China kills an Englishman
by Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill on 12/30/09
The first thing Master Fogg taught my kids was how to say hello. He would bow from the waist to show respect to the opponent. Then he would make a fist with his right hand and cover it with his left. This indicates that you come in peace but you have hidden strength. Then Master Fogg would uncover his fist and shake it at the kids to reveal his power. With the execution of a British subject China is revealing its fist.
Reports say this is the first execution of a Westerner in 50 years. The Englishman was alleged to be involved in drugs but this is not about a specific criminal offense, as Copenhagen was not about climate change. Like the chairs at Copenhagen, this has symbolic and diplomatic value. It should emphasize the rapidly changing relationships between China and America, China and the West, China and the world. We are beginning to see the realignment of spheres which inevitably follows shifts in economy.
It has been a theme of the Obama presidency that because he is black, because he has an Islamic-sounding name, antagonism between light and dark, rich and poor, antagonisms based on 1,700 year differences and those brand new, would evaporate. This is the stuff of the undergraduate coffee shop. It was escapist for Americans to welcome it and it has been a valuable tool to our competitors and enemies. Iran and China in particular have taken advantage. As Master Fogg explained it so that any eight-year-old could understand it, a competitor’s weakness is as valuable as one’s own strength, and ours is a foreign policy of weakness, theater and denial.
We are entering a historic sea change. I would see it as the end of the kind of leisurely market-based globalism we have experienced since Reagan and possibly a return to nation states and new groupings of nation states.
The key moment came in Copenhagen: Hew Jintao set the table for the new century and formed a practical working quarternity of China, India, South Africa and Brazil. There was no chair for Obama; no room for the West.
This new grouping makes economic sense for China and its subsets. It establishes dominance by the major player with clarity and a touch of violence. Japan has clearly stated – and posted it on the NYTs op-ed page for all to read – that its first friendships are in the East. It makes sense. China is a Marxist/Leninist country. It makes sense that developing countries like Brazil team with China. It makes sense that those countries rich in commodities like South Africa bond with China which is buying up all the stuff. In this regard our foreign policy usually consists of sending Secretary Clinton over there for group hugs with large and colorfully dressed black women in the marketplace. Probably no longer enough. South Africa sent an earlier message to our new African-American president that they wouldn’t be seeing the Dalai Lama now, so as not to upset their new Chinese friends and patrons. It makes sense.
We need to rebuild our approach and our perspective on our place in the world in the new century on very basic levels. I believe we should start at the college level to build responsible, committed and effective citizenship and leadership and once we begin, it will take a generation. We need to think of new relationships and organic conceptualizations which follow the contours of history; which follow the contours of the centuries ahead, not the centuries behind. Possibly the Anglosphere, which includes the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand, should be looked at as a vital defense, cultural and diplomatic sphere. We need to send the utopians back to Vermont. We need diplomats like Kennan, we need soldiers like Eisenhower and we have never been further away from that. Maybe a ROTC program for diplomats and government as well as military and if effete northeastern colleges and universities are too fey and transcendent to participate they get not a penny of federal funding for anything else. Like they do it in China.
We need a new professional ethic – possibly one as rigorous as that which China has had for centuries – in which the appointment of political tokens and favorites like Hillary and Napolitano would be considered treasonous and un-American.