Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 5, 2007

On Bayard Rustin

Last Friday, I had a short essay at The New Republic Online discussing the legacy of Bayard Rustin, the 20th anniversary of whose death was August 24th. Rustin was a towering figure among American liberals, even though some could no longer recognize him as one of their own at the time of his death in 1987. Rustin, who got his start in politics as a Quaker pacifist, ended up as a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY, a founding board member of the pro-Scoop Jackson/anti-McGovernite Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House. All of these organization had incurred the disfavor and wrath of large segments of the American Left, because of their unabashedly anti-Communist, pro-democratization policies and aims.

Rustin was also the most prominent African-American defender of the state of Israel (another casus belli for much of the American Left), having founded the Black American Israel Support Committee (BASIC) in 1975, as a response to the United Nations’ resolution equating Zionism to racism and to the then-rising tide of black anti-Semitism. In honor of Rustin, COMMENTARY has made available some of his most trenchant essays written in its pages.

From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement—February, 1965.

Written after the congressional passage of major civil rights legislation, this article was a call to African-Americans to involve themselves in political organizing. Rustin would soon become a target of the Black Panthers and other radicals for arguing against black nationalism.

The “Watts Manifesto” & The McCone Report—March, 1966.

In this essay, Rustin analyzes the roots of black anger that led to the Watts riots of 1965.

The War Against Zimbabwe—July, 1979.

In April of 1979, Rustin was part of a Freedom House delegation to monitor elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. This is the most thorough and convincing attack on the Carter administration’s policies towards this southern African state and its feckless dealings with communist-sponsored movements more generally, and delivers a prescient warning against the horrors of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Rustin was one of the very few black American leaders to speak out against a transition to power that put Mugabe in control.

Last Friday, I had a short essay at The New Republic Online discussing the legacy of Bayard Rustin, the 20th anniversary of whose death was August 24th. Rustin was a towering figure among American liberals, even though some could no longer recognize him as one of their own at the time of his death in 1987. Rustin, who got his start in politics as a Quaker pacifist, ended up as a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY, a founding board member of the pro-Scoop Jackson/anti-McGovernite Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House. All of these organization had incurred the disfavor and wrath of large segments of the American Left, because of their unabashedly anti-Communist, pro-democratization policies and aims.

Rustin was also the most prominent African-American defender of the state of Israel (another casus belli for much of the American Left), having founded the Black American Israel Support Committee (BASIC) in 1975, as a response to the United Nations’ resolution equating Zionism to racism and to the then-rising tide of black anti-Semitism. In honor of Rustin, COMMENTARY has made available some of his most trenchant essays written in its pages.

From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement—February, 1965.

Written after the congressional passage of major civil rights legislation, this article was a call to African-Americans to involve themselves in political organizing. Rustin would soon become a target of the Black Panthers and other radicals for arguing against black nationalism.

The “Watts Manifesto” & The McCone Report—March, 1966.

In this essay, Rustin analyzes the roots of black anger that led to the Watts riots of 1965.

The War Against Zimbabwe—July, 1979.

In April of 1979, Rustin was part of a Freedom House delegation to monitor elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. This is the most thorough and convincing attack on the Carter administration’s policies towards this southern African state and its feckless dealings with communist-sponsored movements more generally, and delivers a prescient warning against the horrors of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Rustin was one of the very few black American leaders to speak out against a transition to power that put Mugabe in control.

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Preventative Care . . . or Else

One of the most illuminating moments of the 2008 presidential race came this past Sunday. Speaking to an audience in Iowa, John Edwards said that under his proposed universal health care plan, Americans would be required to go to the doctor regularly for preventative exams:

It requires that everybody get preventive care. If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for twenty years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.

This raises some obvious practical questions: What’s the penalty for choosing not to go to the doctor? Will the government keep records of people’s doctor visits? Are you also required to comply with doctor’s advice about diet and exercise? But it also offers some political and philosophical insight into the long, bitter argument over health care.

