Dan Blumenthal, a former official of the George W. Bush Administration, now directs Asia policy at the American Enterprise Institute, and his new book offers a horrible example of why we are losing the great civilizational war to China.
I review it today at the Law and Liberty site, one of the great sources of conservative analysis and opinion.
My summary: “American policymakers believe that China is fragile, and that external pressures will crack the regime and mitigate China’s challenge to American strategic dominance. Cutting off access to technology, hectoring allies to exclude Chinese tech companies from communications infrastructure, encirclement through the ‘Quad’ alliance of the US, Japan, India, and Australia, sanctions over the treatment of Hong Kong or Xinjiang, and so forth will weaken or even collapse the Communist regime, according to the Washington consensus. Dan Blumenthal, the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, presents the consensus view in a new book that illustrates by negative example how utterly wrongheaded the consensus has been.”
The real howler in Blumenthal’s account is his conclusion–written when the volume went to press in late April–that COVID-19 will flatten the Chinese economy and maybe even bring down the regime. China (and all of East Asia, including Taiwan and South Korea) crushed the pandemic, and the Chinese economy will grow this year while all the other big economies shrink. Blumenthal was so convinced about China’s imminent collapse that he mistook the headlamp of the oncoming express for the light at the end of the tunnel.
My conclusion: “We remain in a national state of denial over the magnitude of China’s challenge to us, and Blumenthal’s error-ridden account shows how hard it is to sustain this self-consoling fiction in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. It is high time to focus on what China does right rather than what it does wrong—and undertake to do it better.
Twenty years ago the George W. Bush administration set out to remake the Islamic world in America’s image, and failed miserably. This is a failure-prone civilization we cannot fix no matter how hard we try. Now the same neo-conservatives want to weaken China, and have the inverse of the same problem: This is a 5,000-year-old civilization we cannot suppress, no matter how hard we try. We can only do better.”
Read the whole review here.