It’s a common observation, to the point of triteness, that we tend to hate those traits in others that we’re prone to ourselves. But maybe there’s something to it when it comes to one country’s perception of another.
Among the diplomatic cables recently released by Wikileaks is a document from last February by Johnnie Carson — Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs — in Lagos, Nigeria. In it he bemoans the “aggressive and pernicious” nature of Chinese policy in Africa.
Aggressive, eh? Why, mercy me, whatever could they have done? Maintained a “defense” budget almost as large as those of the rest of the world put together? Deployed a navy with a dozen carrier groups capable of raining death from the skies on any country that defied their will? Formulated a national security doctrine which explicitly calls for China to remain the world’s sole superpower forever and ever, and to prevent any other power from ever arising to challenge its hegemony?
According to Carson (no relation), China is not only an “aggressive and pernicious economic competitor.” It also has “no morals.” Not only that, but “China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons.” Unlike the United States, which “will continue to push democracy and capitalism,” what the Chinese promote is “authoritarian capitalism.”
I vaguely recall reading some stuff about another non-altruistic economic competitor that did things like secretly write draft “intellectual property” law for the Spanish parliament. And a few years earlier, this aggressive and pernicious country got its puppet “Provisional Authority” in Iraq to rubber-stamp laws handing over state industry to Western corporations on sweetheart terms and instituting a draconian “intellectual property” regime. (The one thing the Iraqi puppet government most decidedly did not change was Saddam’s anti-union laws.) I guess it’s all in a day’s work when you’re pushing democracy and capitalism.
Still, Carson said, China has not yet emerged as a direct security threat. He enunciated several criteria for recognizing such an eventuality when it does occur:
“Have they signed military base agreements? Are they training armies? Have they developed intelligence operations? Once these areas start developing then the US will start worrying.”
Gawd, yes! Because we can’t have a country building military bases and deploying military advisers all over the place, can we? Not to mention conducting intelligence operations!
It’s a good thing we’ve got the United States putting its military bases and advisers all over the world, intervening in the affairs of other countries, telling everyone what to do, and blasting the living daylights out of anyone who disobeys. And it’s a good thing the United States is pushing democracy and capitalism by strong-arming other countries into passing laws conducive to the interests of American corporations.
Otherwise, some aggressive power with no morals might emerge and start doing non-altruistic things.