Politically, it highlights the extent to which the Democrats have begun to make themselves vulnerable on health care by overreaching. In part because Republicans have been absent from the debate, Democrats have convinced themselves in recent years that the public wants a universal, single-payer system. Their internal debate has been about whether the government should merely fund or actually own and run that system.

This is basically nuts. Examined carefully, public concerns about health care do not amount to a rejection of America’s private health insurance system. Rather, these concerns express anxiety about access to that system, and about portability and stability of coverage. Republicans slowly are coming to champion modest reforms that address these anxieties. In time, Democrats will find that they have vastly overshot the mark with their arguments for replacing the current system with a massive bureaucracy. Calls for mandatory doctor visits won’t help them refute criticisms on that score.

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One of the most illuminating moments of the 2008 presidential race came this past Sunday. Speaking to an audience in Iowa, John Edwards said that under his proposed universal health care plan, Americans would be required to go to the doctor regularly for preventative exams:

It requires that everybody get preventive care. If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for twenty years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.

This raises some obvious practical questions: What’s the penalty for choosing not to go to the doctor? Will the government keep records of people’s doctor visits? Are you also required to comply with doctor’s advice about diet and exercise? But it also offers some political and philosophical insight into the long, bitter argument over health care.

Politically, it highlights the extent to which the Democrats have begun to make themselves vulnerable on health care by overreaching. In part because Republicans have been absent from the debate, Democrats have convinced themselves in recent years that the public wants a universal, single-payer system. Their internal debate has been about whether the government should merely fund or actually own and run that system.

This is basically nuts. Examined carefully, public concerns about health care do not amount to a rejection of America’s private health insurance system. Rather, these concerns express anxiety about access to that system, and about portability and stability of coverage. Republicans slowly are coming to champion modest reforms that address these anxieties. In time, Democrats will find that they have vastly overshot the mark with their arguments for replacing the current system with a massive bureaucracy. Calls for mandatory doctor visits won’t help them refute criticisms on that score.

But Edwards’s idea has farther-reaching, philosophical implications. The case for universal health care has long been made on the grounds that access to care should be a right enjoyed by all—we all get sick and suffer injury; no one is more entitled to help in that struggle than anyone else. This thought proceeds from an essential premise of the modern worldview: nature is out to get us, and our vulnerability defines our common humanity.

Edwards’s move points out an important weakness in that view. By turning health from a right into a duty, from protection into obligation, it elevates health to a civic virtue of the highest order—higher even than freedom. (Or, as René Descartes put it 370 years ago, health is “without doubt the primary good and the foundation of all other goods of this life.”)

This elevation of health may not bear directly on the presidential race, but it is at the heart of many modern predicaments, and helps us understand a lot about the close but often stormy relationship between liberal democracy and modern science. (Some further thoughts on that here.) John Edwards didn’t mean, I’m sure, to imply all of that. It just sits beneath his proposal, and shows how deeply the daily grind of campaign politics and the abstract realm of political philosophy are connected.

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No Good Options

How should Israel respond to the relentless missile fire emanating from Gaza? At first glance, there appears to be an array of good options, from targeted killings to air strikes to a cutoff in fuel, water, and electricity to a ground incursion. (And certainly there is no question that Hamas and Islamic Jihad deserve any and all of these punishments, and then some.)

But a problem arises when one considers the current political and diplomatic environment, specifically, the American and Israeli project to prevent the West Bank, a more populous and less containable territory than Gaza, from being turned into Hamas’s next battleground. Setting aside the question of whether this project is a good idea, the pursuit of it remains a powerful delimiting force for Israeli action, and it is thus that the array of options for Gaza suddenly shrinks.

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How should Israel respond to the relentless missile fire emanating from Gaza? At first glance, there appears to be an array of good options, from targeted killings to air strikes to a cutoff in fuel, water, and electricity to a ground incursion. (And certainly there is no question that Hamas and Islamic Jihad deserve any and all of these punishments, and then some.)

