March 06, 2005

Reader Mailbag

Sanjay Krishnaswamy writes in:

While I love the items on your scorecard--and who couldn't be thrilled? (Don't answer that; I know)--I think you're way under tally. The simple fact is that while the administration has achieved great things in the Middle East, despite its naysayers, I still am actually more impressed with Bush/Powell/Rice's maneuvering in Asia, and that too has borne a lot of fruit in the last month. I think that Japan's agreeing to militarily support the US in defending Taiwan against China is-- well, intellectually it is as amazing as elections in the Middle East, even if it's not as thrilling. And I think Bush decided early on to handle North Korea (which, let's not forget, may be the biggest problem in the world) by starting to build a sort of new Asian security group--and that paid big dividends too last month. I still think that the biggest foreign policy miracle of this administration is the simultaneous improvement of relations with Pakistan, India, China and Japan --- so much so that those last three were actively pulling for Mr. Bush's re-election. It's not to downplay the amazing stuff in the Middle East; only your scorecard has to look at global success stories and there've been no small number this past month outside of the Arab world.

We sometimes get a bit too EuroMed-centric over here at B.D.; and I hope to redress that in the coming year. It's a big world out there.

Posted by Gregory at March 6, 2005 05:40 AM | TrackBack (28)

China's support for Bush has been ambivalent at best.

They did not support the Iraq War and are deeply troubled by a U.S. that has a rather proactive military attitude towards tyrannical regimes.

Any rooting for Bush out of Beijing during the election was due pretty much to the fact that China prefers to deal with the devil they know.

Ties have improved at least in part because they were so low when Bush started -- remember the spy plane incident? Rumsfeld has never visited China as defence secretary, in part because he has still been angry over how China handled that.

I do think that the administration has done well on North Korea, despite that most peole think Bush as more or less ignored that country. Bush has forced China, Japan and Russia to step up to the table and help present a united front against one of the world's nastiest thugocracies.

Posted by: Scott at March 6, 2005 07:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Did he mean the governments of China, India and Japan were pulling for Bush, or did he mean Pakistan, India and Japan, because I think that is more accurate. The Pakistani government seems to think relations are better when Republicans are in office.

Posted by: ATM at March 6, 2005 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who would have thought back in 2000 that Bush would have so many foreign policy successes? That was supposed to be his weakest area. As for friendly relations with China, the goal isn't to get along with them the way we get along with Australia. China is a totalitarian regime, and at least nominally communist. They are the bad guys. We just want to get along with them well enough not to get into an ugly conflict, and to get them to cooperate on problems of mutual concern like North Korea.

Posted by: Van Helsing at March 6, 2005 06:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Scott underplays the Chinese support for Bush (which persists even as he raps the Europeans for selling them arms). Sure, things were bad at the start (bombing their embassy in Serbia strikes me as even more relevant than the spy plane). But Bush firmly put the Taiwanese on notice about putting their protectors in an uncomfortable spot --- and the Chinese dug that. He plyed a game much more to their liking than his political opponents' on trade, and the Chinese (and Indians) liked that too. And he refused to move on North Korea until the Chinese were on board, neatly co-opting them. Trade, Korea and Taiwan were probably the roots of Chinese support for Bush.

As for Iraq: I get the feeling that if Bush had had the votes in the Security Council, the Chinese would've happily voted with the Americans. As it was they chose to be on the winning side.

Posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy at March 6, 2005 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

China was actually rooting for Kerry, as they understand that the Democrats have always been more China-friendly as a party than the Republicans. The Pubbies have this tradition of support of the Nationalists that extend back to Chiang Kai-Shek and Mme. Chiang, the influence of the Luce's, and the fallout from the "Who Lost China" debate. Nixon's trip to China was an aberration from this tradition, albeit an important one, that helped to flank the main enemy of the time, Soviet Russia, but did not alter the reality that Beijing was what it was, a Stalinist regime.

Things change. Chinese people want to make money and pursue their Place in the Sun in the Pacific. It's all very Wilhelmine, as in the Kaiser. To a Chinese, of course Taiwan is part of China. To a Chinese mandarin or a member of the Admiralty, control of Taiwan is a way of controlling the oil flow to Japan, which is the entire reason for the Naval Treaty (that's what it was) that basically made the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Combined Fleet one big monster Navy.

Chinese ambitions in the Central Pacific have been checked for the foreseeable future. All that needs be done is to bring the Australian and Indian navies into the fold and the containment of Chinese naval power will be complete. A Kerry would have flown to Beijing to make nice with the Mandarinate. Rice, otoh, concludes a naval treaty.

Nice work, Condi.

Posted by: Section9 at March 6, 2005 08:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I for one, salute our new Asian Central Bank overlords.

Posted by: praktike at March 6, 2005 09:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Very nice observation, Sanjay Krishnaswamy. As for Section9, I do beg the differ. It is true that traditionally Republican adminstrations are friendlier to Tawian. However, Chinese Communist Party in fact was hoping for Bush reelection. This is a well recongnized fact posted by several newspaper already. This has largely to do with N. Korea and trade issue. Democrats are much focus on human right issues and exercise protective trade. That means bad business for China. Kerry also advocates for bilaternal meetings with Kim JongIl, not the Bush six party talk. China, of course, has great interest in N. Korea development, a country sits next to her. China has no gain in having N. Korea develops nuclear weapons. Just as we have no interest in seeing Mexico or Canada develops nuclear weapons -- even allies. I do think having the six party talk is one of the best foreign policy Bush has made. It forces Kim JongIl to realize his only ally is against him on nuclear development. Let's not forget what happened in couples weeks ago when Kim decided to cease all negotiation, Bejing sent an envoy to "change" Kim's decision. Now Kim is back at the table.

Posted by: Richard Wong at March 7, 2005 12:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not sure about China, but let's not forget Iran's endorsement of Bush's re-election!

Posted by: Guy at March 7, 2005 12:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah... Iran. I didn't know what to think of that. As in, what is good for Iran may not be good for USA.

Posted by: Richard Wong at March 7, 2005 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One reason that China, or any totalitarian nation, liked Bush is because he's fairly predictable, especially on foreign policy. The Red Chinese aren't yet world-class players of the Great Game, but one frequently finds that one is able to appreciate the subtleties of the game and respect a well-played game before one has attained to that level. It's the same in chess as it is in geopolitics.

Posted by: Bruce at March 7, 2005 09:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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