GUEST COLUMNIST (The Daily Brew) April 19, 2001 -- As early as January 24, Chinese pilots were flying dangerously close to our EP-3E surveillance aircraft. Secretary Rumsfeld showed us footage of the encounters taken from the cockpit at his post-hostage release press conference. Remember? The news conference where all of Bush's mental superiors tried to convince us that our eyes and ears deceived us, and that we had not, in fact, apologized for the incident, even though we did? This version of events also squares with the statements of the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Dennis Blair, who said at the time of the crash that it was probably caused by the fighter bumping into the U.S. plane, and had been an accident waiting to happen because of the "aggressive" tactics of Chinese pilots.FOR MORE ON RIGHTWING HYPOSCRISY, SEE:
A couple of obvious inferences fall out of this fact. It is safe to conclude that the Chinese pilot, Wong Wei, was executing these maneuvers under direct orders of the Chinese military. It is too dangerous and stupid a thing to do without a direct order, even for a guy named "Wong Wei", and if there was no direct order, he would have been grounded after the earlier incidents. This of course explains the Chinese reaction to the incident; it was driven by the military, which was supremely embarrassed by it and had to have an apology from the US to save face. Not to save face with the US, mind you, but rather to save face with those non-military types who compete for power with them within China.
What is far more interesting is the fact that the US knew there was an "accident waiting to happen" and yet we were not flying these missions with fighter escorts, as they are now flying them in the post Chinese hostage crisis world. Perhaps this was a result of stupidity; perhaps it was deliberate part of some half-baked conspiracy, as I previously theorized. We will never know.
The problem with any conspiracy theory related to the incident, including mine, is that it doesn't account for a very real split within the Republican Party.
One faction of the right may well want to inflame tensions with China to precipitate a lucrative arms race for defense contractors and their ilk (who have a budget of at least ten times that of the China). Another, perhaps more influential faction, would rather continue to float the illusion that China isn't run by a bunch of murdering despots. This allows them to continue to access what amounts to slave labor, making a killing manufacturing goods in China which are in turn sold in the US, simultaneously undermining both of their main ideological adversaries here at home; organized labor and environmentalists.
Apparently, the capitalists hold far more sway with Bush than the hard-liners.
Guys like Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer found themselves alone with their shrill invocation of quaint ideas like right and wrong. But no one should have expected any appeals to high-minded concepts like "human rights" and "democracy" to have held sway with Bush. After all, this is the guy who stole the White House by having his brother disenfranchise thousands of black voters by throwing them off of the voter rolls because there names, addresses, and social security numbers were "close" to those of felons.
There is, of course, an intellectually honest argument that can be made that the way to bring reform to China is by engaging them through trade, thereby creating a middle class that demands reform. While the Clinton administration at least went through the motions of making this argument, the Bushies aren't even bothering. Perhaps the failure of forty years of trade to bring about similar reforms to the dictatorships run by Bush's "friends" in the middle east has convinced them that the only thing making such arguments does is provide an opportunity for silly liberals to insist that global trade agreements have meaningful limitations to corporate power and enforceable environmental standards built into them. Since Bush doesn't even want these things at home, he sure as hell doesn't want them in the third world countries that his corporate contributors use as "regulation and democracy free enterprise zones."
Once upon a time, by defending freedom and democracy abroad, the right had at least one place where it could legitimately claim the moral high ground. Now, bankrupted by its hypocritical escapades into sexual McCarthyism, all that is remains is complete fealty to money, and the power that flows from it.
(c) 2001 The Daily Brew
"I'm Not a Hypocrite, I just play one on TV"
"Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus"