus gain a different view with contemporary implications.

Lysander

Neil,

I don't think your WW I analogy is valid for the following reasons.

1) An alliance of France, Britain and Czarist Russia had an exellent prospect of success against Germany. It is surprising that they nearly lost. I doubt any of the allied leadership predicted the war to turn out as it did.

2) France had a 50 year old humiliation against Germany and they couldn't let it go. If Syria wont forget about the Golan Heights, you can't expect that the French would have forgotten about Alsace Lorraine. Yes there are territorial disputes between China and neighboring nations. But then again, there are territorial disputes between Japan and Russia as we recently witnessed. The US isn't about to go to war over the Spratly Islands.

But your comparison with the first world war is interesting for one reason, though. It is clearly understood that Imperial Britain's involvement in that war resulted in dissolving the British Empire decades earlier than it would have. I suspect a similar situation, exponentially worse, should the US ever actually go to war with China on behalf of Japan/Korea/Taiwan.

An alliance between the US and Japan that involves Japanese remilitarization makes such alliance much less attractive from the POV of smaller Asian nations. One of the main attractions of US involvement in Asia was that it kept Japan on a leash. Now we are told that the leash may be cut, or at least greatly lengthened.

"Well, there is an old proverb that goes something like: "If you owe a bank a hundred thousand dollars, then you have a problem. If you owe a bank 1.4 trillion dollars, then the bank has a problem." Economic warfare usually the mantra often thrown around every time there's a disagreement between the United States and China usually by non-specialists (on trade issues as well as the Straits). It's not that easy because it would be akin to a Mutual Assured Destruction once there is a run on US T instruments. This isn't like France undermining the fixed peg in 1967-68. Besides who benefited from the fall of the Bretton Woods? Who paid the cost? I am certain the economists at the PRC MOF are well aware of the pitfalls."

Be that as it may, the US has enormous incentive to avoid a full on confrontation with China. If you think the Chinese have no financial leverage over the US, read up on the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'm no expert on finance, but I do not see it as possible that current US expenditures can go on forever. Do you? I assume you must since otherwise, any alliance with the US would be built on sand.

I must add that while "economic warfare" has been poo pooed by military historians, the question arises as to what kind of warfare do expect in Asia today? Do you expect China to invade any particular country? Do you expect any country to attack China? If not, then economic warfare is the only kind that is likely.

"This is a rather simplistic statement. What "influential ethnic Chinese minorities" are present in ROK and Japan? (Park Chunghee evicted the Chinese Koreans in the 1970s. As for Japan that notion is pure fantasy) Vietnam?"

I was actually referring to Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. And yes, Vietnam. The first two are US allies, of course. But neither is going to act aggressively towards China.

This is not to say that there is no concern in the region over a rising China. I'm sure there is. But I'm not so sure that leads to a large US lead Anti-Chinese alliance.

Neil Richardson

"Coalition warfare has been the history of US involvement in foreign wars. The study of why this concept was abandoned or largely abandoned by the US leadership despite its posturing occassionally that coalitions are important would be interesting to read. Who led that abandonment and why? Perhaps that fiction will end when economics dominates the issues as to alliances, not fear of military takeover. Personally I believe that the last true effort to forge a real-time military coalition was under President George H.W. Bush and one that will be enduring as a turning point in US military and foreign policy history.

Posted by: William R. Cumming | 11 November 2010 at 09:13 AM"


WRC:

Unfortunately I'm not informed well enough to comment on this question. However I share your curiosity as well. If I may just note some "signposts" that I recall, perhaps it started with the end of the Cold War and the zeitgeist of the "New World Order", "The End of History" and other popular motifs thrown around in the 1990s. Of course there was Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" which IIRC had a signficant impact on IR and regional studies at the time.

What I do recall was Krauthammer's "The Unipolar Moment" which obviously had gained acceptance by some of the policy elites (mostly the neocons but the Democrats weren't innocent in this regard either). Col.Lang, Prof.Kiracofe and Dr. Silverman can elaborate more on this as they probably followed this far more closely than I had. I distinctly recall Colin Powell describing how he had nearly "burst a vessel" when Albright supposedly asked him what good was our "splendid armed forces" if we couldn't do what our political masters wanted in reference to the early years of the Balkans crises. Good 'ol Col.Bacevich has written extensively on how we came to rely on military force as a solution to many of our foreign policy problems. While I am not informed well enough to be certain I find his explanations persuasive at least from my POV.

