The US and the World, July 2004

Siegfried Ramler writes: "Indeed, the Taiwan issue threatens the US-China relationship and stability in Asia. Both sides understand that an outbreak of hostilities would have dangerous consequences. Under the circumstances, the ambiguous posture of the US, supporting the security of Taiwan while maintaining a One China policy, seems the only viable option in the hope that in time reunification will be possible. Under the auspices of the East-West Center, I just returned from accompanying a group of mainland Chinese scholars to an exploration of a wide range of issues pertaining to US and China.

After a week in Beijing at Peking University (the designation "Peking" is maintained by the university), with seminars and briefings by government spokesmen at various ministries, we spent an intensive week in Washington with dialogues at the China desk at the State Department, Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. To give the Chinese scholars a glimpse of middle America, we also spent several days at Youngstown, Ohio, to explore how this community has emerged from "steel town" to the post-industrial era, a transformation meaningful to contemporary China. The reciprocal segment of this East-West Center program gave US scholars an opportunity to explore various regions of China".

I wrote: "Taiwan is to China what Cuba is to the US, only more so. There is in Washington a considerable group which regards China as the great threat to the US. They would undoubtedly demand action. Then what?" From the UK, John Heelan comments: "Perhaps a more relevant analogy would be that Taiwan is to the US what Israel is to the US and what the UK has become to the US- forward listening posts that can be sacrificed if ultimately necessary".
RH: The US would never admit that.

My statement that the passage of the USS Ronald Reagan through the Straits of Magellan in cooperation with the Chilean Navy was a way of showing the flag was borne out when immediately thereafter Chilean president Ricardo Lagos visited Washington. He held a press conference with President Burh, who uttered the usual pleasantries. The US has serious concerns about Latin America. If Castro's friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela survives the recall petition, the situation will get worse. The civil war in Colombia drags on, and the Ecuadorean government is attuned to Venezuela. In Peru the popularity rating of President Alejandro Toledo could scarcely be lower. There is an Indian nationalist surge in Bolivia. Brazil, Latin America's megastate, is the key problem. Its government is democratic socialist and not friendly toward the United States. Argentina is fighting with the US about money. That leaves Chile, whose America's old friend Pinochet is in trouble over a secret bank acount at Riggs Bank in New York, Bush made no attempt to express support for him. At the press conference Lagos made a speech in Spanish, clearly aimed at Latin America generally. The old friendship between Bush and Fox of Mexico is now in deep freeze. Capitalist Bush, whose Republican administration connived in the ousting of Socialist Allende, now rejoices in his friendship with Socialist Lagos. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Comparisons are odious but enlightening, In Washington DC, the Council for Excellence in Government held a mass meeting. The speeches, especially that of former Defense Secretary William Cuhen, were excellent. His address, well delivered, was thoughtful and balanced. The crowd was quiet and attentive. The questions were good, as were the answers. Cohen, a Republican, was invited by a Democrat, Bill Clinton, to be Secretary of Defense, a splendid example of bipartisanship. Meanwhile in Boston the Democrat convention or rather circus continued. At the Washington meeting, former Senator Bob Dole said conventions no longer had any significance; everything had been decided beforehand, but they provided an opportunity for people from states like Kansas to get together and have fun. A list of corporations supporting the convention showed that many of them had gtven $1 million each. California alone sent over 500 delegates. Who paid their way? What fun! Certainly the fun-lovers will carry the good word to their friends, whose votes may decide the election. What is needed is a Council for Excellence in Conventions.

Meanwhile in Berlin the great event was the premiere of Michael Moore's "Farhenheit 9/11"- The large courtyard of Charlottenburg Castle had been made into an open air theater. The crowd was enthusiastic. Germany had refused to take part in the Iraq war, a decision which Americans agreed with! Michael Moore was shown shaking hands with people. Two hundred copies of the film have been shipped for showings all around Germany. This clearly involves a plan to undermine President Bush, and incidentally US foreign policy, in the largest country in Western Europe. Presumably there are similar plans to show the film in other countries. This raises a serious question of freedom of speech and artistic expression. Is it comparable to the broadcasts of Jane Fonda from Hanoi? John Kerry was determined to clear his war record. He arrived in Boston by boat, standing near the prow looking forward and surrounded by a group of his Vietnam war comrades, `prepàted to bear witness to his bravery. As a photo op, it was comparable to President Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier. Was it thought up by his public relations manager? Was the Berlin showing of "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

Ronald Hilton -