IJWP 28:1, March 2011, pdf

IJWP 28:1, March 2011, pdf


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This issue of IJWP contains articles on three different topics, Chinese economic growth, politics in Turkey, and Zionism.

The first article, “Re-Interpreting the ‘Chinese Miracle’” by Xingyuan Feng, Christer Ljungwall, and Sujian Guo seeks to explain the phenomenal growth of the Chinese economy over the last thirty years. Naturally, other societies will want to learn how the Chinese have accomplished this growth. They argue that existing explanations do not do justice to the topic, and that the lenses through which analysts have viewed China’s economic development have generally been too narrow to fully explain the phenomenon. The authors argue that a combination of piecemeal “social engineering” and “spontaneous order,” as theorized by Hayek, were responsible.

My own study of the history of China bears out this view. The Chinese have learned, through enduring the harshest results of failed economic policies, many of the economic principles that politicians elsewhere in the world prefer to ignore. First, China witnessed their stable agrarian empire of nearly a thousand years crumble after their encounter with a more technologically-developed West in the nineteenth century. They suffered cruel taxes and colonial occupation that ripened the climate for a political revolution. However, that revolution led to failed economic experiments through which China learned (1) the value of the market, (2) the importance of decentralization, and (3) the importance of rule of law that provides a climate for economic entrepreneurship. This rule of law should encourage personal responsibility and guarantee that the wealth earned by one’s labor will not be arbitrarily confiscated by new laws promoted by envious politicians.

The United States could learn (or relearn) these lessons from China, as we experience a tendency for centralization of economic power that undercuts what the authors call “spontaneous order.” We find that the U.S. tax structure, which taxes production rather than sales, is ill-suited to compete economically with countries that do not have such costs added to their products in a global economy. We like to blame Chinese competitiveness simply on lower wages or “slave labor,” yet we could compete more effectively by having a tax structure suited to a global economy. Finally, the debate between classical economics and Keynesian economics underlying US special-interest politics makes it difficult for the US to implement the gradual social engineering and pragmatic reforms the Chinese have been able to undertake through a single-party state.

Nevertheless, many Chinese remain in poverty, especially in rural areas. Their massive population of over one billion people has not been raised to full economic participation. Corruption is not adequately controlled. As our authors point out, there are many challenges ahead for the “Chinese Miracle” to be felt by all Chinese citizens.

Our second article, “The Gulf War and Turkey: Regional Changes and their Domestic Effects (1991-2003),” by Haldun Çanci and Şevket Serkan Şen discusses the political parties and factions in Turkey in relationship to the Gulf War. Turkey by no means universally supported its government’s decisions related to support of U.S. and United Nations’ aims in Iraq. Especially divisive was the use of airbases in Turkey for support of the Iraq war, and the idea of providing more Kurdish autonomy, or an independent Kurdish republic, that would destabilize the neighboring portions of Turkey that is home to a large number of Kurds.

As is the case with most modern states, Turkey’s politics are rife with national, ethnic, and tribal identity conflicts. These conflicts are exacerbated by external actors seeking to exploit relations with one group or another, and by internal politics that seek to blame external actors for internal problems. In this regard, relations with Turkey are more complex than relations with a single-party dictatorial state that Cold War politics often favored. Recent revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East might lead to greater freedom, democracy and identity politics in states other than Turkey. This will pose new challenges to traditional foreign policy establishments that find comfort in building strong ties with particular leaders, rather than with a messier and more complex democratic state.

This issue also has a review of Graham E. Fuller’s “The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World” published by the U.S. Institute for Peace. This book is a good overview of the domestic and foreign policy changes that have been taking place in Turkey since the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) in 2002, and the impact of the Iraq War on Turkey.

Our third article, by Aron Tyler, is on the possibility of Zionism being transformed into a constructive force for Israeli-Palestinian relations. While this concept might seem a contradiction, the author, who attended an international conference on the Middle East and met several revisionist Zionists, believes in this possibility. After all, haven’t other fundamentalist worldviews been transformed over time?

Time eventually pushes past injustices and territorial claims into the past. In Europe the Poles no longer demand the portions of the Ukraine they controlled during their golden age in the sixteenth century, even though many believe that land has been stolen through later wars. The people in Taiwan now cooperate in business with Chinese on the mainland. Europe eventually allowed non-Catholics to live there without pogroms. Dozens of examples can be found. But murder, theft, and betrayal are not easily forgotten. Ideologies that tie an ethnic group to a territory are hard to break. The idea that Zionism is developing multifaceted approaches, some of which include viewing Palestinians as people of equal worth and with equal rights, is an important development to publish.

Gordon L. Anderson
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