Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 3, 2012

A tale of two embassies

Are liberty and the right to intellectual freedom – including free speech – on “the right side of history”?  I’m increasingly unsure how the Obama administration would answer that question.  I’m even a little unsure how the American public would answer it.  The latest and most disturbing case in point is the handling of the situation with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was escorted out of the US embassy in Beijing this week and left in the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Chen, who is blind, was transported to the US embassy on 22 April by well-wishers in China, barely escaping pursuit by authorities.  To secure his departure from the embassy compound, the US agreed to a deal with China by which Chen and his family, who have been tortured and subjected to a brutal form of house arrest for seven years, would be allowed to live, undetained, near a university where Chen could pursue academic studies.  No information has been released as to how the features of that deal would be verified.

Chen reportedly made the decision to leave the embassy when he was told by American personnel that his wife would be beaten by authorities if he did not give himself up.  Chen is in a Chinese hospital, in an extremely vulnerable position, and has been making appeals through the foreign media for help for him and his family.  He has now officially requested asylum of the United States.

Embassies do not make a practice of publicly spiriting asylum-seekers out of host nations, although the embassies of a number of nations, including the US, have quietly assisted over the years in getting asylum-seekers to safety.  During the Cold War, there were official procedures for handling the issue in US embassies and consulates.  Nevertheless, in a publicized case inside the country the dissident seeks to leave, the embassy will not, during normal peacetime relations, take him out of the country by force majeure.

What the embassy can do, however, is offer refuge to the dissident.  The grounds of the US embassy, anywhere in the world, are sovereign US territory.  And what the United States can do is put pressure not on the dissident, but on the dictatorial communist government, to allow Chen and his family to be reunited, and to travel abroad if that’s what they want to do.  Such pressure is more effective when the US has the dissident in safety, and is clearly going to withstand any pressure to give him back to a government that has been torturing and imprisoning him for his beliefs.

The US can put a spotlight on the dissident’s plight, and ensure that the world is watching anything the communist authorities do to his family.  More than that, the president can make it a personal priority to see the dissident released into a safe situation – abroad, if necessary or desired – and a promising future.

How do we know a president and his embassies can do this?  Because it’s what was done by two presidents – Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan – for two Russian Pentecostal Christian families in the former Soviet Union. 

On 27 July, 1978, two Pentecostal families from Chernogorsk, in Siberia, burst into the US embassy in Moscow, seeking American help to leave the country.  They had been attempting to emigrate from the USSR for as much as 20 years (in the case of one of their number), which had resulted only in more assiduous oppression by the Soviet authorities.

Of President Carter, we may say that he did at least the minimum by allowing the Pentecostals to remain in the embassy (where they eventually lived for five years).  There is an interesting echo of the accounts of embassy pressure on Chen in this exchange in October 1978 between Carter and the press (view it here in the papers of the Carter administration):

Q.  Mr. President, a family of Russian Pentecostals, the Vaschenkos, are seeking asylum and are lodged in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  They said in letters that have been smuggled out that the embassy is bringing subtle, emotional pressure to expel them into the hands of the Russians, probably at great risk.  Did you direct the embassy to seek their ouster, or are you willing to give them asylum and visas?

The President.  They are Russian citizens, as you know, and have been in the embassy in the Soviet Union, in Moscow, the American Embassy, for months.  We have provided them a place to stay.  We provided them a room to live in, even though this is not a residence with normal quarters for them.  I would presume that they have no reason to smuggle out correspondence to this country since they have the embassy officials’ ability to transmit messages.  I have not directed the embassy to discharge them from the embassy, no.

