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Yesterday, a great guy and WND colleague Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., wrote a column claiming that China in its behavior — since one of our planes landed at a Chinese airbase last weekend — is right.

The U.S., Lew says, is wrong and Washington indeed “owes” Beijing a huge “I’m sorry” for this incident.

Lew makes some good points in laying out his argument.

Yes, the U.S. has been culpable in the past in dealings with China. Yes, at times, this country’s leadership elite have demonstrated what can only be described as a imperialist attitude in their approach to U.S. foreign policy. Yes, we do a lot of business with China and all too often our “business interests” tend to override common sense. And yes, when comparing apples to apples, China has not “done anything to us.”

But a couple of things came to mind as I read Lew’s column: 1) I respect his opinion very much, and his right to it; but 2) I couldn’t disagree with it more.

To be sure, though, we live in “America, the beautiful,” not “America, the perfect.” Indeed our leaders have made mistakes. Hell, Bill Clinton’s entire foreign policy seemed to be based on his immediate need to direct attention away from himself because of some new scandal or other.

But to somehow suggest that Washington owes Beijing an apology for attempting to ensure our own national security — and that is how I see this — is, well, ludicrous. Sorry, Lew (and insert computer smiley face here).

If China does not conduct the kind of surveillance missions against the U.S. that we conduct against them, it is only — only — because they do not have the capability to do so. We’re supposed to be Russia’s buddy now, too, and yet they still spy on us. Also, China has satellites, so believe me, they’re spying on us as well — right now, even.

Understand that China’s zeal to be a real world player is what’s ultimately in play here.

Beijing — struggling to catch up to the rest of the world in terms of military technology and capability — can only manage to control “zones of influence” in the immediate vicinity of the mainland, for now. So it seeks to do so, even if its guidelines are unreasonable (hint: nobody has the right to claim a 200-mile offshore “exclusion” zone in international waters, Lew).

When China has the kind of capability we have — and someday they will, because they are now building it — then you can bet Chinese surveillance aircraft and nuclear submarines will be loitering off U.S. coastlines too.

Also, we’re forgetting that China scored some of its biggest intelligence and espionage coups during the 1990s. I’m told there isn’t a single nuclear warhead design of ours that China does not now have, for example. Beijing bought and paid for an entire administration and was “repaid” time and again in terms of secrets and intel gained through espionage.

Thing is, the Chinese didn’t have to build EP-3Es and nuclear submarines to get all the information they needed on sophisticated U.S. weapons systems; they simply bought and paid for it.

And they did this intentionally, with malice, and in accordance to Beijing’s national goals and priorities, Lew. Trust me.

Oh, and they aren’t doing this simply to defend themselves. Taiwan — say it aloud many times — is the first goal; the region is the second; superpower status, where China — as we have done — makes its presence felt on the world stage, is last.

No, China bought our technology for the sole purpose of using it against us should the time arise. And because of this fact, I expect — no, I demand — that my leaders act responsibly and keep an eye on these folks, tell me what they’re up to, and then use that information to develop a national security policy to defend us when the time comes.

And it will, Lew. It will, God help us.

Protecting a superpower is not a 9-to-5 job; it isn’t easy; and it isn’t always “clean.” We have many, many enemies in this world — some simply because we are who and what we are; a successful, wealthy bastion of freedom.

That irks guys like Jiang Zemin who are little more than tin-horn dictators with huge manpower and economic resources at their disposal.

I agree that the U.S. is involved in too many things, in too many places where we have no business interfering. Kosovo, Bosnia, and most of Africa comes to mind. And I agree that we’ve been burning holes in the Iraqi skies for far too long, and that Europe is inherently big enough and strong enough to defend itself — the French notwithstanding.

But we cannot and should not simply withdraw into a cocoon and hope that the world leaves us be. It won’t. It never does.

We tried that in 1914; by 1917, we were training men to help settle an “issue” in Europe. We tried again throughout the 1930s, but by 1941 Japan saw to it that we were “included” in World War II. In both cases we weren’t ready and we paid for it in terms of lost men, materiel, and political clout.

I concur — we don’t need to do the Bosnias, Kosovos, Sudans, Somalias and Libyas of the world. However, we do need to do the South Koreas, Taiwans, Japans, and Middle Eastern nations because if we don’t, the “bad guys” will. And if that happens, we’ll be harmed in the long run because stability in these regions directly enhances our ability to thrive, prosper, and remain free. Sorry; in today’s world, that’s just the way it is.

Globalism in the “United Nations” sense is garbage and I oppose that. Globalism in terms of world trade and using the American form of liberty to spread freedom and prosperity to other parts of the globe does get my vote, though, because I believe it is necessary and, as it pertains to this subject, in our national security and political interests. There is more to being a superpower than just getting to make the claim.

We cannot protect our country effectively in this day and age of modern warfare and destruction if we start at our own borders. By the time the bad guys or the bad stuff makes it that far, we’re screwed.

Hence, to ensure safety and security for a nation of nearly 280 million people, we’ve got to start “way out there” — much further away than on our own shores, or “12 miles out.”

Finally, I disagree that China did not “stage” this or, at least, do nothing to prevent it from happening. We’re dealing with a very proud and determined mindset, here — and a nation with leaders who are struggling to hang on to what they’ve got. The only way they stay is if they stay in control; and sometimes, control is retained by situations of one’s own designs.

Call that the “Clinton Theory of Political Opportunity.”

We owe China neither an apology nor an explanation; they caused this incident, and they know why we were there. Had they similar capabilities, the situation could just as easily be reversed.

Except that our fighter pilots are much better.

If China values its economic stability, the best thing to do now would be to return our crewmen and as much of our EP-3E as is left. Otherwise, the Bush administration should cut all trade ties with Beijing immediately, “until further notice.”

Not much of an “apology,” Lew, I agree, but we’re in the right, we’re in the driver’s seat and we should act like it.

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