US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — In the past two months, anti-Chinese rhetoric in the United States has become noticeably tougher and more aggressive. Phrases such as “Chinese virus,” “Beijing must pay for a pandemic,” “China’s interference in internal affairs,” are increasingly heard from leading American politicians. Some experts call these statements xenophobic, others do not see anything bad in them, and still others say that all this will end soon.
However, history warns of the dangers of this course. The combination of two factors makes it such: the public shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the desire of Republicans and Democrats to use anti-Chinese rhetoric for short-term political benefits. As recent events show, shock and an active search for external enemies lead to long-term negative consequences for US foreign policy.
By creating a dominant national idea that demonizes international rivals, the United States tends to miss an important opportunity to collaborate with enemies and become embroiled in a costly crusade abroad of little national security value. Without a course correction, this could be where the United States is moving in its policy toward China, The National Interest believes.
US policy during the Cold War showed well all the disadvantages of this course. At the beginning of 1946, public exposures of Soviet Union espionage in North America, combined with a series of aggressive moves by Moscow in Iran and Manchuria, shocked the American public, causing many American citizens to be shocked by the political course of their ally in World War II.
With the midterm elections approaching, Republicans saw in public shock a great political opportunity for themselves. They began to claim that the Soviet Union was preparing to attack America, as well as criticizing Democratic President Harry Truman for collaborating with “Red Fascism.” Concerned about being called “Stalin’s friend,” Truman instructed Secretary of State James Burns to deliver a tough anti-communist speech.
In the following months, anti-Soviet rhetoric in America only intensified, and real hysteria began in society. Republicans, as a result, for the first time since 1932 gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and Truman came up with the initiative to “clear the government of the Communists.”
Conducted for short-term gain (administration officials admitted that Truman switched to tough anti-communist rhetoric solely because of “political pressure” that could affect his election campaign in 1948) had negative long-term consequences. As relations with the USSR worsened in the late 1940s, anti-communism became entrenched in the minds of American society as a political norm.
Meanwhile, the anti-communist narrative throughout the Cold War has led to two dangerous political consequences for the United States. First, inside the country, he delegitimized work with any communist regime, which prevented American leaders from reaching useful agreements for cooperation with strategic rivals for Washington.
Secondly, American politicians clashed with each other (especially during the election campaign) to get the title of “the most uncompromising anti-communist”, as a result of which they pushed themselves into the trap of an aggressive and costly foreign policy.
Today, the United States is facing a “1946 situation” in relations with China. Like 74 years ago, harsh anti-Chinese rhetoric is used by politicians of both parties to get extra points in the campaign that has begun. The ability to gain short-term political benefits overshadows all the long-term negative consequences (political and economic) for America.
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