AMERICAN MATA HARI?
are assured by US officials, the sudden explosion of this
case onto the front pages had nothing to do with the expulsion
of US spy Cheri
Leberknight, who was caught red-handed accepting a package
containing Russian top secret documents on November 30.
The 33-year-old American Mata Hari was reportedly also caught
with a veritable arsenal of spy paraphernalia worthy of a
James Bond film, including invisible ink. Her arrest was announced
shortly after the story of the alleged
treason of 18-year Navy veteran Daniel King hit the newswire
and this has got to be the weirdest one of them all.
. . .
news reports inform us that King, 40, was not a mole, or a
dedicated ideologue, and that his was "a one time offense."
He supposedly first came under suspicion as a result of a
routine polygraph test, whereupon he suddenly confessed to
mailing a computer disk containing "information on the
use of US submarines to eavesdrop on Russian undersea communications
cables" to the Russian Embassy in Washington. Gee, what
could have possibly motivated a career officer with no ideological
axe to grind and no other apparent motive to suddenly start
sending unsolicited secrets to the Russians other than
an attack of conscience? Inquiring minds want to know.
OF THE ORIENT
of course there
is the Wen Ho Lee case, now back in the public spotlight
after he was finally charged with downloading US secrets from
a secure server but not espionage. Lee could get life
in prison. But of course the move against Lee had nothing
whatsoever to do with the sentencing of Hua Di, a Chinese-born
immigrant to the US affiliated with Stanford University's
Center for International Security and Cooperation, to fifteen
years in prison on charges of divulging state secrets. Hua,
63, had served in the top leadership of the military-security
apparatus, the Central Commission on Military Science, but
defected to the US in 1989; of particular interest to the
Chinese authorities was an essay, written under the auspices
of the Center for International Security, detailing China's
missile capabilities a crime far worse than any Lee
is accused of committing, and one documented by far more substantial
each of the above-mentioned cases, it is clear that the intelligence
agencies of China, Russia, and the US had ample knowledge
of spy networks within their own borders: the FBI noticed
the Russian attaché, who for some reason insisted on
parking in the same spot with clocklike regularity, and had
been watching him for months. Cheri Leberknight, a second
secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, was also no doubt under
prolonged surveillance: she was, after all, caught in the
act, in what looks like a set-up. The Wen Ho Lee case and
the arrest of Hua DI have a similar discretionary air; the
FBI has been threatening, harassing, and all but accusing
Lee of high treason for what seems like years. Why did they
choose this moment to act? The Chinese government, for its
part, had previously pledged not to arrest Hua if he returned.
Why the sudden switch?
POLITICS OF THE WEN HO LEE CASE
each case and every country the answer is: domestic politics.
Under attack from Republicans who claim that a wholesale transfer
of US military secrets to China has occurred under Clinton's
watch, the administration is moving to buttress its defenses
on this front in preparation for the 2000 presidential election.
With the Hate China crowd in the GOP howling for Wen Ho Lee's
blood, the administration hopes to defang accusations of having
sold out American national security and being "soft"
on Beijing by launching their own show trial. Having convicted
Lee in the media long before any charges were filed, they
didn't have a whole lot of trouble getting an indictment.
AND "GREAT POWER" DIPLOMACY
China, the trial of Hua DI takes place in the context of the
evolving Sino-Russian alliance, and the attempt by China's
current helmsman to leave a legacy rivaling those of Mao and
Deng Xiaoping. As Willy
Wo Lap points out in the South China Morning Post,
Jiang considers his great contribution to be in the realm
of foreign policy. While Mao is revered as the Founder, and
Deng is extolled as the Great Modernizer, Jiang sees himself
as leaving behind a legacy of "great power diplomacy,"
in that China was able to assert itself on the world stage.
will do this by reversing the Maoist dictum that turned Communist
dogma on its head, the famous "Theory of the Three Worlds."
As enunciated by Mao, this theory held that the Soviet Union
was "the main danger to the world's peoples," while
US imperialism was relegated to the role of a secondary villainy.
