The Unmaking of a President
The time has come to start thinking about the current events in
the South China Sea in a more realistic context.
Remember the speculation surrounding former President Clinton's
bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, and of empty tents
in the Asian desert, in order to divert attention from his domestic
problems? The movie "Wag the dog" foretold of the technique,
and the character of the former president was clearly compatible
with something so underhanded and callous.
"Wag the dog" is currently running again on Ted Turner's
And, as the unfolding events demonstrate, the technique also works
in the reverse.
The big loser in last fall's presidential elections was not the
confused electorate of Palm Beach County, nor the Democratic Party
- not even Vice President Al Gore. The big loser was the People's
Republic of China.
The Chinese leadership literally took the food out of the mouths
of its people in order to finance the takeover of the Panama Canal,
the acquisition of much of Canada's infrastructure, the steady flow
of American super-technology and - above all - the purchase of the
Executive Branch of the United States Government. Only the construction
of an overt Chinese naval base at Long Beach, California, escaped
them - for now.
They believed what they were told: that with the economy in high
gear, Al Gore, the heir-apparent, semi-incumbent, will secure the
next eight years at the very least. Given the progress of the last
eight years, the strides to be made during the next eight promised
to produce a very different world, come 2010.
And then, disaster.
Not only was George W. Bush elected president; the undignified
conduct of Al Gore during the post-election turmoil, and the atrocities
of the departing Clintons left the Chinese without as much as a
What to do!?
As we said, the technique also works in the reverse. A foreign
policy crisis can be created - not to divert the attention of the
public, but of the young presidency from vital domestic battles.
Thus, a time was carefully picked when the new administration was
seen to stake its standing upon the president's tax cut, and the
president's budget. The rest was easy: having already established
a pattern of harassment, a Chinese fighter would damage an American
surveillance plane and force its crew either to bail out (to be
picked up by Chinese boats standing by) or to land on Chinese soil.
Perhaps they did not plan on losing one of their top flying aces
in the bargain, but human life carries no more value in China than
it did in the Soviet Union.
The purpose, then, of the insistence upon an apology has nothing
to do with China's "pride," or "saving face."
The Chinese feel - and have always felt - so infinitely superior
to the rest of us that an apology from this upstart called the United
States could scarcely improve the proportions.
On the other hand, an unwarranted apology from the new president,
who wishes to prove that America has a worthy commander-in-chief
once again, could open a wound that never heals. And now the Hobson's
choice: If the president opts for an ongoing hostage situation,
he will be painted into the Jimmy Carter corner and rendered harmless
just the same.
The Washington Post already began the latter process on Sunday.
And the Chinese are likely to include in their reckoning the inexplicable
hatred the major media, Hollywood producers and, yes, far too many
Democrats in Congress have exhibited toward anything Republican.
Some day, this nation ought to examine how such hatred, that seems
to know no bounds, could sprout on the soil of the most tolerant
country on Earth.
But right now, Democrats in general, newscasters, editors and sitcom
producers in particular, and some Republicans as well, need to ask
themselves whether their love and concern for America might be sufficient
cause to suspend their campaign against the president. A reading
of Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution might facilitate
Interesting: For the first time in known history, there exists
a country with the ability to have it all its own way. It is called
the United States of America. If it so desired, it could render
the Chinese Air Force a matter of the past within 24 hours; if it
so desired, it could transform the People's Republic of China into
grazing fields in a matter of days.
What makes Americans special is the absence of such desires. Yet
it would be a mistake to assume that it earns us Brownie points
with the Chinese leadership. If anything, America's determination
not to flaunt its strength is a source of contempt in Chinese eyes
- hence the blatant provocation and the "insistence on an apology."
China is unlikely to challenge the U.S. Navy in the foreseeable
future. But they are probably working toward the next best thing:
to choke off the three critical areas of navigation - Panama Canal,
Suez Canal, and the Cape of Good Hope - all at once. Our experts
have begun to take Chinese intentions of ejecting the U.S. from
their vicinity seriously. It would be helpful to review everything
that has been happening in recent years and speculate about the
long-term aspirations they suggest. Yes, for the longest time, China
had had no interest in expansion. But times change, and with that,
As for right now, Americans of all stripes need to decide whether
China, having bought the last presidency, shall be given the green
light to destroy the current one.