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Menges' Last Book Gives Dire China Warning

Monday, 23 May 2005 12:00 AM

Dr. Constantine Menges' final book, "China: The Gathering Threat, the Strategic Challenge of China and Russia," was the subject of a panel discussion of the Menges Project at Washington's Hudson Institute Monday morning. The author's wife, Nancy Menges, greeted the capacity audience on behalf of her husband, who died in July, 2004.

Mrs. Menges said, "One of Constantine's last wishes was the publication of this final book."

A former senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Dr. Menges served several years in the White House as a special assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and at the CIA. Menges was also a distinguished Professor of International Relations at George Washington University. The publication of his final work this year by Nelson Current publishers had been greatly anticipated in both scholarly and intelligence circles.

Even before the panelists explored Menges' insights into the inchoate dangers percolating in the largest nation on earth, the book itself served as a primer of danger.

Wrap yourself around some of these dramatic factoids that pepper the Menges tome. Begin with the preamble, "Did you know that China:"

The panelists on hand were all old friends of Dr. Menges and did nothing to assuage the prickly sensation of dread engendered by the nuggets recounted above.

William Hawkins, senior fellow for National Security Studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, talked about the communist giant's growing sense of confidence in the world. Just back from the capital, Beijing, he noted that "over and above the economic statistics, one senses a feeling of confidence and energy in Beijing. High-rises with international names are sprouting up all over..."

That Chinese powerhouse has pushed the U.S. into a 200 billion trade deficit this year, he explains, before hitting you with the unhappy reminder that when resource-strapped Japan mustered the gall to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, that relatively lightweight country enjoyed an economy only one-tenth the size of that of the U.S.

Yet, points out Hawkins, here we are in the vulnerable U.S. lobbying away for more and more trade with China. "Where are those lobbying for U.S. national security interests?" he asks.

"Dr. Menges recognized that we need to overcome the huge lobbying efforts of special interests," Hawkins said. Menges wanted to reorient, trading with more worthy places – like the Philippines, he added.

Bill Gertz, defense and national security reporter for the Washington Times reminded the audience of China's age-old mantra – "Bide your time ... build your capabilities. Defeat your enemy without firing a shot."

For years, the U.S. posture seemed to be the fantasy: "Only if you treat China as a threat, will it become a threat," Gertz said.

Back in-the-day, the derisive expression describing any Chinese mainland invasion of Taiwan was "million-man swim."

There's no room these days for such humor, said Gertz, who pointed to the rapid recent expansion in China's naval forces – 20 new subs, 20 new amphibious lift ships. No Chinese communist invader will be swimming across the straits to Taiwan.

Indeed, warned Gertz, China is gearing up to project power around the globe:

"Its need for energy sources is only going to increase. The nation has no large reserves of oil and gas."

Shades of the dilemma of the Rising Sun in the late 1930s: China worries about keeping open its strategic sea lanes. The U.S. Navy could interdict China's oil by interdicting these sea lanes. No wonder China was and is in the main market for weapons that can take out U.S. carriers at sea, said Gertz.

Aiding and abetting the Chinese cause, explained Gertz, is an espionage network that is, among other guises, embedded in the tens-of-thousands of Chinese students roaming the U.S.

When Libya decided to take down its nuke program, inspectors found Chinese documents on how to build small nuclear devices – like the W-88 nuclear missiles that can be fired from submarines hiding off the U.S. shore, he revealed,

"We know that China proliferated its stolen nuclear warhead designs to Pakistan and Libya. Did they also go to Iran and North Korea?"

"I think yes" Gertz says, answering his own rhetorical question.

Michael Pillsbury, author and expert on China and a former senior Pentagon official, told the audience that Menges not only recognized the telling questions re China but had definitive answers. "You can find them in the last two chapters of his book," Pillsbury noted.

What you have now is a giant that enjoys a phenomenal nine to ten percent GNP growth rate each and every year. Unfortunately, says Pillsbury, there are too many who sit back and gush how wonderful that is and that in no time China will be chock-full of rich people pining away for - no, demanding - democracy and freedom.

"This [fanciful phenomenon outlined above] has never happened before in history," Pillsbury warns, citing Menges chapter-and-verse.

Instead, rather than depend on an evolution that will never happen, China needs to be the pointed target of a U.S.-led "democracy project," as envisioned by Menges. After all, Pillsbury argues, "Taiwan is not trying to bring Democracy to China."

Pillsbury reinforced the Menges argument that booming economic development in China is only a good thing if China is a democracy. The idea is "to bring about reform from within, working with natural allies within the Communist Chinese party. Bring about reform from within - Chinese expatriates also need to be tapped."

In the final analysis, said Pillsbury, "Democracy-building requires a struggle. Missile defense is not the answer [to a dangerous and plotting China]; the answer is much more complex; you've ‘got to stay up a little bit later' and work on it, like Constantine said."

Al Santoli, president and director of the Asia America Initiative, noted that what makes China so formidable is that it is a potential superpower - with a strong sense of history.

"They don't have to match us strength for strength – the mistake of the Russians in the Cold War," said Santoli. The insidious Chinese master plan: "We [the U.S.] become a vassal state, as China buys up our debt."

"You know, one of China's heroes is George Soros, a single man who can disrupt a targeted country through currency dealings," Santoli said.

Santoli's definition of the new Cold War – a fierce competition for capital.

Russia lost the Cold War because it never had a business sector to compete with the U.S., he opined.

China has that all-important business sector. "Keep the U.S. off balance in the Middle East; let it defeat itself," is part of the Chinese thinking, Santoli explained.

But the Chinese master plan is not all passive.

Santoli – and Menges – preach that there are many arrows in the quiver. China, for instance, is big-time into Cuba where it amuses itself by pulling off electronic experiments to disrupt our air traffic control.

"Consolidating assets [the recent spate of base closings] makes our air assets more vulnerable," Santoli warned.

And never forget that the Russians and Chinese have a strategic partnership, he notes. If China gets into war over Taiwan, Russia will support them. Meanwhile, China is practicing its art form of taking the Free people of the world and slowly encircling them.

"Unlike us, the Chinese have a strong sense of destiny," Santoli concluded.

All the panelists in their respective reviews of the new book and the legacy of the legendary Menges, noted that the late scholar has made assiduous use of recently declassified documents, statements by Russian and Chinese leaders largely overlooked in the Western media, and groundbreaking analysis and investigative work.

"We all miss him. We must see that his last work is disseminated, read and studied," said Gertz.


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Dr. Constantine Menges' final book, "China: The Gathering Threat, the Strategic Challenge of China and Russia," was the subject of a panel discussion of the Menges Project at Washington's Hudson Institute Monday morning. The author's wife, Nancy Menges, greeted the capacity...
Monday, 23 May 2005 12:00 AM
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