Democracy and its Detractors

Over Passover, I read Natan Sharansky's boook, "The Case for Democracy" (appropriate, I suppose, for the holiday commemorating our freedom). One point which he returned to again and again is the skepticism which his views on democracy and peace were met with by diplomats and national leaders in America, Israel, and most of the Western world. These worthies all preferred to work with "friendly strongmen" in the interests of "stability."

This is especially troubling in the wake of the recent belligerencies out of China. For several decades, American policy has been to "engage" China in the hopes of moderating its regime, or at the least to establish a sort of regional stability. In the name of engagement, China's abysmal human-rights record and its invasion of Tibet have been more or less swept under the rug. Bill Clinton, to his modest credit, at least made noises to the effect of linking China's entry into the WTO to an improved human-rights record; yet when the chips were down, he caved.

And what has been the result? China's industrial power has grown exponentially, with Western money and investment as its fuel. On the strength of its roaring economy, China is now in the middle of a massive naval mobilization. Its object appears to be Taiwan, a staunch US ally which has been repeatedly betrayed by American diplomats in order to appease its larger cousin.

True, at the same time a large middle class has been created, which is more and more connected to the outside world. And the social strains of China's new economy are causing headaches for the Communist Party. These pressures may yet lead to a revolution, in time. Yet who is to say that such a revolution would not have come earlier, had the West not acted as China's sugar daddy? According to Natan Sharansky, the dissidents in the USSR loooked on deténte as nothing more than appeasement, that extended the life of the Soviet tyranny. And remember that Deng Xiaoping decided that China could not survive without foreign trade. Should we then have so quickly given him what he so desperately needed, without so much as a single serious concession in return with regard to human rights?

Now we are in a race to see what will happen first. Will China move against Taiwan, in the dictator's classic move to unify a restless populace? Or will the Chinese Communists fall first?

Given such a situation, we have no excuse whatsoever to avoid throwing all the means at our disposal behind the cause of Chinese democracy. As to those who protest that doing so would be a "destabilizing" influence, I scorn your stability. Your stability is but a carte blanche for murderers to continue murdering. You would turn a blind eye to tyrants with blood on their hands, for fear that a spot of it should stain your elegant suits. For the sake of Taiwan, for the sake of Japan, for the sake of the Chinese who live under oppression, we can no longer be silent.

1 comment:

Mike Maller said...

As strange as it sounds, an episode of Star Trek is brought to mind.

I don't know how much of the original series you've seen, but there was one episode where two planets were locked in a 500 year war... only they weren't. Sometime ago, the war had been transferred into the control of computer, who would calculate attacks and the casualties thereof. The computers would then report the casualties, and the citizens of either world mentioned in the report would go to disintegration chamers.


The connection being an imagined stability, rented with murder. To some people, stability is everything.