Reagan had a more proactive approach, one remembered and affirmed by others in later years.  His concern for those suffering persecution in the communist world was genuine and passionate.  Kiron Skinner wrote about Reagan’s intervention with Soviet authorities – including direct appeals to Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov – in his 2007 book Turning Points in Ending the Cold War.  (See excerpts from pp. 103-4 here.)  According to Skinner:

By the summer of 1983, at the height of the Cold War chill, Reagan and Andropov had privately worked out the details of the Pentecostals’ release from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the families were allowed to leave the country.  As Secretary [of State George] Schultz writes in his memoir, “This was the first successful negotiation with the Soviets in the Reagan administration.”  Schultz further notes, “Reagan’s own role in it had been crucial.”

Skinner recounts further the release of well-known dissident Natan Sharansky in 1986 (then known, before his emigration to Israel, as Anatoly Scharansky), as well as Reagan’s advocacy for the Pentecostals and the army of intellectual dissidents in the Soviet Union on his radio program in the 1970s.

Jimmy Carter may have sounded grudging about his government’s support to the Pentecostals, but he was president in a time when Americans did not doubt that communist governments were brutally oppressive, and that helping their embattled citizens, however diplomatically discordant it might be, was simply the right thing to do.  We were prepared at different levels of government to deal with the possibility, because we knew what state collectivism was, and we knew that people would seek help to get away from it.

The preparedness was not universal, of course.  A Soviet sailor who leaped from his freighter – twice – as it sat pierside in a Louisiana port in 1985, hoped to obtain asylum in the US, but was turned back over to his Soviet superiors by two US Border Patrol agents.  (The freighter was loading grain, which the US was selling the USSR to relieve the suffering of the Soviet people, incident to their 67th annual crop failure since the 1917 revolution.)  The State Department became involved only after the sailor had been handed back over to the ship’s master, and although the interpreter who conveyed his wishes to the Border Patrol agents had been clear that Miroslav Medvid was seeking asylum, Time described what followed in this manner:

When the State Department belatedly learned of the incident 13 hours afterward, it persuaded Soviet officials to let Medvid be interviewed. He was examined and questioned by State Department representatives as well as by the Navy doctor and Air Force psychiatrist, both of whom concluded that he was not under the influence of drugs and was competent to decide what he wanted to do. While his ship’s skipper, its doctor and two Soviet diplomats watched, Medvid insisted that he had merely fallen overboard and had no intention of deserting.

The psychiatrist, however, said the evidence showed that Medvid had jumped “purposefully from his ship” and that when he was returned to it, he “probably felt very afraid of the consequences and very much trapped in a corner.” The Soviets apparently threatened to retaliate against the sailor’s family at home, and he became “rather guilty at having jeopardized their safety,” the psychiatrist theorized. The State Department ruled that he could not be held against his expressed wishes and let him return to the Konev.

There are parallels with the Chen situation in just about every previous instance of refuge-seeking by the oppressed from communist nations.  Of all the arms of the US government that ought still to be attuned to the likelihood of these cases, the US embassy in Beijing would seem to be at the top of the list.  The key difference today appears to be the basic posture of the US government.  As regards China specifically, we should not pin that exclusively on the Obama administration.  There has very much been an attitude for the last 20 years that, with the Cold War over, it is outdated to see China through the human-rights lens of the Cold War.

When China proves clearly just how apposite that Cold War lens still is, it may be that a US administration is caught flat-footed.  The “tactical” particulars of the situation – Chen’s unexpected arrival at the embassy, the publicity, and his family’s peril in the hands of the Chinese authorities – meant that the embassy could not easily pursue a quiet plan to help his whole family leave the country.

But that is the sort of tactically inconvenient situation that is likely to arise with people in great trouble.  If we don’t see China, from a strategic perspective, as a source of such situations, we won’t be operationally prepared for them.

Once they do happen, a US administration has discretion over how it responds, and on that head, the Obama administration deserves criticism.  The whole world knows the peril Chen and his family are in.  The right approach here is not to seek a “solution” that gets the governments of China and the US off the hook; it’s to stand by Chen and demand that he be treated with the respect for his rights understood in the Helsinki Accords.  While China is not a signatory to the Accords, their standard for freedom, travel and emigration, and reunification of families is the touchstone to be invoked in this instance.

