The China Desk
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American Values in Dire Straits
August 08, 1999
High anxiety in the Taiwan Straits following Republic of China President Lee Teng-hui's "two nations" challenge to the People's Republic of China raises the question: How should patriotic Americans respond to the Taipei-Beijing confrontation?
The answer is: Americans who revere our heritage of freedom and independence must have the courage to defy 1990's Political Correctness and uphold core American values -- by politely but firmly refusing to intervene.
As George Washington stated in his Farewell Address of 1796:
"The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our comercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible... Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign World."
Condensing Washington's 18th century idioms into bumper sticker-ese:
"trade with either, side with neither."
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Relations Act, which should have gone the way of the Berlin Wall, is exactly the kind of pernicious "permanent Alliance" with a "portion of the foreign World" the Father of our Country urged us to steer clear of.
Washington was hardly alone. His resolute opposition to foreign intervention was shared by all the Founders, none of whom intended any exceptions to be made for Kosovo or Taiwan.
As James Madison put it:
"Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations... fulfilling their neutral obligations with... scrupulous impartiality... sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations... [excluding] foreign intrigues and foreign partialities..."
As Thomas Jefferson put it:
"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations -- entangling alliances with none... Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe."
And finally, as John Quincy Adams, author of the Monroe Doctrine put it:
"America... does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."
Why exactly were the Founding Fathers so unanimously and unambiguously opposed to "proactively" exporting American values beyond our shores? Did they not want liberty to prevail all over the world, not just in America? What was their problem anyway? Were they too myopic or selfish, as the Nomenklatura of the New World Order seem to imply, to see the value of "making the world safe for democracy?"
The answer to all these questions is a resounding "No." The Founding Fathers were cultured cosmopolitans who devoutly hoped that liberty would triumph the world over. And no, their foreign policy prescriptions have not been rendered obsolete by jet travel and the internet, because their soundness was not predicated on specific technologies in fhe first place. Rather their strategic vision was grounded solidly in their grasp of fundamental human nature, which has evolved little since 1796, however we might wish otherwise.
The Founders, powdered wigs and all, were infinitely more "hip" than we give them credit for, and understood something our smug modern politicians do not. They understood that to yeild to the powerful temptation to "do good" abroad carries an enormously expensive and hidden price tag: the loss of our own liberty at home.
They understood that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," that handing our Political Class the power it demands to impose "benevolent global hegemony" on the rest of the world empowers it to impose a malevolent domestic dictatorship on Americans at home.
They understood, as too many well-intentioned Americans today do not, that once we compromise the safeguards against domestic tyranny written into our own system of law, no matter how compelling the rationale, we will cease being the nation others once considered worth emulating. We would instead soon resemble the very nations we so confidently set out to "reform" and "enlighten."
Chiang Kai-shek's Taiwan, like South Korea and West Germany, demonstrated capitalism's clear superiority to socialism. Democratic reformer Chiang Ching-kuo's Taiwan, which witnessed the repeal of martial law and the enfranchisment of "native" Taiwanese, demonstrated that economic reforms are the harbinger of political reforms. Lee Teng-hui's "New Taiwan" on the other hand, is proof positive that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
China's Founding Father Sun Yat-sen modelled Taiwan's constitution on our own American Constitution. Acutely aware of China's susceptibility to backsliding into defacto monarchy, Sun took the added precaution of dividing the ROC government into five, not three branches. Not that it did any good. Lee Teng-hui, whom Newsweek gullibly anointed "Mr. Democracy," merely nullified all constitutional constraints on his executive powers in four stages over nine years, including the power of impeachment, and now simply does whatever he damned well pleases.
