Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – Taiwan’s Democracy, the U.S. Pledge, and the Chinese Communist Party’s Constant Nightmare – “Freedom”

Regarding the editorial in the Sunday Taipei Times (“The Liberty Times Editorial: Opportunities and independence”, Jul 16, 2017 – Page 6), and speaking of the U.S. position on Taiwan’s independence, the paper notes “Therefore, arms sales to Taiwan, but failure to support its independence is a curious mix-and-match of action and rhetoric.”

Actually, if one thinks about it, this is not so curious. Failing to support independence out loud is not opposing it, even if those words come out of some official’s mouth at some point, because at its root, opposition to independence is not the policy of the U.S., it is merely a tool aimed at defusing a flash point with an arch enemy with nuclear weapons.

However….there is a time to every purpose, and war between the U.S. and China is the potential result of a declaration of independence by Taiwan unless it is the right time, so it is a matter of great importance that the time be right.

What does that mean? It is not so easy to define the right time, or pinpoint. It does depend on the steady progress of Taiwan towards being de facto recognized around the world out loud as a democratic nation on its own, and it could also depend on the resolve of the people of Taiwan. Few believe Taiwanese are willing to take up arms and fight Chinese soldiers in the streets of Taiwan. They say, this is 2017, who does such things, or would want to?

In history, including recent history, there have been very few declarations of independence not accompanied by bloodshed – no country’s overseer will so easily give up its captive.

The U.S. fought a long and very bloody Revolutionary War 241 years ago propelling the U.S. into history and George Washington into the Presidency. In the course of the 8 years of war against England, over 30,000 civilians lost their lives, and there were over 200,000 military casualties. The result was “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The bloodshed and resulting democracy has served as a beacon of freedom for billions in the centuries following. Are Taiwanese willing to shed their blood for this?

I think in civil society today, we do everything we can to avoid such conflict, though evil revels in blood and gore, as Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap and so many other horrific events in Communist China have shown. It also revels in intimidation.

The result? The “One-China policy” that acknowledges that this is what Communist China says, and that the U.S. has its own idea about that. And the purpose of the ambiguity is to allow the U.S. to stand behind Taiwan, firmly, and between Taiwan and Communist China, firmly, and protect Taiwan with the full power and beauty of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of freedom and democracy now inherent in Taiwan’s system of government, and wait for the right time to help bring Taiwan into the family of recognized democratic nations, which it truly already de facto is.

All of the machinations dealing with Taiwan’s de facto independence are designed to avoid a war between two nuclear powers, especially with a North Korean powder-keg sitting just a few clicks away. We have seen how Communist China deals with resistance historically, by its brutality in Tibet and Hong Kong. The U.S. did not stand behind Tibet and wag its finger, having just completed the Korean War a few years earlier. Genocide through eugenics has ensued in Tibet. The U.K. does not have the muscle to stand behind Hong Kong even though Communist China recently stated that the 50-year agreement between the UK and Communist China no longer applies – in other words, England has no power to enforce it, so too bad, Hong Kong’s One Country-Two Systems system is now One Country-One System.

But the U.S., recognizing the tremendously important role that Taiwan plays in ensuring Asia’s democratic existence, and the beauty and grace in having its democracy flourish, and having the same freedoms as exist in the U.S. in Taiwan for its 23 million people, does stand behind Taiwan and wag its finger at Beijing and say “don’t even think of it, buddy”. It has not yet become “Make my day, punk,” but it is implicit in the military presence in China’s neighborhood, and projection of the U.S. military might around the world.

Despite the bellicosity of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) generals, China’s military is no match for the battle-hardened U.S. military might, and for all those nay-sayers in the U.S. who complain about its defense budget, it is like the defense budget for the entire free world (because as we know well, Europe is not going to mount a military that can fulfill that role) and that gives the U.S. power to keep democracy vital and dominant, protecting the freedoms of the people of the U.S., and its friends, despite the efforts of the world’s worst totalitarian regimes, from Communist China to Russia, to Iran to North Korea to Venezuela to Cuba to  those in the Middle East.

Were the U.S. to back off Taiwan, I don’t want to think of the consequences. Our law provides support for Taiwan, laws which always pass with overwhelming support in Congress. Presidents follow diplomatic niceties, but the U.S. Congress does not have to follow suit. Few in the U.S. speak glowingly of a unified Communist China and Taiwan. An overwhelming majority acknowledge that Taiwan is already a democratic nation whose own Constitution provides in Article One it is a nation with a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

That is the basic foundation of Taiwan today. And it is the basic foundation of Charter 08, offered in 2008 by Liu Xiaobo and his co-writers as the foundation for a future China. Imagine that. Taiwan is the example of what the people of Communist China can look forward to. No wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of tiny Taiwan. And no wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of India, a great U.S. ally and a democratic nation of more than one billion people – demonstrating that the Chinese Communist Party’s argument that China is too big for democracy is nonsense.

