More retrograde thinking on China from Gertz

Bill Gertz of the Washington Times finally got around to commenting on Admiral Keating’s offer to help the Chinese — which I have been told by someone who would know that it was more a “half-joke” and thought experiment than serious offer — develop aircraft carriers. Gertz noted, “Critics say the comments are a sign that the U.S.-China military exchange program is spinning out of control under Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations.”

Got to love that — “critics say.”

I have written about Gertz’s utterly blinkered Sinophobia before, but Tom Barnett lays into him here with far greater anger than I could ever muster, expertly smashing the thinking of Gertz and others who look at the rise of China as a replay of the rise of Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union all rolled into one.

As for me, I like that Keating made the offer. I like that someone in a position of tremendous responsibility for US Asia policy has moved beyond the linear thinking that characterizes so much of how Washington views the world. Ours is a world marked by ambiguity and contradiction, and China hawks like Gertz, rather than embracing ambiguity, reject it, claiming that nothing has changed, that China is just trying to lull the US into passivity before it strikes.

Since when did the world have to make sense, neatly divided into friends and foes?

As Barnett notes, and as I’ve discussed before, outside of Taiwan, the chances of war with China are nil, and the more US policymakers come to recognize that and make policy accordingly, the greater the basis for Sino-US cooperation on the shared goal of maintaining regional stability.

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