China Isn't The Worst
Dear Mr. Cruz,
I write with astonishment of your ignorance as an educated member of the US government. Your article, which appeared in the Dallas Morning News in July, makes stunning claims that totally ignore the reality of US international relations, both currently and in the past. You say that Communist China doesn’t deserve our respect, particularly considering how harshly they treat political dissidents. While your writing is sharp and details gruesome, the least I would expect of a former clerk for William Rehnquist, he would be ashamed of you.
While I completely agree with you that China’s government is a threat to its people, they do not descend to the level of favored US allies, and you know it.
Saudi Arabia, with whom America established diplomatic ties in 1933, immediately comes to mind. After the Cold War, Saudi Arabia began purchasing American military equipment, while transferring $100 billion to the United States for construction of military and administrative installations within its borders. The partnership flourished, particularly as America executed operation Desert Storm and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As of today, the two nations regularly share intelligence and collaborate on regional policy issues, most notably of late the Iran nuclear deal.
Described as an “ultraconservative Islamic absolute monarchy”, Saudi Arabia has an atrocious human rights track record. The arbitrary arrest and torture of political dissidents, obviously a sticking point with you and China, is but one of their many crimes. Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice apparatus specializes in targeting women and religious minorities with barely a whiff of due process. The practice of male guardianship forbids women from obtaining a passport, employment, higher education, or traveling without the approval of a designated male guardian. Because there is no criminal code, judges and prosecutors are allowed to pretty much make up anything they want. Defendants are often sentenced to endure hundreds of lashings for their crimes, a practice reminiscent of the middle ages.
Saudi Arabia loves murdering its citizens, too. In 2015 they executed 158 people, 63 of which were for nonviolent drug crimes. A new terrorism law was passed in 2014 is used by the government to prosecute any form of peaceful protesting, so it came as no surprise that Saudi Arabia executed 47 people charged with “terrorism” last January.
Their atrocities at home are matched by only their behavior internationally. Saudi military operations in Yemen regularly strike civilian targets, in some cases amounting to war crimes. They employ banned munitions such as cluster bombs, a gruesome weapon which indiscriminately kills anything within it’s blast radius. Amnesty International has documented attacks on schools and 361 civilian deaths, including 171 children, from 32 airstrikes since the start of the operation. A UN report found even worse news--that Saudi Arabia had been responsible for 60 percent of the child deaths in Yemen from 2015.
That sounds like a nation which certainly should not command the “respect” of the United States. Where’s your op ed urging “bold action by the Obama administration” to encourage political liberalization in Saudi Arabia?
Another favored ally which demonstrates continuous human rights abuses is Pakistan. The U.S. established diplomatic ties with the federal republic in 1947, when the country was created. We are Pakistan’s biggest trade partner, while providing weapons and other security assistance to “promoting closer security ties and interoperability with the United States.” Pakistan is also developing a nuclear weapons system, which the U.S. has permitted despite lingering security concerns.
Though much of Pakistan’s human rights situation is attributable to terrorists and other violent non-state actors, the government’s behavior cannot be overlooked. Last summer they established a constitutional amendment to try terrorist suspects in military courts, and reinstated the death penalty. Authorities routinely kidnap and murder without any shred of accountability. The number of civilian deaths after encounters with police jumped to 960 last year, not to mention thousands of kidnappings by some estimates. Discrimination against religious minorities and rival political factions are rampant.
Police and intelligence services regularly torture suspects before trials. Prison systems are woefully inadequate, overpopulated by roughly 60,000 inmates. Food and medical care are severely lacking. Pakistan routinely ignores the elements of due process “enshrined” in its constitution. Fair and public trials are a rarity due to the inefficiency and rampant corruption within the judicial system. Respect for privacy and a free press are almost non-existent. Spousal rape is not a crime, and women who try to report rape are met with challenging legal hurdles to overcome. Legislation designed to protect women is rarely enforced by the government, and in some cases women who sought to protection of government funded shelters were sold into prostitution.
A quick peek at the history books, which you clearly skipped, would have revealed similar dynamics. Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon devised a strategy which strengthened US ties to white South African leaders during the Aparthied regime. Ronald Reagan, a favorite of yours, took it even further, calling the ANC a terrorist organization and supporting South Africa’s government while the entire world begged for reform. He even vetoed sanctions imposed by Congress, which was so unpopular he had his veto overruled. Reagan’s approach towards the Aparthied system “gave it hope that the United States would continue to stick with it. It gave it continued flow of aid as well as ideological support.” Truly a shining example of our mission to build “an international system committed to international law, democracy, and the promotion of human rights.”
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Aparthied South Africa are all nations which certainly should not command the “respect” of the United States. China, on the other hand, holds the largest standing army in the world and a plethora of nuclear weapons. I applaud Secretary Kerry’s approach for the sole reason that China is not a country we want to antagonize. We have overlooked much more serious crimes when establishing relationships with nations far less powerful.