L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 69, April 15, 2000
My China Policy
by L. Neil Smith
Special to TLE
Every other day, all the online news services I read are full of China rattling its ideologically rusty ken at America, usually over control of the island nation of Taiwan.
Recently, having failed to intimidate Taiwanese voters out of choosing a candidate -- from a new party, the first time since the little nation's birth in 1949 -- sworn to declare full independence from the mainland, they've begun mustering huge numbers of troops on the coast and making threatening 100-fighter flyovers.
China claims Taiwan as a lost province, sort of the way Ethiopia "belonged" to Italy. Leaders and people of Taiwan are those -- or the descendants of those -- who escaped Mao's butchery back in the 1940s. Taiwan's repressive government is nothing worth defending (the new electee promises changes), but for a long time the US government backed it to the hilt. My earliest political memories are of China railing at America over Taiwan.
Well, practically my earliest memories. I also recall a Korean War in which China (and Russia, to a degree unrealized by most people) found a way to get someone else, the poor dumb North Koreans, to fight their battles for them. That war has never ended officially.
Not surprisingly China represents new hope for western Cold Warriors, lonely and afraid in a world that got remade despite their best -- or worst -- efforts to the contrary. Here they were, never having to stand down from the power, prestige, and plenty of World War II, playing with thousands of trillions of bucks, running roughshod over the unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights of everybody on the planet -- when the damned Russians had the bad manners to wimp out!
Now they'll tell you they won the Cold War, citing this or that policy or program, trying to make heroes of themselves. But the Soviet Empire was doomed -- as I said in my novel _The Nagasaki Vector_ almost a decade before it happened -- to collapse of its own weight. If the Cold Warriors had really had their way, that collapse would never have happened. After all, they subsidized and supported the poor lame Soviets for seven decades. Who wants to lose a cushy job?
Now, having only their phony War on Drugs, right wing militias that look statesmanlike compared to the current administration, and the cardboard specter of international terrorism to fall back on, the Cold Warriors, desperate to retain their hold on this culture, are trying to pump life back into their second string foe. Why else did Clinton hand nuclear secrets and guided missile technology to them?
Campaign contributions are the insignificant tip of the iceberg. Rush Limbaugh won't tell you that, any more than Dan Rather would. They're both part of the dirtiest racket in history. Washington needs a credible enemy to keep from forking over the Peace Dividend it's owed us for 10 years.
Let there be no misunderstanding: the Chinese government is evil and violent. Almost as evil and violent as a government that confined, tortured, poison-gassed, machinegunned, and incinerated 82 helpless, innocent individuals -- 22 of them harmless beautiful little children -- in their own church in broad daylight, on national TV, put its pitiable handful of surviving victims on trial for having defended themselves, and once they were duly acquitted of any wrongdoing, threw them in prison anyway for 40 years.
Nor is it just Clinton. Bush 1.0 barely spanked the hands of China's leaders over Tien Anmen Square because that's how all leaders of the modern Management State wish to govern: Zero Tolerance for individual liberty. It's the treatment we can expect whether Algore or Bush 2.0 is elected in November -- policywise, they're identical peas in a New World Order pod.
But certain inconvenient facts get in the way of turning China into the next boogeyman to scare taxpayers with. Even Algore and 2.0 want to sell things to a billion customers -- hard to do if you're reliving the Cold War. For their part, China's aging leaders want the fruits of economic freedom and the progress it engenders -- but without allowing people anything resembling political liberty. They should get along well with the current crop of Republicans; they want exactly the same thing. The basic model for both is Franco's Spain.
Another inconvenient fact is that (with rare exceptions like Tibet) for many centuries, China -- even Red China -- has not been particularly expansionistic. They've always had peculiar ideas about other countries, none of which have ever seemed quite real to them, center of the universe that they see themselves to be. An emperor once sent a huge fleet around the world, not to intimidate and conquer, but to give presents away and tell everybody what a swell guy he was.
Somebody told me a story that illustrates the Chinese ambivalence toward conquest. Annam -- the place we call Vietnam -- was always a pain for China. Emperors fervently believed they owned the place, but their tax collectors (and their armies) kept coming back in bodybags. Finally, one general returned to the imperial capital to report that he had conquered Annam. The emperor promptly had him beheaded. History showed it was impossible to conquer Annam, so he must be a liar. And if he wasn't, he was too dangerous to have around.
China today lies in the unsteady grip of frightened old men in the unenviable position of having outlived the ideas that guided them all their lives and justified every atrocity they ever visited upon their fellow beings. What they desperately fear -- besides losing power -- is communication: between their people and the West; between their people and each other. They fear the shortwave, the modem, and the fax the way Schumer and Feinstein fear high capacity semiautomatics in the hands of their constituents. For them, the sight of a replica of the Statue of Liberty -- a direct product of the communication they fear -- being carried through the heart of their domain must have sent waves of terror through their ancient, arthritic bones.
