Three news headlines, the U.S. sending Navy ships to SCS protesting island construction activities there, the violent shooting in Florida school and the irresponsible profiling remarks against Chinese Americans expressed by FBI Director Christopher Wray, seemingly unrelated events, triggered serious thoughts on the attitude of Americans and the U.S. government officials about safeguarding freedom, racial profiling and bullying. The three events will be reviewed and discussed around this ‘attitude’ issue.
Three news headlines have shocked the world. The first is an international incidence concerning Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea (SCS) raising new tension of confrontation between the U.S. and China. The second is a violent shooting in a Florida school killing seventeen persons adding another shocker to the American people. The third is FBI Director’s racial profiling of Chinese students and academicians as spies for China, raising fear and anger among Chinese American citizens. These three news events have no connection from geography point of view, one in SCS of the Pacific Ocean and the other two in the U.S. The shooting took place in the State of Florida on the Atlantic coast tens of thousands miles away from SCS. There is also no direct political connection of the three events, since one is a US foreign affair and the other two are US domestic issues. However, as rational people, when news like these flooded the media and reached the public, they become inter-connected as the public began to talk, listen, digest and develop their opinions about these events. In the process, the connection of these events emerges in our attitude towards safeguarding freedom, racial profiling and violent bullying. Understanding these connections may be very significant in understanding our social problems and foreign policies.
There is no question that the shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a tragedy. The 19 year old Nicolas Cruz apparently is a disturbed young man, crazy about guns and knives, as vividly shown by his Instagram pages. How can Cruz easily purchase an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle calls into serious questions about our society’s definition and value of freedom. We cannot get any meaningful gun control legislation passed because we are obsessed with our freedom. In our society, we are supposed to be condemning racial profiling as Blacks, Hispanics and Asians have often been profiled by law enforcement and even by general public. When Nicolas Cruz was tipped to the FBI long before the tragic event, why didn’t FBI take any action to prevent this horrible school shooting? Cruz is a Hispanic name and we do have a Senator Ted Cruz, a powerful politician with Hispanic background. The FBI did not act on the tip, was it because that FBI was concerned with possibility of being accused to be profiling or simply being negligent?
No, the FBI, at least its Director, Christopher A. Wray, is not afraid of being accused of profiling. In fact, Wray was openly profiling Chinese Americans in the Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing answering Senator Marco Rubio’s very pointed question. “The counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. national security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in the sciences and mathematics,” Wray responded. How dare a senior government official openly profiling Chinese Americans who contributed so significantly to science, technology and many other academic and business fields? Is it because there was no powerful Chinese American Senators like Hispanic American Senators, e.g. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio? Now, there are protests calling Wray’s resignation because of FBI’s inaction on a tip on Nicolas Cruz as well as his profiling remarks labeling Chinese Americans as spies for China. The latter issue is Wray’s serious personal mistake which is more reason for making him unfit to serve in the US government. The anger of the Chinese Americans can be seen from the press releases issued by United Chinese Americans (UCA 2-14-2018), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC 2-15-2018) and Committee 100 (C100 2-16-2018).
Why are the above social issues related to our foreign policy matter such as our demand of Freedom of Navigation in the SCS? The connection is in the attitude towards freedom, racial profiling and bullying. Demanding Freedom of Navigation in open sea is justified and politically correct. However, it is neither correct nor justified to demand freedom by bullying. The U.S. Navy, the most powerful one in the world, always enjoyed the freedom of navigation around the globe. The only incidence when the U.S. Navy was challenged, for example, by Russian navy, was when the Russians felt their national security being threatened, for instance in the Arctic Ocean or Black Sea near Russia. Therefore, the U.S. Navy must be careful about the legal boundaries of 12 sea miles surrounding a nation’s sovereign boundary. Following this guideline, there will not be any freedom of navigation issue.
The SCS and the Pacific Ocean are vast areas for maritime activities. There is no freedom of navigation issue for American vessels military or commercial. There are territorial disputes in the SCS but they are largely handled by bilateral negotiation by the concerned nations. The recent dispatching of U.S. military ships to the SCS passing through or close to the 12 sea mile region of the claimed small islands is very much like a bullying action (like a person carrying a weapon to school) since no one would stop the U.S. Navy vessels if they were just passing by. When the U.S. on the one hand declares that she is not going to get involved in any territorial dispute and on the other hand she sends military vessels to the region to show force, it is very hard to shed the image of a bully. If the infrastructure development of these small islands by China, Philippines and Vietnam etc were violating any international law or truly interfering with freedom of navigation, the only logic action would be bringing the issue to the international court. The U.S. should not be the one to play judge and calling names. Naming China for wrong doing is similar to profiling Chinese Americans as spies without proof, an unacceptable attitude and practice. One wonders whether the FBI Director’s profiling remarks and Pentagon’s SCS behavior are mutually enforcing out of a common attitude.
We know weapons are dangerous. Too much freedom in weapon acquisition leads to more possibilities of weapon abuse. Abusive use of weapon is an act of bullying. Bullying leads to violence. Regardless of motive, the Florida school shooting is an excessive act of bullying. A troubled young man used a deadly weapon; a semi-automatic rifle on unarmed students caused the death of seventeen persons. In SCS, the U.S. Navy is showing force to China, what does Pentagon expect to accomplish? Is the end result an intimidation, violence or total war? We can’t imagine Pentagon to behave like a troubled young man carrying a powerful weapon to bully the students without any concern for consequences. The smart generals in Pentagon must have studied the Sun Tze Bin Fa, diplomacy is always superior to battle in settling issues. Not bullying does not mean weakness. Poised diplomacy can be more effective than military exercises. In today’s world, total war means total mutual destruction. An attitude change is necessary, even for the most powerful nation on earth, to deal with international affairs. Bullying must be replaced with rational thinking, intelligent analysis and skillful diplomacy to deal with international affairs and to lead the world.