Jennifer Rubin’s Non-Realist Slant on Brzezinski’s Realism

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brzezinski scowcroft 2.jpgI have yet to meet the Washington Post‘s new online oped contributor, Jennifer Rubin, who has chastised Zbigniew Brzezinski for unrealistic realism but I look forward to a chance to seriously discuss the evolution of US foreign policy thinking and how each of the boxes views the others.
One part of her argument is that Brzezinski, she believes, raises “personal relationships” over core national interests — and she finishes her piece with substantial commentary from two leading neoconservatives, Jamie Fly and Stephen Yates, about the core character and intentions of China being incompatible with American interests.
A couple of points. Even realists would argue that if personal connections can be made between leaders so that basic understandings about intentions and national resolve can be firmly and unsentimentally established and understood, then those personal relationships play a role. Such relationships certainly mattered to Kissinger and Nixon in opening China. When Yeltsin’s Russia was in freefall, Richard Nixon in his last years worked hard with George H.W. Bush and leaders in Japan and Europe to throw Yeltsin a life preserver — thus holding Yeltsin in power a bit longer but more importantly preserving what was then an experiment in democracy in a previously ruthlessly totalitarian state.
Second, I happen to appreciate the work and thinking of Stephen Yates and Jamie Fly and follow both of them. Yates and I have communicated for years and find ourselves in both occasional agreement and disagreement over China.
They are not the problem of Rubin’s article.
The problem is a complete absence of commentary on Brzezinski’s brand of realism from either the right or left realist spheres.
It seems to me that a stronger article might have sought out the Nixon Center’s Dimitri Simes or Paul Saunders or might have reached out to Henry Kissinger himself. Or she could have polled her Washington Post colleagues David Ignatius or Katrina van den Heuvel, my favorite realist on the left. There are others like Charles Kupchan at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brian Katulis at the Center for American Progress, Flynt Leverett at the New America Foundation, Martin Indyk at Brookings, or John Hamre at CSIS; Chuck Hagel at Georgetown, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Center for the Study of the Presidency chief David Abshire, former CFR Chair and US Trade Representative Carla Hills, former Secretary of State James Baker or even Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations to acquire a realist critique of what Rubin felt was Brzezinski’s left field offering.
Let’s hope that Ms. Rubin works harder to reach out to some who might be able to provide some other portals into national security realism than those she usually hangs with.
As I wrote earlier, I feel that Brzezinski offers a sensible and important framework for thinking about US-China challenges. Rubin seems not to realize that China is perceived by many nations today as the Google of countries — while the US looks more like a GM of nations, a very well-branded, sprawling, yet underperforming mega-country.
America needs to rewire and retool — and in the world that lies ahead, it is going to be important to use areas of convergent interest between China and the US to try and leverage more globally constructive and responsible behavior by China, which I agree with Rubin, is behaving in troubling ways of late.
But as her article stands now, Rubin’s piece is more swipe than substance and could have been used to really elucidate much more seriously the differences between the values-driven schools of foreign policy and those in the national-interest wings.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

47 comments on “Jennifer Rubin’s Non-Realist Slant on Brzezinski’s Realism

  1. nadine says:

    The Israelis have a persistent structural problem responding to Palestinian claims: It is always faster to make something up than to report the facts.
    Since the Palestinians are willing to make stuff up, they get their story out immediately. Since the world’s reporters know that the Palestinians are an ‘approved victim group’ they will repeat the Palestinian story without asking for evidence or checking the track record of those making the claims.
    In the past, the Israelis said nothing until they could investigate the facts. But the reporters all ignored the facts, having already reported the false story several days before. It was already ‘old news’ and they certainly weren’t interested in corrections that cast doubt on the story told by an unaccusable group.
    Now the Israelis are trying to point out the holes in the Palestinian story immediately without waiting to investigate everything. This lets the pro-Palestinian stooges call the Israelis liars because the whole story isn’t there yet, but hopefully may get the facts of the story reported a little bit, instead of just regurgitating Palestinian claims.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    The Israelis have a persistent structural problem responding to Palestinian claims: It is always faster to make something up than to report the facts.
    Since the Palestinians are willing to make stuff up, they get their story out immediately. Since the world’s reporters know that the Palestinians are an ‘approved victim group’ they will repeat the Palestinian story without asking for evidence or checking the track record of those making the claims.
    In the past, the Israelis said nothing until they could investigate the facts. But the reporters all ignored the facts, having already reported the false story several days before. It was already ‘old news’ and they certainly weren’t interested in corrections that cast doubt on the story told by an unaccusable group.
    Now the Israelis are trying to point out the holes in the Palestinian story immediately without waiting to investigate everything. This lets the pro-Palestinian stooges call the Israelis liars because the whole story isn’t there yet, but hopefully may get the facts of the story reported a little bit, instead of just regurgitating Palestinian claims.

