Taiwan Fiddles, while Rome Burns
September 8, 2005
Senatus Populus Que Americanus
According to an August 24, 2005 Wall Street Journal editorial entitled “Taiwan Fiddles”:
“Taiwan spends a small fortune lobbying Washington so the U.S. will ride to its rescue in case of a Chinese attack. Yet more than four years after the U.S. offered a package of advanced defense weapons, politicians in Taipei still haven’t decided to buy them. This isn’t helping Taiwan’s cause in Washington.”
The title of the editorial refers of course to Nero, aka Tiberius Claudius Nero Domitianus Caesar, the decadent Roman emperor who “fiddled while Rome burned.” The Wall Street Journal’s dire implication is that although Taiwan/Rome is on the verge of falling to mainland China/the Huns, Republic of China political leaders are “fiddling” and “dawdling,” and that any ROC political leaders who balk at buying a pig in a poke from the US military industrial complex are latter day Neros, fiddling while Rome burns.
But what is Rome in this scenario? Is it Taipei?
How could it be? Taipei is hardly the center of the Roman Empire. All roads do not lead to Taipei.
As a matter of fact, it would be more accurate to say that under Pan Green dictatorship, no roads lead to Taipei. The Taiwan independence nomenklatura has banned direct mail, maritime cargo, and air transport links to mainland China for nearly two decades. Lee Teng-hiu’s economically suicidal “Avoid Haste, Use Patience” policy, dutifully maintained by successor Chen Shui-bian, has effectively doomed the island’s economy, sealing it off from its vital source of livelihood, the Chinese mainland. Taiwan independence Quislings pursue this economically suicidal course of action because their fundamental strategy is to promote political independence through ethnic apartheid.
Besides, what is Taiwan to the authors of the editorial? Is anyone so naive as to believe they lie awake at night wringing their hands, worrying about the well-being of 23 million Chinamen on Taiwan? Taiwan is Imperium Americanus’ military colony, its regional puppet, its “forward presence” against alleged “strategic competitor” China. Nothing more.
The Neocon China Threat theorists who penned the editorial know perfectly well that Rome is Washington, DC, the capital of Imperium Americanus, the American Empire, the New Rome. New Rome, the Galactic Empire depicted by George Lucas in his Star Wars saga is what the authors of the editorial care about, not the Taiwanese “ma qian zu,” (sacrificial pawns).
Star Wars and the American Empire
The Gravest Threat to Peace in the Taiwan Strait
“In April 2001, the Bush administration reversed the Clinton policy and offered Patriot anti-missile batteries, anti-submarine aircraft and diesel submarines. It did so at some diplomatic risk, since China has objected to the sale. But Taiwan clearly needs a stronger deterrent given China’s military buildup, which includes more missiles targeting the island and aggressive submarine activity. China passed an anti-secession law in March, mandating force if Taiwan rejects “peaceful reunification.””
Scare quotes arround the term “peaceful reunification” to the contrary notwithstanding, Taiwan, or more precisely, Chinese people on Taiwan, do not need extortionately priced, technologically obsolete versions of “Patriot anti-missile batteries, anti-submarine aircraft and diesel submarines.” They do not need “a stronger deterrent” because they oppose Taiwan independence in the first place. They do not need to meekly cough up protection money disingenuously relabeled as “arms sales.” No independence, no war. No war, no arms. No arms, no sales.
Neoconservative China Threat theories to the contrary notwithstanding, Beijing is not “the most serious threat to peace in East Asia.” That distinction goes to the New Rome, Washington, DC. As a result of Necon China Threat theorists’ irrational hostility towards a peacefully rising China, the gravest threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait is Imperium Americanus. Even formerly compliant allies of the US such as South Korea and Australia have recently come to this realization. Beijing ironically, is beginning to look like “the most responsible guarantor of peace in the Taiwan Strait.”
Butter Yes, Guns No
What precisely is Neocon China policy?
Neocon China policy can be summed up in three words: “Keep China Down!” The Neoconservative China Threat theorists in the Bush II administration keep China down by undermining Chinese reunification and abetting Taiwan independence. They extort “protection money” from Taiwan’s privileged and wealthy Quisling nomenklatura, which in turn takes it out of the hide of hapless ROC citizens on Taiwan.
No US administration is going to openly admit this of course. So one administration after another pays ritual lip service to “One China,” even as they continue to covertly aid and abet Taiwan independence from behind the scenes.
