"Just another tidbit of Easter European reaction to President Obama's missile defense decision, to drop Bush-era plans for a missile shield with radar based in the Czech Republic and missiles based in Poland: a news headline (not an op-ed) on page 1 of major Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes today read 'There Will Not Be Radar. Russia Won.'"
Quotes on America and East Asia
"Taiwan's strategic security rests heavily on the implied guarantees offered by the United States over the years--guarantees made more concrete than ever during the administration of George W. Bush, who pledged in 2002 to 'do what it takes to help Taiwan defend herself, and the Chinese must understand that.' China has consistently protested U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. According to Shirley A. Kan, a specialist in Asian security affairs at the Congressional Research Service, between 2007 and 2008 the United States effectively froze arms sales (PDF) to Taiwan, but the Bush administration refused to publicly acknowledge the suspension. The unofficial freeze ended in October 2008 when the United States agreed to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in military equipment. In protest, China immediately suspended military contacts with the United States. It decided to resume military contacts (VOA) with the United States in July 2009."
"America's alliances are no longer considered responses to security challenges. Instead, they have become ends in themselves. In an era of record-breaking budget deficits and serious economic problems at home, the billions of dollars Uncle Sam pays each year to baby-sit Europe and East Asia ought to be coming in for scrutiny, not perpetual affirmation."
"You'd think Koreans, famous for their nationalism (and now their wealth), might want to take over defense of their own country. But Koreans are also famous for their intelligence, and they know a good deal when they've got one, and how to keep it going. Here's how they convinced us, according to the report: 'The two countries reportedly agreed to the postponement considering factors such as South Korea's troop deployment to Afghanistan; U.S. consideration for its ally; Korea's participation in the U.S. missile defense system; and instability on the Korean Peninsula stemming from the sinking of the Korean naval ship Cheonan.'
South Korea's troop deployment to Afghanistan was negligible and deployed so as to suffer no danger of casualties (smart of Seoul to support its troops that way); no mention was made of the ally's consideration for the U.S.; the U.S. missile defense system defends South Korea; and how is 'instability on the Korean Peninsula' an American, not a Korean problem?"
"But the distance is closing. And not only is the distance closing, the Chinese are smart. They're not buying across the board; they're developing niche capacities in submarines, in missiles, in space technology that will allow them to potentially embarrass us at sea, like they've done a few times in the past, or to lock us out of the Taiwan Strait.
You're probably familiar with the RAND study of 2009, which had a lot of caveats in it but basically said that by 2020 we might not be able to win a war in the Taiwan Strait. Not that we'll ever fight one, but the very perception that we couldn't win one could change the balance of power in Asia."
"The issue of selling F-16s to Taiwan has been on the table for months, for years. The Taiwanese regularly raise the issue; we have deferred on the issue. I think there already has been an announcement of a major new weapons sale to Taiwan by the Obama administration; I don't think there will be another one for quite some time.
You know, the Taiwanese will use -- as they should -- any peg that they can to raise the issue of more arms sales. And my article is as legitimate a means as any to do so. But I think the Obama administration has a pretty calculated and calm mindset on this. They'll sell sufficient weaponry to Taiwan to raise the price of a Chinese invasion to a point where the Chinese would not consider it. But they're not going to sell so many weapons to Taiwan that it really upsets in a fundamental way U.S.-China relations."
"I think we're going to see more jockeying, competition and tension within Asia, as Bill Emmott suggests, and we're also going to see more on a bilateral framework between the United States and China because the United States has been for over 100 years an Asian power and it will continue to be so.
And as the preeminent Asian power in terms of the size of its armed forces, it's going to have . . . there's going to be a particular edge to tensions between the United States and China. But that should not obscure the fact that Japan, South Korea, China, India are all Asian countries with either growing or modernizing militaries that are increasingly expeditionary in nature that are going to bump up against each other in ways that they haven't over the past.
Because, remember, the first decades of the Cold War saw the emphasis on land forces in many of these places. The land forces were not there to fight other land forces; they were there to consolidate the national project in the first place. But what's developed in the latter phases of the Cold War and after the Cold War, is real authentic civil-military postindustrial complexes in all these nations with missiles, with war ships, and other things.
And this is going to create a note of tension that wasn't there in the first half of the Cold War."
"What about the US alliance with Taiwan? Here, too, strategic geography plays a crucial part, as does economics. If the Korean Peninsula faces the Chinese capital across the Bohai Sea, Taiwan is an island remote from the lives of ordinary Americans and the vast majority of their political leaders. It threatens to embroil the United States in war with its biggest trading partner during a time of economic malaise, and for little obvious reason. The US-Taiwan relationship is also complex. Rather than frankly vowing to defend the island against attack, Washington insists only that the island and the mainland settle their differences without resort to arms. It’s hard to found a constituency for protecting Taiwan on ‘strategic ambiguity’ of the sort long practiced by US leaders. Together, such factors discourage the United States from standing with Taiwan wholeheartedly as it confronts rising Chinese power. Washington’s refusal to sell Taipei advanced F-16 fighter jets is only the latest example of this.
It therefore behoves Taiwan to prepare to defend itself out of its own resources rather than banking on US support."
"This ideologically-driven connection with the US should be of concern to South Koreans. The US is flirting with national insolvency, and this will dramatically impact all its alliances — especially with the very exposed ROK. The US is now borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends; the deficit is US$1.5 trillion (160 per cent of South Korea’s entire GDP); the debt is almost US$10 trillion; the IMF predicts America’s debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 100 per cent by the end of the decade; and integrated US national security spending tops US$1.2 trillion, 25 per cent of the budget and 7 per cent of GDP. These are mind-boggling figures that all but mandate some manner of US retrenchment from its current global footprint."
"A hard truth for South Koreans is that they need the US a lot more than the US needs them — which means that the resolutely un-discussed relative decline of US power is the real story behind Lee’s visit to Washington.
Unlike the US, South Korea exists within a particularly difficult geopolitical context. It is surrounded by large neighbours who have occasionally bullied it, and bordered by an unpredictable rogue tyranny. Given that weak, encircled countries as diverse as Poland, Paraguay, and Zaire have seen themselves plundered and divided in the past, the US alliance is a good way for South Korea to get some leverage in its tight space. But this will fade, not just as American power recedes from Asia under massive budgetary pressure, but because Seoul is no longer central to Washington’s security. The Cold War is over. Today, a North Korean defeat of South Korea, while a local tragedy, would not dramatically impact American security."