It Takes One Bully to Read the Mind of Another

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A
longish email hit my inbox the other day, forwarded by a friend
from I know not what source. It had the alarming title, "China
and the Final War for Resources." Early in the story there
were five words set in boldface type: "China's Master Plan
to Destroy America." I think from just this much you can readily
get the drift of the piece.

It
was by no means a stupid or merely inflammatory tract. In fact,
the basic contention, that China is laying strategic plans to dominate
Asia in the years ahead, and probably even the globe, is very likely
true. I would consider the Chinese rulers derelict if they did not
make such plans, or at least make plans to maintain China's existence
in the face of the American thrust to dominate the Middle East and
its oil, and therefore the globe, as we advance into years of ever
scarcer oil and ever burgeoning demand.

There
is a chicken and egg problem here, that is, a question of which
came first, China's wicked plans to destroy us, or our (wicked)
plan to control world oil and destroy any and all that get in our
way.

How
is it possible to answer that question? Quite readily, I think,
by looking at the behavior of the two powers. The psychiatrist Alfred
Adler made some very practical suggestions with respect to evaluating
the intentions of people we are trying – as we say nowadays – to relate
to. Pay absolutely no attention, he said, to what such people say;
instead watch closely what they do.

We
march around the world talking endlessly and rather inflatedly of
our democratic and fair-minded approach to things, making the claim
that we, as the elder daughter of Lady Democracy, are intending
only to bring the blessings of that great damosel to lesser breeds
who have known them not. All that other nations have to do, to end
up blissfully and democratically happy, is exactly what we say they
should do.

Unfortunately,
however, when push comes to shove, and even after some nation in
particular may have made substantial efforts to do what we say,
it simply may not be good enough. We may have to invade to assist
their earnest but unavailing efforts to progress democratically.
Have we done this? Yes, rather often, it seems. We have a long record
of forcing ourselves on people that goes back over a century. Our
most recent adventure is in Iraq, where we are clearly the aggressor
nation. And we are now making unsatisfied noises heard all over
the globe about the wretched non-cooperation of Iran and others
in that neighborhood who may need to be enlightened next.

Has
China invaded anyone lately under its present set of rulers? I am
not aware that it has. In fact the last clear instance of Chinese
aggression that I recall is the case of Tibet, where there was at
least the argument that the place was a near relation. Hong Kong
returned to China peacefully amid predictions that it would go at
once to utter ruin and its inhabitants would be enslaved. I think
that did not actually happen. When it comes to making complaints
about other polities, China has made a lot of fuss about wanting
Taiwan back (also a near relation) but has so far not taken action
to seize it, despite the fact that Taiwan cozies up to us the way
Castro did to the old Soviet Union. We complained about Soviet missiles
in Cuba and forced them out. Now we are considering a Marine airbase
on a Japanese island, Shimoji-shima, less than 250 miles from Taiwan,
which is nearly as nervy a move as putting a U.S. military base
on Taiwan itself. While it remains technically independent of China,
Taiwan is legally able to permit us to establish a base. The whole
thing is a game of chicken, but, once again, it’s clear we started
it.

My
proposition is simply this. We are the outfit "making the new
reality" to which all the others are having to "react,"
as one of the stalwarts of the present regime kindly explained to
reporter Ron Susskind, so that he, and we, might understand how
the world presently works. We are the outfit that has launched a
kind of "final war for resources," and it is hardly surprising
that other states are sharpening their knives.

If
anyone were to ask me what we might do instead, I should recommend
going back to George Washington's foreign policy of maintaining
defensive power (or sufficient distance) that would be enough to
deter anyone, and otherwise befriending those who would be our friends.
To my mind we are in the gravest danger of nuclear war not from
China or Russia but from ourselves and Israel, because we and they
are messing so seriously with the peace and quiet of the Middle
East and are doing so apparently without the least understanding
of any principle but the brigand's principle: grab it and run like
hell.

To
do this under the guise of spreading "democracy" is bad
enough; to do it with a kind of crusaders' gloss on it of Christian
jihad is insufferable. That should discredit Christianity for a
millennium to come. (I note in passing that Israel does not argue
it is advancing the cause of Christ, but somehow passionately pro-Israel
Christians think they are.) I have so far not gotten into what it
is we think democracy is. If it's what we've got, I pity anyone
else who catches it from us.

Gandhi
made a remark to the effect that we need to be what we want the
world to be. If we want a peaceful world, we need to be a peaceful
people.

Axiomatically,
the safest and quietest neighborhoods are the ones where everyone
is armed to the teeth and ever ready to repel boarders.

The
human race doesn't have the chance of the proverbial snowball in
hell if it continues to count on huge, statist organizations to
make peace by waging perpetual war. I don't know how to do much
about the mess we are in right now except pray, and believe me I
do that; but I do know it has no long-term future. The people need
to rise up against their masters, not violently but in a way that
would delegitimate them. How do you get that ball rolling?

February
15, 2005

Tom
White [send him mail]
writes from Odessa, Texas. He is the author of Bill
W., A Different Kind of Hero: The Story of Alcoholics Anonymous

(2003).

Tom
White Archives

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