On selective outrage

I have consistently criticized authoritarian regimes all over the world—in Russia, China, Vietnam, Turkey, India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and elsewhere. I also criticize the US government for aiding and abetting foreign atrocities, and Trump in particular for frequently praising foreign despots while mocking our democratic allies.

In contrast, many of my critics have a very selective sense of outrage. While they share my criticism of the Chinese atrocities in Xinjiang, they are completely silent on the Ukraine, or Kashmir, or the Saudi atrocities in Yemen:

Thousands of civilians have died in Yemen, and American-made bombs sold to the Saudis have played a key role as the White House has sought to boost the arms industry.

Many of my commenters have such a blind and irrational hatred for China that anything other than single-minded focus on China as the one great evil in the world today is not good enough for them. Pointing to crimes committed in other parts of the world is seen as excusing China. Criticism of the US government is always viewed through the China lens. It’s always about their Ahab-like obsession with the Chinese. Nothing else matters. They lap up any and all conspiracy theories about China, no matter how far-fetched. (A few are probably true, but why believe them on faith alone?) They excuse the many Trump administration lies about China.

Ironically, the US is finally beginning to turn against Saudi Arabia, but not because of human rights. Rather the problem is that Saudi oil production is hurting frackers in the US. Money drives US foreign policy, not human rights.

The coming decimation of America’s shale-oil firms could eventually lead to renewed dependence on Saudi oil. American production is predicted to fall to 10m barrels a day, around half the country’s pre-pandemic consumption. In the meantime near-universal anti-Saudi feeling in Washington is putting the bilateral relationship under great strain. Last month Republican senators in oil-producing states, who had been almost the Saudis’ last defenders on the Hill, turned furiously against the kingdom. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Dan Sullivan of Alaska introduced legislation to withdraw American troops and missile-defence systems if it did not cut its oil production. Reports this week that a fleet of laden Saudi tankers was en route to oil-glutted America caused fresh fury.

Note how the “fury” is not motivated by the Yemeni babies being murdered with our bombs. It’s the fear that the richest country the world has ever seen might be deprived of a few billion more in oil industry profits.

So pardon me if I don’t share your highly selective moral outrage.

PS. Peter Navarro has been an especially strong cheerleader for selling weapons to the Saudis.



41 Responses to “On selective outrage”

  1. Gravatar of bill bill
    18. May 2020 at 11:47

    Well said.

  2. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    18. May 2020 at 11:52

    Nobody cares if a few of your commenters are wrongheaded. On the other hand, Kevin Cramer, Dan Sullivan, and (especially) Peter Navarro are worth criticizing.

  3. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    18. May 2020 at 12:17

    Absurd post, coming from an economist. In life things are dollar weighed, meaning something that affects 330M people or 1.4 billion people should get more attention than something affecting the population of Yemen, which I will guess is something like 15M people (Googling it… 28.5M, wow, breeding like sand flies, they were 15M as recently as 1996).

    As for this: “It’s always about their Ahab-like obsession with the Chinese. Nothing else matters” – does that mean the one-hundred (100) countries that want an independent investigation of the Covid-19 pandemic as it relates to China’s conduct are wrong? 100 out of a total of 195 countries, including Russia, and the ones not in favor are no doubt African client states of China, can’t all be wrong?

  4. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    18. May 2020 at 12:42

    I agree with pretty much all of your opinions in these posts. I’m curious though why you address the conspiracy theorists so often. Is it because these posts get a lot of views?

  5. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 12:44

    I am always open to criticism against anybody if it is based on rational strategies and solid facts.

    Yemen is a nasty war fueled mostly by Iran, the rebels there want to overthrow the Yemeni government. The rebels are being equipped by Iran; Saudi Arabia cannot allow them to win because then the Saudis will have Iran breathing down their necks from at least two sides, and as we know, Iran wants to attack/destory the Saudis. Of course you can change sides and support the rebels/Iran, but that is not a strategy for anything and makes things worse.

    The US could do nothing at all but then the rebels win and Iran takes over, and unfortunately Iran is not a good alternative to Saudi Arabia. They are both vicious regimes, but I personally find Iran more vicious, not to mention the fact that Saudi Arabia has so far agreed to be a regional power, while Iran is showing extreme striving for power that reaches far beyond their own borders. They basically want to become the leading power, at least in the whole Middle East, and maybe beyond, this is an aspiration that is destabilising the whole region.

    You should write about this in detail if you are seriously interested in the topic, but you are not interested in this topic at all, you are only interested in CCP China.

