begin with, the Cox concoction "arrives at sweeping,
ominous inferences based on little hard evidence" and
errs on even the most elementary level. For example, Cox maintains
the no nation has ever deployed the neutron bomb, "including
the United States." Isn't it strange how Cox and (some
of) his fellow conservative Republicans disdain the veracity
of government bureaucrats except when it comes to military
matters, when they naively accept the "official"
line. But Cohen, speaking with some authority, avers that
the government is lying, and not only the Americans: "Having
myself invented the neutron bomb in 1958 and closely following
the subject ever since, I can say that the claim most likely
is untrue that no nation has deployed this weapon. The US,
the former Soviet Union, China, France (and very likely Israel)
have developed such weapons for sound military and political
reasons." The soundness of these reasons aside for the
moment, this speaks volumes about the veracity of this multi-volumed
Report. Published at great expense by the Government
Printing Office, and heavily promoted by the neoconservative
wing of the War Party as the "proof" that "Red"
China is the new principal enemy, it turns out Cox can't even
get the basics right. And, Cohen reveals, when it comes to
the details, things just get worse.
centerpiece of the Cox Report is the charge that Beijing
stole the technology for the W-87 thermonuclear warhead. Cohen
retorts: "But who is to say that the designs weren't
given to the Chinese by US insiders who saw China as a potential
ally?" As an aside, he adds: "I know that mentality
well." No doubt he does. If anyone outside of Beijing
knows how China got the neutron bomb, then that man is Cohen.
He well remembers what the rest of the world seems to have
forgotten: that for some twenty years our most important Cold
War ally was not NATO, whose non-U.S. military components
didn't amount to a hill of beans, but the People's Republic
of China (PRC) under Mao and his successors. Just as the US
armed Stalin's Soviet Union against Hitler's Germany, so Washington
armed Mao's China against the Soviet Menace. No one disputes
this. The Cox Report does not mention it, and instead
reveals that Chinese "spying" goes back as far as
1978. But given the geopolitical realities of the Cold War
era, it is far more likely that the technology transfers began
sooner than that fairly soon after Nixon's trip to
China, if not before. Cohen details the systematic transfer
of military technology to our allies, the Brits, the French,
and the Israelis. Why not assume that the Chinese were similarly
TREASON THE REASON?
raises the essential question that the much-vaunted Cox
Report does not dare to face. If "treason is the
reason," as they say in the postings on FreeRepublic.com,
then the treason has to be traced all the way back to its
origins, much farther back in time than the Clinton administration.
The intersection of the Hate China and Hate Clinton campaigns
has been fortuitous for the neocons, who have been at a loss
since the end of the Cold War to sell their campaign for US
"global hegemony," as Weekly Hegemon (er,
Standard) editor Bill Kristol once put it. But if it
can be shown that the roots of this treason go much deeper
than Cox or anyone else is telling us; if it can be shown
that the real architects of betrayal were not Chinese-American
scientists but US policymakers at least as far back as Nixon,
then the investigation initiated by the Cox committee could
boomerang, and badly.
at the turn of the century enthusiastically supported World
War I in the name of "making the world safe for democracy,"
and were disillusioned by the revelation of the "secret"
clauses of the Versaillies Treaty which divided up
Europe according to the dictates of the Great Powers. Conservatives
are in for a similar disillusionment as the real politics
of the Cold War come out of the historical closet, or are
dragged out by such eloquent witnesses as Cohen.
the roots of this treason turn out to be anti-Communist zeal,
what will our new Cold Warriors have to say? So far they have
had a good time of it, whipping up war hysteria against the
Yellow Peril and recalling the good old days of the Rosenbergs,
when we had the Red Menace to contend with. Oh what bitter
irony! (But sweet to us longtime isolationists.) They will
have a hard time selling their new Cold War this time
against our former ally, "Red" China if Cohen
is proved right. To all the honest patriotic Americans who
have been duped by Coxscam, the lesson is: the main enemy
is not overseas, in Beijing or Moscow, but right here at home.
