Roger Canfield, Stealth Invasion: Red Chinese Operations in North America (U. S. Intelligence Council, 2001)
[originally posted 26Nov2001]
Someone marketing guru once did a study showing that Americans are more likely to react in a positive way (substitute for “positive” whatever necessary goal you’re trying to achieve) to companies with “US” in their names. This rather odd convention has been used and abused a number of times, most amusingly with a blatantly illegal corporation called USP&C, a group of telephone slammers who, when asked what their name stands for, once replied “nothing. We read this study that said…” you get the idea.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the U. S. Intelligence Council is a government agency. I’d call them a conservative think tank, but I don’t want to cast aspersions on conservatives, nor am I terribly sure much thought goes into their output. So, one wonders, why did this thing end up on my reading list?
It was a mass mailing, actually, one of those “we need another X thousand dollars to publish this, so here’s an advance reading copy. Pre-order today!” In truth, the money they get from pre-orders of this slim (sixty-four pages of actual material) volume should be spent on hiring a proofreader for minimum wage. Even some hack making five twenty-five an hour would catch some of the many, many, many grammatical and spelling errors with which this text is rife. A quick note to USIC: if you want to be taken seriously, get yourselves a better editor. (And get the ReaganCountry/BushCountry folks to get your name off their website. They scare most folks. Trust me on this.)
Aside from the mechanical errors, what about the text itself? First off, it is in desperate need of a bibliography. Second, many of the points Canfield makes here need some citations to back them up, making a bibliography even more necessary. (If the sources are anonymous, they should be labelled as such.) As it stands now, it looks as if a bare minimum of sources was used in order to allow Canfield to draw a number of conclusions that, while thought-provoking, aren’t as backed up by the evidence presented as they could be. Canfield could effectively blur the line much more effectively with a whole lot more footnotes; as with Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope, there are too many places in this text where it’s unclear whether Canfield is citing a source or drawing his own conclusion, and the distinction between the two would make a huge difference.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, writing to an audience in the case of political material often swings into the area of preaching to the converted. And this is certainly the case with Stealth Invasion. The irony is that this book shows better than any I’ve ever encountered how the difference between prejudicial rant and objective reporting is largely a matter of terminology. It’s hard to look at a piece of writing where the term “Red Chinese” is used at least once per page and consider it in any way objective; simply dropping the word “Red” or replacing it with “Communist” (if the author feels the distinction between China and Taiwan is a necessary one to draw, given that America has considered Taiwan a sovereign nation for decades) would have steered this rant much closer to an unbiased course.
There’s some interesting material to be had here regarding the presence of the Chinese Merchant Marine in American waters. Unfortunately, it gets lost more often than not in slurs, unclear writing, and inept editing. ½