Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The E.U.: American friend or foe?

The Cato Institute’s Doug Brandow asks the simplest question: Europe – Friend or Foe? The focus of his piece has largely to do with constructive engagement with China in the long term – how to do it, and how NOT to do it, and he finds simply that Europe is engaging China in such a fashion that it will building up a potential enemy, not a partner in the world.

No American or European wants to see the rise of a global hegemonic authoritarian power. Like China.

There's much good that has happened to the People's Republic of China over the last three decades. However, further liberalization is by no means guaranteed. And even a more democratic China might be aggressively nationalistic.

That wouldn't be so important if the country was Burma or Zimbabwe, two other states under a European Union arms embargo. But Beijing is likely to eventually marry the world's largest population with the largest economy.

With China, however, the differences are more significant - and could conceivably lead to war. Should conflict come, it would be in the interests of both the United States and Europe that America prevail.

The EU-implemented an arms embargo after the Chinese regime's slaughter of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. But European firms see potential profits from servicing Beijing's growing arms wants. Some Europeans also hope to advance their goal of becoming a counterweight to America. Engagement is a better strategy than isolation for encouraging the development of a free China. However, engagement need not mean strengthening China's military. Beijing will become a significant military power with or without European arms sales.

There's no need to hurry the process along.

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