But a problem arises when one considers the current political and diplomatic environment, specifically, the American and Israeli project to prevent the West Bank, a more populous and less containable territory than Gaza, from being turned into Hamas’s next battleground. Setting aside the question of whether this project is a good idea, the pursuit of it remains a powerful delimiting force for Israeli action, and it is thus that the array of options for Gaza suddenly shrinks.

In this context, it is not the least bit unrealistic to imagine the fallout from a strong Israeli military campaign or aid cutoff in Gaza: Mahmoud Abbas, who is involved in delicate negotiations with Israeli and American officials, would almost certainly be compelled to denounce Israel; the schizophrenic Palestinian “street” in the West Bank would be galvanized in support of Hamas; and Fatah’s security forces (which have been penetrated thoroughly by Hamas supporters) would have their incompetence exposed, and might become complicit in terrorist attacks against Israel—attacks ordered by the Hamas leadership in Damascus. In other words, the entire project of bolstering Fatah in the West Bank as both a counterexample to Gaza and a competent vehicle for curtailing Islamist influence seriously would be debilitated and possibly even scuttled.

In setting themselves this course, America and Israel preemptively have denied themselves the ability to strike at Hamas in Gaza in any meaningful way. The only option left is the one Israel appears to be following: limited strikes on Qassam missiles, launchers, and factories; a few targeted killings; and idle threats of water and electricity cutoffs. This, though, is too much of a bad deal for Israel, and an intolerable one for the residents of the border town of Sderot. A renewed Fatah kleptocracy in the West Bank is not a sufficient benefit given the cost entailed—namely, that of a Gaza Strip that can terrorize Israel with impunity.

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Rafsanjani, “Moderate”

Today’s print edition of the International Herald Tribune—the New York Times-owned international paper—has an article by Michael Slackman on Hashemi Rafsanjani’s election as the new leader of Iran’s Assembly of Experts. Its title, in the print edition, runs “Moderate wins Iran election.” (In the online edition, the article has a different title, strangely.) It’s often a mistake to look for convoluted explanations where none may be found. Still, we’d like to know who decided that Rafsanjani is a “moderate,” and how they arrived at that decision. After all, it was Rafsanjani who said that

If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.

Is it this (rather peculiar) interpretation of nuclear deterrence that makes him a moderate?

Today’s print edition of the International Herald Tribune—the New York Times-owned international paper—has an article by Michael Slackman on Hashemi Rafsanjani’s election as the new leader of Iran’s Assembly of Experts. Its title, in the print edition, runs “Moderate wins Iran election.” (In the online edition, the article has a different title, strangely.) It’s often a mistake to look for convoluted explanations where none may be found. Still, we’d like to know who decided that Rafsanjani is a “moderate,” and how they arrived at that decision. After all, it was Rafsanjani who said that

If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.

Is it this (rather peculiar) interpretation of nuclear deterrence that makes him a moderate?

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Learning to Love Anthrax

Who was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001? The FBI has still not solved the case and, at this rate, it probably never will. But even if we never solve the mystery, we still were taught a terrifying lesson in the perils of biological terrorism. We really do need to worry about biowarfare (BW) agents like anthrax and botulinum falling into the hands of groups like al Qaeda.

Or do we? Perhaps not as much as we think. Last year, Christian Enemark, a national-security expert at the Australian National University in Sydney, prepared a comprehensive evaluation, “Biological Attacks and the Non-State actor: A Threat Assessment.” Focusing on the use of salmonella bacteria by the Rajneesh cult in Washington State in 1984, the Aum Shinrikyo attacks in Japan in the early 1990’s, and the U.S. anthrax attacks, it offers a complete balance sheet of the pros and cons of using BW agents for terrorist purposes.

On the pro side from the terrorist’s point of view, one of the attractive features of using biological weapons is the effect on the “worried well.” Even small attacks, like the 2001 anthrax episode, which sickened seventeen people and killed five, play upon “the visceral human fear of infection” so that even a modest attack generates a huge impact:

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Who was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001? The FBI has still not solved the case and, at this rate, it probably never will. But even if we never solve the mystery, we still were taught a terrifying lesson in the perils of biological terrorism. We really do need to worry about biowarfare (BW) agents like anthrax and botulinum falling into the hands of groups like al Qaeda.

