Voices about Asia: Prof. Chadwick – „Never underestimate the power of stupidity”

Interview with Prof. Richard Chadwick, Honolulu, 25 October, 2010.

Prof. Richard Chadwick has taught at the University of Hawaiʻi for 42 years now. He got his Ph.D. at Northwestern in Political Science with a specialization in foreign policy, decision-making and simulation thereof. After that, he did a year of post–doc research at Yale with the renowned Karl Deutsch and subsequently was back at Northwestern with Harold Guetzkow. Moreover, he worked for System Development Corp. (an offshoot of RAND) the Harvard’s Center for International Affairs and Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. He also held multiple research positions and consulted in Australia, German, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, on such topics as international trade modeling, arms race modeling, political instability, and decision-making. Prof. Chadwick was for many years on the Matsunaga Institute for Peace’s Board of Governors. He also extensively lectured in China (Beijing, Guanzhou, Lanzhou, Liaoning, Shanghai, Shenzhen etc.) for over the last 10–15 year, giving seminars in decision-making and Deming’s management philosophy.

(Source: http://www.politicalscience.hawaii.edu/faculty/chadwick.html)

Prof. Richard Chadwick is a very knowledgeable person, who kindly agreed to be an interviewee of a beginning student graduate of the International Relations Program at Collegium Civitas, Poland, and a second-year Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His incredibly comprehensive remarks on Asia and global politics have their roots in his experience as a professor and lecturer of international relations. Prof. Chadwick turned out to be a very approachable and communicative interviewee, which made our conversation seem like it was barely 30 min, instead of two hours. In response to my very general and mainstream questions about Asia, he revealed the true, and often an ugly, face of Asian, American, European, and global politics, simultaneously deconstructing many stereotypes on Asia.

Małgorzata Citko*

Prof. Chadwick by M.Citko

M.Citko: Prof. Chadwick, I understand that you have a lot of interests, one of them being China. I’m going to ask you maybe a weird question that you’ve heard a billion times already, but I have to do that: what do you think, will China rule the world, or not?

R. Chadwick:I don’t think anybody is going to rule the world, certainly not China, not the United States, not India, not Russia or Islamic caliphate.

In that case, what kind of solution do you see?

I don’t see that’s a problem. It doesn’t make sense to me to think in terms of hierarchy any longer.

So how would you call it, cooperation?

Cooptition, a term used in an international business community, which is a sort of cooperative competition. As long as we are operating within a set of rules of the game that don’t discriminate along political lines:—who’s got the power etc., because if we do discriminate, cooptition will most likely lead to conflicts and ultimately war and if all out war, the destruction of the human race. We’re no longer capable of obliterating each other without obliterating ourselves.

So, why do think there is this „scary“ image of China?

I don’t believe there is a scary image of China. It depends on who you are talking to. It’s not something that we have here certainly, not at the University of Hawai‘i, where we have many Chinese and Chinese visitors.

Depends of the point of view, and media.

Well, if you believe propagandists of one side or another. It depends on that, but I don’t really think that such a wide-spread of sense of fear exists. I just don’t believe it, I don’t see it. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people around who make that claim. In many countries there is always concern expressed about Chinese naval blue water fleet, or immigration. But these kind of concerns are usually expressed for political reasons.

What do you think about Obama policy towards China in comparison to the Bush’s policy?

I think Obama moved into the same direction that Bush did. No change at all.

OK, why do you think it hasn’t change?

He didn’t know what he was getting into when he was talking the way he did. Politicians say what the need to say in order to win the elections, and I’m sure it’s not like that only in America. It’s a universal process. And then, once they are in office, then the question is what do they have to do for the next elections, or to stay in power against their enemies, and as soon as they do that, it’s a new game. And usually what they end up doing is what their succesful predecessors did. They try to avoid their mistakes, but sometimes they can’t.

Does Obama have good advisors on China and Asia?

They are basically the same advisors that existed in the Bush administration, Bill Gates for instance, but I don’t think it’s a questions of advisers. It’s a question of objectives, circumstances and the policies that you have in place, and above all whether what you do is going to increase your political support.

OK, so that’s what matters for them.

Exactly, and unfortunately politics is a short-term large-scale game.

You told me earlier that you are teaching American foreign policy. But what do you think about current Chinese foreign policy towards the Unites States?

They are doing some very smart things to keep the United States at bay on the one hand, and on the other hand take a maximum advantage of the wealth that this country has. And more power to them. That’s the game: export all we can, let China buy our debt, but only on a condition that we can translate that into control. If we can control income flows globally, wonderful. But everybody is trying to do that. The Britts tried to do that last century.