Those who think they own us have yet to figure out what's more beneficial -- to them: trade or war. That "war is the health of the state" is a fact well known to leaders on both sides. At present, China's empty threats are meant more to impress their own than us -- that the worst enemies of China's government are China's people is another well known fact -- but it's worrisome to deal with a handful of geriatric bastards who know they won't have to live with the consequences of plunging their nation into total war.
What's more worrisome is that US leaders are as frightened and desperate. Having been impeached, the President (whose murderous foreign policy is now understood as a way to cover up his domestic behavior) is about to be disbarred. There's talk of criminal charges once he's out of office. Waco is in the news again. The Vice President stands exposed as corrupt. The GOP front runner has abandoned his traditional constituency to fulfill his obligation to the Brotherhood of the Bell, advancing the agenda of corporate statism.
Meanwhile, grassroots resistance against the police state America has become gets more effective every day. Dozens of vile plots have been destroyed by shining the harsh light of the internet on them. To obsolete leaders frantic to hang onto the lives and property of others at any cost, the prospect of war -- of the dictatorial excesses it permits -- is bound to be increasingly attractive.
On the other hand, ethical leaders of an ethical nation -- the kind of nation ours was supposed to be -- dedicated to self-defense not foreign adventure, require no outside threat to retain power. Unafraid of a rising tide of individualism in the world, they'd have no trouble taking advantage of it, to deal effectively with China.
China's leaders may not be expansionistic, but they might slag Taiwan, which they believe belongs to them, to make a point. My plan is meant to prevent that. Next time China threatens to rain nuclear missiles on our west coast cities -- as they've been doing every day now for months -- I'd offer to shower them with presents, just like their imperial treasure fleet did long ago.
My China policy would operate at multiple deterrent levels.
First, just the news that what I'm about to describe is being given serious consideration at the uppermost levels of government should be enough to make Chinese leaders hesitate.
If that doesn't work, the next step is to let contracts out and actually manufacture the "weapons" (patience, now), sending samples to the leaders of China for them to evaluate. No fear, here, of giving secrets away. The technology is already well understood by everybody, and has been, practically since the turn of the last century. The next step is to refit B52 strategic bombers to deliver the "weapons".
From vastly higher than antiaircraft rockets reach, the next step is to drop the "weapons": hundreds of millions of tiny flesh-colored plastic radios, made to fit the human ear, in plastic packages that let them flutter safely to the ground. The radios themselves will be light, and sturdy. No need for a tuner, a crystal will suffice; the audience will only be listening to one station. The radios will run for a year on a hearing-aid battery, forever on a photocell, receiving broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from satellites. I'm told it's harder to jam signals coming down from space than those broadcast from the surface of the planet.
And what broadcasts they'll be! Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson -- in Mandarin and another half-dozen "major" Chinese languages -- Leonard Reed, Peter McWilliams, Thomas Szasz, dramatized works of Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein, informing the listener over and over that his life and all the products of his life are his property and no one else's. Maybe there'll even be room for a Suprynowicz or Smith.
The plan will be bankrolled by selling commercial time (a billion listeners are attractive to any sponsor) but only to companies that, unlike Smith and Wesson, haven't betrayed the Bill of Rights (and the customers who've kept them in business for more than a century), but instead have sworn to uphold and defend it. The Chinese government, of course, will make it capital offense to be caught with such a radio. We'll retaliate by threatening to escalate from the enlightened self-interest of Rand to the ruthless egoism of Stirner.
It was socialist Arthur Clarke who showed us the way, in a short story that predicted communications satellites (and entitled him, he believes absurdly, to part of the profits). At appropriate times there'll be programs for children, at others, programs for adults, apolitical entertainment meant to keep the radio listeners listening: Winnie the Pooh, Story of O, real freedom of the airwaves.
Sooner or later, China's leaders will have to back off, and we can begin negotiating them out of everything they think they own. Either that or they may face an uprising fomented by our sudden refusal to broadcast the last chapter of an Agatha Christie novel. All's fair, as they say, especially against a government that twisted our elections to impose William Jefferson Blythe Clinton on us.
Don't look for him to undertake this program. It's clear by now he's a traitor who belongs heart and soul (as little of those as he possesses) to the Chinese Communists (the only masters he could run to after the Soviets folded). What remains is to examine the rest of this country's leaders in Congress, the Senate, and elsewhere, to see if they don't serve the same masters.
Meanwhile, if my China policy works, we may have to think about dropping millions of tiny little radios on America.
Or maybe tiny little color TVs.