copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
“Now, that doesn’t mean that questions of Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese, are not part of the agenda. But we pretty much know what they are going to say. We have to continue to press them but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises.
~ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (February 20, 2009)
The news appeared in cyberspace on Friday, February 20, 2009. As Yogi Berra once elucidated, it was as déjà vu, all over again. International and domestic activists have come to realize, once again, America is a democracy dependent on dollars. Amnesty International advocates shook their heads, wondered, and worried of what might be. Students for a Free Tibet collectively shrugged their shoulders and expressed a shared distress. Citizens at home, in America, barely blinked. An avid Obama supporter, was resigned to realities that, only weeks ago, she might not have thought she would willingly accept. Moneybag democracy lives. Hillary Clinton serves the President, the precedent past, present, and perhaps, future.
Days ago, with Secretary of State Clinton abroad in China, the world was given an opportunity to witness America’s new direction. Most anticipated dollars would no longer have a greater influence on United States policy than humanitarian concerns did. Globally, people waited to cheer for the change that had certainly come. Then, Secretary Clinton, pleaded with Beijing to buy United States bonds. Contrary to her pointed comments on human rights, made during her presidential campaign, as a representative of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton spoke as though she no longer believes as she had, Chinese ownership of US government debt had become a threat to national security.
Perhaps, Hillary Clinton, and her President, surmised Capitalism, or a democracy devoted to dollars must survive at all cost. Certainly her husband, and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright had reached this conclusion near a decade earlier.
Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, chose to sell America’s soul. When the first woman Head of State spoke of her decision, few United States citizens said a word. In the 1990s, then Head of State, Albright, in a 60 Minutes interview, discussed the American policy decisions that caused the deaths of more than half-million Arab children in Iraq. She said without hesitation, the loss of young lives were the price the Clinton Administration thought wise to pay. Madeline Albright mused; the sacrifice of little ones was “worth it.”
Hardships on fellow humans are the cost citizens in a comfortable and “civilized” society must pay for democracy. Apparently, Americans, even the most Progressive amongst us, seem to agree. Then, as now, few if any said a word.
Today when news came over the wires, Secretary Clinton stood firm in favor of economic relations with China, regardless of human rights violations, only a few countrymen responded. Activists were ‘shocked’ when they heard the American Ambassador, Clinton, take such a stance. Representatives from Amnesty International and Students for a Free Tibet spoke out.
T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Secretary Clinton’s comment. The advocate for honorable and equitable civil liberties may have trusted that at least where China was concerned, the Clinton’s had a record, or at any rate, had offered respectable rhetoric.
James Mann, a Johns Hopkins scholar who wrote a history of U.S.-China relations, also recalled. When asked of Secretary Clinton’s most recent comment, Professor Mann stated he was struck by the contrast. Bill Clinton, he said, as president more than eight years earlier gave strong speeches on behalf of political freedom in the People’s Republic. “Bill Clinton told the leader of China he was on ‘the wrong side of history,'” Mann recollected. “Now, Hillary seems to be giving them the reverse message: that China is on the right side of history.”
However, historians might consider the statement that President Bill Clinton is better known for was his truer agenda. “It is the economy stu***!” In March of 1997, writer for China Daily, Ren Yanshi avowed the Chinese government certainly perceived the United States had a record of human rights violations, during the Clinton years. In a “Moneybag Democracy,” the United States of America caters only to the rich. In the States, a consumer culture allows the prosperous to profit further. The people, the poor suffer greatly.
In recent years, as the rich got much richer, this truth was revealed in radical ways. The word “Katrina” evokes much empathy. “Bank bailouts elicit more emotions within the ranks of what once was the Middle Class. Some might say, these truths are the reason that change has finally come to America. Until today, the thought was coins and currency would no longer guide an Administration or US policy. Barack Obama brought hope to the world.
Students for a Free Tibet embraced the new Administration. They believed the current White House could and would make a difference in the lives of all people. Surely, a President Obama would not serve only the affluent.
As a Senator, Barack Obama was among the sponsors of the act, which bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the Dalai Lama. Senator Obama urged Chinese president Hu Jintao to “meaningfully address the Tibet issue.” After the election, Tibetans were encouraged. They sent President Obama letters of Congratulations. Thus, it was an unexpected and an unwanted surprise to hear Secretary Clinton cavort, cajole, and say as she did. The proponents of social justice stated, Clinton’s remarks “sent the wrong signal to China at a sensitive time.”
“The US government cannot afford to let Beijing set the agenda,” said Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group.
Long-time activists, domestic supporters of Barack Obama, persons such as Jessica, see Secretary Clinton’s statement differently. This woman who energetically endorsed Barack Obama from the moment he announced his campaign would have welcomed a more mindful position. She yearns for United States policy to be benevolent as she believes Barack Obama, the man, is. Jessica, who organized her community to come out and work for what she craved, an Obama White House, now thinks America cannot “afford” to do other than cater to the wishes of the Chinese government.
