2/25/2005

The unmitigated gall...

From H.D.S. Greenway in the Boston Globe:
1000 years before Pericles and the golden age of Athens, the Chinese were weaving silk, casting in bronze, and carving objects of beauty out of jade. Some of the world's greatest poetry was written in China when Alexander the Great was a toddler. In 240 BC, Chinese astronomers noted the passage of Halley's Comet, something that would not be done in the West for another millennium.
Thus I was bemused by Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments that China was a country ''we hope and pray enters the civilized world in an orderly way." A Pentagon spokesman, in a role similar to the fellow who follows the circus elephant with a shovel, jumped in quickly to explain that the secretary of defense did not mean to suggest that China was not a civilized country, only that it had been an inward-looking country that was now emerging as a global actor. True enough, but increasingly, it seems, ''civilized" actors are those who play roles written for them by the Bush administration.
It was the expansion of China's military power that prompted Rumsfeld's remark. Rumsfeld is paid to concern himself with such matters. But China is too big for the Bush administration to bully. A nuclear power and a permanent member of the Security Council, China can both defend itself and hinder many things the United States would like to do.The Bush administration came to power with a belligerent attitude towards China. Conservatives said China would no longer be coddled and should be treated as a dangerous rival.
But after 9/11, Beijing immediately offered its support in the war against terrorists, and one of the best aspects of Bush's post-9/11 policies was that unnecessary quarrels with China were put aside.
Now, in George W. Bush's second term, we have Donald Rumsfeld making ill-considered remarks about China, a country he There are three truths about China's future: Nothing is going to stand in the way of China becoming a world economic power. China's military power will also grow expediently in the Western Pacific and perhaps beyond. And China is in a period of transition, which Rumsfeld recognizes.
The United States can either recognize these truths and treat China with respect and understanding during this transition, helping to move China toward democracy, or it can confront China -- not a wise decision for the long run and ludicrous in the short run since Iraq has taken so many cards out of America's hand.

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