October 12, 2010

Moggled Messages

Hatched by Dafydd

(The title uses the portmanteau neologism "moggled," which I take to mean a combination of muddled and boggled. But should I know? It's not like I just made it up, you know.)

Two stories related to the Middle Kingdom, a.k.a. the Country at the Center of the World, a.k.a. the People's Republic of China: We roll the stories side by side in a split-screen, and it gives us the perfect metaphor of the waning days of the American Left in full geshrei.

First we have this:

China on Monday blocked European officials from meeting with the wife of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner, cut off her phone communication and canceled meetings with Norwegian officials -- acting on its fury over the award.

As China retaliated, U.N. human rights experts called on Beijing to free imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, who was permitted a brief, tearful meeting with his wife Sunday.

Mr. Liu dedicated the award to the "lost souls" of the 1989 military crackdown on student demonstrators.

That last line refers to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, of course. For those too young to remember -- it shocks the memory to realize that butchery was 21 years ago -- here's a recap:

  • Beginning on April 14th, 1989, students and others began crowding Tiananmen Square in Beijing, initially only to mourn the death (heart attack) of Hu Yaobang, who was both Chairman and Secretary General of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, second only to PRC leader Deng Xiaoping. Hu was a "reformer," like Deng; but Deng and other officials thought he went too far to help those who had been persecuted and tortured during the so-called Cultural Revolution; he was too sympathetic to Tibetan independence; and he went too easy on students who had protested in 1986 for greater intellectual freedom... hence Hu was a hero of the Chinese student intelligensia. Hu was forced to resign in 1987 and died two years later.
  • The funeral gathering in Tiananmen Square turned into a demonstration for liberty; ultimately 100,000 students crowded into the city square; they spilled over into the surrounding streets of Beijing, and other students held demonstrations and protests in many other Chinese cities.
  • For seven weeks, the PRC allowed the demonstrations to continue -- one group even sculpted a makeshift imitation of the Statue of Liberty, which they called the Goddess of Democracy -- and many around the globe thought that China had finally turned a corner, as the Soviet Union had (though Russia seems to have turned three more corners and ended up back on Oppression Avenue). But then on May 20th, Deng declared martial law.
  • However, demonstrators blocked the People's Liberation Army from entering the square; amazingly, the PLA refused to use military force to push their way in and withdrew four days later.
  • The demonstrations continued. Subsequently, more army units were called in, many from outlying provinces, as the Politburo thought the PLA soldiers from the Beijing area were too sympathetic to the students.
  • From June 1st-5th, demonstrators clashed with the army again, setting up barricades and hurling Molotov cocktails at the military vehicles. This time, the PLA responded by opening fire upon the crowd, ultimately killing between 800 and several thousand protesters, as well as many ordinary residents killed by wild shots striking nearby residential buildings. The complete death toll is unknown to this day.
  • In case you're interested, the name Tian-an-Men translates to "the Gate of Heavenly Peace."

In one bizarre and amazing incident, an unknown man with a shopping bag stood in front of a column of tanks, blocking their entry into the square; when they tried to deviate around him, he scampered back in front of the column. Eventually he was grabbed by soldiers and hustled offstage, but not before creating one of the three most iconic news videos of the 1980s:

Tiananmen Square tank blocker

Man blocks tank column's entry into Tiananmen Square, June 5th 1989

(The other two are East and West Germans swarming over the Berlin wall with pickaxes in November of 1989, tearing it down chunk by chunk; and the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28th, 1986.)

Following the massacre, President George H.W. Bush signed the 1990 Foreign Relations Act that banned exports to China of military equipment, including the famed C-130 transport, which China wanted in order to transport troops around the far-flung countryside of the PRC, brute force to hold together the Chinese Communist empire. That ban has remained in effect through four U.S. presidential administrations.

Until today, that is; and that brings us to the second story in our Chinese finger-puzzle:

President Obama issued a waiver loosening Tiananmen arms sanctions for C-130 military transports for China a day after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an imprisoned Chinese dissident who dedicated the prize this past weekend to the victims of the 1989 crackdown.

Chinese state-run news media on Monday hailed the White House waiver announcement as a sign Washington is moving to lift the 11-year-old arms embargo.

Well! The administration of President Barack H. Obama moved quickly to split hairs:

However, White House National Security Council spokesman Michael Hammer said the waiver issued on Saturday will not allow C-130s sales. "Under this announcement, we are not selling any aircraft to anyone," he stated in an e-mail.

I'm sure Mr. Hammer is correct: The sales won't take place until after the next announcement... probably after the November 2nd elections. But the message abides, even if it has yet to be translated into more concrete support for Chinese national and international oppression:

John Tkacik, a former State Department China affairs specialist, said the C-130 waiver and China's response appeared linked to Mr. Gates' visit to the region.

"It sends the wrong message to the Southeast Asians, its send the wrong message to the Chinese," Mr. Tkacik said. "We should not be encouraging the Chinese to have long-range air-lift capabilities for their military."

Regardless, the suspicious timing makes plain that lifting the C-130 ban was one of two things:

  • Either the announcement was a deliberate attempt to support China in its "fury" at the Swedish Academy showing some spine for once and awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo -- who co-authored Charter 08 in December 2008, calling for democracy in the People's Republic of China, and was sentenced a year later to 11 years in prison and two years deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power" -- and who yesterday dedicated his award to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre...
  • Or else it was another example of the colossal incompetence, kow-towing, and naïveté of this administration -- just a series of unfortunate events and meaningless coincidences!

The spectacle of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner being slapped in the face by last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner -- and doesn't Obama's "victory" in 2009 look petty and ill-conceived now! -- is a perfect lead-in to the November elections. This is not your Grandma's Democratic Party; this is a Democratic Party so smitten by either internationalist socialism or anti-colonialism (take your pick) that it does everything in its power to diminish and disfigure the United States, transforming us into a vile lickspittle to every thuggish, totalitarian nation in the world... and at the same time, an international laughingstock. How proud we must all feel, now that our nation's leader has made a point of lifting his leg all over Liu Xiaobo.

Oh, my mistake; I'm afraid I talked about President Obama like he was a dog.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2010, at the time of 3:18 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Captain Ned


To me, four years out of college when this went down, this unknown man's act was and ever shall be the universal emblem of "NO, we will no longer accept your authority".

Upon 21 years of reflection, one must also credit the lead tank captain with equivalent courage for not simply smooshing Tank Man into the pavement.

I'm sure our current Lackey-in-Chief would consider Tank Man one of those disgusting Tea Party protestors and would throw the lead tank captain under the bus for not running him over.

Selling C-130s to China. Did anyone ask what Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and whatever else isn't ChiCom already in South Asia would think of that idea? You know, our South Asian allies? Allies? Obama sez: we can surrender to China without them.

Who here doesn't believe that the first 2, 5, or 20 130s delivered don't end up in ChiCom AC-130 spec.

The above hissed in response by: Captain Ned [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2010 5:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Nerys Ghemor

And in case Obama has forgotten--or never knew or cared to know in the first place...let's remember that a C-130 may be a cargo aircraft in its peacetime use (or a hurricane hunter), but that is FAR from the limit of what its incredibly versatile, strong airframe can do. It can do airdrop of people and payloads (and just imagine what kind of dangerous payloads it could carry), it can take off and land in incredibly tight spaces suited for combat, AND IT CAN BE CONFIGURED AS A GUNSHIP.

No matter what Obama thinks--THIS PLANE IS A WEAPON. And if he's about to hand it over to the Chinese, it just proves how dangerously ignorant he is of the real world.

The above hissed in response by: Nerys Ghemor [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2010 6:39 PM

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