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Mattis wants Biden to cease Trump’s ‘America First’ policy

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Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis wrote a Monday op-ed in Foreign Affairs in which he urges President-elect Joe Biden to ditch President Donald Trump‘s “America First” policy when it comes to his national security plan, saying that “the world is not getting safer, for the United States or for U.S. interests.”

Mattis, who resigned from the Trump administration in December 2018 over policy disagreements with the president about Syria, wrote the op-ed alongside Jim Ellis, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Joe Felter, a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

This op-ed comes as Biden recently began appointing national security and foreign policy officials for his administration. Some of these include his longtime advisor Antony Blinken for secretary of state, lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas for homeland security secretary, diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and the State Department’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.

“In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades,” the group wrote. “The best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances – both necessary to achieving defense in depth.”

The four also heavily emphasized that they think that the United States is presently “undermining the foundations of an international order manifestly advantageous to U.S. interests, reflecting a basic ignorance of the extent to which both robust alliances and international institutions provide vital strategic depth.”

“In practice, ‘America first’ has meant ‘America alone,'” they added. “That has damaged the country’s ability to address problems before they reach U.S. territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose.”

They then slammed advocates of Trump’s foreign policy, writing that these people “seem to believe that other countries will have no choice but to accede to the United States’ wishes and cooperate on its terms,” then saying that this outlook “is delusion.”

“Sovereign countries always have choices: to compromise with aggressors, take actions opposed to U.S. interests, opt out of assistance when the United States needs it, or cooperate with one another on activities from which the United States is excluded,” they continued. “Assuming otherwise has the result of emboldening adversaries and encouraging tests of the strength of U.S. commitments.”

“Not even the United States is strong enough to protect itself on its own,” they added. “Cooperating with like-minded nations to sustain an international order of mutual security and prosperity is a cost-effective way of securing that help.”

The op-ed then touched on the prolonged conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places, deriding both Trump’s and Biden’s view that these conflicts ought to come to an end.

“To dismiss U.S. involvement today in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere as ‘endless’ or ‘forever’ wars—as both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden do—rather than as support to friendly governments struggling to exert control over their own territory misses the point,” they said. “It is in the United States’ interests to build the capacity of such governments to deal with the threats that concern Americans; that work isn’t quick or linear, but it is an investment in both greater security and stronger relationships and preferable to the United States’ indefinitely having to take care of threats on its own.”

Their attention then turned to China, whom they view as the United States’ biggest threat externally.

“The principal external threat the United States faces today is an aggressive and revisionist China—the only challenger that could potentially undermine the American way of life,” the four wrote.

“The United States’ goal, however, should not only be to deter great-power war but to seek great-power peace and cooperation in advancing shared interests,” they continued. “For that, the United States’ alliances and partnerships are especially crucial.”

On top of that, “not even the United States is strong enough to protect itself on its own,” they warned.

“Crucially, the United States should not press countries to choose outright between the two powers,” they added.  “A ‘with us or against us’ approach plays to China’s advantage because the economic prosperity of U.S. allies and partners hinges on strong trade and investment relationships with Beijing.”

Concluding their op-ed, the four wrote that they hope President-elect Biden and his national security team will set a new, “cooperative” course for U.S. foreign policy when he takes office, saying, “we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades.”

They then added that “the best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances—both necessary to achieving defense in depth. The pandemic should serve as a reminder of what grief ensues when we wait for problems to come to us.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China shutterstock 1376982239

China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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