“Kremlinology,” according to Wikipedia, is the study of Soviet politics and policies based on the inner workings of the Kremlin, the seat of the Soviet government. During the Cold War, lack of reliable information about the country forced Western analysts to “read between the lines” and to use the tiniest tidbits, such as the removal of portraits, the rearranging of chairs, the assignment of positions on the reviewing stand for May Day parades, and other indirect signs to understand what was happening in internal Soviet politics.
Now that the Soviet Union has been relegated to the dustbin of history, today’s “Kremlinology” is the study of the politics and policies of the new “Evil Empire,” based on the inner workings of the White House, the seat of Imperium Americanus. Now that Washington has unilaterally declared a “New Cold War” against China, latter day Kremlinologists “read between the lines” and rely on indirect signs to understand what is happening in internal Beltway politics.
The State Department’s Daily Press Briefings, for example, have been providing unmistakable signs of the Bush administration’s increasing frustration with and contempt for its unruly puppet regime on Taiwan.
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack’s Daily Press Briefing on May 4, 2006, was especially revealing:
QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Do you have any updates on Taiwan’s President Chen’s transit through the United States?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I understand he will, on his outbound leg to his destination in South America, or destinations in South America, that he will not be transiting the United States. It is an open question whether or not — whether on the way back he will transit the United States. As of this point, we don’t have a request for that, but if we do receive the request we will certainly look at it consistent with our past practice on that question.
QUESTION: A follow-up. In the past, the U.S. has approved Taiwanese leaders to transit through other U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco, which were more preferable to the Taiwan side. Can you tell us why this time the U.S. put only stops in Alaska?
MR. MCCORMACK: There was an offer of transit through Anchorage, Alaska, which we thought was appropriate. We take each of these requests on a case-by-case basis. Each of them we take on their individual merits and beyond that I don’t have any further comment on it.
QUESTION: One last follow up, sir. In your (inaudible) yesterday, you called Chen Shui-bian “he” and never once did you address his title and you are the spokesperson and a diplomat, I would assume your expressions are —
MR. MCCORMACK: “He” referred to Chen Shui-bian.
QUESTION: Excuse me, can I follow up on this President’s transit issue? By rejecting the U.S. offer to transit in through Alaska, President Chen is obviously, you know, showing his displeasure with the U.S. arrangement. Do you think there will, you know, a chilling effect of current and future U.S.-Taiwan relations?
MR. MCCORMACK: First of all, I would refer you to his — Chen Shui-bian’s traveling party for a comment on why they chose not to transit through Alaska. And as for the second part of your question, I would expect that it would not have any effect.
QUESTION: The transit — was that meant to be just to refuel for a couple of hours or was that supposed to include an overnight if the timing coincided or —
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you can talk to his traveling party about that.
QUESTION: Well, no, but wait a second. This is a serious decision — was that — what does transit mean? Does it mean 24 hours, less than 24 hours, 12 hours? What does it mean?
MR. MCCORMACK: It has meant different things at different times.
From “President Chen” to “He”
State Department spokesmen initially referred to Chen as “President Chen Shui-bian.”
After Chen reneged on his Five Noes Pledge and began making trouble for Washington, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as “Mr. Chen,” dropping the title “President.”
After Chen ignored the exhortations of US envoys discreetly dispatched to Taipei by the Bush White House, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as “Chen Shui-bian,” dropping even the “Mr.” ordinarily granted to any Tom, Dick, or Harry.
After Chen openly thumbed his nose at the US by changing his flight plans at the eleventh hour, after agreeing to and applying for transit through Anchorage, Alaska, State Department spokesmen began referring to Chen as “he,” refusing even to say his name.
None of this escaped the notice of reporters present at the State Department Daily Press Briefing, who asked McCormack to clarify the government’s position.
Nor has any of this escaped the notice of Kremlinologists on Taiwan, several of whom joked that at least State Department spokesmen didn’t refer to Chen as “it.” Not yet anyway.
But stay tuned. Who knows what State Department spokesmen will call Chen next? After all, we haven’t forgotten that behind closed doors Bush Jr. refers to Chen as “That SOB,” have we?