The author of a controversial New York Times op-ed has replied to critics in a letter to The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, claiming that the piece was a mix of “serious issues and facts with irony and Swiftian satire”. He insists, however, that the US could “absolutely” strike a deal with China to write off debt in exchange for withdrawing military support for Taiwan, without addressing the numerous objections to the proposal’s practicality.
Was the piece intended to stir the pot and provoke debate? Absolutely. If a piece is not provocative, it doesn’t get published, it doesn’t get read, and it has no impact.
The primary point though of the piece is that our “economic security” is more important than our traditional view that military might trumps all. You can’t pay for military might without adequate economic security and a healthy economy. You can’t support allies without a purse full of coins and a treasury filled with gold. Is it not true that senior U.S. military leaders have said and fretted aloud that the single greatest threat to the existence of the American Republic is our national debt and spend-like-a-drunken-sailor-on-leave ways? No offense to sailors intended ….
Could we do a deal with China for debt and resolution of Taiwan’s status. Absolutely. Should we …?
No, that was a “modest proposal” along the lines of the master of satire Jonathan Swift’s solution for poverty in Ireland. Satire is not a joke, it is an extremely useful way to provoke new, original thought and debate.