    You don’t present any strategy how to do things better, except “wars kill babies”. Oh really, how did you come to this profound insight? What profound insight comes next? “What is Aleppo?”

    You sound like a teenager who just discovered that his chicken nuggets are made out of chicken.

    Let’s assume you have a brilliant strategy that is way better than the current one. You don’t have any serious strategy, but let’s assume you do:

    Then the crimes of the CCP are still not minimized at all. The CCP could just stop its crimes, it doesn’t have to wage war against Iran or any other dictatorship — or against its own people for that matter.

    The CCP is how it is because they want to be exactly like that, there aren’t many foreign policy constraints (if any) that drive them to act like they do.

    You just throw red herrings around like a toddler. You don’t have to say a word about the CCP in a post about Iranian atrocities, but you do it because what you really want is throwing red herrings and excuse the CCP. If you are so deeply interested in Iran and Yemen don’t mention “China” or “Chinese” a dozen times, otherwise one could think that you don’t care about Iran/Yemen at all.

  6. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 12:45

    Ray, the number of people who are really oppressed in China is a small percentage of the total population. A couple million Uighurs perhaps, plus a couple thousand political dissidents. And even then, I’d probably rather be an average Uighur than an average Yemeni.

    And the issue is not asking for an independent investigation. Even China has said that it supports an independent investigation. The issue is rank hypocrisy where China is blamed for failing to take actions that no other country did (such as the argument that China should have shut down Wuhan at the first sign of trouble, when the US never shut down New York, or blaming China for allowing flights to continue in early January when no one blames Italy for allowing flights to continue after the virus came to Italy and even though many more countries were seeded from Italy than China, or blaming China for being slow to share data with the world, when Chinese researchers sequenced the virus genome and made it available to everyone—a very fast response compared to France chalking up its December COVID case as unknown pneumonia and leaving it at that). It’s pretty shocking to compare this virus to the response to the last global pandemic, the 2009 swine flu. The 2009 swine flu started in Mexico and by the time it was discovered and revealed to the world, it had already spread all over the US and the WHO declared containment non-feasible. Yet no one blamed Mexico for that spread. This time, China disclosed this virus and its pandemic potential by January 20 at the latest (arguably by the beginning of January), when it still could have been contained (and it was contained in many countries). Yet everyone is blaming China even though China was objectively much faster in warning the world of this pandemic than Mexico was in 2009?

    And another issue is patently false information like the idea that China was still allowing its citizens to travel internationally from Wuhan after January 23 becoming accepted wisdom in US mainstream media.

  7. Gravatar of bb bb
    18. May 2020 at 12:50

    Couldn’t agree more. The middle east is the one that drives me most crazy. During the cold war, when the free world was wholly dependent on middle-eastern oil, turning a blind eye to the Saudis and other allies made sense. During the first gulf war, it made less sense. By the second gulf war it made for little sense. And now it is down right stupid. We would be much better off if we accepted a rapprochement from Iran in 2001, or any time sense, and started pivoting away from Saudi. It is shamefull that we support the war on Yemen. I don’t make excuses for China, but the idea that they are uniquely evil is just absurd. Being big matters, but Russia causes much more trouble in the world. Besides, we should be able to do two things at once.

  8. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 12:59

    Christian, how can you say that China faces few foreign policy constraints? Do you not see the news about how the US (the world’s most powerful country) is trying to prevent Chinese companies from doing business outside China and even buying inputs they need to make products in China, trying to prevent Chinese people from traveling outside China, and seeking trillions of dollars in “damages” from China when there is no precedent of any country being punished because a disease started there? These things are much bigger threats to China than what happens in Yemen being a threat to Saudi Arabia.

  9. Gravatar of bb bb
    18. May 2020 at 13:00

    The calls for an investigation are a giant distraction. Who is going to “investigate” china. China is about as likely to go along with an external investigation as we are. Get real. If we were really concerned with China’s actions, or inaction, we would double our participation in the WHO, and lead a global effort to agree to standard practices to ensure that new epidemics are responded to quickly with openness and cooperation, that WHO resources (which would include lots of Americans) are given early access, and that information is shared.
    And btw, all the finger-pointing plays right into their hands. Deflecting blame is a game they know well.

  10. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    18. May 2020 at 13:11

    Mark, “Yet everyone is blaming China even though China was objectively much faster in warning the world of this pandemic than Mexico was in 2009?”

