MADELEINE LYNN: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today at the Carnegie Council. I'm Madeleine Lynn, Director of Communications.
I would like to thank the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York for its support of today's event.
I'm delighted to welcome our guest speaker today, Dr. Charles Kegley. His topic is East Asian Security and Democracy: The Place of Taiwan.
In a moment, Dr. Joel Rosenthal, President of the Carnegie Council, will introduce Dr. Kegley. But first I'll say a few words about Taiwan.
Taiwan is a small island of 23 million people, but its significance far outweighs its size. Its security has implications not only for East Asia, but also for the world, since the Taiwan Strait remains a place where two nuclear powers, China and the United States, could come into conflict.
Under Taiwan's new President, Ma Ying-jeou, tensions between Taiwan and China have relaxed considerably. Yet Taiwan is still walking a tightrope. Should Taiwan ever declare itself formally independent, China has committed to using force to recover it, since it regards Taiwan as a breakaway province forever part of China.
This is the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and here we have an ethical issue as well as a political one. The United States has consistently pledged to defend Taiwan, its longtime ally, and just last week it was announced that the Obama Administration may sell it more arms, something that China regards as interference in its domestic affairs.
In the early 1960s, Taiwan was a poverty-stricken, primarily rural country. Today it is a prosperous industrialized nation. In purchasing-power parity terms, its GDP ranks 19th in the world, between Australia and The Netherlands. It's quite astonishing.
But the "Taiwan miracle," as it's called, is not just an economic one. There has been an astonishing political transformation as well.
I lived and worked in Taiwan for a couple of years in the 1970s and went back frequently in the early 1990s, so I have witnessed this first-hand. When I lived there in the 1970s, the country was under martial law and it was a repressive, authoritarian state with strict censorship of the news. Today Taiwan is a multiparty, sometimes raucous democracy, with a lively free press.
Does Taiwan's experience have lessons for the rest of East Asia, particularly for China, or does its size and history make it unique?
With that, I hand the floor to Dr. Rosenthal. Thank you.
JOEL ROSENTHAL: Thank you, Madeleine. Excellent introduction. I appreciate it.
I'd like to begin by thanking our sponsors for this program, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office. It's always a pleasure to work with such a professional and distinguished organization. We have learned a lot from the Office's activities over the years. So thank you not only for making today's program possible, but for all that you have done and continue to do. Thank you.
It's hard for me to know where to begin in introducing our speaker, Chuck Kegley. It's a rare occasion when you can introduce someone who literally defines a field of study.
Some of you know the portrait of Hans Morgenthau that hangs upstairs in our Board Room. Professor Morgenthau literally wrote the book in the field of international relations when he published his textbook Politics Among Nations in 1948. That book became the textbook for generations of students. It was reprinted many times until the last edition, the sixth edition, was published in the early 1980s. The influence and reach of that book was enormous, and we feel very fortunate that Professor Morgenthau was an active Trustee of the Carnegie Council during that period.
Now, the success of Morgenthau's book gave way to the next textbook in international relations, which was written by this gentleman here, Chuck Kegley. Chuck's textbook, entitled World Politics, is now in its 12th edition. That's very impressive. Tens of thousands of copies have been sold worldwide, and that book has shaped a new generation of teachers and students dealing with the aftermath of the Cold War and the realities of globalization.
Professor Morgenthau would be impressed and pleased. And he would also be impressed and pleased that Chuck has been such an active participant, supporter, and Trustee of the Carnegie Council. So maybe we should have a new portrait commissioned for upstairs. We can talk about that later. I can see the oil painting now.
Chuck is a prolific author, widely respected around the world. From my perspective, I have always been especially grateful for his work on integrating normative or ethical principles with the standard empirical work of political science. His standing in the field has helped make ethics in international affairs not only respectable, but an important part of the discipline.
Chuck is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina and also a Fellow at the Moynihan Global Affairs Institute at his alma mater, Syracuse University. He continues to write a lot, and his latest work is aptly titled The Global Future, published this year, 2009.
Chuck is not only a great scholar and teacher, but also a dear friend, and I very much appreciate him coming here on his way back from Taiwan with his lovely wife Debbie to share some thoughts with us today. Thank you.
CHARLES KEGLEY: That was a very generous introduction, Joel. In fact, it was so flattering I can't wait to hear what I'm about to say.
I have to apologize before I start. I am suffering from some jet lag. But I'll try to rise to the occasion.
Let me tell you the reason for this talk. I make no pretensions of being an East Asian expert or scholar. I'm a generalist. I work in quantitative international relations research and peace research, quantitative international law, and as Joel said, I am an amateur student of international ethics.
This trip that was sponsored by our host allowed me to become what I always wanted to be, and that's a China watcher. We just concluded a fact-finding mission. What this particular trip has done is I've gained an awful lot of knowledge that I didn't know, which means that this book that Joel referred to now has to be substantially revised because I need to come up to the times.
Let me say by way of background I was last in Taiwan in 1982, 27 years ago. Coincidentally, right after I was there Taiwan started its trajectory. It took off. I'll let people make differences about whether it took off because I came or I left. I don't know that. But I'll tell you one thing: This is change you can believe in. It's a remarkable, remarkable transformation of a very important state in the world, a pivotal state in world politics, and I think a key to the future.
Let me make some remarks. Let me say before I do that, as a Trustee member of the Carnegie Council—I'm very proud of that association—but I'm speaking for myself. Our Council has an educational mission, but it respects diversity. Its mission really is not to tell people what to think, but to raise consciousness about what they should think about. So my purpose here today is to give you some impressions based on previous experiences and hope that I can provoke questions.
So what I'm going to do is divide my presentation. I've been encouraged to keep it short, unlike my keynote speech in the Foreign Ministry in Taiwan. So I'm going to do this.
First of all, I'd like to describe my view of the playing field in East Asia, what does the landscape look like. This could be subtitled "The Peace Puzzle—Why is This Working?" I'll identify eight themes that I would like to highlight, among many others that could be introduced, that I think are defining the properties of the current international environment in East Asia, and in particular for Taiwan. This will allow me to say some things about the place of Taiwan in this equation. So I'll put the Republic of China into the picture.
Then I want to close by presenting my personal profile of the prospects, looking to the future. Here I will identify five themes. Let me tell you where I'm going to go. I hope this will lead up to it, but sometimes I question my own judgment.
