Sunday, May 20, 2007

The War in Iraq: China's Greatest Victory

Author Jim Mann has a hard-hitting piece in WaPo today on China's greatest victory: Iraq.
The Iraq war isn't over, but one thing's already clear: China won.

As the United States has been bleeding popularity and influence around the world, China has been gaining both. That's largely because it has been coming into its own as the first full-blown alternative since the end of the Cold War to Washington's model of free markets and democracy. As the U.S. model has become tarnished, China's has gained new luster.

For authoritarian leaders around the world seeking to maintain their grip on power, China increasingly serves as a blueprint. We're used to thinking of China as an economic miracle, but it's also becoming a political model. Beijing has shown dictators that they don't have to choose between power and profit; they can have both. Today's China demonstrates that a regime can suppress organized opposition and need not establish its legitimacy through elections. It shows that a ruling party can maintain considerable control over information and the Internet without slowing economic growth. And it indicates that a nation's elite can be bought off with comfortable apartments, the chance to make money, and significant advances in personal, non-political freedoms (clothes, entertainment, sex, travel abroad).

Read the rest yourself. The connection between the defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and China's rise have been made clear many times on this blog. Thanks, Jim, for making them so public.


Anonymous said...

the main reason china can be so successful is because of its huge market and the dollar signs it evokes in the dreams of business people who influence the us/eu/japan governments. my intuition is that other governments can't copycat china unless they evoke those same dollarsign dreams. and who can really compare with china's market? maybe with smaller market countries the us will be stiffer on humanrights abuses. do we still use most-favored-nation status as a way to pressure nations about humanrights? which countries do not have mfn because of humanrights abuses?

on another note, a new book just came out by a woman named Shirk who i believe handled asian affairs under the clinton administration. her book says that we can not 'provoke' china over taiwan because then prc leaders might have to go to war over taiwan or else risk a popular uprising against them. are any of her assumptions correct? would chinese in china actually try to overthrow the current prc leaders if they allowed taiwan to declare independence? where do these assumptions come from? i don't think there has really been any research done on this, has there? it just seems like a way to blackmail the us into doing what the prc government wants it to do. but it seems to have been very effective.

Anonymous said...

see this discussion bewtween mann and lampton in which lampton asserts that the american public puts security and economic interests above democratization in china. what a lie.

Anonymous said...

pps: i read in wikipedia that the name most-favored-nation-status was seen as distastedful as it was given to some totalitarian countries, so, i suppose as a pr move, the term most-favored-nation-status was changed to normal-trade-relations or ntr in 1998. but now since whoever joins the wto has ntr automatically, the us seems to have given up using trade as a way to leverage human rights.

Anonymous said...

a school of thought that emphasizes military power and has tied the spread of democracy to the use of force.

Come on, who actually believe this and hardly a school of thought. We are in Iraq simply it looks at that time it was best for the US interest in the Middle East. Don't forget, we pretty much allowed Iraq to invade Kuwait.

But in China, the middle class (itself still tiny as a proportion of the overall population) supports or at least goes along with the existing political order; after all, that order made it middle class in the first place.

I guess it is how do you define middle income class. According to CIA world fact book, China's population below proverty line is approximately 10% (that still will be 120 million to 130 million but it is just 10% of Chinese population). I will let people tell me what population of Chinese are middle class. However, I doubt it is tiny.

Personally, I don't know why the far left show so little patience for China's polictical development. It took US close to 200 years to give full rights to its minorities (Afircan-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, etc.) and close to 100 years for her to allow female to vote. I guess it is hard for a vegan who lives on a beach (my version of California liberal) to comprehend that there are people in this world are barely surviving i.e. having enough food to eat and able to live long enough to procreate. Political freedom will be last thing on their mind. Why? Because you can eat freedom as food and survive.

Michael Turton said...

Arty, that has not been my experience of the poor in Africa and elsewhere. In many cases they are well aware of the link between their poverty and their lack of a political voice.


Anonymous said...

Michael, I totally agree with that article, but....the underlying question long will this trend last?

At SOME point, there is going to be a change in direction.

There is another article out there, I can't find it, but it does state that China may seem to be "riding the wave" now, but China is not without problems either now.

Taiwan could be China's "Iraq" if conflict actually happened.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan could be China's "Iraq" if conflict actually happened.

Na, if China ever get a hold of Taiwan, she is the only nation that's capable of winning asymmetric warfare. All she has to do is moving about a million armies (currently PLA has 2.5 million standing), stations them in every corner, and labels any uprising as terrorists and kills and punishes not only the ones fighting but their families, too.

Do you find it irony that Bush keep saying that Iraq war is the war we must win at any cost (and it is a war for Americans' future), yet we sent less than 25% of our troops there (I think we have slightly over 600 thousands standing; and less than 150k are in Iraq).