Or do we? Perhaps not as much as we think. Last year, Christian Enemark, a national-security expert at the Australian National University in Sydney, prepared a comprehensive evaluation, “Biological Attacks and the Non-State actor: A Threat Assessment.” Focusing on the use of salmonella bacteria by the Rajneesh cult in Washington State in 1984, the Aum Shinrikyo attacks in Japan in the early 1990’s, and the U.S. anthrax attacks, it offers a complete balance sheet of the pros and cons of using BW agents for terrorist purposes.

On the pro side from the terrorist’s point of view, one of the attractive features of using biological weapons is the effect on the “worried well.” Even small attacks, like the 2001 anthrax episode, which sickened seventeen people and killed five, play upon “the visceral human fear of infection” so that even a modest attack generates a huge impact:

People are acutely sensitive to the prospect of infection, as distinct from other health risks in everyday life such as smoking and high fat consumption. In addition, we tend to distinguish between types of infection based on the historical reputation of a disease, whether it is characterized by grotesque symptoms and/or high fatality rates, and how common or familiar it is. Cities function normally in the midst of a community-wide epidemic of regular influenza. But an outbreak of plague, responsible for the 14th-century Black Death in Europe, would be likely to cause widespread panic. And the highly lethal Ebola virus, although not easily transmissible between humans, inspires particular dread because it causes massive hemorrhaging in its victims. New or unfamiliar diseases can also engender a level of fear out of proportion to the threat they pose, in morbidity and mortality terms, relative to other diseases. This is demonstrated by the panic reaction to SARS in 2003. In China alone, over 100,000 people die each year from tuberculosis, and there are projected to be 10 million Chinese with HIV/AIDS by 2010.Yet SARS, which ultimately resulted in fewer than 400 Chinese deaths, generated dread to an extent vastly disproportionate to the disease’s ability to kill.

On the other side of the ledger–and I have drawn only small snippets from Enemark’s comprehensive accounting–if biological weapons can easily cause terror, they cannot readily be employed by non-state actors to kill on a mass scale.

Enemark cites research showing that cult-like organizations, “may be the least suited to meet the complex requirements for a BW program.” The Aum Shinrikyo case, in particular, “illustrates that a paranoid, fantasy-prone, and sometimes violent atmosphere [inside a cult] is not conducive to the sound scientific judgments needed to produce and weaponize biological agents.”

Aum’s leaders reinforced the cult’s doctrines among members through the use of physical isolation, beatings, physical torture, and the administration of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD. As an organization, Aum was also fickle by nature and inclined to embark on numerous expensive, and sometimes bizarre, ventures rather than concentrate on perfecting a particular weapon. Its activities in pursuit of producing mass casualties included an expedition to acquire the Ebola virus during an outbreak in Zaire in October 1992. Aum also attempted to build a high-power laser weapon and sought a device for generating earthquakes.

Like Aum, al Qaeda is arguably “paranoid” and “fantasy-prone,” and its scientists–if it currently has any in its ranks–would definitely have to operate inside a violent environment. Even though al Qaeda has been able to plan some terrorism spectaculars, as on 9/11, its skills inside a bio-warfare lab might well lag.

Of course, states (like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) face far fewer obstacles in developing biological weapons, and Enemark examines the possibility that a Saddam-like regime would provide a toxic agent to a group like al Qaeda. But he concludes that “any state anxious for its own survival would be most unlikely to entrust a BW capability to ruthless outsiders.”

Is Enemark right? Are we worrying too much about BW when we should be worrying about other things? However one answers that question, this is a paper deserving close attention.

