19 October 2010

Letter from Lhasa, number 207. (Ehrlichman 1986): The China card

Letter from Lhasa, number 207. (Ehrlichman 1986): The China card
by Roberto Abraham Scaruffi

Ehrlichman, J., The China card. A novel, Simon & Schuster, 1986.
(Ehrlichman 1986).
John Ehrlichman

John Ehrlichman (1925-1999) served in the Nixon administration and became a member of the inner circle of Nixon's closest advisors. Involved in the Watergate affair, he was convicted and served one year and one half in prison.

On 30 April 1973, Nixon fired Dean (the White House Counsel) and demanded the resignations of both Ehrlichman and Haldeman, what they did.

According to Wikipedia, in a 1981 interview, Ehrlichman defined Nixon as “a very pathetic figure in American history”. Nixon did not pardon him, so letting him in jail. His evaluation might have been only an expression of his rage.   

This book seems reporting a true story, although it be presented as a novel. Novels are the best way for reporting true events or for making inventions seem as truthful.

The gist of the book is that Chu En-Lai worked for making Nixon President and, at the same time, through an insider, not really a spy either a provocateur, although in some way conditioned from Beijing, for pushing Nixon toward the US opening to the PRC. What was useful in the clash against Lin Biao, made too strong from the Maoist coup d’État of the so-called Cultural Revolution, which was weakening the PRC while preserving, but also threatening in a different way, the Mao’s power. The Lin Biao family wanted to replace Mao.   

Although perhaps the author subtly wished to present President Nixon as either an idiot or a naïve manipulated from Beijing, he does not actually seem to have achieved this result.

Maoism had been largely a British and a US creation for liquidating their ally Nationalist China, one of the WWII winners. Nixon created the preliminary conditions for exploiting China, for co-opting it inside the US economic and military system. Chu En-Lai and Mao created the conditions for the PRC being exploited from the USA and for the US needs, obviously also with substantive Chinese advantage.   

Finally, this “great” Chu En-Lai trick seems just a typical idiotic Chinese way for complicating easy matters. Incapable or facing an objective impossibility of independent development, it was Chinese interest to be exploited from the USA just they had this need. The US recognition of the existence of only one China was probably not indispensable. Anyway, it was without practical consequences, since the USA guaranteed and are guaranteeing the Taiwanese independence front the PRC.     

If Nixon was manipulated, at least in the PRC’s intentions, that did not really altered his perceptions and his actions, either the US interests on the matter. If the Chinese tried to manipulated the USA, that only complicated an easy matter. The USA were anxious to nearly formally integrating the PRC inside they economic and military system. The PRC was anxious to prostitute itself to the USA. That such a big space tried also to become or to appear as really independent is equally absolutely normal. The PRC has structural weaknesses, which make it easily disintegrable. The economic and military antagonism between the USA and the PRC are just a theatrical show.

This book might be only a novel. It does not seem such.  

Ehrlichman, J., The China card. A novel, Simon & Schuster, 1986.