As for coalition building, the concept is "multilateralism" at least in the current IR literature. As I had mentioned in my post to Prof. Kiracofe, the US developed and maintained our hegemony through this method. Some institutionalists claim that this has had a positive effect while realists tend to be more cautious in agreeing with this assessment. My personal view is that we have to be careful about mixing security and economic institutions (I find a lot of scholars of international political economy tend to be institutionalists). I've given up following the debates after it took a rather counterproductive turn in terms of methodology in the 1990s and I'll defer to others who follow this more closely.

As you know the United States chose to pursue UN and OAS approval during the Cuban Missile Crisis even though we had local and (many would say now) "strategic" superiority. One notable point of that crisis is that when the WH sent over Acheson to brief De Gaulle (of all people) told him that he need not have bothered as President Kennedy would not have sent someone of such importance to convey misinformation. As I'm sure we can agree soothing egos are painstaking and annoying but they seem to yield fruitful results more than threats at least among "allies." I contrast this with Douglas Feith's reaction when he was told that Turkey would not countenance the transit of the 4ID in 2002-2003. He supposedly said, "F-- the Turks."

Neil Richardson


Lysander:

"I don't think your WW I analogy is valid for the following reasons.

1) An alliance of France, Britain and Czarist Russia had an exellent prospect of success against Germany. It is surprising that they nearly lost. I doubt any of the allied leadership predicted the war to turn out as it did."

Well if you say so. Had Moltke the Younger made the right wing stronger as von Schlieffen had warned perhaps the war would've been over by October 1914.

Also, this point contradicts your claim about states bandwagoning rather than balancing (which really is the premise that started my first post as I think the opposite is the more common occurence in international politics). Weaker states balance against more proximate adversary even if the members of a potential alignment are weaker (i.e., Germany was the strongest state while France and Russia were inferior).

The analogy applies to not only the relative strength/weakness of Britain vs. Germany but the "credibility" of a potential partner from the French point of view. That was the more emphatic point when I mentioned August 4, 1914. This is well established by WWI historiography on the short term dynamics of the British considerations. The British continental policy for centuries prior to 1914 was one of being an offshore balancer hence the Perfidious Albion. You raised the point about the prospects states picking rising or declining states and I brought up one example. There are many other examples throughout history. Who was seen (remember it's the perception that matters) as the declining power in Asia back in 1972-75? Credibility of an alliance is a very amorphous concept. You only know it after the first shots are fired. That is why it's not that relevant in considering it prior to the formation of one. "Wishful thinking" goes hand in hand with desperation. A secure state doesn't need to resort to alliance as much as a desperate one.

"2) France had a 50 year old humiliation against Germany and they couldn't let it go. If Syria wont forget about the Golan Heights, you can't expect that the French would have forgotten about Alsace Lorraine. Yes there are territorial disputes between China and neighboring nations. But then again, there are territorial disputes between Japan and Russia as we recently witnessed. The US isn't about to go to war over the Spratly Islands."

Right. And the treaties of humiliation are remembered even in pop culture today in China. And you don't think revanchism is a possibility in China? Alsace Lorraine is a speck compared to the territories lost by China. And when China claimed Goguryeo as a "sovereign Chinese state" it drew vociferous denunciations from *both South and North Korea*. That wasn't even the part of the lost territories.

Whether the US is about to go to war over the Spratly or Taiwan Straits isn't the point. Nobody knows what a President of the United States would do. Strategic ambiguity has served this country as well as our Asian allies well for the last fifty plus years.

"But your comparison with the first world war is interesting for one reason, though. It is clearly understood that Imperial Britain's involvement in that war resulted in dissolving the British Empire decades earlier than it would have. I suspect a similar situation, exponentially worse, should the US ever actually go to war with China on behalf of Japan/Korea/Taiwan."

I've already stated in my post to Prof. Kiracofe that a "preventive war" or any war with China would be mutually suicidal. However a war with the Soviet Union would've been suicidal as well. That didn't mean that we shouldn't have developed a containment policy.

