America's performance in Iraq is apparently prompting our allies to doubt whether we could defeat China head-to-head.

The overwhelming assessment by Asian officials, diplomats and analysts is that the U.S. military simply cannot defeat China. It has been an assessment relayed to U.S. government officials over the past few months by countries such as Australia, Japan and South Korea. This comes as President Bush wraps up a visit to Asia, in which he sought to strengthen U.S. ties with key allies in the region.

Most Asian officials have expressed their views privately. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has gone public, warning that the United States would lose any war with China.

"In any case, if tension between the United States and China heightens, if each side pulls the trigger, though it may not be stretched to nuclear weapons, and the wider hostilities expand, I believe America cannot win as it has a civic society that must adhere to the value of respecting lives," Mr. Ishihara said in an address to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

I certainly don't know enough to say either way, but this doesn't sound right to me. Anyway, this is certainly yet another side-effect of the flypaper strategy in Iraq that we're using to lure in terrorists. We may be meeting that strategic goal, but to most people it looks as if we can't crush the resistance.

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