People have long warned that our reliance on China’s appetite for American debt would eventually force us to recalibrate our foreign policy to satisfy our masters in Beijing. Instead of finding a way to mitigate that possibility, New York Times columnist Paul Kane advises the Obama administration to just embrace the suck. Why not just sell our alliance with Taiwan for a trillion dollars or so?
There are dozens of initiatives President Obama could undertake to strengthen our economic security. Here is one: He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.
This would be a most precious prize to the cautious men in Beijing, one they would give dearly to achieve. After all, our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war.
That’s an arguable point, of course, but Kane isn’t arguing that we should recalculate our foreign policy regarding Taiwan as an intelligent new approach to global security. He doesn’t argue that Beijing has improved its record on freedom and liberty. In fact, the lead on this article exactly explains the motivation in this proposal, emphasis mine:
WITH a single bold act, President Obama could correct the country’s course, help assure his re-election, and preserve our children’s future.
Er, really? American debt is approaching $15 trillion. The amount that China would forgive would be less than any of the annual budget deficits in any of Obama’s three years in office. Even if Barack Obama made this deal, it wouldn’t “correct the country’s course,” it would merely and momentarily lower the national debt while the administration adds more to it in a single year.
Mark Krikorian asks whether we really want to advertise that our alliances are for sale:
While it’s not the same kind of nonsense we’ve come to expect from most of their regular columnists, it is nonetheless pretty silly. It’s not like I have a romantic attachment to the Lost Cause of Chiang Kai-shek, but do we really want to reinforce the idea (after Ben Ali and Mubarak) that it’s dangerous to be our friend?
Why stop with Taiwan? Let’s sell our alliance with Israel to the Iranians for $2 trillion, or the Saudis if the Iranians won’t bite. We can sell our NATO alliance to the Russians for $3 trillion. Those are just costly entanglements from which we can score some short-term profit, too. In fact, let’s just have an auction at State to see how many alliances we can sell, and get top dollar for those diplomatic assets.
I believe I’ve seen dumber columns at the New York Times, but I’m having difficulty in actually coming up with an example.