If we do not believe that, enough to stand up for it when it is inconvenient to our other diplomatic plans, then there was little point in winning the Cold War.  Indeed, if our fear of angering China is greater than our commitment to the freedoms Chen Guangcheng is relying on us to defend, then we didn’t win the Cold War after all.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online

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Responses

  1. If you had written this, say, two weeks ago, we would have been able to congratulate your prescience in anticipating the “situation that was likely to arise”.

    But you didn’t.

    • Please explain how Dyer’s “lack of prescience” invalidates her logic and assertions. If you can’t, then you demonstrate that you’re simply seeking to “baffle them with bull***t” clearly lacking the ability to dazzle with brilliance.

      • The “argument from lack of prescience” seemed insignificant to me, too, GB, but we’re a family blog here. :-)

        • Point taken, pardon my lapse in judgement. In the future, I’ll endeavor to keep it to PG-13…:-)

        • Well. now, you wrote these words, and one must assume that you meant them to be no less “significant” than the rest of what you wrote.

          You seem to be criticising the State Department for not anticipating something or other. The question then arises as to what you yourself would have anticipated in the circumstances. You don’t tell us. All you do is give us an ex-post-facto rant against the manner our diplomats and State have handled a situation over which they have little actual control.
          Chen presented himself in the US embassy. He could have stayed there forever had he wished, under the protection of the United States. The Chinese wouldn’t have precipitated a diplomatic incident over his presence in the embassy. However, Chen was well aware that his family and supporters were vulnerable to sanctions and reprisals from the Chinese security agencies, and he was justifiably concerned for their safety. It is a fact beyond argument that his family and supporters are completely beyond the protection of the United States. Are you suggesting we have the ability to credibly threaten the Chinese with sanctions in relation to the manner in which they treat their own people on their own soil? Should we have sent a squad of Navy Seals into China to protect these people? Chen himself decided to leave the embassy under protocols agreed with the Chinese authorities. Are you seriously suggesting we should have detained him in the embassy against his will?
          You must be devastated that Hilary Clinton seems to have negotiated a resolution which will secure Chen’s future and safety. She has done this in a situation in which the US has few cards to play. Sadly, the position of Chen’s supporters and the other Chinese dissidents will have to await political reform within China. This is something that is also beyond the power of the US. Perhaps you are suggesting we should apply trade-sanctions, or wage another “cold war” to force the Chinese to adopt the norms of a Western Liberal Democracy? Perhaps we should threaten a blockade? Or nuke ‘em, or even prohibit US firms from trading with the Chinese?

          So what would YOU have anticipated that the US government didn’t? And what different action would you have taken?

          • Well?

            Still waiting…………

            • Nice try. First, you answer my question, which was asked first. That’s some chutzpah, once again the pot calls the kettle black.

              “Please explain how Dyer’s “lack of prescience” invalidates her logic and assertions. If you can’t, then you demonstrate that you’re simply seeking to “baffle them with bull***t” clearly lacking the ability to dazzle with brilliance.”

  2. Well, no surprise here. This administration seems to have a set of well-defined priorities and seems to be playing it accordingly.

    I am sure that “angering China” cannot be seen as diplomatically useful to BHO’s administration if ever it might require another few trillion dollars for some hair-brained bail out plan or another. After all, being able to finance entitlements and unfair shares of wealth and benefits for a bunch of government and/or government protected unions is far more important than one man’s or one family’s freedom.

    This exercise in prioritization might also be singularly earmarked for the diplomatic trash bin if the particular freedom being evaluated has anything to do with any degree of opposition to any possible level of abortion regardless of how heinous it might be or even by how tainted by government mandate it might also be. After all, one never knows when these progressive ideas might actually become useful to a “bigger” plan; like Universal Healthcare, for instance…

    But, in any case, as some might say……………..FORWARD!

    rafa

  3. I can’t sign on to the “bash the Obama administration” over this, not because they aren’t complicit in betraying the principles and values that we fought the cold war over but because every administration since Nixon has, to one degree or another, betrayed those principles and values.

