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Genocide Aside . . .

The Chinese national flag in Beijing, China, April 29, 2020 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

John Kerry, that most privileged of incompetents, is in the throes of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. The former secretary of state’s affinity for the Iranian regime and contempt for the state of Israel already has him in hot water. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that he chatted up the Iranian foreign minister about Israeli strikes on Iranian targets. Kerry has denied those charges, but Jim Geraghty finds reason to be skeptical of that denial.

In any case, there’s no denying what Kerry had to say about China in a recent interview with Foreign Policy:

China doesn’t benefit by not having America as a partner in dealing with climate. And the United States doesn’t benefit from not having China as a partner in climate. So we’re just disciplined. We have differences on economic rules, on cyber. We have other differences on human rights, geostrategic interests, but those differences do not have to get in the way of something that is as critical as dealing with climate.

“Differences on human rights” is quite the euphemism for the genocide the Chinese government is committing in Xinjiang, and “differences on geostrategic interests” is quite the way to describe its designs on Taiwan. Kerry’s rhetoric fails to bring the moral valence demanded by the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the table; it also reflects his unmatched naiveté.

As Jimmy Quinn has explained, the climate agreement Kerry has negotiated with the Chinese is about appearances, not emissions reductions. And as I’ve explained, the character of the Chinese regime is inseparable from its motivations and behaviors as it pertains to particular issues. That means that you cannot, as John Kerry proposes, say “Genocide aside, we can work with the CCP on climate issues.”

The consequences of doing so will be felt in the limited progress we’ll make on discrete issues such as the environment, and in the propaganda victories we’ll hand to the Chinese along the way. “Genocide aside . . .” is not only an indefensible embarrassment in the abstract, it’s a disastrous strategic mistake in the concrete.

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