Think tanks wrap-up

Oct. 24, 2002 at 6:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks.

The Cato Institute

WASHINGTON -- Cato Expert Comments on U.S.-Chinese Economic Ties

Cato Institute Vice President for Academic Affairs James Dorn issued the following statement in reaction to China's President Jiang Zemin's upcoming meeting with President Bush.

"The primary goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to further the liberalization trend in China by maintaining a cooperative, constructive relationship," said Dorn. "The most direct means for achieving that goal is through closer trade ties."

In a recent Asian Wall Street Journal article Dorn wrote: "The dark side of the Chinese communist state is disturbing and must not be ignored. But that unsavory record should no be allowed to hide the progress that the Chinese people have made since economic reforms began in 1978. Increased trade has promoted the growth of markets relative to state planning, given millions of people new opportunities, and substantially raised living standards, especially in the coastal cities where economic liberalization had advanced the furthest."

"Continued trade liberalization and engagement on a number of fronts, including a more liberal visa policy that permits Chinese students to study in the United States, especially in the fields of law, economics, and the humanities, will have positive long-term benefits," says Dorn. "Visa procedures should be re-examined. So long as individuals pose no threat to America's national security they should be encouraged to experience its free society first hand."

The Hoover Institution

STANFORD, Calif. -- Call for a Broad View

By H.R. McMaster

The thought that the attacks of Sept. 11 could have been prevented is frustrating. Intelligence indicators went unheeded, including information from 1998 suggesting terrorist plans to fly an explosive-laden aircraft into the World Trade Center or detonate explosives at an airport.

We learn that the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, stated in December 1998 that the United States was "at war" with Osama bin Laden; he urged intelligence officials to spare no resources in the effort against Al Qaeda. In the summer of 2001 intelligence received information that bin Laden associates "were planning attacks in the United States with explosives," and thirty-three communications that indicated a "possible, imminent terrorist attack."

Viewing evidence in hindsight, however, and considering it outside the context of all available information, can lead to simplistic conclusions. Broadening the inquiry to include other cases of strategic surprise can help us learn the right lessons from Sept. 11.

Nearly 60 years before terrorists struck Washington and New York, half the Japanese fleet moved to within striking distance of Oahu and achieved complete surprise at Pearl Harbor. Revisiting why intelligence indicators did not generate warnings and defensive action before Dec. 7, 1941 seems relevant to Sept. 11.

After Pearl Harbor, Congress also held hearings that evoked similar emotions of disappointment. A March 1941 report stated that a Japanese declaration of war might be preceded "by a surprise attack on Oahu including ships and installations on Pearl Harbor" and suggested patrols to prevent "surface or air surprise." A week before the attack, an analyst suggested that Japanese radio pattern changes indicated "active operations on a large scale."

On Dec. 3, Washington learned that Japanese diplomatic and consular posts were to destroy their codes and secret documents. On December 6, the FBI in Honolulu witnessed members of the Japanese consulate burning papers. Hours before the attack, a U.S. Navy destroyer identified a Japanese submarine in the harbor. Then as today it seemed that officials should have taken defensive action.

In her classic 1962 study "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision", Roberta Wohlstetter concluded that the surprise at Pearl Harbor was not surprising at all. Evidence of an impending attack was muted by the "noise" of conflicting information. Moreover, false alarms had desensitized officials to warnings. Bureaucratic barriers and preserving the secrecy of intelligence sources prevented analysts from connecting disparate indicators.

Although we may never eliminate the possibility of strategic surprise, we can reduce that possibility. The Sept. 11 attacks appear unprecedented in their brutality against innocent Americans, but we must resist viewing them in isolation. Many of the same causes of the Pearl Harbor surprise were present before Sept. 11.

Wohlstetter's book is representative of a rich literature on the subject of strategic surprise, studies generated in large measure by fears of a Soviet thermonuclear attack. History, however, cannot provide us with a specific plan of action to foil future attacks. But it can help us ask the right questions and avoid oversimplification.

Defending our homeland and our interests abroad requires enduring commitment, resolute action, and constant reassessment. As Sir Michael Howard reminds us, history may not be able to make us clever for the next time, but it can make us wise forever.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies

WASHINGTON -- The Bush-Jiang summit: North Korea and War with Iraq: Nonproliferation Concerns, Security Implications

CSIS analysts made the following statements regarding Friday's summit between President Bush and Chinese President Jiang:

-- Ralph Cossa, president, Pacific Forum CSIS.

"Jiang Zemin owes North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a great vote of thanks. Kim has moved the focus of the Crawford meeting away from Iraq, where the best one could hope for was for the two to agree to disagree to the Korean Peninsula, where Jiang can easily agree to Bush's 'diplomacy first' approach. Thank you, North Korea!"

-- Bates Gill, CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies.

"The meeting this week at the Crawford Ranch between George Bush and his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin always needed to be more than just symbolic, and events of the past month-the greater likelihood of war with Iraq, North Korean nuclear revelations, and an increasingly complex international nonproliferation agenda-compel both sides, and especially Washington, to take the U.S.-China relationship more seriously. China has become increasingly central to the favorable resolution of a host of issues Washington deems important. Long ambivalent -- at best -- toward China, the administration's rhetoric has now run into reality."

-- James Mann, senior writer-in-residence at CSIS.

"You might call this the Uncertainty Summit. Bush doesn't know how much formal or informal power Jiang will retain after November's Communist Party Congress. Jiang doesn't know if Bush is about to go to war. They'll treat one another respectfully, without pushing far-reaching initiatives."

CSIS notes that these are the views of the individuals cited, not of CSIS, which does not take policy positions.

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