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George F. Will's "child-like trust in evil"
The dean of politicos sells us a long-discredited China policy, with tired, long-broken promises
John Patrick

China's new consumerism does not allow us to declare victory and go home, but George Will has now turned in the latest rendition of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" about China. This was his recent column in Newsweek, and given Will's stature as pundit-in-chief, it is presumably the best that our establishment can offer. Their best is not good enough. This best defense of China policy includes crossing one's fingers, where Will says, "U.S. foreign policy certainly hopes so."

Will describes U.S. China policy as steady across 33 years. That glosses over some twists, turns, and bumps in the road. The student uprising at Tiananmen Square came within one meeting of changing that government. Post-Tiananmen, Ronald Reagan might have collapsed the government of China with one speech; however, Reagan had recently left office, and his successor in essence ducked and dodged the occasion. The world witnessed evil, and where was George? Reagan might have gone on TV with a speech, the night of June 4; Bush waited until the next day, with comments in the press room that did not rise to the occasion.

The world witnessed evil, and to this day, we still await a White House response that is commensurate. It was a choice of George H.W. Bush in the day to brace, buttress, and stabilize that government, which holds the world's record for mass murder. The continued trade with China was noxious and objectionable, because it is a gravy train for the Communists -- "welfare for tyrants," as I call it. Some may think the U.S. trade deficit with China is worthwhile as the price of admission to access that market of customers; but political punditry in this country has been soft on trade deficits, while it used to be merciless with budget deficits. Trade deficits are not "the good deficits," and China's rulers are not "the good Communists." Currents of opinion to the contrary are only the failure of modern American political punditry.

When one lone man stopped a line of tanks with his bare hands (the classic image of June 5, 1989), that was a confrontation. Which side are we on? One might have thought--in a freedom loving nation--that all are on the side of the tank stopper. The U.S. executive branch, in all of its cravenness, took the side of the tank driver. Establishment toadies get over things easily, and they have been happy to gloss this matter over ever since. America may as well have stated, "Gee, that was a tough fight with the students. Did you scuff your military hardware? Here, let us buy you some new tanks, guns, and ammunition." The arming of Communist China has proceeded from there.

What else did George Will gloss over? The Clinton flip flop. Bill Clinton got elected in part by decrying "the butchers of Beijing." Dissatisfaction with the incumbent China policy led to Clinton promises of a tougher China policy. At a convention featuring two Chinese dissidents, Clinton said he would "not coddle tyrants, from Baghdad to Beijing." He further promised the renewal of trade (Most Favored Nation status) with linkage to progress on human rights. All of these promises were broken in 1994, and buried in 1999 -- when Clinton sprang his new idea, permanent free trade for China, with no linkage to anything. --Not to U.S. national security. --Not to sanity itself. --And certainly not to human rights. Through glossy spin, Will has become the apologist for all this duplicity.

Incumbent China policy has more to atone for, such as the looting of the U.S. economy -- liquidity, as with the current account deficit; and de-industrialization; and the outsourcing of jobs. Also hidden in China policy are two forms of economic dirty pool -- the manipulation of currency, and the use of slave labor. Is it laudable for a capitalist to optimize his bottom line? (I hear George Will saying, "yes.") Okay, is it laudable for a capitalist to optimize his bottom line while abrogating the Emancipation Proclamation? In its economic dimension, the Emancipation Proclamation suggests that instead of "nothing," that labor is worth "something." (I hear George Will spluttering.) I may feel that "we the populace" owe to political pundits Civil War II for causing your countrymen to compete with slave labor, but we'll let that go to conclude this article peacefully.

In his column, Will lauds trade because it can set up pre-requisites for pluralism. "Trade will bring freedom," was the rancid sugar coating used by Bill Clinton to sell us his trade deal the first time around. At the time, the real freedom people -- leading Chinese dissidents and China hawks -- were in fact against the trade deal, but that detail was well hidden from the American people by America's leading spin doctors. (Public opinion was against the deal, 4-to-1, meaning that only 20% of the people were taken in by this argument the first time around.) Will lists those pre-requisites, perhaps without realizing how thin these arguments have become. "The free flow of information." China doesn't have it. "The rule of law." China doesn't have it. "Conformity to international norms of trade." China doesn't have it.

His article doubles, and then triples down on crossing one's fingers. "America's hope..." "The hope is that a China whose muscle and will are devoted to consumerism will be too busy--too hedonistic--for militarism." How are we to feel about an article that expresses American hope, and then concludes by quoting Karl Marx, as Will does? Is there no American sage available with a quote that fills that space? I am also the author of the recent article, "Why we can't dismiss the China threat," that may better illuminate why my headline accuses Will of a "child-like trust in evil." At China's end of matters, we are dealing with a government of men, not laws. They are furthermore ruthless men, brutal dictators, and with a crisis of legitimacy and domestic dissent -- with a Communist Party of systemic evil. It is a volatile mixture that points to instability, and hence the danger of militarism. I don't think that Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin waste much time downloading ringtones.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and at this rate Washington deserves servitude. Will is presenting a very sold out policy from the pen of Bill Clinton. What will George Will say next? "Hubba bubba dubba until the last dog dies?" For my part, I will conclude my article not with Marx, but with words of an American -- Thomas Jefferson. To tyrants never bend the knee.

John Patrick is Director emeritus of the China Support Network, a U.S. based organization that supports the Chinese democracy cause in response to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Find its support for freedom, democracy, and human rights at

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