A jubilant Jessica has been joyful since her presidential candidate was chosen to serve. She avows; “Unfortunately, due to our greed, China owns us. If they pulled their money, this country would die. Sad fact but true.”
American lives would be lost if foreign affairs focus on humanitarian concerns in China. There can be nothing worse. Who would buy the wares that please the people in the States, or Jessica might say, in her own defense, furnish jobs for those born in the Far Eastern nation. The argument could be made; and certainly, descendants of Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, would be the first to offer it. US dollars support a much-improved Chinese culture.
George W. Bush might have mused the latter claim an important one. Perchance, that is why the former President chose to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics. United States indebtedness served to justify relations with China, a country well-known for human rights violations. The desire to feed a Capitalist market, the need to assuage the hunger of citizens who habitually consume on credit, and a country famished for cash, will do all that they can to appease those who beat and brutalize Chinese citizens.
The people of China, many Americans cried at the time, cannot be punished because they live under totalitarian rule. Nor can US athletes be penalized. Cruel and inhumane treatment is not acceptable, or at least it would not have been months ago, to Jessica who did all she could to help place the now President, Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
In primary season, Jessica stood staunchly against what she then thought were Hillary Clinton’s hawkish views. She, might have agreed with essayist Stephen Zunes when he wrote for the Foreign Policy in Focus on December 11, 2007, “(F)ront-runner for the Democratic nomination for president shares much of President Bush’s dangerous attitudes toward international law and human rights.”
Nonetheless, today, Jessica, the proud Progressive, a self-identified peace lover offers, “If there is no money, people will die. Fact. I hate it (almost) as much [as an idealist would.] I also agree we are a soul-less country.”
Then, she quickly deferred to her disgust for the George W. Bush years. She stated the crimes committed by the former Administration were deplorable. Jessica concludes, “(W)e have to hold the previous administration accountable for their crimes.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose position on censure has wavered would concur with Jessica, today. If the subject were an investigation or possible prosecution of the Bush White House, Nancy Pelosi would be on-board. However, Speaker Pelosi may, or may not, think the United States can ignore human rights violations on the part of China. One never knows. History and statements made in the past, are often inconsistent.
Almost a year to the day, on February 21, 2008, Secretary Clinton’s good friend, the esteemed Representative from San Francisco, Pelosi, spoke eloquently of what she did not publicly discuss with fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, now in 2009.
“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” House Speaker Pelosi told reporters during a visit with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala, India.
Indeed, America, the Moneybag Democracy has forfeited ethical influence. Economics has replaced principled certitude as US policy. The press understands the priority. The commercial media knows dollars deliver. Damn the lives and liberties of our brethren abroad. In the United States there is but one mission, moneybag democracy.
Perchance this truth explains why coverage on the decision to forego human rights concerns is limited. An article appeared here, or there. Yet, few commentaries focused on the human rights aspect of the Secretary Clinton’s travel. The Los Angeles Times reported, Clinton added environmental and security issues to economic talks in China. Most say Secretary of State Clinton has sealed the deal. She has merged the past with the present. Former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton has performed laudably for her President, Clinton, Bush, Obama, or for the precedent moneybag democracy.
References for varied reality . . .
- Rights may take second place on Clinton China visit, By Arshad Mohammed. Reuters. February 20, 2009
- Hillary Clinton; Chinese rights on hold, By Paul Richter. The Swamp. Chicago Tribune. February 20, 2009
- The Global Listening Tour, By Glenn Kessler. Washington Post. Friday, February 20, 2009; Page A01
- Hillary Clinton pleads with China to buy US Treasuries as Japan looks on, By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Telegraph. February 22, 2009
- Obama’s foreign affairs work focused on human rights, poverty, high-profile trips. Herald Tribune. February 26, 2008
- Activists ‘shocked’ at Clinton stance on China rights Yahoo News. February 20, 2009
- Clinton: Chinese human rights can’t interfere with other crises. Cable News Network. January 22, 2009
- Amnesty International
- Students for a Free Tibet
- Clinton, Chinese add environmental and security issues to economic talks. By Paul Richter and Barbara Demick. The Los Angeles Times. February 22, 2009
- Pelosi calls on Bush to boycott Olympic opening ceremonies. Cable News Network. February 2008
- The Chinese Debt. The Herald Tribune. October 2006
- Hillary, Congenital Hawk, By William Safire. The New York Times. December 8, 2003
- Hillary Clinton on International Law, By Stephen Zunes. Foreign Policy in Focus. December 11, 2007
- Wal-Mart and China; A Joint Venture. By Sam Hornblower. Frontline. November 23, 2004
- Clinton’s Candor Abroad Draws Mixed Reviews, By Glenn Kessler. Washington Post. Monday, February 23, 2009; Page A12
- “USA, a country in need of human rights” By Ren Yanshi. China Daily. March 5, 1997
- Send a letter or card to President-elect Barack Obama. Students for a Free Tibet.