Thursday, February 16, 2006

In Support of the U.S. Government's Search Engine Policies in China

[I wrote the below in response to comments others wrote on condemning U.S. policymakers' proposed stance towards search engine censorship in China. The tone is directed to those posters, not you who are reading this now on my blog.]

To my fellow SEM/SEO colleagues who seem to have so clearly grasped the essence of the China search engine policy debate,

You may know link strategy and meta-tagging, but you don't seem to know how to put together a valid argument - hence the name-calling, assumptive tone you take in dismissing US Govt proposed legislation in this area. Allow me, therefore, to disabuse you of your own blatant arrogance, pompous attitude and hypocritical comments, for that is what they are.

1)Acknowledge that the Cold War was won because of the U.S. taking a hard line against the Soviet Union. We forced them into an arms race and economic race that they could not win and which bankrupted the country.

2)Acknowledge that at no point did America ever make compromises in its foreign policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Acknowledge that this consistent show of principles - followed by consistent actions mirroring our principles - is what won the Cold War.

3)Now, admit that Russia - after an expected period of post-Communist turmoil - is finally & clearly starting to enjoy the economic renaissance that goes with capitalism and private property. Please do not expose yourself as a lunatic by saying that people in the former Soviet republics would have been better off had the U.S. not shown steadfast adherence to its democratic principles during the Cold War.

4)Assuming your left-leaning ideology & sparse political education as youths have not blinded you to self-evident geopolitical realities such as those described above, now consider that the U.S. is in the midst of a massive outsourcing of production to China. Otherwise said, the Chinese communist government has been able to improve the lot of its citizens NOT by giving them political freedoms we enjoy in the West, but rather by taking advantage of our free-market economies to supply goods at lower cost. Simply, the U.S. desire for material goods has led us to artificially prop up a communist govt that would otherwise have *more* impetus to democratize than it has had to date.
Following me?

5)In that context it becomes very clear why the U.S. govt is interested in obliging U.S. search engines to align their China censorship position with long-term U.S. policy goals, and, I hope, it's evident even to you who love to jump on the anti-U.S. bandwagon that your vapid arguments have no basis in modern geopolitics. Of course, you could argue that U.S. policy goals are not necessarily the goals of the rest of the world, but you would be wrong. The beauty of American foreign policy is that it is well-aligned with the economic and political uplift of people in all countries, not just the U.S., for free people and open societies make for stronger economies and thus stronger U.S. business partners.

The principled American policy of encouraging democracy overseas is sound, and one needs only consider the Chinese or Russian alternatives to conclude that Google, Yahoo and other U.S. search engines who have caved to the communist Chinese govt are doing the world a disservice in the long-term, an oversight for which lovers of individual freedom, democracy and free-market capitalism would do well to speak up against.


Blogger w1 said...

I'm completely unaware of what the folks at threadwatch are discussing. I will merely make 2 points:
- America did make many compromises during the cold war. At the very minimum the US supported dictatorships around the world if it helped them create a "bulwark against expanding communism". Pakistan readily comes to mind. Now you could argue that you did not compromise the anti-communism position, but this was very far from a pro-democracy position.
- America continues to support anti-democratic regimes and policies around the world if it suits its purposes. Pakistan still comes to mind.

If we really cared for democracy and freedom we would have called Walmart to the committee hearing a long time ago. But Walmart was reducing our prices while Yahoo/Google are lining their own pockets with no discernible benefit to us. This is why the search engines became such an easy political target. Not that this has anything to do with actual policies or anything, this is more with senators getting to grandstand in front of a TV camera. What better than to sit there and thunder first amendment principles at silly corporate lawyers who are just looking to make another buck.

Net-net, I probably agree with part of your assessment that world is poorer for the choices that Yahoo and Google have made and we might have been better off if they had not compromised. None of this however means that America has been principled in the past or will care for many principles in the future. American foreign policy is organized around just one principle (and rightly so): what is good for America.

4:04 PM


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