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Taiwan: The New Israel

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FILE - Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas) and President Richard Nixon outline the Republican campaign plans January 25, 1971. Dole said Wednesday May 15, 1996 he was quitting the Senate after 27 years to challenge President Clinton full time, ``with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people.''  (AP Photo, files)
FILE – Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas) and President Richard Nixon outline the Republican campaign plans January 25, 1971. Dole said Wednesday May 15, 1996 he was quitting the Senate after 27 years to challenge President Clinton full time, “with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people.” (AP Photo, files)

Glad to know that conservatives are looking to turn Taiwan into the new Israel, allowing the interests of a client state to supersede that of the superpower in order to serve right-wing foreign policy goals that severely undermine American prestige around the world. That Bob Dole is ending his long history in politics by seeking this goal should not surprise us.

Bob Dole’s lobbying Donald Trump on Taiwan went far beyond a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s president.

Dole, the only past Republican presidential nominee to endorse Trump before the election, briefed the campaign’s policy director, set up meetings between campaign staff and Taiwanese emissaries, arranged for Taiwan’s delegation to attend the Republican National Convention, and helped tilt the party platform further in the island’s favor, the disclosure released to POLITICO shows. He even arranged for members of Taiwan’s ruling party to take a White House tour, according to the filing.

Taiwan paid the 93-year-old Dole and his law firm, Alston & Bird, $140,000 between May and October, according to the new disclosure. His spokeswoman declined to comment.

Dole’s work is part of Taiwan’s decades-long investment in grooming conservatives to bolster its U.S. relations at China’s expense, dispatching lobbyists to ply Capitol Hill, feting congressional staff with trips to Taipei, throwing parties at a vast DC estate, and funneling money to China hawks at right-leaning think tanks.

Earlier this year, Dole set up a meeting between Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Stanley Kao, and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a key Trump adviser and later his choice for attorney general. He also convened a meeting between Taiwanese diplomats and the Trump transition team. The disclosure didn’t specify exactly when the meetings occurred.

The filing also reveals Dole’s hand in making the Republican platform the most pro-Taiwan it has ever been. The 2016 edition added language affirming the “Six Assurances” that President Reagan made to Taiwan’s security in 1982.

Boy, how could this go wrong…..

And while I recognize that Bob Dole is not exactly a figure who attracts a lot of nostalgia, when Dole dies, can we please avoid talk of those days in the past when the Republican Party was full of reasonable moderates? It’s true enough that conservatism was less fanatical when Dole started his career but that was partly because it was out of power. Dole did more than his share to move this nation sharply to the right and continues to do so today, undermining national and regional security. Thanks Bob.

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  • MikeJake

    You won’t be snarking when they unleash Chiang.

    • Brad Nailer

      I heard his wife was worse.

  • rea

    You will recall that Bush the Younger and Stupider was pushing for a confrontation with China before the existence of Muslims was suddenly and rather rudely called to his attention.

    Republican presidents seem to think that the proverbial Short Victorious War is the key to re-election, despite recent misadventures with that concept.

    • CP

      Yep. This doesn’t get nearly enough attention when discussing what a disaster that administration was always going to be. Burning down the Middle East was his plan B; his plan A was to re-start the arms race with the Russians and Chinese, based on next-generation missile defense and “bunker busting” nukes.

    • Norrin Radd

      They forgot Reagan’s Rule: If you invade a country make sure its no larger than the island of Manhattan. And preferably with banana groves on every corner.

      • (((Hogan)))

        He sure learned his lesson in Beirut.

        • Norrin Radd

          Beirut wasn’t really an invasion. The Marines were part of a Multi-National Peacekeeping Force.

          But yeah, Reagan was the kind of guy who talked loudly and carried a small stick.

          • No Longer Middle Aged Man

            But at least he had someone with clout in his foreign policy apparatus who the brains to recognize [belatedly] that Marines to Beirut and US ground forces in the Middle East was insanity and that the right response to the bombing of the Marine barracks was to get the hell out. W didn’t anyone like that — even if Powell had the brains he lacked the clout — and it sure won’t be Flynn or SecState Giuliani in the Trump regime.

      • CP

        They forgot Reagan’s Rule: If you invade a country make sure its no larger than the island of Manhattan. And preferably with banana groves on every corner.

        I really do believe that there was a “Kuwait Syndrome” that mirror-images the “Vietnam Syndrome” they were all terrified of for so long.

        They followed “Reagan’s Rule” through the eighties (Grenada, Gulf of Sidra, Panama, etc). Come 1990, they were willing to risk something a few tiers up from that in the Gulf… and it went off without a hitch. They were so euphoric and carried away after that, they started believing they were invincible and could do anything. In the process, they forgot everything that actually made Gulf War I work (the massive amount of international support, the use of overwhelming force, the limited objectives…) End result: the Iraq war.