    I ask (non-rhetorically) did Mexico actively insist that the virus couldn’t be spread by humans well after they knew it could? For me at least, this is the key issue. The failure to adequately suppress the virus in time may be forgivable, ‘it would’ve probably happened to anyone’ we can reasonably say (though I think it was rather negligent that they hadn’t shut down trade in certain animals that had recently caused similar outbreaks). It’s hard to respond to a crisis competently. But honesty is pretty easy. But the Chinese government was still insisting human-human transmission wasn’t happening through mid January, and it was the WHO that announced, after their own delegation visited Wuhan ~Jan. 20, that human to human transmission was definitely taking place. That deception is less forgivable.

    If Mexico was similarly deceptive, and swine flu had turned into what this has turned into, I expect the Mexican government’s reputation would have taken quite a thrashing and deservedly so. Maybe it still should have, but careless mistakes are usually judged by their consequences, even if those are largely a product of chance, so I maybe they got lucky.

  11. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 13:23

    Very good point. Really glad to see you back, man.

    the number of people who are really oppressed in China is a small percentage of the total population.

    This is a CCP belittlement that could even make Scott blush. I mean, Scott likes to compare America with fascism, he would never say that about the CCP, but of course he is allowed to run a blog in America for years, which is (thank God) very critical of the US government. Do you really think he would be allowed to do that in CCP China? And the Chinese are not oppressed? It is only a small percentage of the population? Are you insane? You two are so crazy, how far do you want to continue to go down the cuckoo trail? You have lost all rational measure.

    To your comparison Mexico vs. China: One could argue that Mexico was simply lucky that it was only the flu. It hadn’t spread that far either, the US is the country right next door. But those are not the main points at all.

    The main difference is that we know from CCP China that they deliberately did not share important data with the world and the WHO.

    There is a big difference between an accident developing tragically and the deliberate suppression of data and facts about a novel airborn disease with pandemic potential that spreads through human-to-human transmission, kills surprisingly many people, infects even more, and cripples the whole world economy.

    We don’t expect much from CCP at all, that’s a downright lie. Free China, for example Taiwan, had much less data and they still knew what the CCP found. If CCP China had reacted half as well as Taiwan, the disease could have been contained to 95-98%, probably there would never have been a pandemic. Scott accidentally linked the study himself, he just didn’t quite understand what it meant.

    Of course it can be argued that the US also reacted wrongly, but that does not help the world much. You have to suffocate a pandemic directly at the source, otherwise it’s too late, then you need over 100 countries, which all have to react perfectly and that does not work, that’s simple mathematics.

    But in the beginning, in the first weeks, right at the source, there was a real chance and this chance was not used, and you can blame the CCP for that — no, you actually must.

    And if you two would give up your racist delusions for one second, you could actually see that.

    Just imagine your government acting like the CCP, you would be so angry and so ashamed.

  12. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    18. May 2020 at 13:25

    If the economic intetests of the US determined foreign policy, we’d be fine with increase oil production. It’s the mercantilist’s conception of the interests of the US that seems to determine foreign policy with respect to Saudi Arabia. I say that’s a point for the constructivist school of international relations.

    But yeah, the case for continuing to support the Gulf states seems very weak. This is a lesson the US* should have learned when it propped up the Shah of Iran, and may end similarly.

    *I should clarify: by ‘the US’ I mean the US government, not the American people, lest anyone suspect I’m being racist against Americans.

  13. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 13:28

    Mark Z, I don’t believe China actively insisted the virus couldn’t be spread by humans long after they knew it could either. I haven’t seen any quote where any Chinese official denied human-to-human transmission was possible. China was saying that human-to-human transmission hadn’t been confirmed. The Chinese leaders’ call around January 14 that was leaked to the AP suggested that Chinese leaders were saying to themselves that human-to-human transmission was possible, not that it was proven.

    Notably, the Taiwan CDC was saying the same things at the same time. And the US CDC was saying no confirmed community transmission in many states even when there were thousands of cases in those states. If you want to say that China’s statements in mid-January that human-to-human transmission was not proven was a lie as opposed to just waiting for more evidence to come in, then you have to also say that the Taiwan and US CDCs were lying.

  14. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 13:37

    Christian, the average Chinese person clearly has less freedom than the average American or European, but we are talking about human rights violations like what is happening in Yemen. The average Chinese person is not experiencing anything close to Yemen-levels of oppression, and the average Chinese person’s life is pretty average for the human condition, not what I would call a human rights violation. Would you rather be a typical Chinese person or a typical Yemeni?

    What data specifically did the Chinese government deliberately suppress? If it’s human-to-human transmission issue, see my response to Mark Z. The Taiwan CDC during January was *also* saying publicly that human-to-human transmission was not confirmed. You can’t accuse China of a cover-up while praising Taiwan for transparency when the two countries were publicly saying the same thing.

