The report contains much useful factual material and some worthwhile recommendations. Its basic approach, however, tends to discount concerns about China, though not completely by any means, and search for the key to peace in the Pacific in Washington's actions, rather than in changes in Chinese behavior and political system.
Therefore Professor Waldron found himself in disagreement on a series of key points. These included the failure of the report to deal with the fundamental nature of the Chinese regime, a dictatorship having no legal or electoral processes and thus fundamentally wanting in legitimacy; the report's overly optimistic assessment of China's military build up, which he believes is dangerous and clearly targeted on U.S. forces and U.S. allies; an upbeat assessment of the Chinese economy that fails to deal searchingly with the lack of market mechanisms or genuine private entrepreneurship, state allocation of capital through political bank loans leading to bad debt, stock market and property market bubbles, and unwillingness to make the currency convertible. He also noted the report's failure to deal with Taiwan realistically, as a state that will continue to exist as it has, independently now, for more than sixty years, and the need for the world to make a place for it.
Above all, Professor Waldron deplored the reluctance to look forward. Many members of the Task Force believed that China today is stable and on a track of economic and political development that will continue in the future as it has over the past several decades, and that the United States should take an active and affirmative approach to Beijing. While Professor Waldron opposes confrontation and believes that the relationship must be carefully managed in the interests of peace, he is also persuaded that because of the many internal problems China faces, Communist rule there will face a crisis sooner or later, as the Soviet Union did. The West, and Washington not least, were entirely unprepared intellectually and emotionally for the end of the USSR; indeed had not even considered the possibility of Soviet collapse and how we should respond, with the result that it was handled extemporaneously and badly.
Professor Waldron believes that it is essential that the rest of the world be prepared for a likely regime crisis in China. Indeed, thinking about and preparation for this likely eventuality are perhaps the most important and pressing task faced at present by the rest of the world with respect to China.
Waldron's had a couple of really good pieces in the Taipei Times recently, and it is good to see him take a strong stand on the Taiwan issue. When Ma Ying-jeou visited the CFR in '06, they handed him softball questions, whereas conservatives pointed out that his longterm plans were a threat to regional security.
The Council on Foreign Affairs did not publish Waldron's full dissent. It is well-written and informative and worth a read. There are two pages on Taiwan. The scary part is that Waldron's dissent makes it clear that US Establishment thinkers have quietly decided that Taiwan is going to be sold out to China.
[Taiwan] [US] [China]