To really fathom the moral depravity of the Clinton White House, one should forget about Bill and Monica in the East Wing and focus instead on Bill and Jiang in the Far East Wing, otherwise known as China. Witness in particular Clinton's refusal to meet with dissidents.
Rahm Emanuel telegraphed that decision on "Meet the Press" two weeks ago in an appearance reminiscent of those sublimely oblique Chinese "guarantees" of Hong Kong's "democracy." Here is his stomach-churning exchange with Tim Russert:
Russert: "Will (the President) meet with pro-democracy Chinese dissidents while in China?"
Emanuel: "As his schedule's getting finalized, he's going to be meeting with a number of people and people from a broad perspective and from a diverse background, and he will be meeting with a number of people."
Yes, well we know the butcher-and-thug parts of the spectrum will be taken care of, but what about the other end?
Russert pressed on: "Dissidents?" Emanuel countered with a non sequitur: "Well, dissidents is a category." And then repeated that the president "will be meeting with a number of people from across China who have a diverse background."
It now seems clear -- or as clear as anything can seem with Clinton -- that the scheduled visits will not be quite diverse enough to include dissidents. The wife of China's most prominent dissident, labor activist Liu Nianchun, has sent a letter to the president inviting him to her home and asking him to urge his Chinese hosts to release her ailing husband who has been held in labor camps and prisons without charge or trial. I'm sure Clinton would have loved to -- if only there were more time.
Meanwhile, Sandy Berger, that avuncular embarrassment of a National Security advisor, was on "This Week" reassuring us that "dissidents have been released." He was, however, only able to conjure up three names. (Hey, it's a small country, after all.) And then he was followed on the broadcast by human rights' activist and former Chinese political prisoner, Harry Wu. In the future, Berger should remember that old vaudeville dictum of never following kids and animals -- likewise, a brutality apologist should never go on before a brutality victim.
Wu's moral authority made Berger's weasel words all the more pathetic. He urged the president when he is in Tien An Men Square to say: "We remember the massacre. We will never forget about it."
We do not know exactly what Clinton will say, but we do know that he will not say it to any dissidents. If we compare this with Ronald Reagan's emotional meeting with prominent Soviet dissidents in Moscow in May 1988, we see how unmoored from American principles American foreign policy has become under Clinton. "While we press for human rights through diplomatic channels," Reagan told the 98 dissidents assembled in the American ambassador's residence, "you press with your very lives, day in, day out, year after year, risking your jobs, your homes, your all."
"The chain reaction resulting from human rights' violations," said Father Gleb Yakunin, a dissident Russian Orthodox priest, "is no less dangerous than the thermonuclear reaction of an H-bomb." It is a message that this country should take to heart as the current administration remains oblivious to both chain reactions.
Reagan spoke with the clarity of absolute conviction -- a state with which the current president is entirely unfamiliar. But as his speechwriters, national security advisors, pollsters and flotilla of focus-group testers prepare the president's speeches on Chinese soil, they may want to go back and read Reagan's.
"The United States," he told the dissidents, "views human rights as fundamental, absolutely fundamental to our relationship with the Soviet Union and all nations. I came here hoping to do what I could to give you strength. Yet I already know it is you who have strengthened me, you who have given me a message to carry back. Coming here, being with you, looking into your faces, I have to believe the history of this troubled century will indeed be redeemed in the eyes of God and man, and that freedom will truly come to all. For what injustice can withstand your strength? And what can conquer your prayers?"
But Clinton in China will look into no dissidents' faces and will have no message to carry back -- only more deals for his establishment partners in corporate America.
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