What Chinese people on Taiwan need is a long overdue cessation of outdated Cold War hostilities. What Chinese people on Taiwan need is orderly and peaceful reunification with the Chinese mainland, on the largely successful German model. I say “largely” because Germany encountered technical difficulties that China ought to avoid repeating.
The ideological discrediting of Stalinism in the Warsaw Pact nations resulted in the political dissolution of the USSR.
As a consequence, Soviet/Russian Communism is no longer a messianic, expansionist political force that needs to be defended against. Even assuming it needs to be defended against philosophically, it no longer needs defending against militarily.
The ideological discrediting of Maoism on the Chinese mainland resulted in the economic transformation of the PRC.
As a consequence, Chinese Communism is no longer a coercive redistributionist political force that needs to be defended against. As a consequence, the Cold War era “Mexican Standoff” between Taipei and Beijing has reverted to a domestic Chinese concern. It is no longer an American concern, assuming it ever was.
In fact, what the editorial refers to as “China’s military buildup” is the best reason for patriotic Chinese on Taiwan to accelerate the process of reunification with the Chinese mainland. Accelerated reunification with the mainland would allow Chinese citizens on Taiwan to stop paying through the nose for “defense.” Defense against whom? Against their fellow countrymen?
Accelerated reunification with the mainland would allow Chinese on Taiwan to rely on their mainland compatriots for defense against genuine aggression, such as recent Japanese attempts to annex the Taiwanese island of Diaoyutai. It would allow Chinese on Taiwan to reallocate arms budgets to desperately needed ecological measures such as watershed conservation, and infrastructure improvements such as storm drain construction.
Chen Fiddles while Taiwan Drowns
The Wall Street Journal speaks of “politicians in Taipei.” Who are these “politicians in Taipei” who have incurred the wrath of the Wall Street Journal? Are they the illegitimate US puppet Chen Shui-bian and his unelected appointees in his imperial executive?
No, they are the duly elected legislators of the Pan Blue KMT/NP/PFP democratic majority in the ROC legislature.
As the authors put it:
“But legislators in Taiwan have blocked any purchase plan proposed by President Chen Shui-bian. Some opposition politicians have even accused the U.S. of using the arms sales as a pretext to pursue a hidden agenda of demonizing China. Lien Chan, until last week chairman of the main opposition party, has argued the country can’t afford the $15 billion price tag. But this doesn’t wash for an island with per-capita income of $13,000 a year.”
Really? The United States of America, the richest nation in the world, with a per-capita income of $40,100 a year, cannot afford to wage war against Baghdad and Hurricane Katrina at the same time. The World’s Only Remaining Superpower has lost the “Big Easy,” New Orleans, one of her most beautiful cities, and over 10,000 lives to a single hurricane.
How is the Taiwan region of China, with a per-capita income of only $13,000 a year, supposed to wage war against the Chinese mainland in addition to Typhoon Haitang, Typhoon Toraji, Typhoon Nari, and Typhoon Talim, assuming it has any reason to do so?
Typhoon Haitang, Typhoon Toraji, Typhoon Nari, and Typhoon Talim have devasted Taiwan the way Hurricane Katrine devasted Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana. The Taiwan independence nomenlatura has attempted to attribute the catastrophic consequences of these typhoons entirely to Force Majeure, to Acts of God.
Unfortunately for them, the public on Taiwan doesn’t buy it. The public’s memory may be short, but it’s not that short. The public remembers perfectly well that tax monies which should have been devoted to flood control and water conservation were squandered promoting Taiwan independence; bribing tinpot dictators in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa, not to mention congressmen and arms merchants in the United States.
Most westerners don’t know it, but Chen Shui-bian’s given name, Shui-bian, has a peculiar meaning. The word “shui” means water. The word “bian” means “flat” (adjective) or “to flatten” (verb, transitive). Together “Shui-bian” means “to flatten with water” or “to be flattened by water.”
During Chen Shui-bian’s first term, plus his unelected, illegal “second term,” the island of Taiwan has quite literally been “flattened by water.”
The irony has not escaped the notice of either the public on Taiwan, or talking heads on television. Is “Lao Tien” (Heaven/Providence) giving the Taiwan independence nomenklatura a sign? Is Lao Tien suggesting “regime change?” Even Pan Green voters are wondering.
