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Hillary On Asia

With bombs in Bulgaria, war in Syria, murder in Colorado and meltdowns in Europe, it’s easy to forget that the most important world events are taking place in Asia, where the US, China and assorted other countries are hammering out the shape of a new Asian order. (Some days they hammer together, some days they mostly hammer on each other. But either way, a new Asia is taking shape.)

Whether these efforts succeed, and whether the US, China, Japan, India and a dozen other interested parties can work out a combination of economic, political and security understandings that enable everyone to prosper and grow in the next fifty years almost certainly matters much more to the world than anything that happens in Europe or the Middle East.

The dramatic events of the last 24 hours have driven the Asia story off the front pages of most western papers, but the consequences of the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia are still rippling through the region. China has been pushing back, hard, against the US “pivot”, and political tensions are high within and between countries from Vladivostok to Delhi. Chinese naval ships and fishing vessels are stepping up activities throughout the disputed region, and there are reports of intense pressure being exerted on countries to side with Beijing in the dispute.

Via Meadia is going to continue to follow this Asian story; for today we suggest that our readers take a look at an important essay that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has published in the British New Statesman magazine. She begins:

I touched down in Beijing in May for the fourth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue with a jam-packed agenda, but the world’s attention was focused instead on the fate of a blind human rights dissident who had sought refuge in the American embassy. Suddenly, an already delicate trip had become an outsized test of the US-China relationship.

Throughout history, the rise of new powers usually has played out in zero-sum terms. So it is not surprising that the emergence of countries such as China, India and Brazil has raised questions about the future of the global order that the United States, the United Kingdom and our allies have helped build and defend. Against this backdrop, those few days in May took on even greater significance: could the US and China write a new answer to the old question of what happens when an established power and rising power meet?

Read the whole thing. History is happening in Asia today, and the American people — policy elites and regular voters — need to launch a national discussion and debate over just what we should do. It would be a terrible shame if the Asia debate doesn’t figure into the presidential campaign. Governor Romney and President Obama need to get beyond “tough with China on trade” boilerplate and tell the country what they think is happening in Asia, what it means for our future, and what the United States needs to do to prepare for the main event of the next fifty years.

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  • Eurydice

    This morning there’s an article in the WSJ about how China is pledging $20 billion in loans to Africa – more global positioning.

  • Andrew Allison

    Meanwhile, the Middle East is a tinderbox, Iran is pursuing the nuclear weapons which Israel already posses, and radical Islam is a growing force, and the so-called “developed” countries fail to recognize that their standards of living are based on unsustainable debt. I’m much more concerned about the next five than the next fifty years.

  • Cunctator

    “A lot has changed in three years. Under President Obama’s leadership…”

    Absolutely correct. The silly approach to foreign policy that Obama and Clinton have followed has increased, rather than reduced, the challenges to international stability. The current administration projects little more than weakness abraod — whether it is by uttering inane ideas about world order and being slapped down by French president Sarkozy, or bowing and scraping before the Muslim world, or proving completely unable to manage relations with a country like Russia (remember Clinton and the “reset press conference?!). It is simply astounding how totally incompetent the current admin’s foreign policy has been. Laurel and Hardy could not have done worse than Obama and Clinton.

    And, while the Sec of State believes that all is better than before, the issue of Iran is looming ever larger. And it is larger because nothing substantive has been done to address the problem. That is not all Obama’s fault, but he has made the situation much more threatening.

  • Luke Lea

    “History is happening in Asia today, and the American people — policy elites and regular voters — need to launch a national discussion and debate over just what we should do. It would be a terrible shame if the Asia debate doesn’t figure into the presidential campaign. . .”

    And we don’t learn to take into account the domestic consequences of our trading relationship with China. If we don’t address the income redistributional consequences of our foreign policy it could wreck the policy. And then where will we be?

  • Luke Lea

    Hillary: “These are not western values, they are universal values.”

    I would rephrase that: These are Western values but they are also universal values because the Western values that really count are universal: human equality, liberty, the rights of the individual, the rule of law, free markets, constitutional democracy, concern for the general welfare of society.

    Let’s not mince words and let’s not stop capitalizing the name of our civilization. We are the West.

  • Luke Lea

    Let me try that list again: “human equality, political and economic liberty, the rights of the individual, the rule of law, open markets, constitutional democracy, and a commitment to the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”

    There, that ought to do it!

  • Luke Lea

    Properly understood, each item is implied by all the others.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    If the weak Obama wasn’t in charge, America would wisely use the Chinese territorial greed and bullying to create an Asian military and economic alliance that would last for decades after the Chinese export model economy crashes, and takes the Chinese Communist Party down with it (coming soon to a world near you). Chinese belligerence has all its neighbors terrified and looking for a white knight, and who better than the world’s sole super power that clearly has no territorial ambitions as it just proved in Iraq where it gave up all that oil and left.

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