    I agree that China did a worse job than Taiwan, but Taiwan did one of the very best jobs in the world. You can’t blame a country for not being the very best. Compared to the average country’s response, China did well. China did a better job than the US did.

  15. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 13:38


    you misunderstood me. CCP China faces many foreign policy constraints, like any other country. Well actually less, because it’s so powerful, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that none of these foreign policy constraints forces the CCP to oppress its own people. Not a single one. Or can you give me a single rational reason why the CCP oppresses its own people? No? Why is that? And please don’t give me that bull again about them not oppressing their own people.

    The US and Saudi Arabia are at least in a moral dilemma. Either they fight this war in Yemen or Iran takes power there and creates another puppet state, that is used as another strike zone against Saudi Arabia and American military bases. What weird dilemma does the CCP face that forces them to oppress their own people? I’m really curious.

  16. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 13:41

    Christian, be specific. What particular actions which you consider oppression would you like to discuss?

  17. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 13:59


    Your problem is that you are so fixated on CCP China per se. This part doesn’t have so much to do with CCP China per se, it’s all about the source. Any other country would get similar blame if it was the source country, not to mention with such a long history of intransparency. In that sense, it’s just bad luck.

    Of course Taiwan reacted very well, but it would have been important for the source country to have reacted that way.

    The fact that both are Chinese governments only makes it even clearer that a correct reaction at the source was absolutely possible, and that CCP China was unfortunately one of the worst places for the outbreak to happen, as Scott himself analyzed around February already, and I didn’t believe him back then, but I guess he was right.

    Good night, and good luck.

  18. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    18. May 2020 at 14:13

    Christian, I can’t think of another recent pandemic where the source country was blamed except for original SARS (when China really deserved it). Ebola, swine flu, and MERS were not blamed on their country of origin.

    I’d say China was an above-average place for this outbreak to start. If it started in Taiwan, there’d be a good chance that it would’ve been contained. If it started in New York or Milan, probably not. China’s draconian lockdown of Wuhan did buy the world a couple weeks—the global virus totals were fading in February and only flared up again in March.

    Regarding “both are Chinese governments,” I don’t really believe in ethnic essentialism. There are many historical, economic, institutional, demographic, cultural differences between the two countries. There’s no reason they should be seen as automatically comparable just because they share some kind of ethnicity. The Netherlands and Apartheid South Africa were both run by people who were ethnically Dutch but it would have made little sense to treat the two countries as comparable.

  19. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 14:20


    what do you want to discuss??? This is crazy. CCP China is one of the most totalitarian states in the world, which also totally controls the largest ethnic group in the world. Or as Scott would say: The largest minority group in the world.

    Many human rights in this country do not fully exist, if any. You should discuss the few rights that exist, that would shorten the matter considerably.

    Take this as a start:

    There are very few countries in the world that score worse than CCP China, and none of the other countries is anywhere near as large and powerful as CCP China. Not even close. And Scott wonders why people might focus on CCP China. Yeah sure, racism.

    And you want to seriously discuss whether the Chinese are oppressed or not??? That’s just sick. Scott should write more articles about people like you and less articles about people like me and Ray. We’re just regular liberty-loving democrats.

    That’s it from me on this subject, this is really crazy. I bet Scott has great explanations for all this. “Are the Chinese really oppressed??? Let’s discuss!”

  20. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. May 2020 at 14:41


    one last answer. Ebola wasn’t a pandemic. And none of the diseases you mentioned were as big as Covid-19 (not even close), nor did they cripple large parts of the world economy. If they did, the intransparent source countries would get blamed. No doubt about that. No matter which country.

    CCP China is kind of lucky in this regard, because they are so powerful and because they have a lot of leverage. Imagine this happening in a tiny country with no power. My sympathy for the CCP in this regard is limited.

  21. Gravatar of Shyam Vasudevan Shyam Vasudevan
    18. May 2020 at 15:15

    One reason to focus on China is not just the authoritarianism of the CCP but the ideology that drives their actions, see here: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/china-plans-global-order.

    Contemporary Americans are fairly ignorant of the crimes committed by the Japanese during WW2, even though their brutality in China equaled that of the Nazis in Europe. What makes the Nazis uniquely evil villains is the ideology that drove their actions, and the triumph over that ideology is celebrated in American popular culture in a way that that over the Japanese is not. Similarly the CCP is driven by an ideology that is incompatible with liberal democracy and is entrenched in such a way that its dislodging by domestic uprising is impossible (unlike in Turkey, India, or the Philippines). I think this is why the American public is captivated by China in a way that it is not by crimes in other countries.

