Ninjas v. Muslims

Chapter 6: From Threat to Threat,” by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Final Report, 21 August 2004, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch6.htm.

In a world where President Bush raped a Japanese school girl, were Clinton’s Kill Bill fantasies really that bad?

At some point during this period, President Clinton expressed his frustration with the lack of military options to take out Bin Ladin and the al Qaeda leadership, remarking to General Hugh Shelton, “You know, it would scare the shit out of al-Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters into the middle of their camp.” Although Shelton told the Commission he did not remember the statement, President Clinton recalled this remark as “one of the many things I said.” The President added, however, that he realized nothing would be accomplished if he lashed out in anger. Secretary of Defense William Cohen thought that the President might have been making a hypothetical statement. Regardless, he said, the question remained how to get the “ninjas” into and out of the theater of operations. As discussed in chapter 4, plans of this kind were never carried out before 9/11.

Juan Cole’s Sex and Power Fantasy

Neoconning the Media,” by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 14 April 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/04/neoconning-media-eric-altermans.html.

After a long discourse on racism, the liberal-hawk New Republic magazine, colonialism, and neoconservatives generally, Dr. Cole concludes

Likewise, colonial occupation gives the occupiers an easy sense of self-worth and powerfulness. Thus the appeal of occupying other countries precisely for those sections of the dominant “whites” in US society that are least secure in their whiteness (e.g. lower middle class Southerners). Much about the Abu Ghuraib torture scandal can most easily be explained in these colonialist/racist terms. Likewise, the sex and power fantasy of white men saving brown women from brown men, which has figured so prominently in the new discourse of American empire, is best explained in this way.

The easy title for this post would have been “Cole: Brown Women Not Worth Saving,” but here’s a deeper thought.

In Empire : The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power,” Dr. Neil Ferguson notes the appeal of saving white women from brown men in war propoganda. Likewise, Ferguson notes how early British NGOs fought for basic women’s right in India and other places. However, he never wrote about any “sex and power fantasy of white men saving brown women from brown men.”

So, the obvious questions

  1. Is there a meaningful “sex and power fantasy of white men saving brown women from brown men”
  2. Does it have a historic precedent in American or British culture?

I had never heard Cole’s claim before. Anyone else?

Epic Post on China / Taiwan

Winds of Change Challenge (Bringing It All Together),” by Bill Rice, Dawn’s Early Light, 13 April 2005, http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/04/winds_of_change.html.

An epic post on China, Taiwan, India, Japan, Australia, the United States, and peace in Greater East Asia and South Asia.

From a comment in the ensuing discussion

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My point is not that the US will work against China per se, but work with like minded countries (not pawns… I think I clearly attempted to list each nation’s self interested reason for cooperating with the US position) to contain China from acting out aggressively towards Taiwan. Through this manner and engagement with China diplomatically we can wait out the clock for a more free China.

Exactly right.

Read it.

Update: Per request, my comment on the article

Great post. Your comment that through “this manner and engagement with China diplomatically we can wait out the clock for a more free China” is exactly right. I agree with your conclusions, but I’d like to comment on some of your supporting claims and implications

Just as Japan was able to strike quickly at Pearl Harbor, China may be able to strike quickly against Taiwan, but like Japan circa 1941, China does not have the access to oil and the ability to hold off a militarily superior United States.

The problem goes beyond oil — like Imperial Japan, Communist China does not have access to the outside world in a conventional war with the United States. The US Navy and US Air Force would be able to quickly shut down Chinese lines of communications to almost everywhere. Assuming both sides has the resolve to accept the military loses and the responsibility not to use conventional weapons, the situation would quickly deadlock in a stalemate militarily advantageous to the United States (China having a huge army….. in China).

On the mainland the People’s Liberation Army is militarily undefeatible, even with a total blockade.

Such an extended conventional war is unlikely with Beijing, but (barely) possible.

