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Premise: China. Conclusion: Globalism? By: Robert Locke
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 05, 2001


GLOBALIST IDEOLOGY is promoted in a number of ways, one of which consists of taking false geopolitical premises and using them to prove that we have no serious choice but to submit to globalism. There are other examples, but the most important case in point for the United States is China. The false premise is that China is destined by geopolitical fate to be the next hegemon of Asia, if not the world, from which a number of globalist conclusions are deduced:

1. The rise and fall of national powers is a great and inevitable current of history, so we have no control over our national destiny and would better just stop even thinking about the concept.


2. America's day is soon to be over, so there's no reason to have the pride in our country that might motivate us to care what happens to it.

3. Because China may be powerful some day, we should treat is as if it is powerful right now and give it whatever it wants


4. The standard PC nonsense of "we must respect other cultures," because they're the coming nation, not us.

But the real key is here:

5. Sure, China is a problem, but free trade will tie them to the rest of the world so much that they'll behave. (Basically Norman Angell's doctrine in his pre-WWI book The Great Illusion about another late industrializing power with a chip on its shoulder.) Furthermore, this is our only shot for making them behave, because they're going to be too powerful for anything else we might do to matter.


6. For #5 to restrain such a big country with such nasty people running it, ordinary free trade won't do. We need extreme free trade.


7. To enforce extreme free trade, ordinary bilateral agreements aren't enough. We need a world trade-state.

8. Since #5 is going to work, traditional geopolitical techniques like coalitions and containment are just irrelevant.


9. Worse, they might hurt China's feelings but letting them think we consider them a threat. So don't use them; don't even talk about them.

10. Since #7 follows from #5, the very concept of national interest is suspect. Plus we're all so tied together now it's irrelevant.


11. Therefore our nation's military should be used not to defend our own national interests, but the global trade-state of #5. Call this Thomas Friedman militarism.

12. Since nothing can be allowed to interfere with this state, nobody else must be allowed to develop serious military power, and anyone who shows a peep of rebellion must be punished. Call this Paul Wolfowitz militarism.

13. Therefore America's only hope is to be absurdly powerful but not use its power for its own interests. That is geopolitical globalism in a nutshell.

Now these conclusions are obviously deeply suspect in their own right, as is the logic that connects them, but insofar as they are all being deduced from one false premise, it is worth refuting that premise before even getting into these issues. There is in fact very good reason to believe that in the long run, China is not destined, as its leadership seems in fact to desire, to be the next global hegemon, or even the hegemon of Asia. The fundamental reason China can't pull it off if American policy is even minimally wise is that its list of natural enemies includes some of the most formidable and potentially formidable nations on earth. To wit:

1. A billion nuclear-armed Indians, increasingly prosperous, possessing significant technological capabilities, and whose government is a (relatively) stable democracy that has better international legitimacy than the Beijing regime.

2. Japan, the second-richest nation on earth, with the second-largest military budget. The Japanese are for historical reasons very quiet and polite about their power, but they are discreetly armed to the teeth, being a self-disciplined and nationalistic island nation that depends on freedom of the seas for its survival.

3. The Russians are historically very tough people and share the world's longest and most militarized border with China. They fought skirmishes on this border in 1969. Their racial animus against the Chinese is unaffected by the racial liberalism of the advanced nations of the West. Their current rapprochement with them is only due to our arrogant policies towards them.

4. Vietnam, which beat China in a little-known war in 1979 when the Chinese attempted to pounce on a nation exhausted from what it still calls "the American War." Americans don't have to be reminded how fanatical and tough these people are.

5. Taiwan, the Israel of the Pacific, which has with a little help from Uncle Sam held off an enemy 50 times its size for half a century. And as an island, it is defensible by sea power, which America has plenty of.

6. South Korea, a deeply nationalistic nation with American troops on its soil that remembers being invaded by China in the Korean War.

7. North Korea, despite being governed by (mad) communists, doesn't get along with China and isn't going to be any friend of theirs. It may be absorbed by South Korea soon, anyway.

8. Thailand, a stable and increasingly prosperous nation. They will be able to pay their share of whatever it costs to keep China from making trouble.