    There has been a consistent failure to promulgate a coherent China policy which demonstrates an understanding that Capitalism, as practiced by the US is insufficient to triumph over Communism.

    Since Nixon, the US has refused to pursue fiscally sound economic policies. Nixon and perhaps every President since him (with the possible exception of Reagan) has failed to understand that for Capitalism to defeat Communism absolutely requires fiscal discipline upon the West’s part. A positive trade balance is critical and we have manifestly failed to accomplish that vital component of a successful strategy.

    Much of this failure must rest upon our inability to live within our means, necessary to maintain a positive trade balance. Our economic dependency upon China’s willingness to extend credit greatly weakens our negotiating position.

    Just as important, if not even more so is the strategic importance of forthright admission that China’s government and ruling elite is still fully committed to Communism. An admission which has become politically incorrect and frowned upon as recidivist.

    China’s communist government and the power structure that supports that government, do not support individual liberty. Indeed, they oppose it, which places them in opposition to our principles and values.

    In turn, Communism is not simply an alternative system of governance. It’s two foundational premises are that Capitalism is responsible for most of what is wrong in the world and that individualism is a dysfunctional aberration. It insists that collectivism is the only valid paradigm and it willingly resorts to extreme violence, including unapologetic murder and genocide to impose that paradigm upon humanity.

    US policy under every administration since Nixon has quietly avoided these truths and assumed that undisciplined consumption fueled by monetary policies extending unsustainable credit were alone sufficient to seduce Communist China into abandoning Communism.

    The flawed assumptions underlying US policy are ultimately what prevents the US from standing by dissidents like Chen Guangcheng. Not a mere lack of diplomatic backbone.

    • While I do not disagree with what you say I will ask the following: Why has the American Government’s policies vs. China’s Communism failed as miserably as you point out?

      The reason I ask is this: I do not believe that our country is being run by incompetents and idiots and, taking your assessment seriously, which I am, I would almost have to believe that. Keeping Capitalism healthy enough to be a shining example of a better and more satisfactory economic system is paramount to the strategy of convincing others by example. And, yet, as you well say, we can’t really accomplish that by relying heavily on the very system that we hope to impact with our example. So much so, by the way, that even a grade school kid would accept those two things as a matter of basic logic and pure common sense.

      And, yet, GB, that seems to be exactly what we are ignoring.

      rafa

      • In my opinion, the reasons for our failures with regard to China have changed over time. In the past, we did not consider China the same threat as the Soviet Union. Today, we are paralyzed because we owe our financial soul to the Chinese Communist company store.

        • A superb example of concise analysis!

        • Again you too presume a certain level of stupidity in our foreign policy and within our government. Even through both parties having control of the big chair as well as Congress.

          Whcih begs the question, if we are being governed by fools and blathering idiots, what does that make us…?

          rafa

          • That makes us a nation with a near majority of spendthrifts with an entitlement mentality. It’s not stupidity per se that is controlling our government and foreign policy but politicians reacting to the political reality of a public unwilling to do without and live within their means.

            Both parties respond to that political reality by “kicking the can own the road”.

            When fiscal conservatives like Paul Ryan do try to rein in excessive deficits, they are demonized by the left and the MSM.

            Liberals, the left’s “useful idiots” lend critical support to that effort and ensure that the trade deficit with China grows greater every minute. That shall continue until we experience fiscal collapse known as sovereign bankruptcy, when the deficit spending will end.

            Once that happens, several consequential realities will unavoidably follow; 1) China will refuse to extend our credit and attempt to legally seize assets placed as collateral against their prior extension of credit to the US and the West. 2) The left will argue and liberals will echo the meme that sovereign bankruptcy “proves” that Capitalism doesn’t work. Calls for nationalization of key industries will quickly follow with an attempt to embed socialism as deeply as possible within the social fabric of the nation. 3) Economic Chaos, Rioting, Homelessness and Starvation will fuel demands for nationwide martial law to be declared until the emergency is over. 4) If not already in power, the rise of a demagog is virtually certain, one who blames the rich (simple explanation) and promises to fix everything (make the problem go away), they will attract a substantial amount of support. The greater the economic distress the greater the attraction and support for the demagog.

