The Maundy Monday Newsletter - This Week in History December 11 - 17.
The United States has relationships with about 200 foreign governments throughout the world. Having foreign relations with a country is the simplest way to say to everyone, “Yes, we agree, this land over here, with all of these people, is, in fact, a country, and we are in a relationship.”
There are other countries we don’t have good relationships with, but we still recognize them as one. Like North Korea, even though South Korea doesn’t recognize them as a country, we still think they exist. There’s Iran and Russia, what former and low-ranking President George W. Bush called the Axis of Evil. We recognize them in the most disparaging of ways.
We had poor relationships with Afghanistan, but then that changed. Now it’s back to being strained. Maybe we can invade them again and instantly change it back.
But it was on December 15, 1978, that the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China. This communist country had existed since Mao Zedong led a successful revolution about thirty years prior. Since 1949, the United States acted like China didn’t exist, even as we fought wars in Korea and Vietnam in the decades in between.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon “Opened Up China” like it was a tourist shop or something. His national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, took a secret flight from Pakistan to China to secure approval for an invitation from Beijing.
Nixon announced to the nation that he would be going to China that February, and over the subsequent two administrations, relations warmed up like egg foo young leftovers.
President Jimmy Carter made it official and, in doing so, cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, where the anti-communist Chinese fled to form their own country. That went over well with the politicians who liked recognizing the anti-communists.
It didn’t matter; to this day, we have full foreign relations with the world’s second-most populated country.
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China scored big time with recognition from the United States over the past 40 years. Access to China allowed our businesses a large market, and we went overboard shipping many jobs for good measure.
Nixon hoped a powerful China would be a thorn in the side of the Soviet Union. While China certainly has proven helpful in that regard from time to time, the cost of that has been slowly building an economy that, according to people who understand this stuff way more than I do, the Chinese economy will be bigger than the United States by 2028.
Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
1. The United States Mint stamped the Susan B. Anthony dollar on December 13, 1978. The most recognizable women's suffrage warrior became the first woman on US currency after becoming the only woman to draft a US Amendment to the Constitution that ended up being a top five amendment. I recognize that was a pretty long sentence.
2. The United States Military captured former Iraq Prime Minister Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003. After defeating Iraq a second time in two straight decades, the United States launched Operation Red Dawn, named after that fantastic Cold War 80s movie, Red Dawn. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Wolverine references throughout the operation, including the hole they found Saddam in, which was called Wolverine 1. Despite having long hair and a shaggy beard, Hussein was still easily recognizable.
3. The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. The Sons of Liberty boarded British merchant ships filled with tea that they brought over from China and dumped it into the Boston Harbor. This act of awesomeness was a precursor to the American Revolution and the beginning of being recognized as the United States of Kicking Your Butts.
Anonymous and I are still in Florida and will return early tomorrow morning. It’s always a good trip – we enjoyed many fun family things.
One thing we like to do is hand wash dishes while a perfectly functional dishwashing machine is within our reach. But there is something to say about the intentionality of washing each plate you use.
You think about the times when you rented places to live that didn’t have a dishwashing machine and how one day you would have one.
It brings you back to high school when you worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant and the massive effort it would have taken if you did not have an industrial-sized dishwasher. You recognize how easy it is to have a machine do the work for you.
Good times here in Florida.
I can’t wait to see Blue. I hope he recognizes us from his fun time with the dog sitter.
I should be back on track to deliver you the latest amendment rankings this week. Work has been nuts, and I think I have everything under control. Lots of stuff is due at the end of the year.
Enjoy the week! I’ll see you on Friday.
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