It has always astonished me how so many people want to argue about trivialities and silly controversies when there are topics of grave concern which–theoretically, at least–would represent something we could all agree on. Why go out on a limb when you can just reach for the low hanging fruit? Ostensibly, at least, the erection and maintenance of legit concentration camps should be such low hanging fruit.
Apparently that is not the case. I only know about the ‘concentration’ camps in China because I endeavor to be actually informed about matters of importance, which means going out of my way to uncover issues of genuine import. Meanwhile, we are treated to a new outrage on almost a daily basis, where, even if the ‘rage bait’ is real, it pales in comparison to real issues.
Well, it is not too hard to figure out. Ratings = money, and people like to be enraged. Being ‘outraged’ is how otherwise powerless people feel like they are doing something. Let’s face it, whether the issues are large or small, most of us are powerless to do anything substantial about most of them. However, while being ‘outraged’ constantly might mask the pain entailed by realizing one is impotent, it carries its own costs. It is not good for the individual to be constantly ‘outraged,’ hiding behind their faux-anger to lash out at their fellow citizens, nor is it good for a society filled to the brim with such people. Meanwhile, the rage du jour is manipulated by people looking only to make partisan hay (although, for some, any pretext for making partisan hay will do). Last but not least, I think that some issues are avoided because the price required to actually address them are so high that we know nothing will ever be done–short of a historic catalyst (think: Pearl Harbor or 9-11)–so we turn our eyes elsewhere.
After a century of genocides transpiring while the world watched, we pretty much know what is actually necessary to stop them once they get going: all out, unconditional war.
It is fun to tip-toe around other options: diplomacy, sanctions, oh dear Lord please no not a United Nations resolution! etc., but the intrinsic problem is that genocidaires don’t care about such things… which is precisely why they are genocidaires in the first place!
The Young Turks wanted to annihilate Armenian Christians for years, and waited only for the right pretext. Germany was virtually defeated already, but Hitler worked double-time to kill as many Jews as he could before he went down. In Rwanda, a pretext was actually invented for the purpose. These and other examples could be given to illustrate the point that when you have bad actors who intend to exterminate vast populations involved, they use your moderation against you.
Of course, that raises the very difficult question of how to recognize such individuals before they do their massive killing. This is no doubt a tricky matter, but there are clues, and there are outright giveaways. A clue might be the sense of superiority of the oppressing group and a giveaway might be the erection of concentration camps of people regarded as inferior. Some degree of intellect needs to be brought to bear, otherwise one ends up mobilizing tanks when a refugee camp is established, and so on. And not all mass killings are precipitated by the erection of concentration camps, even when legitimate–and not all ‘concentration’ camps lead to mass-scale murder.
Unfortunately, any sober analysis of the Communist Chinese regime gives us reason to worry very much about China’s camps, in which perhaps THREE MILLION people are being held. There is within the Chinese communist class a sense of superiority (racial and otherwise) and a long history of brutal oppression, from forced abortions to the well known incident in Tienanmen Square, where we still don’t know how many protestors were murdered. Not as well known is China’s complicity in the atrocities committed by Pol Pot or the fact that they supplied the vast majority of machetes used in the Rwandan genocide. Moreover, they lie. Constantly. For years, even decades.
The disturbing part is how easily large swaths of the global population believe the lies of the Chinese government, but I digress.
As far as I know, China has not installed ovens in their camps at this point, but for all we know, they’ve decided bullets are just as good. It isn’t like the Chinese are going to be forthcoming with their intentions in this case, but their history as ‘bad actors’ is well established for anyone willing to inform themselves.
So, what to do about it?
Well, merely being outraged to be outraged isn’t going to do anything, so let’s dispense with that silliness.
First of all, we need to face up to the fact that the world has allowed China to get where it is today. Despite the brutality of the Cultural Revolution and all the evils perpetrated since, the world has seen fit to enable one Chinese dictator after another for fifty years. We should stop doing that.