"An alliance between the US and Japan that involves Japanese remilitarization makes such alliance much less attractive from the POV of smaller Asian nations. One of the main attractions of US involvement in Asia was that it kept Japan on a leash. Now we are told that the leash may be cut, or at least greatly lengthened."

And as I pointed out ROKN has started to cooperate with JMSDF. All these arguments have been rehashed for about forty years. And it was prior to ROK having a very viable defense industry now not to mention a rapidly modernizing air force. Besides, I don't think you understand the actual dynamics of East Asian security policies. This is irrelevant because Japanese remilitarization is taking place right now. Whether it goes back to the days of Kaigun or not is dependent on whether the 7th Fleet is forward deployed in Yokosuka. The perspective of East Asians tend to be different from continental Europeans who probably see the American presence as less than needed these days.

"Be that as it may, the US has enormous incentive to avoid a full on confrontation with China. If you think the Chinese have no financial leverage over the US, read up on the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'm no expert on finance, but I do not see it as possible that current US expenditures can go on forever. Do you? I assume you must since otherwise, any alliance with the US would be built on sand."

See my above response on confrontation leading to a war with China. As for economic leverage, why don't you operationalize it for me? Under what possible scenario could the Chinese apply it in actually using it as part of its statecraft? And explain to me what the threshold point might be (tipping point for each side). If there is a run (and the Chinese won't be able to move without drawing notice of the market), how will this affect the FX reserve level in the short term and long term? Its impact on exports?

As for my assumptions, the US 7th Fleet is the fixed cost of doing business for the United States. Again as I stated to Jose, the stakes are far greater in East Asia than Afghanistan or Iraq IMHO. The end of Bretton Woods didn't lead to the end of the US as a "superpower" to the dismay of some in Western Europe. In fact as Ronald McKinnon had predicted it merely solved the N-1 problem for the United States.


"I must add that while "economic warfare" has been poo pooed by military historians, the question arises as to what kind of warfare do expect in Asia today? Do you expect China to invade any particular country? Do you expect any country to attack China? If not, then economic warfare is the only kind that is likely."

In 1919, the First World War was the "War to End All Wars." In the 1920s the United States was the lender of last resort while recycling the war reparations from Germany to France and back to Europe. 1929 changed all that as there were trade wars and currency wars (beggar-thy-neighbor policies) from competitive devaluation. This led to regionalization of trading blocs during the Great Depression. Of course since the Europeans had learned their lessons so well in 1914-1918, there couldn't possibly have been another war. Whenever economists try to scare up protectionists, they cite the example of trade wars leading to actual wars. Whether you buy this or not obviously is dependent on your perspective. I tend to be a pessimist regarding human nature. We aren't that enlightened. Social imperialism is one possible avenue as I mentioned to Prof. Kiracofe. There are plenty of other examples that don't stretch one's imaginations wildly.

"I was actually referring to Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. And yes, Vietnam. The first two are US allies, of course. But neither is going to act aggressively towards China."

Now why do you think ASEAN invited the US and Russia to join? Only five years ago a Secretary of State couldn't even get an invitation card to their meetings.

Clifford Kiracofe

1. A view on India's emerging naval concepts and force structure:

"Indian Naval strategy includes; controlling the choke points, significant islands, and trade routes in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal at regional level. Strategically, it sees at the arc from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca as a legitimate area of interest. Operationally, Indian Navy envisioned undertaking three tasks; the conduct of joint operations; information warfare and littoral warfare. However, the proactive role of the Indian Navy would be the projection of its power beyond the limits of Indian shores. It has to counter the distant emerging threats and protect extended ‘Sea Lines of Communication’ (SLOC).
On longer term, India desires making its navy as the Oceanic Ranging Navy, capable of securing extended SLOCs, domination of Indian Ocean and its adjoining high seas as well as the international waters all around.
....Strategically, India intends making naval collaboration with the United States Navy for countering the Chinese naval influence and advancing its own naval ambitions by reaching out to the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and even up to the horn of Africa.
This indeed will enable India to secure its future interests in Middle East and Africa. India and U.S has made lot of investment in Africa and behaving as the peer competitors of the China, which has invested heavily in the region to explore the region’s natural resources."
http://www.thenews.com.pk/14-11-2010/National/15539.htm

2. In this context, for example, how would we expect China's Pakistan policy to develop? Rather than have a failed state as an ally, would China prefer a fully Islamist state to keep the lid on? But this would be a Wahhabized state it would seem. So what about Barelvis and other sects inside Pakistan? Do the Chinese have Pakistans nukes under lock and key, as some Indian analysts suggest?