To answer the question inherent in the editorial, the democracy and independence dance is not only a dance between Communist China and Taiwan, truly of necessity for Taiwan’s benefit and survival. If it were, it would be a very short and painful dance. It is a very complicated dance and the dance floor is quite crowded, and Communist China is by far not the dancer with the biggest footprint and most destructive kick, and while the U.S. is dancing far from home, Communist China knows that doesn’t mean a thing after over 100 years of projecting power for good across the oceans and seas to stand behind freedom against oppression whenever and wherever it is found.

Also, while the dance is going, and it is going, Taiwan is evolving, and as the pro-Communist China KMT is in steep decline, Taiwan is edging closer and closer to fully realizing the power of those words above…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Assimilate that, Chairman Xi and your Chinese Communist Party, anachronisms of despair from the 20th Century, and hollow wraiths in the shadow of Taiwan’s massively free and beautiful society.

North Korean Nuclear Debacle is Iran’s Debacle in Waiting

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

President Clinton was so eager to resolve the Korean nuclear threat, I believe he was willing to sign an agreement with North Korea written in snow and accept mist in promises. It would seem the negotiating team (part of whom were also amazingly brought in by President Obama for the Iran negotiations) were outclassed, outsmarted and outwitted. To the extent any person outside China actually believed China had or has any interest whatsoever in ending North Korea’s program, they are sadly misinformed. Communist China has directly benefited from North Korea’s bad acts for twenty years, and has continued to expertly play US presidents like fiddles, including Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump.

If there is no diplomatic solution now outside Communist China, one can look to the previous administrations for blame, each having to some degree allowed Communist China to have its way with them instead of taking steps to actually put an end to Korea’s nuclear program. It is too late now. With an ICBM in the oven, and hardened facilities under mountains and underground, there is little that can be done short of decapitation or immediate regime change, and even in that case, there is no telling what would follow the end of the Kim dynasty.

North Korea violated its Agreement during negotiations, while it was being drafted, moments after it was signed, and every day since then.

The trouble is, at the beginning, there was far more of a chance to take military action to stop North Korea from actually developing nuclear weapons technology and the weapons themselves, and with each succeeding year it became more difficult. Nothing was accomplished during the Bush Administration, and the final nails in the nuclear coffin were put in place during President Obama’s Oppeasement foreign policy debacle, repeated in rushed negotiations in horrible detail with Iran before Obama left office, a gift so to speak that will keep on giving for decades, and the full effect of which has not yet been felt around the world when Iran becomes a nuclear power (as it will under the dubious agreement).

Communist China and North Korea have played this game well for such a long time. CCP leaders pretend to call out North Korea, even vote in favor or abstain from heavy sanctions, but secretly violate those sanctions almost immediately. They call for patience, negotiations, peace in the region (for instance calling for cessation to joint military exercises between the US and South Korea), all as part of this grand scheme and game. Whenever Communist China needs a threat, it just winks at North Korea, and missiles are aloft, and dire warnings come from Beijing (“Woe is us, woe is us, what are we to do? Peace, negotiate, leave it to us”). This is usually followed by laughter in the CCP’s lair.

China will continue to prop up North Korea, secretly or otherwise, because it is the most useful tool in keeping the US in check, achieving its goals regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, the South China sea, human rights, and a host of other issues it wishes the US to stay away from.

The longer we play this game of loser’s chess, the worse the situation grows. Pretending to be the peacemaker (and the environmentalist and the voice of reason and the next great source of trade and money) is China’s long term strategy to relegate the US to a back seat to its hegemony and intentions to remake the world in its own totalitarian image. North Korea is simply a tool in that game.

Just as Clinton did 25 years ago, Obama began the game with Iran several years ago. It does not end well. It never does, particularly when it is played by the JV team (led by President Obama whistling Kumbaya, Kerry and his merry band of fools and appeasers) and the quintessential flim-flam men from Iran. There was no contest. And now, President Obama, having been intent on singing Kumbaya instead of ending Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and having prevented destruction of Iran’s facilities after developing the weapons to do so while it was actually possible, has ensured we are stuck with a nuclear Iran, something that can lead to disaster.

Good men doing nothing. This is the hallmark of diplomacy for the past twenty five years. When will anyone learn?