But the times, they are a changin'. "Soviet social imperialism,"
the "main danger" of Mao's day, is no more. Instead
there is the crippled giant to the north coming hat in hand
to Beijing a reversal of fortune that permits a reversal
of longstanding policy.
with the scheduled
publication of Chairman Jiang's Collected Works,
his bid to be engraved on the Chinese Mount Rushmore reached
a dramatic climax at the Yeltsin-Jiang summit, where the Sino-Russian
alliance was formalized. In a joint communiqué, the
two powers declared that "no country can interfere in
another sovereign country's attacks against domestic terrorism,"
denounced NATO's conquest of Kosovo, and pledged mutual support
against incursions by the West. The sealing of this pact caps
Jiang's career, and gives credence to his ambition: he will
go down in the annals of the Chinese Communist Party as having
rid China of the last vestiges of orthodox Maoism. Deng Xiaoping
did this in the realm of economics, by rolling back centralized
economic authority and declaring "To get rich is glorious!"
Jiang's claim to fame will be that he reversed the verdict
on the Russians and charted a new foreign policy course for
China, one more conducive to her national interests.
LIKE OLD TIMES
may be ailing physically, but his flair for the dramatic is
undiminished, and perhaps even enhanced: at the summit he
pointedly reminded President Clinton that Russia is a nuclear
power. "Yesterday, Clinton permitted himself to put
pressure on Russia [over Chechnya]. It seems he has for a
minute, for a second, for half a minute, forgotten that Russia
has a full arsenal of nuclear weapons. He has forgotten about
that." What with his performance in Istanbul, where Yeltsin
did everything but pound the desk with his shoe and shout
"we will bury you," it's just like old times again.
The growling of the Russian bear is a familiar sound to those
of us who grew up in the dark old days of the cold war, an
echo of the past returned to haunt us in our middle age and
dotage the renewed threat of nuclear war.
LOST WORLD, REVISITED
rhetoric, and the screaming headlines about Russian and Chinese
spies, evokes the lost world of fallout shelters in suburban
backyards, and "air raid" drills in class, where
we were told, as we got under our desks, to "duck and
cover." It conjures memories of the Cuban missile crisis,
On the Beach, and endless science fiction movies depicting
the mutated remnants of humanity in the wake of a nuclearized
World War III.
renewed threat of nuclear war is hardly a good sign
yet we hear endless declarations that we are entering a "new
age," that the "Internet" or the "end
of history" or some such high falutin' innovation has
ushered in a whole stage of human development. Some such Panglossian
fantasy is penned nearly every week, these days, as the triumphalism
of the transnational elites reaches truly megalomaniac proportions.
The latest and most flamboyant example is Andrew
Sullivan, writing in Sunday's London Times, who
gushes about the potency of American power like a love-struck
schoolgirl. While Henry Luce's "American Century"
the 20th century was not the sole achievement
of the US, he writes,
next century, in contrast, will begin on America's terms,
and its alone. There is no cultural rival, no economic competitor,
no military alternative. The next century is one America will
not simply dominate. It is also one that America, in a far
deeper sense, has made possible. We may look back on this
past decade one day and realize we were present at the creation."
VISION OF EMPIRE
creation of what? A world state? An American
Empire? But let us be clear. What Sullivan is talking about
and this is especially clear to his British audience
is the recreation and extension of the old British
Empire only bigger, better, and with a much longer
projected lifespan. This has long been the goal of a certain
very active sector of the British elite, going all the way
back to the infamous Cecil Rhodes: Rhodes and his successors
understood that, in crossing the line between a republic and
an empire, Americans would in effect reverse the verdict of
1776 and be reunited, both spiritually and politically, with
their Anglo-Saxon brethren across the Atlantic. The old British
Empire would be reborn and renewed. The triumph of this vision
was naturally supposed to usher in a new era of universal
peace and prosperity, such as Sullivan celebrates in his ode
to "American hegemony" in all spheres, from the
military to the cultural. To Sullivan, this is progress, cause
for optimism and even celebration. "The American century,"
he intones, "far from being over, looks as if it is about
to repeat itself for another 100 years."