            If Obama is reelected and sovereign bankruptcy occurs before 2016, he will seek to use martial law as a means to nationalization and the embedding of transnational socialism into law.

      • That is exactly what we are ignoring and it’s not incompetence or idiocy that is responsible for our strategic failure but a lack of societal consensus as to how to proceed forward and an unwillingness to make the sacrifices necessary.

        A combination of factors has led to our failure.

        There were serious doubts expressed when Nixon opened China. As I recall, the primary one being that Nixon (and we) were making a two-fold bet; that a more prosperous life, enabled through Capitalism would seduce the people of China away from Communism. While simultaneously recognizing that we would be in effect, greatly strengthening China and the wager was that China’s Communism would collapse before they became economically and militarily powerful enough to be a real threat.

        Communism hasn’t been abandoned in China like it arguably has in Russia. There are, to my knowledge, no indications of widespread, serious unrest in China.

        Due to our societal unwillingness to live within our means, we have enabled China’s rise to economic prominence and provided the means for their military build-up.

        Until the 1989 Tienanmen Square uprising, advocates could arguably maintain that it was premature to assess the success of our bet. After 38 years, that is no longer the case.

        Formulating new policies arising out of a reformed China strategy would require returning to sound fiscal policies, anathema to the left and so far, unachievable by the right.

        We are literally sabotaging our own efforts through undisciplined fiscal policies.

        Too many of the public, the highly influential and those in power would rather pretend the problem isn’t urgent and are leaving it for future generations to resolve.

        Which, in the future, shall create a much larger and more difficult problem than would be the case were we willing to make the sacrifices needed.

        Due to our economy’s dependence upon easy credit, China is in the dominant position. They dictate the relationships dynamics and issues of human rights which they view as an internal matter are out of bounds for serious discussion.

        As Communism cannot tolerate other political systems, no internal mechanism exists within it to allow for the “loyal opposition”. Thus it clings to power until it either internally implodes, through an inability to maintain competitiveness with a competitor, ala the arms race and Soviet Union or through armed rebellion and external conflict.

        By undermining our ability to compete with China economically we are ensuring that military conflict is the sole venue remaining for resolution of inherent incompatibilities.

        Nuclear capabilities make military conflict unthinkable.

        Yet, fundamental cultural misunderstandings between China; perhaps the culture with the most natural tendency toward “collectivism” and the US, the champion of individualism ensure that perceptions about each others motivations and actions will be likely to be skewed.

        Taiwan is a potential flashpoint, which could easily lead to another scenario like WWI, where despite strong self-interest in maintaining the peace, war became unavoidable.

        • So, just to confirm if I am reading you correctly, what you are saying or implying is that our democratic system has been corrupted and successfully tainted by those “unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary”.

          And, also, that since politicians are guided by the constant search for votes from the majority and not necessarily by common sense or, even, by what’s actually good for the nation, we have entered and remain in the current self-serving, egocentric frame of foreign policy that you so clearly define.

          OK. I got that and I agree with most of what you say. However, what you are describing is the mechanics by which we got into this sorry mess in the first place, not, as I was hoping for, the real motivations of those that make a handsome living manipulating the easily impacted “will” of the masses.

          Actually, I sincerely believe that it is important to address the chicken and egg question when we discuss this particular theme. So, doing just that, did the nation slowly and magically become selfish and collectively self-serving? Did the ostrich thing just happened by chance or by miscalculation when it came to our China Policy or, to the contrary, did we get snookered into the China Policy and other like situations in order to make us even more self-serving and selfish with even more cheap bread and circuses?