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hasbara Can’t Kosher Anti-NGO Witch-Hunt
    By Lara Friedman
    In response to criticism over yesterday’s Knesset decision to investigate “left-wing” groups in Israel, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon – often the leading edge of Israeli hasbara efforts to the English-speaking world – wrote/tweeted the question “who’s afraid of transparency?” Coincidentally – or not – one of the Israeli Right’s most loyal voices in the U.S. had tweeted hours earlier, “When a simple transparency bill is being denounced as McCarthyism, you know the NGOs have something to hide.”
    This hasbara effort is so ham-handed it almost defies belief. It comes on the heels of last weekend’s stunningly inept (and wholly ineffective and ultimately counterproductive) hasbara effort trying to convince the world that, even without any investigation, Israel had determined that it bears not even the tiniest responsibility for the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah of Bili’in. Now, days later, Israeli officialdom – which eagerly threw out all sorts of ugly rumors that demonstrated nothing more than a total disregard for the dead and her loved ones – has had to back off its accusations and innuendo.
    Given this very recent failure, you might think that the “Israel-right-or-wrong” folks (in Israel and the U.S.) would have considered their strategy carefully before jumping to the defense of this latest Knesset action. But apparently they didn’t.
    Here are some things Ayalon and his loyal hasbara-niks should have considered before adopting the “it’s just about transparency, stupid” approach…….
    continues…..
    http://peacenow.org/entries/hasbara_cant_kosher_anti-ngo_witch-hunt
    Take a look at the poor unadulterated strawman SHIT that Nadine resorted to after her carefully scripted IDF dime store fiction was thoroughly and utterly discredited.
    Nadine has turned TWN’s comment section into a long boring joke, that has no punchline.

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Fact-Checking the IDF

    Reply

  5. nadine says:

    Just for you, POA: Barry Rubin posts a guide on how to make up successful blood libels against Israel. That is, successful for other people to believe them – we know you’ll believe anything:
    “How to make up successful anti-Israel blood libels.
    LESSON ONE: Use up-to-date, scientific-seeming falsehoods
    Wrong way: Claim Israelis are passing out poison chewing gum.
    Maybe: Claim Israelis are poisoning wells. Worked in Middle Ages but not so well when Suha Arafat said it to Hilary Clinton.
    Right Way: Claim Israelis are firing phosphorus to burn up Gazans. Still nonsense but sounds more scientific.
    LESSON TWO: Avoid outdated obviously antisemitic references and use sympathy-getting ones.
    Wrong way: Claim that Jews are killing little children to turn them into matzohs. (Still plays in Saudi Arabia but not elsewhere.)
    Maybe: Claim that Israelis are killing little children to use their organs. (Works in Sweden, Iran, Syria, and Turkey but not so good for most of the West.)
    Right Way: Claim that Israelis are killing little children even if the kid moves on the video after he is supposedly dead, there’s no blood, and a dozen more contradictions. (Excellent! Most people still think Muhammad al-Dura was murdered by Israel even after a French court ruled the story is ridiculous.)
    LESSON THREE: Know your audience and adjust the message appropriately.
    Arab/Muslim audience: Israel carried out the September 11 attacks, heroic Muslims carried out the September 11 attacks as part of the war against Israel (no need to choose one). Israel is an American stooge; America is an Israeli stooge (no need to choose one). Israel is the imperialistic state of evil Jews. Israel is blocking (choose one) a. The success of Arab nationalism creating a radical, anti-Western region. b. The success of revolutionary Islamism creating a radical, anti-Western, anti-Christian region. Israel should be wiped off the map.
    European audience: Israel is an American stooge; Israel violates human rights.
    Western mainstream audience: Israel violates human rights.
    Western liberal/social democratic audience: Israel is right-wing.
    American neo-fascist, antisemitic audience: America is an Israeli stooge.
    Western Jewish audience: Israel is not perfect. (This is incredibly effective in many circles.)
    SUMMARY
    See, you have to have some minimally credible story to get all the world’s most respected newspapers to repeat your lies without any evidence at all. But don’t worry, that level of minimal credibility is really, really low. ”
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2011/01/alleged-israeli-mossad-animal-spy-use.html

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  6. nadine says:

    Oh, look another Israeli war crime:
    “Shark ‘sent to Egypt by Mossad’
    An Egyptian official has claimed that a shark that killed one person and left four others injured in Egypt could have been placed there by agents from Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8185915/Shark-sent-to-Egypt-by-Mossad.html
    I’m sure you’ll be all over this “atrocity” too, eh, POA? And pray tell us, how many massacred innocents did Israel cart away from Jenin in refrigerated trucks in 2002? Everybody knows that you alone have the true figures.
    ____________________
    People more attached to reality than POA know that when a bunch of politicians have a twenty year track record of making up absurd and easily disprovable charges and claims for propaganda purposes, it is past time stop believing the charges unless you see hard evidence to back them up.
    Mohammed al Dura was not shot by Israelis in his father’s arms. There was no ‘massacre in Jenin’ There was no massacre of inoffensive peaceniks on the Mavi Marmara (& yet inexplicably not on the other six ships of the same convoy). Nor do the Israelis poison wells, drop poisoned chocolates, use female stripper on tanks, shoot youths for their organs, and other wild charges made by various members of Hamas and the PA. And so on.
    All these incidents were either invented, staged, exaggerated from a real conflict, or were the result of an attack on Israelis that was intended to provoke a reaction which would be branded a war crime. People who hate Israel and the Jews believe them all implicitly.
    But people who are interested in finding out the facts investigate the incidents and discover that the first reports they hear from the media are almost always wrong, always in the Palestinians’ favor, since the Palestinian version of events is accepted uncritically, yet the media never learn from their mistakes.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Substantial evidence contradicts the IDF