    • TheoLib

      Bush the Younger and Stupider was pushing for a confrontation with China

      Um, W had a confrontation with China in April 2001–the Hainan Island incident in which a Chinese fighter collided with a U.S. spy plane, the latter being forced to land on the island. Two letters of “apology” were finally exchanged between the two countries and the Americans were released; the spy plane was returned in pieces via a Russian airplane. Fortunately, both sides blinked and the incident didn’t escalate further. (Although who knows how much information the Chinese were able to glean from the spy plane.)

  • thelogos

    I suspect conservatives interest in Taiwan is to also learn how to maintain a one party state for so long

    • Porkman

      Timeline of Republic of China party control

      KMT 1946 – The current constitution is established

      KMT 1947 – The KMT wins the 1947 election amidst civil war

      KMT 1948 – Chiang Kai Shek suspends the constitution for the Duration of Communist Rebellion and institutes martial law. Opposition parties are banned

      KMT 1987 – Chiang Ching Kuo unsuspends the constitution and allows for opposition parties.

      KMT 1996 – The first true one person one vote election happens. The KMT wins

      DPP 2000 – Lee Deng Hui trolls his own party and denies James Soong the nomination. James Soong runs as a third party and the KMT vote splits and the DPP wins in 2000

      DPP 2004 – Chen Shuibian wins a narrow reelection

      KMT 2008 – Taiwanese people get tired of Chen Shuibian’s corruption and elect President Ma

      KMT 2012 – President Ma is reelected

      DPP 2016 – Tsai Yingwen defeats the KMT.

      As you can see, it’s been two party for 2 decades

  • DrDick

    Today in principled conservatives.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      Amazing how little they paid. $140,000. K Street must be pissed at Dole because now all the foreign clients will be wanting comparable results at bargain basement prices.

      • Brad Nailer

        I’ve often wondered at how little it takes to buy a Congressperson or other public figure these days. A couple of golf vacations, maybe $50,000 paid to the campaign fund; I like to think that if I were crooked I’d hold out for six or seven figures at least.

        After all, these are my principles we’re talking about.

      • DrDick

        Sadly there was once a time when I thought Dole was actually a principled conservative. I should have known better.

  • CP

    Taiwan used to be a hill to die on for the right (“the China lobby”), before Even Nixon Went To China and the whole thing gradually (mostly) died down. So I suppose this is a return to form for them.

    Still. The comparison seems unfair to Taiwan, which in the last few decades has been a vastly better ally and a better behaved international actor than Israel. I really hope this doesn’t embolden old-fashioned hard-liners on Taiwan to start thinking Big Brother America means they can get away with anything and have a get out of jail free card. They have a lot more to lose than Bibi.

    • AMK

      Yeah unlike Israel, Taiwan fetishizing is (probably) not going to lead to an actual war.

      And Taiwan has far less political support, seeing that (1) the entire American business community is more than willing to throw Taiwan or any other country overboard to maintain passable relations with China and (2) a powerful domestic political coalition of rich Taiwan-nik donors and religious nuts who think Christ’s second coming will be in Taipei does not exist.

      • CP

        Yeah unlike Israel, Taiwan fetishizing is (probably) not going to lead to an actual war.

        Well, it might. The point is, while I have no doubt at all that we’d stand with Israel if its existence were ever in danger, I have no such certainty for Taiwan. If Trump riles them up, I’m afraid that they’ll end up doing something stupid but provocative enough that China can’t ignore it, under the assumption that we have their back… only for us to leave them hanging.

        • Mike G

          But it could lead to ongoing geopolitical tensions with China justifying a fat increase in defense spending, which is the real goal with Repuke corporate mercenaries. I think many of them long to restart a Cold War that would give their Daddy War Party con-job some political credibility again and open the military-industrial money spigot — more rehashed Reaganism.

          Taiwan’s economy is much more integrated with China than it was in the Nixon days — they have a LOT to lose if the mainland cuts them out. They want to maintain their limbo-state of independence so I don’t think they’re stupid enough to sign on to Repuke warmongers’ antagonizing the mainland for kicks.

          • CP

            But it could lead to ongoing geopolitical tensions with China justifying a fat increase in defense spending, which is the real goal with Repuke corporate mercenaries. I think many of them long to restart a Cold War that would give their Daddy War Party con-job some political credibility again and open the military-industrial money spigot — more rehashed Reaganism.

            Totally this. See also what rea and I said above.

            Taiwan’s economy is much more integrated with China than it was in the Nixon days — they have a LOT to lose if the mainland cuts them out. They want to maintain their limbo-state of independence so I don’t think they’re stupid enough to sign on to Repuke warmongers’ antagonizing the mainland for kicks.

            Well, yes, that’s what I’m hoping will prevail. But between Brexit, Trump, and the numerous other acts of sheer idiocy that’ve popped up out of mindless nationalism all around the globe, I’m not going to write off the possibility that some zealots in Taiwan will capture the public’s eye and eventually do something stupid despite all reason. Hopefully not, but that’s what Trump risks encouraging.