But there are some limits to that, right?

No. The only limit is death and destruction. All we have to do is to look at the history. There were two world wars, right? What happened after 1648, which is nominally when Traeaty of Westfalia – line on the sand of the forest or down in the middle of the river was drawn and it was said: this is yours and that’s mine – one regent to another. They said they developed this international law to stop the wars etc., but that treaty applied only to the Europeans, not anybody else. And what happens afterwards? Several centuries of global Holocaust called colonialism. They had a different theory, which is called “civilization“, saying that they were going to civilize, give their righteous religions, their technology. What were they going to take? Freedom, money, power! So, this is the European way, and it hasn’t changed. The only difference is, now they are self-immolated, self-destroyed, in two world wars, they no longer have armies with which they can conquer anybody, not even each other, which was their last and best hope.

So they started to integrate.

Well, only because the United States, then the dominant economic power on the planet, pushed it at a time when the Europeans were destitute, anti-colonialist rebellion ubiquitous, and American business saw a huge opportunity with the Marshall Plan. United States said: we are going to help you out, but in fact what happened was lots of multinational corporations going over there, starting trading over the national boundaries, because it’s in their interest, and lobbying all the parliaments that they can, to get them to lower their tariff and trade barriers, let more people in, (especially Southern Europeans had much cheaper labor). The Germans, French, Dutch and Belgian thought it’s a good idea. So Americans were getting wealthier, de Gaulle and the subsequent French leaders realized it, but it was too late. That’s normal for politics. What do we do about it? Call it a reform? I don’t call it a reform, when international banking system, essentially controlled by the US, England, France, Swiss and few others (roughly G8), resuscitated by several decades of American support, cause one calamity after another. First the Japanese fell, ca. 90% of the value of the property in Tokyo was lost, and they are still trying to recover from it. And most recently (with many calamities in between) the American recession. This global banking system is rather vicious.

You know, the best 28 minutes you can spend figuring out what’s actually going on – you google Moyers and Black. Bill Moyers has interviewed Bill Black, who was one of the investigators during the saving loans scandal in the mid-80s. He wrote a book called The best way to rob a bank is to own one. In 20 minutes this guy dissects the whole process by which trillions of dollars shifted mostly from the baby-boomer generation to international banking corporations. Their wealth shifted and they lost almost half of their savings. And that process is continuing, not ending, throughout the whole world. I think there is war going on, and I think that new war, which is an old war that has repeated itself many times, is bankers vs. anybody else. We need to study that not as if this was simply a micro-management problem, but as a new form of warfare. That silence nobody wants to talk about should be studied. Basically, politics is too short-term thinking, that’s all, and that is something we need to learn to overcome as a species.

OK. I want to go back to China again….

They are doing just fine.

OK, but why do you think they are doing so fine?

Because they have several billion people who are perfectly willing to work and to save. It all goes back to 1978 and Deng Xiaoping, and the conversation that he had with Gorbachev. They were talking about the political reform vs. economic reform, democratization vs. capitalism. He said to Gorbachev: You know, you got it wrong. You started with political reform, with democracy and then capitalism. That’s the wrong way around. You start with capitalism and move to democracy. And he’s right. Americans followed this path as well, stating far removed from democratic practices though ideologically it was a republic. The Chinese now are practicing capitalism at best they can. You may have noticed that they opened their door to Taiwanese – when they took over Hong Kong, they didn’t touch Taiwan. You may ask why. It’s because when it comes to banking system, Taiwanese could teach the Chinese communists how to be good capitalists. This means – to produce the best quality products at price that people want and can afford. Then, you have to look at productive capacity, and doing things that makes workers happy, because otherwise they won’t work. In any case, Chinese are doing all they can to be good capitalists, and they are discovering that, as people get better educated and become more urban, they also become more urbane. They become less susceptible to propaganda and more capable of self-organizing. The result is that if you don’t pay attention to that, if you don’t give them the respect that’s due them as people, they are going to bite your tail. They are going to revolt, put other people in power. I think the revolt in China will most likely come right within Communist Party itself. Again you may ask, why. It’s because while they were applying capitalism, they brought a lot of communists into the realm of „new business“. But they were already doing it. For example, 3 million people in Chinese Army traditionally lived off the land. They supported themselves, so they were already small business capitalists. That was just making it official. Then they needed a good management theory, that’s where I came in. Of course, I didn’t have much effect on that, but it was a move in a good direction. And I could see the difference over the decade, because I was there for a decade, 1991-2001. During that period I could see a huge change in attitudes, not to mention the fact that more and more people were speaking English. Still Chinese are too politically uptight, because they don’t have any experience with power on a global scale. Even China as an imperium was never centralized. They had a central philosophy, but they didn’t have a centralized government. This is something new to them and they don’t know how to hang on power. The only examples they have to imitate are: the mafia-style organization in Russia, the „opium“ pushing style of the Britts, and the vicious dominance-style of the Japanese, that would have worked just fine, had it not been for the Americans destroying Japan. What model did the Chinese have in their life experience? Militaristic, Maoist, a soldier thing applied to politics. It doesn’t work, and they don’t realize it doesn’t work, because they haven’t had the personal experience. But they are getting it now. Tian’anmen was just a tiny little thing in comparison to what’s likely to happen in the future. There is something like 3 thousand riots a month, or a year, but I think a month in China that never hit the newspapers.

