Part 1: Two nations, a world apart


Henry C K Liu

This article appeared in AToL on December 9, 2003

The United States, the world's sole remaining superpower, is facing the reality of the limits of power, both military and economic, in its unilateral pursuit of global geopolitical objectives.

The US needs to recognize that it cannot win its "war on terrorism" with military force alone, however overwhelming. While the notion of preemptive defense can serve as a convenient pretext for outright aggression, a widening gap between the enormity of US power and the legitimacy of its use erodes support for US policies even by its allies. This gap acts to stimulate rising resistance by asymmetrical warfare of which terrorism is a central component.

The US needs to re-examine the moral prerequisite of its power. Unhappy experience with the war on poverty and the war on drugs should alert US policymakers to understand that to win the war on terrorism, the root causes of terrorism, the institutionalized socioeconomic inequities that lead to widespread rage fanned by hopelessness among the oppressed, must first be eliminated. Under current circumstances, conditions in East Asia have the potential of providing a model for a new and equitable economic order for the rest of the world.

World peace in the 21st century depends on long-range accommodation between the US and China, because US-China relations are the fulcrum for enduring peace in East Asia, a region with potential for enormous growth or, if improperly handled, for world-shattering destructive conflict. A stable East Asia contributes fundamentally to the prospect of world peace based on this new equitable world order.

The United States and China, the two dominant players in East Asia, are both blessed with structural strengths and invincible resolves that manifest in national pride justified by solid achievements. China, as a rising power after almost two centuries of continuous decline, has finally repositioned itself within reach of fulfilling its aim of restoring its four-millennia-old historical destiny as a great civilization. The US in two short centuries has become a science and technology powerhouse that has produced the largest share of the world's modern scientists while China is a fountainhead of ancient philosophy that remains relevant after two millennia. Science and technology have turned the US into an economic and military superpower. Yet the largest number of scientists in the world under 30 years of age now live and work in China, and Chinese students are the largest ethnic group in graduate schools in the United States.

Still, China, drawing on Chinese philosophical underpinning, has managed to survive the unprecedented onslaught of a century of Western imperialism backed by superior technology. Mao Zedong, a radical Marxist-Leninist, succeeded in ridding China of Western imperialism mainly because of his deep understanding of Chinese history and philosophy. Despite the fact that the US can boast having more scholars on Chinese studies than any other nation outside of China, the thought-control effects of the McCarthy era have yet to subside fully after five decades, making an objective understanding of China elusive to most US scholars. China, on the other hand, suffers from its share of naive infatuation with American modernity without full understanding. The result is bilateral amity for the wrong reasons and bilateral hostility.

The two nations are fundamentally different. Yet national differences need not be the cause of irreconcilable conflict if nations treat their differences with mutual respect and symbiotic tolerance. Throughout history, wars have been fought among nations of similar political ideology as much as between nations of different ideologies. Wars between monarchies and wars of inter-capitalist rivalry are two obvious examples.

The United States is a relatively young nation among modern-day great powers, while China is the oldest continuous nation in history. The US is a new society founded on individualism, while China is an old civilization based on timeless social hierarchy. Chinese convention in addressing mail puts the country first, province next, then county, then city, then street, then house number, and finally the individual recipient. The US/Western convention is the reverse, putting the individual recipient first and making the sorting of mail an irrational undertaking. The US is naturally modern because it does not have much of a past to update, while China's long history renders the acceptance of modernity a conscious and uphill struggle. China has five times the population of the US and only a fifth of the United States' cultivatable land. The US is a two-ocean land, while China is land-locked on its west. Chinese rivers run west to east, while US rivers run north to south. The US is a land of immigrants who sought freedom and opportunity in a new world, while China is a land of emigrants with sizable overseas ethnic-Chinese communities all over the world; these overseas Chinese communities are more traditional than their kinfolk who stayed in China. The US aims to be a melting pot of diverse immigrant cultures, while China has 55 officially recognized national minorities living on 60 percent of its land, whose separate ethnic identities are protected from assimilation by law and policy. In addition to the majority ethnic Han nationality, China has a combined minorities population of more than 100 million among its total population of 1.3 billion. In the US, a tradition of power coming from wealth has emerged and is generally condoned, whereas Chinese culture considers natural the tradition of wealth coming from power.