Chinese first tested a neutron bomb in 1978, and the news
was buried in the back pages: the public reaction of the US
government was low key, an octave above total silence. Now
we are suddenly confronted with screaming headlines about
Chinese "spies." Who is kidding whom?
biggest security breach in decades may be the Cox Report
itself. As Cohen notes, it "presents a beautiful multicolored
diagram that details the workings and components of [a] highly
classified warhead." While "the data are missing,"
he writes, "any competent nuclear scientist could use
this schematic to work back to the actual design." But
revealing nuclear secrets is apparently a congressional prerogative,
along with franked mail and free gym facilities.
anti-Chinese hysteria generated by the Cox Report has
not only bamboozled large sections of the conservative movement,
it has also infected what passes for the libertarian movement
these days. The August/September issue of Reason magazine,
the major libertarian monthly, features an
interview with Rep. Cox in which softballs are gently
lobbed to the congressman and he is never challenged. Instead
of facing the tough questions such as those raised
by Cohen, or by the Prather
Report Cox is lauded as the champion of tax
cuts, the enemy of "government bloat," and a hero
dedicated to "the defense of freedom." That he is
also a champion of the big military contractors that wield
such clout in his southern California district goes unmentioned.
MODEL OF OBSEQUIOUSNESS
Reason crew fall all over themselves flattering the
blow-dried Cox, who was much talked about as a candidate for
Diane Feinstein's or Barbara Boxer's Senate seat. Cox (wisely)
thought better of it, and instead turned to making a name
for himself in other venues. Cox is, in Reason's fawning
phrase, one member of Congress "often described as 'thoughtful'
or 'cerebral,' peculiar Washington epithets referring to someone
smarter than the reporters who cover him." The obsequious
tone is established right off the bat, as the Reason
interviewers ask their first penetrating question: "This
report has been a model of bipartisanship. How did you achieve
it?" Wow! What a sharp, penetrating question!
Those guys over at Reason sure are a bunch of hotshot
investigative journalists! But wait it gets better.
seems," ventures Reason, "that some Chinese
Americans are taking the report as anti-Chinese or anti-Asian.
Should Republicans be on guard for this type of thing?"
Oh no, no, no, of course this is not anti-Asian
racism, burbles Cox, although "that is a reasonable inference."
And that, dear reader, is the understatement of the
week, the year, perhaps the decade.
such accusations, in Cox's considered opinion, are evidence
of the long arm of the Chinese Reds: "That is an intentional
manufacture, however, of the People's Republic of China, which
has been pushing the line that to oppose Communist Party policies
is to be racist." Yet the Cox Report explicitly
identifies Chinese-American scientists as a potential PRC
fifth column in the US, particularly in the scientific community,
yet we hear not a peep out of Reason about this: instead
Cox's interviewers, Reason's Washington editor Michael
W. Lynch and Reason Express writer Jeff A. Taylor,
let Cox rant on about how his critics are echoing the "People's
Daily line." Neither Lynch nor Taylor follow up on
this point: Did either of them so much as glance at the Cox
Report? Somehow I doubt it.
don't have to be a Commie to infer racism from the assertion
in the Cox Report that "the PRC is increasingly
looking to PRC scholars who remain in the United States as
assets who have developed a network of personal contacts that
can be helpful to the PRC's search for science and technology
development." The implication could not be clearer: in
his report, Cox concludes that all Chinese-American scientists
(especially immigrants), are potential traitors. From a national
security point of view, this can mean only one thing: they
have to be watched, probably very carefully, lest they hand
over vital technology to their masters in Beijing. Yet Lynch
and Taylor accept this "explanation" unquestioningly,
and blithely move on to the next question.
DECLINE OF REASON
has happened to Reason magazine since they kicked editor
Bob Poole upstairs to the Reason Foundation, and installed
left-libertarian "dynamist" Virginia Postrel in
his place, is personally painful to me which is why
the extra note of rancor in what would ordinarily be just
another polemic hurled in the direction of the War Party.