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  8. David Billington says:

    “Not really. Brzezinski keeps using words like “accusations” “suspicions” “seeming”. He
    acknowledges the “reality of some disagreements” but not that the disagreements are caused
    by fundamental conflicts of national interest.” (Nadine)
    The question I think is how intractable these conflicts are. With China, we went from wartime
    ally in 1942, to wartime enemy in 1950, then to allies of convenience in 1972, and now we
    seem to be heading for collision sometime in the 2020s or 2030s. Given this record, I think
    we need to be careful about how far we embrace either pessimism or optimism.

    Reply

  9. David Billington says:

    “Just a little further away is the Philippines which also hosts a large U.S. naval base.” (Wigwag)
    The U.S. naval and air bases near Subic Bay in the Philippines closed in 1992 following the
    eruption of Mount Pinatubo. U.S. forces relocated to Guam, which is now our principal base in
    the region.
    “China is unlikely to abandon its alliance with North Korea in the foreseeable future. China is too
    afraid of North Korean political and economic instability and the potential for millions of North
    Korean refugees to stream into China. Even more importantly, China views North Korea as a
    valuable buffer state between China and South Korea and even more importantly with South
    Korea’s patron, the United States.”
    Yes, although I don’t think China’s policy is driven so much by a sense of being hostage to
    North Korea’s stability as much as it is driven, as you note, by the traditional Chinese need to
    have Korea as a buffer state.

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    Do you have a mirror in yours, Paul? Nothing has changed from your grandfather’s day but the name you choose to curse.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Now, nobody has died of teargas inhalation in Israel in the last 20 years and Israel doesn’t “poison” teargas, but let’s leave the improbability of the charge aside”
    As usual, this hasbarist witch can do nothing but drool lies. The UK has outlawed the use of CS tear gas, and the manufacturer of the gas Israel used, “Combined Systems Inc”, (a Carlyle Group holding, of course), warns users to protect themselves in a manner that is consistent with handling dangerous toxic materials.
    http://countercurrents.org/kepler040111.htm
    Excerpt….
    According to the report, “Based on the available data on toxic and lethal effects of the CS and considering the worst exposure scenario at Waco, there is a distinct possibility that this kind of CS exposure can significantly contribute to or even cause lethal effects.”
    Because there are no scientific tests studying the effects of CS gas on humans, the report explores the toxicity of the gas on animals and then lends that information to an understanding of how CS might, and in past instances has, affected humans.
    “In inhalation experiments, only delayed deaths were observed after exposure to high concentrations of CS. This response indicates a different mechanism of action of CS depending on the type of exposure. After inhalation exposure, the toxic response focuses primarily on the lung, with direct effects on the mucous membrane and the epithelial cells,” noted the report, following experiment with different animal groups.
    “In addition to strong irritation at higher concentrations, inflammation and damage to the alveolar capillary membrane also occur followed by the development of edema, emphysema, hemorrhages, and atelectasis due to reduced synthesis and/or destruction of the surface active material (surfactant) in the lung. These effects lead to compromised oxygen transfer from the lung to the blood capillaries and eventually, after some time, to death from suffocation.”
    Such is the apparent case with Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died in a Ramallah hospital, hours after initial exposure, having not responded to treatment.
    “One of the main factors influencing the extent of damage caused by CS gas is the amount of particles in the air,” said Daniel Argo, an Israeli doctor who regularly takes part in the demonstrations against the separation wall told the news daily Haaretz.
    Argo says recent eye and lung injuries, as well as skin diseases, can be associated with the use of CS tear gas, reported the news daily.
    “There are other types of tear gas that are not as dangerous as CS; why the defense establishment insists on continuing its use is not clear,” Argo said. “In addition, since no studies have been conducted to identify the long-term effects of the gas, security personnel who use it frequently should be worrying about their own health.”
    End excerpt…
    Its important to note, too, that the Israeli “investigators” have repeatedly changed their stories, as each “chapter” of their excuses and propagandized fictions about this death are disproven.
    Read the following…..
    http://palestinenote.com/blogs/news/archive/2011/01/04/idf-on-bil-in-spins-half-truths-lies.aspx
    IDF on Bil

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Do you have a mirror in your house, Nadine?

