When Greed Drives the Policy-Makers

By Tyree, Benjamin | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 5, 1997 | Go to article overview

When Greed Drives the Policy-Makers


Tyree, Benjamin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Greed seems to trump all other considerations in the United States these days. The fund-raising scandals are only part of it. A deeper question is whether our whole preoccupation with "getting in on" the Chinese economic boom has clouded our judgment of the national interest. Are we in the same business today as our forerunners who sold scrap metal to the Japanese on the eve of Pearl Harbor? Shrewdly amoral short-run arrangements may again turn out to be contrary to our long-term interests.

Our assumption seems to be that wealth creation is the cornucopia of all good in the world. Following that logic, we might have merely regarded the Third Reich as an excellent producer of dyes, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and mechanical instruments and sought a cut of the action out of its brutal invasion of Eastern Europe rather than take arms against it. But China isn't aggressively expansionist, you say? Well, tell it to Tibetans and Mongolians, the Russians in Siberia and the Taiwanese.

And China today is in certain respects internally comparable to fascistic states that combine attributes of an authoritarian political order, totalitarian suppression of political dissent, and fragmentary economic and social freedoms.

In Nazi Germany, there were residues of the competitive "free enterprise" system, or capitalism, though it was highly regulated and supervised by the state. Sometimes, the private sector could even frustrate the designs of its supposed masters. Adolf Hitler started up the Volkswagen as a government-sponsored enterprise after the private auto manufacturers in Germany failed to realize his dream of a small, affordable sedan and a motorized Volk.

And certainly, in the cultural sense, Germany even in the 1930s was arguably closer to the United States than China is today. Among heritages listed by respondents to U.S. censuses, "German" has long been among the most frequent. But in Hitler's Germany we faced a system inherently and radically hostile to the assumptions of a democratic, civil society.

Yet, despite the witness of the Holocaust in a modern, industrialized, Western nation such as Germany, we are expected to believe that China, with distinctly different cultural roots, values, and experiences has become an American counterpart and an acceptable partner almost overnight, without "passing Go" while collecting $200 over and over.

Even as we embrace Chinese leaders still stained with the blood of Tiananmen Square, and accord them most-favored nation trade status while they sell sophisticated weaponry to rogue states, we determinedly stiffen our combative stance against - Cuba.

That languishing Canadian tourist trap and erstwhile Mafia paradise in the Caribbean must, as long as Fidel Castro is in power, remain in our doghouse for one reason: She has nothing we need.

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