The Beijing Terror Alert: What is there to Learn?

Trying on my new wool/kevlar blend power suit
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So we’ve all been told – in not quite so many words – that luxury hotels in China are suspected targets for Islamic suicide bombers in the coming days. As we all rush to reschedule our lunch meetings away from such venues, an awful reality begins to take shape. Our years of feeling safe from the Global War On Terror in our comfy homes behind the Bamboo Curtain have now officially ended.

Which brings us to the more critical subject.

The China hawks on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon continue to do all they can to make China the big global security boogeyman that it isn’t and probably won’t be for several decades in order to justify some very pricey weapons systems. The F-22 Raptor, coming in at around $100 million per plane. A water-skimming amphibious APC for the Marines costing $7 million each. New super-destroyers for the Navy that the Pentagon hopes will wind up costing only $750 million each by the time the fifth one gets built. Indeed, the need for a convincing, large, scary enemy is pretty clear, and big bad old China gets drafted.

Meanwhile, the Chinese defense establishment, taking more than a page or two out of the US book, are using up the procurement-based paranoia that is building up inside the Beltway (and its resulting ham-handed diplomacy) as justification for creating its own brand of anti-US paranoia inside Third Ring Road.

As all this posturing and procuring is taking place, both groups are missing the point. The real threats are not each other, but the ones that threaten both countries.

> The growth of global terrorism that threatens to engulf just about every country in the world, Islamic, non-Islamic, western, and eastern;
> Piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca that threaten the world’s supply lines of petroleum;
> Nuclear proliferation;
> The growing threat that rogue states represent to the international system that both China and the U.S. rely upon for their own continued prosperity.

The threat against China should be recognized for what it is – a wake up call to the U.S. and China that the real enemies are the threats to the system. There are two levels of response to that threat – tactical (find the bad guys and take them out) and strategic (attack the root cause of terror, piracy, proliferation and rogue statehood.) Until the U.S. and China set aside their mutual issues and jealousies and recognize that the problem will only be beaten if they’re both on the same team together, we are all going to live in a world where you cannot run from the danger.