January 10, 2005

Man v System

At one end of a continuum, if some absolute potentate like Kim Jong Il were to order the entire population to strip naked and dance the conga, somebody might put a bullet in his head but otherwise you would soon see the strangest dance in modern history. At the other end, if a US president did the same thing, there would be no bullet, just a quick invocation of the 25th amendment would remove the President.

A recent article on the PRC's push against Taiwan independence makes me ask where on that continuum does the PRC sit and in what direction is it moving. In the end, I agree with Thomas Barnett's idea that eventually, the PRC will move along the continuum to a spot near where the US is but that day is not today.

The security challenge for the US is how to keep the PRC strongmen contained inside the rule of law when the internal rule sets have yet to completely gel to form reliable restraints to ego driven, irresponsible uses of power. As with most complex systems, you can get the result you want from at least two different directions. You can fight to repress the PRC's power or you can fight to improve the PRC's adoption of rule sets or you can achieve some combination of the two in a form of cooptition where we are both competitors and partners simultaneously. I suspect that last option is where we are since Nixon and where we are likely to remain for some time.

Posted by TMLutas at January 10, 2005 08:17 PM