Twofish's Blog

February 5, 2007

Corruption of blood

Filed under: academia, africa, china, finance — twofish @ 10:00 am

There is a medieval concept known as “corruption of blood.”  If you were convicted of the crime of treason in medieval England, your property would be seized by the king which would punish your children and relatives.  This idea of corruption of blood is explicitly banned by the US Constitution.

Yet Sebastian Mallaby is complaining that China is doing business in Sudan, and the argument against this I’d argue is similar to arguments for corruption of blood.  If you want to punish genocide, I think you ought to punish the people that commit genocide.  Punishing an entire nation by withholding economic trade seems to be morally problematic, and at the same time, I don’t think it is going to do anything useful in the end

Also Mallaby complains that Chinese aid to Sudan is undermining Western concepts of developmental aid.  I think he is correct, but let me ask him to name *one* country that has become prosperous through Western concepts of aid.   I can’t think of any.  Every country I can think of that has become reasonably prosperous had done so through trade and not developmental aid.  Talking about Western concepts of aid, as if they are correct is laughable given what we have seen in Iraq or even Burma.  It also has a very condescending notion of world affairs, as if the West is intelligent, and the opinions of the rest of the world really don’t matter.

There are some difficult issues with respect to Sudan, and I don’t want to make light of what is happening in Darfur.   I don’t think it is a bad thing to question the morality and effectiveness of any foreign policy, I do think it is a bad thing to automatically assume the correctness of any policy, rather than to recognize that things are complex.  If you want to come up with an argument that says that China ought not to invest in China, you really need to come up with something stronger than it undermines Western policy.  So what?  The fact that it undermines Western policy is not going to convince China, nor would I argue should it convince someone else.

You can really come up with a more effective argument that would probably get the Chinese government to rethink their actions in  Sudan if you draw a historical analogy with the  US oil and steel embargo of the Japanese in the 1930’s for actions in China.


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