I'm an optimist. I think, rather than doom and gloom, I think the future looks very promising.
But, first of all, let me profile the international environment as I see it. So eight points. Some of these will be very brief:
To my view, point number one, if you look at East Asia, it becomes very clear if you look closely that the interactions among countries in that vital region are taking place on two separate playing fields. One is economic and one is military. The two are quite different. If you want to see who aligns with whom, who supports whom, it becomes a jigsaw puzzle very quickly. Why? Because many of the countries which are cooperating energetically in trade relationships are competing militarily, they're rivals. And so two games are being played at the same time: One is economic, and that leans toward deepening and broadening the ties of trade integration; and the other one is old-fashioned power politics, confrontation.
To extend that a little bit further, I think it's safe to say that for any pair of countries, any dyad in the region, you can see that some of the closest trade partners are also the greatest, most intense rivalries.
Let me give you one short example of this. While in Taiwan last week, two things happened. Madeleine alluded to one. Beijing slams the U.S. push for a Taiwan submarine deal. Here we go again. This is the old, old story in this part of the globe: the mainland looking at Taiwan and objecting to anything it might do to try to enhance its defense, and objecting as well to American support, keeping its treaty obligations for the defense of Taiwan. Mind you, this is at the same time—and by the way, this sub deal was pretty important, because this would be a major arms commitment—the Obama Administration is poised to commence with it—that could greatly strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities.
At the same time, what do we have here? ICBC said to be seeking part of Cathay Financial Group. What does this mean? Here's cooperation. At the same time this kind of confrontation is going on, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is set to buy a 20 percent stake in Cathay Financial of Taiwan. This is collaboration. This is joint venture. How could enemies on one sphere be potential adversaries on another? That goes on and on, but that's my first point.
Now, the second point has to do with where does the United States fit into the picture. The United States is instrumental, in my view. Its position and its place color the whole dynamics of East Asian security.
Americans are behind the times. They used to talk about East Asia as "the Far East." That's obsolete. Asia is really the Near West. The Obama Administration is facing that because they recognize the important, the salience, of Asia in the coming century.
But what do we have here? Well, let's look at the position, the capabilities of the United States, quickly. Let me see if you can buy a description of America's predicament as it stands right now.
I'm going to read a quote. "American suffers the irony of Babylon, in that its power does not save it from weakness, because it felt most confident when it was a young and relatively weak nation, but it is now most frustrated by feelings of impotence, now that its power is at its height."
I think that captures well the view from Washington. There is great dismay, alarm, dissatisfaction, with the power of the United States.
By the way, that quote comes from a person who lectured to the Council many, many years ago. His name is Reinhold Niebuhr. That quote to me is timely today, but it was written in 1952.
President Obama said he most admires Reinhold Niebuhr. He is joined by George H.W. Bush, who also claimed that was the person who had had the most to say about international politics. And talk about politics making strange bedfellows, Jimmy Carter said Reinhold Niebuhr was the person he most admired.
Niebuhr was a leading realist theoretician as well as a progressive Lutheran theologian, who always stressed the importance of values, of morality.
Now, Joel will be modest. I can return the favor here. He has written a marvelous book about the realists, which has the very appropriate title Righteous Realists. Realists are often misunderstood, because some of them, to be sure, have abandoned any concern with morality, have argued that the end justifies the means, that might makes right, and the only goal, the only value, of importance is expedience. But Niebuhr, Morgenthau, the pioneers of classical realism, felt quite differently. So read about Niebuhr in Joel's great book on this subject.
What do we have here? We have a country in decline, the United States. Paul Kennedy predicted this when he wrote his classic book some years ago, The Rise and the Fall of the Great Powers. What he said was, looking at the last 500 years, every hegemon—call it a hegemon, call it a superpower, call it an empire—that has risen to the very top of the pyramid of international power has engaged in the same self-destructive behavior. Every single one has fallen from the pinnacle of power—not because it was beaten down by foreign enemies or losing wars, but by what it did in its zealous efforts to try to put an iron grip on its control of international events. So look at Spain, look at Portugal, look at The Netherlands, look at Great Britain, look at France. They all succumbed to the same temptations. This is where the United States stands today.
What are the symptoms?
- Excessive military spending. Every one of these powers did this. Three years ago, the statistics show that the United States was spending more for military capabilities than the rest of the world combined. That's no longer the case. We're now only spending 40 percent of the world total. Eisenhower warned in his Farewell Address that the problem with military expenditures is that if you engage in it excessively, you end up heavily fortified with nothing left to defend. That seems to be one of the scenarios that now is bearing fruit.
- Number 2, excessive use of force. The United States has been a mad intervener on the global stage. All we have to do is talk about the so-called "war of choice" in Iraq as an illustration of that. George Bush—this is my personal view—said he was a uniter, he was going to bring us together. Well, he did. He united the whole world against the United States, in my view. So the United States was losing its moral standing.
- Entangling alliances. Every previous hegemon has done the same thing. They have reached out throughout the entire globe, extending their reach to any corner that was available. And what has happened? Because of that, they have encountered a gap between resources and commitments. The United States is clearly a part of this syndrome. I encountered the statistic that presently the United States has 758 military bases stationed in 135 different countries. That is not counting Afghanistan or Iraq. Think of the cost and think of what that commitment entails. Well, you go down the list.
- A preoccupation with a non-threatening rival. History will judge whether mainland China is a threat to the United States. But one of the sad characteristics of previous hegemons, and the United States in particular, is that they tend to define themselves and their priorities by what they oppose, not by what they stand for. We can see inklings of this in efforts by the previous administration and this one to try to set out values and to define friends from enemies.
- Neglect of internal development. Well, this is clearly what's happening here. The U.S. infrastructure has deteriorated. You all know the sad statistics. If you rank the United States, for instance, in the world community on health expenditures, this so-called superpower ranks 35th in the world. In life expectancy it ranks 40th. In physicians per population it ranks 39th. In GNP per capita, ninth. Go down the list.
- Capital mismanagement. Every previous superpower has succumbed to the same sort of thing: buying debt, the belief that if you invest in the power to destroy you will obtain the power to control. That seems to be a myth. But what do we face now? The sign of our times, a debt that is staggering—every time I hear on the news it just went up again—over $12 trillion. Huge percentage of the GNP.