  22. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    18. May 2020 at 15:55

    Our foreign policy is much more about preventing/countering the rise of anti-Western powers than it is about money.
    Ironically, our obsession with preventing the rise of anti-Western powers has often hurt us financially and morally. The Shah, for example, screwed us financially but because the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and the Shah was anti-Communist, Carter swallowed hard and ignored the Shah’s stance on oil prices and human rights.
    China threatens Western power far more than those other authoritarian regimes you cite. That’s why people obsess about China. We would do well to remember the lesson of the Shah while we try to manage our interactions with China. With Iran we ended up compromising ourselves morally because of our obsession with confronting challenges to Western power, only to create an enemy in Iran whom we are now compromising ourselves morally to oppose in Yemen.

  23. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    18. May 2020 at 16:06

    Of course we are focusing on China. It’s the second most powerful country in the world. And it may very well be the first very soon. For all it’s faults ,the United States is a liberal democratic superpower, and it projects influence on international institutions from that framework.

    Having China surpass the US would be a catastrophe. As countries become more powerful, they throw their weight around. A world ruled by China would be a very dark place.

    It is clear that economic liberalization hasn’t led to political liberalization. That thrice damned son of a whore Xi Jinping clearly hasn’t gotten the memo.

    Oh and by the way, I condemn all dictatorships. Including those supported by the US. But I thought as a utilitarian and a pragmatist, you would appreciate focusing on the greatest evil, namely China.

    Oh and no one AFAIK hates Chinese people. I love Chinese food. I like Jet Li and Kung fu movies. We hate the Chinese GOVERNMENT.

  24. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    18. May 2020 at 16:23

    Shyam Vasudevan.
    Just as I thought. CCP equals PURE EVIL.

  25. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    18. May 2020 at 16:32

    @ Shyam

    From the article you linked to:

    “ According to the directive, the ideas that threaten China with “major disorder” include concepts such as “separation of powers,” “independent judiciaries,” “universal human rights,” “Western freedom,” “civil society,” “economic liberalism,” “total privatization,” “freedom of the press,” and “free flow of information on the internet.” ”

    If the CCP is really successful at dismantling the checks and balances that do exist within the Party, and with further restricting the flow of information within China, and reducing economic liberalism, and further politicizing the judiciary and with it all contracts and commerce, and more regularly violates the rights of its inhabitants, etc., the world will have a huge problem. But not because China will pose any threat as an ideological competitor to liberal democracy. Instead the risk will be that China becomes a failed state.

  26. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    18. May 2020 at 16:43

    Unfortunately, I agree with this depressing post. Tinpot dictators and dogmatic ideologues/theologians are in charge of entire nations, from Manila to Beijing to Tehran to Riyadh.

    US foreign policy is summed up as running a global guard service for multinationals.

    Here is one to consider: There are 130 million households in the US and the US spends $1.3 trillion every year on global security, that being Defense, VA, DHS, black budget and pro-rated interest on national debt.

    That is $10,000 taxed away from every household every year.

    This year DC will send stimulus checks back to those households of a few thousand dollars at most.

  27. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    18. May 2020 at 17:39

    I hope Trump supporters and some others here will watch this rather short video, in which former Republican Tom Nichols describes the attack on expertise and the growing epidemic of narcissism and nihilism.


  28. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    18. May 2020 at 18:24


    it is so refreshing to read your lucid and informed comments here, including the discussion of theories of international relations and your rational approach to everything.

    Christian List,

    your comments are illustrating Scott’s post to a T. Gushing, mouth-foaming obsession with China and China only. Probably from consuming a one sided media diet. Why stop at repeating “CCP China” ad nauseam to drive home your points? Why not add “evil leftist communist eaters of children” to it? What’s stopping you?

    On to substance. The bit about the most totalitarian state in the world is silly. Have you ever been to China? Do you think the kind of flexible, vibrant economy is possible under totalitarian control? I wouldn’t be surprised if the average Chinese were freer to go about their business than the average Swiss. No, not a joke: democracy does not necessarily prevent totalitarianism and the things I’ve heard about what you can and cannot do in Switzerland…

    It’s actually an interesting discussion. The “free world” is often less free than it imagines itself. Non-democratic countries on the other hand often limit their repression to a few things that would challenge the government directly, and leave the rest well enough alone. You and most other commenters here focus on a few areas of repression in China, ignoring the vast areas of non repression. That was the gist of Mark’s comments – yes it is entirely possible that the average Chinese is a pretty free person in their day to day lives as long as they’re not an Uighur or one of a few thousand intellectuals.

