Saturday, March 21, 2009

CSIS Report: : US and China should be even closer

A betel nut girl on Yatan Rd outside of Taichung.

I decided to use this betel nut girl as the picture for this post because, underdressed though she may be, she's not prostituting herself....

The Taipei Times mentioned the new Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report today....
To relieve tensions, ease up on mistrust and develop more respect. That’s a leading policy think tank’s prescription for the leaders of the US and China.

The two countries could make the world a better place by working in harmony, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says in a new report.

“US-Chinese ties could have a greater impact on international affairs than any other relationship,” the report said.

Global financial instability, proliferation of weapons and terrorism could all be eased by US-Chinese cooperation, the report said, as well as the challenges surrounding climate change and energy.

“US-China partnership is indispensable for addressing many of the main challenges of the 21st century,” said the think tank’s commission on China.

While disagreements are unavoidable, they should be handled diplomatically and privately, the report said.
Love that last sentence there. Shhhh -- let's not let the people know what we're doing, 'kay?

Standard establishment stuff, right? Look at the last paragraph:
The report was co-chaired by former defense secretary William Cohen and Maurice Greenberg, former head of American International Group, who is now chief executive of CV Starr Co, a privately held company.
Let's see if we can untangle that web (hint: American International Group)....

We'll start with Cohen. He runs the Cohen Group, which "provides global business consulting services and advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in virtually every market." Here's a screen shot of their home page:

The Cohen Group says of the report:
The bipartisan U.S.-China Smart Power Commission was convened by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and co-chaired by Secretary Cohen. In its report, published on March 4, the Commission makes a concrete set of policy recommendations for both the Obama administration and the 111th Congress on how the United States can work with China to bring to bear their respective soft power to promote the global public good, while simultaneously ensuring the protection of U.S. interests.
Yes, that's right: One co-Chair of the report has a thriving business with China. What do you think his recommendations will be? Shucks, do ya think he believes Cohen Group interests are coterminus with US interests? I'd bet the whole bailout on that one.

Now the other co-Chair is Maurice Greenberg. Greenberg recently retired as chair of AIG -- an old Shanghai insurance firm much in the news lately, and now runs CV Starr, another old China insurance firm (Google "CV Starr" China and see what falls out) as the ABOUT US page makes clear:
C. V. Starr can trace its roots to the development of insurance agencies and insurance companies founded by Cornelius Vander Starr in China beginning in 1919.
Both AIG and CV Starr were founded by Cornelius Vander Starr.

So here we have two men running firms with a thriving business in China, writing a "bipartisan" report making recommendations on what US policy should be with China. Think that the CSIS report clearly and forthrightly states that the co-Chairs have extensive business interests in the nation they are making policy recommendations on?

As a bonus, one of the associated programs with the report is the Freeman Chair in China Studies, currently occupied by none other than Charles Freeman... .[UPDATE: Nope, I'm wrong. This Charles Freeman is the son of the Amb. to Saudi Arabia! My apologies to my readers.]

The Taipei Times piece is actually an AP report from Washington -- it was good that AP reported the connections of Greenberg, but the Taipei Times editors removed this phrase that describes AIG from the final paragraph: "...the insurance giant that has been propped up by a massive federal bailout." Yet AP did not identify either as running firms involved in the China business.

I suppose at this point I should be ranting, but instead I'll simply confine myself to noting, as Ken Silverstein did in Harper's last year, and Carsten Holtz did in FEER two years ago, that the class that shapes our China policy is populated with individuals who also do business with China. The sad sickening Charles Freeman "debate" simply failed to address this urgent problem.

Freeman's withdrawal rendered that discussion moot. Interesting, eh?

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

There needs to be a wiki on lobbyist assholes like these that aggregates all these conflicts on interest. What douchebags. No sense of shame at all.

Jenna said...

That binlang xishi is dressed like a nun compared to the girls in Zhudong. You know you've reached the outskirts of town when you see 'em in spandex hotpants and glitter-bras.

reeb said...

@anon: Better still, the US should pass a law that says dual citizenship Israelis are not allowed to be involved with US foreign policy (or any govt service for that matter).

Yep, AIG/Greenberg/Kissinger are up to their necks in the economic collapse and why Taiwan is being thrown under the bus. btw, the AIG connection has been discussed at length at market-ticker.

James said...

The China lobby is new Israel lobby. I wonder what would happen if those interests ever conflicted.

STOP Ma said...

Here's a post at the Daily Kos of another example of how the U.S. is benefiting from this increased trade with China...

Homes being ruined by Chinese drywall

(I hope you don't mind me linking this article to a comment I made in that diary, Michael. It's time for progressives in the U.S. to wake the eff up.)

Michael Turton said...

No, of course I don't mind. The more links, the better. Let's get the message out.

STOP Ma said...


It might be an idea (if you haven't already done so) to write a diary at Kos yourself, tying in this Obama establishment connection to China with the fate of the 23 million in Taiwan. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Please note that there are two Charles Freeman's working on Asia issues in D.C. Ambassador Charles Freeman the elder - commonly referred to as "Chaz Freeman" - is the one who withdrew from the nomination to be chair of the National Intelligence Council. Charles Freeman the younger (his son) is currently Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS. Charles Freeman the younger has been more supportive of Taiwan than his father, and actually studied Mandarin in Taipei. He does not, as you will note from reading his writings, necessarily agree with his father on many issues in the China/Taiwan relationship.

Given that he used to work as a consultant on China issues, it doesn't refute your point or anything. But I still think it is important to get your facts straight.

Michael Turton said...

His father studied Mandarin in Taipei as well. But my understanding is that the CSIS chair holder is Chas Freeman the elder.

No shit! You're right.