I'm going to shorten this because my wife's going to get upset if I run out of time.
Let me say this. One of the global trends is the erosion of American power. Now, this has been a trend that has been unfolding for a number of years. When he was Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger famously—or infamously, if you want to put it that way—had the courage to say, "The American century lasted exactly 25 years. It began when the United States dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and it ended when the last American soldier crawled out of Vietnam."
Kissinger went on to say, "The question is not whether the U.S. will decline relative to challenging powers, because it will; the question is what will be the pace of its decline; and then the question for our time will be can it handle this decline gracefully."
What does this mean for East Asia? It means that the role of the United States as a balancer of power is in great question. Its capabilities are shrinking. We may be going through another phase that the United States has historically done throughout the history of its diplomacy, and that is every 25-to-30 years the United States has shifted from one extreme to the other, from global internationalism to isolationistic withdrawal.
Arthur Schlesinger, whose townhouse was across the street from our Council, write in The Cycles of American History that this is like a pendulum that very systematically has swung. And why? Because the American public does not have a stomach for an imperial foreign policy, nor is it comfortable with a total isolation.
George Kennan said, "The problem with the United States is it does nothing in moderation. There is no middle way, no balance. It goes from one extreme to the other."
So what we get here—we're in a phase right now that, according to Schlesinger's projections, the internationalist phase will be coming to an end in three years. There will be a retreat of American power, of American involvement. I would label this imperial fatigue.
For East Asia, again, this means there could be a power vacuum developing, because the United States, in my view, could be a stabilizer, but throughout Asia and in Taiwan the question is raised: Will the United States continue to play a role, a needed role at times, to maintain the strategic balance of power in this vital region; or will it accommodate itself to necessities and retreat, and therefore remove itself from the capacity to play a global role?
Well, let's take that and put it alongside my third feature, which again is not news to anyone. This is the mainland. In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte said this: "Let China sleep, for when she awakens the world will tremble." Well, the world is trembling because China is becoming very rapidly the leading power on the globe.
According to the World Bank, China's economy will equal that of the United States between 2015 and 2020. It also goes on to predict that by 2040, if current growth rates continue, China's economy will be twice the size of the United States.
So the issue is raised: Well, what does this mean? Well, it means a number things. There are a number of possibilities. But by all accounts China will be a leader. The question is: How will it harness its power? We can save this for discussion, but there are three possibilities as I see it.
One is that it may accept global responsibilities and act as a leader to preserve international order. It could become a benevolent hegemon. That's not beyond the realm of possibility, but there are a lot of obstacles in the way of that path, as you might guess.
A second possibility is that China when it reaches the stature of superpower status will act like all previous other hegemons. Jessica Matthews said, "You know, if you look at the history of the previous hegemons, it's not very pretty. They all tend to become international menaces. They all want it their way."
The real danger here in my view is, should China follow that path, it may very well end up emulating the example that the United States reached under the previous American administration. God forbid that we're going to have an embrace of a pledge to use all means necessary to maintain that status—that was the national security strategy of the Bush Administration—to engage in preemptive war. What kind of norm is that? Hugo Grotius, the founder of international law, said, "That's just an ugly, immoral excuse for an offensive war of attack." He could think of nothing ethically valuable in that position.
You go down the list of the characteristics of the previous administration, and if they act like the United States did for the last eight years, I think the whole world's in trouble, frankly.
Now, there's a third possibility, and that is some people fear that China's growth is a problem. Let me throw out a counter-proposition. The real danger as I see it is not that China's economy will continue to expand, but rather that after growing at 10, 12 percent a year annually, that growth will stop.
Economists call it a J curve. Think of a J inverted. If you have a growth rate and then it flattens and then it goes down, you have not only stagnation but you have a reversal. History tells us that there is nothing more dangerous than a country whose expectations for continual growth are structured so they are depending on that than to discover that all those aspirations are frustrated. Stagnation after growth is a cause of rebellion and warfare historically. So those are pretty ugly scenarios.
Now, let me say a fourth characteristic here is; let's look at what we're in. We're in something that students of international politics call a power transition. This is when a leader faces a challenger. These are the times when a major war is most likely. Very few leaders willingly accept their decline from power. Very few challengers accept the status quo, permanent subordinate status. So under those times the international system becomes most prone to a power struggle in which one side wins and another side loses. We're in that power transition now.
Let me go to a fifth feature of this setting as I see it. And again, this is a proposition.
Some years ago, two unlikely coauthors merged their talents. One was Sam Huntington and the other was Brzezinski. Can you imagine them working together? At the height of the Cold War, they studied the superpower rivalry between the United States and the USSR and they concocted something they termed convergence theory. They said: Here's the irony: two superpowers face each other down in a confrontation; they're both bent on each other's destruction; they both are opposed to the other's system of government, its philosophy, its ideology; and so, because they're in this prolonged, enduring rivalry, they both engage in behaviors that change themselves from within; that the United States' system, in order to compete with communism as seen in Moscow, had to become more socialistic.
There is a myth that you can be an imperial power, a great power, and have a small government. Excuse me, Neoconservatives. You want it both ways: you want America to be mighty and you also want a small government. They don't go together. The one requires the other.
Likewise, they argued, look at what was happening to the Soviet Union, committed in principle to practicing socialism and communism, defending that as a way of life. In order to compete, they had to loosen their grip on the economy so the economy could grow so they could buy more weapons. And then the weapons systems became very much alike.
Well, what's happening today? I find that some of the same patterns may be developing between the United States and China. We see big governments. We see China claiming that it is communistic, but it's taking on Western characteristics. China does not practice Marxist Leninism. It's market Leninism; it's freewheeling capitalism as we know it. Likewise, the United States, again because it wants to maintain its military clout, engages in some of the same socialistic tendencies that resemble very much what is happening in the PRC. Both societies as a consequence are experiencing something very troubling, and that is the gap between rich and poor is widening severely, and that's a major, major trouble.
Now, let me say a couple of other things here.
This convergence theory, if you extend it, look at this irony. The United States gained its independence in 1789; it was one of three countries that could call themselves democratic, along with Switzerland and republican France. All the rest of the system were monarchies. The United States stood alone.