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Bookshelf

• Is the Holocaust a fit subject for novelists? It’s tempting to reply with the oft-quoted words of Terence, the Roman playwright who declared that “nothing human is alien to me.” As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich made surpassingly clear, it is possible to make humane art out of the most monstrous of historical events. But if there is any act of human monstrosity that resists fictional treatment—especially by those who did not witness it at first hand—it is the Holocaust. The very phrase “Holocaust fiction” makes me squirm, and to look at a list of novels in which that dread occurrence figures is to be struck by how few have succeeded as art, whatever their value as testaments of man’s inhumanity to man. The more I reflect on the problem of Holocaust fiction, the more I find myself inclined to echo Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Be that as it may, novelists continue to grapple with the Holocaust, and on occasion something readable emerges from the struggle. Eugene Drucker’s The Savior is by no means a great novel, but it is exceedingly thought-provoking, and it also has something interesting to say about one of the deepest mysteries of the Third Reich, which is the corrupting effect it had on German art. Drucker comes by his interest in this subject honestly, for he is not a novelist de métier but a member of the world-renowned Emerson Quartet, and his father, a violinist who played in the Busch Quartet, got out of Germany in 1938, just in time. Small wonder, then, that his violin-playig son should feel moved to reflect on the nature of Hitler’s appeal to the artists of the Third Reich.

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• Is the Holocaust a fit subject for novelists? It’s tempting to reply with the oft-quoted words of Terence, the Roman playwright who declared that “nothing human is alien to me.” As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich made surpassingly clear, it is possible to make humane art out of the most monstrous of historical events. But if there is any act of human monstrosity that resists fictional treatment—especially by those who did not witness it at first hand—it is the Holocaust. The very phrase “Holocaust fiction” makes me squirm, and to look at a list of novels in which that dread occurrence figures is to be struck by how few have succeeded as art, whatever their value as testaments of man’s inhumanity to man. The more I reflect on the problem of Holocaust fiction, the more I find myself inclined to echo Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Be that as it may, novelists continue to grapple with the Holocaust, and on occasion something readable emerges from the struggle. Eugene Drucker’s The Savior is by no means a great novel, but it is exceedingly thought-provoking, and it also has something interesting to say about one of the deepest mysteries of the Third Reich, which is the corrupting effect it had on German art. Drucker comes by his interest in this subject honestly, for he is not a novelist de métier but a member of the world-renowned Emerson Quartet, and his father, a violinist who played in the Busch Quartet, got out of Germany in 1938, just in time. Small wonder, then, that his violin-playig son should feel moved to reflect on the nature of Hitler’s appeal to the artists of the Third Reich.

That a considerable number of German artists approved of Hitler, or at least cooperated more or less willingly with the Nazi regime, is incontestable. As I wrote four years ago in COMMENTARY:

The list of distinguished non-Jewish artists who left the country after Hitler came to power is brief to the point of invisibility when placed next to the rogues’ gallery of those who stayed behind, in many cases not merely accepting the inevitability of Nazi rule but actively collaborating with the regime. The composers Carl Orff and Richard Strauss, the conductors Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan, the Nobel Prize-winning author Gerhart Hauptmann, the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, the actor Emil Jannings, the stage designer Caspar Neher—all these and many more were perfectly prepared to make their peace with Nazism.

Gottfried Keller, the central character of The Savior, is a small fish in this big sewer, a good-but-not-great violinist who in the last weeks of World War II is forced to take part in a a grotesque “experiment” devised by the music-loving commandant of a forced-labor camp. The purpose of the experiment is to find out whether exposure to classical music will raise the spirits of the camp’s demoralized Jewish inmates high enough to increase their efficiency. Later on in the novel, we learn that Keller was once engaged to a Jewish musician who gave him the opportunity to emigrate to Palestine, but that he chose to remain in Germany instead, and by book’s end we come to realize that this fateful decision has made him an “accomplice” (Drucker’s word) to the Holocaust.

This is Drucker’s first novel, but he has written many program notes for the Emerson Quartet’s concerts, and from time to time he disgorges undigested chunks of technical language that betray his inexperience as a writer of fiction (“An accelerando leads to a Presto that plummets from the highest to the lowest registers, where the music briefly regains its repose”). For the most part, though, he tells his terrible tale with an appropriate plainness. Moreover, Drucker is well aware of the difficulty of saying anything meaningful about the Holocaust through the medium of fiction, going so far as to put the following words into the mouth of one of the inmates of the unnamed camp portrayed in The Savior:

I can’t tell anyone here what I’ve seen. It would be a useless repetition of their story, of what they’ve seen; it would be self-indulgent, a way of asking for sympathy. There’s no place for sympathy here. Only an outsider, who understands maybe one-millionth of it, could feel an emotion like sympathy.

