Aaron Friedberg, a Princeton University professor and a China expert, was scheduled to begin serving as deputy national security adviser to US Vice President Dick Cheney starting yesterday. He will join Cheney's team as the director of policy planning under the vice president's chief-of-staff, Lewis Libby. Friedberg is the first China expert officially recruited by US President George W. Bush's administration. This shows that Washington has already made progress on the Middle East issue as the US-Iraq war is over, and that Bush's diplomatic team is switching its focus to the China issue in the face of the growing threat of North Korea.
What deserves our attention is that Friedberg is considered a hawk on the China issue. He's also a member of the rising neoconservative faction on Bush's team. The future influence of this appointment on Washington's China policy will depend, in part, on the overall thinking of the hawkish faction.
Neoconservatism first became mainstream when the Project for the New American Century was established in early 1997. The project is a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership. The founders of the organization are have influence on both US domestic and international affairs, including Cheney himself, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Libby, Friedberg, John Hopkins University professor Elliott Abrams, author of The End of History Francis Fukuyama, former secretary of education William Bennett and former US vice president Dan Quayle.
They praise the theory of the late University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss that invasive human nature can only be constrained by superpowers based on nationalism and the so-called "new empires" and that the political order can only be united in the face of an external threat. Based on this theory, the neoconservatives suggest that diplomatic conflicts be solved by military means. In addition, they also advocate seeking and creating external enemies.
Their agenda is backed by many famous right-wing intellectuals. For example, Bernard Lewis, a Princeton University professor, published in December 2001 an influential book entitled What went wrong: Western impact and Middle Eastern response. He believes that the Arab world worships power. Therefore, Arab countries can only be conquered through a demonstration of power.
Some US military experts also believe that war is justified if its motive is righteous. We clearly witnessed that the Bush administration insisted on solving the Iraq issue by force. Thus, the US policy framework is now deeply affected by neoconservatism.
Although most of the neoconservatives are scholars, their capacity for collective action and overall planning is strong. These people are ambitious, aggressive and calculating. This is perhaps why their influence on US foreign policy has become greater and greater over the past few years. Friedberg's joining Cheney's diplomatic team means that these people have occupied yet another spot on the US political map.
US foreign policy, led by neoconservatism, is likely to challenge Chinese President Hu Jintao's (
Wang Dan was a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Beijing.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
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