Throughout much of its history, the United States has regarded China with a sense of racist superiority based on ignorance. For the past half-century, the US has conducted its relations with China on the assumption that a self-proclaimed democratic nation cannot develop lasting harmonious relations with a communist state except as an accommodating geopolitical ploy against another communist state. With the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, China re-emerged naturally to the top of the United States' enemy list due to unspoken US racial phobia and paranoia, until the events of September 11, 2001, which launched the US "war on terrorism" with an alternative enemy in the form of extremist Islamic fundamentalism. US policy of moral imperative on China had been part of its global crusade to spread democracy. Such an approach in foreign policy is both fraudulent and dangerous.

The US sees itself as having been founded on principles of democracy. It enshrines in its foreign policy the aim of promoting democratic values globally and has justified going to war many times in recent decades in the name of defending democracy around the world. Yet the word "democracy" cannot be found in the US constitution. In Article IV, Section 4 of the constitution is the following clause: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." For a "republican form of government" to exist in any of the United States, the Union must first exist as a confederacy and not a national democracy. In the US constitutional regime, the guarantee clause of "a republican form of government" to each state prevents the federal government, which is a creature of the constitution, from extending or construing its constitutional rights and powers to invade the areas that are to remain under the sovereignty of the individual Free States.

The clause means to protect the sovereignty of each Free State within the Union. It aims to protect the equal right of all citizens within a state to determine the way they will manage their lives and property as they pursued their happiness. The founders of the nation believed that this equal right was "an inalienable right" endowed by the Creator. This belief was made self-evident by the absence of extreme economic inequalities in the new American society. The founders also believed that this equal right belonged to all citizens of individual states, except slaves. It was commonly referred to by the founders as a citizen's "Right of Conscience" or "Liberty of Conscience". Thus economic equality was the foundation of political democracy in America.

In 1776, the people of the 13 Colonies fought and won from the British crown the right to exist in relative economic equality as a Union of Free States. Their victory also meant that the citizens of each of the Free States, which were the inheritors of the 13 Colonies, had the right to enjoy their "Rights of Conscience" without interference from a super-government.

The first central government in the new nation was established by the Articles of Confederation, which after being severely amended to strengthen the powers of the individual states was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777. The Articles reflected a popular distrust of central authority. Aside from foreign policy and defense, the Confederation was given no authority to levy taxes or to regulate interstate trade. Its revenue would come from requisitions on the states. No provision was provided for executive and judiciary branches of federal government. All powers were vested in Congress, with each of the 13 states allotted one vote, regardless of size, and nine votes out of 13 were needed for all decisions. The Articles could not be amended without the consent of all 13 states.

Historians sympathetic to a strong government portray the Confederation era, which lasted from 1781 to 1789, as an unhappy period of economic depression and internal conflict without constructive political leadership. A small but influential group led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison and supported by merchants and large landowners, many of whom were war profiteers, began working for an effective federal government.

The Federal Convention had its first meeting in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787, to draft a new US constitution, with delegates from all 13 states except Rhode Island, most of whom belonged to wealthy and conservative classes elected by the state legislatures and not directly by the people. The Convention wanted to create a central government strong enough to maintain national security, pay national debts, promote economic development and protect US interests abroad. Conceding to popular sentiment in favor of state rights, the Convention aimed to reserve local sovereignty for the states and grant national sovereignty to the federal government to form a workable federal system.

Being conservatives of privilege and education, the delegates wanted to limit outright majority rule, in the belief that it would endanger property rights and prevent wise and meritorious leadership. The prevalent sentiment was a distrust of democracy. Meeting behind closed doors, and with the proceedings kept from the public, many spoke their true feelings. Edmond Randolph of Virginia spoke for the delegates when he said "the evils under which the United States labored" were due to "the turbulence and follies of democracy". Madison declared that the aim was to "protect the minority of opulence against the majority". Noting that all political conflicts have an economic basis, a Marxist view preceding Karl Marx by half a century, Madison explained the theory on which the constitution was based as balancing political power among all economic groups to prevent any one economic group from acquiring dominant control of government and then oppressing all others.

