So these big macho heroes at the White House got Premier Hu of China to come without our agreeing to call it a "summit." They're all full of themselves and proud of their anti-summitism. Indeed that would have been a victory, if only...
If only they had not been rolled by Hu in the dark alley of their naivete. To read the views that current and former administration strategists stated on the record in the Washington Post is to gaze into the whirlpool of a worldview as gullible as Gulliver and as dotty as Dorothy. Lenin thought that the West would sell him the rope with which to hang them, but Hu wants to sell us the rope and stand back while we hang ourselves; our only hope is that the rope will give way because of the shoddy made-in-China workmanship.
Any hope that some light of discernment might shine on this policy during Hu's consummate summitry was erased when all attention was drawn to the foofaraw over the woman protester in the press box. The heckler created an unwitting diversion and our hackles were not raised by the puerile policy talk.
"INDUBITABLY," AS CHARLIE CHAN WOULD SAY, let's begin at the beginning. The old Yiddish joke, in any case, said that the ideal Chinese restaurant would be named "Fong Un Foon Un Fong," Yiddish for "Begin from the beginning."
The premises of the talks between Bush and Hu are as follows. Since the United States believes that China wants to be respected as a big boy in the international schoolyard, and since we believe that China shares our goal of international stability and low oil prices, we are encouraging them to flex their newfound influence by corralling Iran and North Korea. China can join the fraternity of Summa Ultra Alpha by knocking Ahmadinejad's head together with Kim Jong Il's and dragging the unruly pair by their ears to the Dean's office for a reprimand.
Here is Michael J. Green, senior director for Asia policy through December 2005, waxing pithy on this subject: "In both Iran and North Korea, China has a very serious role to play, and in some ways is the pivot in whether we're successful in dealing with these problems. Hu will be under pressure to say something and to signal, not only domestically here but to those countries, that China's patience is wearing thin."
One hesitates to disabuse the holder of such views, because there is a kind of charm to such loopy delusions. Until we recall that people are actually advancing this rot as a basis for decisions that affect our security. For example, once this serves as the gestalt for international discussion of the Iran crisis, we could get a joint announcement by Hu and Ahmadinejad that Iran has decided to desist from further nuclear development out of respect for the request of China. This would (a) give China a huge diplomatic coup, (b) reinforce the notion that they are world peacemakers, (c) make Iran look reasonable, and (d) worst of all, allow Iran to proceed secretly while we would be hard-pressed to publicly challenge their good faith.
Now, is this remotely true? Only in Oz, behind the blinds, beneath the blinders. In fact, China is well aware of its power. It was already making us sweat in Korea and Vietnam; by now, it would tax the United States to its absolute limits if it were forced to fight the Chicoms. Furthermore, a nuked-up Iran would never be a threat to China, which has supplied it for years with things that go boom in the night. The same for North Korea.
China is not only unlikely to weaken either Iran or North Korea, it will almost certainly continue to strengthen them. Those two loose cannons keep the United States on edge without threatening China one bit; they are a huge strategic plus that China is unlikely to forfeit for any good graces that President Bush can reasonably tender. We simply have no jackpot to offer that would make it worthwhile for Hu to give up two powerful wild cards. And as explained earlier, encouraging the fiction that China will be a force to restrain those twerps can easily become dangerously counterproductive.
If that isn't enough to make your hair look like Don King's, I recommend reading the end of Glenn Kessler's report in the Post. He explains with a journalistic straight face, citing the administration gurus who are masterminding these policies as we speak, that Hu was deeply moved by a comment from President Bush in 2003 that he was "a strong leader and doing a good job." It made a deep impression because Hu "had never heard such praise from a world leader"; he decided that "Bush really wants him to succeed."
Gag me with a chopstick: Where do they find guys this innocent? All I can say is: let us pray.
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