Thursday, November 21, 2013

There's No Substitute for American Power — And Decency

From Walter Lohman, at the National Interest, "What Typhoon Haiyan Taught Us about China":
If the Asia Pacific region ever needed a reminder of the difference between a U.S.-led order and one shaped by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the respective reactions of the two to Typhoon Haiyan is a stark one. One nation sends its navy and Marines and pledges $20 million in assistance. The other sends $100,000 in government assistance until it folds to the hectoring of the international community and increases its contribution to a still-miserly $1.6 million.

American friends and allies in the region should seriously consider the implication of this comparison. It is not an aberration.

The U.S. has made mistakes over the years. Alliances with undemocratic regimes—whether Marcos in the Philippines or Suharto in Indonesia—were often necessary in winning the Cold War. In some cases, as in Taiwan or South Korea, our embrace was a critical factor in their eventual democratization. But certainly, there were occasions when we embraced autocrats longer and more fully than necessary.

It all seems so clear now. At the time, it was not. And operating in real time, we got the details wrong on occasion. The U.S., however, has always sought to exercise a basic decency in the conduct of its foreign policy. Its electorate demands it. And in the absence of a dominant, overarching strategic context like the Cold War, the judgment calls have only gotten easier...
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