Foreigners have been buying off – or at least renting – America’s ruling class probably since the republic was founded.
In modern times, Saudis, Japanese, South Koreans and Israelis – to name a few – have all managed to purchase influence. One might shrug it off as just the way things work.
But suppose a country helps pour illicit drugs into America that kill tens of thousands of Americans a year. And suppose American elites do absolutely nothing about it?
Now THAT is influence. The country? The People’s Republic of China.
The numbers are staggering. In 2017, 28,000 Americans died of overdoses involving the synthetic drug fentanyl, nearly all of it originating in the PRC.
In a 2018 meeting with President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to restrict all fentanyl-like substances. Trump declared this a “gamechanger.” Not surprisingly, the drugs kept arriving in America.
In 2019, over 37,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses. That’s nearly five times the number of American troops killed in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Covid-19 lockdowns have helped bump up the death totals. In the state of Georgia, fentanyl deaths have increased by 60% since March 2020.
Yet, even as the death toll mounts US business and financial titans never mention it. The think tanks are mostly silent. Academia? Can’t be bothered. And on Capitol Hill there’s bold talk about taking on the PRC, but when it comes to fentanyl one hears little.
Even the Trump administration – the firmest yet in standing up to China – has not made much of the fentanyl issue, though Trump has raised it directly with Xi.
Until recently, the US media too often downplayed or ignored the fentanyl bloodbath, seemingly afraid to mention the C word, China. American elites make plenty of excuses for why the Chinese government can’t (or, better said, won’t) stop the illicit drug flow.
Some claim Chinese local governments, supposedly outside of Beijing’s reach, are to blame. The locals, it’s said, won’t stop fentanyl production since they want tax revenues and employment – and are also thoroughly corrupt.
True enough. But local officials are also frightened of being caught crossing Beijing. Thus, one could readily conclude that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership has no objections.
Others explain that the PRC government is in a legal bind as fentanyl producers keep jiggering the formula to avoid the “illegal list” and therefore the producers are always one step ahead of a government that can’t revise laws fast enough, try as it might.
A nice excuse, but In China the law is what Xi and the Communist Party say it is, as even billionaire Jack Ma just discovered the hard way. If they want to shut down fentanyl producers the law is no obstacle. (It would be an obstacle in the United States.)
The fact the PRC doesn’t ban fentanyl in its entirety – much less go after producers the way it goes after Uighurs, Christians and Falun Gong, or Hong Kongers – once again suggests the CCP is glad America is awash in fentanyl.
But maybe the Chinese cops have a different approach to policing that ties their hands? Not quite. The PRC police can do whatever they want. “Disappear” people, arrest starlets, kidnap billionaires and booksellers? No problem. The only restraints come from Zhongnanhai – the very top of the CCP.
The biggest whopper of all is the claim that Chinese authorities can’t locate the illegal drug producers. China is a big place, you know.
But, of course, the CCP is creating a surveillance state that even George Orwell couldn’t have imagined. Deface a poster of President Xi and see how long it takes to be arrested and imprisoned.
Post on social media that Xi resembles Winnie the Pooh and you’ll have Ministry of State Security agents at your front door in minutes.
Shifting the blame, PRC officials claim it’s the Americans who deserve blame for the United States’ drug problem; they need to stop taking drugs in the first place. But pimps and drug pushers have been using this excuse for years – “just giving customers what they want.”
Admittedly, human nature is what it is. But that’s why civilized societies punish the providers of dangerous substances and services and don’t just sanction users for their irresponsible behavior.
In some quarters there is also a tendency to excuse Chinese non-cooperation as payback for the Opium Wars of the 19th Century.
Payback? The Opium Wars were 180 years ago. This is nothing more than an arsonist gloating while watching the fire trucks and ambulances heading to his latest fire to pick up the corpses. And it is no accident the fire is at the arsonist’s hated neighbor’s house
The carnage can’t be overstated. Fentanyl is ravaging all parts of American society – even in good neighborhoods. And about half of the deaths attributed to fentanyl are young people of military age.
As one former US government official notes, this is the equivalent of removing two or three divisions of Army or Marines off the rolls every year. And don’t forget the “battlefield casualties” who survive but can’t function as productive members of society, and the burden and expense of caring for them.
One hears elites who should know better say the victims are just “druggies” and wouldn’t have joined the military anyway. That’s malicious and wrong. Young people have been misbehaving for centuries, and that includes many who join the US military. But a six-pack or a joint is one thing; a concoction that kills or permanently disables, quite another.
From China’s perspective, what’s not to like? You’re weakening your avowed enemy, which you plan to dominate by mid-century. And even better, the PRC makes a lot of money from the drug trade – in convertible currency, for that matter. Buy fentanyl and you pay in dollars.
But while China is ultimately to blame, it is America’s own ruling class that refuses to do anything about it for fear of offending China. However, track it all back and you’ll find Chinese money far more often than not.
Maybe overlooking 37,000 dead countrymen in exchange for Chinese cash is easier when you think it’s just deplorables in fly-over country who are dying.
It can’t be helped if these people were too stupid and lazy to “learn coding” when their jobs, livelihoods and communities were shipped overseas – mostly to China – by America’s political and business classes from 1990 onwards.
Message to the President-elect: You have sworn to protect American citizens, not to ensure Wall Street and US industry can take advantage of Xi’s umpteenth promise to “open up.”
So do one – or more – of the following:
- Suspend all Chinese financial institutions from the US dollar network. Start with the People’s Bank of China.
- Immediately de-list every Chinese company from the New York Stock Exchange and other exchanges. They should not have been listed in the first place.
- Revoke the green cards and visas and place liens on the properties and bank accounts of the top 500 CCP members’ relatives in the US.
China can stop pushing drugs into America. It just needs a reason to do so.
But watching America’s elites doing nothing, and many of them calling for unrestricted engagement with the PRC, one concludes that the Chinese have indeed gotten their money’s worth from America’s ruling class.
Grant Newsham, a retired US Marine Corps officer, former US diplomat and former Tokyo security chief for a major global investment bank, currently is a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and the Center for Security Policy. This article was first published by And Magazine and is republished with permission.