Chinese ambassador Li Zhaoxing looked like a prison camp commander
extracting a written confession from a prisoner as he stood over Bill
Clinton in the Oval Office. His scowl was menacing as he watched the
president sign a book of condolences for victims of the bombing of the
Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
This act of contrition followed four abject apologies by the
president in addition to public groveling by Defense Secretary William
Cohen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
For a week, the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, refused to accept a
phone call from Clinton. Finally, the American president got through and
apologized yet again.
In the meanwhile, China, in righteous indignation, broke off
negotiations with the United States on military matters, arms controls,
weapons proliferation and human rights issues.
We are, through various public and “back” channels, imploring the
Chinese to restore relations, and reminding them how important our trade
is to their economy. It is all too obvious how distraught we are at not
being in their good graces.
Given China’s domestic tyranny and repression of its own people, the
brutalization of Tibet, the persecution of Christians, the theft of U.S.
nuclear and military secrets, armed threats against Taiwan, the transfer
of nuclear and missile technology to rogue nations who hate America, the
trashing of the American embassy in China, the terrorization of our
ambassador and his family, and the illegal funneling of millions of
dollars to the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, you have to wonder why
we are not the ones demanding an apology and breaking off negotiations.
By our actions, we have effectively ceded the moral high ground to
one of the most tyrannical dictatorships on the planet Earth.
What happened to us? How did we wind up in this weak and humiliating
posture? The answer is simple. What happened to us was “collateral
damage.” We often hear this term used to describe the unintentional
killing and displacement of civilians. But there is another kind of
collateral damage associated with the U.S.-led NATO war against
Yugoslavia. It is the damage done to international relationships and to
the image of America as the moral leader in the post Cold-War world.
On April 25, following a 50th anniversary summit, NATO issued a
Washington Declaration. In effect, NATO formally announced its intention
to preemptively deal with human rights violations and perceived threats
beyond the borders of its member nations.
Surely, it was no surprise that the non-NATO world reacted with
apprehension and resentment. Why would they not? NATO had just thrown
down the gauntlet.
A New York Times Story by Michael Wines captured the change of
attitude in Russia. Wines wrote, “NATO intervention in Yugoslavia …
has only galvanized Russian fears that the Soviet propagandists may have
been right — and that Americans are, in fact, bent on imposing their
will on the world, by force if necessary.”
India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee spoke for many in his
country when he declared that NATO’s “naked aggression” in Yugoslavia
totally justified India’s decision to develop a nuclear capability. He
said, “Nuclear weapons are the only way to maintain peace.”
On May 30, 1989, Chinese students erected a “Goddess of Democracy,” a
replica of the Statue of Liberty, in Tiananmen Square. Ten years later,
a new generation of students erected and set fire to an effigy of Bill
Clinton dressed as the Statue of Liberty, carrying a bomb rather than a
The demonstrations against our embassy were staged, but the hostility
of the Chinese people toward America is genuine.
Throughout the non-NATO world, America is increasingly seen as an
aggressor nation, the new “Evil Empire,” demonstrably unfit to preach to
other nations about human rights and democratic freedoms.
The perception grows that America has fallen from grace and lost its
image as the light and hope of the world. The view is taking hold that
the American people have scrapped their Constitution, abandoned their
founding principles, and put themselves in the heavy hands of an elite
band of liberal globalists.
We have bombed bridges in Yugoslavia and burned bridges to the
non-NATO world. Let us hope it will be safe to cross Clinton’s “bridge
to the 21st century.”
According to the South China News, Beijing is working with Moscow on
an anti-NATO alliance. Such an alliance, to include India, is on the
agenda of a summit between President Jiang Zemin and President Boris
Yeltsin scheduled for next November.
If such an alliance is formed, let us hope its charter does not
include the authority to militarily intervene anywhere in the world to
preempt perceived threats, police the behavior of other nations, and
impose their values and ideology upon the rest of the world.