Bill Clinton has left the White House with the highest approval ratings of any recent president. These approval ratings, of course, reflect an ignorant public and a corrupt political culture obsessed with trivialities.
While Clinton said what America wanted to hear on subjects like sex and race, he acted in a way that undermined our global position. Talk of “free trade,” homosexual rights and racial harmony nudged discussions of global strategy into a dark corner. The evil deeds of Columbus and the Boy Scouts, the horrors of Christian morality and concern for the stock market overtook concerns about communist China, North Korea and Russia.
Narcissism overtook our culture decades ago. But with the supreme narcissist in the White House, politics itself embraced and internalized narcissistic reflexes. Long ago Christopher Lasch noted that narcissists are seductive and manipulative. Their emphasis is on personality instead of character. They believe that anything and everyone can be manipulated.
But empty manipulators build on a weak foundation. Clinton’s neglect of America’s military strength (which Congress also bears responsibility for) will catch up with us. The Clinton era was purchased at great cost — greater than anyone now realizes. Our outgoing president ignored the growing alliance between Russia and China. He allowed Chinese subversion to entrench itself behind a free trade ideology that many Republicans foolishly embraced. Clinton also turned a blind eye to Kremlin treaty-breaking and North Korea’s nuclear missile program. His feeble attack on Serbia only strengthened the moral arguments of America’s enemies.
Time and again Clinton’s decisions hurt America’s global position. Even so, the public approves of what he has done. They approve only because they do not understand. They approve because his rhetoric embraces homosexuals, abortion, racial harmony and free trade. There is candy enough here for everyone. But there is also candy for the Chinese and Russians militarists, who have played Clinton for billions.
One of the biggest pieces of candy offered up by Clinton went to the Chinese.
One of the first tests of the new administration will involve China and the Panama Canal. President Clinton oversaw the transfer of the Canal’s key ports to Chinese front companies. When asked by a reporter about this issue, Clinton replied: “I think the Chinese will, in fact, be bending over backwards to make sure that they run [the canal] in a competent and able and fair manner.”
The most strategic waterway in the Western Hemisphere, once defended by powerful U.S. military bases, has quietly changed hands. Not only could the People’s Liberation Army use Panama’s ports to ship armaments to Marxist insurgents in Latin America, but they could ship medium range missiles into the hemisphere. They could also close the canal by sabotage or other means.
While Clinton’s politics reflected America’s obsession with sex and race, his strategic statements reflected our country’s strategic ignorance. “I would be very surprised,” said Clinton, “if any adverse consequences flowed from the Chinese running of the canal.”
Now that Clinton is gone, our new president must take steps to knock the Chinese out of the canal. If the new administration fails to act, it will be a sure sign of internal rottenness. It will show that both political parties have fallen victim to extensive Chinese influence operations.
Another area that needs attention is the protection of sensitive data. As we all saw, America’s nuclear secrets were unprotected under Clinton. When espionage was discovered, when all our nuclear warheads had been compromised, the administration sought to punish (of all people) Notra Trulock and other whistleblowers. In his book entitled “The China Threat,” Bill Gertz noted that, “The administration wasn’t interested in catching spies. Its highest priority was repressing its critics, especially those in American intelligence. …”
Our new president must devise a real security regime. Spies must be caught and executed. The punishment for treason should be death. If we cannot enforce discipline in matters of national survival, especially with regard to weapons of mass destruction, then our global position is indefensible. We might as well run up a white flag.
There is also another matter that begs for correction. During Clinton’s presidency the Russians and Chinese broke solemn agreements. They exported key components for building weapons of mass destruction to dictators who hate the United States. These exports were calculated and purposeful. But our strategic leadership in Washington did nothing. Harsh sanctions should have been applied to any government that seeks to harm us through the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
We need a president who will defend us against subtle dangers. We also need a president who is courageous enough to put long-term survival ahead of short-term profits. Buying products from China contributes to their $562 billion trade surplus which Beijing turns around and uses against us. This policy, which is profitable to certain American businessmen, should have been curtailed long ago. If our new president lacks the political will to break off relations with our enemies, if he cannot see that they are using trade as
a weapon to buy political influence in Washington, then we are lost.
Clinton undermined our national security. The next president must repair the damage. He must take the Panama Canal away from the Chinese. He must hold the Russians accountable for violating the ABM, INF and START treaties. He must enforce our treaties and prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons.
If our new Republican president fails to be a global strategist, if he does not move decisively to fix the problems created by Clinton, the country will pay dearly in blood and treasure for its political sins.