The Will of the People vs. the Will of Washington
“Mr. Lien, as it happens, was given red-carpet treatment during a high-profile visit to Beijing in April. A month later, he rebuffed a plea from 33 U.S. Congressmen to end his party’s obstruction of the bill now before Taiwan’s legislature and approve special funding for the arms purchases. Mr. Lien instead blamed President Chen for waiting three years before submitting the funding request in June 2004. Opposition parties, which run the legislature, have used procedural tactics to block the funding bill at least 26 times.”
“The good news is that the recent Pentagon report on China’s military has put opponents on the defensive by highlighting how Taiwan risks “being quickly overwhelmed” by Beijing’s rapidly modernizing forces. And Mr. Lien has been succeeded as KMT chairman by Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who seems to understand the urgency of the arms purchases.”
What can one do except laugh?
Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, ever since the Cold War ended, ever since America became the World’s Only Remaining Superpower, what have Neoconservative “Neo-imperialists” (their own term) been telling us? Haven’t these Champions of Democracy been trumpeting the virtues of the American political system?
Leave aside the critical differences between a republic and a democracy for the moment. Leave aside the fact that George W’s US police state bears scant resemblance to the America of Founding Father George Washington. Haven’t Neocon China Threat theorists been telling God and all Creation that their most devout wish is for the world to adopt American style “democracy?”
Leave aside the fact that the US today is ruled by a single party, the “Demopublican Party,” and that there isn’t a dimes worth of difference between the liberal and conservative wings of this single party monopoly. Hasn’t the Neocon China Threat theorists’ central criticism of mainland China been that it is a “single party dictatorship without an effective political opposition to ensure that it respects the Will of the People?”
Isn’t the American political system characterized by its tripartite separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial? By its legislative branch providing a check on unbridled spending by an imperial executive?
Aren’t the actions of opposition parties on Taiwan, which “run the legislature,” and which “have used procedural tactics to block the funding bill,” merely the purest expression of American style “multiparty democracy” in action?
Neocon Neo-imperialists are not really concerned about whether foreign governments practice American style “democracy.” Neocon Neo-imperialists are not really concerned about whether foreign governments obey the “Will of the People.” Neocon Neo-imperialists are only concerned about whether foreign governments obey the “Will of Washington.”
Taiwan Independence and Free Lunches
The Fallacy of the Ambiguous Collective: The use of a collective term without any meaningful delimitation of the elements it subsumes. “We” “you” “they” “the people” “the system” and “as a whole” are the most widely used examples. This fallacy is especially widespread and devastating in the realm of political discussion, where its use renders impossible the task of discriminating among distinctively different groups of people.
— A Handbook of Logical Fallacies
“The problem is that while Taiwan dawdles, China keeps modernizing its military. The 2001 U.S. offer, while still useful, may require upgrading if Taiwan truly wants the capability to hold off an invading force long enough to allow the U.S. to intervene. Given Taiwan’s half-hearted response to the current arms offer, there’s little point in considering a fresh one now. But if Taiwan wants the U.S. to risk its blood and treasure in the event of an attack, paying for an adequate defense would seem to be a minimum prerequisite.”
Every nation worthy of the name should of course pay for its own national defense. After all, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. I have made this point repeatedly in my own articles over the years.
Unfortunately the authors of “Taiwan Fiddles” are guilty of the “ambiguous collective fallacy.” They use the term “Taiwan” as a synonym for 23 million individuals, as in “If Taiwan wants the U.S. to risk its blood and treasure.”
But “Taiwan” doesn’t want the US to risk its blood and treasure.
A 55% majority of the voting public on Taiwan angrily rejected Chen Shui-bian’s “Defensive Referendum.” These are so-called “Pan Blue” voters. These Pan Blue voters do not expect free lunches from the United States. They do not want the US to “ride to the rescue.” They do not want to pay the US to “ride to the rescue.” They want the US to butt out and mind its own damned business. They know that if the US ever does “ride to the rescue” it will be because it is aiding and abetting the Taiwan independence movement in an attempt to Balkanize the nation they love.
Pan Green Taiwan independence Quislings are the only people on Taiwan who expect free lunches from the United States. They want to provoke Beijing into lashing out against Taiwan in anger. They want the US to “ride to the rescue.” They want the US to “risk its blood and treasure.” They want to exploit the ensuing Sino-US War to establish an independent “Republic of Taiwan.” Is it necessary to point out that they want to pay as little as possible for this result?
Are the authors of “Taiwan Fiddles” serious about identifying the freeloaders on Taiwan? Or are they merely interested in railing against the Taiwanese counterparts of Hugo Chavez?