The states were deprived of the right to issue money, in the form of sovereign credit. A sovereign who cannot issue sovereign credit is not much of a sovereign. The states were forced to finance their developmental needs through debt. With the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve as a central bank, the issuance of money as sovereign credit was removed even from the federal government and placed in the hands of a privately controlled, politically independent public agency. The federal government was also placed in the position of having to finance its deficits through debt, instead of issuing sovereign credit. In time, the Federal Reserve came to adopt a monetary policy based mainly on the setting of short-term interest rates to control money supply, in essence using permanent structural unemployment as the main tool to protect the value of money. The states were also prohibited from passing any law that impaired the obligation of contracts. The federal power to enforce contracts became one of the most important items in the whole constitution, and the sanctity of contracts is the foundation of the US system, not democracy.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the "Right of Conscience" clause was the most important clause of the constitution, not the enforcement of private contracts. He so stated in a letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church at New London, Connecticut, dated February 4, 1809: "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the power of its public functionaries ..." Jefferson was apprehensive of government policies that would alter structurally the widespread economic equality of the new society.

Conditions at the time of the founding of the nation were such that, with determination and hard work, everyone could carve out a decent living from the fertile land abundantly available, by producing most of the necessities of life. They needed to sell only a small portion of their surpluses to pay taxes and to buy gunpowder, salt, metal and a few luxuries such as tea and coffee and fine cloth. While some became richer than others, everyone was financially independent and not dependent on employment by others for livelihood. This was the American spirit of freedom and democracy, self-evident under conditions that have long since ceased to exist. Increasingly, Americans have been victimized by debt collection and foreclosure when their income and earnings potential are reduced by government policy induced structural changes in the national economy. The sanctity of private contracts, coupled with government policies that favor moneyed interests, increasingly threaten economy democracy and financial freedom in the name of free markets, which have become more free than market participants and non-participants. The myth of American freedom and democracy, however, endures.

When 11 of the 13 original states adopted the US constitution, the people of nine of those 11 separate Free States believed that the constitution had been written in such a way as to protect their right to continue to practice all of the liberties that they had won from their colonial master as listed in the founding principles of the Declaration of Independence. That protection was based on the principle that any and all state constitutions in the Confederation were to be seen only as rules for the elected state leaders, not laws against the people. The US constitution was therefore also a job description for the elected leaders at the federal level, limiting them to the prescribed power to govern the states only in the areas outlined by the US constitution. The people of nine of the 11 Free States believed that the US constitution had been worded in such a way as to build a wall of protection around each state to protect the internal affairs of that state and the free people within it from federal intrusion.

Applying this principle also to the state level meant that all other areas that had not been specifically assigned to the elected leaders of the individual states by state constitutions were to remain with the people of those states without question. They believed that there was no need for a Bill of Rights because they had stated in their founding document that a constitution could exist only as long as it produced a federal government that supported all the founding principles of their republic. For in the new constitution of their republic, the guarantee clause of "a republican form of government to each state" would always mean that the federal government was required to support the fundamental principle that each state was a Free State within the Confederation as in 1776, with the right to exist and operate as a free sovereign republic in all areas not listed in the federal constitution of the Confederation. The clause "a republican form of government" is the main clause in the constitution that prevents the federal government from consolidating the Free States into one national state. Because of that clause, the republic will always be seen as a Confederation of Free States and not as a consolidation of people into one super-state. The Confederation will always be known as "The United States of America" and not the "The United State of America", as noted in Hamilton's Letter No 84 of The Federalist Papers and Madison's Speech to Congress.

Nine of the 13 Free States were convinced that existing protection was adequate; five ratified the constitution with the understanding that it should be amended with a Bill of Rights; two were not convinced at all. To obtain unity in the Confederation, James Madison had to compromise his position with the 11 states and introduce an additional Bill of Rights for additional protection in order to get the two remaining Free States to join the confederacy. The elected leaders of the 11 Free States had failed to convince those of the two remaining Free States that the guarantee of "a republican form of government" to each state was enough to protect individuals and their states from their federal government.

"The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws," said Thomas Jefferson. "But our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are injurious to others" (Jefferson Himself, edited by Bernard Mayo, page 81, University Press of Virginia). "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" (Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, 2:229-30)

God has always been present in US politics even though the separation of church and state is a founding principle of the Union. The Pilgrims came to America not to escape God but to search for freedom to found their own church. Yet the church, a clerical unit of religion, is an institutional preemption of the universality of God. When the First Amendment of the constitution mandates that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, it rejects only organized religion in the form of churches from politics, but not God.

