The Game of Thrones Goes DC
Published on: February 17, 2012
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  • John Barker

    How could anyone allow Biden to give a significant policy address? Why doesn’t he just wander around the National Parks for the remainder of the year?

  • Jim.

    Japan was only mentioned once here, in passing.

    Were there any representatives of Japan present, that you could see? If so, did you hear them express any particular point of view on the proceedings?

    I suspect you could write several short articles, or even long essays, outlining the other players we should be paying attention to.

    Professional diplomats and analysts of the old, old Balance of Power / Concert of the World school are going to have a bright employment future for the next generation at least.

  • Overall, excellent piece. I particularly appreciate your point that one needs to understand the regional context in which Sino-American relations exist.

    However, I need to ask what decline in military spending are you referring to? Last I heard, the defense department’s budget was projected to keep up with inflation for the next decade.


  • “we are not in a cage match with an aggressive, expansionist communist ideology that is out to conquer and revolutionize the world.”

    Granted. But what about a cage match with an aggressive, expansionist nation-state?

    We need to at least consider the possibility.

  • vanderleun

    “A third takeaway: the administration’s military budget doesn’t seem to track well with its foreign policy.”

    “Doesn’t seem…” “Doesn’t *seem*???”

    Are you, like, “new”? Or is this one of those posts written by interns and assistants?

    “Seem’s” got nothing to do with it. It doesn’t track with the foreign policy towards China and the global arc of strategic ocean coverage from Yemen to Guam. It doesn’t track at all.

    “Perhaps the President is waiting until after the election to look this particular problem in the eye…”

    Well, “perhaps” he is not. “Perhaps” he just doesn’t care. “Perhaps,” in the same way he’s simply not good with money, he’s not good with playing Global Hegemony.

  • Anthony

    WRM, during your stay in Washington former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attended a dinner with Vice President Xi and others. Secretary Kissinger provided excellent insights on Xi generation in China and their views vis-a-vis United States and World. Also, former Ambassador Jon Huntsman (2012 Republican Presidential Candidate – leads one to wonder about electorate sagacity) outlined similar insights concerning both Xi and China’s expectant future domestically and Globally. One take away for me was: Americans look to solve problems while Chinese see other problems from solution.

    Finally, Robert Kagan offered domestic and international perspectives on China and region; The entire one hour interview with all three men can be seen on Charlie Rose.

  • Mrs. Davis

    in the Middle East, it cannot have escaped the administration’s notice that we remain quite deeply engaged and will need to preserve the capacity to act decisively and effectively as far ahead as the eye can see.

    Due to the administration’s commitment to a foolish green energy policy. If we unleashed all our domestic energy sources in an environmentally sensitive fashion, we could reduce the world’s dependence on the Middle East and address our financial issues positively.

    It all ties together whether you think about it or not.

  • tomw

    Speaking out of turn, and of course way above my pay grade, I would assume that the ignorant foreign policy of the Clinton State Department concurred with the buffoonery of the VP. They really need some professionals there.
    That said, if I were king for a day, there would be a little less chest thumping and a bit more talking about China and the ‘ownership’ of the Paracel islands in the South China Sea. There is no need for them to bully their neighbors, which fits in with the proposed relationship with other Asian and Pacific countries. IMO, the US should be a friend to these countries, not an enemy to China, and act to encourage more co-operation rather than more competition. Just sayin’

  • Andrew Allison

    Another thoughtful, and thought provoking, essay from VM II.
    However, I must take issue with the idea that the defense budget is, well, defensible. It should be obvious that we neither need, nor can afford, to spend 15% of federal revenues on defense.
    “Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period. Some of this growth can be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the baseline or regular defense budget has also increased significantly. It has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years, and it is now $100 billion above what the nation spent on average during the Cold War. The fiscal year 2012 budget request of $553 billion is approximately the same level as Ronald Reagan’s FY 1986 budget.” This is nuts!

  • Jim.

    @Andrew Allison–

    If you want to talk about nuts, how about our entitlement spending, that’s 3x bigger than our defense budget, and grows even faster?

    If Obama cancelled our entire defense budget, he’d still be running higher deficits than Bush ever did, even during the economic turmoil caused by the dot-com crash.

    We’re not going broke because of war, or because of the recession. Bush’s tax cuts aren’t even that big, compared to what we spend on entitlements.

    It’s the Blue Model we can’t afford… plain and simple.

  • ejhgf69r9di

    ” Overall, the administration’s plans for significant defense cutbacks will be hostage to China’s plans for military modernization. Allies in Asia are wondering nervously whether the U.S. pivot is real or just talk. Making this policy work is going to involve a willingness to spend money.”

    Yes but there are complaints that Europe doesn’t contribute its fair share to NATO and the US makes up the difference. The US should figure out how to avoid a similar situation in Asia.

  • Mrs. Davis

    This is nuts!

    No, it’s personnel costs. Defense as a percent of GNP is declining. If you want peace, prepare for war.

  • Toni

    This is the same Secretary Clinton who referred to the Syrian Butcher as “a reformer,” correct? And the same old Biden, but his “toast” would have been scripted.

    Seems that where we need deftness, we have bunglers.

  • Jim.

    @Toni —

    Actually, in Asia these days they’re looking pretty deft. I wonder if all the bright ones aren’t avoiding ME berths like the plague, since they’re generally thankless and impossible.

  • It’s time for people like the President, the Secretary of State and the Vice President to talk positively and publicly about a vision for Asia that looks to the security, independence, dignity and prosperity of everyone in the region and that suggests new and deeper forms of cooperation between the two biggest Pacific powers. Deepening American relations with China even as we deepen our relations with its neighbors is the best way to promote the kind of peace and prosperity we want in the Pacific. Right now, we aren’t doing that quite as effectively as we should.

    While I agree with Dr. Mead, that this course of action is the wise choice, there are two flies in the ointment:

    1> We are being led by the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, so I question whether they have the vision themselves to embrace Dr. Mead’s vision here.

    2> There is one nation that was not mentioned in this post, that – because the Chinese have long memories and a measure of national pride – could prove to be the rock upon which this wise vision is broken:


  • Warlord

    Someday China will be an ally in the war against Islam.They are containing what muslims they do have,just like Tibet.The next world war will be with the Caliphate as it try’s to expand.

  • Zhao Ningkang

    I am a Chinese reader. Having read this article, I feel I have something important to have to tell you.
    Your judgement for China needs a radical change. “Chinese Communism isn’t trying to impose its tyranny on the whole world”. That’s wrong. Not it doesn’t want to impose its tyranny on the others, but it cannot. How strong its rapacity is can be seen from its behavior to its own people. It can rob one’s land even as the master of the land protests by setting himself on fire. The master can also be pressed down under the wheel of a heavy truck and be run over. But when facing you, it have a meek exterior because it knows its own real power so well. A corrupt regime must be weak, I mean to a real power. To its own people, it is so strong. Given its rapacity, if it is strong enough, your assets will be robbed thoroughly without a straw remaining.
    For the essence, it is bad; for the power, it is weak. From here, your nation can get the right strategy to deal with it.

  • Lucius

    Zhao Ningkang’s comment provides a classic example of how many Chinese nowadays are unable to clearly see the current situation. It is unfortunate, really, to let one’s feeling toward a certain corrupt regime influence the overall perception of foreign policy.

    That being said, I strongly agree with most what Mead has said. U.S-China policy needs to be managed with more consistency and less noise. But again, political need from both countries sometimes pushes for a “harder approach”. What we can hope is politicians from both countries can distinguish between seemingly aggressive political gestures and genuinely aggressive policy-making.

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