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Chinese Deterrence More Credible Than It Appears

By Jeff Brewer


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            For the duration of William Jefferson Clinton’s tumultuous two terms, the experts that saw China as antithetical to everything the United States stands for were roundly and publicly vilified by Clinton’s propaganda machine.  Anyone who had the gall to speak out against the PLA’s accruement of all sorts of American military technology, its assumption of de facto control of the Panama Canal, its documented overtly illegal influence of the 1996 presidential election as well as the continued reference to the U.S. as enemy #1 was scorned as racist trouble-makers.  The media and the Clinton spinners painted China as a “strategic partner”, a benign Asian behemoth that only needed to be coaxed by American diplomats in order to bring out their inherent friendliness.  This humanistic philosophy was employed ad nauseum by the previous administration to justify the courting of tyrants and communists. 

            And if you’re into dementia, that may be a believable argument, but recent days’ events are fast proving the contrary, and in the process vindicating those so-called racist alarmists as being right all along.

            The way this crisis is moving along currently, you would think that China possessed a military equal in might to our owned armed forces.  Why else would the White House and State Department and the Pentagon proceed with such unwarranted caution?  It would seem, that if all of these think-tank experts and State Department politicos are right, then we have nothing to fear from the Chinese in the way of military response to an American show of force.  But we act like the Middle Kingdom is the USSR!  And I can’t figure out why.

            Look at the facts of the case:  Our defenseless EP-3 was conducting a routine surveillance mission over international waters, posing no direct threat to the People’s Republic.  As has been customary for some time, the Chinese scrambled fighters to shadow the American spy plane as it continued a usual aerial intelligence gathering flight around the Pacific Rim.  At some point, these trigger-happy Chinese fighters threatened to fire on the American prop plane.  They assumed a much more belligerent, intimidating posture, as both fighters came up right along side the EP-3.  Somehow one of these jets then clipped our plane, and as the Chinese pilot spiraled to the sea, the American crew of 24 was forced to make an emergency landing on a Chinese island in the South China Sea.

            Nothing illegal.  Nothing intentional on our part.  And yet, the Chinese are conducting them selves as if this was a purposeful act of war.  They are currently “detaining”, to use the politically correct vernacular, 24 of our best and brightest despite the protests, however feeble, emanating from Washington, D.C.  And to add insult to injury, they refuse to give us back our plane, choosing instead to gut the aircraft of all its sensitive equipment.

            Now those that take a benign view of China find little if anything wrong with this confiscation of our people and our property by a communist regime.  They see the entire ordeal as being of little importance, a big misunderstanding.  Those of us that show a hint of outrage over our servicemen and women being held hostage are once again ripped as being too hard-lined and way over the edge.

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Well excuse me for being concerned about the eroding of my country’s hegemonic status.  As I posited in an earlier column, this arrogant Chinese defiance articulated in their ridiculous demand for an apology from us only justifies my assertions that communist China loathes us and enjoys leading us around like a schoolyard bully keeping a smaller boy’s football from him. 

            Our government seems to be doing little to quickly bring back these American hostages.  Instead of threatening to expel Chinese diplomats from our shores or threaten to suspend normalized trade relations with the communist nation, or even going as far as parking a few action-starved destroyers and carriers around Hainan Island, the White House asks (not demands) if Jiang Jemin would be so very nice as to return us our people.  This is utterly embarrassing and unacceptable.  Folks, we’re dealing with a marginal communist power here, right?  Remember, this burgeoning East Asian country has a long way to go until they can challenge our super-power status either militarily or economically…this according to the “experts.”  So if this is the case, why are we treating these rogues like they’re the veritable 800 lb Gorilla?  Why are we playing the part of diplomatic wimp?  Shouldn’t we be the ones forcing the issue? 

            The longer this drags out without resolution, the weaker we look, the more indecisive and vulnerable we appear.  I call on someone to remind our President and our Secretary of Defense, that the roles are needlessly reversed; they’re inverted.  Instead of the United States holding all the cards, instead of the Chinese revering and respecting our deterrence ability, we bow in the face of these Maoist thugs.  Contrary to the long acknowledged international order, we’re behaving as if the communist Chinese might destroy us should we make a bold, authoritative move.  Again, though, it points to an ambiguity in American foreign policy. 

            If the Chinese are really nothing more than second-tier power, then why do we approach the issue with such tentativeness and caution?  Shouldn’t we be pressing the issue?  These thugs are holding 24 Americans hostage against our will and in violation of every international law that applies!  But we cower nonetheless.

            Some would argue that the Chinese would never allow this to escalate to the brink of conflict, arguing that free trade and market growth are too valuable for the Chinese to risk war.  To that argument I say nonsense.  The issues here are for more complicated than the superficial pursuit of money.  If the Chinese were so concerned with making money and becoming a capitalist power, they would no doubt embrace a much more accelerated path to modernization.  Nations eager to create and enjoy prosperity don’t usually preserve a political system that is diametrically opposed to the pursuit of individual wealth, either.  This crisis is all about honor and prestige and pride, and has little to do with money.  Open markets are simply a vehicle for the communist regime to acquire valuable technology that will enable China to reign as a world superpower (to the detriment of American hegemony).  And indeed, if you look at China today, the people reaping the benefits from free markets are communist party officials and their “yes men.”  The Sino yeomanry, in large part, still lives in poverty and decadence.

            Would we risk conflict with a trading partner, especially a country with as much potential as China?  This question reflects a terrible turn for the worse in our collective psyche.  The question suggests that all arguments begin from the premise that the pursuit of financial glory is everything, regardless of the moral and sovereignty issues involved in a particular case.  For once, these “experts” need to put money aside and hark back to the days when American prestige and primacy and clout overruled these lesser concerns.  We’re talking about American citizens being held against their will by avowed anti-American communists, for goodness sakes!

            Oh, for the strength and resolve of Ronald Reagan and Cap Weinberger and Richard Allen!  Our servicemen and women would have been home long ago.

Buy Books 

The China Threat: How the People's Republic Targets America
by Bill Gertz

Red Dragon Rising: Communist China's Military Threat to America
by Edward Timperlake & William C. Triplett II

Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash
by Edward Timperlake & William C. Triplett

Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World
by Steven W. Mosher

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