February 2006
By Alan W. Dowd

Friend or Foe?
To counter those who think that all things are “rosy” with the People’s Republic of China, Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations has laid a out a detailed and strong case against a premature U.S.-PRC partnership. 

He notes that the PRC has passed a law asserting its authority “to employ ‘non-peaceful means’ against Taiwan should the island democracy take any steps toward independence.” Beijing has worked with Moscow to pressure Central Asian nations to kick U.S. forces out of key bases used in the war on terror. Likewise, the two Asian powers held their first joint military exercise in 2005—“an exercise transparently focused on combating the United States.” Plus, according to Boot, the PRC is continuing a “breakneck military buildup.”

The PRC has not been especially helpful in denuclearizing North Korea. Nor did it reprimand or rebuke one of its generals who threatened the use of nuclear weapons against U.S. cities in the event of U.S. intervention in a Taiwan-PRC war, although the PRC did reaffirm its commitment to a “no first use” policy on nukes during Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld’s October visit to China.

Boot details how the PRC has violated Japanese territorial waters, how it continues to swell its missile arsenal across from Taiwan (adding 75 new missiles each year), and how its leadership considers the United States to be its “main enemy.”

But Beijing’s misbehavior is not limited to diplomatic and military actions. On the technology front, the PRC continues a “massive campaign of industrial espionage intended to steal U.S. military and technological secrets.”  It also allows entities inside China to commit copyright violations costing U.S. firms nearly $3 billion annually.

The solution, according to Boot, is for Washington to be more realistic about China. While advocating China’s further integration into the global economy, Boot calls for U.S. policymakers to pursue “diplomatic containment, military deterrence and internal subversion.” Part of this strategy is to encourage China’s neighbors to invest more in their own militaries and to explore more open defense commitments with one another. To read more, visit www.cfr.org/bios/5641/max_boot.html.


Foreign Aid to America?
Some of America’s closest friends and fiercest enemies offered assistance in response to Hurricane Katrina. Among the pleasant surprises found in the list compiled by Foreign Policy magazine were Venezuela’s $1 million pledge, Vietnam’s $100,000 pledge, tiny Djibouti’s $50,000 gift and Sri Lanka’s pledge of $25,000. Recall that Sri Lanka is not only one of the world’s poorest countries, but it was also devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

Old friends in Australia ($7.6 million), Canada ($5.1 million plus military equipment), Britain (400,000 MREs plus search personnel), France ($1 million plus hundreds of tents and cots) and Germany (70,000 MREs plus vaccinations and water purification equipment) stepped up to help. The Greek government’s offer of 2,000 face and body towels may have been the most unusual pledge.

As expected, the oil-rich nations that depend on America for protection opened their checkbooks and/or oil wells: Bahrain offered $5 million; Kuwait offered $100 million in cash and another $400 million in oil; and Saudi Arabia pledged $5 million and promised to increase oil production to steady global energy prices.

America’s new friends in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Iraq offered $500,000, $100,000 and $1 million respectively, while America’s old enemy in Iran offered 20 million barrels of oil with one significant string attached: an end to U.S. sanctions.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.