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PostControversy Surrounding Pelosi's Taiwan Trip (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary, 08/04/22 6:05 am)
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi landed on Tuesday in Taiwan, after several weeks of uncertainty and doubts in the White House itself, and even in the US Army, about the advisability of her trip. Doubts caused by the fear of a Chinese overreaction.
The visit, the first by a high-level American representative to the island since that of Republican Newt Gingrich 25 years ago, has indeed been interpreted as an affront by the Chinese government, which considers Taiwan part of its territory.
There is in fact no more sensitive issue for Beijing than that of the status of the "rebel" island, today a consolidated democracy.
On the one hand, practically simultaneously with Pelosi's landing on the island, an unspecified number of Chinese SU-35 fighters crossed the Taiwan Strait, according to reports in some Chinese state media. The disproportionate nature of Beijing's reaction demonstrates the aggressiveness of a regime that considers itself entitled to veto diplomatic visits by other countries to independent nations such as Taiwan.
Pelosi has the right to visit Taiwan, without needing to justify herself to China and its government. However, fear of Beijing's wrath has caused even some American media and journalists, such as the Washington Post and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, to be ambiguous in their support for Pelosi, arguing that in diplomacy timing is everything, and that her trip coincides with a series of circumstances that make it inconvenient.
To add to these complications, we have the telephone call that Biden and Xi Jinping have scheduled for the coming weeks, the future celebration of the National Congress of the Communist Party, the re-election of Xi Jinping for a third term, the internal turmoil in the country due to the quarantines decreed as a result of the new outbreaks of Covid-19, and the concern that this has caused among millions of Chinese citizens who have seen their savings evaporating.
On the other hand, China's hostility towards Taiwan has been increasing in recent months. Therefore, the cancellation of Pelosi's visit, as demanded by the Chinese government, would have been an unacceptable demonstration of weakness on the part of the United States. Something that neither Biden nor the US can afford right now.
Moreover, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has triggered fears among liberal democracies of an emboldening of the bloc formed by Russia itself, China, Iran and other regional powers. This emboldening could lead them to take advantage of the presumed weakness of the West to impose a geostrategic policy of fait accompli, with Taiwan as the big prize.
President Biden, for his part, made a mistake when he announced that the US Army had advised against Pelosi's trip. Firstly, because it showed that not even the President himself had a clear position on the matter. Secondly, because it confirmed that the US Army has a say in international diplomacy issues that, in principle, should be far from its competence.
It can be argued that, just as the United States could not overrule Pelosi's trip without showing weakness, China could not tolerate it now without risking being perceived in the same way. But the disproportionate nature of the Chinese response and above all of its threats (the Chinese Army will not stand idly by in the face of interference by foreign forces, and secessionist advances towards Taiwan independence) have tipped the balance on the side of those who have defended the relevance of the visit from the outset.
Finally, neither the US nor Western democracies should give an inch in the face of dictatorships such as China's, especially when Russia, another fierce dictatorship, has strained the Eurasian scenario to the extreme with its invasion of Ukraine, and maintains its threats to cut off gas supplies to the European Union.
As for the Asian giant, China, it believes that a change of international cycle is taking place in its favor and to the detriment of the West. Now is the time for the free world, which believes in freedom and human rights, to make the Asians see that they were imbued with a false illusion, and therefore their dream will not prosper, because that would entail dragging the world into a time of darkness, as if it were a horror movie itself.
JE comments: Pelosi's trip was a poke in the PRC's eye. My question is, what does she hope to gain from this "escalation"? The cost alone of this trip boggles the mind, not to mention the jitters it is sending through the markets.
What do our geopolitical observers think--will the visit make the Mainland's intervention in Taiwan more, or less likely? The biggest danger: Ukraine II.
Possible Consequences of Pelosi Visit to Taiwan
(Alan Levine, USA
08/05/22 4:04 AM)
Geopolitically speaking, one of the West's main interests should be trying to keep China and Russia from getting too cozy. It is my understanding that China has so far not aggressively aided Russia in its war in Ukraine. If Pelosi's visit changes that, it will have been a blunder.