        • Yes, they might want to read up on the George Bush the Elder and the Kurds for an example of how Republican administrations stand up for their “friends.”

    • Norrin Radd

      I can’t get too excited at supporting a democratic ally who doesn’t go around oppressing its neighbors at the expense of a gigantic asshole authoritarian regime who oppresses its own people and whose trade and monetary policies have increased US unemployment.

      Taiwan is a good country. It deserves a good ally.

      • Dilan Esper

        My feelings exactly.

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          Agreed. Taiwan kind of fits the mold of South Korea – a reliable ally, and they finally got around to becoming a legit democracy. Being on Taiwan’s side in this seems like the right thing to do.

      • CP

        Oh yes, quite. But like I said, I’d rather not have a China-Taiwan conflagration in the first place.

      • Ronan

        Well the comparison is probably the new Cuba , in reverse. Though instead of something as strategically understandable as stocking an island with nukes aimed at your geopolitical rival , what’s the end game ? Great power war to get planning permission for a Taiwanese trump
        Tower?

      • Scott P.

        The problem is that calling Taiwan’s President doesn’t do anything at all to help Taiwan, and if it leads to sanctions by mainland China it could do a great deal to hurt Taiwan. The best way to be a good ally to Taiwan is to avoid doing stupid shit that could rile up the mainland for no reason.

        • DrDick

          Have to agree with this. I think this actually endangers Taiwan more.

  • (((Hogan)))

    I guess, but it’s (Watergate and the pardon of Richard Nixon) not a very good issue any more than the war in Vietnam would be or World War II, or World War I, or the war in Korea, all Democrat wars, all in this century. I figured up the other day, if we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it’d be about one point six million Americans – enough to fill the city of Detroit.

    –Reasonable moderate Bob Dole, 1976

    • Norrin Radd

      Bob Dole has a special place in my family. When my aunt’s fiance got drafted right before they married in the late ’60s. He was due to be sent to Vietnam. My aunt wrote Dole asking him to help. He sent a representative to the wedding bearing a letter indicating that her husband would be sent to Germany instead. She was otherwise Democratic, but every 6 years Bob Dole got Aunt Naomi’s vote.

      And he pushed through the Americans with Disability Act. All said, not a bad Republican. And well to the left of any those yahoos in office today. Whatever personal stake he has in improving relations with Taiwan.

      • He pushed through ADA entirely because he is disabled. On basically every other social program, he was horrible. And intervening so someone in your family doesn’t go to Vietnam while supporting the Vietnam War is not exactly a sign of not sucking.

        • Norrin Radd

          Aren’t you always saying that it doesn’t matter why politicians support the policies we want so long as they support the policies we want?

          I didn’t vote for the man for president but keeping my favorite aunt’s husband out of Vietnam put me forever in his debt. I’ll say this though. He was a damn sight better than any Republican Senator today except maybe Susan Collins. Shit, Kansas Republicans are openly rooting for Trump to draft the Peabrained Brothers Brownback and Kobach so we can get them the hell out of Kansas. And that’s what the Republicans think of them. Seriously, Dole and Kassebaum were sane Republicans. These guys today ain’t sane.

          • liberalrob

            Kansas Republicans are openly rooting for Trump to draft the Peabrained Brothers Brownback and Kobach so we can get them the hell out of Kansas.

            If that’s true, they shouldn’t have supported their reelection campaigns.

            Bob Dole (who must always be referred to by his full name, Bob Dole) was only sane in the sense that he never went on public tirades (AFAIK). Bob Dole may have been a “moderate” Republican, but he was still a Republican.

        • No Longer Middle Aged Man

          On basically every other social program, he was horrible.

          Not quite. He actually was a major supporter of WIC and anything else that was a de facto agricultural subsidy. He even had the nerve to once say at a Republican presidential debate that “government does a lot of good things.” There was a reason that Gingrich called Dole the tax collector for the welfare state.

        • DrDick

          As someone who was drafted by Nixon (but did not serve), this is actually the worst kind of corruption that plagued that whole clusterfuck.

  • Dilan Esper

    I don’t want any more nations to turn into foreign policy talismans. So if Taiwan is going to become another Israel for the right, that would be bad.

    But the case for Taiwan in its own right is very strong. It’s a relatively free country, it’s a good ally of the US, and China’s claim to it is complete and utter bullshit. I’m all for a close relationship with Taiwan.

    • CP

      If Taiwan were still the way it was fifty years ago, a corrupt authoritarian kleptocracy, I’d say fuck it, who gives a shit.

      But after all the work they put into development and democratization in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, plus their general behavior on the international scene, I’m with you. They’re worth defending. And if it came down to a confrontation with China, barring extraordinary circumstances, my impulse would be to say fuck China, stand with Taiwan, and fuck the consequences (same thing I’d say for NATO, the Anzacs, Japan and South Korea).