As you know, when the Napoleonic wars ended and the Congress of Vienna convened, the concert of Europe was concocted. What that did was the monarchies formed a concert, which relaxed the non-intervention rule. Why? Because the monarchies were afraid that this liberal idea of freedom for people and governments would spread. So the concert of Europe was a coalition of monarchies to repress the rise of civil democratic rule anyplace else.
Well, the United States was a weak power. So what did it do? What do you from weakness? You say, "Not so fast. Not so fast. We have this principle that was born out of the Thirty Years' War in Westphalia, called the rule of noninterference, nonintervention." The United States relied on that and claimed that that was sacred, as is sovereignty.
What is the mainland doing now? If there's any consistency to its foreign policy, it's this: they claim that the rule of nonintervention, noninterference in the internal affairs of another government, is sacred, it cannot be disrupted. They have adopted the policy that the United States adopted when it was weak. From this we get some other kinds of parallels, convergences, not only in government structure but in actions.
One of these is the West—what was its treatment of China? Well, it was ugly. It was imperialism; it was exploitation. It could be said in all seriousness that the West loved China so much that it created many of them. What did it do? It carved this great civilization into spheres of influence, exploited it. The United States joined in that carving up of China, creating spheres of influence, tributaries.
Now, some people might say, if you look at China's behavior today as it has grown in power and strength, that it is copying the very same exploitative, punitive policies that it condemned from the West. In fact, if you want to go pretty far, you can say Taiwan, which they not only claim to be an integral part of the mainland, but to treat it as a sphere of influence, in which it will have the say-so and ask for the same deferential kowtow, taking orders from as to what they should do, Taiwan could be developing into a tributary in much the same way as was practiced in the past.
Okay, those are five. Let me shorten this.
Sixth, interdependence, globalization. Trade has escalated so rapidly and so fast in this region that a web of interdependency has developed from which no country in their right mind—we look at countries as if they are in competition economically. But let's remember this fact: Countries don't trade; companies and corporations do. They're the ones that transfer investments across borders and engage in trade.
As China has tried to participate in the global marketplace, it has found itself losing its grip over the control of entrepreneurs, which have risen up and have engaged in very active kinds of trading agreements.
This situation puts everyone in Asia, because they're all participating, in the same boat. Everyone needs everyone else.
I mentioned this crisscrossing playing field. Taiwan, the last I saw my statistics, ranks as the tenth largest trading partner of the mainland. They need it. Billions of dollars have gone from Taiwan as investments to the mainland, and there are many entrepreneurs from the mainland operating actively, cooperatively, on the mainland. This is a web that it would be very hard to break because no one would benefit if that were severed.
Seventh, war. We have an obsolete way of thinking about war in our system today. It's very anachronistic. If you look at warfare and you look at the type of warfare that countries are preparing for, it's for old-fashioned war of one state against another. That has almost disappeared from the face of the globe. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, since 1989 there have been 189 acts of war. Only seven of those were between states. Five of them took place in the Balkans after Yugoslavia split apart and then the parts attacked each other. The other two are in Afghanistan and Iraq. All the rest are civil wars.
If we want to talk about Asian security, this is the threat of the future. It will be disruption from within.
The mainland reports thousands and thousands of rebellions. There is massive dissatisfaction. I'm not going to suggest that the mainland may break into warring states all over again, but if you want to look at how the mainland has to identify its security threats, it's going to have to put at the very top what? Fear of its own people, fear of rebellion from within. Relations with its neighbors is way down on the bottom of the threat cycle.
Now, governments go about preparing for the old war. Jeff McCausland, who's a colonel who works with the Council, gave me a quote that I put in this book. He said, "It's said sometimes that generals only prepare for the last war. But let's qualify that. They only prepare for the last war they liked. That's the kind of war they know."
But that's not the real threat on the global stage today. Failing states—if you take a look at where countries are in trouble and imploding from within, if you look at Asia, it sits in an ugly situation. Sixty states in the world are identified as potentially collapsing, imploding from within, going into zones of anarchy.
The mainland figures prominently. What is the Republic of China? It's a bastion of stability in a sea of chaos.
Finally, the rise of nationalism. Oh boy. The worst fear is hyper-nationalism. I was doing some research—I'm back to Reinhold Niebuhr for a second—and, Joel, I found an interesting fact. When he was in the seminary, an impoverished student, in 1915, he entered an essay contest sponsored by Andrew Carnegie. He won that award. That essay was titled "The Paradox of Patriotism." What did it argue? Niebuhr believed in the power of love, and he said, "It's wonderful to love other objects, including your own country. But the sad fact is love can produce hate. Nationalism instructs people if you love your country you must hate other countries." So what starts off as a virtue turns into a vice.
This is something that is really affecting Asia, and actually the whole world, the rise of super-nationalism. Nationalism has not only increased the number of countries on the face of the globe, but it has decreased the number of people on the face of the earth. All wars have been fought in its name.
Niebuhr wouldn't go this far, but I will. Nationalism is the only remaining religion that still demands human sacrifice. It's a killer. It's a cause of war.
That's the scenario. Now, where does the Republic of China fit into this situation?
Well, let me say—who would believe it—in Washington they like to use the words, "Wow, that's very unique." Think about that grammatically. Something can't be "very unique"; you're either unique or you're not. But let's use this adjective to describe the Republic of China, because it is unique. It's what statisticians would call an outlier.
Now, I'd like to play with that word a second. Taiwan is outside, surrounded by two liars. It has been mistreated by both the superpowers, the United States and China. How would it come to this? The phrase I would use is that Taiwan is a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit, and it has had to walk a very precarious tightrope to survive.
How has it done so? Well, against all odds. It is extremely rare in history for a country that has been under the constant pressure of external threat, that has been betrayed by major allies, abandoned in fact, has somehow managed to engineer growth, prosperity, peace, and democracy. That's almost unheard of.
What do we have? We have a society—Madeleine described it well—a country that undertook land reforms, that has free universal education, that has universities that are cutting-edge research enterprises producing Nobel Peace Prize people. Taiwan has one of the lowest—meaning the best—income inequality is very low. Taiwan has one of the most egalitarian societies on the face of the Earth.
How did they do it? Under permanent external threat, how do they make it? Well, the United States better love Taiwan because in my view the path that has led to this wonderful, wonderful development, very unlikely development, follows something that America when it is in its idealistic phase has always preached. It's called idealism. It's called liberalism.
