Saturday, March 19, 2005

Invasion Talk Heating Up

Ever since Andrew Sullivan scaled back his blogging, I've been looking for candidates to fill the aching void in my life.(I suspected this day would come. Afraid of commitment, Andy?) It's amazing how quickly you can visit a new site, size it up (nice little caboose there!), and know within a minute or two if you'll be dating steady. Lately, the boys I just can't stop thinking about are The Dignified Rant and Nobody's Business.

It's been said that you haven't really lived a full life unless you've: been in love; been poor; and experienced war. Well, I am currently in my longest sustained adult relationship (uh, yes, a female); the no money thing I've got down cold; and now, there's this promising news from Dignified Rant:

Ready. Set. Go?
The Chinese will invade Taiwan.

The only question is when China will go. I think it will be on the eve of the 2008 Peking summer Olympics. China will have the security issue to cover mobilization and movement of military units. And everybody will assume China is using the attention as a coming out party to highlight their advances and their place in the sun. I think swallowing China under the nose of US and Japanese protection will be even better to demonstrate their power. Why else go on a crash building program for naval units?

RobertKagan refutes the commonplace that the Chinese leaders are subtle and deft beyond our comprehension, bringing to bear their thousands of years of unbroken culture. In fact, from imperial times to today(that is to say, today's Chinese imperial times) the singular drawback of the Chinese leadership has been their very limited knowledge of, and experience of, the world outside of China:

"What's striking about this bellicose 'legislation' is not only the content but the timing. It comes on the heels of an election in Taiwan in which pro-independence forces are widely assumed to have suffered a bit of a setback and when President Chen Shui-bian seems set on improving the climate of cross-strait relations. He recently declared publicly that he would 'not declare independence', would not seek an amendment to the constitution to change Taiwan's status, and would not 'promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the issues of independence or unification.' Perhaps Beijing thinks it is wise to follow this softening of the Taiwan position with a renewed round of threats and intimidation, though if history is any guide, such interference will produce the opposite effect in Taiwan."

Meanwhile, Thomas The New York Times>Opinion> Friedman approaches the issue from a different angle, one suggested by recent remarks made by Warren Buffet on the dangers of America's borrowing binge:

"The excessive tax cuts for the rich, combined with a total lack of discipline on spending by the Bush team and its Republican led Congress, have helped China become the second largest holder of U.S. debt, with a little under $200 billion worth. No, I don't think China will start dumping its T-bills on a whim. But don't tell me that as China buys up more and more of our debt - and that is the only way we can finance the tax holiday the Bush team wants to make permanent - it won't limit our room to maneuver with Beijing, should it take aggressive steps toward Taiwan."

Now, I have no patience with the reflexive Bush-haters. I have no problem with Bolton at the U.N. or Wolfowitz at the World Bank. But I absolutely do not trust the Bushies on this kind of thing, and, yes, I think they are making class war domestically in the context of singularly dangerous times internationally. I keep thinking of the comment from Don Cheney related by ousted Treasury Secretary O'Neill, to the effect that it was not necessary to worry about deficits, since Reagan got away with playing fast and loose. "I used to listen to the people who say don't drink and drive, but then my buddy got wasted and drove home without getting in a crash. So now I don't worry about it." I find myself thinking wistfully that if the constitution did not prohibit it, I'd be ecstatic about a return of Bill Clinton. Well, maybe Hillary. I'm serious. She's looking more and more like a serious person every day. Bill as Secretary of State?