ABOUT

About this site

This website is dedicated to promoting ideas, policies, and organizations that seek to advance international understanding and the quality of life, especially for the largely impoverished global majority and disempowered citizens everywhere. The blog and accompanying materials seek to speak to the human interest, guided by principles of social justice, environmental stewardship, protection and promotion of human rights, and peace rather than by the interests of governments or corporations. Greed, injustice, and violence are our targets; and diplomacy focused on engagement is the preferred strategy for transcending differences. Einstein once said that “those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.”We are dedicated to that ideal and sense of responsibility.

About me

mel-gravitar

I am Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University (Oregon) and Senior Editor of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly, which from 1994 to 2017 I served as Editor-in-Chief. I have published thirty books on the international politics of East Asia, US foreign policy, and human-security issues. My latest book is America in Retreat: Foreign Policy Under Donald Trump, published by Rowman & Littlefield in August 2020.  Other recent books are <eWill This Be China’s Century? A Skeptic’s View (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013) and Engaging Adversaries: Peacemaking and Dplomacy in the Human Interest (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).

I live in Deadwood, a very small community in western Oregon, where I help my wife in the beautiful Heirloom apple orchard and vegetable garden she has created.

7 Comments

  1. I love your piece today on “The Smirking Chimp”.I live in a small narrow-mined community in Ohio and am always seeking out kindred souls in this a most dark period in the history of this country.Thank-you for brightening my day.

  2. Your class in the MIM program at PSU was my number 1 favorite class in the entire program. My interests in international affair started after taking your class. I immediately thought of your lecture on North Korea when the North and South Koreas’ leaders met two days ago. What you said in the lecture about North Korea was right although many American students strongly disagreed with you during the lecture. I happened to bump into you one time at PDX airport while waiting for TSA bag checks few years after graduation. Pardon me for forgetting your full name at that time but I always remember your awesome lectures. By the way, your knowledge of the Chinese language was truly impressive, even better than mine. Cheers to you Professor Gurtov!

  3. I’m signed up for “follow by email.” BTW, Ming Tan’s “your knowledge of the Chinese language was truly impressive, even better than mine. Cheers to you Professor Gurtov!” only echoes what I experienced in the past, in the old days at U.C. Riverside. I won’t forget that time in San Berdoo at the Chinese joint featuring one of the Kuomintang’s/ Chiang Kai Shek’s personal chefs (I think!).

  4. Interesting article in Counterpunch, Mel, on Trump’s post-election strategy. In the large, I agree.
    Just looking at your site for first time; read most of Charles Freeman’s thoughtful article on China and the US.
    I tend to agree with most of it. Meanwhile, reading between the lines a bit here, I wonder:
    1) Are you against strong US support for Taiwanese sovereignty? I can understand some of China’s claims, and a global war to defend Taiwan would be, umm, unfortunate, and yet my gut tells me that, dominated or not by the losing faction in the Chinese civil war, this island has the right to continued self-determination. And I think that most people there would bitterly fight mainland takeover.
    2) Do you follow Freeman in what I understand would be his skepticism toward a ‘nationalist’ restructuring of US-Chinese trade? My axiom is, you can’t have free trade with countries that aren’t free, thus de-industrialization of the US, decline of the working middle class – and the victory of Trump. Of course, by forbidding indep. labor unions, and minimizing environmental protection, China cuts costs even more and the US can’t compete. Might you say, if the Democratic and Republican leadership had structured our trade policies with this in mind from the beginning, things might be better now for American workers, but now, in effect, it’s too late – we either have to invest, innovate, and compete, or continue to decline? I’m sure you are conversant with arguments against neoliberalism, the WTO, etc.
    3) Springing from the critique of ‘unfree’ China – and no, I don’t support US direct or covert operations of any kind to subvert CCP control, let the people of China decide – do you think PSU should host a Confucius Institute? I don’t. Although it risks hypocrisy for Americans to puff out our chests toward any country as far as our human rights record here and abroad.
    Anyways, just curious. Perhaps you won’t want to ‘publicly’ comment on some of that. I have no ulterior agenda, I am just ordinary PCC math instructor, and occasional history student at PSU.
    With respect,
    Marc Rose, Portland

