Shilling for Bill at Stanford

By Lewis J. Goldberg
web posted January 3, 2000

In the Tuesday, December 21st edition of the LA Times there was an article by Robert Scheer called The China Spy Scandal That Never Was. Apparently Mr. Scheer read the executive summary of the 104-page document and from that determined that the Cox Report was all politics and baloney. Now, it is certainly suspect when politicians put out a report critical of policies and provisions maintained by a president of the opposing party, but in this case the report states that the suspected espionage by the Communist Chinese government goes back 20 years...yes, even unto the days of Reagan. So, when one part of the government issues a report against another, it is certainly suspect, but when a report is issued saying, "Hey, we're all missing something here," it gains greater credibility.

From the document: "Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) has been involved in the study of the international role of nuclear weapons, nuclear arms control, the role of export controls on high technology items in national security, and the politics and external policy of China for a number of years," though they can't seem to recall how many. It was written by Alastair Iain Johnston, W. K. H. Panofsky, Marco Di Capua, and Lewis R. Franklin, with editing by Michael M. May. All of these gentlemen claim special knowledge of Chinese and nuclear politics. Though Mr. May admits in the introduction that much of what their document is critical of may be justified in the classified material not in the redacted version of the Cox Report, the Stanford report was published anyway. One has to wonder why. Mr. May begs that "whether we are right or wrong in our disagreements with the report, we hope that the following analyses contribute in a positive way to the ongoing debate on these important matters." So, thorough and rigorous research at a prestigious university has now slumped to the level of throwing blind accusations to the wall and seeing what will stick?

One has to only read CISAC's mission statement to see that national security and protection of America's interests are not what they are all about. This body was formed to espouse pacifism and disarmament, not to ensure the security and superiority of America's arsenal of peace. Conservative values and patriotism typically get short shrift at the universities, and this program is no different. Academicians represent a horrible conflict of interest as they strive to get published to ensure their tenure. Conservative thought (what works) does not get published, since it is not new. Only liberal ideology (what hasn't worked yet, but is hoped that it might) is published and taught...or researched. Since the Cox Report does implicate the current occupant of the White House more than his predecessors, are we to believe that a research body that feeds at the trough of liberal excess (and no doubt requires Executive cooperation to conduct its operations) is going to agree that its principle benefactor gave a 'wink and a nod' to foreign espionage of nuclear secrets?

In reading the Stanford report, its inconsistencies and inaccuracies become obvious immediately. The criticism of the Cox Report begins with degrading its introduction for establishing "an interpretative lens through which to view the details of PRC activities with respect to the acquisition of nuclear, missile, and high-speed computer technology" and to "cast these activities in the worst possible light—that they are all aimed at modernizing the People's Liberation Army (PLA) so as to challenge U.S. interests, and that this policy reflects the basic preferences of top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders." This would only be shocking to one who thinks that theft of nuclear, missile, and high-speed computer technology can be cast in a positive light and that such
theft may be viewed favorably for helping to modernize the PLA.

The Stanford report goes to great lengths to discredit the Congressional team's understanding of the PRC political process, as if their findings would be meritless because they didn't acknowledge every instance of interagency rivalry, bargaining, and logrolling that occurs to make something happen in the PRC machine. No one on the Stanford team claimed to have been a PRC insider, so one would have to assume that their knowledge of PRC politics is derived from unnamed Chinese sources, which may or may not be credible. Indeed, there are instances in their report in which Chinese published sources are used to contradict the Cox Report. Stanford cites misquotes in the Cox Report's argument that China's economic expansion has been used to fund the PLA's expansion, as if to discredit the whole idea. One need only have applied the research technique of watching "60 Minutes" to know that China does just that. The funding of the PLA through sales of most of what you find in your local Wal-Mart or K-Mart has never been seriously disputed.

The worst that can be said about the Cox Report is that it is as poorly constructed as Stanford's analysis of it. As liberals are prone to do, they attack the form of the statement when they lack substantive opposition to it. In academic circles, style and technique trump truth and justice every time. The purpose of the Cox Report was to alert the administration to deficiencies in our national security that can potentially affect every American while the purpose of the Stanford analysis is to discredit a bi-partisan commission working to secure peace in the world. To err on the side of caution is more laudable than delivering a 104-page "so what" in the style we are so accustomed to hearing from the Clinton administration.

Lewis J. Goldberg is web master of PlanetGoldberg and a contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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