While the United States did help promote democracy during the Cold War, it did not do so with the passion and energy our nation needs to now pursue it. The Cold War was about pragmatic compromises, supporting unsavory dictators as well, especially in the Middle East, to keep countries in the US sphere rather than the Communist sphere.

In a post Cold War world, where different ideologies dominate the world debate, the old paradigm of working with unsavory nations cannot continue to ensure US security.

Between the Cold War to Globalization era, America switched from a negative to a positive foreign policy. As I blogged earlier

The Soviets were attempting to connect as much of the globe as they could to their command-and-control economy. For them this was a future worth creating. Reagan didn’t have a future worth creating. He saw a future worth destroying. We sought to disconnect every state the Soviets connected, and we succeeded.

Bush, with Clinton’s help, switched America from being anti-Communist to pro-Open-Society. There were just as many ideologies during the Cold War, but our relative weakness, our main enemy’s strength, meant we focused on his destruction.

If the US fails to defend a democratic Taiwan from China then it destroys any credibility won in the War on Terror with other nations. If we fail Taiwan what is our response to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Ukraine, Japan, Australia, our European allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and many other nations that depend on American security?

While China may be a problem for the United States, it is not a threat to globalization itself. China’s future worth creating is a lot like ours, only with differente emphases. bin Laden’s hopeful future is a nightmare. China is a developing authoritarian state that is slowly opening up. Saudi Arabia is terrible awfulness, in country-form

It would be possible to America to abandon Taiwan and maintain momentum in the Global War on Terrorism. We could make a trade with Beijing for abandoning Taiwan, and structre the trade to keep up the forward momentum.

It would be unwise, but it possible. Our response to Saudi Arabia and others would be “China is not good but getting better, you are terrible and getting worse.”

Additionally, allowing China to take Taiwan by force would automatically make the 21st Century a Chinese Century, as the ability for the US to promote and defend global security would crumble. Any century that has a non-free government as the apex of the international order will not be a century of peace, economic development and the expansion of liberty.

A historical analogy is useful. Would the 20th century have been better or worse if the Britain did not intervene to save Belgium? We would have had a authoritarian-Germany-dominated trade-oriented Europe. Berlin would have torn Russia apart, crushed the terrorist states in the Balkans, isolated Paris, and probably back democracy in Belgium significantly. Instead, London saved Brussels and we got Lennin, Stalin, and Hitler for our troubles.

China is “good enough” to be the major player in Greater East Asia. It’s not the future I want, but it’s not necessarily bad.

Elsewhere in your post you mention that China’s strategy may be to make a quick negotiated settlement favorable to Beijing. If that happens it is important that we will have thought about the consequences clearly.

Because of Japan’s fears of a rising Chinese dragon, they have extended their military relationship with the US to include defending Taiwan. If war was to break out in the Taiwanese Strait, the economic engine of Asia and possibly the world would grind to a halt. It is in Japan’s long term political, national security and economic interests to work with the United States in providing a proper deterrent to China. It is encouraging that Japan has boldly taken this step

Good point. Assuming a conventional naval start, international sea lanes would quickly be taken by America with China’s navy destroyed. America would be dictating when and where trade continues and resumes. While mercantile cowardess leads nations to favor peace at almost any cost, American force rebalances the equation in favor of our interests.

While a popular Indian worry about any future US arms deal would be the possibility of another arms embargo, as happened with India and Pakistan over the 1996 nuclear testing. This scenario is unlikely to repeat itself, because the US strategically needs New Dehli and New Dehli is not likely to start a war with Pakistan.

Kind-of related, especially where Taiwan is concerned. North Vietnam invaded the South in 1972, and lost. America’s left-dominated Congress then imposed a de-facto arms embargo on Saigon, and two yeras later Hanoi easily won. Beacuse of the influence of a small but powerful left, America has won a reputation for perfidity. India (and Taiwan) are both taking this into account.

The United States along with democratic countries in Eastern Asia have an opportunity to build a constructive alliance to deter China from seeking its goals militarily, but they must act now and wait for an emerging dragon to reform democratically.

Exactly right.