Things aren’t as bad as you thought. Once again, they’re worse. This excerpt is from James Fallows’s look back at the Hart-Rudman Commission which, as few now alive remember, predicted in early 2001 that terrorism would be our greatest national security problem.
The commission was wrong, of course. Our greatest national security problem lurked in the West Wing of the White House — and also, it turns out, back in the vice-presidential mansion at Number One Observatory Circle.
At the first meeting, one Republican woman on the commission said that the overwhelming threat was from China. Sooner or later the U.S. would end up in a military showdown with the Chinese Communists. There was no avoiding it, and we would only make ourselves weaker by waiting. No one else spoke up in support.
The same thing happened at the second meeting — discussion from other commissioners about terrorism, nuclear proliferation, anarchy of failed states, etc, and then this one woman warning about the looming Chinese menace. And the third meeting too. Perhaps more.
Finally, in frustration, this woman left the commission.
“Her name was Lynne Cheney,” Hart said. “I am convinced that if it had not been for 9/11, we would be in a military showdown with China today.” Not because of what China was doing, threatening, or intending, he made clear, but because of the assumptions the Administration brought with it when taking office. (My impression is that Chinese leaders know this too, which is why there are relatively few complaints from China about the Iraq war. They know that it got the U.S. off China’s back!)