    Reply

  13. nadine says:

    Indeed, very convenient. When you are a member of an unaccusable group, anything you claim is true.
    How could it be otherwise? To find out an untruth, you would have to accuse someone unaccusable of lying. That’s not allowed! Note that this rule holds good no matter how many times his past claims have been shown up as false.
    For example, in 2002, Saeb Erekat was one of the leading proponents of the “Massacre in Jenin” – the claim that Israel slaughtered 500 or 5000 (the number varied) civilians in Jenin and took the bodies away in refrigerated cars. Headlines reported it around the world in big type. All false; even the PA and the UN admitted it within a few weeks. Did the reporters print a correction? The vast majority did not. It didn’t really matter by that point anyway; the damage had been done.
    Here’s today’s example: the “teargas victim” from Bil’in that POA is shedding tears over. Saeb Erekat claimed she had died of “poisoned teargas”. Now, nobody has died of teargas inhalation in Israel in the last 20 years and Israel doesn’t “poison” teargas, but let’s leave the improbability of the charge aside. A quick investigation by the IDF shows that Jawaher Abu Rahma was in and out of the hospital over the last 10 days, and was taking a prescription that is usually given for leukemia. Some of her relatives, who don’t seem to have gotten the memo in time, also posted on Facebook that she hadn’t been at the rally but went to the hospital from her home. http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2011/01/senior-security-source-raises-questions.html
    But she was from Bil’in and had protested before, so Saeb Erekat decided to make here an official martyr for The Cause – and the BBC, the Guardian, the NYT, the Independent, and the whole list of media suspects accepted the claim without question. Here’s the story from The Guardian. Note how they accept the cause of death as teargas without a hint of a doubt http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/02/israel-tear-gas-death-palestinian
    Yes, today’s journalists find the division of the world into accusable vs unaccusable groups remarkably convenient.
    Have you noticed that accusable groups can always be reached for comment from civilized offices in safe locations? and that this is usually not true about the unaccusable groups? Saves so much trouble!
    I can you this much for sure: whatever Saeb Erekat claims next month will be accepted as news around the world, no matter how untrue or improbable it is, no matter that there is not a shred of evidence. No reporter will ask for any. And POA will believe it implicitly, whatever it is.

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  14. Paul Norheim says:

    “Just so. See how simple it becomes when you have a conflict
    with the accusable on one side vs. the unaccusable on the other.
    All questions of conflicting rights, all your moral quandaries,
    have been solved in advance. It’s so convenient.” (Nadine)
    Just so.

    Reply

  15. Neo Controll says:

    Neocon, naturally Republican, wingnuts meet in Paris to parley with Iranian group deemed terrorists by the US. Quite arguably illegal, traitorous behavior, the hypocrisy escapes these “patriots”. And the MSM, of course.
    Summary at Americablog; click through to Greenwald for the full picture:
    http://www.americablog.com/2011/01/leading-republicans-support-anti.html

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  16. nadine says:

    “And that bunch of Saudi despots in Arabia — then Obama is your bow’n & scrap’n man, right? ” (rc)
    Obama certainly did some fine bowing and scraping. We have the video to prove it!
    But as the Wikileaks cables show us, it turns out the Saudis would rather have an American president they could trust to defend them from Iran, than one who bows to them.

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  17. rc says:

    (Pearlman, Jan 04 2011, 9:26AM)– “If you want an expert on how you bow down to Iran. Brezinski is your man…”
    And that bunch of Saudi despots in Arabia — then Obama is your bow’n & scrap’n man, right?
    But then again, they largely own the joint!

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “It’s who you can accuse.”
    Which logically and empirically lead us to who you – regardless
    of the abuses, the suffering they cause – can’t accuse, only
    defend.” (Paul Norheim)
    Just so. See how simple it becomes when you have a conflict with the accusable on one side vs. the unaccusable on the other. All questions of conflicting rights, all your moral quandaries, have been solved in advance. It’s so convenient.
    Conflicts with unaccusables on both sides are much more ambiguous, as well as far more numerous, but also have no compelling interest, so they get no attention to speak of.

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  19. Paul Norheim says:

    “It’s who you can accuse.”
    Which logically and empirically lead us to who you – regardless
    of the abuses, the suffering they cause – can’t accuse, only
    defend.

    Reply

  20. nadine says:

    “What exactly does this mean – with reference to the debates
    on this blog and in the larger context?
    That when someone expresses concern for Chinese or
    Iranian victims, it’s all crocodile tears and self-rightousness,
    while on the other hand frequently expressed concern for,
    say Palestinian or Russian victims is heartfelt and genuine
    and non-partisan?” (Paul Norheim)
    Close, but you don’t have the dividing line quite right. The important divide is to look at who is accused of abusing human rights. The US or Israel=heartfelt and genuine and non-partisan. Russia, China, any other country=crocodile tears and self-righteousness.
    Because it’s not who suffers or how much they suffer. It’s who you can accuse. Basically, if it’s not the US or Israel, who cares?