JE comments: A "true" Russia-China axis is a scary thought indeed: Eurasia and Eastasia teaming up against Oceania. At the same time, can't we assume that China has no interest in enabling Putin to get too strong?
- Pelosi in Taiwan: An Outrageous Provocation (Cameron Sawyer, USA 08/05/22 4:14 AM)
Consoly León Arias wrote on August 4th: "The disproportionate nature of Beijing's reaction [to Pelosi's Taiwan visit] demonstrates the aggressiveness of a regime that considers itself entitled to veto diplomatic visits by other countries to independent nations such as Taiwan.
"Pelosi has the right to visit Taiwan, without needing to justify herself to China and its government."
This post, like a lot of what we are reading in the press these days, seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the situation between Taiwan and the PRC.
Consoly refers to Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, as "an independent nation"; but that is not what Taiwan is. The ROC Constitution considers Taiwan to be an integral part of China, not a country independent from China. The ROC government, therefore, is not a separate "independent nation," but a rival government to the PRC government, claiming sovereignty over all of China.
So Pelosi is not visiting some "independent nation," but a territory which is considered by both the PRC and by the Taiwanese as an integral part of China. The US formally recognized the PRC as the legitimate government of China (without saying whether or not it recognizes the PRC's claim to Taiwan) on 1 January 1979, joining practically the entire rest of the world. Only 18 nations, the largest of which appears to be Paraguay, recognize the ROC to be a sovereign nation. Not the US, not Japan, and not a single European country. Our official policy is that the two rival governments should work out some kind of accommodation themselves, and peacefully (and I support this policy). Pelosi's acts do not further that policy.
So "visiting an independent nation" is not what Pelosi is doing; she's visiting a rebel part of China, a rival government to the one we recognize and deal with. Of course it's an outrageous provocation, an extremely foolish publicity stunt, of a piece with our outrageously arrogant foreign policy. She's simply tweaking the nose of the PRC government and looking "tough" in front of voters ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
There is nothing in common between this case and Ukraine, so there will be no "Ukraine II," pace JE. Ukraine's independence in 1991 was recognized by the whole world, including Russia. China will eventually take back Taiwan, and we will do nothing about it, even less than we did about the Ukrainian invasion. All this huffing and puffing by the likes of Nancy Pelosi is just a political stunt, the kind of thing which will merely accelerate China's intervention in Taiwan.
JE comments: By Ukraine II, I meant an invasion, pure and simple. If Putin prevails in Ukraine--or more specifically, if the West allows him to get away with it--how could the PRC not see this as a green light? Even if Taiwan is constitutionally part of the Mainland, it has been independent in practice since 1949--far longer than Ukraine has.
- Pelosi Taiwan Visit: Bastian Contrario Weighs In (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/05/22 4:36 AM)
This Bastian Contrario has some reflections on the present world situation, including the Taiwan visit of Nancy Pelosi.
The world is changing; new powers are rising and the universal moment of the "end of history" is dead. Yet history keeps running along until the end (sooner or later) of humanity.
The European countries unfortunately have not have noticed this. They continue to believe that the Empire is still ruling all over the world: The most important European leaders follow orders and even go beyond them to show what good lackeys they are. The Italian man from Goldman Sachs, ex-PM Draghi according to what was published by the NYT, has completely accomplished his mission to shift the political position of Italy from a convenient friendly partnership with Russia to one of cobelligerency against Russia. Oh well, Italy already has a shameful story of cobelligerency.
However, the best quote from the NYT of July 27 is: "Italy's problem is that its governments now serve two masters: the electorate (apparently EB) and global financial markets (in reality EB).
When Draghi placed sanctions against Russia and sent arms to Ukraine he said: "Italy shall choose between peace and air conditioning": now we do not have air conditioning (too expensive) and have cobelligerancy. In the winter we will not have heating.
Following the self-defeating sanctions against Russia, the Dutch TTF Natural Gas Futures jumped from 15 euros per KWH to more than 200 euros.