I don't know if my guests and my friends from Taiwan would agree with this, but I would say, if I had to find a signpost by which Taiwan has charted its future, look no further than Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" address. That was a program for peace. That was a program for breaking the deadlock of country against country. What did he propose? He proposed everything that Taiwan has followed: liberalization, democracy, free trade (that came first), support for international law, support for human rights (those two go together).
Look what happened last week. Taiwan has signed two covenants in the United Nations supporting human rights. It recognizes human rights as an entitlement which everyone deserves. Don't think these treaties are meaningless. They have teeth. They are very important. They have monitoring systems. You don't see too many neighbors doing this sort of thing.
Taiwan has recognized the importance of global institutions. It has recognized the importance of internationalization, even though it was yanked out of position by a power that was willing to use expedience to remove it from the position it formerly held.
Go down the list and I would say Taiwan has done everything right. What more could anyone ask for than this? I don't know. Sun Tzu said this: "To win without fighting is best." That's what Taiwan has done. It has positioned itself in a very precarious situation in such a way that it has not only survived but it has grown and prospered and become an inspiration and a model, I would argue, for the rest of the world. I have a lot more to say about that, but I can't. Time's almost up.
Let me go to Part three, profiling the prospects, why I'm an optimist. I'll give you five reasons.
The story is told that Niccolo Machiavelli was reaching the end of his life. He was on his deathbed. He was not a very religious person. But, being a realist, he was taking no chances. He summoned a priest and said, "Please give me my last rites." According to the reporters who overheard him, the priest got to the part where he said, "And do you renounce the Devil and all his ways?" Machiavelli is said to have looked up and said, "Father, this is not a very good time to be making new enemies." [Laughter]
Well, Asia—this is a terrible time for new enemies to form. This is a time when Asia needs to come together. No one, as I see it, would benefit by letting this sea of growth, of tranquility possibly, sink. So that's one reason.
Second reason—and they put it in my talk's title—democracy. Democracy is on the march. Since 1816, we've had three waves of the growth of democracy—from almost nothing, that now, according to Freedom House, 78 percent of the countries in the world are either free or partly free. This has been the enormous expansion of what Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Immanuel Kant all saw as the only true path to peace. Kant said, "We can change the whole sorry history of international relations if we could only give people the freedom to govern themselves," a government of the people, by the people, and for the people—now, that's Lincoln, not Kant, but that's what he advocated.
Now that it has expanded, we see a change in the environment. Taiwan sits right in the middle, as far as I'm concerned, as a benefactor of this. Why? Well, what do we know from—I'm going to cite the social science research, President Clinton cited it, George Bush Sr. cited it, everyone cites it—and that is what's called the closest thing we have to a law in international politics, a uniformity: democracies do not fight other democracies, they don't wage war historically. There have been many, many tests of this proposition. That is an institutional path to peace because democracies give many blessings to countries which are similarly organized for making decisions.
Democracies keep their alliance commitments. Democracies, when they experience wars, win them statistically far more often than they lose them. They bond together and form leagues for collective security. And what is more—and this is important for Taiwan—democracies are far more able to avoid war than are non-democracies.
I published with Peg Hermann, who's head of the Moynihan Global Affairs Institute at Syracuse—in the Journal of Conflict Resolution an article titled "Ballots, a Barrier against the Use of Bullets and Bombs." What does it show? If you convert to a democracy, you are far less likely to be attacked, and if you are attacked, you are far less likely to lose.
This is the security guarantee that I think Taiwan benefits from enormously. I cannot imagine the United States not standing by its security commitment to Taiwan, now that it is a full-fledged, vibrant democracy. In 1971 that was not the case, and in 1971 that made it convenient for Taiwan to be left outside this coalition. But this to me is one of the greatest advantages.
Two more points. I'll be quick here.
Why else am I optimistic? Because in Asia we have a situation in which the dangers that are faced collectively are common dangers. When you have a common danger, that can be the cement that binds countries together, because many problems cannot be addressed by national solutions. They are global problems that can only be addressed by collective, collaborative efforts. Mention climate change, mention epidemics, mention terrorism. None of these are manageable alone. No power can manage them. So what we have is a situation in Asia which is drawing countries together into a web of cooperation.
And then I have to say—here's another weird thing—I see Asia as being a Europe in the making in terms of integration. You can say, "Kegley, have you lost your mind? With such diversity, how can Asia do what Europe did?"
Well, buried in here are investigations I published back in 1974-1975 in Asian Forum and in The Journal of International Organizations. I took Harvard's Joe Nye, who was a student of integration, and his model, and I said: What do you do as a social scientist? You put it to a critical test in an area where none of the preconditions would seem right for the possibility that Asia could someday unite.
Well, guess what? On his nine indicators of what it takes to form a league that works together collectively and piece-by-piece, through spillover and spill-around, same integrative process, what you have in Europe, starting with the six, was a peace plan which said getting countries to work on common problems for their mutual benefit will cultivate habits of cooperation that will then expand, and as the rewards become visible this will lead to reinforcement and further experiments to cooperate in other areas. Well, Asia then had the seeds in place, and we're seeing this coming to fruition—slowly to be sure, and with many obstacles and many bumps in the road.
Lastly, Joel said to me, "Many of our speakers leave out ethics." So I'm back to Niebuhr and I'm back to Kant for a second.
Is there an ethos that animates Taiwan and maybe even Communist China? Is there a norm for behavior that can produce changes in behavior? Is there a rule to follow?
Well, Immanuel Kant looked at the Bible and he said, "It's summarized in the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do to you." The weird thing about that rule is that it makes a prescription how countries, and also how peoples, should act towards each other—that's the "should" part—and it makes a prediction on how they will act.
Jesus Christ articulated that view in the Sermon on the Mount. Kant called it the categorical imperative: Act as if every act you undertake would become a universal if you want to know right from wrong. My mother told me, "Charles, what if everyone did that?" You don't want a society that lives that way.
Confucius, some years before Jesus Christ, in his great ethical teachings in the Analects—it goes something like this: "Master, is there one word that can capture how people and groups should relate to one another?" The teacher said, "Well, there is. That word is called reciprocity. Treat others as you would have them treat you."
Some people say there are no norms that are universal, bound and valid across time and place. But every religion—Hebrew religion, Hillel particularly, the same thing—they all indicate and express a belief in this kind of reciprocated responsibilities.
