A few weeks back I was talking to an adviser to one of our Democratic campaigns who was making an observation about the narrow focus of our political debate at any given time. Right now, we’ve very concerned with Iraq. We’re also pretty concerned with events in some countries near Iraq — Iran, Israel, Egypt, etc. These related issues form a kind of rough-and-ready political spectrum that we understand and can refer to in convenient shorthand.
But it’s a big world out there. Today, I read Rick Perlstein’s long article on China and also Gary Schmitt’s brief op-ed on the subject. I also recently read a long James Fallows article about China in The Atlantic. What’s striking is that though Rick and Schmitt are definitely saying different things, the lefty historian and the former PNACster also have a great deal in common — a common sense that the country is in the grips of an establishment (one that includes me and, quite possibly, Jim Fallows) of dupes caught in the grips of an unduly benign view of China and its rise.
At any rate, if we’re fortunate as a nation, the current series of blunders in the Gulf region will come to an end at some point, and China-related issues will start looming much larger. At that point, you can probably expect to see a lot of things configure themselves in different ways from how they are at the moment.