Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just My Opinion: Watch Out for the Beijing Regime

Charles Krauthammer is no fan of President Obama, but he had no use for the silly (and largely misinformed) carping over the cost of the president's recent trip to Asia. I agree with Krauthammer. It's important for Presidents of the United States to go abroad for these diplomatic missions. The president is America's diplomat-in-chief. When presidents take such trips, it is in everybody's interest that he be kept safe and protected.

More substantively, I emphatically agree with Krauthammer on the wisdom of Obama's special overtures to India. The US and India, along with the rest of the world really, has an abiding interest in these two countries having strong relations. That abiding interest is the Chinese government, an enemy to its own people's freedom and an enemy to the peace and stability of the world. A partnership between India and the US is essential for strengthening democracy, for checking China's growing military power, and for preventing the world from being sucked into China's economic vortex, with permanent trade imbalances and endemic loss of employment opportunities. (That's why the President was right to say that the greatest object of his diplomatic mission was "jobs." That's really at stake right now in this era of unscrupulous business, environmental, economic, and human rights practices on the part of the Chinese government, practices that, along with the West's undisciplined spending and use of credit, is slowly turning the world into a playground for the Butchers of Beijing.)

President Obama's endorsement of India's desire to become a member of the Security Council of the United Nations is sensible for both the US and India. The council is reserved for those nations that are deemed major powers. As Obama pointed out in India that with major power status comes major power responsibilities. (And I would say, major power expectations.) India was not a major power after World War II when the UN was established. But it is now. That needs to be acknowledged.

Krauthammer explains very well why Presdent Obama's trip to India was so important for the US and the world:
[China's] hegemony is the growing source of tension in Asia today. Modern China is the Germany of a century ago - a rising, expanding, have-not power seeking its place in the sun. The story of the first half of the 20th century was Europe's attempt to manage Germany's rise. We know how that turned out. The story of the next half-century will be how Asia accommodates and/or contains China's expansion.

Nor is this some far-off concern. China's aggressive territorial claims on resource-rich waters claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan are already roiling the neighborhood. Traditionally, Japan has been the major regional counterbalance. But an aging, shrinking Japan can no longer sustain that role. Symbolic of the dramatic shift in power balance between once-poor China and once-dominant Japan was the resolution of their recent maritime crisis. Japan had detained a Chinese captain in a territorial-waters dispute. China imposed a rare-earth mineral embargo. Japan capitulated.

That makes the traditional U.S. role as offshore balancer all the more important. China's neighbors from South Korea all the way around to India are in need of U.S. support of their own efforts at resisting Chinese dominion.

And of all these countries, India, which has fought a border war with China, is the most natural anchor for such a U.S. partnership. It's not just our inherent affinities - democratic, English-speaking, free-market, dedicated to the rule of law. It is also the coincidence of our strategic imperatives: We both face the common threat of radical Islam and the more long-term challenge of a rising China. 
Mind you, all of this is just my opinion (and Krauthammer's). I'm still just a preacher and I'm not foisting a social statement on anybody. These views haven't been brought from Mount Sinai. But I nonetheless think the world would do well to watch out for the regime in Beijing.

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