Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And China's not so happy about us either

China's misguided 'experts' on the US
By Henry C K Liu

(See also Part 1, Beyond Munich: Geostrategy and betrayal
and Part 2, Not much rise, and even less peace.)

Wang Jisi, director of the Institute of American Studies, is known in the West as China's foremost expert on the United States, called a major "America handler" who is "always giving guest lectures in the US and very, very plugged-in with the senior leadership".

Wang reportedly spent a whole day briefing Chinese President Hu Jintao for his April 2006 US visit, which turned out to be a perfunctory summit with no milestone diplomatic breakthroughs. It was obvious that Hu had not been adequately warned by his expert about not-so-latent US hostility. The most memorable moment of the summit was a televised heckling by a Falungong fanatic during the official welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn. Many Chinese think that the heckling was deliberately staged by anti-China forces to embarrass publicly the leader of the world's most populous nation, Wang Jisi's well-known upbeat views of US friendship notwithstanding.

Wang, dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University and director of the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party, also had an article published in the September/October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs to set a positive tone for Hu's US visit, with the title "China's search for stability with America".

The article is an expanded and revised version of one originally published in Zhongguo Dangzheng Ganbu Luntan, a journal of the Central Party School. Thus its views are not merely diplomatic spin designed to persuade a skeptical US audience before a difficult summit.

In his article, Wang argues for the need of China to maintain friendly relations with the United States, as the US is expected to remain a superpower for a long time. Wang reasons that "only a US economic decline would reduce Washington's strength (including its military muscle) and ease the strategic pressure on Beijing. Such a slide, however, would also harm China's economy. In addition, the increased US sense of insecurity that might result could have other consequences that would not necessarily benefit China. If, for example, Washington's influence in the Middle East diminished, this could lead to instability there that might threaten China's oil supplies. Similarly, increased religious fundamentalism and terrorism in Central and South Asia could threaten China's own security, especially along its western borders, where ethnic relations have become tense and separatist tendencies remain a danger."

This view of power geopolitics is deficient in analytical clarity, even simple logic, let alone ideological correctness, and is contradictory to China's long-standing policy of rejecting power geopolitics. The need for friendly relations with another country is not based on that country's economic and military strength, but on its peaceful attitude and just policies. US-China friendship cannot be based on US power. It can only be based on a relationship of mutual respect and equality, and a commitment to peaceful co-existence.

Because of the already massive foreign-exchange reserves held by China, a slowdown of the US economy would not cause an unmanageable financial crisis for China. If it shifts its economy toward domestic development rather than continuing to rely excessively on export for US dollars, an economic decline in the United States would have only minor effect on the Chinese economy. In fact, it may well be the necessary medicine to force China to shift toward domestic development over obstinate special-interest objections from the now excessively influential export sector.

Further, it is pure self-deception to think that Chinese economic policy can exert any fundamental effect on the US economy, which in 2006 was still 10 times as large in gross domestic product (US$13 trillion) than the Chinese economy ($1.3 trillion). Total US-China trade in 2006 was $323 billion, behind US-Canada trade of $533 billion and almost the same as US-Mexico trade of $332 billion.

Recurring financial crises are structural for financial globalization under a dysfunctional finance architecture based on dollar hegemony. Such financial crises allow the printer of dollars regularly to rob exporting nations of their financial gains earned with low wages. China can only be a victim, never the instigator, of such crises because it cannot print US dollars. US economic decline will be the result of flawed US policy and nothing else.

China's need for Middle Eastern oil is not threatened by US withdrawal from the region, as big producers such as Saudi Arabia and small Persian Gulf states as well as Iran are independently shifting the oil trade to China away from the United States. It's a toss-up between continuing US presence and withdrawal as to which would cause more stability in the Middle East.

While China has no incentive or even the power to force a US withdrawal from the Middle East, it can add its voice and influence to urge the US to adopt a more balanced Middle East policy. It is not necessary for Beijing blindly to support US policy in the region because of China's need for oil. In fact the reverse is true: China will put its oil supply in jeopardy by aligning too closely with flawed US policy on the Middle East.

