Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

July 27, 2001

Justin Raimondo is traveling. His column will return next Wednesday. Today we present a classic column from 1999.

August 11, 1999


At last, someone has come right out and said it: instead of going through all the trouble and expense of pretending to be a sovereign state, and employing platoons of lobbyists in Washington to keep the arms and "foreign aid" flowing, why doesn't Taiwan recognize its complete dependence on the U.S., openly acknowledge its status as an American protectorate – and apply for admission to the Union? Say what?


You may laugh, but David Chou, a Taiwanese citizen, is perfectly serious. As the founder of the "51 Club" – an organization that probably doesn't have many more members than the original 51 present at its founding – Chou embodies the absurdity of the American stance on the question of China and the mad logic of empire. Ever since Chiang Kai-chek fled the mainland and established a military dictatorship in what had been a backwater province, his Nationalist government has endured only because it has been sheltered under the protective wing of the American eagle. Of Taiwan's political figures, to my knowledge Chou is the only one with the courage to say this out loud.


Never mind all this nonsense about "redefining" Taiwan's status in terms of "state-to-state" relations with the mainland, begone with this illusion that Taiwan is a separate "nation" with its own cultural and national identity and history. "Special state-to-state relations, yes, as a U.S. state," says Chou. "That's the only state we should want to be, the state of Taiwan." Chou is a true citizen of the new world order we are fighting for from Kosovo to Taipei, and its perfect spokesman: "I know a lot of Taiwanese have reservations about this," he avers. "They may worry that they'll lose their culture. But I tell them, you can still eat rice; no one will force you to eat hamburgers." All that old-fashioned stuff about history and cultural identity boils down to a question of cuisine. In the brave new "progressive" world Bill Clinton and Tony Blair are building for us, culture, nationalism, and the very concept of national sovereignty are the artifacts of a bygone era, and hardly matter. What matters now is money – and power.


The Nationalist government would never admit it, but it has certainly been acting like a state government for the past fifty years, lobbying quite successfully for more federal funding in the guise of "foreign aid." The Nationalists had barely set up shop in Taipei before they launched a huge publicity campaign in the United States. It was the height of the Cold War and plenty of conservatives were ready to believe that if they paid the price of globalism and perpetual war they would one day live in freedom.


They never realized, of course, that this freedom was doomed by their decision – or, if they did, cynically dismissed it as part of the tragic paradox of life on this earth. In any case, they were willing to go to war to defend a place they had never seen and a cause they barely understood. The Nationalists, who lorded over the native people of Taiwan and ruthlessly suppressed all opposition, did not want to be understood – and so it was a useful alliance. The dictatorship of the Nationalists was dressed up in the glamorous figure of the mediagenic Madam Chiang, who toured the country and whipped up support for the Nationalist cause the way any American politician would naturally take to the hustings.


Some day someone will write a book-length account of how the old China Lobby infiltrated and influenced our political system and established a full-fledged American protectorate, or colony, overseas. It was an well-organized and very well funded enterprise, encouraged if not entirely created by the Taipei regime. A magazine, Plain Talk, was established – by the wealthy silk merchant Alfred Kohlberg – that specialized in the "who lost China" bout of agonizing then taking place among conservatives. (How could we have "lost" China, if it was never ours to begin with? But never mind.) Amid a spy scare in which Alger Hiss and other prominent Commies were exposed in the highest levels of the US government, and the seeming relentlessness with which the Soviet balloon was expanding almost to its full size, the Kohlberg propaganda outfit did a bang-up business. Until Nixon went to China, Kohlberg and his confreres had the field pretty much to themselves, and they made the most of it.


When it came time to recognize the inevitable, and even their Washington sponsors could no longer maintain the fiction of Taiwanese "independence," the China lobby was ready with the Taiwan Relations Act as the price of betrayal. It would be an amicable divorce, but the obligation on our part would never end: it was a de facto annexation dressed up as a bill of divorcement. What is so delightful about Chou is that he has ripped the mask off the formalized pretensions and airs of the Taiwanese leadership, who pay lip service to the patriotic myth of One China. By being more royalist than the king, by openly naming and advocating what has in fact been the program of the ruling clique in Taipei all along, he underscores the inevitable logic of Empire with every word he utters. "If we were a state, our most serious problem – security – would be solved," says Chou. "The current government can't solve it; neither can the opposition. But statehood can."


I, for one, am in favor of it. For one thing, we won't have to give them any seats in Congress – they already have more than enough. Between Ben Gilman and Jesse Helms, that alone is enough congressional firepower to shoot down any incoming political missile. The Democrats would no doubt back the idea, if not in the name of "human rights" and "inclusiveness," then because the Republicans in Congress have so alienated both Taiwanese and mainlanders in their persecution of Chinese-American scientists (such as the unfortunate Wen Ho Lee) that these voters will be driven into the waiting arms of the DNC.