9. Australia, a rich country committed to the forward defense of its territory in the islands to its north.

10. Singapore, a small nation but strategic due to its location and ideologically determined to be respected as a responsible power. They begged us to put a naval base there when we had to leave the Philippines.

Some of these nations are not formidable individually, but put together they represent significant resources in terms of their economies, their populations, their political cohesion, and their military establishments. There may even be a few others as time goes by and nations develop economically and recover from past traumas that have sidelined them in international affairs. And, of course, the US lurks in the background to arm them and give strategic leadership. They are all fairly reliably anti-Chinese, a reflection of the Beijing regime's ham-handed capacity for making its neighbors dislike it. America's strongest asset is that despite how much people may say they dislike us, at the end of the day they feel comfortable doing business with us because they know we are not out to subjugate them.

It follows that the focus of our diplomacy should not be trying to appease Beijing, which only feeds its delusions of destiny and increases what it thinks it can get away with. It should be working to get this formidable coalition of China's natural enemies to hang together against it. It means assembling a peacetime coalition so obviously well-prepared and cohesive that China gives up its dream of remaking the global or even regional balance of power. The best historical analogy is to the efforts to contain Germany before WWI, and the key is to see that these failed not because the concept of coalitional containment was fundamentally unsound, but because the coalition that was assembled was, due to the refusal of Britain to maintain a standing army on the continent, not strong enough to persuade the Germans to stay home.

Getting this "ASEAN-plus" coalition to work means ironing out points of friction between these nations and between them and us. Some of the points of friction, like the occasional insensitivity of our presence on Japanese Okinawa, are relatively small. The really big issue is Russia. We must stop pointlessly antagonizing Russia with such stunts as bombing their Serbian ally to intervene in a civil war in which it is far from clear that the Serbs are unequivocally the villains. We must not expand NATO beyond historically Catholic Eastern Europe. We must let Russia do anything it likes with the Moslem republics of the former USSR. We must not hold NATO exercises in Kazakhstan. All these things gain absolutely nothing for real American interests and generate a resentment of American power that drives Russia into the implausible arms of its natural enemy, China. Russia has nothing in common with China except a resentment of American power. In China's case, that resentment is inevitable, given that it is by nature in China's interest to dominate neighbors that we do not want it to dominate. In Russia's case, it is due solely due to dumb American policy.

Fundamentally the US and Russia are natural allies, as we were from the dawn of our republic to the Cold War, including two world wars, because if you take the ideological insanity of Marxism out of the picture, we have nothing to fight over and the same natural enemies. What are we going to fight over? Some island in the Bering Straits? Providing that Russia is willing to do the logical thing and forswear China in exchange, we should make to it all the key concessions above. Fundamentally, unlike China, they are not a dangerous expansionist power because the things they want, it is no problem for us to let them have. A few ethnics may cry over a Finlandized Latvia, and Dick Cheney may lose a little money on those tasty oil deals in the Caspian, but so what?

So why are we not currently pursuing a pro-Russian policy to contain China? Principally because of the present administration's continuance of the Clinton-Albright policy of proactive globalism. Drunk on the arrogance of temporarily being the sole superpower, we are attempting to base our security not on deterring potential adversaries from doing us harm, but on attempting to impose a universal hegemony that denies the legitimate national-security aspirations of nations with no fundamental hostility to us. The absurd zenith of this is in the thinking of Paul Wolfowitz, currently deputy secretary of defense, whose openly-stated doctrine is that we should attempt to prevent any powers from emerging in the world even capable of challenging us. But as Henry Kissinger wrote in his book Diplomacy, absolute security like this is a mirage. To be absolutely secure means to make everyone else absolutely insecure, which they naturally will not accept any more than we would if we were in their place. This therefore drives them to rebel against the international order that is imposed on them. Globalism thus means mobilizing against us nations that would have no reason to oppose us if we took our security only to its natural level of deterring the world from doing us harm--not preempting all potential competitors and denying other nations their natural spheres of influence, like Central Asia in Russia's case. As a strategic posture, globalism is the mistake, rare in history but real in our present circumstances, of being too strong for one's own good. Dealing with China is the obvious test case of our ability to understand this, because if we could only see what is obvious, China is an easily solvable problem within the traditional framework of coalitional and deterrent diplomacy. And that is not globalism, nor can globalist conclusions be deduced from it.




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