China isn't the problem, stupid


No-one on the left should be drawn into China-bashing. In fact, China-bashers are unlikely to be really of the left at all, any more than were those people who supported any of the imperialist wars since the first incursion in Yugoslavia ever truly of the left. On the other hand, the disgusting festival of hypocrisy that now passes for international political discourse has proved too much for the few honest democrats of the conservative right to stomach, and they are increasingly turning against the Bush administration and its puppets in London and elsewhere – we would now have to add Paris, Rome and The Hague, at the very least, to this list. While much of the "left" sleepwalks towards catastrophe, it is comforting to read a former member of Ronald Reagan's government alerting the world to the truth. And toi follow that up with a wistful look at China from an old freind of Soectrezine, lifelong radical socialist and pacifist David McReynolds.

Bush's War On Terror-Silly But Serious

By Paul Craig Roberts

Now that military officers selected by the Bush Pentagon have reached a split verdict convicting Salim Hamdan, a onetime driver for Osama bin Laden, of supporting terrorism, but innocent of terrorist conspiracy, do you feel safe?

Or are we superpower Americans still at risk until we capture bin Laden's dentist, barber, and the person who installed the carpet in his living room?

The Bush Regime with its comic huffings and puffings is unaware that it has made itself the laughing stock of the world, a comedy version of the Third Reich.

Hamdan was not defended by the slick lawyers who got O.J. Simpson off, and he most certainly did not have a jury of his peers. Hamdan was defended by a Pentagon appointed US Navy officer, and his jurors were all Pentagon appointed US military officers with an eye on their careers. Even in this Kangaroo Court, Hamdan was cleared of the main charge.

The US Navy officer who was Hamdan's appointed attorney is certainly no terrorist sympathizer. Yet even this United States officer said that the rules Bush designed for the military tribunals were designed to achieve convictions. He also said that the judge allowed evidence that would not have been admitted by any civilian or military US court. He said that the interrogations of Hamdan, which comprised the basis of the Bush Regime's case, were tainted by coercive tactics, including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement. [Split verdict in first Guantanamo war-crimes trial, AP, August 6, 2008]

Does this make you a proud American?

Do you think you are made more safe when you stand there while "your" government implements its own version of Joseph Stalin's show trials?

The trial and conviction of Hamdan has made every American very unsafe.

The one certain fact about US law is that it is expanded until it applies to everyone. Consider RICO, for example, the asset freeze law that was intended only in criminal cases involving the Mafia; it wasn't long before RICO found its way into civil divorce proceedings.

Bush's multi-year, multi-billion dollar "War on Terror" has been reduced to railroading a low level employee, a driver, for "terrorism."

One would hope that the Hamdan verdict would be enough shame and ridicule for the US in one day. But no, Bush didn't stop there. On his way to the Beijing Olympics, President Bush expressed "deep concerns" for the state of human rights in China.

But not in Guantanamo, nor in Abu Ghraib, nor in the CIA's torture dungeons used for "renditions," nor in Iraq and Afghanistan where the US is expert at bombing weddings, funerals, children's soccer games, and every assortment of civilians imaginable.

As the good book says, clean the beam from your own eye before pointing to the mote in your brother's eye.

But Americans, the salt of the earth, have neither beams nor motes. We are the virtuous few, ordained by God to impose our hegemony on the world. It is written, or so say the neocons.

What would President Bush say if, heaven forbid, the Chinese were as rude as he is and asked Mr. Superpower why the land of "freedom and democracy" has one million names on a watch list. China with a population four times as large doesn't have a watch list with one million names.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why the US, with a population one-fourth the size of China's has hundreds of thousands more of its citizens in prison? The percentage of Americans in prison is far higher than in China and is a larger absolute number.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why he used lies and deception to justify his invasion of Iraq. China, unlike Bush, is not responsible for 1.2 million dead Iraqis and 4 million displaced Iraqis.

China's human rights policy is not perfect. China's greatest human rights failing is that China is the Bush Regime's prime enabler of its war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. By financing Bush's budget deficit, China is financing Bush's gratuitous wars. Indeed, China can be said to finance the weaponry that the US gives Israel to enable the suppression of the Palestinians and with which to bomb the civilian population of Lebanon.

China is a serious human rights abuser, because China is complicit in Bush's human rights abuses.

If we are honest about who is actually murdering and abusing people, it is the US, Israel, and the UK.

There's your "axis of evil."

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. This article appeared on

EdgeLeft: Taking China's Side

by David McReynolds

There has been an enormous amount of China-bashing in recent months, leading up to the Olympics. I'd like to put in a good word for China, something not that politically correct these days. Sure, I wish the Chinese did not eat dogs, but we have pigs on our menu, and they are just as smart as dogs. Yes, I wish the Dalai Lama could return to Tibet, though the issue of Tibet is more complex than either the Chinese or the Dalai Lama make it out to be. And the history of Tibet under the Buddhists not as ideal as some in the West believe.

Perhaps most of all I wish the Chinese would use strong pressure on Sudan regarding Darfur. And, of course, as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a lifelong American dissident, I support the full and complete extension of human rights to every human being on this planet.

However, much of the coverage I've seen overlooks some painful Western history. I fell in love with China as a kid in Los Angeles, before ever tasting Chinese food. Why, I'm not sure. Perhaps it was reading Pearl Buck's Good Earth. Perhaps it was because I loved fireworks and firecrackers, and the ones we bought for July 4th were made in China. Whatever the reason, it certainly wasn't the culture of
California, riddled with anti-Chinese and anti-Asian attitudes.

