Helping the Chinese kill Americans more effectively

The European Union's slow movement toward ending its arms embargo on China has generated an interesting reaction from the Pentagon. Out of the media spotlight, US officials have started applying serious pressure on the EU to keep the arms ban in place.

While the reasoning is publicly framed in terms of human rights and peace (to prevent China threatening Taiwan), the real concerns are captured in this unnamed Pentagon official's quote, "[The Europeans are] talking about helping the Chinese kill Americans more effectively." Or as The Washington Post puts it, (only after rehearsing the various iniquities of China), "[this is] a government that does not disguise its aim to assemble a force capable of challenging American ships in the Taiwan Strait."

While American leaders publicly maintain a friendly face toward China, the resistance to resuming EU arms exports is further evidence that national security officials in the USA view China as a near-term enemy. That human rights and peace have little to do with US criticism should be clear from the fact that 15 years ago American officials had no scruples about sending weapons to China, despite its similarly questionable Taiwan and human rights policies. The public outrage following the Tiananmen massacre forced the original arms embargoes in both Europe and the States, but the enthusiasm for maintaining them that has since developed within the US government is rooted firmly in Asia's changing geopolitical situation.

Barring some sort of economic collapse, Chinese diplomatic and economic power will continue to expand, and the threat to American hegemony over Asia will become ever more pressing. The USA may eventually feel the need to provoke a crisis and pull its allies firmly back to its side, which would make the international turmoil surrounding the Iraq invasion seem like a spring shower.

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