    On the Uighur situation specifically. It’s very ironic, this one started as a reaction to a perceived islamic terrorism threat from there. There were some public attacks, even massacres by Uighur terrorists (usually with machetes and the like). I’ve seen reports at the time where the Chinese government proudly described how they suppressed press reports of these attacks (the gruesome details of it) to prevent anti-Uighur sentiment (or pogroms) in the rest of China. Let that one sink in first. Then of course they started with their “re-education” and lockdown policies, a bit in the philosophy of, if these Uighurs could be shown a better way of life, they would surely like it and wouldn’t become terrorists. Now let this one sink in if this starts ringing a bell.

    Let’s make this explicit now. Consider what the US did during the past 2 decades since 9-11. Rings a bell now? Starts looking similar? Yes? Except they did it in someone else’s countries, shooting up Afghanistan and Iraq, and the number of victims dying violently there – I’d guess, a lot more than what happened to the Uighurs. All in the name of bringing freedom and democracy, a better way of life, and combating islamic terror threats.

    My point is not to condone the repression of the Uighurs. I don’t, I just get tired of unreflected China bashing, like Scott. My point is, once you look at things with a cold and neutral eye, they aren’t so clear cut anymore. What China did internally to Uighurs is directly relatable to what the US did to Iraq, and they did it for quite the same (professed) reason: the “War against Terror” (really: “The war against militant Islam” but no one wants to call it that). Unlike the US, they did not do it through military means. They did it through what they apparently sincerely believe to be an educational approach – rationalist enlightenment if you will. Like most of communism of course. Belief in a scientific way of bettering humanity. No, I don’t agree with it. But this is where it’s coming from. Similarly, Westerners often believe that inside everyone on the planet, deep inside, there is a repressed Westerner that wants to come out. Not so.

  29. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    18. May 2020 at 19:10

    Note to globalists: Why are globalism and free trade now seen thriving alongside increasing political repression? Does the latter grease the skids for the former?

    Perhaps it is because multinationals are the most powerful players in the globalist scene, and they want stability 100 times more than they want democracy and human rights.

    So why is Xi Jinping not routinely described as a “crackpot Marxist despot”?

    He has put two million citizens into concentration camps, militarized atolls in the Pacific, completely crushed press freedoms, and speaks openly and reverently about “Marxism with Chinese characteristics.” Usually any political leader who embraces communism is ID’ed in US media as an “avowed Marxist” or an “avowed communist.” Not Xi Jinping.

    The Apples, the BlackRocks, the Wal-Marts, the GMs, and now Tesla—-they do not want the US to push for human rights in China. Indeed, much the contrary. They want appeasement and cooperation.

    Ergo, globalism is not leading to more human rights. It is resulting in accommodation.

    All this does not make Trump a good guy. But one should be very skeptical of establishment Washington as well.

  30. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    18. May 2020 at 19:32


    You said “ the number of people who are really oppressed in China is a small percentage of the total population. A couple million Uighurs perhaps, plus a couple thousand political dissidents”.

    If by really oppressed you mean locked up in prison, then yes. But you cannot join a union in China to fight for better working conditions, even if your place of employment is slowly killing you via toxins. My impression is that there is an awful lot of domestic violence in China, yet what would happen to people who tried to organize to change that? Domestic violence is something that many nations struggle with, but the CCP has also consistently catered to misogynistic attitudes amongst the general population in order not to bleed political support. And let’s not talk about Churches, which in many places and times have been some of the most vital institutions in helping ordinary people organize politically and socially to address problems and injustices facing them.

    Sure, China isn’t the same as during the 1950’s or 1960’s. The government isn’t attempting to carry out a revolution and looking for scapegoats. But there are pretty clear things that you cannot do, or at least cannot do without a very large risk of ending up in jail, and all of those things boil down to an inability to organize to change things when you or people you care about have been wronged by those in power. I don’t see how that isn’t very serious and severe oppression.

  31. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    18. May 2020 at 20:52

    mbka, in general I believe that inside every westerner, or for that matter anyone considered civilized, it is an animal that is ready and raring to come out.

    Authoritarian regimes in India: scott, for about 80%+ years after 1947, India seems to have had Indian National Congress in power at the center. Are you alluding to the Emergency of 1975 above? Otherwise its a perplexing remark where mostly peaceful elections and elected governments transitioning have been the norm. Recently a government came back at the center with a bigger mandate/seats.

    Any arguments on first past the post vis-a-vis representational form etc. are besides the point.

