With the United States already under attack, the Bush administration’s attention was no longer focused on China as the next enemy. Instead, it redirected its attention to radical Islam and al-Qaeda’s operations around the world. The fact is, it’s not going too far to say that China owes a huge debt of gratitude to Osama bin Laden…”
Sadly, in the final analysis, a tougher line would have done little to stop the one event that would turn America’s eye away from Asia for almost a decade. Still, one wonders what could have been if Bush had pushed back harder, and at least set a marker that a belligerent and defiant Beijing would not be treated as a “responsible stakeholder”. China would have had at least some reason to think twice, over the last several years, in its march to re-order the status-quo in Asia in its favor.
Harry J. Kazianis is Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest.