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The Cox Report

     One of the myths about the United States is that politics stops at the ocean's edge. It is precisely there that the political dog-fight becomes most vicious. The need for a foreign enemy to gain domestic support is a very old story, as Shakespeare pointed out in "Henry IV".
     The danger has increased with the potency of arms. Wars result from a miscalculation, and today it is not some soldiers or a piece of territory which are at stake but the survival of humanity. The conduct of foreign policy requires excellent information and a balanced survey of all the factors involved. There will be disagreements, but they should not involve party politics.
     Now that the Soviet Union is gone, the United States needs another enemy. An easy target is the United Nations, a bi-partisan American creation, hailed at San Francisco in 1945 by a world which knew the folly of war. It has an important role to play, and some of its many agencies, often unheralded, perform a great service to humanity. Clearly it calls for constant reform, but for U.S. politicians to accuse it of inefficiency, waste and confusion is the kettle calling the pot black. Some of the stories circulated about the United Nations are a bait for paranoiacs.
     A more substantial target is China. Dealings with it require a balanced interpretation of the facts available, not a revival of the "Who lost China?" mentality. Both parties are afraid of such an accusation. As a result, some U.S. politicians look as thought they would like another Cold War to use for political purposes.
     The Cox report on China was clearly politically inspired, and for the above reason its bi-partisan character is not genuine. An earlier WAIS posting made this clear. Now the issue has become contentious again as a team of Stanford analysts has described the report as inaccurate and as damaging Sino-U.S. relations. The Stanford team was headed by Michael May, a respected WAIS Fellow. Our TV producer, Bill Van Orsdol, says he plans to rerun our interview with him so that the public will know him better. The interview should run tomorrow, December 18 at 7 p.m. on Channel 7, and next Monday, December 20 at 8.05 p.m. on Channel 77. His team included some highly qualified specialists. Incidentally, a highly respected East Asia specialist at Stanford's Institute for International Studies, John Lewis, has been the target of a scurrilous campaign, indicative of a revival of the McCarthy spirit.
     The Cox committee claims its report was based on solid intelligence. Often solid official intelligence melts like ice under a spotlight, as I know from my own experience. Most egregious was the faulty intelligence which led to the Bay of Pigs. Recently there was the misinformation about the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Now the U.S. government claims it did not know about the massacres in Rwanda.
     This posting does not express an opinion on the China issue. It is simply a request that the evidence be examined in the spirit of science, not of a football cheering squad.

Ronald Hilton - 12/17/99