Yes, I think you are right, I’ve  heard about 20 thousand of riots a year, but that’s unofficial information.

That’s why they’ve got a reason to be uptight, because there is a lot of dissention, but the solution is exactly where Hu Jintao is going. And I think that’s the reason why the censors are getting so uptight about him too. In any case, from a self-interested viewpoint, and I don’t see the Chinese government adopting any other one, they are doing just fine. They’ve managed to keep their country together so far during a huge capitalist revolution.

(…) By the way, we were discussing earlier, whether is should it be democracy, or capitalism first. There is an excellent article by Erik Gartzke called „The Capitalist Peace“ published by the American Journal of Political Science. The democratic peace hypothesis says that democracies don’t go to a war with each other, and the exceptions are really minor. The data of that have been available for several centuries, so there is some reason to believe that there is something to it. Democracies learned how to bargain and negotiate their way out of political conflicts. That’s their predisposition when they are dealing with each other, because they have the skills, but those who don’t have the skills – the dictatorships etc. that’s a different story. The point is that if you introduce capitalism and you take off these three variables: democracy, war and capitalism, and instead of treating them as dichotomies, develop more complicated indicators of more or less democracy, democratization: by standard things that people do or don’t like free, fair and frequent elections. If you take press it’s relatively free. And if you take capitalism and variables like the percentage of the GDP that is picked up by the government, and when you look at war not as a declared war, but as numbers killed in foreign conflicts between pairs of countries. In those three variables, the relationship between war and democracy goes to zero. It’s capitalism that’s producing peace, according to Gartzke.

So my attitude towards Chinese is… OK, in the business community in England a letter went out from some official office, saying: You, corporations, if you have some really secret information that you don’t want anybody to know, you should assume that the Chinese have it. So far, the American government hasn’t said that to American corporations, but it’s true. I have a program on my computer that tests whether other countries are pinging  me. I traced one case back and it turned out to be the same one outside of Beijing that has been pinging me for the last decade.

Really? Does it happen a lot?

Oh yes. All the time, daily. There is very interesting book by Richard Clarke called Cyber War. He’s extremely knowledgable, he has worked for several both republican and democratic administrations. That’s where I got most of the information I just passed on to you. But Chinese, even though they do things like that, they are not the only ones. American companies are notorious for industrial espionage. It’s nothing new, it’s just that Chinese have been so good at it that Americans are complaining a lot about it. I’m not saying it’s good. But there is one area that is very dangerous – cyber espionage. It’s a matter of public record now. You have probably heard of the computer virus in Iran. That was actually designed by some government, and it’s clear from all of the built-in hedges to make sure that it only goes to Iran. By mistake it already destroyed some power plants in India. You know, all of the power plants, automobiles etc. are controlled by microchips these days. Power grids today are very vulnerable, because all you need to do to bring a power grid down is to find the weakest link in the chain. Once that goes, then they all go. We have power grids in California, New York and Texas. If those were attacked by viruses like the one in Iran, they could turn off. There is also the EMP (electromagnetic) pulse, and the USA, China and Russia are all working on EMP bombs. If one of those was a couple hundred miles up in the air space of the United States, it would destroy all the microchips in the country. One, if it was that big. All this information is publicly available, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. On the other hand the scaremongers talk about terrorists. But terrorists are not able to cause a serious damage.

So you are saying that terrorists are not the real danger?

They are not. Neither Americans, Chinese or Russians have any desire to do anything like this. But if that happened, the kind of war Herman Kahn called „spasm war“ might occur; any one of us might just assume one of the others did it, and we would have all out thermonuclear war.

What do you think about Japan and China? Recent territorial disputes etc.

