Ten years after suffering for 8 years under the feckless, useless administration of President Obama, and more recently celebrating 4 years of enlightened American Asia Pacific policy under President Trump, and having learned President Xi wrote to the former head of Starbucks in the past few days to seek his intervention with the Biden camp for a return to the appeasement policies under Obama, I have decided to republish a letter written to the Taipei Times on January 14, 2011 regarding the Obama administration’s “Oppeasement” policies – we shall see if anything will change under a Biden/Harris or Harris/Biden administration (whomever serves as President, it is hard to tell):
Hu Jin-tao Is Coming to Town
America’s leadership appears to be somewhat in chaos, and Hu Jin-tao is coming to town.
The Secretary of Defense somehow mistakenly believes he is the Secretary of State because instead of representing the military arm of the United States Government (traditionally a powerful and intimidating deterrent to mischief) and discussing what the United States can do, Secretary Gates has engaged instead only in diplomacy (not his job), striking a frighteningly timid and appeasing posture as the representative of the United States military in of all places, Asia, and in particular, in China, talking about how we should just all get along, and can’t we talk nicely more often?
Gates, on one day, expresses concern at the advanced development of China’s air and missile forces, and the next day announces $75 billion in U.S. defense cuts. The message? Not the greatest signal to send to the world’s most dangerous regime.
On the other hand, the Secretary of State somehow thinks she is the president, at times, though even her announcements of policy sound more like whining than warning. Certain regimes devoted to doing evil do not respond well to whining – it only brings out the shark in them.
And then there is the President, who somehow believes he is the Secretary General of the United Nations, and that his sole function is to be everyone’s friend, and global mediator. In most unpresidential fashion, President Obama has forgotten the central role of the United States to lead, not to follow. In fact, he seems decidedly embarrassed at the prospect the key function of the United States is to lead, whether it is to lead in democracy, lead in freedom, lead in the battle against tyranny, or lead the world to peace.
The President surely does not seem to appreciate that only by strength can the United States accomplish this. When it does, the downtrodden, the hopeless, the weak and the oppressed have hope. When the President of the United States strikes his chords of timid appeasement to those who deny human rights, a collective sigh of agnonizing disappointment rises up all over the world, in Iran, in Cuba, in China, in North Korea, Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, in Venezuela, Bolivia, in Sudan, in Somalia, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Djibouti, and also in South Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and in all those places the people are struggling to keep their already hard fought freedoms.
Like it or not, the central role of the United States is to preserve, protect and defend those freedoms throughout the world, because there is no one else who can, or is willing to do so. No one. So, we might ask, why does the President of the United States feel it is his job to behave like the Secretary General of an impotent world organization?
We worry about what the U.S. President will have to say to Hu Jin-tao when he arrives in America. Will he mention Liu Xiaobo, Gao Zhisheng, Ding Zilin, the hundreds of other activists in China imprisoned or under house arrest for speaking out against oppression, or will he mention the rape of Tibet, the persecution of the Dalai Lama, the kidnapped Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a child missing these past 15 years, the plight of the Uighurs in Xin Jiang, Taiwan’s shining democracy living in the shadow of China’s immense military and existential threat, North Korea’s infamy, the rogue states and regimes around the world supported by their only ally, the People’s Republic of China, led by their good, smiling, benevolent friend Hu Jin-tao? Or will the President do what he has done so many times in the past (perhaps as he does best), bow deeply and say nothing?
From Washington D.C., so far away, perhaps President Obama’s view of China’s President is a man who is a world leader, a leader among men, a strong, proud and respected leader (named in 2010 the World’s Most Powerful Leader by Forbes Magazine, courtesy President Obama). However, from 150 miles away, this man is viewed as the leader of an evil regime that seeks to gobble up every good and decent thing that has ever developed in Taiwan, and around the world. And furthermore, from deep inside the heart of China, a land of suffocating repression where even the whisper of oppression itself is suffocated, he is viewed with visceral imperial fear.
I wonder if President Obama can keep that picture in his mind when he sits down to tea with Hu Jin-tao – a man who presided over the systematic oppression and destruction of Tibet in 1989 (before Tiananmen Square months later), and who now smiles benevolently while he has his hand clasped firmly over the mouths of 1.3 billion Chinese people, not to mention those outside China who are equally threatened, including the 23 million people in free, independent and sovereign Taiwan who look to President Obama (as do so many people around the world) to ensure their way of life continues unmolested by China. I pray the President can keep that picture in mind, because that is in fact the role of the President of the United States, not a congenial “partner” at tea.