As for threats from terrorism, China faces terrorist threats from separatist political grievances, quite different from the US, which faces terrorist threats from Islamic extremism out of religious conflicts and anti-imperialist grievances. In fact, China cannot possibly hope to solve its own unique terrorism problem by siding

with the controversial US "war on terrorism". Quite the opposite - a US-China alliance on global terrorism will add unneeded and unwanted complexity to the single-dimensional terrorist threats faced by China today.

While terrorism-fighting technology shares universality, the socio-political causes behind terrorism are unique in every nation, making international cooperation in any "global war on terrorism" highly problematic. Until September 11, 2001, the US was an open sponsor of separatist terrorism against China.

Long-term US belligerence against China
Wang writes that "history has already proved that the United States is not China's permanent enemy". Such a claim is contrary to fact. The US considers all communist governments permanent enemies. US hostility toward China is both racial and ideological, with the racial side running back two centuries to the founding of the US as an independent nation and the ideological side beginning with the founding of the People's Republic of China. This hostility is not limited to nation-state geopolitics. Its missionary roots go to a deep-seated public attitude that remains ready for demagogue politicians to exploit at any time. There is a big archive of racially based anti-Chinese legislation in US history.

A recent survey by (WPO) on "US General Attitudes Towards China" found that "Americans lean toward negative views of China's role in the world, its government, economic system, leadership, and its human-rights record. There is little optimism that the human-rights record will improve or that China will become more democratic. Trust in China is fairly low."

Between January 2005 and April 2006, BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA and WPO asked Americans on three occasions whether China was having a mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world. In each case a slight majority or plurality said it was having a negative influence - January 2005 (46%), November 2005 (53%), and April 2006 (49%). Furthermore, three out of four Americans have an unfavorable view of "how China uses military power and the threat of force". Notwithstanding that this attitude is based on perceptions misled by US propaganda, not on historical facts, public opinion translates directly into votes that affect official policy in the US political system.

Attitudes about the Chinese government and economic system are also quite unfavorable. In the April 2006 WPO poll, 80% said they had an unfavorable opinion of China's system of government (40% very unfavorable), while 66% had an unfavorable view of China's economic system.

President Hu also gets low approval ratings from Americans. Sixty-three percent have an unfavorable view of Hu, while just 27% have a favorable view of the Chinese leader. Attitudes about Hu are also more unfavorable than those of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former high KGB officer, who was rated in the same poll.

Asked in April 2006 whether China had become more or less "democratic and responsive to its people", only 24% said it had become more democratic, while 49% believed it had "stayed about the same" and 18% said it had gotten less democratic. In the past, several Pew studies consistently found that a majority of Americans did not believe "China's government is becoming more democratic and is allowing more freedoms for Chinese citizens". In May 2001, 62% expressed this view. Skepticism about China's progress toward democracy is closely related to greater doubts about improvements in its human-rights practices.

Americans are also skeptical about China's movement toward the free-market system. In the May 2001 Pew poll, a 47% plurality said they did not believe "China's economy is becoming more like the kind of free-market system found the United States". This was virtually unchanged from early 1999.

Americans have also shown pessimism about US policies influencing China to change, and about China and the US finding common ground. In a May 2001 Pew survey, a majority (56%) said they did not think it "possible for the US, through its policies, to have much of an effect on making China more democratic". When asked in a March 1999 Louis Harris poll if "the US and China will be able to work together to adopt the same common values about democracy and a market economy", just 29% thought that would happen. Nearly two-thirds (65%) rejected the possibility.

Trust in China continues to be fairly low. In February 2006 in the midst of the controversy over the management of US seaports by foreign companies, respondents were asked whether companies from different countries should be allowed to own cargo operations at US seaports. A majority (65%) believed that companies from China or Hong Kong should not be allowed to own these operations, more than those who opposed ownership by companies from Arab countries friendly to the US (56% should not) and France (50% should not).

In a January 2000 Hart Research poll, nearly half (48%) said that "compared with other countries that the US trades with", China was seen as below average in "living up to the agreements it makes with the United States". Just 32% thought China was average (25%) or above average (7%) in this regard.

