Back to the Cold War

November 10, 2010

Back to the Cold War

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman throws out that old Cold War–era strategy as an option for dealing with China: containment. He says a form of it is actually already happening; the Middle Kingdom's neighbors are "on edge" and have used recent visits by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to send a message that recent Chinese "aggressiveness" could push them into the arms of the Americans. Whether the relationship ever goes beyond "containment-lite," Friedman writes, is up to Beijing.

Former–Bush administration officials John Bolton and John Yoo are concerned with another Cold War concept: nuclear deterrence. They call on the Senate (where Republicans gained more leverage in the midterm elections) to either reject the New START arms-control agreement with Russia or "amend it so that it doesn't weaken our national defense." Calling the treaty's fault's "legion," they claim it ignores America's global responsibilities; tables plans for missile defense; and is, in general, "a package of paper promises."

Their compadre, and Bolton's successor as UN ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggesting a number of tactics to help Washington outflank Tehran in Iraq. And the Obama adminisration is partly to blame, Khalilzad says, for Iran's continued influence there—even after elections last March should have diminished it—because of its "hands-off policy." The former–U.S. ambassador to Iraq urges President Obama to to actively promote some sort of power-sharing agreement between rivals Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi and engage "directly with Iraqi and regional leaders."

As the world's leaders, including Obama, gather in Seoul for the G-20 summit, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak is concerned about the countries that won't be represented. He writes in the Washington Post that the G-20 meetings should focus not only on rebalancing and reforming the global economy, but also concentrate on improving the situation for poor, developing countries, which "can contribute to the . . .  growth we seek." And Lee says he speaks from experience because South Korea was once one of those who sought foreign aid for ambitious infrastructure and manufacturing ventures.