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  21. Paul Norheim says:

    Speaking of unpredictability and fun in politics – here is
    today’s trivia questions, based on the following quote
    from Wikipedia:
    “N.N’s political views are widely characterized as
    conservative and neoconservative. She was also called the
    supporter of Tea Party movement, and the “ultra-hawkish
    Greater Israel Zionist”. She opposed Barack Obama on
    multiple occasions, calling him

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  22. Paul Norheim says:

    Jennifer Rubin on Jennifer Rubin:
    “What do I believe in? For starters: American
    exceptionalism, limited government, free markets, a
    secure and thriving Jewish state, defense of freedom and
    human rights around the world (…)”
    “What do I love about politics? Well, there’s the fun and
    unpredictability, the abundance of irony, the display of
    human foibles (…) Really, what’s not to love?”
    ———————
    Brzezinski and others in the DC establishment may
    frequently present platitudes as insights, but the
    comments and positions of opponents like Jennifer Rubin
    are as “fun and unpredictable” as rime and ice and snow
    and early sunsets when you arrive at an Norwegian airport
    in January after a long vacation in the southern
    hemisphere.
    Kudos and Happy New Year to Steve Clemons, a fan of
    Chalmers Johnson AND Richard Nixon. This odd position
    makes his political comments – in his best moments –
    truly unpredictable and interesting.

    Reply

  23. Don Bacon says:

    Two National Review writers claim that the move by Reps. Frank and Paul to slash $1 trillion from defense spending over a decade is “foolhardy [and] unrealistic.” Instead they propose that US taxpayers, via the US Navy, should protect China’s commercial sealanes!
    The New Isolationism
    Alvin S Felzenberg & Alexander B. Gray
    National Review Online
    (excerpt)
    . . it was not American might that gave the Monroe Doctrine force, but the then all-powerful British navy. . . .If appropriately funded, the United States Navy has the capacity to play a similar role in China

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  24. Don Bacon says:

    Jon Huntsman, the former GOP Utah governor who President Obama convinced to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, has hinted to Newsweek that he is considering a run for president himself.
    Steve Clemons, May 2009:
    America’s relationship with China is the single most important bilateral relationship it has in its foreign policy and economic portfolios — and Barack Obama just selected as his lead point person a rising star . . .I have had the privilege of knowing Jon Huntsman since 1994 and have always been impressed with his pragmatism and rejection of ideological fundamentalism. . .
    Huntsman is . . .smart on Asia, understands business, and has a real understanding of the complexities of China’s ascension on the global power ladder.

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    “I reject the whole customary human rights discussion
    because it always focuses on shedding crocodile tears for
    people in the countries we’re not supposed to like (…) Such
    human rights discussions never focus on the countries which
    are lax on human rights but are countries we are supposed to
    get along with (Israel, Russia, Iraq, etc.).” (DonBacon)
    What exactly does this mean – with reference to the debates
    on this blog and in the larger context?
    That when someone expresses concern for Chinese or
    Iranian victims, it’s all crocodile tears and self-rightousness,
    while on the other hand frequently expressed concern for,
    say Palestinian or Russian victims is heartfelt and genuine
    and non-partisan?

    Reply

  26. Don Bacon says:

    I reject the whole customary human rights discussion because it always focuses on shedding crocodile tears for people in the countries we’re not supposed to like (Iran, China, North Korea) as if the self-righteous people making such charges really care about Iranians, Chinese and North Koreans. They don’t. It simply gives them a political edge, as with the recent Nobel.
    Such human rights discussions never focus on the countries which are lax on human rights but are countries we are supposed to get along with (Israel, Russia, Iraq, etc.).
    These discussions also never include consideration of the people harmed by US imperialism — sanctioned, killed, displaced, imprisoned, tortured and injured. Human rights is taken to mean domestic human rights but foreigners are human too, after all.
    There are other human rights considerations which typically never get noticed for those countries we’re supposed to favor. Freedom from discrimination is a basic human right, and there are many other such human rights that can be as destructive as physical abuse.
    One more thing. The US prison system is a abomination. Terrible places. Reportedly the US has more people in prison than China does, with one-fourth the population. African-Americans are overly represented.
    Human rights? Let’s start at home, not in China, which is merely a favorite US whipping-boy (a young boy who was assigned to a young prince and was punished when the prince misbehaved).

    Reply

  27. Dan Kervick says:

    Yes, maybe some day Brzezinski will be taken as seriously as all of us TWNers.

    Reply

  28. nadine says:

    “Brzezinski is a former US National Security Adviser writing in the New York Times, trying to address audiences in at least two countries and trying to help set the right diplomatic tone in advance of an important meeting between the leaders of two of the world’s most powerful states. I can’t imagine what purpose would be served by a figure in Brzezinski’s position declaring that recent disagreements between China and the US are due to fundamentally conflicting national interests.” (Dan Kervick)
    A basic purpose: to put some actual realism into “realist” policy. Because pretending it’s all a big misunderstanding only leads to more ‘let’s-pretend’ recommendations for “engagement” over issues that don’t lend themselves to engagement.
    If Brzenzinski wants to be taken seriously (& with his track record, not that many people do) he has to show that he is in touch with reality.

