"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Mar 16, 2009

Of "Foreign Entanglements" Past

The resignation of Intelligence Chief Chas Freeman has been creating a lot of buzz in the political blogosphere. Robert Dreyfuss has additional insight in a web exclusive posted today in Mother Jones.

In the introduction Tom Englehardt compares the "Israel Lobby" today with the "China Lobby" of the 1950s in their influence on US policy towards defending the government of Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. He argues that, like then, the lobby restricts US movements towards rational policy approaches that could substantially resolve a seething divide.

I don't know a great deal about China policy during this period, but the analogy is an interesting one.

An "island" nation in the Middle East, Israel today plays a role arguably similar to that of an actual island which held formidable sway in American domestic politics decades ago. Known then as Formosa, it became "the Republic of China" after Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, defeated in a fierce civil war by Mao Ze Dong's communist movement, moved what was left of his government there. From the late 1940s deep into the 1950s, that island version of China had a firm grip on what room for maneuver was available to any American government when it came to China policy. With various Nationalist Chinese representatives and their congressional and media allies, then known as the China Lobby, putting key issues and realities beyond discussion, the results were disastrous. It's a cautionary tale that shouldn't be ignored in the present debate.

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