WHY WE SHOULD NOT TRY TO “CONTAIN” CHINA

a comment to an article by Andrew Browne published in the Wall Street Journal on 12th June 2015 

We should sincerely thank Mr. Browne for his article published by WSJ on June 12th, 2015. As our memories of the Cold War hysteria have been fading away, the author reminds us of our leader’s myopia and, since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, the almost necessity to be able to find a new “enemy” we (or rather they) were so desperately looking for.

Which better candidate than China to replace former USSR, by depicting it as a powerful country poised to conquer the world? China can, at pleasure, be labeled as “red”, “communist”, “dictatorial”, “imperialist” or a “Frankenstein” just when our military spending urgently needs again a raison d’être and a new well-defined scapegoat after our own mess in the Middle East.

America’s engagement with China looks rather as a “clumsy containment” at best, a failed attempt to rein in what we perceive as a potential threat. It has perhaps been forgotten that not later than in 1997, the US Gov’t was begging China to devalue CNY to help the ailing SE Asian economies when the IMF and World Bank medicines were not delivering the promised effects. A plead reversed only a few years later when the US dollar-denominated exports started dwindling.

At that time Mr. Lawrence Summer managed to stop Japan from creating a 100 billion Asian Monetary Fund. This time, sorry for him and Mr. Henry Paulson, the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is the creation of a less malleable, independently minded country. How has this been possible? Is the “American Lake” shrinking? Someone else wants to build her own sphere of influence? Is there again someone interfering with our hegemonic plans of world domination? We need to be ready to go great lengths ‘to do what needs to be done’ to re-establish our core values (and interests)! We thought to be the only one to displace local population as the British did for the US on Diego Garcia (1968-1973), or trod on someone else’s territory and sea, and build whatever we deem appropriate (as we have planned to do in Henoko Bay, Okinawa). We established 700 military bases (but there are probably a few we have lost count of) and we will not tolerate any country to build not one of her own, even few hundred nautical miles from her coast.

Mr. Browne recalls a phrase uttered by Nixon in 1967 that America has “to persuade China that it must change” and five years later during his famous trip in 1972 that “by opening China, we will turn the communist giant into a diplomatic partner [to isolate the Soviets] one that would adopt America’s values and maybe even its system of democracy” (and eventually buy American goods, as XVIII century Manchester’s spinning and milling entrepreneurs were thinking –‘if only every Chinese would make their robe an inch longer …’).

In the article we read about today’s disappointment in the U.S., heightened by the fact that engagement with China has promised so much and progressed so far [little] and that the ideological gap hasn’t narrowed at all. A hubris and haughtiness only second to Mr. Thomas Friedman.

Myopia does not affect only politicians, but also their scribblers. China has always followed her own ways. Before it was communism with Chinese characteristics, today is Capitalisme à la Chinoise. When Nixon ever wrote that “Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors” it tells a lot about how poorly he was informed and about his inability to discern what was really happening in those days, caught as China was in the midst of her Cultural Revolution.

Since China has opened her door, unlike the USA, who has been bullying Middle Eastern nations with pre-emptive wars, she pre-empted an economic clash with her SE Asian neighbours, inviting them to join a period of unheard prosperity for a fifth of humanity. The recent creation of AIIB is only the last step in the creation of a Western-free-sphere of co-prosperity.

But what would happen if we would let this going on? If China continues in her benign expansion it could reverse the course of history laid down for us by the Almighty (and by us). Something unexpected could reverse our Divine plans.
Just imagine for a moment, for whatever reason, the indigenous population of Hawaii declares independence from the USA. China could promptly support it, send her fleet, sell hundreds of warplanes and other weapon systems to a country which is fighting for her independence and freedom (sounds familiar with Taiwan?). How could we possibly tolerate it, since we and only we are the predestined country, the chosen one, the one which reveres at every cash transaction the only and unmistakable God of ours with our prayer printed on our beloved bucks (“IN GOD WE TRUST”)?