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  29. DonS says:

    “I personally believe that The White House right now wants to downplay or ignore China’s human rights abuses, because the priorities have changed recently ”
    Paul, my reading is that 1) the US has slight reason to hammer anyone on human rights abuses given our recent record (detail omitted) 2) the US hasn’t been serious about thumping on China’s human right’s abuses ever since it became clear that China is part of the big corporatist strategy for enriching the oligarchs 3) those in the US who do — currently — act offended at China’s abuses are the fundy-neocon right, who do so, hypocritically while ignoring all manner of domestic and foreign abuses caused or subsidized by the US. Not that outrage at abuse is wrong, in and or itself, but let’s just call a spade a spade.

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  30. Paul Norheim says:

    DonB & POA:
    I think we all agree that when Washington accuses Beijing of
    human rights abuses, it is more often motivated by hawkish
    political concerns that by concerns for the persons or groups
    whose rights have been abused.
    This does not mean that the accusations are factually wrong,
    or that everybody should act as if the abuses in China is such
    a minor issue that mentioning them represents a diversion
    from important issues, or automatically implies US pressure
    and evil neocon propaganda.
    I’m reminded of DonBacon’s and POA’s negative reactions
    last fall when the Nobel was given to Liu Xiabo. I personally
    believe that The White House right now wants to downplay or
    ignore China’s human rights abuses, because the priorities
    have changed recently (due to economical and strategical
    concerns described above on this thread). In such
    circumstances it doesn’t hurt when someone outside the US
    reminds the world that something is rotten in the state of
    China.

    Reply

  31. DonS says:

    “When you look at America 1976-80. And specifically foreign policy during that time. There is only on conclusion. Whatever Brezinski says to do is wrong. The right answer is to do the opposite of whatever he says. . ”
    Pearlman channeling Wig. Not the best way to assess information. BTW, dissing Brezinski wouldn’t have anything to do with his anti-neocon stance now would it?
    On the general point of ‘repression’ of citizens, the US is becoming less able to throw that charge around towards other nations with a straight face. If it’s not one form of repression, say as practiced by classic totalitarian regimes, it a multitude of factors. Significantly, the US continues to bill itself as that exceptionalism, non repressive, shining city on the hill. Which it ain’t, and is less so all the time.
    Nitpicking Zbig’s bona fides as commentator is small, diversionary potatoes when compared to the shithole, corporatist political state the US is sliding towards. At least for those whose memory exceeds a few decades. I’ll take a right thinking, constructively motivated, politico over a pure knee jerk hack anytime.

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    Brzezinski is a former US National Security Adviser writing in the New York Times, trying to address audiences in at least two countries and trying to help set the right diplomatic tone in advance of an important meeting between the leaders of two of the world’s most powerful states. I can’t imagine what purpose would be served by a figure in Brzezinski’s position declaring that recent disagreements between China and the US are due to fundamentally conflicting national interests.
    Rubin is a journalist and blogger writing for a domestic audience, some of whom share an interest in monkey-wrenching the summit. But if her ends aren’t wholly destructive, maybe she could follow up with some more detailed suggestions about issues she would like to see addressed at the summit, and what she would regard as a positive outcome.

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  33. nadine says:

    “Brzezinski’s op-ed acknowledges that recent public disputes between the US and China have a basis in reality and legitimate suspicions.” (Paul Norheim)
    Not really. Brzezinski keeps using words like “accusations” “suspicions” “seeming”. He acknowledges the “reality of some disagreements” but not that the disagreements are caused by fundamental conflicts of national interest.
    Basically, Brzezinski emphasizes the conflict as a series of misunderstandings and downplays its fundamental causes, esp. those based in recent Chinese actions, the better to lay his hopes on some grand bargain coming out of the Hu/Obama meeting:
    “For the visit to be more than symbolic, Presidents Obama and Hu should make a serious effort to codify in a joint declaration the historic potential of productive American-Chinese cooperation. They should outline the principles that should guide it. They should declare their commitment to the concept that the American-Chinese partnership should have a wider mission than national self-interest. That partnership should be guided by the moral imperatives of the 21st century’s unprecedented global interdependence. ” (Brzezinski)
    Jen Rubin finds this unrealistic. She says that either Brzezinski has the situation wrong, or that he has placed way too much hope in personal relations trumping national interests in a not very ‘realist’ fashion. You can certainly disagree, but I think she has read Brzezinski correctly.
    I find it interesting that Steve Clemons has finally noticed Jen Rubin. She has been writing good commentary for some time at Commentary Magazine’s Contentions blog, and recently moved the WaPo, where I suppose she came onto Steve’s radar screen. But Steve’s critique of what is, after all, just a blog post, not a formal article, is rather peculiar.

