statement defended and reiterated in the face of threats
of various sorts from Beijing does represent something of
a departure from the convenient fictions that have been an important
component of keeping the long-running Taiwanese-mainland dispute
more diplomatic and rhetorical than military. But the biggest danger
here is that the United States might feel impelled to intervene
to manage the matter. In fact, to some extent it was the Clintonian
impulse to insert himself that helped to push President Lee toward
committing an undiplomatic moment of honesty.
convenient fiction that there is only One China lubricated by
the fact that everybody knew the two sides understood the matter
differently but nobody would be so impolite as to insist on pointing
this out has been generally helpful in the two countries. Henry
Kissinger's Shanghai communique after Nixon "opened" China
was creatively ambiguous, in essence pretending to agree with and
mollifying both sides. Through the various twists and turns of U.S.-China-Taiwan
policies over the years the United States has managed to be creatively
ambiguous and vague on the matter even though at earlier stages
the United States had actively pushed for a "two-China"
when President Clinton uttered his "three noes" during
last summer's campaign swing through China, he abandoned creative
ambiguity and came down solidly on the side of Beijing's interpretation
of what "one China" means. It's hard to imagine that this
shallow opportunist thought through what he was about to do with
the guidance of anything more than polling data and a residual aging
sixties activist's natural sympathy for the mainland vis-a-vis Taiwan.
But that thoughtless and heedless remark almost certainly contributed
to President Yee's decision to try to change the rules and the game
by changing the terminology.
talked with Stephen Yates, a senior Asia policy analyst at the conservative
Heritage Foundation, and he pointed out that as much as it might
seem like a stereotype it would be unwise to discount the importance
of "face" in Yee's decision to make a statement.
has done everything our global reformers in the State Department
claim they want countries to do. It has converted itself from an
authoritarian one-party state to a reasonably open democracy with
an reasonably free press. In the process it has grown its economy
and established a relatively open free-market system with a lot
more transparency than the Federal Reserve or the International
Monetary Fund, that does twice as much business with the U.S. as
the mainland. You might think Taiwan would be held up as an example
of how to do it right.
Taiwan can't get no respect. Between a small island democracy and
a gigantic totalitarian kleptocracy the idealistic Clintonites tilt
toward the totalitarians every time though the tilt doesn't prevent
them from bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Small wonder
Mr. Yee wanted to shake things up.
however, that he left himself plenty of room to claim that he hadn't
said anything new at all. Taiwan renounced the desire to rule the
mainland back in 1991, he reminded the German interviewer significant
in that Germany has recently accomplished a reunification that would
probably not have been possible without some acknowledgment of mutual
sovereignty. Taiwan is interested in thinking about rejoining to
make One China when the mainland becomes democratic, but since 1991
everybody has known and acted as if Taiwan and the mainland are
different countries with equal status. Nothing new here.
point is that the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits know
how to play the delicate diplomatic game they are playing. The United
States is like a bull in ... well, you know. It should resist the
impulse to choose up sides, lecture either side or do anything more
than be willing to sell weapons to paying customers.
NORTHERN IRISH FAILURE
breakdown of the "peace process" in Northern Ireland highlights
one of the most important shortcomings of the diplomatic approach
taken by the "world community" when meddling in local
disputes. The Good Friday agreement of a couple of years ago, brokered
by former US Sen. George Mitchell and the British and Irish governments,
fell apart over the issue of "decommissioning"
the preferred jargon for making them turn in their weapons
the Irish Republican Army. Since decommissioning hasn't occurred
yet and might never occur, the Protestant parties refused to attend
any meetings of the "unity" government and it fractured.
knew that decommissioning was going to be the toughest issue. But
the professional diplomats who were hovering over the area wanted
to have an agreement signed, sealed and delivered. Diplomats get
their kicks from signing ceremonies where they can wearily reflect
on their tireless efforts to bring the sides together with smarmy
self-satisfaction. So they came up with an agreement that postponed
all the tough issues until later and the toughest one until last
of all, hoping against hope that by the time various deadlines rolled
around some miracle would occur that would make the tough issues
didn't, and now the diplomatic operation is exposed as a a bit of
a fiasco. It might work out. There was a great deal of war-weariness
all around in Northern Ireland and there's a large reservoir of
popular support for some semblance of peace. Perhaps that desire
to have at least a long-term cease-fire will impress itself on the
parties strongly enough that some kind of make-believe formula can
the bottom line is that those who wanted to be viewed as heroes
for intervening and imposing a peace settlement on the warring parties
let their eagerness outrun their realism. They are not heroes.
QUESTION OF JERUSALEM
pattern is repeated in the Middle East, where Ehud Barak's election
as prime minister of Israel has revived hopes that the United States
can rev up the endless "peace process" yet again and look
forceful, decisive and wise. But here again all the hardest issues
have been left for last. Perhaps the most divisive is the status
of Jerusalem. Both Israeli and Palestinian political leaders (the
people are divided) insist that Jerusalem is to be the capital of
their state. It's difficult to envision a compromise acceptable
to either side, let alone both.
the diplomats and politicians, who would rather have signatures
on a piece of paper and an impressive signing ceremony dutifully
covered by the courtier media than an actual settlement on the ground,
have postponed the issue until last and don't even talk about it.
(Well, Hillary Clinton did a 180 now that she wants to run for Senate
in New York, where Palestinians aren't much of a voting bloc, boldly
declaring that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of
Israel. But those with anything resembling actual responsibility
for shepherding the arduous "peace process" are mum.)
it too much to hope that our imperial do-gooders might simply remove
themselves from the process and tell the Israelis and Palestinians
to settle the problems as best they can? Nah! That wouldn't give
them a chance to pretend they can buy peace in the Middle East with
promises of yet more money extracted from American taxpayers as
the diplomatic equivalent of a signing bonus.
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
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