We must prevent doomsday, when China will strike an alliance with Mexico and place her warships (including an aircraft carrier), a dozen thousand soldiers, and a bunch of atomic bombs on the island of Guadalupe, Baja California (the distance between Okinawa and Wenzhou is of 390 nautical miles, while Guadalupe from Los Angeles is about 300 miles away).

Mr. Browne writes about the fact that “the optimistic prospects of transforming an ancient civilization through engagement, followed by deep disillusion, has been the pattern ever since early Jesuit missionaries sought to convert the Chinese to Christianity. Those envoys adopted the gowns of the Mandarin class, grew long beards and even couched their gospel message in Confucian terms to make it more palatable. The 17th-century German priest Adam Schall got as far as becoming the chief astronomer of the Qing dynasty but fell from favour and the Jesuits were later expelled”.

Well then, shall we conclude that if the Chinese do not want to learn from us by hook, perhaps by crook?

We ought to know better and instead ask ourselves on what ground should China (or any other country for that matter) adopt America’s values or system. Do we ever ask ourselves which values or system are we talking about? Is America really democratic, where few clans (the Kennedy’s, the Bush’s, the Clinton’s) dominate the political scene? A country where the entry fee to a political race is a six-digit figure, powerful lobbies write the laws for senators and congressmen, and 0.1% of the population (about 300,000 people) have as much as 90% of US national wealth (out of a total population of 318 million, 2014 census). Isn’t America a country based on a moral plane founded on racism, wealth discrimination, hypocrisy, arrogance and bullish attitude towards the weak? Isn’t America the country of predatory behaviour, of the “quick buck”, where you can bet on someone else’s death, pay her or his insurance and cash in when she or he dies (see “What money can’t buy” by Michael Sandel)?

In their conquest of the West, white Americans have not thought twice about exterminating the natives and enslaving millions to work for them. Why should China become more like us? Isn’t she the longest and uninterrupted great living civilization? Han Chinese during their long history have assimilated other people in their own civilization-state system. The government, run by bureaucrats selected through a meritocratic process, permeates society, is not a part of it. It certainly smacks of paternalism, with its pros and cons, but it is administered like a family, not like a corporation (“What is good for GM is good for America”). Can we really teach her something on the corrupted American Way of Life?

Yes, indeed: once in a while, please, do not copy us!

Thomas Ruehling

 

Korea: Between Life And Death

Nothing is stranger than war. Or more disturbing. It reveals graphically, and tragically, how fragile the flower of life really is. One minute there is peace, and things are settled, certain. The next minute war—and nothing is certain, except that life is all too brief.

We Americans are not used to knowing the dangers of war at first-hand—hence our collective shock at 9/11. Rather, we are used to bringing war to others: Viet Nam, Cambodia, Panama, the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan. Then (so we supposed) we were in control. War was terrible—but from the safe distance of TV and the Internet (excepting the battle-line soldiers and their families, of course). And our lives went on as usual.

In South Korea, where 25,000 US soldiers are based, and where (like myself) thousands of teachers are working, war threatens at any moment. And like last week, sometimes strikes. War is only a few miles away at any given moment: within the easy range of an artillery shell, seen graphically last week when N Korea shelled a disputed, inhabited island, killing four and wounding many. It was the third attack on this island in a little over a decade. Koreans have lived with the possibility of war since the cessation—without a treaty—of the hostilities that marked the end of major fighting in the Korean War. Since then war has always hovered in the air as a possibility, even a probability.

Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean communist dictator, like his father before him, plays a high-stakes craps game with the South, stirring up shadows of war in order to blackmail the South into giving aid and food to a starving N Korea, whose government spends all its monies on the military and nuclear weapons and so has nothing left over for its own people. It banks on South Korea’s indulgence and pacific ways, and its fear of war, which would be much more devastating for a developed South than an undeveloped North. But one day the North may well push too hard. China indulges the North for fear of having a united Korea, and US ally, at its border—but in doing so, she risks North Korea getting out of control and a war enveloping all of Asia.