Americans are more apt to view the US-China relationship as unfriendly rather than friendly, but only a small minority view China as an outright enemy. Americans are divided as to whether China is cooperating with the US in the "war on terrorism". A strong majority view relations with China as being important to US interests and growing more important, though problems posed by China are not considered pressing. While China is not viewed directly as an enemy of the United States, perceptions of its foreign-policy influence on the US are predominantly negative. Asked in April 2006 about how they view "the effect of Chinese

foreign policy on the United States and its interests", a majority - 54% - said it had been very or somewhat negative, while only 36% said it had been positive.

For decades, Harris polls have asked whether Americans think China is "an ally of the US, is friendly but not an ally, is not friendly but not an enemy, or is unfriendly and is an enemy of the US". Gallup, the Los Angeles Times, CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) News and others have used similar questions. Over the past few years, with just a few exceptions, a plurality to fairly strong majority has said that China is either "not friendly" or an enemy. Recently (August 2005) Harris found 53% saying China was either "not friendly, but not an enemy" (38%) or "unfriendly and ... an enemy of the US" (15%), while 41% called it either a "close ally" (5%) or "friendly but not a close ally" (36%). US-China friendship does not have a solid anchor and is affected in big swings by current events, meaning a sudden confrontation can activate public war cries against China.

When forced to choose between just two options of characterizing China - as either an adversary or an ally - a strong majority chooses "adversary". As recently as July 2005, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 49% thought of China as more of an adversary "in general", while just 26% saw it as more of an ally. The poll found that about three in four considered China to be "an adversary and competitor" on "diplomatic and military issues" (77%) as well as "economic issues" (73%). When asked in a May 1999 Pew poll, 51% disagreed with the assertion that "China is basically friendly toward the United States". Thus when President George W Bush characterized China as a "strategic competitor", he was voicing US public opinion.

Of course, how the US public thinks of China does not reflect an accurate picture of what China actually is. It only reflects attitude. Yet it is not useful to dismiss such opinion as based on ignorance, because in politics, perception is all. US public opinion does influence policy by determining the composition of the government. Wang Jisi, as China's foremost expert on the US, would do well to pay close attention to such public opinion polls to avoid being misled by propaganda from his expert counterparts in US think-tanks.

Wang also writes: "Nor does China want the United States to see it as a foe." Unfortunately, what China wants of the US is not what the US government will automatically grant or even be in a position to grant without public support. The US will continue to see China as a foe as long as public opinion on China remains predominantly negative. To improve relations between the two countries, more than strategic dialogues between experts and policymakers are needed. Transparent spins by official experts are close to useless.

What China needs to do, as Japan has successfully done since the end of World War II, is invest heavily in people-to-people contacts and exchanges with the US public, increase support for educational and cultural exchanges, and promote a network of non-governmental, non-commercial friendship organizations in every state in the US to give the public a better understanding of China. For example, while there are frequent exchanges of trade delegations, there are as yet no "Year of China" events in the US, as there were in France in 2003-04 and in Russia now.

Insular experts
Experts like Wang Jisi usually spend a couple years at prestigious US universities as pampered foreign VIP scholars and are spoon-fed well-rehearsed academic spins by their hosts, whose perspective on China is often detached from US mass opinion. Exchange scholars from China are frequently cocooned in an insulated environment of respect and friendship from their US colleagues, never having a chance to experience personally and directly the reality of racial discrimination and ideological intolerance in US society. The positive perception of the United States these experts carry home with them is distorted by their insular experience. This explains why while China can interact effectively with the executive branch of the US government, it does not have a good understanding of the raw political dynamics that drive Congress.

These US-trained Chinese scholars then return home as experts on the US to act as high-level advisers to the Chinese leadership. Their understanding of the US is often superficial and elitist, limited by the rules of discourse prevalent in US universities and policy think-tanks they visited. Policy experts are a tight little fraternity, and they tend to represent the official views of their respective governments. They communicate through formal dialogue of high-sounding policy and diplomatic jargon to seek convergence through the choreography of foreign-policy negotiation. Together, these experts fashion agreements that cannot be implemented by the contracting governments because the agreements they make are often unrelated to reality on the ground or the domestic political weather in either country.