When Lee Teng-hui decided the Taiwan Provincial Government had to go because its mere existence constituted prima facie evidence Taiwan was part of China, the National Assembly stood in his way. What did "Mr. Democracy" do? With the collusion of the separatist Democratic Progressive Party he ordered closed circuit TV cameras installed inside the National Assembly hall to record who voted "the wrong way." He ordered illegal wiretaps of recalcitrant assemblymen, even his own party's. He sicced Taiwan's IRS onto holdouts with guerrilla tax audits. He arranged for triad hoodlums to phone undecided assemblymen to inquire "Do you know where your children are?" He persuaded parents and kin of Assembly members to threaten to disown or shun them. Finally, as a capper, he nullified all village level elections. Thousands of popularly elected officials have since become Lee's presidential appointees.
Lee Teng-hui is an "elective monarch" who finances his personal dream of a "Republic of Taiwan" with hapless Taiwan taxpayers' dollars, even though the government's own surveys show that over 80% of the people oppose Taiwan independence. When Lee made his headline grabbing offer of US$300 million in foreign aid to Kosovo, whom did he consult? No one. Not even his cabinet, let alone the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's equivalent of our Congress. With the exception of Lee himself, all 22 million Chinese on Taiwan were taken completely by surprise.
All three major broadcast television stations on Taiwan are owned by Lee's KMT party machine, as are the two largest English language papers. Dissidents are relegated to cable TV or "pirate radio," where they survive only by practicing self-censorship. The acidly funny and popular "Dianfu Xinwen" ("Underground News"), a "McLaughlin Group" style panel show was recently forced off the air for making Lee look like a buffoon. .
The Founders adamantly opposed foreign entanglements even when they harbored no doubt whatsoever about the worthiness of sundry foreign lobbyists' causes. Try to imagine the vehemence of their opposition to so-called Taiwan "independence" when the Taiwan separatist leadership's commitment to America's republican ideals is more than just a little suspect?
Americans must summon up the backbone to resist the moral guilt-tripping of the Gauleiters of the New World Order. We must uphold Madison's wise and principled admonition to exclude "foreign intrigues and foreign partialities," by staying the hell out of the ongoing Chinese Civil War in the Taiwan Straits in 1999, just as China refrained from siding with either the Union or the Confederacy during the American Civil War in 1861.
As a first generation naturalized American I am all too aware that my patriotism is presumed suspect by many China-haters in Congress simply by virtue of my race and my national origin. Never mind that I am from Taiwan -- that didn't help Lee Wen-ho -- and that I currently live in Taiwan. Never mind that my parents also live in Taiwan. Never mind that like Joe Sobran and Jude Wanniski I was a Cold Warrior to the right of Richard Nixon. I know by advocating policies which may appear "soft on communism" red flags will go up in the fevered minds of China Threat theorists determined to "go abroad in search of monsters to destroy."
I could keep my mouth shut and my head down. But genuine patriotism demands that Americans defend the ideals of our Founding Fathers, and speak up for what is authentically American, and not meekly acquiesce, like "good Germans" or "good Japanese" in the 1930's, to the mainstream consensus while our nation continues its downward slide into imperial decadence.
America, the "world's only remaining superpower," has troops stationed in 144 foreign nations around the globe. Today the sun never sets on the American Empire. Back home meanwhile, Posse Comitatus is a dead letter, and the smart weapons used against Saddam and Milosevic to "make the world safe for democracy" have been used to incinerate non-conformist parishioners of a rural Texas Protestant sect, including two dozen unarmed children. As John Quincy Adams warned, America has become "the dictatress of the world" but is "no longer... the ruler of her own spirit." Our Founding Fathers' worst fears have come true.
Americans must categorically reject any attempts by foreign lobbyists, fellow travellers, and domestic politicians in the service or on the payroll of either Taipei or Beijing to draw America into what Washington termed "controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns." We must do so without hesitation and without apology, because contrary to what is Politically Correct in 1999, unyeilding adherence to James Madison's "scrupulous impartiality" and "sincere neutrality" is the fullest and most genuine expression of enduring American values. It is late in the day, but not too late to save our republic.