Deal with the devil?

中国日报网 2017-11-03 13:26



Deal with the devil?Reader question:

Please explain “deal with the devil”, as in this headline: The US Made a Deal With the Devil in Saudi Arabia. Who’s the devil?

My comments:

Without being given the specifics, we have no idea of knowing which exact deal you’re referring to, but then it doesn’t matter. I mean, the United States must have made many such deals over the years – with Saudi Arabia or other countries in the Middle East, or where US foreign policy is concerned generally.

Anyways, all joking aside, it doesn’t matter much – because, you see, the “deal with the devil” here is a metaphor, the devil is not someone real, but someone representing evil, i.e. opposite of what’s good, just and moral.

In other words, this is a bad deal. To secure this pact, the United States (must have) betrayed its morals and principles.

This is what we may safely say, again without being specific because this is what a “deal with the devil” generally implies. To be exact, a deal with the devil usually means someone is giving up their moral principles in exchange for worldly gains.

Worldly gains such as money, power, fame, status, success and that sort of thing.

According to legend, the 16-century German scholar Johan Georg Faust made a deal with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for supreme power and knowledge.

The long and short of that story is that once that deal is done and sealed, Faust isn’t able to back out of it and, after death, his soul stays in hell, for eternity.

Today, whenever people talk about anyone selling his or her soul or makes a deal with the devil or do anything Faustian in nature, they mean to say that he or she is doing it for money, fame, success or any other worldly gains at the expense of their moral integrity.

In other words, the deal is plainly wrong.

The devil being the devil, can any good come off of it anyway?

Still and all, people do it, signing off on such a pact – for any immediate success or gratification that’s in it.

And here, a few more media examples:

1. An efficient solution to a historic drought, or an environmentally risky pact with the devil?

That’s the question being raised by critics about Californian farmers who irrigate their crops with waste water supplied by oil companies, in an arrangement slammed as dangerous by environmental campaigners.

Driving into the parched region around Bakersfield, in the western US state's fertile Central Valley, it is evident how closely the agriculture and oil industries are related.

Lines of orchards stand near fields of oil wells stretched out as far as the eye can see.

Eighty percent of the state’s oil production and 45 percent of the farming industry is concentrated in a single county, Kern County, said Madeline Stano of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment.

With temperatures frequently exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the summer, water is in scarce supply.

After four years of record drought, farmers can no longer pump water from rivers whose levels are dangerously low.

Drawing from the water table is also increasingly difficult: more than 1,000 wells have dried up in the region.

In a bid to diversify supplies, the Cawelo Water District, a cooperative financed by local farmers, has for 20 years used waste water from oil companies.

Abby Auffant, spokeswoman for oil giant Chevron, explained that crude comes out of the ground mixed with water, from which it must be separated.

Separating the water from the crude is a process that actually benefits oil firms, according to Stano.

“It’s hard for the oil industry to get rid of, so it’s a win-win for the oil companies” when they are able to sell the water, she said.

Chevron's Kern River operation sells some 500,000 barrels of waste water per day to the Cawelo Water District, which currently gets 50 percent of its supplies from the oil company.

The water is cleaned by a filtering system and piped to a reservoir where it is combined with supplies from other neighboring oil plants, before being mixed with fresh water and then distributed to some 90 local farms and vineyards.

- Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water, AFP, July 4, 2015.

2. Democratic strategist Maria Cardona told CNN’s Don Lemon that evangelical voters are embracing the devil by choosing to support President Donald Trump.

The conversation at hand was Trump’s appearance at the Values Voter Summit, which is hosted by the Family Research Council, a certified anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. No other sitting president has chosen to attend the extremist right-wing event while in office.

“This is a group that has been categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a radical right hate group. They put out pamphlets today, Don, about how homosexuality is hazardous to your health,” Cardona said. “I mean, there is a reason why going to this group does nothing to really focus on the issues that we’re facing today, which is the divisions of this country. The way that this president likes to divide us instead of unite us.”

That the organization chose to host Trump is raising eyebrows, because the thrice-married con man hardly meets the organization’s own definition of Christianity, which requires people to repent and seek forgiveness of their sins. Trump openly stated that he’s never done this.

As his lifestyle demonstrates, Trump doesn’t believe in repenting to anyone or asking forgiveness, and he often brags about behaviors the group allegedly condemns, like pre-marital sex and sexual assault.

Cordona said the “ironic” decision to host Trump shows that these religious extremists “made a deal with the devil.”

- Democratic Strategist Says Extreme Right-Wing Evangelical Christians ‘Made a Deal with the Devil’,, October 13, 2017.

3. Speculation has now yielded to fact. On Monday, the grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election issued its first indictments. Several of Trump’s closest advisers have been charged with breaking the law. This is the clearest evidence yet that Russia was able to penetrate and gain influence at the highest levels of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been charged with conspiracy against the United States, making false statements under oath, working as an unregistered agent for a foreign country, money laundering and numerous other financial crimes.

Rick Gates, who is Manafort’s business confidant and aide, was charged with similar crimes. Both men pled not guilty during their arraignment on Monday.

Perhaps the most important and most damning indictment, however, was against George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign. Papadopoulos was in constant contact with a Russian agent who allegedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to give Trump’s campaign thousands of stolen emails. Papadopoulos continued his relationship with this Russian agent throughout his time working with Trump. An unnamed senior Trump campaign member apparently praised Papadopoulos’ efforts.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty some months ago and has presumably been “flipped” with the goal of helping Mueller’s investigation into other members of Trump’s inner circle.


In many ways, Donald Trump is like a man trying to hold back the tide with a broom. This is a task that is doomed to fail. But Trump has his own right-wing disinformation machine anchored by Fox News and Breitbart, heads a political cult with tens of millions of followers, and has no regard for the norms and laws of American democracy and government.

In many ways, America has been in a constitutional crisis ever since Trump’s election. His threats and other despicable behavior are now a new type of normal.

Perhaps there will be a wonderful irony in Trump’s raging to “DO SOMETHING” and that principled Republicans — to the degree any still exist — in Congress and around the country will finally turn on Trump and insist that he be removed from office.

I’m not holding my breath. Republicans made their bargain with the devil because he does their bidding. The American people, and the people of the world, are suffering the consequences.

- Trump wants to “do something” to stop Mueller: Is a big purge coming? By Barua Padmaja,, October 31, 2017.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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