While Congressional critics bicker over “exit strategies” for a war we, or more accurately they, chose, Secretary of State Rice and President Bush are out this week laying the groundwork for what could potentially be a century as noted for peace as the last was for war. While Dr. Rice deals with the more obvious threats in the Middle East, Bush is taking on what is perhaps the largest latent threat to peace in the world – a rapidly industrializing nation of 1.3 billion with a repressive, militant government.
“Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society,” the president said.
The conventional liberal wisdom is that the idea that free nations are more peaceful is a “neocon” invention. Yet liberals have actually preached correctly for years that “poverty breeds crime,” “oppression breeds terrorism,” etc. Accomodations that were made in the face of nuclear annihilation, including the accomodation of supporting an economically liberal but politically repressive Communist regime in China as a counterweight to the Soviet Union, are now threats to peace rather than guarantors of it.
Classical liberals believed that democratic, trading nations would rather trade for what they wanted than fight for it. Unfortunately, in China we have only half the formula and it’s creating an industrial powerhouse that could arm a militant regime.
The obvious threat to peace, from fundamentalist Islam, is serious, but east Asia’s non-Moslem nations have over 2.5 billion people, almost half the world’s population. Moslem nations have around 1 billion, but only a fraction of those people are inclined to Islamofascism and the governments of those very nations are as threatened by it as we are. Assuring moves toward democratization in China and continued moves toward economic liberalization in India alone will move over 2.3 billion people in the direction of living in countries that are both economically and politically free. I guess I’m a neocon, because I don’t see how that could not be a good thing. Bush using his bully pulpit to those ends is likely to have far more lasting positive effect than any of Harry Reid’s posturing on Iraq, Olympia Snowe’s attempts to raise taxes on investment or Ted Steven’s threats to resign from the Senate.