In democratic politics, the lowest common denominator frequently carries the day into policy. For the United States, that lowest common denominator is decidedly anti-China. For China, the lowest common denominator is a fantasy on natural US amity, a common defect of Chinese national narcissism. Elitist Chinese experts on the US like Wang Jisi would improve their understanding of the US by heeding the advice of Mao Zedong to stay close to the voice of the people.

Hostility no secret
As for Wang's claim that "history has already proved that the United States is not China's permanent enemy", one can only surmise that Wang is unfamiliar with the views of Aaron L Friedberg, a professor of politics and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, who joined US Vice President Dick Cheney's staff as a deputy national security adviser and director of policy planning on June 1, 2003, for a term of one year, taking a public-service leave from the WWS.

The appointment caused widespread speculation about neo-conservative co-option of US foreign policy in general and China policy in particular. It is noteworthy that the appointment of Friedberg occurred almost two years after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, and two months after "catastrophic victory" in Iraq, after which US-China relations were supposedly improved by US attention on a more pressing enemy.

In an article in the November 2000 issue of Commentary, an influential neo-conservative monthly, titled "The struggle for mastery in Asia", Friedberg put forth the proposition that "the United States will find itself engaged in an open and intense geopolitical rivalry with the People's Republic of China", and that "there are reasons to believe it is already under way". This article was written at the time of the presidential election of 2000, and the victory of George W Bush since has given it policy significance. While the article was written almost a year before the attacks of September 2001, the US response to which has affected its subsequent tactical posture toward China, the neo-conservative theme of China being a strategic competitor to US hegemony remains operative for long-range policy. Friedberg's appointment to Cheney's staff after the second war in Iraq as deputy national security adviser and director of policy planning reinforced this view.

Friedberg's proposition is based on his openly stated assumption that the US, while seeking to satisfy China's legitimate ambitions, will not be willing to abandon its own present position of preponderance in Asia or to surrender "pride of place" to China. To permit a potentially hostile power to dominate East Asia would not only be out of line with current US policy, it would mark a deviation from the fundamental pattern of the US grand strategy since at least the latter part of the 19th century. These are the necessary preconditions of a "struggle for mastery" in Asia, Friedberg concludes. Wang would do well to temper his complacency about "the US not being China's permanent enemy" by paying attention to the likes of Friedberg.

Robert Dreyfuss, in his article "Vice Squad" about the Office of the Vice President in The American Prospect, lists Cheney's leading China specialist, Stephen Yates, and several other key staffers as having worked for California congressman Christopher Cox in the 1990s during the congressional investigation into Chinese political influence in the US that followed allegations of Beijing's contributions to the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

The long resultant report characterizes China as a looming threat and rival, with rapacious need for Middle East oil and "designs" on Taiwan. Charles W Freeman, a former US ambassador to China who has known Yates many years says that Yates, as well as neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, formerly top officials in Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department, all see China as the solution to a US "enemy-deprivation syndrome".

Dreyfuss' article suggests that the Cheney-dominated Bush administration sees China as the most serious long-term threat to US global interests. If conflict with China is inevitable, then the United States needs bases in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and maybe even Iran and Syria. If China is dependent on Middle East oil, then the US must be able to control how and where the oil flows from the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oilfields.

To contain China, the US needs to cultivate an alliance with India, even risking the accusation of nuclear hypocrisy in doing so. It is in US interests to reverse the policies of former president Clinton, raise tension on the Korean Peninsula by linking North Korea to Iran and Iraq as "an axis of evil", dismissing South Korea's "Sunshine diplomacy" efforts and encouraging Japan to take a hard line toward Pyongyang. The Bush administration managed to get Tokyo to declare, for the first time in history, that the security of the Taiwan Strait is of common concern to Japan and the United States. In the name of the "war on terror", the US has regained a strategic toehold in the Philippines to malign the growing Filipino Maoist movement.

