Those with experience on the Korean peninsula have perspectives shaped by their own when and why. Though there are still times of acute tension, the level of chronic anxiety has diminished with the changes in the relationships between the sponsor states. For some time, the sponsors (except for a brief and short-sighted thrust by Bush II) have considered the breaches of peace irritatingly counterproductive. In the big scheme of things, there is nothing in Korea to justify the sponsors expending national treasure and blood. For the Koreans, it is not much of a different story, though those south of the DMZ stand to lose more.
The Koreans understand this. They and their sponsors have written a variety of mutating scripts for the violent resumption of hostilities. The plans for the fighting remain variations on similar themes. The plans for intrigue are much more revealing. On both sides, there is a civil affairs design that works whether implemented as a result of war or of internal collapse. It is the more important plan.
In this video, Jim Webb talks about what he sees as "the need to reinvigorate U.S. relations with ASEAN countries and other allies in the region to maintain balance and stability" vis-a-vis China. According to Webb, the "second-tier countries" in the Asia-Pacific region see "any failure by the United States to take firm action when the Chinese manifest aggressive behavior is viewed in this region as a sign of a permeating weakness in the United States." In Webb's view, we need to "stay with our friends" and let China know that "the wrong type of behavior is not going to be rewarded with a weak form of behavior by the United States."
In my view, that's fine as far as it goes; there's nothing wrong with strengthening relations with our allies in the region, and there's nothing wrong with being strong in our response to outright aggressive behavior by China. However, I believe that Webb largely misses the larger point, of what Anne Applebaum correctly describes as "China's quiet power grab". For more on that, see after the "fold."
These are the big, sexy ones, but there are thousands of others. Just one example: we have managed to contaminate the entire world with polychlorinated biphenyls aka PCBs. The whole world. We are redefining survival of the fittest (or so we think) through genetic engineering. This is a new twist on "fittest." Want an uplifting documentary? Try The World According to Monsanto and then feel guiltless about serving your child that next glass of milk.
Jefferson believed in a natural aristocracy. Nature has time and takes its time in allowing success to percolate. We are not the final arbiter. But we affect the outcome, despite the denial.
By the way, the World Meteorological Organization just issued a report which "found that 2009 was the fifth warmest year on record 'since the beginning of of instrumental climate records around 1850.'" But no, the world's not getting warmer or anything. Hey, it snowed last winter! (snark)