hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pandemic Problem?

Once in awhile, the outer world breaks into our peninsula kingdom without a king and one is forced either to respond or just to be amazed (or distraught). Today brings some kind of response/amazement/distress, I guess, to the news from ABC that the senior advisers to the President of the Excited States of America met in the White House in order to discuss exactly how to torture suspects in the poorly named ‘global war on terror’ (acronym GWOT: is this pronounced “gee what”?). It is hard enough to think that they would even be discussing torture, but in detail? Which techniques? How many times? I mean, are any of these people experts on this topic? Is that not what we have science and learned professions for? Ms. Rice is not the person I would first think of as being a useful advisor on the topic of torture, e.g. The experience of Dick Cheney certainly feels like torture, but I am not such a fool to think that it is the same as torture.

All this caused me to think back to 1972 and to the famous Nixon opening to China. Back in those days (and indeed still in these days) there is endless talk about the way in which China (or any other nation that the U.S. designates as retrograde and that we want something out of) will succumb to us once they see us in action, once they see our way of life. Interestingly, the metaphor that is almost invariably used when discussing this issue is that of disease. E.g., if China is opened up they will be exposed to democracy; they will catch freedom from our own love of freedom. It is not so much that they will want to imitate us or even that they will learn from our example as that they will inevitably be stricken with the same condition that we have been struck with.

Now, what occurs to me in the light of the aforementioned news is that perhaps this disease exposure is a two-way street. Of course, as a disease, it would inevitably be. Perhaps, over the past 30 plus years, it is not so much that the Chinese have caught democracy and freedom (which they apparently have not), but that Americans (or at least some Americans, and although they may be very bad apples, they are not the ones at the bottom of the barrel) have caught from China the acceptability of torture and the denial of human rights, while their ardent U.S. supporters have also caught the bug, at least as long as it is planned and approved by those in very high places.

If this is true, then I think we need to be more concerned about the two-way disease street we are facing everywhere. Particularly, as members of a border community, those of us in the peninsula kingdom without a king need to know what the Canadians are exposing us to? It certainly doesn’t seem to be universal health care.

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