Timothy Garton Ash is quite right on this -- the EU should be ashamed that it needed White House pressure to maintain its arms embargo on China. Readers know I'm something of an EU booster, mainly because I think their emphasis on diplomatic relations, morally defensible policy-making, and emphasis on soft power are proving pretty powerful as a counterweight to American belligerence. But you can't spend the days pasting gold stars on yourself and then turn around to try and ship armaments to a country with a terrible human rights record and a continuing habit of threatening to invade Taiwan. And to be talked down by Bush? Someone should be apologizing for allowing that gut punch to European dignity.
As Garton writes, it's not that the US is blameless here -- we export 6.7% of China's weapons while Europe only provides 2.7%, and it's hard to fault the EU for wanting to cultivate the Dragon as a primary trading partner (this year, the EU passed America as China's largest source of trade), but they need to keep the moral high ground when doing it. China is an emerging force, no doubt about that. But we have to remember that, eventually, they won't be emerging anymore, they'll be a real force, and the dynamics of the relationships we forge now will dictate our ties later. For now, China is something of a precociously smart, shockingly strong, child. Don't let him think he can just bully the world.