      But I’d really rather it not come to that, which is why I’m also generally okay with our policy since the late seventies.

    • Ronan

      Aren’t you the guy always banging on about Russia’s sphere of Influence in Ukraine ? Look, no matter how admirable the Taiwanese are, the relationship is going to be in large part determined by Chinese preferences. There’s little point aggravating the Chinese over a relatively trivial geopolitical concern

      • Dilan Esper

        I don’t object to China having a spehere if influence. I object to them telling the rest of the world that they can’t tell the truth (that Taiwan is not part of China) or talk to the Taiwanese.

        I’m a realist. Russia, in reality, controls Crimea. Taiwan, in reality, controls Taiwan.

        If Taiwan posed a threat to China this would be different. But they don’t. Nor is Taiwan an invasion route. This is just a brutal dictatorship trying to dictate the foreign policy of the rest of the world.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          I’m a realist.

          Not on this issue. You have no idea just how fatuously stupid your utterances on the subject of Taiwan are. China sees Taiwan as a province that was stolen, essentially, by the defeated forces of the GMD/KMT under the failed, corrupt warlord and dictator wannabe Jiang Jieshi/Chiang Kai-shek. This is a pretty accurate view of the history of how Taiwan was split off from China, which had controlled it longer than the US has existed. China doesn’t see Taiwan as a security threat, but as a profound national affront perpetrated by a deeply dubious collection of characters (whose regime in China and Taiwan was marked by a liberal use of torture, judicial murder, corruption, drug dealing, willing collaboration between gangsters and the state). As for the US offering moral lessons to a “brutal dictatorship”, China might well point out that the Bush regime was spectacularly brutal and corrupt and Trump will be no better. That’s before we even get into America’s record of supporting just about every murderous, torturing, drug-running dictator it could find over the last 40 years. We can also discuss the racism that permeates American society, the mass incarceration and murder by cop of minority men.

          Trump has decided, in his usual incoherent, blustering way, to poke China on a particularly sore spot. He’s about to learn that America is in no position to dictate terms and he may well succeed in provoking a reaction from China that we shall all regret.

          • Gareth

            We do have to tolerate China’s attitude to Taiwan. But since the current regime took power by force, then killed 5% of the population, we don’t have to respect it.

            • DrDick

              You may want to take a bit closer look at Chiang Kai Shek’s record before condemning Mao. There were no “good” guys in that fight and the communists were arguably the better of the two sides.

          • mikeSchilling

            Yeah, the mainland considers Taiwan as “The bone in the throat”.

          • Porkman

            This is a pretty accurate view of the history of how Taiwan was split off from China, which had controlled it longer than the US has existed. China doesn’t see Taiwan as a security threat, but as a profound national affront perpetrated by a deeply dubious collection of characters (whose regime in China and Taiwan was marked by a liberal use of torture, judicial murder, corruption, drug dealing, willing collaboration between gangsters and the state

            You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            Taiwan was controlled by China starting in 1662 when the Zheng Chenggong captured it from the Dutch. (It was an aboriginal incognita as far as the Chinese state was concerned before the Dutch came in 1624) China lost control of Taiwan to Japan in 1895.

            That is 233 years of Chinese rule.

            The US has existed since 1776. As of now, that’s 240 years.

            • anonymous

              That depends on how you define “Chinese rule” and how you define “China”. And this is in fact the essence of the fight over “Taiwanese independence”.

              As far as the PRC is concerned, the whole point of the so-called “one-China” policy is that Taiwan resumed being a Chinese territory since 1945 and has been under “Chinese” rule since then. And until Chiang JR died, the view of the ROC govt under the KMT was that Taiwan is a “territory of China” since 1945 as well. So until his death, both sides considered mainland/Taiwan as one China under the de-facto control of two regimes which considered the other regime as “illegitimate”.

              So if you consider that the ROC regime in Taiwan from 1945 onwards as “Chinese”, then you have 304 of Taiwan being a “Chinese territory” counting from 2016 to 1662 and minus the 50 years of Japanese rule.

              Pro-Taiwan independence supporters obviously don’t agree with that and want Taiwan to no longer be considered a “Chinese territory”. And I can appreciate the reasons.

              But this is in fact why the PRC won’t accept official Taiwanese independence even as it is de-facto independent. From the PRC POV, a declaration of independence is seen more than just making official the de-facto status of Taiwan. It is making the island no longer a “Chinese” territory.

  • Mike in DC

    The only way I see the Taiwan thing coming to a head is in the event of a bloody crackdown on protests in Hong Kong. I think that might push Taiwan to make a stronger statement with regard to rejecting reunification with a non-democratic PRC that crushes dissent. A statement that reunification with the PRC under such circumstances is inconceivable is tantamount to a declaration of independence without actually declaring independence. But in such a circumstance, who could blame them?