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  34. Mark says:

    Steve,
    Happy New Year.
    I correctly identified Ms. Rubin’s biases weeks ago on your blog.
    You responded by ordering a toady to bounce me from the site. Fair enough. It’s your blog.
    But now you come back with a Come to Jesus Moment and rip Ms. Rubin for almost exactly the same reasons. Damn, I just love D.C., where every minute holds no connection to the minutes before.
    Yes, Steve, your toady will censor me again.

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  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    (Don, you beat me to it due to me getting tangled up in this crap feature known as “CAPTCHA”, but anyway……)
    Paul, do you really want to advance the accusation that Don was trying to insinuate “that there is no repression in that country”?
    If so, Nadine and questions have managed to inflict you with an apparently contagious character defect, technically known as “Strawtupidity Syndrome”.

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  36. Don Bacon says:

    Paul, nobody offered proof that there’s no repression in China. You made that up.
    My point is that “continued repression of its citizens,” which implies a general repression, is inconsistent with the poll I quoted.
    Derogatory statements about China such as Fly’s are common in the US, a country which has historically persecuted Chinese immigrants and even invaded China, while considering Chinese as somehow inferior and applying different standards to China than to the US.

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  37. charlie says:

    “China is Google”….
    yep, that sounds about right. A small self-centered clique of self-appointed godmen who steal from the proles to get rich, while keeping public order by 21st century internet police states. Yep, I can see why a lot of countries want to be like that…and a lot of citizens don’t.
    Heaven knows what country Steve thinks India might be: Apple? Microsoft? 3M?

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  38. Paul Norheim says:

    Don: using polls where a majority in a country declare that
    they are satisfied with “national conditions”, as prove that
    there is no repression in that country, is pretty amusing too,
    don’t you think?

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  39. Don Bacon says:

    Jennifer Rubin quoting Jamie Fly: “China’s actions over the past year, including its continued repression of its citizens, its unwillingness to cooperate in confronting common global threats, and its bullying of its neighbors call into question whether U.S. and Chinese long-term interests really are aligned.”
    That’s amusing.
    *China’s repression of its citizens? According to a Pew Global Report poll in June 2010, an overwhelming portion of the population (87%) express satisfaction with national conditions. On the same note, the RCP poll average has 66% of Americans thinking that the US is on the wrong track. So who’s repressed?
    *Unwillingness to cooperate in confronting common global threats? China has increased it participation in anti-piracy patrols. What other common global threats is China missing out on?
    *Bullying of its neighbors? US warships are sailing off China’s shores, the US promotes major arms sales to China’s province Taiwan while maintaining many military bases an air-hour away from Shanghai and Beijing, and is conducting a major war in China’s neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan, and China is a bully?

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  40. WigWag says:

    Many Western observers have hoped that as China becomes more interested and focused on its economic development it would give up on North Korea, increasingly favor South Korea and ultimately support the North’s political integration with the South.
    It’s not going to happen.
    China is unlikely to abandon its alliance with North Korea in the foreseeable future. China is too afraid of North Korean political and economic instability and the potential for millions of North Korean refugees to stream into China. Even more importantly, China views North Korea as a valuable buffer state between China and South Korea and even more importantly with South Korea’s patron, the United States.
    China’s is surrounded in its entire Southern flank with hostile, semi hostile or unstable nations. It borders Indian/Pakistani Kashmir and is engaged in a dispute of some significance with India in this region; Nepal and especially Burma are highly unstable; Viet Nam is an historical enemy with whom China has fought in the recent past, Thailand (not to mention Taiwan) is an ally of the United States as is Japan (which hosts a large U.S. Naval presence) and South Korea (which is virtually an American client).
    Just a little further away is the Philippines which also hosts a large U.S. naval base.
    As problematic as North Korea may be to the Chinese, it is one of China’s few neighboring nations that is actually friendly to China. Despite China’s fatuous claim of desiring a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, my guess is that a nuclear armed North Korea is actually viewed as an asset by China; North Korean nuclear weapons actually enhance North Korea’s role as a buffer state for the Chinese.
    Anyone who thinks that the Chinese will be giving up on North Korea any time soon is deluding themselves.

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  41. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine,
    Brzezinski’s opening paragraph claims that this is the most important meeting between the US and Chinese heads of government since the Deng visit 30 years ago. Maybe that’s true or maybe it isn’t. But it is not a claim about the personal relationship between Hu and Obama. Brzezinski then goes on the warn against boilerplate expressions of mutual esteem, and urges the leaders to produce a clearer definition of the relationship between the two countries. So, if this is the basis for Rubin’s claim about undue emphasis on personal relationships, she is not a very careful reader.
    Like any two oligarchs in an oligarchic system, the Chinese and the US have both competing and overlapping interests. I don’t think anyone is under any illusions that both US and the Chinese have been employing both carrots and sticks in recent months. It’s also an undeniable fact that the degree of US and Chinese economic entanglement and interdependence is such that economic separation or divorce is not an option, and both countries therefore have a trumping interest for the foreseeable future in managing their relationship and colluding on mutually profitable solutions.
    Brzezinski’s op-ed acknowledges that recent public disputes between the US and China have a basis in reality and legitimate suspicions. The piece is just a pertinent warning against allowing fundamental long-terms interests to be clouded by the shorter-term needs of domestic demagoguery, and a call to use the summit to clarify areas of agreement and commonality.
    It’s peculiar that the neoconservative critics would suddenly seek to go coldly realist and find fault with Brzezinski’s claim that “the American-Chinese partnership should have a wider mission than national self-interest. That partnership should be guided by the moral imperatives of the 21st century

