Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Armitage Blasts Bush Administration Asia Policy

Right-winger Richard Armitage, a longtime US Asia expert, lambasted the Bush Administration for its floundering Asia policies in an interview in The Australian yesterday. Some highlights:

"It's not that we're ignoring Asia a little bit; we're ignoring it totally. We're playing foreign policy at the moment like five-year-olds play soccer, everyone is going after the ball at once rather than covering the whole field.

"Right now, we're just so preoccupied with Iraq that we're ignoring Asia totally."

Mr Armitage's withering assessment of the administration - in which he served for four years in one of its most senior positions - is a severe blow to the Bush administration on the eve of APEC. Mr Armitage, with his close friend and former boss Colin Powell, who was secretary of state when Mr Armitage was deputy, were the two chief sceptics within the Bush administration concerning the Iraq invasion.

They repeatedly warned the US President of the consequences of invading Iraq in terms of the post-invasion period and the responsibility the US would assume for the political future of Iraq.

Armitage was one of the signatories of the infamous PNAC letter to President Clinton that demanded the removal of Saddam Hussein (an interview with him just prior to the 2003 invasion).

Mr Armitage was the senior official with the greatest experience of Asia within the Bush administration and his departure has left the administration short of Asian expertise. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a Soviet expert who has become completely embroiled in the Middle East.

Mr Armitage, in an exclusive interview with The Australian, lambasted what he described as her "disastrous decision to miss two out of three ASEAN regional forums". Dr Rice missed the ASEAN meeting in Laos in 2005 and again earlier this year in Manila. She has also declined to stay for the second day of this year's APEC leaders' summit in Sydney on Sunday, which Mr Bush is skipping. Mr Bush will be represented at Sunday's meeting by US trade representative Susan Schwab. Dr Rice will fly home with the President rather than spend the day with 20 other Asia-Pacific leaders.


Mr Armitage believes the Bush administration has radically underestimated the importance of Asia. "In almost every measure - military budgets, population growths, the need for raw materials - our interests will force us back to Asia," he said.

However, he does not expect the performance of the Bush administration to lift markedly in its last 16 months in office. His assessment of the administration is scathing: "In the seventh year of an eight-year administration, you've got a lot of third and fourth teamers occupying these positions. I don't think you can expect much from this bunch."

That is the most damning assessment of the current Bush administration from any former senior official and will gravely undercut the administration's credibility in Asia.

Mr Armitage said he was "entirely disappointed but not surprised" by the administration's performance. He said it was a result in part of its overall style in foreign policy. "You reap what you sow. You can't be so dismissive of others' views without it having consequences. I believe the United States can exercise leadership while fully taking account of the views of its friends and allies."

Mr Armitage said there was a danger, but not yet a great danger, of Chinese leadership in Asia surpassing that of the US. He said he was aware of the Chinese military build-up and wanted the Chinese to exhibit more transparency in their military actions, but he did not yet think it was destabilising the region.

However, he said that China's rationale for its military build-up had changed. "At first the Chinese explained it as needed to deal with the Taiwan scenario. But they've passed that point and now they talk about the need to protect their oil sources, they won't sub-contract out protection of the high seas to the (US) Seventh Fleet."

The full extent of the Bush disaster can be seen in many different ways -- the neglect of traditional ally Taiwan, the nuclear pact with India, the failure to construct a vibrant multi-national alliance to deal with China's expansionist dreams, and the driving together of Russia and China to form a NATO of the East, the SCO, over Central Asia. Not only is the SCO forging links with other regional associations -- associations that should be integrated into security arrangements led by the US and its allies, not China -- but it has gained observer status at the UN (that's right -- associations can have observer status, but not islands of 23 million people). That will not last, since each nation has plans to evict the other from the region, but for the moment Asian policy has been one long strategic defeat for Bush as China extends and deepens its links in Asia. Future historians will shake their heads in wonder at our eight year long train wreck. Unfortunately the Bush Administration views its relationship to the outside world as an emperor sitting on its throne, rather than as a sort of senior partner in an establishment law firm, the way the US used to.

Another thing this shows is that the whithering, informed, intelligent critiques of Bush Asian policy are coming largely from the Right. The Dems, as always, seem to be totally out of touch with events out here.

Full disclosure: Armitage owns a consulting company that angles for contracts from Asian governments, including Taiwan's, and was a paid consultant for Taiwan's UN campaign in the past.


Anonymous said...

Another guy on the right has nice words for Taiwan recently: John Bolton

"North Korea wants to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and, as soon as possible, to enjoy full diplomatic relations with Washington. Pyongyang may well succeed, as many in the U.S. State Department seem more eager to grant full recognition to the Pyongyang dictatorship in North Korea than to the democracy in Taiwan. This would be a profound mistake on our part."

Another disclosure about Armitage, though, is that he is the coward who kept quiet during the Plame/Wilson investigation. See here for more background:

It seems this guy had no balls to speak his mind at the State Dept. Not concerning Taiwan or Miss Plame. It's always easy to criticize when you're not charge...

Anonymous said...

I don't know it is good or bad when right wing neo-con fascists are standing with Taiwan. If you just think about it; I'll be really worried, seriously. Btw, I bet Armitage spoke out for his own personal benefits becuase that's what they do. Same thing for John Bolton (don't forget his personal character i.e. he is a bad and mean person according to congressional testimonies was one problem that he couldn't get through UN nomination process.

Democrats believe in peaceful coexistance i.e. maintaining the status quo. However, if you don't like it, feel free to change it just be ready to pay for the price, and US won't come to help. But today's democrats are too sissy to spell it out for Taiwan.

The Resistance said...

Hi Michael!

I lost my link to the Official Website of the World Cup of Baseball in Taiwan.

Do you have it?

My best regards.


Michael Turton said...

Same thing for John Bolton (don't forget his personal character i.e. he is a bad and mean person according to congressional testimonies was one problem that he couldn't get through UN nomination process.

Sure, but even assholes can be right sometimes. And on this issue, the Right is right, even if sometimes it is for the wrong reasons.

Jorge, I don't have the link to baseball site! sorry, man!


Anonymous said...

Sure, but even assholes can be right sometimes. And on this issue, the Right is right, even if sometimes it is for the wrong reasons.

I think the question is in the past, did these fascist neo-cons ever get it right? :) Oh wait...never! Am I right? Or maybe since they are always wrong they have to get it right once.

TicoExpat said...

Guys, somebody has to speak up for Taiwan. There is not much of that out there.

Pardon me if I deviate a bit from topic, but I have a point to make:

Before Costa Rica broke off with Taiwan, a Chinese investor bought most of the stake in the main newspaper. From there he launched a daily barriage against Taiwan. After breakup, only smaller newspapers and blogs voiced the citizens displeasure at the move. Currently, all you can see in the press about China is how their business will make the country prosper. No mention of product dangers, human rights, etc.

If you read teh press abroad, the view of Taiwan is dismal: a corrupt place, a decaying place, a bad place. US statements do not help.

Even the press here is on the same track, saying how the APEC meeting became "the meeting with Hu" because the US is too busy with Irak.