Saturday, April 4, 2009

China, Satellites, and Puppets

Congress and the Obama administration are considering loosening restrictions on the sale of satellite technology to foreign nations. The United States once led the world in building and launching satellites, but decided that selling them or their technologies to certain nations, particularly China, constituted a security risk. So most satellite technology was declared to be defense related, requiring difficult to obtain export licenses. The conservatives (mostly Republicans) who pushed this policy should have read their free market Bible. The result was that nations like China, India, and Brazil had to develop their own satellite industries. They did such a good job that even American corporations now use their services. The satellite industry in the United States went into free fall, with only military and NASA satellites being built here anymore, for the most part.

Back during the Cold War the allies of the USSR were called satellites. American allies were not called ruthless fascist dictators (at least not by the mainstream U.S. press); they were not U.S. satellites; they were free and independent allies. Until our puppet dictators decided they were strong enough to maybe do what they liked, instead of what the U.S. liked. Then the CIA would have to engineer a coup to install a new puppet. This sometimes back-fired, resulting in the rise to power of certain communist or socialist regimes in nations like Cuba and Vietnam. More lately, Iran has refused to kowtow to the U.S. for a couple of decades. Saddam Hussein briefly survived as a former U.S. puppet of Iraq, despite the CIA's best efforts. The Marines had to be sent in to put a pro-U.S. regime there and in Afghanistan.

One reason I have been thinking a lot about puppets lately is my ongoing research for my history, The U.S. War Against Asia. I recently read a tome, China, Japan, and the Powers published in 1952, making notes of events where the U.S. used its military, or the threat of it, against China and Japan (See my China and U.S. history notes). I am sure that you will recall that from roughly the end of World War I until the final consolidation of power by Communist Party of China around 1948, there were three main spheres of influence in China. Plus a bunch of war lords running around, grabbing what they could, in constantly shifting alliance.

Both the Communists and the Kuomintang (usually called the Nationalists) agreed that the leaders of the Manchurian and Chinese governments allied with the Japanese (Pu-Yi and Wang Ching-wei) were Japanese puppets. The Communists and the Chinese nationalists allied with Japan both agreed that Chiang Kai-shek was a puppet of the United States. On the other hand both Chiang and his former number-two, Wang Ching-wei, if they could agree on nothing else, could agree that Mao Zedong (or Mao Tse-tung) was a puppet of Joseph Stalin.

Suppose you wanted to pretend that there is such a thing as political science, a methodology for being objective about politics. A scale could be constructed, say with 0 being the score of a completely independent national government, and 10 being the score for a completely puppet government. Where might Chiang, Wang, and Mao fall on that scale?

I think all three men were nationalists who had, as an ultimate goal, the complete freedom and independence of China. Each chose a strategy to reach that goal that involved some dependence on foreign allies. There are things to be said in favor of, and against, the United States, Japan, and Soviet Russia as allies for Chinese nationalists during this period.

In the end it was the Communist Party's armies that liberated Japan from 200 years of foreign dominance. But it was the Japanese military that kicked the Europeans and Americans out of Asia for long enough to enable this phenomena. If Japan had backed down when President Franklin Roosevelt, through Secretary of State Cordell Hull, declared war (unofficially) on Japan, it is easy to imagine what would have happened. Chiang's troops would have reoccupied most of China. America's Open Door policy - we want to rape and pillage, so don't even think of closing your door, much less locking it - would have kept the Chinese in economic slavery as long as the U.S. could control key members of the government. Chiang would have become, for all practical purposes, the new Emperor.

You can argue that such a scenario would have been better than the actual Communist triumph in China. You could argue that capitalism in China would have meant a strong China at an earlier date than we saw in reality. But is that not what chauvinistic Democratic Party and Republican Party politicians hate, a strong China?

I do not think the U.S. war against Asia is over. But I think the tide has turned, for the moment, against the U.S. Perhaps the day will come when the Chinese have to ban exports of their high technology to the U.S., for fear that the U.S. military will use those weapons against the peace-loving nations of the world.

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