This is nonsense, a leftover from the WW2. There are Russia, China, Japan and the US – four major powers in the region. None of them have given up hope of controlling the Korean Peninsula, and that’s the Cold War thinking. That’s still the thinking of vast armies of human beings. World War II has nothing to do with kids who play war games, and can now play real games, carrying out the bombs with missiles, and controlling them from computers somewhere else deep in the US. But they are still thinking along those lines. As long as all of them haven’t given up the hope of controlling, anyone that makes a move is going to be stopped by the other three. That’s a classic balance of power situation.

So has the Cold War thinking shifted to Asia?

It’s a leftover. China is still officially communist, Japan is officially democratic etc. They are still thinking along those lines, and my advice to Koreans was: you could unite, in a „Swiss style“ republic guaranteeing autonomous regions within while uniting militarily and declaring Korea a neutral power.. If only North and South could stop fighting with each other, and face the rest of the world….

Why do you think it isn’t happening? Why is the Korean Peninsula still not united?

Becasue they too are thinking the „old style“, just as the major powers do.

What do you think would cause the unification of Korean Peninsula within the next 50 years?

An intelligent and persuasive individual, who can cross the border. But not just anybody, nobody who is not Korea. Anybody else is going to be suspected of espionage etc. I’ve tried, and failed.

But you think the unification of Korean Peninsula is necessary.

Not if you don’t mind having a million soldiers on your border forever, or Demilitarized Zone that is more militarized that any other place on the face of the earth. Not if you don’t mind spending billions of dollars on both sides to maintain the status quo. I don’t think that’s sane for anybody.

So why you think it still exists?

Ignorance, Cold War thinking. Never underestimate the power of fear and ignorance or, to put it bluntly, stupidity. There was not one major power that started a war and won it during the last century. According to John Stoessinger, Why nations go to war…, people, who acquire power, want it. Why do they want it? No fool in their right mind would want it. It’s the most dangerous occupation on the face of the earth, chances of getting assassinated are pretty high. Too many people simply want power. I don’t want it. Why do you think I’m a professor at the University of Hawai‘i. I had opportunity at Yale, Harvard, SDC (an off-shoot of RAND) to follow a path to power. Most everybody respected me, but I hated the situations I found myself and others in. Why? Because I felt that they were becoming corrupted by the struggle for power to the core. I didn’t want the kinds of relationships with people that I was being put into. This taught me a lesson about power. What happens to people who really don’t want power, but who become surrounded by those whose life centers around the struggle for power, and like them? They wind up in positions of power, like Vaclav Havel for instance, or Robert McNamara. Too many people just want power. Harold Lasswell wrote a book called Power and personality, in which he presents his formula describing politicians: a politician is someone who projects their private motives onto public objects rationalized in the public interest. I say that they project their private motives onto public objects for personal gain, never mind the rationalization. I would suspect that quite a few politicians are sociopathic, and the reason I suspect that is that they have killed hundreds of millions of people over the last few centuries and still lived with themselves. A sociopath is someone who has no empathy for their enemies. How can you not have empathy, if you are normal? Normal people can’t behave that way, but sociopaths can. And you can see that kind of sociopathic attitude among the „banksters“, like Paulson, Geithner, the CEO of BP (Tony Hayward) and so many many others.

What do you think about regional integration in Asia? Is it realistic?

Integration is another term for the institutionalization of intense cooperation. That kind of cooperation requires setting up of some administrative units to manage usually vast increases in the quantities of goods and services, people that are going back and forth between different regions of the world. And you need to establish rules. What I mean by integrative behavior is setting up rules and regulations to handle much larger volume of transactions between nations, so that it can be done with a minimum friction of in the form of lawsuits, fighting, warfare, espionage, sabotage etc. so that we have a set of rules that enable cooptition. At first, regional integration in ASEAN had more to do with politics of war than the politics of peace, trade etc. At first it was: what are we going to do about the Vietnamese, especially after Americans have left, and they were so powerful. A lot people don’t realize that Vietnam is a big country.

