World Politics: The Right Way


What is politics? One can find the definition in any dictionary or encyclopedia, but there are many individual interpretations based on a person’s own experiences and understanding. Here is an example.

Back in the 1940s, Chairman Mao Zedong of the Communist Party of China had once raised the same question to Hu Yaobang, a young revolutionary and one of Mao’s disciples. Hu expressed his understanding of the word, but the chairman was not quite satisfied with Hu’s answer.

“Your cognition on this matter is not profound enough,” Mao told Hu, who later became the Party chief. “What is politics? Try to increase your supporters and reduce your opposition. That’s politics,” Mao concluded.

Mao’s interpretation, simple and thought-provoking, is still meaningful nowadays. Politics, domestic and international alike, may be a profound science. But it can be understood as simple as a matter of dealing with the relations between friends, partners and enemies.

My view on pursuing successful politics is to try to make more friends, allies and partners—-the more, the better. At the same time, try to minimize your enemies—-the fewer, the better. The principle is also suitable for military science, which is a special form of politics. In the most ideal case, a political entity is capable of establishing a united front, which consists of its allies and neutral forces that make up 95 percent of the population. Its opponents should account for no more than 5 percent.

With this standard, we find at least two vital mistakes in current U.S. anti-terror politics and the war that the Bush administration has been undertaking.

First, Washington should concentrate its efforts on the terrorists who attacked the United States and carry out the war against the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda to the end. It was a strategic error for the Bush administration to shift its focus to Iraq one year ago. By simultaneously conducting two wars that were not necessarily related, Bush violated a military taboo. One foe at one time is always the wise choice for any fighting group—-from street gangsters, guerilla detachments to elite troops like the 101st Airborne Division. As many point out, it’s an undeniable fact that by shifting their focus to Baghdad, the White House and Pentagon had done Al Qaeda a favor. The terrorists and their allies were given time to regroup.

Today’s anti-terror situation cries out for a broad united front based on wise global politics—making more friends and fewer foes

The majority of people around the world still can’t fathom the vindication for invading Iraq. It is not invidious to describe the military operation in Iraq as an unnecessary war. Saddam Hussein was nothing but a “turtle in a jar,” who could be caught any time. Now he is a prisoner facing severe punishment, but the world remains unsafe, if we take the recent Madrid bombings into account. Where is the real victory? Washington’s actual record is one of bungling the chance of winning a thorough victory in Afghanistan and of the growing paranoia of weapons of mass destruction.

The second mistake, probably the bigger one, is that the Bush administration seems to have more enemies in the Middle East and fewer friends worldwide, especially in Europe, since initiating the Iraq war. Unilateralism is to some extent another form of isolationism, which always leads to some kind of failure in the political arena. In China, even the kids know an ancient motto: “A just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust one finds little support.” We may comprehend the proverb in another way: When you get less support, you’ve got to be careful. It might be a signal that there is something wrong with the campaign you are promoting.

Well, there is no doubt about the justice of combating terrorism. The only question is how. A major reason behind these two mistakes lies in the fact that the Bush administration has a tendency to worship weapons. Yes, today’s weaponry evolves rapidly and sophistication increases exponentially. Modern science makes militarism increasingly untenable for countries and groups that America regards as hostile regimes. But, as we have witnessed, war with hi-tech ammunition is obviously not the answer. Tomahawk missiles may not bring about an utter triumph, but a united front will.

It is imperative for the healthy forces around the world to forge a strong and broad united front. Such a front should not only include the so-called coalition nations, but more importantly those countries and organizations which in one way or another disagree with Washington. The U.S. leading group should learn to use political finesse, such as compromise among allies, to reach its goal. As the world’s sole superpower, the United States is supposed to play a key role in this front, while allowing the UN to take the lead. Terrorism is the cancer of human society. It should be tackled with the participation of all the members of the world community. No other country or organization can play the leading role except the UN. No country should be left outside this effort.

Theoretically and practically, it is possible to support the fight against terrorism wholeheartedly and still oppose a political party or figure that embraces the same cause. We have seen this happen in Spain. If we believe that the united front is our best weapon to win the final victory, then we don’t have to care who is in office and who is out. Mr. Bush has failed to set up such a front, but he still has a chance to make up. If Washington is not smart enough to contribute to the correction of the abovementioned strength-sapping defects, then the superpower has a long-term problem of progressive anemia from which no weapons, however smart, can protect it.