On May 29, 1453 the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. The Byzantine Empire, the last remaining piece of a 1500 year old Roman Empire, ceased to exist. Christendom itself was imperiled, and the tide of Ottoman expansion would ultimately wash up at the gates of Vienna, Austria before it began to recede. Western Europe as we know it would come perilously close to extinction.
The Ottoman troops that swarmed into Constantinople that day did so through breaches smashed in the city walls by massive cannon designed and built by a Christian Hungarian named Orban. Orban was a master weapons designer and one of the few men on the planet with the technical skills to construct the huge artillery pieces required to demolish Constantinople’s famous defenses. Orban worked for the Muslim Sultan, for one simple reason: greed. The Turks paid more than the Greeks.
Orban is long dead. It has been almost six hundred years, since Constantinople fell. Still, some things never change. There are still men willing to sell their nations and their souls to the highest bidder.
Our Trade War With China
We are locked in a trade war with Communist China. At stake is nothing less than the economic survival of this nation. Yet, even now as we face head on the consequences of decades of failed policy, which have hollowed out our industrial base and empowered a brutal, hostile Communist regime, we find no shortage of Americans who will put profit and personal gain ahead of the interests of their nation.
In Hong Kong protestors are risking their lives in an effort to stand up to Communist oppression and preserve their democratic rights. Giant American companies like Nike, so quick to embrace trendy social causes at home when they enhance sales, say nothing, terrified that they may lose “market share” in the People’s Republic.
Google, which walked away from U.S. Department of Defense work over concerns that its products would somehow be used for nefarious purposes is regularly found to be assisting the Chinese government in its efforts to oppress its citizens. Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has found it necessary to point out publicly that Google is helping the Chinese military at the expense of American national security.
U.S. Federal Retirement Thrift Board To Invest In China?
Yet, now, somehow, it appears we have hit a new low. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), based on a decision made in 2017, intends to shortly begin to invest the savings of American federal government employees and retirees in China. In effect, the FRTIB has decided to inject literally billions of dollars into the Chinese economy in the midst of an economic confrontation with that nation and just as President Trump’s tariffs are beginning to have a major impact on the Chinese economy.
On Capitol Hill the action has been regarded as so outrageous that is has provoked opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., sent a letter Monday to Michael Kennedy, chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, asking the agency to reverse its decision:
“The FRTIB’s decision to track this [new] index constitutes a decision to invest in China-based companies, including many firms that are involved in the Chinese government’s military, espionage, human rights abuses and ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy, and therefore poses fundamental questions about the board’s statutory and fiduciary responsibilities to American public servants who invest in federal retirement plans,” the senators wrote.
The lawmakers went on to note that many of the companies in whom the FRTIB now intended to invest build weapons systems for the Chinese military as well as surveillance cameras used to monitor Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, and that some of the companies in question are actually barred from doing business in the United States and are targeted by U.S. sanctions.
The FRTIB administers the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is an investment and retirement fund for federal employees, including members of the armed services and the intelligence community. The $50 billion that the FRTIB is now talking about pumping into the economy of a nation that constitutes probably the single biggest threat to American national security came directly out of the paychecks of American servicemen, American intelligence officers and American civil servants.
U.S. Economic Engagement With China Did Not Lead to Evolution Of The Communist State
When we started down the road of economic engagement with the Chinese we justified that move on the basis that engagement and interaction would lead inevitably to liberalization and change inside China. Surely, capitalism would mean an inevitable evolution in the Chinese Communist regime and greater freedom for Chinese citizens. That idea, assuming it was ever more than a convenient excuse to gain access to cheap labor and escape domestic laws and regulations, has proven false.
The Communist Chinese regime in Beijing is not weaker. It is stronger. It is not more flexible or liberal. It is ever more efficient at oppressing its own people and holding its grip on power. The Chinese Communists went into this era of economic engagement seeking to avoid the fate of the Soviet Union and remain in power. They have gotten just what they wanted, and a great many Americans have helped them do so.
Orban is dead. His spirit lives on. Let’s hope it’s not the walls of this “shining city upon a hill” that are breached next.