(…) In any case, it’s pretty hard to push for regional growth and development unless you have a lot of interdependence, and instead of interdependence they have mostly competition for the same markets, because they produce very similar goods and services. Besides, at least a few decades ago, only 1-3% of their trade was with each other, the rest was with the rest of the world. I would assume it’s pretty much the same today, because of the growth of China, the continued growth of the United States and the European Union. So, I don’t think regional integration has any great pressure under it. Two things tie those countries all together: the international banking system, as they don’t want to see that kind of mess that they saw Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea had – with controlling vast sums of money being invested through their banking systems. These banking systems were not stable enough to cope with such large quantities of investment capital coming into their country, because all they did was to turn around and essentially do the same thing with their elites that our banks did with ordinary people and mortgages. The so-called „ninja loans“, meaning no income, no job, and no asset verification. They didn’t have a habit of doing serious business plans with their local elites, so when they got billions of dollars coming into their banks, they didn’t have a way of dispensing it rationally. They didn’t have the administrative infrastructure to help large corporations, private property owners to develop business plans to use it wisely. So a lot of people just took their money. The result was that the banks and governments lost. So my general impression is that what keeps those countries together is: a need for a common strategy to benefit from those huge financial flows, and the American need for military presence in these countries. Those countries don’t want to fight if they all have American bases. But, they need to create alternatives for their own growth and prosperity, ways of cooperating that neutralize the residues of past colonizations and warfare and protect them from recolonization by another name.

At the same time these countries haven’t had democracies, they were initially dictatorships, so it’s only gradually that military has given up.  In Thailand they havn’t given up, and they are always thought of as an alternative to a corrupt political system. Indonesia is in a little better situation, I understand that they are doing quite well at this point.

(…) I don’t discount the efforts, but I don’t see any push behind regional integration other than to control the financial flows, to lesser extent migration, and as far as cooperation among corporations – it’s competition as usual. The only reason why Europe is integrated the way it is today, is because of the American experience, post WW2 losing their colonies etc. I think there hasn’t been much of ideological change on the top at all, as we witness the behavior of the BP’s CEO behavior, the financial corruption behind the Greek financial crisis, and so on.

Prof. Chadwick, thank you so much for your time and an amazing interview.

Thank you.

citko2In „Voices about Asia“ *Małgorzata Citko freshly graduate of the International Relations Program at Collegium Civitas, Poland, and a second-year Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is going to interview some renowned scholars, policy makers, public figures about the contemporary Asia, its global influence, and other social, political, economic issues.

Voices about Asia: Prof. Chadwick – „Never underestimate the power of stupidity” Reviewed by on 7 stycznia 2011 .

Interview with Prof. Richard Chadwick, Honolulu, 25 October, 2010. Prof. Richard Chadwick has taught at the University of Hawaiʻi for 42 years now. He got his Ph.D. at Northwestern in Political Science with a specialization in foreign policy, decision-making and simulation thereof. After that, he did a year of post–doc research at Yale with the




komentarze 3

  • Quite smart answers for schematic questions. But I do not always agree with the diagnosis. I do not think that Kim Jong Il is able to recognise what is best for him and North’s Koreans (not the same thing). So any prognose seems to be vague

  • Avatar Jaroslaw Grzegorzek

    Że, kto jest top doradcą Obamy na Azję? Bill Gates? Gdyby to Wyborcza napisała to bym się nie zdziwił… Gates ufundował kilka wydziałów oprogramowania w chińskich szkołach, ale do polityki mu chyba daleko. Prawdopodobnie chodziło o Defence Secretary Robert Gates, który jest ostatnio zapracowany na Półwyspie Koreańskim.

    Do tego Obama właśnie zmienia swoich głównych doradców na Azję. Mają nimi zostać Jeffrey Bader, Senior Director for Asia w United States National Security Council Senior oraz Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Jak głoszą media obaj panowie podobno są „hawkish”, jak ich określił magazyn Foreign Policy, na sprawy chińskie i azjatyckie, wolą używać broni niż dialogu i pokojowych rozwiązań. Nie żeby miało to coś wspólnego z sytuacją w Korei i jednoczesną zmianą Ministra Obrony Korei Południowej przed kilkoma tygodniami.

  • Wywiad-rzeka, trochę męczący jak dla kogoś jak ja, kto używa angielskiego raczej okazjonalnie niż na co dzień. Ale nieważne.
    Chcę tu zwrócić uwagę na jedno ciekawe spostrzeżenie Profesora, które już jakiś czas chodzi mi po głowie: gros ludzi nie dostrzega faktu, że Wietnam jest dużym krajem. Właśnie. Wietnam jest niedoceniany, zapewne w dużej mierze dlatego, że jest stosunkowo niewielki w relacji do ogromnego sąsiada z północy – Chin. Ale w skali Europy Wietnam byłby potęgą demograficzną: ma dziś prawie 90 mln ludzi (więcej niż Niemcy) i rozwija się w tempie podobnym do Chin i Indii. Kto wie, czy kiedyś nie będzie jedną z głównych potęg gospodarczych świata. Przykłady Korei Pd. i Tajwanu pokazują, że taki awans jest możliwy!

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