The Great Awakening Gets Closer to China
I have an article up at Asia Times that’s a bit more torn from the headlines than usual: Syrian sauce for the Chinese gander.
My ongoing interest in writing about Syria as the authoritarian Middle Eastern analog to China dovetailed with the explosion of protests in the southern Syrian town of Daraa.
So the piece covers the challenge to China’s “stability is good” political platform from an example that I think the Chinese government finds is uncomfortably close to home.
My takeaway is that “stability” has little attraction to people under authoritarian rule today. They want to be participants, not spectators; they want to share in the empowerment and the possibilities; in other words, they want instability. They don’t want to be ordered to sit on their hands and told they enjoy it.
The article also includes a go-round on the Libyan military intervention that puts me out of step with quite a few liberal commentators inside and outside of China.
I’m an anti-war type of the “military humanitarian intervention is to humanitarian intervention as military music is to music” stripe.
And by any objective measure, the decision-making involved in entering the war was ridiculous and dishonest, and the spin disgorged and absorbed is up to Iraq War standards.
I was listening to the radio and learned from a Politico correspondent that the Obama administration was briefing Congress that intervention was needed to forestall a massacre in Benghazi that might claim 50,000 to 100,000 lives.
That’s a bit of a stretch, since the most reliable count of deaths in the conflict to date is 2,000, including 500 Gaddafi men. Even the notoriously spin-happy rebels only claimed 8,000 deaths.
Today’s news is, for a confirmed cynic, the icing on the cake.
NATO is taking over the no-fly-zone, now that the Libyan air force, according to the British, “no longer exists”. Our brave allies, the UAE, can safely patrol the empty skies of Libya in the 12 shiny new jets that will arrive “in the coming days”. Qatar will also send 4 planes “over the weekend”.
There would seem to be precious little to occupy NATO. But it’s hunkering down for a 90-day operation.
Those who voted for the UN no-fly-zone resolution might be surprised to know it also authorized, at least in the eyes of France, a “no-drive-zone” that seems to extend beyond the “protect the civilians” mandate .
In the best fog o’ war tradition, it still isn’t completely clear if NATO unified command will be running the whole Libya show by taking over the no-fly-zone operations, or whether the French can still plunk ground targets whenever they feel like it.
Liberal interventionist cheerleaders like Juan Cole (who has taken to referring to the anti-Gaddafi elements as “liberation forces”) obviously have little clue about who or what the insurgents are, but don’t want to be on the wrong (Gaddafi) side of history and are hoping for the best.
If ignorance is bliss for Cole, who is a Middle East expert reasonably close to the scene, it must be absolute ecstasy for Chinese bloggers viewing events 9000 miles away through the lens of their ideals, hopes, and fantasies.
In my article, I note that two top liberal Chinese bloggers, Great River and Han Han are all-in on Libyan intervention. With direct criticism of the Chinese government off-limits, there’s the unavoidable (and I suspect intentional) implication that these preferences would extend to the Chinese scene in similar circumstances.
As a commenter on one of threads wrote, “After Libya, they can go after North Korea, and then…”
It’s up to the Chinese government to make the case that getting bombed by the French is not the gateway to democratic bliss. Wonder how they’ll do.
Han Han’s brief post concludes:
Friends ask my perspective. I say, my perspective is very simple. There are no “internal affairs” [i.e. internal activities protected from outside interference by notions of sovereignty—ed.] for tyrants, and butchers should be attacked and annihilated.
Yesterday by coincidence was the biggest moon in 19 years.
No matter who it is, no matter for what reason, destroy them in the name of the moon.
As I learned on a journey through the tubes of the Internet, “Destroy them in the name of the moon” is a reworking of the catchphrase of the Japanese anime heroine Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon is a hugely popular girl-power epic centered on a schoolgirl who finds out she is the incarnation of some moon bunny on a crusade to stamp out evil.
Take it away, Wikipedia:
The protagonist of Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino, an ordinary ditzy middle-school girl—or so she thinks—discovers a talking cat named Luna, who reveals Usagi’s identity as “Sailor Moon,” a special warrior with the destiny of saving the planet Earth, and later the entire galaxy. Usagi must now find the moon princess and protect Earth from a series of villains, beginning with the Dark Kingdom that had appeared once before, long ago, and destroyed the kingdom of the moon.
The characters in Sailor Moon awaken members of the court of the kingdom of the moon, and the people dedicated to protecting it; when the dark nemesis attacked the kingdom, the Queen sent the Moon Princess, her guardians and advisors, and her true love into the future to be reborn. As Usagi and Luna battle evil and search for the Moon Princess, they meet the other Sailor Senshi, incarnations of the Moon Princess’ protectors, and the mysterious Tuxedo Mask.
As the series progresses, Usagi and her friends learn more and more about the enemies they face and the evil force that directs them…
More and more and more…
Sailor Moon is a media juggernaut: 50 chapters of manga, 200 episodes of anime, live action film and stage musical depictions, 5000 items of licensed merch including video games, allegedly over 3 million fan sites. The anime conquered the Asian world (though it faltered in the U.S., supposedly because of weak promotion) and was very popular in China. The Sailor Moon vibe is apparently also an influence on Zack Snyder’s epic insane asylum/strip joint/video game/sword, sorcery, and mini-gun mash-up, Sucker Punch, which opens today.
When preparing to do battle with the “Monster of the Day” or some other villain, Sailor Moon strikes what the Wikipedia contributor characterizes as her “pre-battle taunt pose, an iconic symbol throughout the series” and declares, “In the name of the moon, I shall punish you!”
In the Chinese version, Sailor Moon’s schoolmarmish catchphrase became the more resounding, “我要代表月亮，消灭你们.”: “In the name of the moon, I shall destroy you!”
When Han Han invokes the phrase, he’s talking about the forces of righteousness inflicting heavenly justice on dictators.
I know you want to see Sailor Moon in her “iconic, pre-battle taunt pose”, so here it is, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Moon picture from waaytv.com