“Terrorism blowback” is just a convenient excuse – the causes and the solution come from within Islam only

I ran across Professor Brahma Chellaney’s article on the Strategist website entitled “How to stop terrorism in Europe” from September 2016. When I read his article published here today (Taipei Times, June 10, 2017, P. 9), I thought of the two articles together, and thought I would address Professor Chellaney’s propositions, which while detailed are simplistic.

 First, one proposition in the former article caught my attention. Professor Chellaney says: “The problem is not Islam, as many populists claim…. Today, that threat results from radical Islamism—a fundamentalist vision of society reordered according to Sharia law.” I can agree with this, for the most part.

 Going further, Professor Chellaney would seem to agree with one of the principal tenets of the Trump administration: “Beyond enduring untold suffering and violence, many of today’s refugees, from war-torn countries … have imbibed radical Islamist ideology and, specifically, calls to jihad. Some might be Islamic State fighters who have disguised themselves as asylum-seekers, in order to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe. US intelligence officials have repeatedly warned of this possibility.”

 The solution? Well, Professor Chellaney says “To many in Europe, these factors suggest that the key to keeping Europe safe is controlling the flow of refugees, including through improved vetting procedures.” But he rightfully observes that “…not even constructing a Fortress Europe would eliminate the terrorist threat. After all, some attacks, including in Brussels and Paris, have been carried out by Muslim European citizens who became radicalized in their own bedrooms.”

 And thus the simplistic answer: “The only way to address the threat of terrorism effectively is to tackle the radical Islamist ideology that underpins it.” Easier said than done, but there is something in there that Professor Chellaney overlooks that is absolutely correct. Professor Chellaney focuses on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and then suggests launching an information campaign to discredit the ideology, and then compares this to the success the West achieved against communism.

While there is something that seems correct about this (ignoring the vast distinction between Communism and deeply rooted religion), there is still one determinative thing that is missing.

Professor Chellaney rather simplistically concludes “To take down the terrorists requires delegitimizing the belief system that justifies their actions.” This is completely accurate. As if the West can do anything to discredit this extreme form of Islam (especially when the far left cannot even bring themselves to say the words “Islam” and “terrorism” in the same sentence).

 No, the point missing is this. Discrediting radical Islamist ideology is the only solution, and that must come from inside Islam itself, not from the West. Until Muslim leaders around the world stand up against radical Islam, there can be no solution. Until there are speeches and fatwahs by these leaders against terrorism, there can be no solutions that do not involve war and fighting and many innocent deaths. Until the ideology underpinning the ISIS rise is demonized from within Islam itself there will continue to be a long line of those willing to kill brutally in its name.

There are valuable insights in Professor Chellaney’s earlier article, but only half a solution, somewhat timidly presented, avoiding the real issue, can Islam learn to police itself and rid itself of this extremism? We have no business bringing down this hateful violent ideology from the outside. Islam must cleanse itself of this cancer.

 The article today “The age of blowback terror from Western interventionism” is just another Project Syndicate anti-America anti-West piece (from deep within George Soros’ viewpoint, I suppose). I bridle at the notion that liberal thinkers love to blame liberal Western democracies for the ills in the Middle-east, ignoring the fact that those conflicts actually predate the United States by at least 500 years. The Iraq war did not cause terrorism, it resulted from terrorism. Saddam, Ghadaffy, these men were brutal dictators who murdered hundreds of thousands of their own people.  To weep on one hand when we do not give aid to the Castros’ Cuba, which also has murdered many of its people, but decry helping the people of Iraq and Libya throw off the shackles of madmen is hypocritical, at best.

 It is true however that Iraq spawned ISIS, when President Obama ran away. Had he not, it is doubtful ISIS would have sprung from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or at least there would have been a greater chance to contain it.

 “Blame America” is Project Syndicate’s favorite mantra. However, I am perplexed by Professor Chellaney’s final thought: “As the US and its allies continue to face terrorist blowback, it is hoped that Trump comes to his senses, and helps to turn the seemingly interminable War on Terror that Bush launched in 2001 into a battle that can actually be won.”

 Is he referring to the ideological battle to kill the underpinnings of radical Islam, or something on the battlefield, or both? As I said before, the ideological battle must take place within the confines of Islam itself. The Muslim world must decide for itself whether it wants war or peace. Trump went directly to Saudi Arabia and began the dialogue to face this threat to peace. What follows remains to be seen.

 Golda Meir said it best so very long ago (60 years ago?), that “we won’t have peace until the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”  It still seems true today.

Don’t believe everything you read in Project Syndicate articles, particularly those regarding China.  I do thank Professor Chellaney for his two articles which provided the very thoughtful and detailed discussion which invited my comments here today. I can always appreciate an erudite argument from which to form an opinion.