The Cheney neo-cons have a vision of a new transformed world order built on two pillars: (1) a new "democratic" Middle East and (2) a long-range containment of China even if it should turn capitalist. The Middle East vision since the invasion of Iraq has fallen apart, but the long-range containment of China may well be the redeeming war cry that will save this flawed vision. The neo-con anti-China cancer is now in remission, but far from being cured. Reforming and containing China is the one long-term issue that US Republicans and Democrats agree on, despite nuances of partisan politics, with each party operating with a separate agenda.

The June 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly featured Robert D Kaplan's "How we would fight China: The next cold war", as an inevitable war that "will link China and the United States in a future [conflict] that may stretch over several generations". By comparison, "the Middle East is just a blip", according to Kaplan. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of The World Is Flat, calls Kaplan among the "most widely read" authors defining the post-Cold War world, along with Francis Fukuyama of The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P Huntington of The Clash of Civilizations. Huntington fantasizes of an "Islamic-Confucian world" in Eurasia, from the Middle East to China, as "an arc of crisis" overrun by evil enemies in an "Islamic-Sinic alliances" that must be tamed by the good forces of the West, and prophesied that a war between the US and China will break out by 2010, centering on the oil lanes of the South China Sea. Huntington's timing may be off, but his message is loud and clear to the US informed public.

Thomas Donnelly, a senior fellow at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a member of the China Economic and Security Review Commission from February 10, 2005, to December 31, 2006, wrote in an article in the May 2003 issue of the American Enterprise Institute's National Security Outlook that the US needed to use its then-two-month-old victory in the Iraq war to keep and enlarge Pax Americana and further institutionalize superpower unipolarity by "rolling back" radical Islamism while "containing" the People's Republic of China, that

is, "hedging against its rise to great-power status". While this view has since been tempered by US "catastrophic success" in war turning unexpectedly into unmitigated failure in peace in Iraq, the strategic design on containing China remains unaltered.

Not all in the United States are warmongering fanatics, but even pacifists recognize US belligerence toward China. Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, a pacifist Quakers group committed to the principles of non-violence and justice and recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, warned in "US Asia-Pacific Hegemony and Possibilities of Popular Solidarity" delivered at a conference in Seoul in June 1999: "In the Asia-Pacific region, the US is enforcing its 21st-century 'Open Door' policy by means of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the World Bank, APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation], bases and forward deployments, the 7th Fleet and its nuclear arsenal; as it seeks to simultaneously contain and engage China, to dominate the sea lanes and straits through which the region's trade and supplies of oil must travel (the 'jugular vein' of Asia-Pacific economies), and to 'cap' Japanese militarism and nationalism."

How deep does Wang Jisi have to bury his head in the sand not to hear these loud predictions of inevitable war between the US and China?

Chinese naivety on US
A review of Wang's published work on his understanding of US political culture shows that Chinese leaders are as much victims of their experts on the US as US leaders are of their experts on China. It explains why the two nations interact like ships passing each other in the night.

For example, in a December 10, 2003, article in The Study Times (Xuexi Shibao) titled "The logic of the American hegemony", Wang, as director of the Institute of the American Studies in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote in the lead sentence: "The development and changes of America's domestic democracy have strengthened the status of the United States as a hegemon, and have also enriched its hegemonic thoughts." He followed up by an analysis of US race and diversity politics and its relationship to US hegemonic foreign policy.

But Wang's analysis of racism in US politics is naively conventional, showing a lack of deep understanding beyond that touted by the US mainstream media. In fact, US moral imperialism has not risen from its civil-rights achievements or its commitment to racial and ethnic diversity as Wang claims. Rather, the age of US moral imperialism coincides with a period of backsliding in domestic progress on these issues.

Wang cites Henry Kissinger, Zbignew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell as evidence of US diversity. Yet anyone familiar with US sociological development knows that minority members frequently complain about tokenism, with the observation that "these prominent appointees only look like us; they don't think like us or speak for us". To this day, for a minority member to succeed in the US, he or she must purge a deep-rooted minority mentality.