Does The Savior add to our understanding of the camps? Not really. But what I did find striking was its author’s willingness to engage directly with the implications of Hitler’s homicidal dream of purifying German art and culture through mass murder. The commandant is made to speak for all the artists and intellectuals who allowed themselves to share that dream, whether in whole or in part: “You’re surprised to find a cultivated man in charge of such a place. But then you have no idea how closely these camps are related to the core of our culture.” And were they? That we should still be asking that question is a measure of Adolf Hitler’s dark victory over the German soul.

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Clarity on Taiwan

Chinese President Hu Jintao reportedly will ask that President Bush personally express his opposition to the upcoming referendum in Taiwan over U.N. membership. Evidently, statements of opposition from Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte (on Phoenix TV in Hong Kong) and former CIA analyst (and now National Security Council member) Dennis Wilder have not satisfied the Chinese authorities. According to the World Journal of September 3, Hu will make the request when he meets President Bush at the upcoming APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in Australia. A tempest is now brewing over a matter that Washington should have dismissed with a simple “no comment.”

Beijing is clearly worried that democracy in Taiwan will get out of hand. It has evidently been warning and threatening us—perhaps, and this is my own speculation, suggesting the Chinese government might undertake some symbolic or real military action if a “red line” is crossed. This would be most unwelcome given the current state of Iraq and Afghanistan. So Washington has made a huge effort to make absolutely certain that no trouble develops in Asia—leading to an overreaction that is proving seriously counterproductive.

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Chinese President Hu Jintao reportedly will ask that President Bush personally express his opposition to the upcoming referendum in Taiwan over U.N. membership. Evidently, statements of opposition from Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte (on Phoenix TV in Hong Kong) and former CIA analyst (and now National Security Council member) Dennis Wilder have not satisfied the Chinese authorities. According to the World Journal of September 3, Hu will make the request when he meets President Bush at the upcoming APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in Australia. A tempest is now brewing over a matter that Washington should have dismissed with a simple “no comment.”

Beijing is clearly worried that democracy in Taiwan will get out of hand. It has evidently been warning and threatening us—perhaps, and this is my own speculation, suggesting the Chinese government might undertake some symbolic or real military action if a “red line” is crossed. This would be most unwelcome given the current state of Iraq and Afghanistan. So Washington has made a huge effort to make absolutely certain that no trouble develops in Asia—leading to an overreaction that is proving seriously counterproductive.

By publicly supporting the Chinese, we have put the spotlight unintentionally on our own policies, which are a welter of contradictions unlikely to withstand close scrutiny. We have never recognized Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, even when we did recognize the Chiang Kai-shek government in Taiwan as the government of China. We expected, when we cut our relations with Chiang’s government, that Taipei’s then-autocratic rulers would cut a deal with Beijing and merge. But they did not; they went democratic, unexpectedly (not without some consternation on our part). We support independence referenda in states all around the world, and are pushing now for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. We insist on peaceful resolution of issues between Taipei and Beijing, yet we sell weapons and share intelligence with the government of Taiwan, which we do not recognize. Our most important Asian allies, Japan in particular, have vital interests in Taiwan’s not coming under Chinese control. PRC forces there could easily cut vital shipping lanes for energy from the Middle East to Northeast Asia.

But even though we do not consider Taiwan to be part of China, we oppose the Taiwanese sharing this view or acting on it. All sorts of conflicts are latent here, but silence and circumspection have kept them reasonably quiet for nearly thirty years. Now a series of misplaced steps, designed to please China, seem set to push the whole situation towards exactly what we and they have been seeking to avoid: a clear-cut, democratic, and legal assertion of the rights of the Taiwanese to be members of the international community.

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