Kaplan Learns to Like China

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So, Robert Kaplan is sleeping with the Commiesnow.

As before, he views the rise of the Chinese military as “wholly legitimate” — the product of growing commercial realities, not a drive for conquest. “If you governed China, with the responsibility of lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese into an energy-ravenous, middle-class lifestyle,” he writes, “you, too, would seek a credible navy in order to protect your merchant fleet across the Indian Ocean and western Pacific.”

But now, rather than stressing the need for deterrence, he argues, “Strong American-Chinese bilateral relations going forward is not only plausible, but might be the best-case scenario for the global system in the twenty-first century, allowing for true world governance to take shape” — the latter a phrase Kaplan would once have written with dripping disdain. Instead, he highlights opportunities to cooperate with China, for instance in fighting piracy and terrorism, or providing relief after natural disasters. And there’s even a potential “bright side” to piracy, in that “it offers up a common enemy — the very symbol of anarchy, in fact — which rival powers can then come into agreement to jointly oppose.”

Rather than an adversary to be contained, he sees a potential partner to be wooed: “Given America’s civilizational tensions with radical Islam, and its at times quarrelsome relationship with Europe, as well as with a bitter and truculent Russia, the United States must do all that it can to find commonality with China,” he concludes. “It cannot take on the whole world by itself.”

Whatever happened to Japan? Do we ditch an economy because of a bad stretch? Do we get bogged down on the continent? I’m not discounting the significance of China’s addition to the world economy, or its geo-economic challenge to Japan? It’s not been around the block yet, as Japan is experiencing. And, China is the landmass Japan is balancing. The US can’t just split the fulcrum and take sides. Unless, that is, the US has given up an pretense of being a hegemon.

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Filed under: East Asia, Globalization, Military, USA Tagged: asia, china, geostrategy, japan, prc, robert kaplan


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