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      People keep assuming that Taiwan is much more unified on this subject than is actually the case. They also forget just how much of Taiwan’s wealth is now tied up in China. China can do whatever it likes in Hong Kong and Taiwan will stay quiet and hope to just keep the status quo running. China has said repeatedly that a declaration of independence by Taiwan means war plus an immediate invasion. Given that the Chinese government now controls a much more powerful military and has become increasingly dependent on nationalism as a source of legitimacy, I would suggest that this is one bluff we should not try calling.

      • Mike in DC

        I have a hard time imagining the government of Taiwan, and the people of Taiwan, remaining silent in the event of a 1989-style incident in Hong Kong. The HK handover was premised on a promise to respect HK style democracy for 50 years–and widely seen in Taiwan as the prospective model for any future merger with the PRC. So a bloody crackdown is both a betrayal of that promise, and a sneak preview of what would happen to Taiwan should they, too, come under the not-so-gentle embrace of the Politburo.

        • Jean-Michel

          There were never really any illusions in Taiwan about “one country, two systems,” which is borne out by polls over the years showing it struggling to attract even a low double-digit percentage in its favor. Even the Kuomintang and the New Party (a hardline pro-unification party that split from the KMT in the ’90s) have always rejected a Hong Kong-style solution for Taiwan. Aside from the issue of the ROC’s sovereignty, there’s a broad recognition that Taiwanese democracy (which was already far, far more robust in 1997 than the bad joke that currently passes for democracy in Hong Kong) couldn’t possibly survive under the PRC as it exists today–the idea that the CPC would permit a group like the DPP to gain power in a Taiwan SAR was completely laughable even before the current assault on localist legislators in HK. A bloody crackdown in Hong Kong wouldn’t go unremarked upon in Taiwan, but it would really just reinforce the prevailing beliefs about 1C2S and the nature of the CPC.

    • Jean-Michel

      Taiwan made that statement all the way back in 1991 with the National Unification Guidelines. China interpreted it exactly as you do (i.e. as a stealth decalaration of independence, something Lee Teng-hui actually copped to a few years ago when it came up at a Q&A). Chen Shui-bian formally abolished the guidelines in 2006 because he didn’t think Taiwan should unify with China at all, and his position (which was and is that of the DPP) was that Taiwan is already an independent country (cf. the Four-Stage Theory of the Republic of China). For the current DPP administration to respond to a Tiananmen-style crackdown in Hong Kong by pledging no unification with a non-democratic PRC would actually represent a major climbdown, since the DPP currently advocates no unification with any mainland Chinese government.

  • Crusty

    I don’t think the analogy or comparison or whatever you want to call it works. We have a certain policy with respect to Taiwan and China’s dominance of it to appease China because China is a super power and buys all of our debt and in that regard, has us by the balls. China, though more free in recent years, is sort of an oppressive regime. If anything, China here is the Israel, i.e. the oppressive regime that we needlessly bend to for not particularly good reasons.

    On the other hand, if the claim is simply that supporting Taiwan is going to give us headaches we don’t need, sure. That works. But the circumstances are so different that the analogy is useless.

    I seem more similarity to past Cuba policy. We don’t really know if it was a good idea, did anything or helped anyone, but its what a certain constituency wanted, so we did it. But here, the constituency is China itself.

    • Murc

      We have a certain policy with respect to Taiwan and China’s dominance of it to appease China because China is a super power and buys all of our debt and in that regard, has us by the balls.

      Is this actually true?

      I mean, lets be clear: the US repudiating its debt would lead to an enormous global economic meltdown.

      But as far as China holding our debt goes, I’ve always viewed it from the stance of “If you borrow a dollar, the bank owns you; borrow a million dollars, and you own the bank.”

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        If anyone has absorbed the lesson of better to be massively indebted than moderately indebted, it is our soon to be inglorious leader. That’s how he survived in the nineties. China doesn’t want to risk a global crash, because the CCP has retained power via a double bargain: economic prosperity for the masses plus a strong, assertive China. If the economy goes south in a hurry, that’s going to be dangerous for the world in all sorts of ways. Trump poking them over Taiwan isn’t going to make things any better.

      • mds

        Is this actually true?

        That they have us by the balls because they buy US Treasury bonds? No, that’s not true. Currently, China holds about $1.2 trillion of our debt, which is still the largest holding by a foreign country. But the total US debt is ~$20 trillion. So if China dumped it all, it would certainly have an impact, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Especially since other buyers would almost certainly scoop it up. And China and Japan (second place) benefit from buying up our debt because it keeps the dollar stronger, which is better for their exports.

        There’s also this tendency to treat US government debt like mortages or car loans. But it’s not like the US issues secured debt backed by the Washington Monument, or whatever. It’s also fixed-term, so if China doesn’t want to hold a bond till maturity, it has to sell it on the bond market. AFAIK, they can’t suddenly say, “We’re calling in our marker” and demand full repayment. The most they can do is drive down the market value of our debt. But since it’s denominated in our own currency, and we’re not (yet) on the gold standard any more, we don’t tend to worry about making interest payments.

