The king of any anthill can proclaim nationhood and be granted U.N. membership, so long as he has a good P.R. consultant. Even the low-testosterone terrorists who make up Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority were granted a U.N. seat. But not Taiwan. Communist China claims Taiwan as a renegade province, and the rest of the world goes along with the dangerous charade because Beijing growls every time someone even calls Taiwan by its proper name -- the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Ever since Jimmah Carter tried to surrender Taiwan, the Chicoms have largely succeeded in excluding it from the community of nations. President Bush came into office with a harder line in favor of Taiwan. When his administration was considering the sale to Taiwan of Aegis radar-equipped ships -- which can be the cornerstone of missile defense -- the Chicoms went into hysterics. It was no coincidence that while those discussions were going on, in April 2001, China forced down a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over international waters. We got our people back, the Chicoms stole all the secret electronic gear from the bird, and the president shied away from the Aegis sale. Instead, we promised the Taiwanese some diesel-electric submarines which we can't get for them because our shipyards can't build them for anything less than about ten times the reasonable price, and no one else is ready to buck the Chicoms to sell subs to the Taiwanese. Since 9-11, we have paid scant attention to China and Taiwan. Now, the State Department wants us to believe the Chicoms are some sort of ally in the war against terror. If you define Saudi Arabia as an ally, China could qualify. It's time to take another look.
Chicom premier Jiang Zemin was so obsessed about the 9-11 strikes on the World Trade Center, he watched the films over and over again. State-controlled Beijing television rushed to create a documentary called "Attack America" which applauds the terrorist attacks. In one section of the video, the narrator says, "This is the America the whole world has wanted to see. Blood debts have been repaid in blood. American has bombed other countries and used its hegemony to deny the natural rights of others without paying the price. Who until now has dared to avenge the hurts inflicted by unaccountable Americans." So we know where they stand, but where do we? Our best barometers will be an upcoming key Pentagon appointment and the next round of arms sales to Taiwan.
The president's policy can only be as strong and reliable as those who are chosen to implement it. The Pentagon leadership -- Big Dog Don Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz -- are no friends of Beijing. But their staff is now going through a changeover that could dilute the support Taiwan needs to fend off "reunification" -- the Chicom code word for enslaving Taiwan -- in the next decade. Peter Brookes, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, has resigned. According to the Washington Times, Mr. Wolfowitz is considering résumés of about a dozen candidates to replace Brookes. Two of them are from former Clinton appointees, and should be tossed in the round file forthwith.
Michael Green, a former Clinton appointee in the Pentagon, and Karen Brooks, a Clinton State Department appointee, both now National Security Council staffers, want the job. Both are squishy-soft on Beijing. Mr. Wolfowitz should not choose either of them. Instead, he should pick someone who has the experience, and the vision, to help strengthen the president's hand when the Taiwan arms issues come around again. If Wolfowitz chooses one of the Clintonistas, we'll know the President's Taiwan policy has taken a left turn. And then there are the arms sales to Taiwan.
The missile defense problem is, for Taiwan, even more urgent than for us. At this moment, the Chicoms have about 500 short and medium-range missiles deployed to strike Taiwan. The president promised the submarines instead of missile defense. But the subs -- even if we could deliver them, which we can't -- would fill a different, and much less urgent, need. Taiwan's defense depends on two things: protecting its air and naval forces from annihilation in the first hours of an attack, and then being able to use them to prevent huge waves of Chicom troops from landing. If the air and naval forces are protected from missile attack, the subs are almost redundant.
We should be selling the Taiwanese Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries that are capable of reducing the Chicom threat substantially. At the same time, we should be contracting with them to build the Aegis ships, which could then be on line in six or seven years. The Chicoms will be perfectly hysterical if we do, threatening all sorts of retaliation. But if the Taiwanese, who aren't dummies, keep quiet about this and about declaring independence Beijing will sputter and fume and do little more.
Taiwan is a free country, and its people have done nothing to deserve the slavery to which Beijing would reduce them. We remember Lafayette, and bail the French out whenever the Germans come marching in. We should remember that Chiang Kai Shek -- whose Kuomintang forces fled to Taiwan after the war -- could have made a separate peace with the Japanese in World War II, and possibly kept Mao from taking their country from them by force. But Chiang refused and stayed in the fight on our side. Without that help, our fight against Japan would have been longer, and far more costly in American lives. We owe a debt to Taiwan we dare not forget.
Mr. Bush should stick to the policy of doing whatever it takes to ensure that Taiwan remains free. But we need to do more than just say it. Sell 'em the Patriots and the Aegis ships, and keep the president's policy safe from the remaining Clintonoids. Chiang, we are here.