July 14, 1999


Tell me this wasn't inevitable: the UN has come up with a scheme to tax the Internet. The Bloomberg news service reports that UN officials want "a small tax on every 100 lengthy emails" which "would generate more than $70 billion a year to help provide expensive equipment in poor countries, many of which, are still struggling to catch up with older technologies, such as telephones, televisions and radios." [July 12, 1999] In the true spirit of egalitarian globalism, the idea is to give Internet access to native peoples who have yet to progress beyond smoke-signals.


The UN's latest Human Development Report disapprovingly notes that "the typical Internet user worldwide is male, under 35 years old, with a university education and high income, urban based and English speaking. The literally well connected have an overpowering advantage over the unconnected poor.'' Oh, for shame – that even a single aborigine is denied access to America Online, while all us evil white males are surfing the net at warp speed is surely a crime against humanity. Certainly Louise Arbour and/or her successors at The Hague will want to look into this.


The utter nonsense spewed forth by these fulminating would-be overseers of the Internet would be hilarious if it weren't so dangerous. Translating that old canard about the U.S. exploiting and hogging all the world 's wealth at the expense of the Third World into the language of the Information Age, the UN complains that: "North America, with less than 5 percent of the world's population, has more computers than the rest of the world combined and accounts for more than 50 percent of all Internet users." We are piously informed that poor deprived "South Asia, home to 23 percent of the world's population accounts for less than 1 percent of Internet users." Entirely aside from the fact that the computer was invented and developed in North America, along with the Internet – thank you, oh thank you, Al Gore! – are we really obligated to feel guilty about this? Blaming the West for the lack of Internet access in South Asia is like berating Gutenberg for not having been born in Borneo.


How would installing state-of-the-art computers in every grass hut in Indonesia change people's lives for the better? This would put the vast illiterate majority in the somewhat humiliating position of being able to order books from Amazon.com without being able to read them. The utter absurdity of this surrealistic scenario naturally won't deter our globalist bureaucrats from their crusade to give every Hottentot his own personal web page.


For years, the UN and its wacky domestic lobby of World Federalists and other assorted international do-gooders have been looking for a way to impose a world tax. With Tony Blair already pledging tens of thousands of British soldiers to a permanent standing United Nations army, they will be needing lots of cash to pay their "peacekeeping" centurions – to say nothing of the army of bureaucrats and UN apparatchiks who enjoy tax-free status as well as immunity from local laws. No doubt their own "lengthy" emails will be tax-free – for the good of humanity, naturally.


Meanwhile, we are on the brink of war with China. Taiwan has virtually declared its independence, formally repudiating the legal fiction of "one China" and announcing that Taipei will now insist all relations with Beijing be on "a state-to-state basis." Emboldened by the example of separatist Kosovo, where NATO functioned as the KLA's air force, the separatist factions on Taiwan are making their bid for power – at the risk of World War III. Committed to the unconditional defense of the breakaway island province of China by the Taiwan Relations Act, the mighty US government is now being led around by the nose by Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, whose intemperate tirades could well drag us into a military confrontation with China.


According to a variety of news sources, Chinese leader Jiang Zemin has determined that "strong action" needs to be taken relatively soon. The South China Morning Post [07/14/99] reports Jiang as saying: "We must initiate a tough response against Lee Teng-hui's challenge. National sovereignty and reunification are nonnegotiable principles. We have no room for retreat." The Chinese government, he said, would never allow Taiwan to become an "Asian Kosovo."


The smoke from the burning rubble of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade had barely cleared, and already war clouds were beginning to gather on the eastern horizon. If the European war was the project of the "progressives" of the Clintonian and "New Labor" persuasion, the Asian edition is brought to you by the American Right. The same Republican politicians who were inveighing against the war to "liberate" Kosovo and wondering aloud why we were invading a sovereign country, seem not to recognize the sovereignty of China (which, unlike Yugoslavia, is a real country). GOP congressmen who proved immune to the blandishments of the powerful Albanian lobby show no such resistance to the Hate China Lobby.


