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October 08, 2007

China Hawks

"If I had been vociferously, prominently, moralistically, and disastrously wrong on the major foreign-policy issue of the time -- that is, if I had been all-out in favor of invading Iraq and had been withering in my dismissal of those not man enough to support that step or who said "what's the rush?" -- then I might, conceivably, be a little hesitant before striking similar cocksure poses about new issues as they came up," writes James Fallows. "But apparently this is just me."

But it's better than that. One could imagine a chastened supporter growing gun-shy and skittish about American force. What's hard to imagine is not merely doubling down, but moving from advocating belligerence on a small nation like Iraq to belligerence against %&*^*@$ China. It's like finding out that punching a cement wall doesn't get you to the other side, and so you lower your head and run skull-first into the barrier.

October 8, 2007 | Permalink


I must agree in principal with Mr. Fallows. Threatening to pull the Olympics is certainly not the answer, but standing by, clutching your pearls, and doing nothing is not the answer either.

Posted by: El Viajero | Oct 8, 2007 12:58:16 PM


As the Nick Hornby fan we know you are, I was really expecting the High Fidelity reference. "It's like asking to borrow 5 bucks, and when she says no, asking for 50" or something along those lines.

Posted by: Joel W | Oct 8, 2007 1:04:25 PM

It's more like completing a circle for some of the people in question, isn't it? There have been various articles and blog posts pointing out how China was the designated Big Bad Enemy of the U.S. in the '90s in some neocon circles, before the focus shifted almost entirely to Iraq following 9/11. Obviously Iran is in the mix now as well for them, but while they're at it, why not circle back to Red China for good measure?

Posted by: Haggai | Oct 8, 2007 1:08:53 PM

Is boycotting a sporting event a 'beligerent use of force'? That seems a pretty low bar for such a thing.

I am certainly willing to accept that boycotting the Olympics isn't the best solution here, indeed I am not convinced that it is, but the idea here, that we can't support democracy in Burma by a peaceful refusal to participate in a international sports contest because it would be 'warmongering' is plainly silly.

The Burmese monks are hero's in my book. I don't know how we can or should support them, but at the end of the day they are dying and we are doing nothing. At the very least that should make us ashamed.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Oct 8, 2007 1:44:54 PM

I'm with Joel W. For shame, Ezra!

But I think Fallows is probably missing some people, no? I can only think of onetime war supporter Matt Yglesias off the top of my head, and possibly Andrew Sullivan although I don't have any idea what he's been saying about Iran and China and the rest. Perhaps the rarity of the exception proves the rule, but it seems it's not a null set of chastened war supporters.

Posted by: Jack Roy | Oct 8, 2007 1:51:23 PM

Are you using the actual definition of null set, or Mitt Romney's?

Posted by: Haggai | Oct 8, 2007 2:03:34 PM

I'm not like smart or nothing, Haggai, so it's entirely possible I'm using Romney's.

Posted by: Jack Roy | Oct 8, 2007 2:09:59 PM

LOL...at least now we know that you're at least smart enough to run for the GOP nomination.

Posted by: Haggai | Oct 8, 2007 2:11:15 PM

Totally OT, just because I'm in a discussion over at Americablog, trying to convice people that an ENDA bill excluding transgender people is still better than no bill at all:
Ezra, what's your stance on this anti-discrimination law for lesbians and gays? This seems to be quite a controversial topic, with Pelosi publicly supporting it, but not all lawmakers willing to follow...

Posted by: Gray | Oct 8, 2007 3:28:02 PM

...the idea here, that we can't support democracy in Burma by a peaceful refusal to participate in a international sports contest because it would be 'warmongering' is plainly silly.

I must admit, Dave, you do have a point. While not the best idea, a boycott is not coercive.

Posted by: El Viajero | Oct 8, 2007 3:47:43 PM

Well, China is VERY sensitive about the Olympics - maybe not as much as moving some aircraft carriers between the mainland and Taiwan and telling Taiwan to declare independence - but probably as close to spitting in their face as the US could do.

My guess is that wisdom is refraining from pissing on the floor of the guy who's lending you a big chunk of your trade deficit, and accepting ever-depreciating dollars as though they were actually real money. They could, one notes, tell us to pay for our trade in Euros or shut the fuck up.

I guess we could tell China we won't let them buy any more of our T-Bills to pay for our trade deficit with them if they don't make the Burmese shape up to international human rights standards. That would show China who's serious about Burma.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Oct 8, 2007 4:19:45 PM

"peaceful refusal to participate in a international sports contest because it would be 'warmongering' is plainly silly."

If the U.S. boycotted the olympics what would it be? Maybe warmongering is too strong for non-violent action, but it certainly serve the purposes of anti-China warmongers. In the present context the only thing a boycott would accomplish would be to provoke Chinese nationalism. The US spent the whole Cold War backing multiple awful regimes in more direct ways then the Chinese are doing. If a particular company wanted boycott the games that would be different.

Posted by: Christopher Colaninno | Oct 8, 2007 5:22:19 PM

Actually, it's more like, after watching your buddy punch a cement wall unsuccessfully, you urge HIM to lower his head and run skull-first into the barrier. There's no personal risk of pain for these jokers.

Posted by: David Mendelsohn | Oct 8, 2007 6:50:22 PM

Didn't anyone notice Bill Kristol in the Washington Post yesterday suggesting military action against Burma? My goodness, what a fine idea. And who has more credibility to suggest it than Kristol? Then, after we've sorted out those Myanmarian bastards, we might as well nuke China.

Posted by: Herschel | Oct 8, 2007 9:09:59 PM

Then, after we've sorted out those Myanmarian bastards, we might as well nuke China.

I think McArthur wanted to do that shortly after Japan surrendered and he was fired for it.

Posted by: El Viajero | Oct 8, 2007 9:29:42 PM

Then there's the point, recently pointed out by Reason's Kerry Howley in the LA Times and elsewhere, that China has far less influence with the Burmese government that most are assuming it has. Which makes boycotting the Olympics or any other slap against China even more pointless.

Posted by: Matt Schiavenza | Oct 8, 2007 9:41:55 PM

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