Friday, November 19, 2021

China enlists the Flying Tigers against us

When I discovered that the Flying Tigers are better known in China than in the United States, I realized that the People's Republic had set about to use Claire Chennault, the American Volunteer Group, and the US Army squadrons that followed it as propaganda to bring the United States around to its way of thinking. November brought a great escalation in this campaign First up was the government's English-language China Daily and its "Edgar Snow Newsroom. (Snow was one of Communism's "useful idiots" in the 1930s: an American who wrote Red Star Over China as a whitewash of Mao Zedong and the People's Liberation Army: "Chinese communism," he assured us, "... might more accurately be called rural egalitarianism." Walter Duranty meanwhile was providing the same service for Stalin in the New York Times.)

The newsroom's mouthpiece is Ian Goodrum, a Texan who in 2016 joined the Communist Party USA (yes, it still exists) and soon got a job in China. On the air, he's very effective and nowhere as shrill as he is in his writings. On his Veteran's Day broadcast, he made the usual switch of airbrushing Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist regime out of history, as if Chennault had come to China on behalf of Mao Zedong. The Old Man of course was an anti-communist to the bone, who wrote of his first meeting with Chiang's wife: "Granted an interview by Her Excellency ... who will hereafter be 'The Princess' to me." He was as good as his word, and during the Civil War his paramilitary airline not only supported the Nationalists but eventually fled with them to Taiwan and supported US troops during the Korean War.

You can see the interview here -- and how sweetly reasonable it is! We meet Bill Peterson, a B-24 gunner in the 14th Air Force, who happily agrees that what we must do is restore American and Chinese cooperation to where it was in the good old days of the Second World War. Next up is no less than a Chennault granddaughter from his first marriage: Nell Callloway, president of the Chennault Aviation Museum in the Old Man's home town of Monroe, Louisiana. And finally there's Larry Jobe of the Flying Tigers Historical Organization, who like the others pleads for Americans to understand and love China.

There was a reprise a few days later, following the virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. Mr. Peterson was reinforced this time by Cynthia Chennault, the Old Man's daughter from his marriage to the formidable and anti-communist Anna Chan. Prof. Chennault (she taught Chinese history at the University of Florida) hoped that "Americans and Chinese will not be blocked by past failures, but together open new paths of collaboration for the world's well-being." And who can argue with that? The Associated Press story ran in full on the Washington Post and many other American newspapers, and even the supposedly right-wing Fox News fell for it.

While this perfumed breeze wafts from Beijing, of course, Xi Jinping militarizes his artificial islands in the South China Sea, flies a hypersonic missile around the globe, crushes Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang, steals American and European technology, beats the war drums over Taiwan, and elevates himself to leader-for-life with the goal of making China the world's premier military power and the model for how other countries should govern themselves. I don't think that Mr Peterson, Mr Jobe,  Ms. Calloway, and Prof Chennault would be at all happy with how that works out. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford


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