Sunday, March 06, 2011

Two More Against Glaser +UPDATED+

Those to whom the king had entrusted me, observing how ill I was clad, ordered a tailor to come next morning, and take measure for a suit of clothes. This operator did his office after a different manner from those of his trade in Europe. He first took my altitude by a quadrant, and then, with a rule and compasses, described the dimensions and outlines of my whole body, all which he entered upon paper; and in six days brought my clothes very ill made, and quite out of shape, by happening to mistake a figure in the calculation. But my comfort was, that I observed such accidents very frequent, and little regarded.

There is plenty of pushback out there against Charles Glaser's recent piece arguing that the US should give up Taiwan. First, Gary Schmitt asks When will the realists get real?:
One of the oddities of “the realist” school of international relations in America is how profoundly unrealistic its proponents’ policy prescriptions typically are.
Yes, reading Glaser's paper one can easily conclude that while IR theory is a great way to organize jargon, it is a very poor way to understand the world. Schmitt runs down what anyone who actually follows affairs out here knows about China, that handing over Taiwan would be at best, shortsighted, and concludes:
No, the most sensible policy response to China’s rise is to reinforce our position of political and military leadership in the region, create new strategic relations with other rising democratic powers in the region (such as India and Indonesia), and attempt to rebalance the military equation across the Taiwan Strait after more than a decade-plus worth of slippage as a result of Clinton, Bush and now Obama administration inattention to the growing Chinese military build-up. Drawing a red line for China at Taiwan, backed by superior military power, is the best and most realistic way to prevent a conflict no one wants.
This is, minus Taiwan, the conclusion that Glaser actually comes to. Regardless of their position on Taiwan's future, everyone is realizing that the response to China will have to be sustained and broad-based. Now if only our current policy didn't involve trading Afghanistan for East Asia....

Michael Mazza, whose first name shows that his parents had excellent taste, responds in the American Enterprise Institute's journal (Schmitt above is also an AEI scholar). Mazza scribes:
But Glaser is wrong. While such measures might reassure other U.S. allies in the short term, it takes a stretch of the imagination to conclude that those allies wouldn’t have serious long-term concerns about U.S. dependability and staying power in Asia. Can Washington tell Beijing, “do as you wish with Taiwan,” and seriously expect such a policy to have no repercussions for its allied relations—especially with Tokyo, whose security will be negatively impacted by any Chinese annexation of Taiwan? The likely outcome would be military build-ups in South Korea and Japan, who will see a need to ensure they can balance China on their own. A multilateral arms race in East Asia is presumably not the outcome Glaser has in mind.
This outcome is already occurring as Japan is beefing up its position vis-a-vis China. If Glaser had only focused on the concrete, he would see that the current situation completely refutes his position, which we already have in nascent form.

It would be great if one of the think tanks from another section of the political spectrum spoke up. Richard Bush, time for a commentary against Glaser.

I submitted a commentary on Glaser to the Taipei Times, so I won't comment further here.

UPDATE: Banyan comments in The Economist.

UPDATE 2: Holmes and Yoshihara with a very historically informed rip of Glaser in the Diplomat

UPDATE 3: Bellocchi in the Taipei Times.

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! Delenda est, baby.


Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Michael: I've been working on my own rebuttal (in parts). You may be interested in checking it out. I've posted his (Glaser's) entire article on my blog as well as my first rebuttal part, that being a rebuttal of his theoretical argument (which is a very narrow view of realist thought and does not take into account any other forms of international relations thinking beyond realpolitick, "liberalism" [which he uses as a blanket term, thus further weakening his argument], and "neo-isolationism"). I find that Glaser, for being a Political Scientist and International Relations expert, is quite dishonest in such a narrow interpretation. If interested, check out my blog, located here: I would also hope you may be willing to offer comments and input, as I'm sure my rebuttal(s) is/are not exhaustive.

Personally, I do not think Taiwan can trust the United States much longer. This will test the theory that a spineless United States unwilling to stand and fight out of fear will lead other nations in the region into arms races with China and, possibly, with each other. Taiwan will, in my estimation, be one of the first places to test this theory, and I think this will start to shine through soon, considering the spineless twits currently in office in the United States and Taiwan.