The dominating US Neocons are convinced that the (declining) Empire in the future will have to face an ever-stronger China; therefore, it should be much better to face it now by humiliating it with Taiwan while trying to debilitate Russia (instead of having it as an ally), thanks to the Ukrainian cannon fodder and the European lackeys. Any move to humiliate China including the provocative trip of an old lady is good for this vision.
Probably the Neocons are still convinced that the two Oceans are an invincible defense and full of cannon fodder at their service. But if things will get really bad, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans will be a new Maginot line. Remember that already during WWII the Italian X Mas had prepared an attack on New York. On paper it could have been very successful, but it was canceled due to the impending unconditional surrender of the lousy Italian king.
On another topic, the poor athlete Brittney Griner has been sent to jail in Russia. Probably the cannabis with her was for medical purposes and I hope that she will be sent free immediately, even through an exchange of prisoners.
JE comments: Most invasions look good on paper. Eugenio, did the X Mas scheme assume that the Italian-Americans of New York would rise up in support?
Another curiosity: Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful Italian-American politician. What do the Italian people think of her? Anything at all?
Italy's Planned Raid on NY Harbor, WWII
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/06/22 6:37 AM)
When commenting on my post of 5 August, our esteemed editor wrote: "Eugenio, did the X MAS [New York invasion] scheme assume that the Italian-Americans of New York would rise up in support?"
Oh no, the X MAS raid never intended to involve civilians.
Mussolini, tender heart, was always respectful of the International Conventions on War and on the safeguard of civilians. A few examples:
1) The historian Leon Poliakov wrote: "Whenever the Italian troops arrived, a protecting screen was raised in front of the Jews." That happened in France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Russia, etc. See also the declaration of General Attorney Hausner at the Adolf Eichmann trial, and so on.
2) The use of gas during the Ethiopian war is quite different from the subsequent antifascist accounts. From the published exchange of cables between Mussolini and the local commanders on the field, Mussolini was very reluctant to give the green light to the requests and sporadically permitted retaliation only when responding to Ethiopian war crimes.
On 1 January 1936 we have a strong reprimand of Mussolini to Graziani for an accidental bombing of a Swedish Red Cross camp. On 29 March Mussolini sent a cable to Badoglio permitting the use of gas as retaliation, but such permission was revoked the following 10 April. On 27 April permission was again issued: "As the Ethiopians still use 'dum-dum' weapons, you are authorized, if you deem necessary, to use gas but not mustard gas."
Other cables of 11 and 14 April approved the peaceful (nota bene) flight of Italian warplanes over Addis Ababa. These were intended to wear down the nerves of the local population. (Quite a difference from the Allies' carpet bombing during WWII.).
3) During the RSI Mussolini strictly forbade the formation of partisans in Southern Italy to avoid retaliation by the Allies on the local population. Only sending agents for spying was permitted. These agents were regularly placed in front of a firing squad by the Allies if caught.
The planned attack by the X MAS on New York was very simple. A large submarine would have carried a minisub to Fort Hamilton, from where the minisub would have gone up the Hudson river to the harbor, where the submariners would have placed high explosives under the keels of various military and/or merchant ships. The attack would have caused relatively few losses but psychologically it would have hurt deeply.
Another attack was planned on Freetown, Sierra Leone.
By the way, swim flippers were invented by the X MAS.
About Nancy Pelosi, the Italian people are not much interested in the endeavors of Italian-Americans, but those who know well the history of Taiwan are admiring her for her (unwise?) visit to Taipei.
JE comments: Pelosi's visit was a Kosher pork chop that pleased nobody--the left cannot stand an unnecessary provocation on a rival power, and the right simply cannot stand Nancy Pelosi.
As for the X MAS raid--wasn't the Hudson River protected by anti-submarine nets during WWII? I assume this to be the case, although a quick Google search yields nothing concrete.
And regarding swimming flippers, our ol' pal Wikipedia says that Ben Franklin invented a (wooden) set during his childhood. Da Vinci, who envisioned nearly everything, also toyed with the idea.
- Pelosi in Taiwan: An Outrageous Provocation (Cameron Sawyer, USA 08/05/22 4:14 AM)