NR,

I agree that many IR theory debates are not relevant to the present international situation or to policy.

On the economic point, I do recall a well-meaning fellow who once argued that trade is peace...the Brit Norman Angell I think it was just before WWI. Something about a "grand illusion."

Lysander,

The UK-France-Russia alignment against Germany dated from the 1890s foreshadowing the coming conflict. [Bismarck's fall was arguably a factor.]

In its immediate wake, the conflict brought down three empires: Russian, Austrian, Ottoman. The Brits then seemed to focus more on the Far East/Imperial affairs losing sight of European developments across the Channel, or at least a proper appreciation of them, the Eyre Crowe perspective notwithstanding although Vansittart did what he could.

A classic book on economic warfare is: Admiral Consett, The Triumph of Unarmed Forces (London) per WWI and instructive.

I prefer economic history to economic "theory."

WILL

re overseas chinese the following makes for fascinating reading
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Filipino
the filipino elite (Marcos, Aquinos, etc) are the descendants of male chinese & malay (indigenous) women.

re interesting alliances. the russians are still using vacuum tube technology in a lot of their systems yet they make space age weapons. they have weapon system deals with the french. russian aircraft w/ french electronics.

this fascinating item caught my eye. it probably involves the furnishing of semiconductors. how can the russians assure the integrity of the chips against cia worms & backdoor failure in case of conflict?

" The S-300 was jointly produced by Almaz with Samsung Group of South Korea since 1993."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-300_(missile)#cite_note-Samsung-2

Lysander

Neil, I disagree that the US has the economic wherewithal to be a reliable alliance partner against China. The recent G-20 meeting and the world's reaction to the Fed's QE2 are instructive.

However, I will defer to your greater knowledge of the region.

YT

Mr. Richardson,

Re: "On the military side, PACOM has been trying to engage the PLA and PLAN for years in terms of bilateral and multilateral visits without much success."

Methinks (from my limited knowledge on military affairs in contrast to the Col.'s) that the PLA are not interested 'coz they have li'l need for others to understand their doctrine, contingency plannin'(countermeasures & counter-countermeasures) or force structures.

After all, thru subtlety & secrecy one learns to be beyond the perceptions of others (à la Sun Tzu).

Or is this all meant to be rhetorical? --

Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem (拋磚引玉).

----------------------------

Re: "Credibility of an alliance is a very amorphous concept. You only know it after the first shots are fired."

Aye, indeed. & while we armchair generals here argue 'bout factors (dis)advantageous goin' either way to said hegemons, I somehow (fore)see a Gulf of Tonkin incident between said powers leadin' to a tragic victory of Pyrrhic proportions.

While those on the sidelines lie in wait for their share of the spoils...

"When weapons are blunted, & ardor dampened, strength exhausted,& resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications."

Clifford Kiracofe

The Houston Chronicle explains the geopolitics to its readers:

"...Thus, the pressing need for a strong partnership with India, the world's most populous democracy. Such a bond is both welcome and needed as a counterweight to the predictably self-interested influence of China in both the economic and political spheres. The world will be better for it." http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/7294793.html

And the opinion writers explain some energy geopolitics as well:

"And so Obama used his India visit to broaden the U.S. commercial relationship with that economic dynamo in ways large and small, including lifting controls on the export of sensitive technology. Texans in the energy industry will notice that the administration is offering workshops on the fracturing technology that has opened huge new reserves of natural gas in shale rock across the U.S. so that India - and China - can unlock their own gas reserves."

One might expect editorial opinion around the country to pick up on the India-US-Japan-Australia alignment against China...

Fred

CK,

Fracturing technology is not a job creator. Actual use has the potential to poison the water aquifer, hardly a benefit to the nation for a short term energy price decline.

India gets a 'permanent' seat on the UN Security Council - we are not getting a 'permanent' ally.

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