So I would say here again I want to applaud the Republic of China. They may not see themselves the way I see them acting, but I think they are acting according to this Kantian/Confucian norm that guides their behavior in international affairs. Let me give an example of this.
During the Cold War, there was a famous social psychologist by the name of Charles E. Osgood. He was terribly upset with why countries were at each other's heads and ready to destroy the world. He said, "We have to fashion a strategy to break this stranglehold that it has on great power rivalries and relationships." So he concocted the strategy which he termed GRIT—he said, "That sounds bold, masculine, so the pacifists can't get upset with it—"graduated and reciprocated initiatives in tension reduction."
It's known in social sciences as a tit-for-tat model. How do you break, relax tensions? You take the first step. You have the courage. Unilaterally you make a move that the other actor doesn't expect that's positive, that's conciliatory, and you stand back. Usually, that disarms your adversary and so they feel some obligation to do something in kind. What happens is one favor is exchanged for another, and before long the tension goes down.
Now, Amitai Etzioni wrote a history that he titled "The Kennedy Experiment." John Kennedy's advisers read this model and said, "Let's apply it. Let's break this stranglehold that the Cold War has on us in dealing with Moscow. Let's invite the Bolshoi Ballet to tour the United States."
Well, one thing led to another, and we know that how the United States acted towards the Soviet Union, conciliatory, was reciprocated in kind and tensions were going down. It was a phase of détente that was tragically interrupted by an assassin's bullet. The new president said, "Ah, we don't need that" and went back to confrontation as usual.
But what is Taiwan doing? In my view, they are practicing this norm. They are engaging in a GRIT strategy of treating neighbors, allies, and adversaries as they'd like to be treated themselves. I have to say, if that's the plan—and you may not think of it that way—it is working.
So my hope is that the rest of Asia can learn from the success story of the Republic of China, that we can recognize it as a path-breaker that it is. The world needs to take the lid off this country and let it shine. Let it be a beacon of hope, an exemplary model of how soft power can lead to the cooling of hard-power politics. That's my hope.
That's my rambling speech. I'm going to stop there. Excuse me for going over my time limit.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION:Thank you very much for your remarks, a fascinating analysis of the environment in Asia. What do you think the greater relationship of interdependence between China and the United States—what impact does that have, in your view, for Taiwan's strategic relationship with China?
CHARLES KEGLEY: I was hoping to avoid this question. It's a tough one. The only answer I can kind of give is speculative.
Oddly enough, I see the U.S.-Chinese relationship as one that is growing, but with a classic role reversal. China, as you know, holds over $12 trillion—how many trillion?
CHARLES KEGLEY:—trillions of U.S. currency reserves. They are paying and subsidizing our debt. Now, this places the United States in the uncomfortable role of economic dependency. Usually, dependency theory tells us, if there's a dependency, you get one of two reactions on that relationship: one is deference; the other is defiance.
What does a country do? Well, the United States finds itself very dissatisfied with the relationship that it has accepted and the Chinese have supported, but in need of the continuation. There is reciprocity again. The mainland, on the other hand, has a vital stake in seeing that the American economy does not collapse, so it has been very eager and accepting of subsidizing America so that America's economic growth can continue—and this is your interdependence—because only through Chinese exports to the United States can China maintain its own growth rate.
So this is a bargain, a bargain in which one side is benefiting more than the other. This makes the United States vulnerable, possibly, to manipulation. But I don't really see this happening.
By the way, I have to say this. This mirror imaging, this action/reaction—part of the U.S. reaction is to lecture China, saying, "Come on, you should be more like us. The whole financial mess we're in is that—how dare you? You're saving money instead of consuming. Be like us. If you would spend more, the whole world economy would resurface."
Now, Taiwan. I don't see—this is just me now—I don't see any incentive for the U.S. commitment to the security of Taiwan to lessen under these circumstances. I do think that the way the world is proceeding—the cross-strait relations, they're warming, as everyone knows. They've had some recent kind of questioning of that warming. But it is progressing, it is continuing. How is it doing so? Without getting confrontational. The two sides are making concessions to each other, as long as the concessions are quiet.
I find it instructive that the mainland said, "Don't go around celebrating, but we have no problem with the Republic of China joining the World Health Organization." That's a step forward.
I don't know if this answers your question, but what we have here is give and take. I think the situation appears to be dynamic and rapidly moving, but in point of fact, over the last five or ten years, it has been governed by considerable momentum and inertia. The path is progressing in a more favorable direction, I think, for all three parties to the triad.
That doesn't mean that the issues are solved, but it does mean that, even in these changing times, and even when the United States is in greater need of support from the mainland, that it has no incentives to break its relationship or to sever its economic ties with the Republic of China. That's my interpretation. Keep in mind what I said in my opening remarks, that I'm not an expert in this field, and I have more to learn from you than I have to tell you.
QUESTION: I'm very grateful that the Professor mentioned about Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points of Peace and that Taiwan fulfills all the fourteen points. Woodrow Wilson is extremely idealistic. We look at the people around the Beltway, they are much more pragmatic, not only that, they are more myopic than all other people outside the Beltway.
Right now China's rise is generating a new political landscape, and we understand that the United States has to cope with that kind of challenge. But my question is: Does the American government periodically reassess how much they gain from dealing with China? With North Korea, also Iran or Pakistan, the United States has had limited success in using China as a leverage. In that regard, should the United States support more Taiwan's freedom and democracy, because as you point out, as I understand you, you consider Taiwan as a role model of freedom and democracy transferred from an authoritarian regime to a full-fledged democracy? There is no reason for the United States to sacrifice a democratic ally in order to make friends with the new rise of China.
But, Professor, do you foresee that there are any concrete steps that the people in Washington can take, any step to deal with both Taiwan and China in the near future? As I read the news coverage from President Obama's trip to China, I was totally disappointed. I don't know how you feel about that. Thank you.
CHARLES KEGLEY: The Obama Administration has developed a reputation for being more reassuring to its rivals than to its friends. But this is a corrective from the previous administration, which took the posture, "You're either for us or you're against us, and therefore you must adhere to American commands and dictates."
I think the commitment to democracy, this idealistic face of the American tradition, is as solid as ever, and I cannot envision the United States discarding that value for the false sake of military security with an adversary. But I also don't see the likelihood of a war as very high at all, in fact extremely low.