These "Asia-lationists" are caught in a logical contradiction, and will soon either go over to the camp of the globalists or else become consistent noninterventionists. If the Balkans are not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier, as Bismarck once put it – and as Patrick J. Buchanan was fond of reminding us during the Kosovo war – then it is fair to ask: are the Straits of Taiwan worth the bones of a single American GI? In the name of a foreign policy that eschews foreign entanglements and respects the principle of national sovereignty, the answer must be: no, no, a thousand times no.


What is our legitimate interest in Taiwan? The principle of national self-determination? But we do not even recognize Taiwan as a separate country. As the crisis reached a new level today, nervous State Department officials reiterated their long-standing support for a "one China" policy. As in Kosovo, the US is being drawn into giving military support to a separatist revolution without recognizing its political legitimacy.


US officials are clearly none too pleased with President Lee's outbursts, and will make every effort to rein in their rambunctious satellite. But President Lee of the self-proclaimed Republic of China (ROC) may prove less domesticated than even Hashim Thraci, the self-proclaimed "President" of Kosovo.


The myth of "poor little Taiwan," the passive victim of the Beijing bullies, ought to be thoroughly debunked by the ROC's expansionist designs on the disputed Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea. As if to provoke Beijing, and to underscore the ferocity of the new Taiwanese nationalism, the ROC Foreign Ministry has chosen this moment (July 13) to announce to a disbelieving world that Taiwan claims sovereignty over those much-disputed islands. The ROC Foreign Ministry denounced both the Malaysian and Philippine claims to the islands and declared that the Spratlys and the entire South China Sea belong to Taiwan "legally, historically, geographically, [and] in reality." Is the United States not only the guarantor of Taiwan's independence, but also the defender of its mini-empire of the northern Pacific? Here again the parallels with Kosovo are eerily specific: as in the case of the Kosovars, who long for a Greater Albania, the US government is now becoming the architect of a Greater Taiwan, extending not only to the Spratlys but also including the entire South China Sea.


Wen Ho Lee, the Taiwan-born computer scientist who purportedly stole nuclear secrets on behalf of China, may finally be charged – but not with espionage. According to Clinton administration officials, who fired Lee from his job at Los Alamos National Laboratory last April, the FBI "mishandled" the case. Since a successful prosecution is unlikely, Justice Department officials are looking into charging him with "computer crime," in the words of one official. According to the Prather Report, written by nuclear weapons expert Dr. Gordon Prather and issued by Jack Kemp, Wen Ho Lee downloaded files into his own personal computer, but there is no evidence that he turned these over to Chinese agents or to anyone else. Lee's work at Los Alamos was a direct outgrowth of the administration's signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, never approved by the Senate, which proposed to get around the problem of how to test nuclear weapons without actually setting them off by setting up a computer simulation program. This is the work Lee was engaged in at Los Alamos. This entailed getting all the data into one computer LAN, or local area network: Lee's great "crime" is that he transferred data outside that network. Lee claims that his computer was, in fact, secure, and that at any rate none of the downloaded files were classified. Somehow, we are expected to believe that this is the biggest breach of national security "since the Rosenbergs."


It is the difference between treason and carelessness. This crucial difference would be as clear as day if only Wen Ho Lee were not Chinese-American, albeit Taiwan-born. Would a similarly lax Caucasian scientist find himself the object of a national hate campaign?


On the basis of almost no evidence, Wen Ho Lee has been persecuted, slandered, and reviled as a traitor – and now they are backing down from filing any really meaningful charges, while still doing as much damage to his career and reputation as possible. Abandoned by the Clintonites, demonized by the Republicans, his career ruined, and his freedom in jeopardy, he is a pawn in the game. Nothing symbolizes the ugliness of war hysteria, its utter indifference to any concept of truth or justice, than the tragic fate of Wen Ho Lee.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, "China and the New Cold War"

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).



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