There is a well-known joke that when US-born Israeli prime minister Golda Meir tried to persuade Henry Kissinger, a Jewish American, to make Israel a top priority in US Mideast policy, he reportedly sent her a note: "I would like to inform you that I'm first an American citizen; second, US secretary of state; and third, a Jew," to which she responded, "In Israel, we read from right to left." During Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy between Egypt and Israel, he was often met by Meir at the airport. One time, after being kissed by Kissinger, Meir quipped in front of television: "I didn't know you kiss women also," in a good-natured reference to Kissinger's alleged pro-Arab stance.

The current US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is a visible case in point. Almost a year before Wang wrote his article, the Washington Post on January 18, 2003, credited Rice, a black woman who was then national security adviser, with taking a key role in helping to shape the Bush administration's decision to challenge the affirmative-action admissions policy at the University of Michigan, a position widely regarded as anti-minority and anti-diversity.

Blitzkrieg foreign policy
Wang writes:

The Americans were forced to withdraw from Vietnam in 1973, ultimately leading to a defeat that has brought tremendous shame and humiliation to the American nation. The end of the Vietnam War was primarily a consequence of international factors, but the anti-war movement in the backdrop of the civil-rights movement was also a major reason why president [Lyndon] Johnson declined to run for re-election and why the Nixon administration decided to withdraw the US forces from Vietnam. [President Richard] Nixon once helplessly remarked, 'The Vietnam War was not lost in the battlefields in Vietnam, but in the halls of the Congress, in the offices of major newspapers and television editors, and in the classrooms of outstanding universities and colleges.' Indeed, at the time when Nixon made these remarks, he still had power to continue this war, but he had lost the political basis and moral authority for doing so.

If Wang had done his research, he would have found out from publicly available declassified documents that by 1973 the United States had already accepted defeated in Vietnam. The Tet Offensive between January and June 1968 was the turning point that forced the US to recognize that the war could not be won strategically, even though the offensive itself was a tactical defeat for the Viet Cong.

In the 1968 US presidential campaign, candidate Nixon asserted in virtually every speech that the goal of his administration would be to "end the war and win the peace in Vietnam". Nixon worked to withdraw from Vietnam soon after he entered the White House on January 20, 1969, as part of his policy of detente with the Soviet Union and opening to China. He faced a divided nation and had to resist the left, which wanted an immediate withdrawal, as well as the right, which wanted a further escalation of the war. The remark quoted by Wang above was only Nixon's maneuver to assign blame for the Vietnam defeat conveniently to war protesters at home.

The historical fact was that the US had realized by the time Johnson refused to face a second-term election in 1968 that the war was lost and the problem was how to withdraw gracefully from an unwinnable quagmire against the forces of Vietnamese national liberation. If the war had been successful on the ground, no amount of domestic protest would have been able to stop it short of total victory. It was the same trick as the post-1949 Republican charge of "who lost China" on the Democrats, as if China was the United States' to lose. China came under communism because of an unstoppable historical current, not because the US State Department was infested with disloyal communists, as senator Joe McCarthy claimed.

Again, Wang wrote:

In September 2002, the US National Security Strategy Report announced the "preemptive strike" strategy, causing strong criticisms from many countries. But if the US decides to launch a preemptive strike against another country, it has to issue a public military threat to that country before the actual strike takes place; only then will the US take advantage of the crisis, setting the bottom lines of concessions, creating waves of propaganda domestically and abroad, and consulting its allies.

The US will not launch Blitzkriegs as [was done] during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, Japan's attacks on Pearl Harbor, the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Yet this does not by any means demonstrate the "goodwill" of the American hegemony. Instead, it tells us that the complexity of the US decision-making process provides our countries with opportunities to figure out responses to the crisis, and to find out ways to influence the US decision-making process lest the situation gets totally out of control.

The historical facts of the German invasion of Poland, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan are at variance with what Wang presents. The German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939, one week after the signing of the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which came into being as a result of Western maneuvers at Munich a year earlier, giving plenty of time to prepare for war or to defuse it.