  32. Gravatar of Shyam Vasudevan Shyam Vasudevan
    19. May 2020 at 05:32

    @P Burgos

    I don’t think we are at the end of history, and there will be other competitor modes of government, whether it be Chinese communism or some far-right ideology. I don’t think it’s assured that liberal democracy will come out on top, just like in the 1930’s.

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. May 2020 at 08:44

    Christian, Your apologies for the atrocities committed by the Saudi’s tells me all I need to know about you. You are just what I thought.

    Mark, Very good comment. I had overlooked the fact that no one has been criticizing Italy for allowing flights out. The amount of anti-China bigotry is almost mind-boggling.

    bb. Good points.

    Mark Z. You said:

    “I ask (non-rhetorically) did Mexico actively insist that the virus couldn’t be spread by humans well after they knew it could?”

    No, and neither did China. They made mistakes, but exaggerating the mistakes merely discredits your own cause.

    Shyam, You are describing the Soviet Union. The Soviets tried to turn other countries communist; the Chinese do not do so. Indeed the Chinese have far more respect for South Korea than for North Korea, and are allied with the North merely for strategic reasons.

    Jason, You said:

    “the United States is a liberal democratic superpower, and it projects influence on international institutions from that framework.”

    Yes, Trump is doing so much to build up the WTO, WHO, NATO, the UN, the EU. Are you joking? It’s China that is giving billions to the WHO. Today, China’s probably more supportive of multilateral institutions than we are.

    mbka, Christian should learn to speak Chinese and then travel to China. He could meet average Chinese people and explain to them that America’s cold war on China was actually in their interest, as the CCP was ruining their lives. I’d love to sit in on that conversation.

    Anon, Do you know anything about what Modi is doing to India? Do you follow the news? Do you know about the massacres of Muslims? The lockdowns of Muslim areas? Sure, it’s more democratic than China, but the current trajectory is awful.

    Shyam, You said:

    “just like in the 1930’s”

    You mean the period when nationalistic regimes led by demagogues spread nonstop lies, blaming foreigners and unpopular ethnic groups for their own failings. No, that could never happen again.

  34. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    19. May 2020 at 09:19


    It is pretty clear that if the CCP puts into practice what it is saying, it will have a very large negative impact on the ability of the CCP to govern effectively or for the Chinese economy to operate efficiently. They already know this as well; all of the measures in Xinjiang province have had such a chilling effect on commerce that more businesses are closing than opening, and Han Chinese have been leaving the province because they cannot make money there anymore because of all of the extra hassles due to the security measures.

    Liberal democracies should only really worry about ideological competitors which are superior in some way to them, and then imitate the things that give those competitors that superiority.

  35. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    19. May 2020 at 13:43

    @Christian List – Winner! You won this thread. Listen to these clueless fellow Americans try and figure out “realpolitik”, a German word. These clowns tried to make the world safe for democracy by overthrowing Saddam Hussein, talk about clueless. And yes, as you say, a nuclear Iran as the Middle East hegemon would be 100x worse than the presently fascist Saudi Arabia is. If these clueless Americans tried to understand Middle East politics, first by reading the autobiography of Laurence of Arabia, they’d know the Arab (or Turkish, largely the same thing) mentality respects strength, and respects cruelty. After being slaughtered in numerous battles featuring Laurence of Arabia (who bravely declined a medal of honor from the queen of England, talk about balls), the Turks paid their Arab enemies a compliment by saying they were good fighters. Same as said in the war between the Greeks and the Turks, after every battle, every atrocity, a compliment was paid by the losing side. That’s why soft Americans (and many American-aping Europeans, I can’t even legally slaughter any livestock I have with a knife, I technically have to take them to a vet to have them stunned electrically, which of course nobody does) believe in “catch and release” of fish, to pick a small example, whereas Germans and Greeks kill and eat what they catch. Realpolitik and the Arab mentality, that’s something the soft, stupid average American can’t even comprehend.

    @mbka and Sumner – I’ve been to China, twice, even been to Tibet, and I can assure you Christian List is right and you two are wrong. For starters, to start a business in China you need to be part of the 10% that’s in the CCP. Unless you have official CCP blessing you’ll never succeed, and besides, any money you make you cannot easily be taken out of the country. BTW money laundering of wealthy CCP officials is one reason, possibly the only reason, behind the money-losing “Belt and Road” initiative, my Greek lawyer tells me (who helps Chinese businessmen launder money out of China). China is hardly the bastion of economic freedom you two seem to think it is.

    @Mark – China does not back an investigation into the origins of the C-19 virus, just into the official response to the virus pandemic. Read Xi’s statement carefully: (Xi) ““China supports a comprehensive evaluation of the ***global response*** to the epidemic after the global epidemic is under control, to sum up experiences and remedy deficiencies,” Xi said in his video speech to the assembly in Geneva.” – ***emphasis added.