        Where China does sorta have us over a barrel is the way they make most of our stuff. If they really wanted to play hardball, bye-bye most of our cheap junk. I don’t know how long they’d last, but I’m betting our Wal-Mart hordes and cellphone enthusiasts would blink first.

      • Gareth

        “If you owe a thousand, you have a problem. If you owe a million, the bank has a problem. If you owe a billion, everyone has a problem.”

      • No, it’s not at all true. If anyone can be said to buy “all our debt,” it’s America and Americans, who hold a vast majority of U.S. government debt. It’s also never been clear how China can hurt us with their debt holdings. Krugman was blogging all the time back in the day about how China selling of U.S. treasuries would be good for our economy. “China doesn’t have a gun to our heads: they have a water pistol, and it’s a hot day” or some such.

        • mikeSchilling

          If anyone can be said to buy “all our debt,” it’s America and Americans, who hold a vast majority of U.S. government debt.

          And God knows you can’t trust them to do the sensible thing.

          • DrDick

            They certainly have demonstrated that recently.

  • anonymous

    While I understand the pro-Taiwan “fuck China” sentiments, I’m curious as to why the US shouldn’t be having this aggressive posture wrt to Russia as well???

    Unlike China, Russia literally invaded and annexed Crimea, has “little green men” in Eastern Ukraine and currently occupies it, has affiliated militias who shot down an airliner using sophisticated SAM supplied by Russia and is responsible for killing tons of people and forcing tons of people to be refugees in their own country.

    I understand the sentiments of support for Taiwan. And if China did anything to Taiwan that even remotely approached what Russia did to Ukraine, I support defending Taiwan too.

    But AFAIK, China has not done anything in these past few months that I am aware of towards Taiwan. Not a single inch of new Taiwanese territories has been occupied, not a single life has been killed in any kind of military action. Other than the usual don’t declare independence stance, I’m not aware of any new imminent threats, especially if all sides at least respects the status quo.

    The only thing I am aware of is that relations between China and Taiwan have expected cooled when the DPP took over. But other than allowing fewer mainland tourists from visiting Taiwan, I’m not aware of any other adverse actions. Certainly nothing that comes anywhere close to what Russia has done towards Ukraine.

    But if I said that we need to stand with Ukraine and defend it, mass troops and evict Russia from Crimea and Ukraine and “fuck Russia” a la John McCain, you’d all say I was a war-monger neocon.

    Well either John McCain is right and we should be having a “fuck Russia” attitude or he is wrong and this confrontational posture towards China is wrong.

    • Murc

      While I understand the pro-Taiwan “fuck China” sentiments, I’m curious as to why the US shouldn’t be having this aggressive posture wrt to Russia as well?

      We should. After Russia seized the Crimea we should have developed an aggressive containment 2.0 strategy.

      • anonymous

        You and John McCain are probably among the few that think like this. Most Americans want nothing to do with confronting Russia over Ukraine.

        And at least wrt Russia, they’ve actually done very actionable things that might remotely justify an aggressive stance. To my knowledge, China’s only action I’m aware of is not allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan as a signal of displeasure at the DPP taking power.

        Now if and when it China does anything REMOTELY comparable to what Russia has done to Ukraine, a more “pro-Taiwan” stance might be appropriate then.

        Considering that Americans and US allies want nothing to do with militarily confronting Russia and antagonizing it even after all it has done, the support for the US taking that approach wrt China is likely going to be just as lacking amongst Americans and its allies as well.

      • YRUasking

        Contain China. Contain Russia. You gotta choose one.

        • rea

          Maybe it would be simpler to contain ourselves

          • DrDick

            Now there is a novel idea.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          A very true statement by any sane standard of geopolitics, but sadly one that most of the US foreign policy establishment has forgotten these days.

  • LeeEsq

    Its funny how people can get angry and upset about the United States putting its alleged national interest above one set of countries and call it imperialism and absolutely demand that the United States act in an imperious manner towards another set of countries because reasons.

  • Murc

    God help me, I’m with Norrin and Dilan on this.

    The Republic of China is, as countries go, a pretty decent nation-state. It was not always; I am friends with ethnic Taiwanese who will spit on the floor if you mention Chiang Kai-shek and his dirtbag wife and who would very much like to spend two hours telling you about how the fetishization of the Kuomintang regime by Westerners during the Cold War was very harmful to the cause of ethnic Taiwanese achieving equal rights on their own fucking island.

    But these days the Republic of China is a fairly free state that does right by its citizens and has always been a good ally to us, albeit in the context of “if it stops being one, the PRC stomps it flat.”

    This is exactly the sort of situation in which the US should talk big and act big. The PRC is a tyrannical right-wing oligarchy, far worse than even America under Trump. When it starts to try and muscle around actual free countries (which its been doing to the Republic of China forever) especially ones that are our allies, our response should be “step the fuck off.”

