Dirty Work

Kristof, whom I do like, hasn’t thought this through. Let’s see if you can spot the mistake.

Normally, the Chinese government downplays security risks, but human rights groups argue persuasively that China is using concerns about Uighurs as an excuse to crack down on peaceful Uighur dissidents. After 9/11, China declared its own war on terror in Xinjiang, but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented that this often has targeted Uighurs who are completely nonviolent.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has largely backed this Chinese version of the war on terror. Indeed, a Department of Justice report this month suggests that American troops softened up Uighur prisoners in Guantánamo Bay on behalf of visiting Chinese interrogators. The American troops starved the Uighurs and prevented them from sleeping, just before inviting in the Chinese interrogators.

That was disgraceful; we shouldn’t do China’s dirty work. It was one more example of the Bush administration allowing the war on terror to corrode our moral clarity.

We should encourage China to tolerate peaceful protesters even as it prosecutes terrorists. But instead of clarifying that distinction, in recent years we have helped China blur it. The risk of terrorism during the Olympics is real, but that shouldn’t force us to do violence to our principles.

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