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12:10AM

The primary question today

FT column by Philip Stephens that asks the question, "To what degree will the big powers locate their foreign policies in a shared understanding of collective security?"

The Old Think says this is impossible, and that national interests demand zero-sum competition--especially over raw materials. The New Think understands international economics in the age of globalization, meaning globally integrated production chains rule out zero-sum competition over resources ("I'm going to fight you tooth and nail for resources, pissing you off incredibly, and THEN expect to conduct relatively free trade with you that monetizes my victory?"  "Aha," says the Cold Warrior.  "They will somehow enslave their regions to accept this long-term unfavorable transaction, scaring them into become economic vassals with their military might!"--I know, it's almost too stupid to even type but there it is.).

Stephens here, unfortunately, feels the need to resurrect a bad historical analogy: the 19th century Congress of Vienna (ah yes, pre-nuclear analogies for an increasingly post-nuclear world). Naturally, Stephens fears a world of uncontrolled nuclear proliferation, because that's such a standard scare tactic ("Look! Over there, two dozen new nuclear powers!"). Stephens knows this is just around the corner because he went to an IISS conference where State's James Steinberg and Henry Kissinger both said so (the "dangerous game changer"!).

Then he moves onto the intelligent stuff, which he likewise credits to both Steinberg and Kissinger (apparently, the usual credo of proliferation cited, both speakers moved onto to reality): the rise of economic interdependency accompanied by environmental and resource interdependencies.

Naturally, everybody laments that rising Asia seems stuck in myopic nationalism--a good critique.  Their rise forces them to grow up very quickly, without the benefits and wisdom afforded by Eurasia's World Wars.

Nonetheless, the IISS, in a new study, feels comfortable enough to lecture rising Asia to pick up the pace and realize that "interdependence should be driving demand for more collective action."

Then Stephens hits the nail on the head:  the pol-mil cooperation venues haven't kept pace with the rising network and economic connectivity--my primary theme of the need for new rules in PNM. Within that observation I locate the crux of the matter: China and America's pol relationship remains stunted because of the mil residual called Taiwan--thus my call in Blueprint to "lock in China at today's prices" (and yes, as I warned back then, that price has gone up since!).

Stephens whines on a bit about the lack of improvement in transatlantic relations as promised by candidate Obama.  I couldn't care less.

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Reader Comments (1)

"China and America's pol relationship remains stunted because of the mil residual called Taiwan--thus my call in Blueprint to "lock in China at today's prices"

Mr. Barnett,

I really wish I could pick your brain about this issue. I'm trying to write an IR essay about Sino-American relations in regards to the Taiwan issue from 3 perspectives: realism, liberalism and Marxism. As I've been delving into research regarding this roller coaster relationship I kept feeling there was a missing link somewhere. I found it in your blog just now ... the political and military ideologies on globalization are NOT KEEPING PACE with the economic ideologies. I've been an international educator for 12 years and know all too well that learners progress at different paces ~ some slower than others, some faster than others. Why I thought global think tanks were any different I'll never know. Thanks for the "Aha" moment, Mr. Barnett.

I'd like to know just what you mean by locking in China at today's prices? Are you advising the U.S. to view the Taiwan issue as a domestic issue that does not concern America (as China has been insisting for so many years)?

I am SO going to miss your blog ~ whenever I felt like an island with my thoughts, ideas, or viewpoints about IR, I could (almost) always find refuge in what you had to say about any given topic/event/policy/relationship/issue. You've been a gem of inestimable value to this IR student these last 2 years, and I will conitnue to follow your thoughts and ideas at WPR. Thank you for everything, and may God guide you through all your journeys here and hereafter.

Linell
IR student
Adoptive parent of 2 Chinese daughters
International educator - Manila

September 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinell

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