US democracy is a development of US history and a unique and peculiar form of government applicable only to conditions of the New World. Over the span of two centuries, those conditions have been fundamentally altered. As the United States has grown stronger, its citizens have over time surrendered more of the freedom that their forefathers had cherished, notwithstanding Americans' self-image as a free people. It is hard for the US to spread democracy abroad when democracy has been declining at home since its founding.

For leaders such as Jefferson and Madison, the aim of Republicanism was to maintain the ideals of the independence movement: through popular government, based on the inalienable rights of man, to protect the interests of the masses rather than of a privileged upper class. They believed that the doctrine of "implied powers" would undermined the constitutional limitation of federal authority upon which popular liberty depended. The doctrine of "strict construction" of the meaning of the wording of the constitution was the guarantee for freedom.

Alexander Hamilton was openly unsympathetic to the spirit of democracy. Hamilton, in his Report on Public Credit of 1790, recommended that the national debt ($50 million) inherited from the Confederation be funded at face value and that the federal government should also assume the debts of the states ($20 million). The Treasury should raise enough money through taxation to make regular interest payments and eventually to pay off the principal. Such a policy strengthened the federal government by winning support from all public creditors and provided the moneyed class with capital for new enterprises. The public opposed Hamilton's plan because public debt certificates by then were held mostly by a small number of speculators who had bought up the debts from war veterans at heavily discounted rates, by as much as 80 percent. Hamilton considered this transfer of wealth from the masses to a select few as justifiable by the greater good of providing the quick capital formation needed by the budding economy. Congress voted in favor of Hamilton's plan, aided by the fact that a majority of the House members themselves were speculative holders of public debt certificates.

The proposal to assume state debts was passed by Congress, with Hamilton striking a deal with Jefferson to locate on the Potomac rather than further north of the young nation's new capital, to be named after George Washington. Hamilton influenced the congressmen from Pennsylvania to drop their opposition to moving the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, while Jefferson influenced the congressmen from Virginia not to oppose Hamilton's state-debt proposal. The deal held despite the fact that the debts of the northern states were much larger than those of the south, thus a federal assumption would benefit mainly northern businesses, many of which were financed by Philadelphia banks.

In his Report on Taxation, Hamilton recommended that the government should raise money through an excise tax on whiskey, in addition to tariffs, not for moral or economic reasons, but to strengthen federal power throughout the back country. Hamilton viewed federal taxes as a development tool to force people to participate in the money economy by making it impossible for them to live merely by subsistence farming, the foundation of economic independence.

Hamilton promoted the Bank of the United States to issue notes that would circulate paper money as legal tender, to extend government credit to enterprises to expand the economy. Jefferson opposed the bank on the grounds that the chartering of it had not been explicitly authorized by the constitution and the bank would give excessive power over the national economy to a small group of private investors at the expense of the masses. Hamilton nipped economic democracy in the new nation in the bud, and justified it as merely allocating sovereign credit to where it would do the most good for the national economy. Criticizing the laissez-faire doctrine of Adam Smith, Hamilton argued that infant industries in a young country needed protection and that the United States needed to protect itself from British economic hegemony with protective tariffs, grants of monopoly rights and direct subsidies to manufacturing through an industrial policy.

In political theory, Hamilton believed in government by the wise, the rich and the well-born, and in aristocratic control as opposed to democracy. Historians acknowledge the Hamiltonian program as being primarily responsible for making the United States an industrial power by favoring the industrial and financial north over the agricultural south. The resultant divergence of economic interests expressed itself in political conflicts that finally erupted in the Civil War almost a century later, in 1861.

Henry Clay's American System took Hamilton's program of economic nationalism away from the upper class elite and offered it to the masses by making the federal authority a champion of the people, rather than a captured device of narrow sectional interests. Through representative democracy advocated by Jefferson, Clay advocated measures designed to strengthen the young nation, enhancing its economic independence from foreign countries with protective tariffs, and promoted national unity by developing a reciprocal relationship between agriculture and industry and the establishment of a nation bank to finance domestic development. Internationalist shipping interests in New England, represented in Congress by Daniel Webster, opposed Clay's program of economic nationalism.

