Friday, May 24, 2002

Oh, lovely. National Review, the site that advocates "moral clarity" and simple solutions to complex problems (conservatives hate the "nuance argument") has just published a fascinating article by Joel Mowbray about the difference between Cuba and China, and why we should trade with the one and not with the other.

Some of the highlights:

-Cuba is close to us, and China is far away, so we can let China stay communist because it won't affect us. I bet the Australians, Koreans, Indians and Russians love that argument. I'm sure Taiwan and Hong Kong will have people printing it out and pasting it to the walls.

-China isn't purely communist, just "market socialist", so it's better. Apparently "sweatshops still flourish on the mainland, particularly in the south, but there are also pockets of free markets scattered throughout urban centers, most notably in Shanghai, where someone can actually open up the want ads and choose a job."

Glory be! People can actually choose a job! That makes up for all the brutal repression and harsh governmental control, and certainly makes the difference between Cuba and China clear. Guess all Castro really needs to do is set aside a town or something to be a little capitalist enclave, and therefore all is well.

Well, it would be, except for one thing. He also says "China and later Cuba have both turned to capitalism as a last ditch effort to preserve communism." So I guess there's no difference after all.

-"Doing business with Cuba unavoidably props up the regime"... and this differs from China... how? Cuba gets "propped up", whereas China gets reformed? Guess it comes back to this "market socialism" thing. I thought NRO was against socialism in all its forms, but apparently it depends on geography. Political NIMBYism is so interesting to watch, isn't it?

-"Chinese employees of American companies are immediately vaulted into the middle, and often the upper-middle, class. Many of these employees of American corporations make enough money to send their kids to private schools, a freedom that would never be allowed in Castro's brutal society."

Oh, well, that makes sense. The rich kids of those lucky enough to live in an area where their parents can foreign jobs get great educations. Poor kids work in sweatshops. That's what makes China superior. What sucks about Cuba is that everybody suffers equally... if some suffered gross violations of their human rights so that others could go to expensive schools in Cuba, it'd be fine. Perhaps Castro could open a private school? After all, he's already embracing capitalism.

Ok, enough nonsense. Let's cut through the bull and figure out what he's really saying. Something like "Cuba won't make my employers and political masters money, whereas China will?" Yep, sounds about right. There's probably something in there about "China is a great power, whereas Cuba is just a source of fanatically anti-Castro emigres whose votes Bush needs" too.

-"In the end, moral clarity should carry the day".

I'm sure it will. What you're saying is pretty clear from over here, Joel. After all, it's not like "moral clarity" is an empty buzzword.

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