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October 2018

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Daniel Larison on “Trump’s Nuclear Arms Race”

Trump just threatened to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal:

President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that the United States would increase its nuclear arsenal until other nations “come to their senses,” threatening an arms race days after he said he would withdraw the US from a Cold War nuclear treaty.

“Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said from outside the White House.

The U.S. doesn’t need to build more nuclear weapons, and increasing the arsenal will not make America or the world the slightest bit safer. On the contrary, a new nuclear arms buildup would cause other nuclear weapons powers to increase their own arsenals. Building more nukes would be extremely expensive, and it would make the world less secure by heightening international tensions, casting aside decades of arms control and arms reduction work, and encouraging more states to develop nuclear weapons for their own protection. This wouldn’t cause other governments to “come to their senses,” but it would show the world that our government has completely lost its own.

Trump seems to think that other states will be intimidated by a new buildup of nuclear weapons, but it is much more likely that they will be terrified into responding in kind. There is no way that the U.S. will be able to make any progress with North Korea if our government is simultaneously developing new kinds of nuclear weapons and increasing the number of weapons that it possesses. Other would-be proliferators may take this as a cue to pursue their own weapons programs. If reneging on the JCPOA was a body blow to the cause of nonproliferation, a new arms race could prove to be a fatal blow.

The cost of what Trump is proposing would be exorbitant at a time when the U.S. already spends far too much on the military. There could nothing more senseless and gratuitously militaristic than expanding a nuclear arsenal for its own sake. The U.S. needs to be be building on the successes of existing arms control agreements to get the world’s largest nuclear weapons states to cut back on their arsenals. It won’t be able to do that if it is throwing countless billions of dollars down a black hole of wasteful spending on new weapons that the U.S. doesn’t need.

Source:The American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/trumps-nuclear-arms-race/

Nick Taber on “The Worst Totalitarian Since Mao”

This summer, a UN panel received reports of a human rights crisis unfolding in China’s far western Xinjiang province. The information showed that as many as two million people had been subjected to an intense political indoctrination and reeducation program. The backlash has largely focused on the ethno-religious nature of this crisis. Pakistan, China’s closest and most economically dependent ally, has asked China to ease restrictions on Muslims, and Uighurs (the ethnic minority group targeted) living in America are beginning to condemn China’s human rights abuses.

But over-interpreting the religious aspect of the crackdown distracts from the true nature of repression in China. The crisis in Xinjiang should be interpreted more as an assault on basic freedoms and the expansion of a totalitarian tyranny than an expression of ethnic superiority. To be sure, this is nothing less than a cultural genocide. But as far as we know, the Chinese government is not Sinicizing this group simply because they are Muslim or ethnically Turkic. It is doing so because they are a perceived threat to the power of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Intense repression has been rapidly growing throughout the country, cementing the power of the CCP in all corners of society. Indeed, the human rights abuses in Xinjiang are strikingly similar to what’s been happening elsewhere in China since Xi assumed office. Human rights reports of Xinjiang describe mass political indoctrination, the creation of a digital police state, arbitrary detention, and pervasive controls over daily life. Let’s look at each of those components individually.

Indoctrination: Mass political indoctrination is the central purpose of the reeducation camps established in Xinjiang. Elsewhere in the country, however, the Chinese government has instituted a wide variety of indoctrination programs, with the explicit goal of expanding the CCP’s control over people’s minds. This includes overhauling all of China’s major educational institutions, increasing the ideological content of all media, and controlling the spread of foreign ideas and influences within the country.

During a speech given at a Beijing kindergarten in 2015, President Xi Jinping outlined his vision of party control over education, saying, “Children should memorize the core socialist values by heart, have them melt in their hearts, and carve them into their brains.” The CCP plans to overhaul the nation’s university system to turn it into an ideological education machine. Students will undergo a hefty political indoctrination program all the way through university. Chinese professors will be forced to teach CCP propaganda. According to recent government plans, university faculty will be judged foremost by their “ideological and political performance.”

And while indoctrination and reeducation programs outside of Xinjiang do not have the same force and severity as those within the province, they are nonetheless very invasive, and are a core component of the country’s move towards totalitarianism.

Full commentary by Nick Taber @ The American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-worst-totalitarian-since-mao/