Second of all, it should be made abundantly clear that the military option is on the table.
I know what you’re saying: war with China? Are you crazy?
As I said above:
Last but not least, I think that some issues are avoided because the price required to actually address them are so high that we know nothing will ever be done–short of a historic catalyst (think: Pearl Harbor or 9-11)–so we turn our eyes elsewhere.
Perhaps if the world had ‘nipped’ China in the ‘bud’ five decades ago, a ‘military option’ would not now need to be on the table. But this is where we are now.
I have zero interest in going to war with anyone. I’m not advocating for war, I’m saying it needs to be on the table and the Chi-comms need to know its on the table. My preference would be that a coalition of countries would alert China to the prospect. I made a snide comment about sanctions and resolutions but of course these are important preliminaries. With China as one of the permanent members of the UN security council (what a stupid idea that was), one can imagine just how far that will go, and it doesn’t help that the UN has a bad habit of putting known mass human offenders on their human rights committees. Nonetheless, these are ways of turning up the heat and putting China on notice that they are being noticed.
To the degree that even bad actors prefer to be rich all things considered, economic measures could potentially be useful, but seeing as North Korea still stands, the intensity of the measures would have to be pretty severe to make a dent in Xi’s hubris. As far as the United States goes, we should not forget that we are, economically speaking, China’s ‘golden goose.’ We are their number one market. There has been much talk about making American ‘energy independent.’ America should endeavor to make itself ‘Cheap-Chinese products independent.’ It just doesn’t make sense to rely on regimes which are malevolent to their core.
So, none of this is going to happen. And perhaps the Chinese do not have foul intentions–today. Still, I wanted to put this out there, because apparently this human rights nightmare is not ‘sexy’ enough to draw our attention compared to, say, the Syrian refugee crisis. (Other examples of calamity where the world’s eyes appear to be averted would be the situation in Venezuela and the ongoing situation in Myanmar). But I would like the reader to ponder a potential future which will see another case of millions being slaughtered, and contemplate how it could have been stopped. Now would be the time, no? Before, not after?
And let’s remember that compared to other well known horrors, the Chinese control many more millions than these. Hitler gave us our tens of millions of dead, the Stalin, Lenin, and Mao their hundred million–might China now give us hundreds and hundreds of millions?
Writing this, thinking about all of the horrific stuff going on, I can’t help but think of Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Nature.” The basic premise of the book is that all in all, people are better today, and the world is a better place today than it was a century ago. This analysis strikes me as badly flawed in light of the affairs of the 20th century, but the 21st century seems no better: slaughter in the Middle East, slaughter in Asia, slaughter here, chaos there. It is foolish to think that our worst days are behind us, and it is foolish to think “it can’t happen here.”
That said: you can’t very well go to war against all bad actors! There are just too many of them, and it is unlikely that even in a ‘just’ war, grave injustices would be avoided well enough (by the good guys) to make it an unqualified ‘righteous’ war.
Nonetheless, it wouldn’t kill us to be blunt with the ‘bad actors,’ letting them know that in no uncertain terms, we see what they’re doing, and we do have tipping points.
As an aside, regardless of what nations do, there are things that we can do individually. While modest in the realm of things, if more people did them, it could have a large impact. For example, whenever possible, I do not buy products made in China. If the rest of America had the same attitude, even if our government didn’t throw down the gauntlet, China would feel the economic pain. To really disentangle yourself from the world’s bad actors, you have to change your lifestyle in ways that you may not wish to do. I’m not talking about getting on your soapbox and yelling at other people. That’s not ‘doing’ anything. That’s just stroking your own ego. I’m talking about YOUR own lifestyle. Instead of being ‘outraged’ and letting that count as your ‘doing something’, how about you actually do something? It might be small in the realm of things, but then, in the realm of things you’ll never be able to end all evil, will you?
This little blog post is not likely to do much, either. But, in my own way, it is something: I’m putting China on notice. I see what they’re doing, and I DO have tipping points.