With the growth of nationalism after the War of 1812, the US Supreme Court under chief justice John Marshall, a Hamiltonian with a deep distrust of democracy, gave legal confirmation to the expansion of federal authority. In the case of McCulloch vs Maryland in 1819, the court affirmed Hamilton's "implied power" theory of the constitution and asserted that the federal government was fully sovereign within its own sphere and not merely a creature of the states. The judiciary, composed of nine men who defied historical facts, asserted that the United Stated had been created by the people, not by the states, based primarily on the first sentence of the constitution, which reads: "We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union ...", notwithstanding that the document was signed by the states. The court further ruled that in pursuing any end that was legitimate and constitutional, the federal government could adopt any means not explicitly prohibited by the constitution. Rule by law as interpreted by nine politically appointed justices has since been the modus operandi of the US political system, not rule of law.

The current occupant of the White House owes his tenancy to the Supreme Court, not to the voters, the majority (by 539,897 votes) of those who actually voted (103,380,929) did not vote for him, and 48.8 percent of those eligible to vote did not bother to vote at all. The claim that US prosperity and power come from democracy and freedom is not substantiated by historical facts. Having risen to the status of superpower through central authority and economic nationalism, the United States now regards other nations that follow the historical US model, rather than the myth of American democracy and freedom, with moralistic hostility.

China, on the other hand, has always been governed by the concept of a Mandate of Heaven, based on precepts of primitive communism organized through a hierarchical social order and a central political authority. The Chinese nation was not founded on any written constitution drafted by a few individuals, however enlightened. Freedom is not an indigenous social or political concept in traditional Chinese culture. While local autonomy and tolerance for indigenous customs have always been the modus operandi in Chinese government structure, the concept of "free states" is alien to China's political culture, as is the concept of free individualism in Chinese social philosophy. Confucianism sees as its main function the curbing of runaway individualism and the prevention of atrophy in social hierarchy.

The economic miracle of the so-called Asian Tigers of the 1990, which ended with the 1997 Asian financial crisis engineered from outside the region, was built not on Western-style democracy, but on revitalized Confucianism. And the miracle was nearly destroyed by Western free-market fundamentalism. China, like other developing economies, needs a Hamiltonian program of central authority and economic nationalism to resist US hegemony just as the young US nation did to resist British hegemony.

Societies express freedom in different historical and social contexts. It is when freedom is curtailed below the level of societal expectation that people feel deprived of freedom. The image Americans hold of themselves as being more free than other people is merely collective narcissism. In reality, they are merely more free in their own peculiar ways. Many Americans, for example, have been conditioned to view freedom from want as not part of their natural right even though the means of individual economic self-sufficiency have been systematically taken away from them by corporate capitalism since the nation's founding. Today, US workers become unemployed not because they are freeloaders but because management preserves profits through massive layoffs that are rationalized as improved productivity. The high return on investments held in their own retirement accounts are driving workers into unemployment. A sound economic model would have improved productivity translated into economic growth with more demand for workers rather than increased unemployment.

In China, the issue of political freedom did not occupy a high place in any political debate prior to the influx of Western cultural hegemony. In Chinese culture, individual freedom is regarded as a form of antisocial attitude and democracy as a form of mob rule. No Chinese dynasty was ever founded on freedom and democracy; all were founded on order, stability, benevolence and tolerance. Governments fell not from failing to receive a majority of votes, but from their failure to fulfill the Mandate of Heaven, which is linked to people's right of freedom from want. In a society of social hierarchy, people are not conditioned to blame themselves for their economic failings; they rightly blame ineffective government and the unjust socio-political system. In Chinese political culture, massive unemployment cannot be explained away as structurally inevitable by economic rationalization, let alone the claim that it is necessary to combat inflation to reserve the value of money.

The Nationalist Revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yatsen, a Chinese-American, a medical doctor and a Christian, imported Abraham Lincoln's rhetorical "of the people, by the people, for the people" to Chinese revolutionary politics with the same naivete as his campaign against Buddhist superstition through Christian fanaticism, with the approving support of American missionaries. The revolution failed because it offered a solution that was irrelevant to Chinese historical conditions. It fell to Mao Zedong, who understood that the fate of the Chinese nation was inseparable from the welfare of the Chinese peasants, to save China from Western oppression.

The current revival of the US crusade of making the world safe for freedom and democracy in its own image is a dangerous delusion of grandeur. Like all crusades in the past, this one will also cause great destruction and misery.

