Tuesday, May 03, 2005
It's only for subscribers, so this link isn't much use. You'll have to go buy the magazine, because the cover story of the Atlantic Monthly is really quite excellent. Still thinking about it. Kaplan doesn't have to work hard to convince me the Pacific is where it's at, or to convince me that Wilhelmine Germany's emergence is a good analogy for China's position today (with us cast as Britain), or, certainly, to convince me that war with China would be an overwhelming catastrophe (the question is how to integrate them into the international order as they grow in strength *without* sparking war - and just letting them do what they want isn't the way to achieve that, if Japan's conduct from 1905 onward is any evidence). And I note that he agrees with me that our big worry on Korea is the Finlandization of the South, something I've harped on before. But I've always assumed that what we need in the Pacific is to develop something analogous to NATO, encompassing Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam (with Taiwan bolted on the outside) - that is to say, an architecture of collective security to contain and deter China. Kaplan makes some interesting arguments about why we are much better off working quietly and behind the scenes.
One other thing I'll note: Kaplan takes passing pot-shots at the Bush Administration's Mideast obsessions, which is fair enough. But he should note that Rumsfeld and Rice (and, to a considerable extent, Bush) came into office with the decided view that China and the Pacific were what we needed to focus on, that Rumsfeld's key deputy in the first term (Wolfowitz) is an old Asia hand (he was stationed in Indonesia for years and played an important role in the transition to democracy in the Philippines), and that Rumsfeld's plans to revolutionize the American military were drawn up with China and the Pacific in mind, and dovetail very well with what Kaplan says the American military needs.
Anyhow, a very good piece.