Out of Afghan -- into a trade war
By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator
2009 -- Washington is a hard learner. It took ten years and cost 58,000
lives in Vietnam to learn that you couldn't build and destroy or secure
the country and institute democracy at the same time.
Now we insist on trying it in Afghanistan. A second election won't do it. As Secretary Gates says they've still got the same corruption. Many in Afghanistan have yet to learn of the first election and warlords will probably vote them again. We can't get it through our heads that we're trying to change a culture that values tribe and religion more than freedom and democracy. Even if it works, Afghans will probably be back to their culture after we leave. After eight years, bitter-enders keep calling for the number of troops the generals ask for, but the generals say the military or number of troops can't do it. It's got to be done by "a willing partner." After eight years of trying, it's criminal to ask GIs to give their lives while in corruption we search for "a willing partner."
We, as a people, are heard learners. Guerilla war has checkmated nuclear, and the world has moved to economic hegemony. Capitalism, free markets, are America's long suits. But as Henry Clay said of free trade: "It never existed it never will." Like world peace, free trade is an admirable goal, but it will never exist in our lifetime. Instead, we must recognize an intense Trade War that ensues.
Forty years ago, Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore and Wise Man of the East, told me how Japan was determined to take over the world economy. Lee said: "Japan teaches in its schools that the defeat in World War II was just a temporary setback. After the war, Japan launched a policy of prevailing in the world economically."
After World War II, Japan started the Trade War by closing its domestic market, subsidizing its manufacture, selling its export at or near cost and making up the profit in its closed market. Toyota, operating from this closed market, has now become No. 1, while General Motors, operating from an open market, is bankrupt.
Six years ago, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama and I visited Singapore, and I wanted Shelby to hear Lee Kuan Yew. Sure enough, Lee received us at his apartment and, during the hour and a half visit, Lee reaffirmed what he had told me about Japan and gave me a book where he had written this. Then Lee told of the unannounced visit of Hu Jintao, the then-incoming President of China. Hu had not called on Lee or any officials, but stayed with a friend several days who took him around Singapore. When Hu left, Lee summoned the friend and asked: "What gives?" The friend told Lee that Hu wanted to see how Singapore with a diverse population and no natural resources managed to become so strong economically. Then Lee cautioned: "Now we'll have to watch China as it takes over the world economically."
with its vast population, has launched an assault in the Trade War with
total control: its currency, investment, production, labor, trade - the
internet, how many babies you have and your religion. With this policy
of control, China in ten years has brought three hundred million of its
people out of poverty into the middle class. And in the next ten years,
China is on course to bring another five hundred million of its poor into
the middle class. China has not only taken over U. S. markets in the Pacific,
but many in Africa and now some in South America. Twenty years ago, China
proved in foreign policy that it's no longer the Sixth Fleet drawing alongside
changing governments, but "it's the economy, stupid." After
Tiananmen Square, we passed in the UN General Assembly a resolution to
investigate human rights in China. China countered by going to its trade
friends in Africa and the Pacific, and there's never been a hearing on
to come in from the cold in the Trade War and engage in globalization
-- start trading, start protecting our production and economy. Congress
must stop its charade of "free trade" and respond to its Constitutional
charge of regulating trade under Article I, Section 8. And President Obama
has to stop vacillating whether to get in or get out of the Trade War.
He has no choice. The United States can't survive with China's trade policy
of total control.
Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of the recently published book, Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
© 2009, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.
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