Let's remember, as Americans, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was "progressive racism". At the time of our Gold Rush there was a flood of poor Chinese who came here, provided low wage labor, built our railways, did our laundry, but also became a scapegoat for low income workers who saw Chinese labor as competition. Some of the slogans of the time are chilling to remember:

"We want no slaves or aristocrats

The Coolie Labor System Leaves us No Alternative
Starvation or Disgrace Mark the Man who Would Crush Us To the Level of the Mongolian Slave
We All Vote
Women's Rights and No More Chinese Chambermaids"

These were slogans carried by anti-Chinese demonstrators. In 1882, after decades of such agitation, and with the support of the progressives of the day, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, making it all but impossible for Chinese to come to this country.

But this was small change compared to what the rest of the world was doing to China. The Opium Wars of 1839 and 1856 resulted from a struggle between the Qing Dynasty of China, which sought to suppress the use of opium, and the British who had a monopoly on the opium trade and were determined to push that addiction on the Chinese.

China lost both wars, and had to grant the British "extraterritorial rights" (similar to the rights the Americans in Iraq enjoy today). So the civilized British who, like our own half-civilized President, today lectures the Chinese on human rights, have forgotten that, for a profit, they were delighted to deal in opium.

The Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the last century saw an uprising by members of the "Chinese Society of Right and Harmonious Fists" against foreign influence. (They took the name "boxer" from the martial arts they used). The rebellion against foreign influence was serious enough. According to Wikipedia "In June 1900, the Boxers invaded Beijing and killed 230 foreign diplomats and foreigners."

Chinese Christians - who had also been targeted - and Westerners retreated to the legation quarter, putting up a two month struggle until a "multinational coalition rushed 20,000 troops to the rescue". The Boxer Rebellion was a serious challenge to outside influence and those outsiders (including Japan)
were enthusiastic in sharing the burden of crushing the Chinese. There were 51 warships sent in (18 of them being Japanese, 10 being Russian). At least 55,000 troops were sent (Japan, with 20,300, sent the most, the Russians with 12,400 were second, and the British with 10,000 came in third. The Americans,
not yet a world power, sent only 2 warships and fewer than 3500 troops.

China was crushed, humiliated, the last Chinese dynasty ended. Let me quote Kaiser Wilhelm II's July 27th order to his troops: "Make he name German remembered in China for a thousand years so that no Chinaman will ever again dare to even squint at a German."

Western intervention paved the way for the rise of Sun Yat-sen, who overthrew the Mancu (Qing) dynasty and established the Chinese Republic. But the Chinese Republic had a short and turbulent life. World War II did not begin in Europe - it began on July 7th, 1937, when the Empire of Japan launched a full scale invasion of China. It was this which I remember as a child, when our bubble gum came wrapped in horrific (and pro-Chinese) illustrations of Japanese atrocities. (Perhaps the chewing gum was made in China?). The infamous Rape of Nanking, in which thousands of Chinese civilians were raped and murdered by the Japanese military forces, still rankles in Chinese minds.

For a time Chiang Kai-Shek, who had succeeded Sun Yat-sen, cooperated with Mao and the Communists in fighting the Japanese. But at a crucial point Chiang turned on the Chinese, massacred thousands in a surprise attack, and the Chinese Civil War began in earnest. continuing until 1949, when Chiang retreated to Taiwan and the Chinese Revolution was complete. (Throughout that war, the US sided with Chiang Kai-Shek, supplying him with weapons and using US air power to move Nationalist troops into position against the Communists).

My sense is that there is a general agreement by military historians that Mao and his forces did a better job of fighting the Japanese than Chiang's Nationalists.

But the West was hardly ready to deal with China, a nation far more civilized than our own, or any nation in Western Europe. We denied China its seat in the Security Council. The US refused to "recognize" China. It was not until the famous visit to China by Richard Nixon that relations were finally normalized.

My view of China is not shaped by an enthusiasm for Maoism. (I do recommend Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China for a sympathetic view of the Chinese Communists, and I know my father, who served with Army Air Force Intelligence during the war, and was in China more than once, was deeply impressed by the Chinese. More than that, my father, a devout Christian and political conservative, was baffled that the Chinese, in all their poverty and hunger, had a dignity and "sense of worth" that impressed him).

It is not the current Chinese State I endorse, but the long history of China, its remarkable accomplishments over thousands of years. I am embarrassed when the West chides China today, at a time when NATO is killing civilians in Afghanistan, and the US and Great Britain have, between them, laid waste to Iraq, one of the cradles of civilization in the Middle East.

It had long been my hope to visit China. I know, as the years pass, that goal won't be achieved. But from afar, and long before the Chinese Revolution, I was on the side of China. I don't even like sports, but I am glad the Olympics is a success. I compare the speed with which China dealt with the horrible disaster of its great earthquake this year with the total failure of George Bush to cope with Katrina.

I believe in human rights - but one of the most basic of human rights is the right to eat. China has paid a high price for its swift industrialization but it has given many of the people of China a chance at what we would call "the good life". I live in a country with the highest number of men and women behind bars of any nation in the world - I hesitate to make human rights in China my first priority. China is now one of the emerging great powers. It would be to our advantage to treat it with a sense of respect to which its several thousand years of civilization entitles it.

David McReynolds worked for many years for War Resisters League, was at one time Chair of War Resisters International, and was the ocialist Party's Presidential candidate in 1980 and 2000. He retired in 1999 and lives on New York City's Lower East side with his cats. He can be reached by email at: