The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 7, 2001 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, April 7, 2001
Page 7
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THE SALINA JOURNAL SATURDAY, APRIL 7, 2001 M Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on tliis page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827^363 E-mail: SJLetters® Quote of the day "All of the crew members were in fine shape. They are in good health. They are in high spirits. Tlieir morale is good." Colin Powell secretary of state, reporting on a visit by the U.S. military attactie In China with the crew of the downed U.S. spy plane. OPINION AUthe tools on the table THE ISSUE Bush and China THEARGUMBilT So Where's the experience? G eorge W. Bush, by himself, did not inspire much confidence on the campaign trail. But he did surround himself with experienced hands from former Republican administrations. Those folks generated hope for the future conduct of a Bush White House, in particular, for new foreign policy that would be consistent, noble, fair and handled with dignity by senior officials. Apparently, that was expecting too much, judging by Bush's handling of recent problems with China. Perhaps the most disconcerting element of this near-crisis was the reactionary nature of the White House's response after a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S. spy plane. From the outset, officials declared there would be no apology from the United States, effectively cutting off a significant diplomatic tool. That declaration was made, apparently, before all information concerning the incident was on the table. It still is not clear exactly who is responsible for this tragic incident. The aircraft were in international airspace, but there is a chance, however slim, that U.S. pilots may have reacted in such a way that some degree of responsibility rests on this country By making blanket statements to the contrary so early in the game, the administration gave itself little maneuvering room as negotiations began. That's an amateurish move. As of this writing, there is emerging hope that both sides are softening, and that calmer heads are driving the respective wagons in this contest. It is our sincere hope that this trend continues, and that little additional time will pass before these 24 Americans are returned to their homes and families. It is also our hope the Bush team will learn from this incident: Let the public — and newspaper editors — gnash their teeth in public forums during international difficulties. But our leaders need to take a deep breath and proceed calmly, while leaving all available negotiating tools at their disposal. — Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Let tlitim know - WastilngUNirD^^^ • PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500; Phone: (202) 456-1414; Fax: (202) 456-2883; E-mail: • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: 303 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; Phone: (202) 2246521; Fax: (202)228-1265; E-mail: samibrowniaack @ • SEN. PAT ROBERTS: 302 Hart Senate Office Biiiilding, Washington, D.C. 20510; Phone: (202) 224-4774; Fax: (202) 224-3514; E-mail: • EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK Are we strong enough? W hy is the United States afraid to say it's sorry? By all indications, the Chinese government is digging in its heels over the collision between an American spy plane and one of its jets. The Bush administration has expressed regret but says there's no need to apologize since the United States did nothing wrong. The Chinese want an apology- It's not clear that an apology is "deserved," if that's the right word. As President Bush pointed out, the collision appears to ave been an honest accident, .t occurred in international air j'space. ^ Unless new information comes to light, it would appear the United States was no more at fault than China. So let's apologize anyway Why? Well, for starters, it's obviously a major issue with the Chinese. To say there was some hostility toward the United States long before this incident would be quite the understatement. The Western world, epitomized by the United States, is widely viewed as the arch enemy of many things the Chinese hold dear. Children in China grow up believing their country's progress has been smothered by the greed of Western powers. Just as many young Americans were taught to hate Communists, many Chinese children were taught to hate Americans. We don't feel any need to extract an apology from the Chinese over this, but they certainly want one from us. And we know this much is true: in the Large Scheme of Things, we have plenty for which to apologize to the rest of the world. We gobble the planet's resources at an obscene rate, we generate a disproportionate share of the atmosphere's carbon dioxide, we prop up ruthless (but strategically useful) dictators who think nothing of slaughtering their people. The U.S. has too often failed to take the high road in the past. Its cries of indignation now at being asked to apologize for a perceived slight have a distinctly hollow ring to them. We're the word's ultimate superpower. Are we strong enough to say "I'm sorry"? We ought to be. — Duane Schrag The Chanute Tribune T POINT OF VIEW Dubya turns on the Texas charm Bush's Shirley Temple- inspired brainstorm pushes diplomacy along reams of International Civility I That Won't Come True and Hopes For a Texas Charmer" Time: Late tonight Place: The White House Circumstances: President Bush has topped off a rousing night ^ of board-game playing with the family, losing the last round of Trivia Pursuit, junior version. Warding off a tide of self-doubt, Bush guzzles down successive Shirley Temples. He thinks he may be a little tipsy Mood: As he gazes out across the White House lawn, gazing, pondering the — well — just pondering, and gazing, but piercingly so, Bush becomes high-spirited, even plucky The warm buzzing sensation he detects seems to elicit a revelation — it comes, suddenly! The Action: Prez reaches for a sleek black phone then, flush with cherry-syrup- induced confidence, changes his mind and reaches for the boot-shaped phone given him by the Texas Livestock Association. What the hell. Colin will never know. Ring...ring...ring. Hello? • ESSAY NATE JENKINS The Salina journal Bush: Yeah, yeah, howdy! This Juan? I mean Jang? No, no (mumbling) Jiang? Yeah, hey Jiang! Jingle jangle, jingle jangle, hey! How about that for a nickname? Jangles! Chinese President Jiang Zemin: Who the hell is this? Bush: Guess! (Silence)... Bush! George, Dubya! Leader of the free world! Hey, sorry about the nickname Jiang, I was just joshin' ya, sorry! Zemin: An apology? I am pleased you are finally admitting to and apologizing for the action of your pilots which caused the death of our barnstormer, err, uh, I mean fighter pilot. I will immediately begin making preparations for the release... Bush: Oh no, wait a minute Jiang, you don't understand. I was just apologizing for the nickname, not what happened over the South Indian, no. South Pacific, umm... (subconsciously: This is why they've been telling me not to take reporters' questions) South China Sea. I can't do that Jiang. See, I'm kind of in the same boat you are, I need to show people I have gravity, no, no, grav- itas. Need to appear strong, maybe a little macho like my Hispanic friends like to say. That's what I wanted to talk to ya about. Know what I mean Jiang? Can you see the spot I'm in? C'mon Jiang, we're just talkin' man-to­ man, the world is small, it's a small world, hey we're just guys, right? Zemin: Mr. Bush, I, well, (deep breath). The last several days have been rough. It's getting harder and harder to suppress in­ flammatory, anti-Western sentiment which, though I agree with much of it — that damn bomb a couple years ago George, on our embassy, and it took Clinton weeks to apologize! — I can't let it get out of control, it can only go so far, and I know how important our trade relationship is... Bush: That's what I'm talking about hombre! Hey, we can both come out of this smelling like a red Texas rose! Your history on human rights, well, let's not get into that one now, but hey, I'm willing to take a little heat for bowing a bit to ya, but I can't go all the way Can't do the apology, but maybe something close to that and I'll promise to tone down the surveillance stuff a little, just don't tell anybody! We'll keep our distance! I don't know Jiang, something like that, we can do it. I can feel for ya too Jiang, believe me. Hey let me let you in on a little secret. I know I'm not that bright, but I've got a good heart, and I understand people Jiang, I understand, and I want to work with you. This is a people thing Jiang! Twenty-four of our guys over there, all those families, we gotta get em' back! Zemin: George, err, Mr. Bush... Bush: No Jiang, George, call me George. Hell, call me Dubya! Zemin: Dubya. Dubya. Dubya!!! Hawhawhaw, I kind of enjoy that. Dubya! All right, all right, let's talk. Just you and me. Bush: Good, good. Let's get the crew back. C'mon, guys. China and the politics of apology The Chinese leadership will regret actions that turn the world against them W ASHINGTON — Our turboprop Aries reconnaissance aircraft is designed to fly slowly to listen and observe while aloft for 12 hours. Lumbering along at about 350 mph, the plane that is now impounded by China was being buzzed, shadowed and harassed by a couple of Chinese F-8 fighter jets capable of nearly three times its speed. One of the Chinese jets positioned itself in front of the Aries (the name, stargazers know, is Latin for "the ram"), Is it possible that our pilot, with a crew of 23 aboard, deliberately surged ahead to ram the fighter? That makes no sense; even if the slow plane could catch the much faster one, such a maneuver would be suicidal. What does make sense is this: The jet plane in front slowed to obstruct the Americans' observation of what may have been a new destroyer purchased from Russia. But the F-8 was not designed for such slow speed, and probably stalled; the U.S. plane behind then ran into it. Thus we have an accident caused by a form of reckless endangerment by the provocateurs commanding the Chinese air force. Beijing's military wants no surveillance of its buildup in the area and is prepared to make life dangerous for American i4 ' WILLIAM SAFIRE The New York Times • watchers. The Chinese reaction to what is so obviously an accident reveals a standard Cold War Communist mindset: (1) Blame the United States for killing its reckless pilot. (2) Assert that the collision occurred within its territorial waters although it happened over 50 miles out to sea. (3) Complain that our crippled plane failed to get permission to land when it radioed "mayday" and put down at the nearest airstrip. (4) Hold our crew incommunicado and then, against all civilized custom, treat them as prisoners. (5) Take our plane apart to steal what computer secrets our crew was not able to destroy (6) Insist we halt surveillance of its coastal patrols and oil exploration. Finally, the most significant Chinese reaction at the highest level was: (7) Humiliate the United States in Asian eyes by demanding an official apology An expression of regret or sorrow at the loss of life would not suffice; Beijing made clear that only an abject confession of being in the wrong, followed by a Clintonesque apology, would do. As facts trickle out, it becomes ever more apparent that the Chinese policy of endangerment was the cause of the accident, compounded by those seven succeeding wrongful acts. The United States is not demanding an apology because it >/vants its crew back; we also know that such a bootless demand would reveal national insecurity as China's nervous politicians now display Media attention in America is transfixed by "Bush's first test," as if the story of our new president's prudent reactions were more newsworthy than China's belli- DOOIMESBURY cose actions. A cool head in the Oval Office is to be expected; too many of us are measuring equanimity under pressure in the White House rather than denouncing the enormity of China's propaganda slander The welcome news is how the Chinese leadership is inflicting great damage on its strategic purposes. Its uncoordinated over-; reaction to the accident — especially its foolish demand that the United States grovel — is a gift to geopolitical realists here and a blow to softie Sinologists and amoral business interests. For China to buy a change in America's trade policy with illegal campaign contributions may be troubling. For China to snatch our academics and put them on show trials for espionage may be dismaying. For China to acquire our secret technology from greedy American executives and friendly scientists may be distressing. But for China to hold prisoner two dozen American servicemen and -women to extract our apology for its own reckless wrongdoing — that's infuriating. And hell hath no fury like a Congress double-crossed. Those on the Hill who ignored human rights and buckled to cofpo* rate-Clinton pressure now mutter about rescinding their giveaway of trade restraints. Those who closed their eyes to the missile buildup now threatening Taiwan are opening them to the need for selling that democratic ally our Aegis antimissile defense. Beijing will soon awaken to its blunder. Our "explanation" and "regret" will.lead to its release of our detainees or internees (never say hostages or prisoners). Too late; the tide of political opinion may be turning. By G.B. TRUDEAU ANPCCeAN-Ci/r/N \

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