days of  
n a z e  




April 5, 2001   

Letter to Jiang

Comrade Jiang:

Greetings from America.  It's been some time since we last spoke.  Before I continue I'd like to formally apologize for this lapse -- I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry about your pilot, you know the one flying the F-8?  It's a shame.  Why did you have those two F-8's flying so close to the EP-3?  You could have had your fighters flanking the thing a kilometer off on each side.  I don't know.  Maybe you had some jamming equipment on board those babies to show us what's what.

But Jiang, this business about the EP-3 ramming your plane.  Nobody's buying that shit.  You know, they call our reconnaissance craft 'the flying pig'?  We're talking 50 year old aerodynamics.  People here flying coach ride planes that corner tighter than the Pig.  The F-8 flies twice as fast and maneuvers 10 times better.  Your officers got those boys jacked up on 200 years of anger and resentment at the West and now we've got a helluva situation on our hands.

Look, nobody here wants this thing to get out of hand.  We know you've got a big change of leadership coming up and you all are reluctant to be conciliatory because the hard-liners always get the power.  But you've really backed yourself into a corner with this demand for an apology.  Here's the problem.  Ever read a book called 1984?  There's a scene where a man is tortured until he denounces things he loves, things he knows to be true.  Now if you've got some kind of record that shows we screwed up, I'd go to the world press with it.  It would embarrass the hell out of us and you'd get your apology.  But I suspect you don't.

We do not agree that 1+1=3.  Can't you see how dangerous it would be for the world if we did?

So where do we go from here?

We've got a few options here, Jiang.  I think we can work this out, I really do.  While you're in South America (by the way, smooth move on sticking to your schedule -- never let 'em see you sweat), have your people get with Colin.  We both understand saving face.  Contrary to what you and your people think, we honestly have no interest in messing with China.  Let's work out a deal where we share some of the responsibility and we can both get out of this thing and move on to better things.

If that doesn't happen, we rapidly get into a bad place.  You know, you've got our men and women there.  If you had just sent those folks home and maybe kept the plane, we'd be ticked, but not riled.  The hostage thing touches a real sore spot in the American psyche.

We do a lot of business together.  Or I should say we grant you open access to the world's richest market.  Selling your products here has given your nation the world's best growth in GDP over the last 8 years.  There are a lot of people here who aren't pleased with how you do business.  Those people are getting together with the people who want a bigger military.  And then they get together with a President very anxious to demonstrate his strength and resolve in the aftermath of an election in which he didn't win the popular vote.  You see where this is going?  There's a popular expression here -- kicking ass.  These people want to kick some ass.

Well, in the 21st century, kicking ass ain't what it used to be.  We'll start off easy.  You've made great strides lately and you're eager to showcase them to the world.  2008 Olympics.  You want 'em?  We could work something out.  However, we can guaran-damn-tee you won't get 'em by holding hostages.

Economic sanctions aren't that popular over here.  They take time to exact their toll and they don't explode in the night sky.  But look at Cuba, look at Iraq, look at apartheid South Africa, and look at the legacy of Cold War Russia.  We put the hard squeeze on each of them in their own time and in that squeeze wreaked economic ruin.  It's not fatal, it's more like having broken ribs -- it only hurts when you breathe.

Don't get us wrong.  You're a big trading partner.  Economic warfare is a two-edged blade and we'll be cut by wielding it in your direction.  The difference is that we have a massive trade deficit with you, so our hand will be cut, but yours will be cut off.

How about if we just settle this thing now, like wise men that see past the thunder and fury?

No?  We've got companies over here just aching to sell a few sets of Aegis armed destroyers and long-range radar to a certain democratically ruled island off your east coast.  Sure, they'd make a few hundred million on the deal, but would it really be worth it?  Not really.  It would be better to just chill out and do some kind of deal right now.  The longer this thing plays out, the harder it will be for us to not take some kind of direct action.

It's unfortunate that there are people on each side that thirst for blood.  That make wild statements about using the big bombs without really understanding what that means.  That's not going to happen.

But if the hostages aren't returned within a month, there will be tremendous pressure to go in and get them.  I don't even know if a couple companies of Army Rangers could get in there and get out with our people, but too many people here remember 52 of our citizens locked up in Iran for more than a year.  It won't happen again.


But enough of this.  Let's meet in Shanghai for a bowl of sweet rice and a bottle of Tsing Tao, my treat.  We'll play a game of Go, even though we both know you'll kick my butt.

Whattaya say, Jiang?

























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