It really does become harder to believe that Islamic fundamentalism is the dire existential threat of the day when it becomes clear that, just a few years ago, the people who cry the loudest about Islam were demanding action against China. It seems to me that either China or radical Islam can be the greatest threat to the United States; they can’t both be, and deciding to essentially ignore one (China) in favor of the other doesn’t lend much credit to the whole “existential threat” industry. If military conflict between China and the United States really is inevitable, US actions in the past six years have done nothing but substantially improve China’s position.
If I believed war with China were inevitable, I’d be pissed about the War on Terror.
I would also say that this, in combination with the earlier revelation that Dick Cheney spent Bush’s first term trying to convince Taiwan to declare independence, opens just the tiniest space for someone who wants to argue that Colin Powell isn’t a complete hack and sell-out. We’ll probably never have a full grasp on what went on in the first term, but I can at least understand a narrative under which Powell, apparently not having understood just how crazy Cheney et al were, and how weak Bush was, decided that obstruction from within, rather than from outside, was the best hope for avoiding a disaster even worse than the one we’ve stumbled into. I certainly don’t know if this narrative is true, and it doesn’t, after all, “save” Powell’s reputation; he attached himself before 2000 to these “serious” thinkers, and continued to serve with them in early 2003 when it should have been obvious that there was no way, internally, to stop the Iraq War. Still, he may deserve some credit for trying to prevent war with China and possibly delaying the Iraq War by a year and a half.