          And, finally if China was all such a blatantly big miscalculation, why do we insist that we should keep doing that?

          The reason these questions are so important, at least to me, is because I don’t believe that we were always this way. We certainly weren’t this way when we got together to form a nation and we were not this way when we landed in the beaches of Normandy and died by the hundreds in pursuit of a concept.

          Ironically, it’s been down-hill since then…

          In spite of the perceived and well marketed “intentions” that might have guided us in our “China Policy” and in spite of the silly and unsubstantiated empty rhetoric of “if we build it they will come” that we have been using for decades now, we are the ones that are bending over backwards to become more and more like them than they are the ones trying and working to become more and more like us.

          So, I also ask, when will the failure of this death march become apparent to our seemingly “blind”-to-facts leaders?

          The scoreboard is quite clear on this. We support Opec nations to our constant and growing detriment and this seems to open the argument door for more and more unproven “green” theories and policies. We allow North Korea to survive a war that they and the Chinese lost and they are increasingly dangerous to the whole world. We openly support China with one-sided trade policies, an incredible influx of money, technology and open markets and now they own our house, our yacht and our car. We continue to allow enemies in our backyard (Venezuela and Cuba, to name but two among many more) while we spend trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives to protect even more enemies in the Middle East; a place that would just as soon see us burned to the ground. We heavily finance, support and prop up the UN (spit!) and they become a rabid nest of anti-Americanism and the center of the international socialists fight against capitalism in the entire world. Based in new York, of course!!!
          And now, instead of taking a good hard look at Europe and at the abject failure of their socialist policies there, we model our own social structure and policies after them, not theirs after ours. And we head center lane and full speed ahead down the very same path that is destroying everything in that once great corner of the world as if joining in the disaster couldn’t be done soon enough.

          The sheer idiocy and foolhardiness of all those “failed” policies is so apparently stupid and self-destructive that I continue to wonder and ask if our current situation, exactly opposite to being a failure, is not actually a huge success behind the real intention behind our corrupt politics and our disasterous foreign policies. The undeniable lack of common sense and logic begs to be analyzed and studied carefully because we continue to sit here discussing how bad things are turning out for us, being surprised by all of it and secretly hoping for the system to help us spin out of the negative spiral that we find ourselves in. And, frustratingly, while we pray for some political hero or miracle that is not happening, we fail to notice how it is the system that we pray to that has been masterfully used to get us here in the first place.

          I often feel like the new recruit that, when the sergeant asked for volunteers to clean the latrine, found himself standing alone one step in front of everybody else in his squad, not because he took the step forward, but because all the others took one step back and left him there. So it is with me. I swore allegiance to this system early in life because I naively expected that this system would remain strong and allied with me. But it doesn’t seem to be turning out that way. What I see instead are the enemies of the system, both foreign and domestic, being reinforced by an uneven, progressive tax code, promoted by our own government and copied, emulated and even admired by most of us. Officially, no less…

          And, so, I am just wondering if there isn’t a bunch of bureaucrats, autocrats and politicians in Washington giving each other a daily high five because all “hope” is practically lost, “change” is in the making and, after all is said and done…they have already practically won.

          rafa

          • rafa,

            Good questions and yes, the subject goes much deeper than we’ve yet plumbed. I have some insights for you to consider but unfortunately timing is an issue. I’m in the process of moving across country and the evenings are my only available time for response. I won’t forget and will post here in the next few days.

            • Thank you, GB. I’m looking forward to your comments.

              rafa

          • Regarding, “the real motivations of those that make a handsome living manipulating the easily impacted “will” of the masses.”

            IMO, there are two primary factors that have shaped America’s left and supportive liberals.

            In my view, the left are those committed to revolutionary change. Liberals are best described by Stalin’s “useful idiots” descriptor. Ignorance, emotionalism and naivete are strong components of American liberals.

            The two primary factors are an individual psychological dynamic and the societal philosophy which most resonates with that psychological dynamic.