    Having said that…

    Donald fuckin’ Trump absolutely should not be the one to usher in this sort of sea change in American diplomacy, on account of he doesn’t know what he’s doing and has surrounded himself by people who likewise don’t know what they’re doing. These are folks who don’t give a shit about the Republic of China. They don’t even care about advancing American interests, per so. They’re folks who care about putting the screws to the PRC in order to prove we have a big swinging dick, which means all their priorities are going to be ass-backwards.

    • rea

      They’re folks who care about putting the screws to the PRC in order to prove we have a big swinging dick

      I thought it was to stop the Chinese from spreading their lies about global warming.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      The PRC is a tyrannical right-wing oligarchy, far worse than even America under Trump.

      I wonder about that. I have a feeling that Trump is going to do his damnedest to prove you wrong in quite short order.

      • AMK

        The Chinese government believes in addressing climate change, expanding healthcare, has no problem with abortion, strong science education, and no problem throwing every kind of religious lunatic in jail. There are worse places.

        • Porkman

          Taiwan has had socialized medicine since 1995. The PRC didn’t get it until 2010.

          Taiwan is just China as it should have been.

      • DrDick

        I am pretty damned certain of that.

    • Ronan

      I think your last paragraph is the important bit. If this was Obama implementing a change of policy I think it would be worth discussing. But you can’t have any faith whatsoever in Trump(or his admins) competence on the matter, so it should be rejected without consideration.
      And Even if he blunders into a meaningful, positive change in policy (blunder here not meaning accidentally enacts a policy change, but gets lucky the consequences are trivial) it still doesnt retrospectively support his position just because a reckless moron sometimes gets away with it.

  • anonymous

    The thing people need to understand is that the situation between China and Taiwan is “meta-stable”. It is obviously not ideal. And I understand people wanting it to be fully and officially independent.

    But for now, the situation is “stable” and peaceful. Any in fact, ties between the two sides have increased. Decades ago, you couldn’t send mail or talk on the phone or fly between China and Taiwan. Now you can. Trade and commerce between the two sides is at an all time high.

    The only thing that is keeping this situation from getting “unstable” is this so-called “one China” policy.

    What the PRC cares about is Taiwan not being officially recognized. And unfortunately there has been far too much political capital expended that it simply can’t be forced to allow it to happen. If Taiwan or the USA decide to declare indepedence, its going to be forced to react. Probably not with nukes flying but it will become a VERY TENSE situation VERY QUICKLY and can easily spiral out of control.

    So long as it the so-called “one China” policy is adhered to, Taiwan is going to continue to be safe and prosperous and de-facto independent. And if China ever truly threatens that, then THAT IS THE TIME to play the official recognition card or at least make serious threats along those line. The threat of playing that card is what keeps the situation “meta-stable”.

    But if the US plays that card TOO SOON, then the the PRC is going to say “fuck it” and things will become very bad very quickly. And for what? So that Taiwanese “cultural centers” can be renamed “embassies”?

    To me the price that is being paid right now (meaning embassies have to be called “cultural offices”, they are called something like “Chinese Taipei” when represented in international organizations, etc.) is not too high for peace and stability. I sure am NOT going to volunteer myself or my children for war with China JUST TO rename cultural centers into embassies or “Chinese Taipei” into “Republic of China”. Your view may differ.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      This is absolutely right – and we should do nothing to upset the consensus that has evolved over time. Taiwan is functionally independent – and both sides can live with this. Getting into a fight over an essentially empty declaration of independence will achieve nothing good. Which, no doubt, is why Trump has blundered into his latest nonsense ass-first.

    • mds

      Yes, thank you. To read all the “Yeah, Boo China / Yay democracy” being flung around above, you’d think the Mainland had troops occupying Taipei right now. They don’t. Taiwan has its own government and economy. I believe that it’s possible to travel there without formal permission from Beijing. But we haven’t (yet) moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and we haven’t decided it’s time to get into a war with another nuclear superpower in order to allow the smoking ruins of Taiwan to be openly recognized as “Free China, America’s Friend,” or whatever the fuck the endgame is supposed to be. Sure, there’s a good chance we’d take action if China decided to invade Taiwan. But they know that. And so it has gone for decades. Foreign policy realism is a thing, no matter how Manichean we try to make the world. And appreciation of nuance, of shades of grey, is supposed to be one of the ways we distinguish ourselves from the reactionary right.

      TL; DR: When you find yourself on the same side of a foreign policy kerfuffle as Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, you should probably start asking yourself where you went completely wrong.

    • Rob in CT

      I just wanted to add another “well said!” to this.

    • DrDick

      Exactly. Our interests, and those of the ROC, are best served by walking softly and avoiding a direct confrontations with the PRC, while providing various forms of quiet support for the ROC, as we have been.

