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Jewish World Review Jan. 20, 1999/3 Shevat, 5759

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg Destructive engagement: How to encourage tyranny

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) "And what I would like to see is the present government, headed by this president and this premier, who are clearly committed to reform, ride the wave of change and take China fully into the 21st Century and basically dismantle resistance to it. I believe they are." -- Bill Clinton, visiting Communist China last July.

Clearly committed to reform? The only clear commitment the president and premier of the "People's Republic" of China have shown of late is to repression. One show trial has followed another. And three times in as many weeks, Jiang Zemin, that great reformer, has spoken out against any reforms that might challenge the absolute rule of the Communist Party on the mainland. "The Western mode of political systems must never be copied," he warned at one point. "We must be vigilant against infiltration, subversive activities and separatist activities of international and domestic hostile forces." Which is partyspeak for any sign of freedom.

Zemin tries on tri-corner hat in colonial Willamsburg
If these are the words of a reformer, then Mao Zedong was a Jeffersonian Democrat. Nor are these just words. There has been a notable increase in the usual number of arrests-trials-and-sentences. (They all seem to blend together into one phenomenon in Communist regimes.) New decrees now have been issued subjecting publishers, filmmakers, musicians and of course developers of computer software to life in prison if found guilty of "incitement to subvert state power," which can mean anything the authorities decide it means.

Jiang Zemin and dictatorial company have taken Bill Clinton's words last summer about the need to respect human rights for what they were worth: nothing.

William Jefferson Clinton's pilgrimage to the Middle Kingdom accompanied by a cast of hundreds was interpreted, correctly, as the grand kowtow to tyranny it was. Whether it's getting impeached or currying favor with Red China's tyrants, this president seems determined to outdo Richard Nixon's record at every turn.

Not even at the height (or rather depth) of Detente did President Nixon-Kissinger mistake Leonid Brezhnev for some kind of visionary leader who was going to guide Russia to freedom. But on his visit to another evil empire last summer, our garrulous current president could not refrain from hailing his host as a man of "imagination," a visionary leader who was following the `morally right" course for his country, a statesman of "extraordinary intellect" and "very high energy.`

It hasn't taken long for Jiang Zemin, the architect of the massacre at Tiananmen Square, to put all of that very high energy to work repressing the Chinese people. Bill Clinton has given him the green light.

Now the Party's leaders are confident that Washington will not react to their latest barbarities in any serious way. Madeleine Albright, secretary of state and dithering, will doubtless deliver another of her oh-so-even-handed speeches taking an objective, neutral stance between freedom and tyranny, tolerance and persecution, and that'll be the end of it. Beijing need not fear any diminution of its huge trade surplus with the United States or any other real repercussions. And so the repression will continue.

Madame Secretary calls this policy "constructive engagement," and its results could scarcely be more destructive. Red China continues to fill its gulags with dissenters and to export arms to regimes that wish America no good, all with a wink and a nod from our "statesmen" in Washington.

Or as Bill Clinton, that innocent abroad, said of Jiang Zemin and his gang just last summer: "There's a very good chance that China has the right leadership at the right time." Good chance or not, some folks might not bet on it. Like the Tibetans still in thrall to Chinese imperialism. Or the Chinese dissidents being jailed again, and their still-free friends who must now watch their step and bide their time. The latest series of arrests, decrees and warnings will make them more careful, not any less determined. Their time will come, perhaps sooner than all the experts, those old China hands, imagine. For there was a time when the Soviet Union was supposed to be forever, too. But freedom is hard to dam.

Why the crackdown in China now?

Maybe because the regime on the mainland does not have the right leadership at the right time, let alone rulers who are following the "morally right" course.

Maybe because Red China's economy is not as robust as the enthusiastic reports and fabricated statistics out of Beijing would have the Chinese people and the world believe.

Maybe because the regime on the mainland is not composed of idealistic visionaries after all, but is in the fumbling hands of frightened little men who can feel the freedom tide rising, and don't know what to do except crack down.

Maybe because Communism in China is like one of those massive red stars whose light still shines bright to us light-years away, though it has already burned out at its core and is even now collapsing on itself.

And maybe because all those glowing reports our president brought back from Communist China last summer were, to call up one of the more candid headlines ever to appear in an American newspaper, just More Mush From the Wimp.

Up

1/18/99: Martin Luther King: The radical as conservative?
1/11/99: Why America is apathetic about Bill's date with destiny
1/06/99:The year of Moronica
1/04/99:Clinton’s janitorial crew of two
12/29/98:The Senate will be on trial, too
12/29/98:A look down the avenue
12/24/98: IT'S STILL A WONDERFUL LIFE
12/22/98: The surreal impeachment
12/17/98: Another moment of truth approaches
12/15/98: The President's defenders: witnesses for the prosecution
12/10/98:The latest miracle cure: CensurePlus
12/03/98: Sentences at an airport Sentences at an airport
12/03/98: Games lawyers play
12/01/98: Ms. Magoo strikes again, or: Janet Reno and the law
11/26/98: The most American holiday
11/23/98: Same game, another round
11/20/98: EXTRA! RULE OF LAW UPHELD
11/18/98: Guide to the perplexed
11/09/98: A vote for apathy
11/03/98: Global village goes Clintonesque
11/02/98: Farewell to all that
10/30/98: New budget, same swollen government
10/26/98: Of life on the old plantation -- and death in the Middle East
10/22/98: Starr Wars (CONT'D)
10/19/98:Another retreat: weakness invites aggression
10/16/98: Profile in courage
10/14/98: A new voice out of Arkansas
10/09/98: Gerald Ford, Mr. Fix-It?
10/07/98: Impeachment Journal: Dept. of Doublespeak
10/01/98: The new tradition
9/25/98: Mr. President, PLEASE don't resign
9/23/98: The demolition of meaning
9/18/98: So help us G-d; The nature of the crisis
9/17/98: First impressions: on reading the Starr Report
9/15/98: George Wallace: All the South in one man
9/10/98: Here comes the judge
9/07/98: Toward impeachment
9/03/98: The politics of impeachment
9/01/98: The eagle can still soar
8/28/98: Boris Yeltsin's mind: a riddle pickled in an enigma
8/26/98: Clinton agonistes, or: Twisting in the wind
8/25/98: The rise of the English murder
8/24/98: Confess and attack: Slick comes semi-clean
8/19/98: Little Rock perspectives
8/14/98: Department of deja vu
8/12/98: The French would understand
8/10/98: A fable: The Rat in the Corner
8/07/98: Welcome to the roaring 90s
8/06/98: No surprises dept. -- promotion denied
8/03/98: Quotes of and for the week: take your pick
7/29/98: A subpoena for the president:
so what else is new?
7/27/98: Forget about Bubba, it's time to investigate Reno
7/23/98: Ghosts on the roof, 1998
7/21/98: The new elegance
7/16/98: In defense of manners
7/13/98: Another day, another delay: what's missing from the scandal news
7/9/98:The language-wars continue
7/7/98:The new Detente
7/2/98: Bubba in Beijing: history does occur twice
6/30/98: Hurry back, Mr. President -- to freedom
6/24/98: When Clinton follows Quayle's lead
6/22/98: Independence Day, 2002
6/18/98: Adventures in poli-speke


©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate