Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sometimes the Realists are Right

SecDef Gates is in Vietnam, holding talks that partially (mainly?) focus on how to respond to the rising Chinese challenge.  The US and Vietnam have some differences, although much fewer than a decade or two ago, but their relationship is now quite normalized.  Some tiffs over human rights perhaps, but there is much in common--specifically that China is not only getting more powerful but it is exercising that power in threatening ways.
The defense secretary’s expected arguments to China are clear: Beijing’s dash to become a global economic power requires it to honor accepted standards for sharing oceans and airspace, and harassment of ships and airplanes in international lanes off its shores benefits none and will only harm Beijing’s long-term interests.
The shared threat is not the only reason that the US and Vietnam can put behind the past--that has been in process for quite some time.  But it does make the past even more irrelevant and more in the background. 

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