March 20, 2015

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The AIIB will have $50 billion in startup cash, a pittance to a China sitting on a hoard of $3 to $4 trillion in cash reserves, from decades of huge trade surpluses run at the expense of the United States.

Virtually all our Asian allies do a larger share of their trade with China than with us. They want to buy from and sell to China, and stay in Beijing’s good graces. But if menaced by China, they want the United States obligated by treaty to come and fight for them.

One understands why this is in their interests. But why is it in ours?

Nor is the Middle East any different.

The Turks, Saudis and Gulf Arabs want us to finish off ISIS, whom they were lately aiding, but also Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. They want us to fight them all, but disagree on whom the Americans should fight first.

Last week, John Kerry said he might talk with Syria’s Bashar Assad, and was denounced by the Saudis. The State Department backed off. But who are the Saudis to be telling us to whom we may talk when coping with the Islamic State?

In the Eisenhower era, Dulles spoke of an “agonizing reappraisal” of our alliances, a cost-benefit analysis of what America was getting out of them, compared with what we were contributing to them.

Is there a single U.S. alliance today that would survive a cost-benefit analysis like that?


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