July 23, 1999


While we are supposed to love Taiwan because it is a "democracy" – and hate mainland China because it is ostensibly "Communist" – it turns out that in Taiwan "democratic" rule means President Lee Teng-hui is free to defy the popular will. In spite of polls that show the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese oppose independence, President Lee has caused a storm of controversy – and provoked a major crisis – with his rejection of the traditional "One China" policy. According to the Singapore Strait Times [July 15, 1999], Lee's "'two states' proposal is hurting where it matters most – the home ground. Most Taiwanese are not in favor of it." Public opinion polls taken by government and academic organizations show only 20 percent want independence.


"When the national unification guidelines were drawn up in 1991, a consensus was reached after thorough deliberation among people of all political shades," said Professor Lin Yu-fong of Tamkong University. "Yet the collective decision of about a hundred people was scrapped overnight by one single person. Is he still worthy of the title of Mr. Democracy?"


The Taiwan Relations Act commits the United States to the unconditional military defense of the island, which is perhaps why President Lee doesn't care who he provokes. Let Beijing thunder: the U.S. will bail Lee out no matter what. An ally entrusted with guarding the frontiers of empire has suddenly turned, rebelling against all constraints and mobilizing its American amen-corner. This perfectly illustrates the prophetic power of a passage from Garet Garrett's classic Rise of Empire: "A time comes when the guard itself, that is, your system of satellites, is a source of fear. Satellites are often willful and the more you rely upon them the more willful and demanding they are." In the case of Taiwan, as in some others, it is fair to ask: who is the true satellite? Is Taipei in orbit around Washington, or is it now the other way around?


Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), in his role as the chief congressional spokesman of Taipei's Washington lobby, has vowed to block congressional approval of all arms transfers until and unless the administration resumes arms sales to Taiwan. Determined to rid the US of the only leverage it has over its rambunctious ally, Gilman is outraged at reports that we may be using the arms question to pressure Taipei into stepping back from the precipice. Typically, the administration denies this, as if reining an "ally" that takes inordinate risks – with American lives – is inadmissible.


"If true, these shortsighted, wrong-headed sanctions are not in the US interest," Gilman declared, because they will "undermine Taiwan's fundamental security and may destabilize the fragile peace in Northeast Asia. Accordingly, as a result of my concern, I plan at this point to withhold my approval for arms transfers notified to the Congress until this matter is resolved to my satisfaction." This, of course, is a grand idea: it means, at least temporarily, no US tax dollars to arm the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the totalitarian drug gang that aspires to rule Kosovo. It means no military aid to the corrupt Colombian government, which is fighting a popular guerrilla movement and could well lose power; no arms sales to the nearly bankrupted governments of Eastern Europe, all of whom are scrambling to modernize their military forces to meet NATO standards. It also means no government subsidies to the armaments industry, and less risk of war. Best of all, it means a veritable freeze on overseas intervention for as long as the sales ban is in effect. Just one suggestion: why not make it permanent?


What is it about New York that makes it the world capital of the War Party, even above Washington, D.C.? Its politicians are the most jingoistic – Gilman is a good example of the species – and its media are the most belligerent, with the New York Post getting the top prize in this category. In a recent editorial, they attack Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) for daring to argue, in a recent lecture to the Heritage Foundation, that America is "assuming too many commitments where our interests are vague" and "injecting American troops into political situations that pose no threat to us or our allies." Horrors! This heresy is nothing less than "isolationism," avers the Post:, which "seems to be making a comeback in the Republican Party – and not just in the fever swamps of its Pat Buchanan wing. But while a healthy debate over foreign policy is always to be encouraged, the GOP will be making a serious mistake if it travels back to the era of Robert A. Taft." If anyone is feverish, it is the Post's editorial writer who expects us to take this argument seriously. If "isolationism" equals opposition to "vagueness" and over-commitment, then the isolationists appear to have carried the day.