            The societal ‘philosophy’ that resonates with the left is post modernism. See: The Modern Left: A Marriage of Post-Modernism and Narcissism” for an insightful series on this dynamic and how it applies to the left.

            Then read, THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE SOCIALIST REVIVAL, AND THE RISE OF ISLAMOFASCISM for a deeper understanding of both the left and how and why they act as apologists for Islamic radicalism. Be sure to scroll down for the chart at the bottom of the article, a marvel of explanatory clarification.

            The individual psychological dynamic that all liberals and the most idealistic of the left share is the essentially infantile protest against life’s apparent and essential unfairness.

            A child throwing a temper tantrum yelling “it’s not fair!” is an example of an unwillingness to accept reality and that same dynamic runs throughout the left and modern liberalism.

            I’m not referring to the desire to leave the world a better place for future generations but rather a belief (expressed or not) in utopianism and the perfectibility of mankind.

            That core belief prevents acceptance of life’s unfairness and thus precludes apprehending the understanding that life MUST be ‘unfair’… for without the unfairness of individual exceptionalism beyond the norm (hardly fair to the rest) no progress is possible. Ironically, evolution’s primary driving force; individual mutation…is impossible without ‘unfairness’.

            Post modernism freed the left from facts, reason and rationality by denying objective truth. Infantile protests against reality sustain liberal belief in utopianism.

            “Did the nation slowly and magically become selfish and collectively self-serving?”

            No, its a cultural change wrought by my generation, the baby boomers, whose narcissism erupted in infantile protest against their loss of innocence and rage at the greatest generation’s “feet of clay”…

            “Did the ostrich thing just happened by chance or by miscalculation when it came to our China Policy or, to the contrary, did we get snookered into the China Policy and other like situations in order to make us even more self-serving and selfish with even more cheap bread and circuses?”

            Early on, say through Reagan, it was too early to conclude that our simplistic China policy was a failure. By the time that Clinton took over, we were already dependent upon cheap Chinese labor.

            “And, finally if China was all such a blatantly big miscalculation, why do we insist that we should keep doing that?”

            The economic pain of starting to live within our means is too terrible to contemplate and the necessary consensus to formulate a new strategy is absent.

            • First of all, thank you for your well thought out commentary about this subject.

              However, it all seems too simple somehow. I see it more as the death struggle between two contending groups: the individualist and the collectivist. While I agree with you that the collectivist might well choose that particular side because it provides him or her with great cover for their own individual lack of talent or drive, I am slow to agree that this is all part of some childish tantrum or a lack of desire to do hard duty from the modern left or from its useful idiots.

              I also think that the motivating factor, perhaps the principal supporting element behind the current herd of socialists and communists lies much deeper and is much more dangerous than the self-indulgent narcissism to which you allude. I believe that they, the socialists and communists, are set to replace our traditional spiritual form of conscience and morality with what appears to be a the seemingly more appealing short term temptation of living with an almost total absence of either. Because once the logical expectations of a Higher Being, be it God, Natural Law or whatever other spiritual power one might choose to bow to is taken out of the equation what would remain but for government to regulate and impose upon our social behavior more modern and progressive secular rules that would only serve to drive us further and further away from our traditional cultural roots, the principal source of our strength. Instead, they would place themselves in a position to see that the ruling social parameters were designed and set by the central power of government which, in their eyes, would take over the functions of being the uncontested conscience of us all.

              If I am right, then they, the socialist and communist strategists and operators are the real useful idiots because they are the ones doing the hard work for whatever dark forces work to deprive humanity of its spirit and of its soul.

              But this subject is much too complicated and involved to treat here and, perhaps, this is not the forum to take this subject to the depths it deserves.

