The story that wouldn’t die

Bill Gertz, Washington Times reporter and leading proponent of the “China Threat” thesis, has published yet another item in his weekly “Inside the Ring” feature talking about how “pro-China officials” in the administration are undermining Japan’s bid to purchase F-22 stealth fighters.

I previously discussed here that General Jeffrey Kohler, head of the Defense Department’s Defense Cooperation Agency, quashed reports that the US was even thinking about taking the necessary steps to put the F-22 on the market, and before that I asked if the seemingly fragile F-22 was even the right choice for Japan.

And yet Gertz continues to bang the drum on the F-22 — wailing about a conspiracy in the administration to deprive Japan (and Australia and Israel and South Korea) of the advanced fighter.

Gertz is probably the most prominent example of an opinion maker inclined to ignore signs of Sino-US cooperation, such as this one discussed earlier today, and assume that the US and China and destined to come to blows. Anyone paying attention to the region, however, cannot ignore just how ambiguous the regional security environment has become, which is why prudent management of US Asia policy is more important than ever.

If the “China threat” thesis was true, if China was simply an unambiguous threat to American interests that had to be stopped immediately, US Asia policy would be simple: cut ties with China, round up our friends, and goad China into changing its behavior. The reality of the region is that no country can afford to take such a stance vis-a-vis China. The US (as well as every other country in the Asia-Pacific) and China have shared interests, and it is Washington’s responsibility to find ways to secure those interests and minimizes the consequences of divergence in other areas.

I guess, as implied by Blake Hounshell in this post on Foreign Policy‘s Passport blog, people tend to see the China they want to see.

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