So Much for Liberty

[Mao Bush] Bush sides with Communism, against Democracy

Well, well, well. George W. Bush shows his true colors. Maybe this is why they call them red states.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit unfair (though certainly the sort of thing many conservatives would say if the positions were reversed). However, I find it very interesting that our “with us or against us” president, who refuses to compromise on freedom for nations with massive oil reserves, is turning against long-time ally Taiwan:

President Bush, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at his side in the Oval Office, delivered a firm warning yesterday to the Taiwanese government over its aspirations for independence, telling the island’s leaders not to pursue a referendum that has angered mainland China.

Bush raised no objection when Wen said Bush had expressed his “opposition to Taiwan independence” — a break from the policy of ambiguity the United States has had on the subject. Bush, in his remarks with Wen, made no specific criticism of China but declared that “the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.”

A country making unilateral decisions to defend its freedom? Perish the thought!

To their credit, some conservatives get it:

Bush’s actions provoked a furious reaction from conservative critics of Beijing, who had strongly supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and his vow to further a “world democratic movement.” A trio of influential conservative commentators yesterday accused the Bush administration in a statement of rewarding “Beijing’s bullying” while saying “not a word” about China’s missile buildup and threats of war against Taiwan.

The sentiment was widespread among some conservatives. John Tkacik, a China expert at the Heritage Foundation, said the president’s comments showed “he’s lost his bearings” on the Taiwan issue. “It just boggles the mind,” he said. “I’m just appalled. Clinton never would have gone this far.”

When die-hard neocons compare Bush to Clinton — unfavorably — you know he’s gone off the reservation, which is funny since Bush is supposed to be the reservation when it comes to policy.

On the other hand, this is hardly a stretch for George “some people have too much freedom” Bush. Apparently, he’s found some of those people in Taiwan. Of course, he also knows about plenty of them in America, he just calls them “liberals” here. Which is actually the point.

As those of us who have been watching Bush perform Orwellian contortions with our government know, Dubya’s rhetoric is often the exact opposite of his statements. “Clear Skies” undercuts air pollution laws, “No Child Left Behind” leaves everyone behind when it’s not funded, and the “Patriot Act” is an unprecedented erosion of the Bill of Rights. When Bush speaks of “freedom,” he’s really referring to increasing freedom for those with money and power to do as they wish, regardless of the consequences.

What makes the Taiwan incident stand out is that even for this administration, it marks a new high point in brazenness. The Bush administration has, in effect, openly admitted that power and “playing ball” with them are more important than decades-old alliances and democracy. Sure, we knew that, but this is a singular admission of the facts from a public relations standpoint. Even some of their most devoted policy wonks (among the conservatives cited in the “trio” above are William Kristol and Robert Kagan, co-founders of the Project for a New American Century) are shocked.

Certainly, pragmatism must play a role in the politics of any world power run by sane leaders. (Whether that includes the United States at this time I leave to the reader to judge.) Avoiding open conflict with a potentially dangerous foe is very different, however, from aiding and abetting the threats of a totalitarian, ideological nemesis.

The real question, I suppose, has become whether China’s totalitarianism really makes it America’s rival or not.

(/) Roland X

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