              One last thought, however. Ironically, it will be the nation, the collective, who will be tasked to choose one path or the other. It will do so by the use of the collectivist best tool: Democracy.

              rafa

    • What’s with the “triumph over Communism” meme? If the stunted, abbreviated, warped and distorted “capitalism” that we supposedly practice is superior to communism won’t it pretty much win the “competition”? And aren’t the Chinese compromising their own Marxist principles by turning much of their population into wage slaves? The idea that there even is some kind of a collective competition between the Chinese and the West, especially the US, is a fantasy promoted by a diversity of characters with their own agendas on both sides. Commie apparatchiks want to be rich, just like American business school grads. Both groups are entrepreneurial in their own context and have to operate within the power structure that surrounds them.

      • Spoken firmly in the view that the conflict between Communism and Democracy is extinct. That premise is what distorts your accurate analysis and leads to your faulty conclusion.

        Your analysis that the West practices a, “stunted, abbreviated, warped and distorted” form of “capitalism” and that the Chinese are “compromising their own Marxist principles by turning much of their population into wage slaves” is correct. Remember however, that Marxism has never allowed internal contradiction in logic to preclude allegiance to ideology. Denial being a human characteristic, rather than solely cultural.

        Your assertion that most Commie apparatchiks “want to be rich, just like American business school grads. Both groups are entrepreneurial in their own context and have to operate within the power structure that surrounds them.” is accurate as well but critically incomplete.

        Where your analysis goes astray is in it not acknowledging that many Communists place equal or higher priority upon their ideology, just as many of us do. China has ‘bet’ that a moderate, highly regulated form of capitalism is tolerable as a transitional phase, necessary to acquire the resources necessary to triumph over the US, which its ideology presents as an absolute and unavoidable ideological imperative.

        It is they who ultimately, cannot tolerate co-existence. Making the “collective competition” between the Chinese and the US, virtually unavoidable.

        Your inability and/or unwillingness to perceive this cultural reality, leads to your faulty conclusion.

        Yet, reality remains. “Facts are stubborn things” John Adams

        • The billion strong Chicoms, led by their own particular group of gangsters, have their own fish to fry. Our problem isn’t with them, on the other side of the globe, but with the statist corporatist banksters in our midst. In fact, you might say that the Chinese are our benefactors, holding down the wages of their own laborers so they can sell us inexpensive stuff. Then we can use the money we save to buy other neat things like magic phones and tickets to hockey games. They then take the US currency and buy Treasury certificates so Grandma can get her social security check. What’s not to like?

          On the other hand, our home-grown faux-capitalists, that run the government-subsidized banks, don’t even need to haul in containers filled with shirts, socks and toys to sell. The generous feds simply GIVE them money, money that’s supposedly going to have to be repaid by SOMEONE, SOMEDAY. When the doo doo hits the fan, it won’t be because of some commissar in Beijing, it’ll be because the US Congress and its bureaucrat henchmen and their moneybag torpedos at the big banks just went too far with their money games.

          • In the short term you are correct. Ignoring the long term danger however may be fatal. The difference between the two threats is that the “faux-capitalists” are parasitic but not life threatening.

            • I dissagree with Mr. Britain (respectfully, of course). The faux-capitalists, as Mr. Martel correctly calls them, are very dangerous to the life of our Republic and to our economic system. They are even more dangerous than the overt socialists and communists precisely because of their covert nature. This misinformation provides a very good smoke screen to the inner-workings of the out-of-the-closet socialists and provides them with a very handy back door to the heart of the system.

              Indeed they are very much life-threatening.

              rafa

              • We can survive the faux capitalists, even if they bring our entire economic system down. Many countries have experienced sovereign bankruptcy and returned to economic health. The thing to remember is that faux capitalists are selfish and self-centered, a fatal psychological flaw, which in the long run greatly limits their ability to maintain control of the economic levers. They rely upon ignorance and, the light of exposure is a mortal threat to them.

                I do not however define ‘faux capitalists’ as socialists or even of the left. Some are of course but greed supersedes any political ideology.

                China’s economic dominance and communist ideology makes them a unique threat. They are masters of subtlety, misdirection and subterfuge and by the time the threat is undeniable, few options will be available.


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