The historical Crusades were a long series of military expeditionary campaigns with a religious pretext sanctioned by the pope that took place during the 11th through 13th centuries. They began as Catholic endeavors to capture from the Muslims holy Jerusalem, which the Christians had never controlled politically in their entire history, even during Jesus' triumphant entry into the city almost two millennia ago. The Crusades developed into extended territorial wars devoid of Christian morals. Later Crusades were called against the remaining pagan nations of Europe such as the Polabians, a member of a Slavic people formerly dwelling in the basin of the Elbe and on the Baltic coast of Germany and Lithuania, and against heresy, as in the Crusade against Bohemia of 1418-37.

The Crusades gave birth to nationalism in Europe that subsequently plunged the world into the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th century. They allowed the papacy to consolidate its systematic dominion over the known world. They demoralized the Crusaders rather than saving the souls of those against whom they crusaded. They changed Christian Europe more than the Islamic Middle East. They weakened Christianity more than Islam. When the Crusades began, feudalism was the social order in Europe. When the Crusades finally closed more than two centuries later, feudalism was in decay throughout Europe, and had largely disappeared from the most progressive parts of it. The war needs of the petty knights and great nobles led to the pawn or sale of their estates, and their prolonged absence gave previously weak sovereigns a rare opportunity to extend their authority. And in the adjoining camps of national armies on Islamic soil, pride of nation became a destructive force.

European kings gained power through the Crusades by consolidating the nobles under them. Towns grew as serfs bought their freedom by serving in the Crusades and bringing back ill-gained wealth. Towns were granted charters in the king's absence or by the king's need for money to support the wars. Town merchants benefited from increased war expenditures and loaned money to finance costly expeditions. The Crusades forged the birth of capitalism and the increased use of coined money and established a gold standard in Europe, which plunged the European economy into prolonged depressions. National taxes, not just feudal fees, were established.

European culture was enriched by war contacts with the East. The cotton paper-making process replaced importing parchment; the amount of writing increased, laying the foundation for the Enlightenment. The handkerchief, an Arab invention, was introduced to Europe. The guitar and the violin were introduced, and Arabic numerals, decimals and spherical trigonometry, algebra, sine and tangent, physics and astronomy, the pendulum, optics and the telescope all benefited European culture, albeit at excruciatingly high cost.

George W Bush's new Crusade may also change the United States more than the rest of the world. When his new Crusade finally ends, capitalism, like feudalism of the old Crusades, may well subside if not disappear from the world, and a new economic democracy aspired to by the founders of the US may well be revived.

The Crusades failed in all three of their geopolitical objectives. The European Christians failed to win the Holy Land. They also failed to check the global advance of Islam. The schism between the East and the West in the Christian world was not healed by the focus on a common foe. Eastern Orthodox Christians saw the Crusades as attacks also on them by the Western Church of Rome, especially after the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade. Countries of Central Europe, despite the fact that they also belonged to Western Christianity, were the most skeptical about the idea of Crusades. Many cities in Hungary were sacked by passing Crusader armies. Poland and Hungary were subjected to conquest from the Teutonic Crusaders.

There is symmetry between crusade and jihad. In the Islamic world, the term "jihad" has positive connotations that include a much broader meaning of general personal and spiritual struggle, while the term "crusade" has negative connotations. In truth, the Crusaders committed atrocities not just against Muslims but also against Jews and even other Christians. For example, the Fourth Crusade never made it to Palestine, but instead sacked Constantinople, the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire. Many religious relics and artifacts taken from Constantinople are still in the hands of Roman Catholics, in the Vatican and elsewhere. This Crusade served to deepen the hard feelings between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western Christianity. The Byzantine Empire eventually recovered Constantinople, but its strength never fully recovered, and the Byzantine Empire finally fell to the Ottomans in 1453.

The saintly objectives of the Crusades were transformed into causes of great evil. As a school of practical religion and morals, the Crusades were no doubt disastrous for most of the Crusaders. The campaigns were attended by all the usual demoralizing influences of war and the long sojourn of armies in an enemy's country.