So here's what I really see the Obama Administration doing, is adhering to the best instincts of the liberal legacy, which is that war is an unnecessary evil, to be avoided at all costs, to take a hands-off attitude, rather than trying to push countries through regime change, through intervention, forcing their hand, to stand back, take a hands-off position, and let history unfold, because the trends are gravitating, admittedly slowly, in a positive direction.
Let me give you an example. Karl Marx was right about one thing here, that there are economic underpinnings to political relationships and that economics can be dominant. When you change economies, you change politics. So some people look at the mainland and they say, "Boy, that's a despotic country that quashes human rights. It's definitely not a free country." Does that mean that condition will persist?
Well, here we go. Freedom House predicts that by 2020 the mainland will move from its categorization of a "not free" country to a "partly free" country. Now, they're predicting that why? What are the preconditions for freedom to grow? The single most important item is to have a large middle class. If you have a large middle class, people who have wealth for the first time, history suggests that what do people with newfound wealth do? They organize themselves into interest groups that become pressure groups to mobilize to protect their freedoms. Out of this comes the birth of political parties and of opposition.
You can already see this happening, because on the mainland the protests are in the thousands. You all know this better than I. I saw a figure of over 8,000 this year. I don't know. I guess no one knows, because they don't have a free press and they certainly don't want to report it. But they're making small steps to try to protect this because their greatest fear, as I said earlier, is of rebellion. Pressure is mounting for the convergence from economic freedom to political freedom. China's got a real problem on its hands if it tries to suppress this.
Globalization is working, again, in the favor of an idea whose time has come, and that is the progressive development and liberalization of China. As we speak right now, over 81,000 Chinese students from the mainland are studying in American universities. Professor Mang [phonetic] at Taiwan National University put it very well. He said, "Freedom is like opium. It's an opiate. You become addicted. Once you've tasted it, you're not going to give it up." They are going to take these values home, and these are going to be the new wealthy. Despite all efforts to try to keep things as they are, the government is having increasing problems practicing repression.
At the same time, the international community is vocal in its condemnation of the repression of civil liberties and freedom, although—and this comes back to your question—although this administration has not elevated that concern to the high pitch that I think it deserves. Previous American presidents, when they met with Chinese leaders from the mainland, from Carter on, they brought up this problem as an American concern. That's where I think this kind of reminder, that the international community expects China to be a law-abiding citizen and to adhere to norms that have been accepted internationally, that have become part and parcel—here's to your comment about Wilson—of the international ethos.
Even the Organization for American States, the European Union, NATO—they all require democracy as a precondition for membership. Most international institutions do, too. If China wants to be—as the Republic of China has demonstrated so favorably, it can increase your interest—that's my maybe naïve interpretation.
QUESTION: My question to you is that, just as your answer to some of the very thoughtful scholars, the American capital market crisis is really affecting America's credibility in its power projections. I think the greater China region will play a more important role in the years to come. How should Americans have better input, advisers, to influence their smarter policy dealing with that potential area, an important area, and how can Chinese-Americans play a role to help America design a better policy, to have a more mature attitude to deal with this situation? Thank you very much.
CHARLES KEGLEY: Thank you.
I'm not an economist and I don't know how America should guide itself out of this financial crisis except to reverse the policies and the habits that got it into it in the first place. President Obama has signaled that he recognizes this threat that Walter Lippmann articulated nearly 50 years ago, that if you're out of bounds between your resources and your commitments, you will spiral down and you end up going broke. Therefore, he counseled that what you have to do is rein in spending, and that means reining in some of the superficial commitments overseas that do nothing but create a great drain on American growth.
This does not mean exiting from the global scene. It means—well, Brzezinski called it selective engagement, pick and choose when and where priorities are at stake and invest in those. I think Taiwan figures prominently in that situation. But obviously a reduction is necessary.
And then, back to my thesis of convergence theory, they are trying to get more regulation, because we can talk about the virtues of a free market, but greed is a powerful, powerful force. If greed becomes your philosophy, we see ruin and we see destruction. Clearly, this idea that the market will self-correct and get the United States out of its situation if you just take hands off, appears to be a very dubious model and assumption, and it has been largely discredited.
America could do well to learn from Taiwan, and even from the mainland, in recognizing the importance of spending, recognizing the importance—Taiwan does this beautifully. Every single power has risen because—this is liberalism again—it said, "If you educate minds, you will grow; you will grow in stature, in innovation; that's how you invest in your future. If you take away from that kind of investment in people, in the long run you are going to become weak." All the previous great powers did just that. They started off, they became great. If you look at every single one of them, they had great universities in the beginning. At the end, they became very, very weak.
QUESTION: I'd like your opinion on the suggestion that China's invasion of Taiwan can be made not with fragmentation bombs but with financial bonds, and how should Taiwan defend itself?
CHARLES KEGLEY: You know, they used to say of Bill Clinton he could destroy a meeting because he would ask the question that no one wanted to ask. Well, you've done it again, although this is my first opportunity to meet you.
How do you protect yourself? I would phrase it this way: How can any country, any actor, become involved without intervening, because once you have this entanglement of involvement, a dependency develops that makes you vulnerable to your partners, especially if conditions go south? So the more involved and entangled Taiwan becomes in China, the more it—you're quite correct, if I understood correctly—the more vulnerable it is to disruptions on the mainland should that materialize.
This is what global interdependence is all about; damned if you do and damned if you don't. No country can sever itself from entanglement in the global marketplace and expect to grow. That's a clear lesson.
On the other hand, the more involved and entangled you become, the more you put yourself at the mercy of what happens overseas fiscally, fiscal bombs, and not just military bombs.
I think cautiously Taiwan has built these bridges, and I think—here's the spillover—I think that, despite some of the risks, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, because through that kind of cooperation and through mutual exchange, both parties benefit.
Now, this is an old, old idea, that interdependence creates a condition in which it becomes to neither partner to the interdependent relationship's advantage to extract yourself. You only harm yourself if you sever those ties.
That said, that means all the parties to an exchange share in the dangers when conditions worsen. This is what Bob Keohane and Joe Nye talked about when they defined interdependence as mutual sensitivity and mutual vulnerability. But keep in mind, if you have that condition, the incentives increase to make sure that the relationship works.