British historian A J P Taylor's The Origins of the Second World War, written between 1957 and 1961, challenged the then-accepted view that Adolf Hitler had been a uniquely evil plotter of war by presenting a view of Hitler as an opportunist who had enjoyed much popular support in Germany and Austria. Hitler pushed for reform of the Versailles Treaty to secure concessions that would placate Germanic sentiment. The unraveling of the absurdities of the Versailles Treaty could have been managed rationally, as in the early stages of British and French appeasement over the Rhineland and Germany's Anschluss of Austria. After Munich, in 1938, having appeased Berlin on more contestable territorial issues over the Sudetenland, the British changed their stance because of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and decided to fight over Danzig (now Gdansk) and the Polish Corridor, where the German case for revision was stronger than in Czechoslovakia. Britain and France had up to that point vacillated between policies of appeasement and resistance, hoping to turn Germany east against the USSR.

The result, Taylor maintained, was a war in Europe that nobody wanted and that personally dismayed Hitler. The European phase of World War II began simply as an unintended accident of miscalculation. Hitler never imagined that the European democracies would actually go to war over Poland, especially because London and Paris could do almost nothing to defend the Poles. And in 1773, Poland had been the first nation in the European system to be partitioned out of existence without a war, a source of great satisfaction to the participating powers: Russia, Austria and Prussia.

In 1966, Czechoslovakia, following the lead of Romania, rejected the Soviet Union's call for more military integration within the Warsaw Pact and sought greater input in planning and strategy for the pact's non-Soviet members. At the same time, plans to effect great structural changes in Czechoslovak military organizations were under discussion. All these debates heated up in 1968 during the Prague Spring of political liberalization when CSLA (Ceskoslovenska Lidova Armada, or Czechoslovak People's Army) commanders put forward plans to democratize the armed forces, limiting the role of the Communist Party.

National military doctrine became an issue with the release of two important documents: the Action Program of the Ministry of Defense and the Memorandum of the Klement Gottwald Military Political Academy, stating that Czechoslovakia should base its defense strategy on its own geopolitical interests and that the threat from the West had been overstated. Although the regime of Alexander Dubcek was careful to reassure the Soviet Union that Czechoslovakia would remain committed to the Warsaw Pact, Moscow felt challenged by these developments, which undoubtedly played a major role in the final decision to invade in August 1968.

Wang confuses Blitzkrieg, a war-prosecuting doctrine, with the general prewar buildup of political tensions that lead finally to war. US military doctrine since Vietnam has been all Blitzkrieg with overwhelming force to end the fighting within weeks, as in the two US-led wars with Iraq. War preparation by the US military is a continuing undertaking to achieve continuous readiness, with war-inducing political scenarios projected years in advance and war games played repeatedly to prepare for actions years in the future. It is part of the post-World War II Cold War strategy of the militarization of the peace. There is no reason to expect that US military action against China will be different when it comes.

Warmaking power in the US government has shifted entirely to the White House since the end of World War II, after which all US wars have been undeclared wars launched by executive authority, with congressional input only after the fact. The political tension that can lead to war can fluctuate for decades while never totally dissipating entirely. But when the shooting starts, it will be by Blitzkrieg tactics, because no military wants a long-drawn-out war. The US and China are currently playing out a game of war or peace through strategic dialogues. The key to deterring an unwanted US war against China will be to convince the US that such a war will not end quickly.

Neo-conservative 'moral clarity'
Again, Wang writes: "Due to the diversity in politics, culture, and religion, the US government has no way of monopolizing moral resources. It cannot proclaim itself as the ultimate judge of justice."

How then did the hijacking of US foreign policy by the Bush neo-cons with their "moral clarity" come to pass? Bush's "transformationalist" agenda was embraced by then-national security adviser Rice, who in August 2003 set out US ambitions to remake the Middle East along neo-conservatives lines by using military power to advance democracy and free markets. It is a policy for political transformation of Arab society deemed vital to victory in the "war on terrorism". The US long ago rejected cultural relativism in favor of moral imperialism. That has been the ideological foundation of the neo-conservative PNAC, which declares a fundamental challenge in its Statement of Principles: "To shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests."

