• ‘Beacon of Liberty’: The U.S. Must Exercise Caution, but Can’t Do Nothing in Hong Kong

    Surge Summary: What can America do in the current crisis involving Hong Kong and China? Some analysts say not much. Others say the U.S. must exert some influence or regret passivity down the road.

    Erick Erickson opines rather glumly: in the matter of chaos and potentially internationally explosive goings-on over in Hong Kong, the United States really can’t do a whole lot. D.C. lacks the will to volunteer physical assistance to the former British colony. The Chinese, moreover, would regard anything like that as a military act against their interests. As with so much in life, especially geo-politics: no easy answers there.

    Likewise, if the President speaks up to encourage the protestors, it provides China an incentive to show this is theirs. They would provide that incentive by ruthlessly cracking down on the dissenters and killing many.

    Plainly, Erickson spies a number of reasons for our Republic to do noting vis-à-vis this Asian crisis.

    Then the author/talk host perks up a bit and takes a different tack:

    We know from historical precedent that, for decades, people have considered the United States a “beacon of freedom”. On top of that, in the past

    when the United States has failed to stand up for freedom, things tend to end in world wars or major growths of anti-American authoritarianism.

    How differently might Iran be now if Barack Obama had stood up for the protests in Iran. Critics might argue that Obama’s encouragement of the Arab Spring set off a wave of radical Islamism, and they’d be right. But I think it is also fair to say Obama handled its execution poorly.

    A United States mum in the face of this Hong Kong/China will send a signal to a watching world that America will “turn a blind eye to unchecked authoritarian aggression”. That might be copacetic with some people short term. Long term? It complicates matters for the United States as authoritarian regimes, which typically align against our interests, grow ambitious. Remember Osama Bin Laden’s “strong horse/weak horse” analogy? The one that inspired his 9/11 attack on our homeland? China is now involved globally in regions, including the Western Hemisphere, where a whiff of American wobbliness or passivity could spell trouble for the United States.

    What the United States needs to do, led by Donald Trump, is strategically speak up for the protestors in Hong Kong. This is not about “we stand with the protestors” or “the people of Hong Kong should be free.” It is about “We expect China to honor its obligations to Hong Kong under its agreement with Great Britain.” It is about “The Chinese government needs to respect the civil liberties of Hong Kong.” The premise is not about backing protestors, some of whom have increasingly behaved lawlessly. The premise is about insisting China continue respecting their existing arrangement with Hong Kong.

    The upshot is: Lawlessness vs. Rule of Law.

    The President should be vocal about this. If he is not and if our nation as a whole is not, it will only embolden a host of malevolent actors who do not have our interests at heart. This will become a national security problem for us if the President does not act. Other nations, not just Russia and China, suspect we are weak and are testing our resolve.

    There can be no denying, the President is voluble on so much else, some of it concerning topics far less impactful than the fate of a distant but important nation, some of it touching things downright frivolous.

    He really must proffer some contribution re an issue as weighty as Hong Kong.

    And, thankfully, he now has …

    In a follow-up Thursday, Erickson noted appreciatively President Trump has shifted his rhetoric on the “Pearl of the Orient” — and he’s encouraging the Commander-in-Chief to keep going in that vein:

    [Trump] is calling on China to deal “humanely” with the situation in Hong Kong. Concurrent to his statement, the State Department is calling on China to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy.

    These are all positive steps in a good direction for the United States to maintain its role as leader of the free world. The President should not be abdicating that responsibility … [H]e is signaling he realizes that.

    Erickson furthermore acknowledges it’s not solely on just Mr. Trump’s shoulders. Congress needs to step up.  A unified voice here is indispensable.

    The Chinese have been making incursions into the United States with increased frequency not just digitally, but dropping huge amounts of money to shape American public opinion in favor of a communist regime or to silence critics against it.

    We need to speak up and there is a path to do so that signals support for what the protestors want, without signaling an encouragement for increasingly bold protests.

    Tricky stuff, to be sure, a bit of a foreign policy tightrope-walk. But nobody forced Donald Trump or our elected officials to stand for office. They’re put into positions of power and influence to lead prudently, strategically, toward what will be best for America.

    Well, ladies and gentlemen: Get to it.

    In some public ideological circles, an undercurrent of opinion is gestating which implies China is not really an international problem, nothing to worry about. That’s a false and irresponsible attitude and it’s time to illustrate as much.

    Image: photo credit: Studio Incendo <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29418416@N08/48282197921″>20190714 Hong Kong Shatin anti-extradition bill protest</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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