February 23, 2016

THE WAGES OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” Beijing Hurries to Cash in on Perceived U.S. Weakness:

The Wall Street Journal explains that SIPRI’s analysis suggests both that China’s military strength is growing and that it is willing to allow, and even to support, a regional arms race—one that the United States is not happy to see.

Alas, it’s not surprising to see that China has become increasing aggressive under President Obama’s tenure. It isn’t all his fault. Many Chinese read the 2008 financial collapse as a sign of the coming end of American hegemony. And, on the other side of the ledger, the pivot to Asia was launched as an attempt by the administration to assert an American presence in the area.

But as the Obama presidency has progressed, and particularly since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rule began in 2012, it’s become clear that China’s leaders don’t consider Washington’s repeated threats very threatening. U.S. dithering on the South China Sea last year made the eventual freedom of navigation operations near Chinese-claimed islands less effective than they could have been, and it didn’t help that the first attempt may have implicitly acknowledged China’s territorial claims. Meanwhile, Beijing has been watching America’s (lack of a) strategy in the Middle East, and getting the sense that this U.S. administration isn’t any more likely to respond to challenges from Beijing than it is likely to respond to direct challenges from Moscow.

One thing that people like about Trump — as a major contrast to Obama, and also to Hillary and Sanders — is that whatever his other flaws, he appears to believe in America.

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