  • wjts

    And while I recognize that Bob Dole is not exactly a figure who attracts a lot of nostalgia, when Dole dies, can we please avoid talk of those days in the past when the Republican Party was full of reasonable moderates?

    Related to this (and off-topic), can everybody who’s tempted to sing the praises of Evan McMullin as a Sane, Rational Conservative take a look at the man’s actual record and beliefs? He was the chief policy director for the House Republican Conference from 2015 until he resigned to “run” for president. I’m sure no one here needs reminding sort of policies he was chiefly directing then. I’m glad he’s criticizing Trump, but he’s really not one of the good guys.

    • Crusty

      I think the raison d’etre of McMullin’s candidacy was that he offered an alternate character and personal qualities from Trump, not necessarily better policies. He was for the mormons who were uncomfortable voting for such a flashy a-hole braggart.

      • wjts

        I’m talking more about things like the attention he’s been getting for his recent Times piece than his candidacy (about which I agree with you). I’ve seen a fair few comments around the internet recently along the lines of, “Why can’t we have more Republicans like Evan McMullin?” We do. They’re in office right now, trying to destroy the social safety net, outlaw abortion, and take a hawkish tack on foreign policy, just like Evan McMullin would. Evan McMullin is not a good guy.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          He believes in man-made climate change, had a race and criminal justice reform page on his website, and explicitly said he wouldn’t seek to overturn Obergefell. For a conservative in 2016, that’s as good as we can possibly get. The first thing alone would put him ahead of, AFAIK, literally everyone who ran for the Republican nomination.

          So, yeah, when we’re comparing him to the actual Republicans currently in Congress and god help us the White House, he looks pretty stellar even before you get to the part about him attacking the PPEOTUS all over the place.

          Also, he appears to be residing on the same plane of reality as the rest of us, which is 100% not a guarantee within the GOP these days.

          Is he shit on the social safety net, foreign policy, the economy, health care, the right to choose, and a bunch of other stuff? Uh, yeah. Obviously. But so are all the rest of them. So if the option were [any Republican who ran president] or McMullin, I would choose him in a heartbeat.

          If the option were [any Democrat who ran for president] or McMullin, I would reject the hell out of him.

          If the option were Jill Stein or McMullin, I would simply throw myself off a cliff.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            Also, I would much prefer a Mormon to an evangelical or a Catholic or a Baptist or whatever the hell Trumperdink calls himself.

            • mds

              Reformed Church by birth, Presbyterian by self-identification, loosely affiliated with an “LGBT-affirming” Reformed church in Manhattan and a Presbyterian church in West Palm Beach. A complete dog’s breakfast, in other words, one which the dog vomited back up so it could be slurped down again by white evangelicals.

              • BartletForGallifrey

                And that Manhattan church hasn’t kicked him out because….?

                • mds

                  … he’s not an actual member. Though two of its ministers did officiate at two of his weddings. After he mentioned in South Carolina in 2015 that he attended there, they “clarified” that he wasn’t currently active in the church.

                  In retrospect, I kinda wish one of his primary opponents had dug up that he claimed as his church home a congregation that performed same-sex marriages. Then again, I thought “the little cracker”** and “Two Corinthians” would do the job, too.

                  **(A communion wafer, not Barron.)

          • wjts

            So, yeah, when we’re comparing him to the actual Republicans currently in Congress and god help us the White House, he looks pretty stellar even before you get to the part about him attacking the PPEOTUS all over the place.

            Like I said, he was the chief policy director for the Republican House Conference until a few months ago. He is the actual Republicans currently in Congress.

  • AMK

    People with real military knowledge are welcome to correct me here, but my understanding was that sooner than later, China’s military modernization means our ability to defend Taiwan at relatively low cost is going to be a thing of the past anyway….if it’s not already. In the late 90s Bill Clinton sent an aircraft carrier through the straits as a casual fuck you to China for messing around with Taiwan. Now they have domestically-built smart missiles that can launch from a truck and maneuver in space to hit one of our carriers 5,000 miles away, stealth technology, drones, cyberwarfare etc. We could actually lose.

    • DrDick

      I think this is generally true. At present China does not really think it is worth their while the start a fight with us currently, but if we directly confront them on this, that will change in a heartbeat. The swinging dicks in the Trump administration seem intent on pushing every button they can find.

  • Halloween Jack

    Bob Dole is not exactly a figure who attracts a lot of nostalgia

    Not in the same class as Reagan, certainly, but I think that it was something that he absolutely consciously evoked when he was running against Clinton. In his acceptance speech, per Wikipedia:

    In his acceptance speech, Dole stated, “Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquillity, faith, and confidence in action,”

    • (((Hogan)))

      Probably a slap at Clinton’s “bridge to the 21st century” line in 1992. “The future sucks–let’s go the other way.”

    • mds

      “… for white Christian men of sufficient means.”

      • liberalrob

        Well of course, that went without saying…

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