BURDEN OF EMPIRE
a native born American, I have a very different reaction to
the prospect of another century carrying the burden of empire:
dismay and genuine horror. For it means another century of
endless wars and crusades for "democracy" that always
end in tragedy and betrayal. Another century of mass murder
in the name of "idealism," and global crusades in
the name of some noble "ism" or other. Now there
is something to look forward to and celebrate as we ring in
the year 2000 a solid hundred years of perpetual war.
and an incalculable sacrifice of blood and treasure. Oh, for
opposition to the insipid optimism of Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama,
and other celebrants of the New World Order, I would posit
a somewhat darker vision of the future. Instead of evolving
to a higher stage, as we enter the new millennium, it seems
we are devolving back to an earlier state, intent on
reenacting history instead of learning from it. What else
are we to make of the return of the cold war, complete with
spy scares and a renewed Moscow-Beijing axis arrayed against
the West? To confront that old fear, that haunted my youth
the fear of nuclear war in middle age seems
particularly ominous, and more than a little disquieting.
Do we really have to relive all of that?
piece is entitled "The 21st century belongs to US.com"
and he writes as if the Internet is the instrument and symbol
of American dominance:
a simple sense the internet, which is clearly the central
innovation of the decade, will soon become the indispensable
means of communication for everyone in the developed world.
And to put it bluntly, the internet is an American institution.
It is informal, instant and in English."
OBLITERATION OF MAN
and arrogance, in Sullivan, combine to produce a particularly
nasty case of "cane the Wogs and God save the Queen"
imperialism, such as George
Orwell wrote about in his classic Burmese Days.
Aside from being insufferably imperious, such a royal attitude
is also completely misinformed. While there are plenty of
valuable sites that are not in English, no one disputes that
the overwhelming number of computers and users are in the
developed world. But it hardly follows that computer users
in other countries would eventually give up their own language.
Sullivan and the transnational set, who echo this bromide
in endless articles, naturally think this would be a wonderful
development: one language, one world. But I, for one, think
it would be monstrous, and more than that an irreparable
loss. For it would mean the end of local color, of variation,
of cultural distinctions that define what it means to be human.
and the beginning of the end of human culture as we
know it. In short, it would mean the obliteration of Man.
are, however, that, long before mankind is obliterated culturally,
we will have succeeded in obliterating ourselves physically.
Yelstin's stark reminder to the West that Russia is not Yugoslavia,
or Iraq, in the context of ongoing Russian arms sales to China,
raises the nuclear stakes considerably higher higher
than they have been since the days of the Cuban missile crisis,
when the whole world held its collective breath and waited
to see who would pull the nuclear trigger first. I don't see
what all the millennial celebrations of upwardly mobile progress
are about this is progress?
WAR PARTY PROSPERS
the necons, of course, this is progress, because now
they can get their old jobs back. As the cold war drew to
a close, all sorts of Russia "experts" and professional
anti-Communists were literally put out of business almost
overnight. The drum-beaters for more military spending were
having trouble getting their message out, because without
any credible external threat they couldn't make even a half-credible
case. Their specialty had seemingly outlived its usefulness.
Now, they are making a comeback, as both the Republican and
Democratic wings of the War
Party fix their gaze on the oil riches of the Caspian,
and the war in Chechnya creates a backlash not only in the
West but within Russia. This means boom times for the War
Party not only in the United States but also in Russia, where
nationalism and anti-Western sentiment is stoked by the overweening
arrogance of the West.
redivision of the world into power blocs, the rise of militantly
anti-Western ideologies, not only in the Islamic world but
in the former Soviet Union and China, the return of nuclear
saber-rattling, the heightened aggressiveness of US foreign
policy, the smug complacency of a hubristic and decadent intelligentsia
all this seems not like progress at all, but a bizarre
devolution that can only end in a complete reversion to barbarism.
God save us from the future it's going to be downhill
all the way.