APB: It’s War!

We’re at war, and I don’t mean in the Middle East. I’m referring to the war that the Trump administration, with support from an army of state and local legislators, has declared on millions of Americans and on democratic institutions: war on women, war on immigrants, war on minorities, war on the environment, war on labor, war on the courts, war on the Constitution. (No war on guns, however, or on injustice, poverty, dark money, and corruption.) Trump’s wars are of a piece—a coordinated, integrated effort to remake America into a white- and corporate-dominant state, increasingly alone in the world, divided as it has not been since the Civil War, and in precipitate decline.
We’re at war, folks, and if we don’t arm ourselves by supporting strong candidates, defending human rights for all, and contributing to organizations that speak for justice, we will have a full-fledged tyranny by next November. It has come down to that.*
*Chris Hedges offers a particularly bleak assessment at http://www.truthdig.com/articles/creeping-toward-tyranny/. I’m not there yet.

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  1. Way to go Mel: You’ve ruined my day! But, seriously folks; I intend to vote for Elizabeth Warren in Orergon’s primary, but, in the general election, I’ll vote for Biden; holding my nose all the way. Chris Hedges is (depressingly) correct.

  2. Hi Mel,

    These are anxious times. And it is not because I have a growing sense the random person in the streets is giving me a hard stare. One Chinese woman friend sent me a note this morning that she “hates Trump.” She may not consciously worry about him taking us to the edge of war, but he is shaking her world up and threatening plans for her daughter’s education and financial future. Most people I know in China are nervous about losing a handle on their financial destiny…as you know modern China is in no way that spiritually-grounded, tea-house culture of dynastic days…Great Nation status is hardly ever the  point of any after-dinner talk…but loss of a sense of family security is. Among the people I encounter here, that shake-up is fueling fast-growing resentment towards Trump (and in some cases, by extension, America). China hates being pushed ahead of its snail’s-pace pragmatic, strategic ways. It’s an important reason the current situation is making everyone like my young friend so worried. Also, Chinese media is not letting anyone ignore trade war talk. The flame of fear surely fanned by the Propaganda Ministry in calculated ways usually dies out after a brief flicker. At least that’s what I’ve noticed about aggressive but short-lived tactical trade moves since I first arrived here in 2001. The 2007-2008 anti-Japanese car burnings in Shandong and limited trade embargoes with Japan related to Japanese government memorializing of the Yasukuni shrine would be a case in point. Another would be the Little Red Book waving and temporary closure of Wal-Mart stores in ChongQing in 2008 (related in my opinion to pre-election maneuvering between Bo Xilai and Xi). But this Huawei-focused trade dispute is of a different order entirely. This dispute has legs, could run on a long time and eventually lead to unexpected consequences, even war.

    Ten years ago government officials and SOE leaders I was dealing with switched overnight from Apple to Huawei. I noticed there were no exceptions to the iconic replacement, it was universal and, interestingly, was not discussed. That single move made it clear to me the government of China was thinking to displace Apple and related advanced tech with home-grown (meaning Chinese Army-developed) ware. It didn’t surprise. I think most agree the 40 year rise of modern China includes a transparent and ongoing goal to compete head-on with the US in all ways economic and geopolitical. While Japan at one time in the late 20th C. might have had similar aims, the second-largest economy of its day did not have the resources China has, and its people likely did not have as strong a will as the Chinese to suffer through terribly difficult times in order to survive and possibly eventually dominate. So the seeds of conflict were planted with the opening of China. Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to promote a kind of free-market economy while bringing hundreds of millions out of abject poverty nourished the seeds. It is not surprising that the plants have sprouted. But who would have thought the flowering would look like Donald Trump?

    An Italian I correspond with occasionally, a 30+years China hand and media pundit with direct high level connections, warned several years ago that if China is ever unequivocally backed into a corner it will explode in a no-holds barred fight to the death. Whether or not that dire prediction is accurate or is even worth discussing, I am very worried that China could make life exceedingly difficult for America and Americans. Worse, it feels like we are on the edge of a calamity of some sort. Maybe there’s a sea-change in people’s attitudes that at the moment is hard to accurately identify. Now, maybe that is because Trump wants it that way, that he favors being bold and reckless because it enhances his image and because he has in the back of his pea brain an idea that he can at any time of his choosing turn on a dime and make friends again with Xi. It’s the kind of dangerously arrogant and cynical thinking the world saw from Hitler in the 1930’s as he staged events around Central Europe. Even if most Chinese are not familiar with the specific history and events that led to world war, it is not a stretch to suggest that some are beginning to fear falling into the abyss. If that is indeed happening it represents a shift from persistent anxiety about the future to cold-sweat fear for survival, and when fear begins to edge out rationality is the time to start worrying. Another long-time ex-pat friend, a Korean retired surgeon, said last night that it is more dangerous for foreigners now than at any time in his memory, and, voice lowered, added  that “some Chinese can be very hard and capable of doing strange things.” I fervently hope Trump and Xi get us out of this situation, and do it now.


    1. Thanks, Joe, for your excellent thoughts from your vantage point in China. The Chinese have every reason to be vexed; their early embrace of Trump has proven sadly mistaken. And it will hardly be surprising if their anger become generalized to Americans. We used to think US-China economic interdependence was a strong deterrent to war, but now? The Chinese are reported to be considering a ban on rare earth mineral exports to the US. They’re not backing down, and if Trump continues down the road of maximum tariffs/maximum pressure, the chance of a firefight and worse greatly increases.

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