The [Ninja Turtles] henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady have hijacked the musical genres for us just like the Lone Ranger hijacked the William Tell Overture for our parents.

- xkcd

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Pundita

Pundita has more to say about China and here I tend to think she shows that while she is interested in China she surely doesn't grasp the whole picture. After all, China sits on some of the biggest deposits of natural resources. They have gobs of coal, some offshore oil, and really lack the means to access their resources more than a actual lack of supplies. Or, more negatively, that they have the foresight to burn through everyone else's stuff first.

She's clearly much more of an optimist on the Bush front and the idea that our actions are, in fact, supporting democracy all over the world. I won't contradict her because , well, I don't know the truth and I would love to find out Bush really is a great guy (well, some part of me would; I expect my conceptions are pretty set at this point).

Aside from all that, she says:

When one thinks about it, there is no way to have anything but a 'stage show' national democratic government in many regions of the world. This is because rural peoples (often the vast majority of the population) don't have access to the means that allow democratic peoples in developed nations to participate in the voting/campaign process.

I think that is a dangerous statement to make about anything. Poll s have shown that in the US over 50% of people think politicians are for ideas they have explicitly rejected. I'd guess the basis for that is people assume the politician they support must be for the other ideas that they support. I don't see how democracy is ever more than a 'stage show.' Well, any modern, representative democracy. I'm losing track of my main points here.

First, she seems to be implying rather more aggressive foreign posture to China than I have typically seen. Most of the time, China seems somewhat tentative in those big, international forums; Perhaps they are more comfortable with the backroom bickering. (insert bad Chinese stereotype here)

Second, I'll agree that, at least on the weapons market, China was pretty much a cash'n'carry kind of place. I don't know what anybody was thinking to give them those kinds of toys. Reagan, Bush I, Clinton. bah.

Third, is her claim "[China] claims that their dictatorship is compatible with democratic capitalism, and that autocratic government is a key to success in many developing countries." I'd really like to see some evidence to support that. Have they really argued against democracy? After all, within China, the CCP tries to pretend it is a little bit of a democracy and eventually they'll get there. So I just really don't quite buy the thrust of that quote.

The unfortunate thing for me, however, is I don't have any real evidence to back up my ideas either. I will point out this post that seems to, at least, agree with me that China is not quite the arch-rival it could be. Pundita seems determined that the US really still is the glowing beacon of freedom in an otherwise dark world. I know we play a unique role, by virtue of our willingness to break out the "big stick," but I think, for me, this seems so aggressive.

I hate to back away from a strong conclusion but I know there are gaping holes in my knowledge. I did want to put something out there and I am considering trying to write Pundita something and this is a first step towards getting my thoughts organized. So, hopefully, a conclusion will follow but for now the answer seems to mostly be, I disagree.


At 6/23/2005 12:51 PM, Blogger sinophiliac said...


From my brief perusal of Pundita's postings, my initial reaction is that she seems to fall into the same pattern that so many foreign policy wonks get into; i.e., she makes all kinds of connections between countries, cultures and historical events to "prove" her point without establishing any causal relationship among any of them. It's an easy habit to get into: in the academe, colleagues are often loathe to admit ignorance of any geographical or historical references, no matter how obscure; and this type of name-dropping is even more rewarding when you're talking with someone who readily admits that they have no idea what the hell you're talking about. The more varied and obscure the connections you make, the smarter you appear to others.

Don't get me wrong: Pundita may have some valid arguments. I'll try to wade through her vast pool of crap to dredge up any valuable nuggets over the next few days. Hopefully I can give you a more detailed analysis then.


At 6/24/2005 4:45 PM, Blogger fulsome said...

I find her presentations for American policy interesting. I think I like seeing a rationale for the things we are doing even if I don't always agree with it. I note that in one post she complains about the State Department so I presume she is coming from a more "defence-oriented" intelligence branch.

You are right that I'm not so sure she knows as much when it comes to why China is doing what it is doing. In fact, I am becoming less enamored of her the more I read. Understanding the rationale only gets me so far. I acan agree with the underlying premise that we want more freedom in more countries but her repeated intent to do this without any "international framework" strikes me as stubbornness rather than some sort of bold new democratic masterstroke.

Yes, there are a numer of ne wproblems and newlt acknowledged problems on the world stage but to declare that they are all going to be solved by a little US leaning seems preposterous. Institutions have their perils but so does going it alone. As all too often happens, perhaps a little balance is the underlying answer.

At 8/08/2005 12:42 PM, Anonymous Chuckles said...

I guess I will call you that even though I know you. I must disagree with one thing you wrote. Why the F*CK should anyone want a rationalization of our government's decisions? If our government is performing a good act it will be transparent to all, if it is acting nefarious it will be jsut as obvious. However, the Bush regime has done everything it can to suppress transparency of government, stifle dissent and remove the citizen's ability to trust her/his government. The word of the President of the United States meant something once. Now it is the word of a liar and aggressor. Rationalizing these decisions only attempts to make us forget that this is a government that has taken years of good relations painstakingly developed by the Department of State and pissed on them while pissing on the rest of the world. Let this be a lesson to us all. Level-headed people should be in charge, not dangerous fanatics. Especially not fanatics who can't even be bothered to read the Bible. Too much time spent praising Jesus and not enough time spent following his example.


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