I was pondering whether or not I should take aim at William Lind’s temper tantrum reaction to Japan’s recognition of the Communist threat (UPI – Washington Times) when Larry Kudlow (remember him?) answered the question for me in NRO. Kudlow and Lind, of course, come from very different angles: Kudlow is an economic conservative luminary, while Lind is a higher-up with the socially conservative Free Congress Foundation. Together, however, the two of them share one common flaw – a flaw that seems to be spreading in American conservatism – a refusal to see Communist China for the threat it really is.
Just so everyone is aware (especially folks new to this blog), my domestic politics – which never see the light of day on this space – plant me firmly in the American political right. I mention this for two reasons: 1) so Lind and Kudlow – assuming they even notice my vent – can’t use the usual anti-left labels to pigeonhole me (something Kudlow does to Schumer in today’s column), and 2) so fellow anti-Communists, especially conservative ones, can be on the lookout for these folks and their ilk in the future.
Kudlow largely resorts to type in his missive – he calls Schumer a “protectionist,” which may or may not be true, but it changes the subject from confronting Communist China to global trade policy. He then repeats his earlier wholesale acceptance of Communist growth figures and the belief that such “growth” reaches “hundreds of millions of heretofore impoverished Chinese.” Perhaps if he actually examined the plight of the still-impoverished Chinese, who have seen their Communist overlords pocket the gains from “growth” for decades while those who demand an end to the corrupt kleptocracy get mowed down like grass, he might think twice about such flowery language.
Then he resorts to the usual sky-will-fall predictions (contradicting his claim from last week that the American consumer will simply shift to other importers), before throwing in Schumer’s opposition to CAFTA, which brings us full-circle to his earlier insistence that this is a matter of global trade patterns and policies, rather than a matter of national security requiring urgent attention to ensure the American consumer no longer fuels Communist China’s military buildup.
Truth be told, Kudlow’s position, while regrettable, is predictable – trade will cure all ills; the Communists aren’t really Communists; etc. It is the argument many American conservatives – but not all – grabbed with both hands during Cold War I (US-USSR) when Mao and Deng decided to sit the battle out. Unfortunately, Kudlow et al have still clung to it long after Cold War I ended, and Cold War II (US-CCP) began.
It is Lind’s piece that I actually find more disturbing, for he is also the Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation (the FCF is Paul Weyrich’s group, and Weyrich is one of the best-known and longest serving social conservative activist in Washington). As such, Lind’s column shows a virulent strain of anti-anti-Communism among the social conservatives – a group heretofore largely immune due to the Communist persecution of Christians.
Lind takes aim at Japan for challenging Communist claims to “an area of the South China Sea” (I can only assume he misspoke and means the East China Sea) and its new willingness to express concern over the Communist bloodlust for Taiwan. The remarkable thing about Lind’s rant is not his concern for a Communist overreaction – even he knows that’s a foolish fear – but rather a concern that “A Chinese defeat by Japan and America in a crisis over Taiwan could well bring that government down.”
Let that sink in for a moment: the possibility of the Chinese Communist Party falling from power is, in Lind’s mind, a bad thing – never mind the tens of millions of Christians forced to worship underground, sent to prison, or tortured to death (let alone the political dissidents, labor dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners . . .). How could Lind possibly come to such a mind-boggling conclusion? He answers that question with his description of the Bush Administration: “strategically imbecilic,” and without “a morsel of strategic sense.” Now, as longtime readers of this blog (and its website in a previous virtual life) will know, this corner does not spare the Bush Administration from well-deserved criticism, but there’s something deeper here, and it involves not Communist China, but Iraq.
For the record, as an institution, the China e-Lobby remains neutral on the military action in Iraq (for reasons that will become clear below), and of course, there are a number of conservatives who oppose it. However, many right-wingers who oppose the war have started to go off the deep end when it comes to America’s role in the world in general. If Lind is any indication – and given Lew Rockwell’s willingness to continually reprint the viciously anti-anti-Communist David Chu, Ron Paul’s idiotic claim that the U.S. should apply a hands-off policy towards Taiwan, and Pat Buchanan’s long, slow, but steady retreat on Communist China in general, he could very well be – conservatives who felt America’s war on terror was an incorrect projection of power are now starting to see any projection of American power as wrong – even when it is desperately needed, such as in East Asia.
Those who agree with the above folks will slap the “neo-conservative” label on yours truly – assuming anyone who sees Communist China as a threat must follow Bill Kristol and George W. Bush in lockstep. The fact that Kristol himself has railed against Bush’s “engagement” of Communist China (as has this corner) should have been enough to give them pause. However, and more importantly, the traditional conservatives have enough evidence of their wrong-headedness from their own ranks. Howard Phillips has repeatedly called for a stronger American military and a harsher policy towards Communist China – and no one has mistaken him for a “neo-conservative.” Likewise, Newsmax’s Lev Navrozov has been just as derisive toward the Bush Administration as Lind vis a vis Iraq, but the notion that we should keep the Chinese Communist Party in power at all costs would give him apoplexy. One does not have to support the invasion/liberation (choose your noun) of Iraq to oppose Communist China.
It should be noted that Weyrich himself has never espoused such silliness, and I say that as much to separate him from Lind’s comment as to provide a healthy reminder that Lind’s views are far from the majority among the political Right. Lind also spent nearly a decade as an aide to Gary Hart, and while that isn’t enough to make me suspicious (hey, I was a Democrat in 1986, too), it will be enough for many other conservatives.
Still, when you add this to Pat Robertson’s unthinkable defense of the hideous “one child” policy (fourth item), former Congressman Bill Archer feting Tiananmen butcher Li Peng (sixteenth item), and the Kudlowesque myopia of a whole slew of economic conservatives, the Right is dealing with a serious problem.
Anti-Communism was never an exclusively conservative position. Liberals have been a part of the movement from Syndey Hook to Scoop Jackson. Even today, some of the best advocates for getting tough on Communist China are Tom Lantos, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Wellstone (rest in peace) and – you read this right – Bernie Sanders. However, in my politically formative years (the 1980s) to be an anti-Communist automatically made you more right-leaning than to not be an anti-Communist. Perhaps my concern is overblown, but as a conservative, I take this personally.