Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Defending Bush's Korea policy

Another link from Glenn, this one is to Thomas Barnett criticizing Bush on the North Korea issue.

      This administration keeps hedging its bets, sort of treating China like a military enemy, sort of treating it like a diplomatic ally, sometimes demonizing it and sometimes indulging it. Our 'separate lanes' policy of trying to compartmentalize our relationship with China has been a disaster in my opinion, keeping us trapped in an immature strategic relationship with Beijing that makes it harder for us to deal with rogues like Iran and North Korea. . . . We tolerate Russia and India and China instead of embracing them as key allies, and we indulge the Japanese and Europeans, when neither has shown much inclination to grow up strategically any time soon (although I have my hopes for Abe as the next iteration in Tokyo). Bush and Co. define the new era all right. They just don't seem to recognize that a lot of players have changed sides in the meantime.

While I agree that we need these countries to get involved and join us in putting pressure on regimes that are potential problems, like N. Korea and Iran, I think Barnett is wrong here and not seeing the bigger picture.  Reading the entire article, I note that he talks about the post-cold war world as if Russia and China have done only positive moves in the direction of democracy and freedom for it’s own people and the nations surrounding it.

In Russia’s case one can only point to the frequent meddling with nations around it, like Georgia and the Ukraine, along with oppression inside the country in the case of Chechnya.  As of late international observers note how Putin’s Russia is starting to look like KGB controlled Soviet Russia of the past.  Should we just cuddle up to Russia like they’re our best friend?

China, despite their definite positive capitalistic movement and economic liberalizations, are still an oppressive communist autocracy, and they prove it time and time again.  This is in addition to their constant threatening of Taiwan, who we’ve pledged to defend in the past.  Does Barnett think that’s a poor excuse for maintaining our military strength?

Even India, who we could arguably have the best relationship with of all the others, is not without it’s human rights problems.  Christians and Muslims (yes, Muslims) get routinely discriminated against, and although the government is democratic, it’s still primarily a Hindu state (note here that I’m not labeling Hindus as bigots.  Bad apples in all groups of people and such.  It’s just that there’s a lot of discriminatory behavior in India that doesn’t get reported in the west very often).

So what’s Bush to do here.  If he snuggles up to any of these countries he gets criticized for coddling a country with pretty bad human rights issues.  But he does need them for diplomacy’s sake.  I’m just saying that there’s more to foreign policy than just choosing sides over one or two issues, like N. Korea, and I think Barnett is being unfair here.

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