The vices of the crusading camps were a source of deep shame in Europe. Popes lamented them. Like Robert McNamara, who almost single-handedly led the United States into a quagmire of fantasy escalation to win an unwinnable war in Vietnam and later confessed his errors and regrets in public long after retirement, Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) exposed the evils of the Crusades long after he preached in favor of a Second Crusade. At Easter 1146 at Vezelay, Bernard preached his sermon in front of King Louis VII of France, who became inspired to take up the cross and spent the years 1147-49 conducting the Second Crusade. Many writers have since set forth the fatal mistake of those who were eager to make a conquest of the earthly Jerusalem while forgetful of the City of God as annunciated by Saint Augustine. "Many wended their way to the holy city, unmindful that our Jerusalem is not here." So wrote the Englishman Walter Map after Saladin's victories in 1187.

The schism between the East and the West was widened by the insolent action of the popes in establishing Latin patriarchates in the East and their consent to the establishment of the Latin empire of Constantinople. The institutional memory of the indignities heaped upon Greek emperors and ecclesiastics has not yet faded. Another evil was the deepening of the contempt and hatred in the minds of the Mohammedans for the doctrines of Christianity. The savagery of the Christian soldiers, their unscrupulous treatment of property, and the bitter rancor in the crusading camps were a disgraceful spectacle that left a lasting and bitter image for the peoples of the East. While the Crusades were still in progress, the objection was made in Western Europe that they were not followed by spiritual fruits, but that on the contrary, the Saracens, who had invaded France in the 8th century and occupied Sicily from the 9th to the 11th century, were converted to blasphemy rather than to the faith.

The Crusades gave occasion for the rapid development of the system of papal indulgences, which became a dogma of the medieval theologians. The practice, once begun by Urban II at the very outset of the movement, was extended further and further until indulgence for sins was promised not only for the warrior who took up arms against the Saracens in the East, but for those who were willing to fight against Christian heretics in Western Europe. Indulgences became a part of the very heart of the sacrament of penance, and did incalculable damage to the moral sense of Christendom. To this evil was added the exorbitant taxation levied by the popes and their emissaries. Matthew of Paris, an English historian and a monk of St Albans, in his Chronica majora complained of this extortion for the expenses of the Crusades as a stain upon that holy cause.

As for the Crusades' contribution to the development of commerce, the enterprise of the Italian ports would in time have developed by normal incentives of Eastern trade and the natural impulse of marine enterprise even without the Crusades. The spell of ignorance and narrow prejudice would have been broken without war, and to the mind of Western Europe, a new horizon of thought and acquisition would have opened, and within that horizon would have lain the institutions and ambitions of modern Western civilization. The modernity that liberated the West, which some Western scholars accuse the Muslim world of lacking, was in no small way detonated by exposure to Eastern culture. After the lapse of six centuries and more, the Crusades still have their stirring negative lessons of wisdom and warning that the Bush team would do well to examine.

The United States hopes to see China as a reluctant ally in its crusade against terrorism, notwithstanding the fact that prior to September 11, 2001, when terrorism hit US soil on a devastating scale, the US was covertly sponsoring anti-China terrorism by separatists. Terrorism is not a universal problem, notwithstanding claims to that effect from US neo-conservatives. The terrorism faced by the two nations is fundamentally different: that against China is from separatist forces, until recently sponsored by the US, while that against the US is from diverse forces opposed to US global hegemony. Since September 11, the US has hoped to see China as an important ally in its war on global terrorism, while China sees the US anti-terrorism campaign as a chance to improve relations with the US and perhaps moderate ongoing anti-China postures on the part of the US. Both nations hope that cooperation against terrorism can serve as a new strategic framework for US-China relations.

Yet the legacy of the past has all but ruled out an objective, realistic US policy toward China. US policymakers have carried into the 21st century a legacy of the US-China relationship as an unequal one between patron and client, in which moralizing coercion is a necessary part. Good versus evil remains a vocal theme in US policy on China.

Yet sanitized of past illusion, a symbiotic relationship between the US and China is not only possible, but also rational, precisely because the two nations are different in ways that need not be threatening to each other. To move on to that track, the United States needs to stop viewing China through the eyes of an ideological missionary and deal with China on its own terms. China will not change its national character merely to appease US national prejudice, any more than the US will sacrifice its national interests to appease China.

There are, however, residual Cold War issues that continue to lock US-China relations on an unconstructive path that holds more costs than benefits for both sides. The most serious of these is the issue of Taiwan, which has been a de facto US aggression against Chinese sovereignty for more than five decades. Without a quick and constructive resolution of the Taiwan issue, the future of the US-China relationship cannot lead to any positive outcome. And quite possibly, it may end in war.

Next: The Taiwan time bomb