    1. Thanks, Marc, for your excellent questions. I’ll be brief with my answers. (1) I do believe in self-determination for the Taiwanese. Unifying with the mainland should only come by the will of Taiwan’s people. At the same time, I don’t support major arms sales to Taiwan, which antagonize the PRC without really adding to Taiwan’s deterrence capability. A PRC invasion is extremely unlikely; a cyber attack is more conceivable. (2) I agree that the keys to trade are competitiveness and innovation, not a trade war, and that means strong USG support for R&D, unions, and multinational investments at home. The US should also recommit to multilateral trade agreements so long as they provide for worker and environmental protection. (3) I do support Confucius Institutes, at PSU and elsewhere, although they are becoming a dying breed. Please see my blog #279. I just completed a report with 3 colleagues on CIs in the US (including PSU’s). We found not a sngle instance in which they pushed the party’s line or tried in any way to undermine academic freedom. But they have become caught up in the current anti-China wave, and half of them have closed.

      1. Thanks so much for quick and interesting answers, Mel.
        1) Makes a lot of sense. At the same time, ‘behind the scenes’ there is the ability of China to gradually interpenetrate (is that a word?) the economy — and therefore, the society — of a given nation. As they continue to do with the Hong Kong entity. Oh wait, and with the US too! In any case that phenomena would seem to be largely up to the people of Taiwan to deal with.

        2) Yes, but of course the problem is that enforcing decent labor and envir. standards here makes it harder to compete with Chinese practices across the sea. And in the end you make or at least imply my point – that int’l trade agreements should attempt to enforce a level playing field in terms of labor and envir. protection, among other things. Thus, whatever trade agreements shape our trade relations with China are rather worthless because they are toothless in this regard.

        3) Very interesting. I might recall a certain bias of PSU CI special events away from some of the most sensitive phenomena, e.g. Tibet, the Uighurs, … But at the same time some events did reflect criticism – e.g. a film on a certain famous and rather dissident artist – and I don’t recall ever feeling that we were getting a pro-CCP messages aggressively foisted upon us. (Of course, that would not be consistent with soft power). In the end, I must admit, in spite of my opposition, I’m a bit sad to hear that so many CI’s have closed. Wait, I’m saying PSU should not host a CI – but I attended many of their events? Ouch!

        Your post on the CI’s makes a lot of good points. Perhaps a small dialectic. i) One can still object that by most objective standards, China is a dictatorship – witness their purging of the HK parliament – and so hosting a Chinese institute on a public campus is inappropriate. ii) And yet, as you so well point out, it’s a great way to teach Americans about Chinese language and culture, thus improving mutual understanding between two ideologically different regimes. iii) But on the third hand, put this against the larger background of bipartisan US leadership’s construction of an increasingly neoliberal international order – and thus ‘free trade with countries that aren’t free’, and our resulting de-industrialization. Then these ‘programs for mutual understanding,’ ‘increase of student body diversity via PRC student representation,’ ‘enhancement of PSU business school experience through partnership with Chinese entities’ – etc. etc. etc. – well, they can be viewed in a much harsher light.

        To put it another way, I have valued my interactions with individual Chinese at the PSU Confucius institute and other contexts. But, to speak only of environmental affairs, the US and China are leading in the global rape of the environment while covering it over – and the Democratic party has excelled at this — with pleasant sounding discourse about ‘globalization’ and ‘diversity.’

        If only a lot of the people, like Trump, who criticize Chinese practices actually talked more about the lack of workers’ and environmental rights there, and how it relates to similar struggles in our country. But that would not be consistent with Trump’s ideology, which is mostly neoliberal. So he yells a lot about intellectual property rights, and stays quiet about most other things.

        Thanks again for your comments – Marc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s