Freeman said...

Not sure why you waste so much time on Glaser. Who is he? A nobody who got too much attention IMHO.

Michael Turton said...

I'm not wasting time on Glaser. This argument has gained currency. It needs to be nuked.

D said...

This is the foreign policy equivalent of last month's "Tiger Mother" thing -- a moron who gets attention by saying "provocative" things. Hopefully he won't sell as many books as she did.

MT's rebuttal was nice, and I guess it's necessary to have people speaking out against it like that, but I tend to agree with "Freeman" -- no one in their right mind is going to take this seriously. Glaser is just one of those political "scientists" trying to earn scholastic points in the Mearsheimer "balancing" debate. The David Kang book on "China Rising" (one of MT's favorite bedtime readings, I'm sure) is the same drivel.

Michael Turton said...

Hahah D. Very true.

Thomas said...

The thing that always stumps me about "realist" arguments that the US should give up Taiwan is just how easily they can be refuted using realist international relations theory.

Handing Taiwan to the Chinese would greatly increase Chinese ability to project their own power into the Pacific, where the US actually does have territory and which serves as a key buffer to the mainland US. So I have no idea how handing Taiwan to China would be an acceptable outcome to realists, who typically believe that the main objective of states is to maximize their own power. The "realist" argument of those such as Glaser focuses only on ephemeral short-term advantages that can be obtained through a trade-off of Taiwan for some other goodie. They completely overlook how such a move would seriously worsen the security situation of the United States. Stupid.

Haitien said...

In terms of "Realism (TM)" and its popularity, I wonder if it is simply the natural consequence of treating countries and people as chips to be bought and sold. Perhaps it is even comforting to some, since the assumption is that everyone must behave rationally. Or is it simply a reflection of the human nature to take what seems to be the most expedient path in the short term, whatever the long term cost may be?

That, or maybe it's the diplomatic community's way of proving how hardcore one is. Imagine Kissinger going "Keeping it real, yo" in that accent of his.

The last thought is rather horrifying, though not nearly as much as the first two.

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Re: Haitien:

Do not confuse Glaser's realpolitick "part" and the realist "whole." Realpolitick is a realist sect, much like Baptists are a sect of Christianity or Zen is a form of Buddhism. I think you will find in the realist literature many writers who do not treat other states as "chips." Glaser is very dishonest professionally to make such a gaffe. (You can link to my blog and read my comments on this issue; the link is in my post [the first post] above if you are interested.)

waltzing jaloma said...

My intel department slipped this in my “in” folder.
What do these maps point at?
Might one read charter flight-loads of Chinese tourists in the charts for Okinawa?
Would somebody be kind enough to explain to me what’s this all about?

重庆 DALISI’s (2010-12-18 20:41:51) post in

Just to cross the Ts :

李锡中 - 2010-9-13


DALISI - 2010-10-01 23:33:52)


While the honorable guests are nibbling at the sweet potato, would Charles G. the maitre d’, perhaps, fancy readying large helpings of “awamori” for Nan-hai ZHONG’s table?

Zhuxiu said...

As you write, Michael,"It would be great if one of the think tanks from another section of the political spectrum spoke up. Richard Bush, time for a commentary against Glaser." I totally agree. It is really fascinating that the rightwing folks who unquestioningly supported the Chiang military regime for decades now are so adamant about defending democracy in Taiwan. Where were they when democracy was suppressed day after day. Of course, the liberals were not much better....

Hawk21 said...

Here are some tidbits from yesterday's U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission hearing on China's national security "narratives," and use of academics, such as Charles Glaser, to influence American opinion leaders:

"Beijing’s narrative is that Taiwan is core national security interest, and only peripheral to the United States. To the contrary, Taiwan is a core U.S. interest."

"As a credible symbol of U.S. commitment to regional security and promotion of democratic ideals, the TRA is no less significant than formal defense treaties with Japan and South Korea."

"The objective reality is that the Taiwan exists as an equal sovereign state."