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  42. nadine says:

    “I just re-read Brzezinski’s op-ed, and I see not a single word in it about the personal relationship between Hu and Obama, or even so much as an indirect allusion to that personal relationship.” (Dan Kervick)
    In the his opening paragraph,
    “THE visit by President Hu Jintao of China to Washington this month will be the most important top-level United States-Chinese encounter since Deng Xiaoping

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  43. WigWag says:

    Jennifer Rubin wins this argument with Brzezinski hands down. Why exactly Steve Clemons thinks that Rubin is under some sort of obligation to mention Katrina vanden Heuval, Flynt Leverett or Brent Scowcroft in her critique of Brzezinski’s op-ed is baffling. How often exactly does Steve cite with approval William Kristol or Norman Podhoretz when offering his opinions? I understand that Steve’s point is that there are several realists who agree with some or all of what Brzezinski has to say but this hardly means that Rubin’s critique is seriously flawed simply because she doesn’t mention some of Steve’s favorite “realist” commentators.
    If mentioning the views of those who disagree with you is now a requirement to have your commentary taken seriously, then why didn’t Brzezinski cite Paul Krugman who has argued so eloquently that Chinese currency manipulation is exporting financial disaster to the rest of the world and needs to be confronted with a muscular U.S. response?
    Robert D. Kaplan’s take on China’s rise is far more sophisticated than anything that Zbig Brzezinski (who let’s remember is the George Washington of the Taliban) has to offer. In his new book, “Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power”,
    http://www.amazon.com/Monsoon-Indian-Ocean-Future-American/dp/1400067464
    Kaplan gets it about right. There is no need for the United States to engage in a Cold War redux with the Chinese because, unlike the Soviets in the 20th Century or Sharia-oriented Islam today, the Chinese are not seeking to export by force or otherwise any particular philosophy or world view. Whatever hegemonic aspirations China might have (or might develop) seem limited to the improvement of Chinese prosperity and power; there is nothing implicitly inappropriate about that.
    Nevertheless, as Kaplan points out, China and the United States are virtually destined to increasing levels of competition and disagreement. It seems certain, that China’s rise will be viewed suspiciously by India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Viet Nam and perhaps, eventually by Burma/Myanmar. All of these nations will surely align with the United States as the competition between the U.S. and China continues to unfurl. Brzezinski himself likes Kaplan’s thesis; he blurbed on the dust cover of Kaplan’s new book that Monsoon was “An intellectual treat…” And that Kaplan

    Reply

  44. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the interesting reference Dan. I agree with your take,
    but see how some of Jennifer Rubin’s commenters ran at the Deng
    Xiaoping reference.

    Reply

  45. nadine says:

    “They are not the problem of Rubin’s article.
    The problem is a complete absence of commentary on Brzezinski’s brand of realism from either the right or left realist spheres. ” (Steve Clemons)
    That would be the problem if Jen Rubin was issuing invitations to a panel that promised to discuss the matter from all sides, or some other fp society soireee.
    However, what Jen Rubin did was write a commentary asserting that Brzezinski was very peculiar for suggesting that a good working meeting between Hu Jintao and Obama was the way for China and the US to “stay friends”, as if some mere personal misunderstanding was behind the rift between the US and China, instead of a serious rift over national interests. She notes that “there is little indication that China wants to behave in a responsible manner befitting an international power.”
    What you did not do, was answer her point in any fashion.

    Reply

  46. Dan Kervick says:

    I just re-read Brzezinski’s op-ed, and I see not a single word in it about the personal relationship between Hu and Obama, or even so much as an indirect allusion to that personal relationship. So Rubin’s claim that Brzezinski supposes that “personal relationships and personalities trump long-term national interests” is an untruth that appears to be made up out of whole cloth.
    There is discussion, on the other hand, of the non-personal relationship between China and the United States.
    Many different kinds of relationships can hold between countries. And it is fairly routine among statesmen to characterize the relationship between their country and some other countries as “friendship”. For example, in this Aipac release from March, 2010, we see such prominent and distinguished office-holders as Boehner, Brownback, Burton, Cantor, Engle, Lieberman and McCain all explicitly characterize the US-Israeli relationship as a friendship.
    http://www.aipac.org/AIPAC_events/MOC_Statements_on_Defusing_Tension.pdf

    Reply

  47. Anthony says:

    You are too kind on Rubin, Steve. Who made Jennifer Rubin the expert here? She is merely the propagandist for neoconservatives / Likuniks.

    Reply

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