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I didn’t think going on benders was a Fourth of July tradition. Then I read the Washington Post‘s editorial this morning on responding to the recent massive hacking of U.S. government personnel files that American intelligence officials publicly suspect China carried out. The lead writer must have been severely hung over.

Let’s leave aside the Post’s consistent record of staunchly insisting that the U.S. military must stand (and sail) as tall as ever in East Asia to defend national security. Let’s also leave aside the paper’s equally staunch support for the very trade expansion measures that have fueled China’s rapid military buildup – not to mention the related export control policies that have permitted American companies to transfer crucial defense-related technology to the government-dominated Chinese economy.

Now, because this particular theft is supposedly not spying as usual, the Post wants President Obama to get “mad as hell” about the cyber attack on the Office of Personnel Management. Further, he should “begin preparations for retaliation” if his expressed wrath at an upcoming summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping doesn’t get the job done.  Unless the Post doesn’t really want any of this? 

Think of it this way. If you genuinely wanted these cyber-attacks stopped, and were thinking clearly, would you then say – in the very next sentence – “Not all of the broad U.S.-China bilateral relationship needs to be put at risk”? Would you insist on restricting counter-moves to “the alleged Chinese hackers,” as if they could possibly be operating independent of China’s top leadership in an area this sensitive? Of course not.

Like so many politicians in so many instances, Post editors are (with unusual ineptitude in this case) trying to pretend, despite burgeoning evidence to the contrary, that the nation can have its China cake and eat it, too – virtually unrestricted economic relations along with adequate cyber-security. Also like so many politicians in so many instances, these editors seem to be hoping that the more indignant they wax, the more effectively they can hide their own role in creating the problem to start with.

Except Post editors are supposed to hold American leaders accountable, especially for massive, dangerous blunders. They’re supposed to guard the guardians, not flatter and coddle them. They’re supposed to speak truth to power, not parrot its boilerplate. In other words, they’re supposed to be journalists. And until they and the rest of the Mainstream Media start acting this way, don’t expect American democracy to become much healthier anytime soon.

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