U.S. Analyst: Seek Strategic Alliance With China
By Wendell Minnick
INDIANAPOLIS — Thomas P.M. Barnett, who established a reputation for grand strategy with his 2002 book, “The Pentagon’s New Map,” argues that U.S. history contains lessons about globalization.
“My first book was a very ‘what’ book — diagnostics. The second book [‘Blueprint for Action’] was ‘how’ — strategic alliance with China, co-opt Iran and liquidate North Korea. Those are the three big messages. I think grand strategists are always supposed to be on the edge of plausible,” Barnett said.
“This new book” — “Great Power: America and the World After Bush,” due out in February — “is really a ‘why’ book. It gives you the history of America right up to this point. I repackage and update and make more sophisticated the logic and argument of the first two books.”
Barnett said one of the themes of Great Power is that “everything you needed to know about globalization you learned from American history. We’ve done it all.”
The United States invented globalization, as an alternative to colonialism, fascism and socialism, he said. “It imposed across its own continental landscape a model of states uniting, economies integrating, collective security, high transaction rates and transparency. We are the model, the source code or DNA.” Now globalism has spread to perhaps five-sixths of the world.
“Our resistance is down to the bottom of the barrel. We are fighting the least impressive version of resistance historically. They don’t even try to promise an alternative economic order. They basically promise a pre-economic order,” Barnett said.
China to the Rescue?
But Barnett argues that the U.S. strength has reached its limits and cannot integrate the few countries that remain outside the “international liberal trade order.”
“We can’t borrow anymore and our military is completely tapped now. Now we have to bring Asia online big time,” he said.
China may have to finish the job we started, he argues. Barnett points to Africa, Latin America and Central Asia, where China is building roads, schools and upgrading the infrastructure.
“China is doing what we should be doing,” he said. “This is where most people argue the bulk of the global middle class will emerge.”
But China is not providing security. Barnett said China must be co-opted by the United States into becoming a strategic partner providing security in those areas we can no longer go.
“We’ve been providing security seemingly free of charge. All you have to do is buy our debt and we’ll fight every war required,” he said.
He said the United States has gone from indispensable nation to insolvent leviathan.
“While we are stuck in the Middle East, China is soft-powering all over Africa, Latin America and central Asia to a tremendous degree. In the realignment, we recognize what they are doing and what we are doing is complementary. So the realignment is a team of rivals.”
In the past, globalization has been equated with Westernization and in many cases Americanization. However, Barnett foresees a great shift: Globalization will become “Easternization.”
“The problem is, China does not have a political system to transpose to these other environments. They will pay you with big thick red envelopes full of cash and they’ll say, ‘I don’t care what you do to your people, to your environment, I’m just here to make money and then the resources flow.’”
To get back in the game the United States must “get involved in the integration process,” he said.
Barnett dismisses the notion of war between China and the United States. “How do you think we are going to fight a war with China over resources that they are going to sell to us or we are going to sell to them eventually?”
But Barnett’s view is disputed by, among others, Larry Wortzel, chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“This idea of ‘seeking an alliance’ with China assumes that our two counties share common values and ideological systems. We do not,” Wortzel said.
The two countries have common interests on the Korean Peninsula, but their objectives are different, Wortzel said.
“The Chinese seek to ensure the continuation of the Communist regime in the DPRK [North Korea], while, ultimately, we would like to see it end. And it is these deep differences in values that puts the limits on an alliance,” he said.
Nor does Wortzel believe Chinese leaders are seeking an alliance with Washington, “although they would like closer relations and to end the emphasis by the American people on religious freedom, labor rights and other human rights in China.”
John Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation takes issue with one of Barnett’s historical analogies: that China is following a U.S.-blazed path of globalization; that China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping played a similar role as U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton.
“Beijing is playing the same role Japan played 100 to 65 years ago, not the role the U.S. played,” Tkacik said. During that period, Japan was expanding its territorial claims with invasions and horrific crimes against humanity, which culminated in a devastating world war.