US continued to sell military hardware and to provide some kinds
of technical and training military help. And although the act was
actually rather vague on the matter, most people assumed that if
the mainland actually launched a military attack on Taiwan the United
States would respond in kind.
the same time, through the 1980s and early 1990s, various interests
in the United States conducted an off-again-on-again love affair
with the mainland. One can understand the raw economic interest
of certain large American corporations, even though there had been
a history of heavy Western investment in hopes of huge profits from
the world's largest market followed by disappointment. And there
is little question that genuine economic liberalization took place
in some mainland provinces.
a good deal of the enthusiasm for China interrupted from time
to time by unpleasantness like the Tienanmen massacre was both
nostalgic and utopian, a reflection of the fact that grown-up Sixties
radicals had always had a soft spot for Mao and his cultural revolutions,
a willingness to overlook atrocities if they were committed by faddishly
hard not to believe that some of that unfocused Sixties nostalgia
has had an impact on the Clinton administration's approach to the
mainland. The Clintonites have disappointed China's leaders, sometimes
carelessly and cynically, as in the refusal to entertain more serious
discussion of membership in the World Trade Organization after significant
Chinese concessions this Spring, mainly due to domestic US political
considerations. But the instinct, even in a regime that can bomb
the Chinese embassy in Belgrade without batting an eye, is to toady.
when Taiwanese president Lee started murmuring about relations between
Beijing and Taipei having a special state to state character, the
Clintonites blamed Taiwan for challenging the comforting myth of
One China a myth that had its diplomatic uses for about 15
years after the 1974 Shangai communiqué but was becoming
increasingly surreal. Numerous news reports have quoted unnamed
(and occasionally named) US officials to the effect that US diplomats
were delivering stern lectures to the Taiwanese, pressuring them
to soften their position and avoid stirring up the mainland government.
the desire to choose up sides. It isn't really necessary. The Chinese
are much better at protracted (over decades) diplomatic and power-politics
struggles than any American administration will ever be. They on both sides of the Taiwan Straits will determine how the current
dispute finally shakes out, probably years or decades into the future,
and the opinion of the United States in the matter will amount to
little more than a gnat's buzzing.
might have been an occasion to be neutral in the dispute, preferably
as part of an overall policy shift toward less meddling in other
countries' affairs. Even a shift toward real neutrality in the special
case of Taiwan and China, leaving the rest of US policy untouched,
however, would have been healthy. Most Asians expect the United
States to poke, prod and try to manipulate developments in China
(and the rest of Asia), in part because the US has always said it
wanted to be a bona fide "Pacific Power." But nobody really
knows what to expect in the China-Taiwan dispute. A lot of history
suggests a tilt toward Taiwan but recent history suggests a mainland
it have been fun to say, in effect, that the US is strong enough
and confident enough to allow the Chinese to settle this dispute
for themselves, meantime carrying on commercial relations with both
sides and occasionally trying to be helpful in an unobtrusive manner.
We could sell all manner of things to both sides, urge them to settle
disputes without violence, but otherwise avoid choosing a side to
back. That would actually reduce the geopolitical stakes, making
the ultimate resolution of Taiwan's status a regional question rather
than a global one about which "global players" feel a
need to assert themselves.
20 marked the first anniversary of the US launch of cruise missiles
against Sudan and Afghanistan. It shouldn't be forgotten. The most
astounding miscalculation if miscalculation it was
that day was the targeting of the al-Shifa chemical plant in Sudan.
At first administration officials said they had indisputable proof
that the plant was involved in producing chemical weapons and that
it was linked to international freelance terrorist Osama bin Laden.
All of these allegations turned out to be inaccurate and the owner
of the plant has filed suit against the US government.
Jason Vest, a Washington correspondent for Village Voice has commented,
"It's difficult to say what is more amazing: the apparently
glaring failures in the intelligence operation that led to the al-Shifa
plant being fingered as a chemical weapons site; the actual bombing
of the factory; the Clinton administration's over-the-top pattern
of obfuscation and contradiction in explaining its rationale for
the bombing; Congress' less-than-zealous attitude about holding
the administration accountable for an unnecessarily destructive
act (lying about sex gets you an independent counsel, but bombing
another country with shoddy evidence and lying about it doesn't?);
the mainstream media's unwillingness to hammer on this issue; or
the public's lack of interest."
would add the breathtaking cynicism at the very top of the Clinton
administration. The best (albeit incomplete) evidence produced to
date suggests that plenty of people in the administration had doubts
about targeting the pharmaceutical plant, but they knew the commander
in chief wanted a target hit (some say he made the final decision
personally after hearing the objections). Monica's testimony was
scheduled and a foreign diversion was needed. What matter that it
might not be the right target or might be an utterly innocent victim?
it's less harmful over the long run to make foreign policy cynically
and heedlessly as part of a domestic political dispute rather than
in pursuit of some overarching imperial design. But it's morally,
strategically and politically reprehensible, the Clinton administration
did and will likely do it again. All the more reason for the rest
of us not to forget.
I'm just terminally naive, but I'm a bit surprised at the dearth
of attention by the mainstream media to the thousands of cluster
bombs dropped on Yugoslavia that have been a continuing source of
death and dismemberment, especially of curious children. The problem
hasn't been ignored completely the Washington Post did a
pretty good story about a month ago but it deserves more
bombs, of course, are lightweight bomblets, as many as 200 of which
are bundled together in a single bomb casing, then carried to earth
individually on tiny parachutes. NATO officials say about 1,100
cluster bombs, containing a total of more than 200,000 bomblets,
were dropped on Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Human Rights Watch estimates
there are 11,000 unexploded cluster munitions in Kosovo and Serbia.
They are often not easily recovered because of their tendency to
drift off course or to become caught on trees, in brush or on roofs.
yellow, shaped like soda cans with tiny, cute little parachutes
on top, the unexploded cluster bombs are especially attractive to
children. Some canisters can spray incendiary material to start
fires, some spew chunks of molten metal that can pierce tanks, some
are filled with shrapnel. All can make short work of human flesh
and bone. One incident of children playing with one bomb left two
dead and seven injured, two critically. At least 200 people have
been killed or injured by unexploded bombs and mines half
left behind by Serb troops, half dropped by NATO, according to the
World Health Organization.
weapons have dealt more death, of course. But those cluster bombs
are especially insidious. Both military and humanitarian organizations
have vowed to remove mines and bombs. How about some reports on
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in
the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual
ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration
and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
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