Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The next four years

As always, Ethan Gutmann is a must-read in the Weekly Standard on the Obama Administration:
Human rights in China. Democracy in China. These are things that the Obama administration wants nothing to do with. Are the Chinese people on their own now?
His view has a lot of company now, especially in light of the Administration's recent actions (which Gutmann also details):

First came the news that Chas Freeman would chair the National Intelligence Council. The former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and an adviser to CNOOC (the state-owned Chinese oil company), Freeman clearly fits the Chinese Communist party's idea of a four-year plan for American intelligence oversight. Just note Freeman's curious 2006 statement about the Tiananmen massacre (C e-L note: said statement can be found here).

. . .

The Chinese will score their number two victory with Gary Locke, former governor of Washington, becoming our new commerce secretary. Locke's been a very--very!--good Friend of China: making public displays of affection for the party's brilliant stewardship, carrying a torch for China in the Beijing Olympics relay, and easily straddling his public and private interests to make a deal. Locke has paraded his guanxi--his connections--and, indeed, his numerous meetings with Hu Jintao are real. As are the campaign funds he got in the 1990s through Buddhist temple fundraisers, Chinese cut-outs, and confessed felon John Huang.

Naturally, Gutmann also had some choice words for the Secretary of State.

I am happy to report that Mr. Freeman has seen the writing on the wall and has chosen not to serve in the Administration (National Review Online - The Corner), but the person who wanted to give him a job is still there, as is the president whose "leadership" has brought us to this point.

That said, I'm not prepared to follow my good friend Ethan into the despair in which he understandably finds himself - not yet, anyway.

True, we are seeing an Administration with the largest blind spot on the totalitarian threat since the Carter era, and that should be cause for great concern. However, we also need to remind ourselves that the Carter era also happened to be one of the most prolific for anti-Communist dissidents - no matter how much they were ignored in Washington. Moreover, as the Carter crew continued to cower before Soviet expansion, more and more Americans started to wonder why, and demanded a change. Up stepped Ronald Reagan, and the rest was history.

Of course, this leads to a brief discussion of the Republican Party, which appears in disarray, recovering from a wildly unpopular president, and is still shot through with "engagement" supporters. However, again, we need to remember that the GOP was in just such dire straits in 1977 - in fact, one could say they were in worse shape. Moreover, unlike in the late 1970s - when Henry Kissinger was easily powerful enough to hijack the party's foreign policy views until Reagan won the nomination - no such "engagement" supporter is in a similar position today.

It is just as likely (perhaps even more likely) that the Republican Party will spend the next four years reconnecting with their anti-Communist past and bring that forward to the 21st Century.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Ethan has effectively noticed the complete silence of the left:
Nancy Pelosi cut her teeth on China human rights, but she won't break ranks without sustained pressure. Amnesty International has made some noises about Clinton's comments. To a lesser extent, so have Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch. But it's not nearly enough. And where are the AFL-CIO, the academy, and the sweatshop coalitions?
Either this pitiful state of affairs will be halted by other Democratic heavies who are not so worried about the president's views (Barney Frank comes to mind), or appeasement of the Chinese Communist Party will become a partisan issue - landing the president on the wrong side of a nearly 60-40 split.

Now, none of this is to excuse the president and his supporters from gross negligence in foreign policy - a negligence that is sure to cost blood (Chinese certainly, American possibly) and treasure (ditto). In addition, 2012 is a long way off, and the CCP can do a lot of damage in the interim (like Ethan, I am very concerned about Taiwan).

However, the regime cannot overcome its inherent weaknesses. It cannot afford to scale back the international adventurism that upsets so many in the free world. It cannot afford to wean party members of ill-gotten gains - the promise of which remain the biggest incentive for joining the CCP in the first place. All it can do is delay the inevitable.

History tells us the inevitable will come sooner than we can imagine; Ethan reminds us that it is already painfully late.

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