For Reason has or had a special
place in my heart, as the very first successful libertarian
magazine and certainly the longest-lived. There is no bitterness
like that of those who were once close and have grown apart.
back in the late sixties, when I was a wee lad, a pen pal
of mine by the name of Lanny Friedlander, who lived (I recall)
up in Euston, Massachusetts, announced in a letter that he
was planning to put out a new libertarian magazine. Not one
of these mimeographed newsletters, of which there were already
plenty, but an honest-to-goodness printed magazine.
Wow! Was I ever impressed and eager to help
out. There was some discussion, back and forth, as to the
name, and various alternatives were in the running initially:
Liberty, The Libertarian, and The New Radical
(my own suggestion) were all considered, but in the end Lanny's
devotion to the philosophy of Ayn Rand won out and Reason
remember to this day getting a long distance phone call from
Lanny: back then, out of state phone calls were expensive
(at least by my family's fairly middle class standards) and
were looked on as an extravagance. One only made them on important
occasions, like when someone died or to announce a birth.
But when my mother I can hear her voice to this day
answered the phone and called out to me "It's
someone named 'Lanny' and he's calling long distance"
it was, indeed, an important occasion: the birth of what was
to become a libertarian institution. He was calling to tell
me that the first issue of Reason was rolling off the
presses, and one would be arriving in my mailbox soon.
OF A YOUTHFUL IDEOLOGUE
was barely seventeen years old. Lanny wasn't much older. Like
the rest of the libertarians who cranked out such long vanished
journals as The Innovator, Commentary on Liberty,
Invictus, and the Libertarian American, as well
as Reason, we were very young. The median age in the
movement must have been around nineteen, and it was only natural
for us to assume that we were making history. As it turned
it, we were.
OF A MOVEMENT
put out the magazine, which grew steadily more sophisticated,
with such clocklike regularity that Reason soon became
the mainstay of our fledgling movement, the underground voice
of free market radicalism. When Lanny moved on to other things,
and we lost touch, I did not lose touch with the magazine,
which continued, eventually coming under the steady hand of
Robert Poole. Under his editorship, the magazine prospered,
and, although a bit on the conservative side in those Cold
War years, Reason was never a warmongering conservative
rag, was often highly critical of the Vietnam war, and for
years carried a column by the late Murray Rothbard, the libertarian
economist and theoretician who was also a leading exponent
of Old Right isolationism. Reason in the 70s and 80s
was often less than exciting how many articles on privatized
fire departments can one person possibly read? but
always an independent voice.
the 90s, when Ms. Postrel was brought in and a whole bevy
of neoconservative foundations started pouring money into
the magazine, Reason was transformed into a wholly-owned
subsidiary of the neoconservative media combine. The whole
tone of the magazine changed, from the earnest Ayn Rand-inspired
idealism of the early days, to a self-consciously "hip"
quasi-New Age phoniness, the semi-official journal of Republicans
who Smoke Dope. But if you peel back the countercultural pretensions,
Postrel's Reason is no longer a libertarian magazine
in any sense of the term.
herself disdains the libertarian label, in her recent insufferable
book, and in her all-too-frequent appearances in the media,
in which she announces that she is not a libertarian but a
"dynamist." The first principle of "dynamism,"
we are told by La Postrel, is Change: Everything must Change.
All is in constant Flux. Ah yes, it is all too true
but this is nothing to celebrate. Nothing illustrates the
tragedy of this principle better than the sad fate of Reason.
Yesterday, it celebrated such libertarian heroines as Ayn
Rand, Rose Wilder Lane, and Isabel Paterson. Today, we note
with alarm (but no surprise) that Reason is planning
a celebratory dinner honoring none other than the Iron Lady
of the Cold War, Maggie Thatcher. Lady Thatcher apparently
approves of Tony Blair's belligerent foreign policy, as well
as his moves to modernize the British welfare state, and one
could easily make the argument that she is the real author
of the Blair Doctrine the strategic principle in which
Britain will fight to the last American to make the world
safe from ethnic cleansing. It is a tragic degeneration when
the magazine that was once the fountainhead of libertarianism
in America honors Thatcher, the bitch goddess of the Welfare-Warfare
State. Why don't they just change their name to Treason,
and be done with it?