The signers of the PNAC Statement - Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W Rodman, Stephen P Rosen, Henry S Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel and Paul Wolfowitz, all luminaries of the US political right - sought "to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles ... a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity".

With such naive views as those held by Wang Jisi passing as sound analysis by China's foremost expert on the US, the Chinese leadership will be hard put to make intelligent decisions on US-China relations.

The coalition of neo-cons and neo-liberals in US foreign policy and economic agenda does not just want to prevent China from achieving the reincorporation of Taiwan. The coalition does not just want full opening of Chinese markets to complete neo-liberal globalization. It does not just want to impose US democratic values in China. It wants to "preserve and extend an international order friendly to US security, US prosperity, and US principles through military strength and moral clarity", with proxy regimes led by native comprador capitalists who will gain power through bourgeois democracy financed by US dollars.

This is the US transformation strategy of regime change, by peaceful means if possible, by force if necessary. The United States has set itself up as a global monopoly of justice, with the right to act as judge, jury and executioner by virtue of its superior moral values.

Wang writes that China "must maintain a close relationship with the United States if its modernization efforts are to succeed ... Indeed, a cooperative partnership with Washington is of primary importance to Beijing."

A more convincing case can be made that China should maintain a correct and non-confrontational relationship with the United States while building friendly cooperative relationships with all peaceful nations of the world. Until the US abandons its role as a superpower hegemon, stops interfering in China's internal affairs on the issue of Taiwan and ceases and desists in its aggressive push to transform China's socialist system into market capitalism, a close relationship with the US at the expense of Chinese independence is not in China's national interest, nor is it appropriate for the world's most populous nation with one of the longest continuous histories to support an exploitative US empire. China should not accept a "cooperative partnership" with the US in its strategy of turning China again into a semi-colony by neo-imperialism.

China can reach its goal of developing itself once again as a benevolent great power worthy of the spirit of its people, culture and history without depending on any one foreign nation. There is no need to rely on the "cooperation" of a United States whose policy aims at a "struggle for mastery" in Asia. Such a policy is by definition imperialistic, as the US is only a Pacific power by geography, and not an Asian power by either geography or culture.

The US has the capacity to be a great nation that can contribute to the peaceful development of a just world order. Unfortunately, the peaceful forces in US society have been largely marginalized in US politics, a process that began with Theodore Roosevelt's Manifest Destiny imperialism, reversed during the New Deal era under Franklin D Roosevelt and revived during the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era and subsequent Cold War hysteria. The rise of neo-liberal fundamentalism in the Ronald Reagan era has since legitimized greed and exploitation. China would do well for itself and for world peace to re-establish cooperative contacts with these peaceful forces in US politics.

China's economic relations with the United States are heavily tilted toward catering to capital and management, granting visiting executives of US transnational corporations the protocol equivalent of visiting heads of state. The result is that US labor, both unionized and independent, has become passionately anti-China. Until China improves its relationship with and understanding of US labor through direct dialogue and solidarity, a trade war of protectionism between the two economies is unavoidable.

The Chinese government, since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, has unceremoniously jettisoned many US non-governmental organizations that promoted friendship with China during the long Cold War decades of official US hostility toward China. The government has pursued shortsighted power politics by catering only to those currently in power in the US and ignoring longtime friends and supporters. Such behavior is unbecoming for a culture rooted in Confucian ethics. It is also the reason China scores so negatively in US public opinion.

Exchanges of scholars and experts in the past decade have been mostly reserved for neo-liberals and right-of-center ideologues who basically see socialist China as a terminal case. As a result, China has no true friends and supporters in the US body politic or among the general public, only fair-weather opportunists in finance and business, and missionaries with transparent agendas in politics and government. Until China begins to rebuild grassroots friendship and support among the American people, there will be no sustainable harmony in US-China relations.

By favoring enemies and neglecting friends, one seldom ends up with more friends.

This is the concluding article of this report.

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at

Original article posted here.

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