With characteristic lack of either courtesy or common sense, the Post flails away at Hutchison for being "one of the noisiest and most irresponsible critics of any use of US force during the recent war in Kosovo." Of course, from their perspective, all criticism of the war was "irresponsible." As for being called "noisy" by the New York Post – are we to be spared nothing? The Post wants a "debate" over foreign policy about as much as the Chinese Communist Party wants a debate over Taiwanese independence: the last time someone rose to challenge the bipartisan internationalist consensus, they smeared him as an "anti-Semite"; of course, I mean Patrick J. Buchanan, who beat their scurrilous charges and lived to fight another day. And as for Robert A. Taft: if even the Post is forced to note the Taftian revival, then we are not far from victory.


For pointing out the obvious fact that "NATO has been turned into an alliance that starts wars," the Post accuses Hutchison of implying that the US "initiated the Kosovo bloodshed" – although this is clearly not what she said. Initiating bloodshed and initiating a war are not the same thing, but the Post's lowbrow audience (practically everyone in New York City) is not supposed to notice this sleight of hand. Hutchison had the gall to utter the unutterable: "Why not let the Kosovar Albanians fight for themselves?" They answer by citing a Post columnist, Paul Greenberg, who writes: "Washington and other Western capitals [must] realize that they must impose peace in Europe, or Europe will impose war on them." Ah, the infinite elasticity of words: we "impose peace," the bad guys "impose war." Those must have been "peace bombs" falling on Belgrade, obliterating passenger buses, hospitals, factories, bridges, and uncounted thousands of lives.


Incredibly, not even Bill Clinton is trigger-happy enough for the Post. Never mind that he has sent in the troops and/or launched the missiles more than all five previous presidents combined – in the view of the New York chapter of the War Party, you can't have too much of a good thing. "The problem with Bill Clinton," they aver," is not that he's been too quick on the trigger – using what Hutchison calls, preposterously, "gunpoint diplomacy" – but that he usually waits far too long to act and, when he does so, he acts incompetently. That was true in Bosnia and in Kosovo, and, mark our words, it will prove true again when it comes to the nettlesome, unresolved issue of Iraq." Thousands of American troops occupy Bosnia years after they were supposed to have come home, and we went to war for Kosovo, which will now be a permanent US protectorate. In addition, Clinton bombed Iraq all throughout the period of the Balkan war and the assault continues, along with murderous sanctions that have killed over a million Iraqis, most of them children, old people, and women. But this is not enough for the Post, which demands more and better sacrifices to the war god.


For daring to tell it like it is, Senator Hutchison deserves the Congressional Medal of Honesty & Plain-speaking. President Clinton had the nerve to cite the classic economic arguments for interventionism, the same one touted by the "Manifest Destiny" imperialists at the turn of the nineteenth century: we needed to seize Kosovo and dismember Yugoslavia in order to ensure "trade with Europe." If our war on Yugoslavia is not "gunboat diplomacy," then the phrase has no meaning.


Clinton's foreign policy is "weak-kneed," says the Post, it has – inexplicably – and "inadvertently fueled support for isolationism." But if Clinton's frenetic interventionism is "weak-kneed," then why hasn't it sparked a backlash demanding a more muscular interventionist stance? Of such a reaction there is not the slightest sign. The sudden upsurge in "isolationism," i.e., the policy of the Founding Fathers who urged peace and good relations with all, "entangling alliances with none" – is based on nothing as insignificant as Clinton but on the historical reality that Communism is fallen. With the dissolution of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War, people are beginning to challenge the bipartisan policy of perpetual war. Let the Post rant and rave about "isolationism" and "fever swamps" every day for the next ten years, but it won't put a dent in the growing movement to abolish America's imperial pretensions and restore our old Republic.


The US is clearly worried about the inroads made by Marxists guerrillas in Colombia: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have attacked within a few miles of the capital city, and Barry McCaffrey, Clinton's "drug czar," has requested millions in military aid to the government in order to fight the "narco-terrorists." The State Department accuses FARC of being in the thick of the drug trade – which fuels what there is of Colombia's economy – but even if this is true, how can the US sponsors and allies of the KLA, which runs most of the European heroin trade, say this with a straight face?

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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