  36. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    19. May 2020 at 19:07

    scott – so took your pointers and searched about in the www. One big news is CAA/NRC. CAA has been in limbo for the past 50+ years in Indian parliament as I understand and it just has been enacted; that excludes Muslims from neighboring Pakistan/Bangladesh from claiming citizenship because of “religious persecution”. Two countries that were partitioned on “faith” where Muslims wanted their own country. Its but another story that the East/West Pakistans couldn’t exist as a single nation despite a single faith and then Bangladesh was liberated in 1970s from their brethren. And the government in the NCR also let the people of that faith or supporters to block a road for about 4-5 weeks that led to a big clash where Hindus and Muslims were killed.

    There were 8 folks living in a parcel of land; 5 belonged to Faith A; 3 belonged to Faith B; Out of the 3/B 2 wanted a separate parcel of land since they didn’t want to co-exist with 5/A, for any number of reasons. Of the 5/A, 2 were living in land that was carved out for 2/B. Of that 2, 1 chose to move to the other side and 1 remained with 2/B. So now you have two parcels of land X(1A/2B) & Y(1A/3A/1B). Now Y says, hey 1A in Y you will be granted residency automatically in Y; 1A in X also will get if comes over to Y because of persecution for faith. For the 2B in P, no such possibility. Key:X exists because 2/B believed they were united in faith and they wanted a land of their own and it was carved out. Now if 2/B are warring between themselves because they are not so united in faith after all, what is Y expected to do? I would reckon a safe course of action for Y is to ensure that it doesn’t spillover into its own land and take precautions.

    massacre – numbers please; massacre is a pretty big word. ~14% population of India is Muslim (9.9% in 1951 to 14.2% in 2011). What are the numbers/% is massacred? Please do share the pointers to raw data; not propaganda/agenda driven articles from WaPo/NYT/Economist et al. there is no uniform civil code, yet. But there is a clamor for the same.

    As usual, thanks for interesting questions.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. May 2020 at 11:24

    Anon, You said:

    “not propaganda/agenda driven articles from WaPo/NYT/Economist”

    Yes, widely known to have an anti-Indian bias. Where do you get your info?

  38. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    20. May 2020 at 16:56


    thanks man! Much appreciated.

    Scott and mbka,

    I really can’t add much more to the topics. You are completely beating yourself, it’s so boring, in any case it’s completely frightening.

    Freedom and human rights can be measured quite objectively, I even linked to a good example. If you have better examples where CCP China is suddenly at the top and not at the bottom, give it to me, you are such ridiculous clowns. It’s really mindblowing. Your stupid, subjective anecdotes don’t prove anything, except your incredible downplaying, propaganda and complete ignorance.

    I have also commented on the Iranian war in Yemen. Scott, doesn’t even use the word Iran, as usual. I have also asked explicitly on several occasions what specific solution Scott has in mind. As I predicted, he has none. His answers are still on the level of a toddler. “Big war-ie, war-ie, baby, baby.” I would say he is on the level of an Iran-CCP-China propagandist as well in this case, but that is not true in this case, not even these people go that far, it would be an insult to most Iran-CCP-China propagandists in the world, in this specific case. But the ass-kissing award can easily be given to you, which comes in very handy in any dictatorship.

  39. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    21. May 2020 at 00:03

    For contemporaneous news https://news.google.com/topstories?hl=en-IN&gl=IN&ceid=IN:en would do well as it gives local news channels/media.

    NDTV, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, The Hindu, rediff, livemint, moneycontrol, firstpost, theprint etc. Majoriy seem to have a anti-BJP bias, or rather anti-Establishment, I think. And The Hindu seems to have a reputation for the most anti-Hindu image. So one could start with Google News for India and start there and search for terms for context/history.

  40. Gravatar of Matthias Görgens Matthias Görgens
    21. May 2020 at 20:52

    Scott, alas it’s not just money that drives foreign policy. It’s domestic politics and some lobbying and relatively small amounts of money spend on bribery.

    A true, relentless focus on money and profit would probably improve American foreign politics.

  41. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    21. May 2020 at 21:33

    In Internet times, 4 days is like a century old..

    Still, your question somehow lead to an interesting take https://bit.ly/2Xhz6Yg; and another interesting thread about Kashmiriyat and a non-Muslim experience (Sikh) in Kashmir. I can bet all your wealth that Sikh’s perception or travails will never make to a WaPo/BBC/NYT mention; forget long form article/sob story

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