It can work best if the relations are conducted fairly. By that I mean let's hope that the mainland does not practice another old habit of the West during the period of exploitation, and that is unequal treaties. So be careful what kind of free-trade agreements are negotiated, but once having made them, adhere to them. That would be the only road or path I can see that is viable.
I know that doesn't answer it.
QUESTION: Like you, I had the opportunity to recently come back from a trip to Taiwan and compare it with when I'd been there 20 years before. One thing that seemed to strike me was how much older Taiwan seemed. I think statistically, like Japan and Korea and Hong Kong, if you look at birth rates, they tend to be relatively low. Also, I think, the Financial Times remarked—these fine universities, and you mentioned the need to invest in the education of the future—you have wonderful universities there that have too few students. So there does seem to be a certain demographic trend.
I guess the question for you is: To what extent is demographics sort of the joker in the deck, and how do you see demographic change or decline affecting Taiwan, especially vis-à-vis mainland China? Thank you.
CHARLES KEGLEY: That's a wonderful question. Here's another one of those Niebuhrian ironies in history: Prosperity, it is said, is the best birth control device ever invented. When people become wealthier, they have smaller families. Now, that becomes at first a blessing for an economy that is growing, but in the long run you can have a population decline. This is what Japan is facing. This is what Germany is facing. In fact, in a lot of the developing world, depopulation becomes an issue. Of course, in the mainland it's just the opposite. The crisis there is how do you generate enough food in the race to feed your population which is growing? That's a concern, and that's a lid on the growth potential of the mainland. But yes, I think these population shifts are vital.
And, to complicate things even more, there are the overseas Chinese. They're feeling comfortable enough in some cases to come back to the mainland, just as some people from Taiwan are. They all have family connections there. The demographics are an issue.
When we do these statistics and look not just at income per person and birth rates, it's important to factor in these other conditions that surround those kinds of choices.
So yes, you phrase your issue, and it's another question I can't quite answer.
QUESTION: Myths occasionally have backgrounds. Using your idea of interdependency, remember the scorpion and the fish—"I need you to get across and you need me." China, a billion and a half people; Taiwan, 22 million people. Are you still that optimistic that China's interdependence will prevent the scorpion from acting like a scorpion?
CHARLES KEGLEY: Yes. Looking at those ratios in terms of populations, I don't think it makes that much difference, frankly.
QUESTION: I'm using the relative power, not the powers.
CHARLES KEGLEY: I know you are. Hans Morgenthau used to list the elements of national power. One of the things on his list was population. A lot of people interpreted that to mean a large population means you have more soldiers, you'll be stronger, you'll be less vulnerable. That's not what Morgenthau meant at all. He meant the kind of people you have, their loyalty, and their loyalty to a government. He said, "Let's not forget national morale."
If you have in Taiwan a dedicated, loyal, faithful people who are very grateful for the freedoms they now enjoy, you have a terrific force that enhances your security and your economic prosperity. If, on the other hand, you have these large numbers, huge numbers, a fourth of humankind, living in the mainland, and many of them are very, very poor, the gap is widening, they're disgruntled, population is not a source of power there, it's a source of weakness—which again, to repeat what I said earlier, perhaps the greatest fear that mainland China's government has is of its own people, because their needs are not being met. Only on the eastern side. The further west you go, there are disruptions. There's poverty, and that's where the protests are occurring, and that's where you could have an implosion in baskets, regions, that become quasi-autonomous. God forbid that, because Beijing will suppress that, and probably ruthlessly.
QUESTION: My question is regarding the role of the United States as a stabilizer in East Asia. I think your second point was basically talking about U.S. decline and that the role of the United States as a balancer is in question. I think that while there are significant problems with the United States in terms of our burgeoning debts, on the other hand, the precedents in history aren't necessarily good indicators of the durability of U.S. predominance. For instance, during the Cold War the percentage that we spent on the military was much higher than it is now, and our military and economic predominance is still very high, and it provides sort of a stabilizing force.
You suggested that in East Asia, and Asia in general, there's a possibility of integration, like in Europe. Is the United States' military presence there a force for stability? Is that necessary to provide that stability in order for integration to happen? Should the United States, whether or not it's in decline, continue its policy of military and economic predominance?
CHARLES KEGLEY: Another great question.
Half the people who look at this say that the United States can be a stabilizing force and the other half say it's a destabilizing force. It's a little bit of both. It depends on how the United States harnesses its power and for what purposes.
Mainland China's neighbors clearly would like to see the United States be a participant, particularly as China's strengths grow and economic power is converted to military capabilities. That strikes fear throughout the region. On the other hand, the United States could act in a way that creates another bipolar sort of world.
The countries in Asia, as I see it, have two basic choices. This is fundamental to the strategic thinking. If you have two centers of power—two poles, let's put it that way—remember what a pole is. Like a magnet, it can both attract or it can repel. And so if you're in this orbit, are you going to be drawn in to a web on one pole or are you going to—by that we mean bandwagon—or are you going to be drawn into the counterbalancing role by the other pole to prevent one particular group or one actor from becoming predominant?
I guess what I'm trying to say—and I'm not saying this very well—is that Asia needs the United States as a participant. China's neighbors are beginning to say, "Boy, this growth in China is not altogether auspicious, favorable. China is becoming a colossus."
What will that mean in the long run? Well, one thing that it will mean is the possibility that a coalition that can counterbalance that should come into play. This is classic real-politick balance-of-power theory, that countries act in terms of their interests and not in terms of their ideologies. But what you do is you form a counter-coalition against any power that threatens to become predominant. That requires the U.S. presence.
Some of the fear we read about is that the United States is not playing the role of a balancer or is not making its commitment to play that role clear enough as yet. That could be very destabilizing.
On the other hand, to go back to a notion that the United States has the power to orchestrate events in Asia is repugnant, and it is counterproductive, in my view. So there has to be a happy medium.
I think the Obama Administration is trying to move in that direction, to try to strike a balance—how unusual for the United States—between total involvement and total isolation and selectively participating in this growing web. The United States sees itself as a participant in the Asian theater. APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] is a part and parcel of the U.S. priorities, and it needs to be there because the United States cannot—here's your question—get out of this fiscal mess without having trade with Asia. That would be suicidal.
MADELEINE LYNN: Dr. Kegley, thank you for a masterful talk.