Now that Bush has safely brought our soldiers back from China, it seems that the Republican primary season has already begun. Gary Bauer is already out there acting like anyone cares what he says and insinuating that Bush should have nuked the Chinese rather than the chosen route of not being “firm enough” with the Chinese. Republican members of Congress who are beholden to the defense industry are sure to keep Bush’s anti-bloodbath agenda in mind and threaten his domestic agenda behind the scenes.
If Bush keeps up this behavior, it looks like he will be in a unique position for a Republican president. Unlike Bush the First who was loved by hawks, but despised by social conservatives, Bush the Second will be facing a war party coalition who will probably spend the next three years trying to force him to the right in his foreign policy agenda. Congressional Republicans have already spent the last week whining about how Colin Powell is too moderate for their tastes. It seems they would rather clone Douglas MacArthur and storm the Yalu River.
If Republicans think they are going to increase their popularity by impugning Powell, one of the most popular men in America, they might want to reconsider. Perhaps they know something I don’t. Who knows, it could be that they have done some internal polling and have decided that a bloody and protracted war with one billion Chinese people is a winning issue for the Congressional Republicans. It should astound one that while the Congress should be doing everything it can to hold onto it’s slim majority in the Congress, it is doing everything it can to be known as the Party for War.
Of course, the whole affair simply exposes the Republicans’ complicity in buying votes through the defense industry. The Left is frequently accused of buying votes from the poor through various welfare programs, yet the Republicans are just as enthusiastic about blowing taxpayer dollars on defense contractors and $300 toilet seats. Bush and Powell’s even-tempered foreign policy gives them no hope for bigger and better programs in the future.
The pro-war Right’s hope for a new and improved Cold War is settling in with the rank and file. For example, the John Birch Society’s New American magazine and Newsmax.com still insist on calling China “Red China” and never miss a chance to cast the nation as the new Evil Empire and the great ideological enemy of the United States. It’s all very melodramatic, although terribly inaccurate.
Over at the National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg is trying to re-acquaint us with anti-Asian racist jokes. The next thing you know, he’ll be calling for Americans of Asian decent to be forcibly moved inland to internment camps
None of this should be too alien to anyone who can remember the Persian Gulf War. All of a sudden, it was perfectly acceptable to think of Iraqis as sub-human barbarians and we were glued to our TV sets relishing the bombardment of civilians in Baghdad. This whole attempt to turn the American people against an entire nation is quite a time-honored tradition. It is not unlike when, during the First World War, dachshund dogs were renamed “liberty pups” and stoned in the streets for their German name and origins. German-Americans were also “encouraged” to change their names lest they suffer the same fate as those unfortunate wiener dogs.
Is the same kind of anti-China hysteria in store for Americans? In a just world, we should really have a hard time coming up with a load of bitter hatred for a Mr. Lee or a Mr. Wong who are working in a bicycle factory in Beijing to support their families in the countryside. Hawks are decrying the lack of political and economic freedom that many Chinese people are now experiencing. The question we should be asking ourselves, though, is whether we will improve the lives of those people by crippling their economy and bombing their homes into rubble. In other words, will we destroy China to save it? Let’s hope not.
April 16, 2001
Ryan McMaken lives in Denver, Colorado. He edits the Western Mercury.