I was teaching when the shelling started. My students were terrified. Two girls in the front row held hands; one was near tears. An unnatural silence hovered about us. I did my best to be calm and reassuring, but as a foreigner unused to the proximity of war it was a difficult role for me. Evil men are by definition irrational. Hitler at the end ordered the army to destroy Germany! Such men act unpredictably and without regard to consequences. JFK felt pressure from the military to start a nuclear war with the Soviet Union during the missile crisis, but resisted heroically, thus saving civilization from utter annihilation. (Interestingly, Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, joined JFK in resisting his own military too, and paid a high price for it: JFK was later assassinated, and Khrushchev was deposed less than two years later.) JFK had reason, and was a man of deep faith. Kim Jong-Il evidences neither reason nor faith.

Koreans have lived with the specter of war for over 60 years; for the most part they are stoical—though there is a certain “live for the moment” attitude in South Korea as a result, a kind of “eat, drink, and be happy now” attitude—paradoxically admixed with a severe work and study ethic—that permeates all of society.

One day Kim Jong-Il’s high stakes game of craps will fail, and the South’s military will feel compelled to respond aggressively, not just defensively. Then millions will die a senseless death brought on by the unreason and atheism of N Korea’s leader, leading both countries back into the dark ages.

All of which reminds me of the essential helplessness of the human condition. Against the Enlightenment, we are not, and never have been, the captains of our fate—though we are, for good or ill, stuck in one big boat together.

The words of Jesus—“Blessed be the peacemakers”—have taken on a much more personal meaning for me now. Life is sacred, and peace is blessed.

Len Sive Jr, Daily Babel

In quest of an anthropological mutation

Richard Sennett is a renowned American sociologist who happens to be a leftist and the heir of a number of militant Communists. In 1936 his father went to Spain to fight the Francoist insurgents against the almost Communist Republic. Recently professor Sennett gave to an Italian Communist paper an extended interview at the London School of Economics. The core was: the international crisis will worsen soon because the ‘financial capitalism’ which started it is as unwinnable as the medieval Black Death. At being asked, what would he do to fight modern day’s Black Death, Sennett answered “I would nationalize the whole banking sector”.

Now, nobody can doubt an LSE academic’s capacity to obey to at least some logic. It’s therefore clear: Sennett implies that a true revolution would be necessary so that a strong government is able to nationalize the whole financial sector. Who will ever launch said revolution, after so many centuries of unsuccessful tries at the hegemony of money? Better, one and half century after Marx’ Manifesto and almost a century after the apparent victory of Lenin’s revolution?

Nowadays (when the typical compensation of a fair-size corporation is 500 times the one of a salaryperson, and when in special cases said compensation can be many thousand times the one of the lowest-paid, the prospect of any serious mitigation of such iniquities are chimerical) is any hope chimerical?

My answer- the calls to revolution, even to reasonable changes, come from the totally wrong persons. They come from the usual leftist intellectuals, politicians, journalists, film directors and actors. History has taken almost any credibility from this sort of people. When they speak or write, they may look or sound right. They may even be right. But most people, i.e. entire societies or masses, do not set value on them.
So, a completely different race or breed of humans is needed so that a new tiding or faith is announced. Modern history forbids that a better conception of associated existence may be called socialism. A new name must be found. Let’s temporarily call it semisocialism.

A true anthropological mutation is mandatory so that a different social ideal is conceived, a mutation away from the traditional leftist-progressive type. The missionary of a better faith than capitalism will not be the professional and the ambitious; but the Idealist, the Operator of Good. Aiming at a less-capitalist society, we must look at different purveyors of models, ideas, ends and means. If we don’t do this, we’ll die the victims of hypercapitalism. Leftists are on the payroll of conservation. A surgeon for the poor, a compassionate nurse, yes. Smart lawyers, committed literati, shrewd congressmen, no.

A.M.C.
da Daily Babel