The moving finger writes. And these days it’s a digital finger that writes with the speed of light.
How else do you explain Bill Clinton going from a national figure to one so obscure that hardly anyone bothered paying attention to The President’s Daughter. It’s a terrible book and I’m skeptical that Bill is ‘there’ enough to sign his autographic, let alone have much to do with the book. But there’s one part of the book that ought to have caught the attention of Washington D.C. since it’s the equivalent of LBJ co-writing a mystery novel in which a fictional vice president has a president killed.
It’s also an international incident waiting to happen.
And here it is.
A sad shake of Li’s head. “During those NATO bombing attacks to convince the Serbs to stop massacring their Muslim neighbors, the Serbs shot down one of the American stealth aircraft, their F-117 Nighthawk. The Serbs gathered up all the wreckage they could and made a deal.”
“A deal?” Jiang asks.
“Yes, a deal,” his boss says. “NATO was bombing the shit out of the Serbs’ military communications systems. And the Serbs offered us the F-117 wreckage—giving us about a five-year advance in stealth technology—if we would allow them to transmit military orders and information from our embassy basement. We were never sure whether NATO tracked down the source of those transmissions, but the American bombing destroyed that Serb military facility in our embassy. They said it was a mistake, and we pretended to believe them. We lost three of our dear comrades, including your father, but we gained so very much in stolen American technology.”
The incident is somewhat obscure, but during Bill Clinton’s illegal invasion of Yugoslavia, an F-117A was shot down. Later that year, the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed. The Clinton administration claimed it was an accident, but that was always implausible. The bombing allegedly killed Chinese intel officers pretending to be reporters.
The lingering question was why the Clinton administration would have done something as confrontational and in violation of international law as that. There was never a good explanation. It was clearly a warning to China, but the media suggestions that the embassy was hiding war criminals or allowing itself to be used as cover was never all that plausible for something that extreme.
When the F-117A was shot down, the Clinton administration decided, for some inexplicable reason, not to bomb the wreckage claiming that even if the Russians got their hands on the plane, it would be no big deal.
Both incidents have been forgotten by most people. Except the Chinese who forget very little.
What we have here are two crazy possibilities. Either Bill Clinton and his people have decided to…
1. Play on one of the more explosive incidents between the US and China by inventing something that never happened in order to make him seem tough.
2. Throw in the actual explanation for something that really happened in a throwaway thriller
I’m not sure which is more wildly irresponsible or what to make of it.
P.S. While Bill Clinton is out to lunch, the afterword credits “White House Chief of Staff John Podesta; and Richard Clarke, national coordinator for security and counterterrorism in the Clinton and Bush (43) White Houses” for their assistance.