Long dormant at the grassroots level, the China Lobby is trying to make a comeback, although nothing like the first time around. With the Cold War just a memory, and dreams of reviving it not quite a reality, the crusading fervor and sense of outrage is lacking. While the mighty "Committee of One Million" against the admission of "Red China" to the United Nations – engineered by the energetic ex-Communist-turned-conservative Marvin Liebman in the 1950s – was a huge political and financial success, today's China lobby is a pale shadow of its storied past. David Horowitz's outfit, the "Committee for a Non-Left Majority" (CNLM) which specializes in scare stories about Chinese "subversion," has turned out to be a non-starter. Announced as an ambitious plan to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the cause of more military spending and warmongering in the Republican party, the CNLM started out with high expectations. In preparation for the bales of cash he expected to rake in, Horowitz made sure that the online form contributors have to fill out lists the smallest contribution at $1000. But from the sad and somewhat abandoned look of the CNLM website – the only thing that has changed beyond the initial postings a month ago is the date – Horowitz's "Hate China" campaign seems to have fizzled out before it ever began. The Spark, as the CNLM calls its online newsletter, has failed to catch fire.


Faced with the illogic of their own position, which mandates war on behalf of the breakaway province of Taiwan but not in the cause of the breakaway province of Kosovo, many if not most conservatives show every sign of learning the main lesson of the post-Cold War era: they always knew Communism didn't work. Now they are learning that all form of globalism are similarly flawed.


I am perfectly serious about the prospect of Taiwan statehood. If the people of Taiwan are going to fall under the protection of US armed forces, if we are bound to them forever because of a treaty authored and signed by none yet living, even against our own strategic and economic interests, then let them help pay for it. If the United States government is going to make life and death decisions for the people of Taiwan, then let them have a voice – and a vote – in their fate. My answer to Taipei's amen-corner in the US, conservative "anti-Communists" who demand that Taiwan must be recognized as independent from China and that the US must guarantee it, is identical to the one given by the redoubtable Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, the "isolationist" (i.e. pro-American) publisher of the Chicago Tribune, when he took up the cudgels against those Anglophiles in America who pushed for a Trans-Atlantic pact. His editorial, entitled "States Across the Sea' [April 25, 1943], reads as if it were written yesterday:


"Certainly it is difficult to see why those who say their goal is integration of the free peoples have consistently neglected the most obvious method of achieving it, and the one that would be most readily acceptable to the American people." No need to form transnational alliances and sign endless treaties, "the method is found in the Constitution of the United States," specifically the provisions of article IV, "which are not all that onerous." It's really very simple, he explained, "all they need do is adopt written constitutions and apply for membership and all we need do is accept them as we once accepted Texas." Great Britain, he suggested, could be admitted as four states: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. McCormick despised the Eastern Anglophile elite whom he blamed for dragging us into two world wars, and took great pleasure in his needling. He caused an international uproar when he wrote: "Certainly the handkissers and Tories in this country should welcome the closer relationship if only because it would strengthen their representation in Congress. They should look forward pleasurably to more intimate social and political ties with their English friends, particularly as the new relationship would be one of equals."


Therefore, I say, with the Colonel: let Taiwan petition Congress for admission to the Union. Surely they can count on their good friends Ben Gilman and Jesse Helms to push it through. But why stop with Taiwan? Kosovo, too, deserves some consideration: after all, didn't Bill Clinton go there and pledge that we would not abandon the Kosovar people? Or are we going to be guilty of the horrible sin of "discrimination"? And what about the rest of our protectorates around the globe? Israel, Egypt, Colombia, and Kuwait – are they to be left out in the cold?


Naturally this would change the political and social composition of the "American" electorate, but perhaps it will be for the better. With so many Muslims incorporated into the SuperUSA, American conservatives may live to see prayer in the public schools. (Will they change their minds when their children are asked to face Mecca?)


Certainly this multicultural stew will please the Left: not only will we have an administration that "looks like America," but an "America" that looks like the world. Indeed, America, at this rate, will become the world, with only a few "rogue" states holding out for independence. And this, as Murray Rothbard pointed out in a famous essay, is the ultimate endpoint and logical goal of the interventionists: the annexation of the entire earth!


The mad "logic" of interventionism leads us straight down the well-trod path of empire, a road littered with the bones of Romans, Englishmen, and others guilty of the same fatal hubris. They thought they could rule the world, when they could not even begin to control themselves and their own worst impulses. Will we end up on the side of the same road, a sad pile of bones weathered by wind and sun?

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