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by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 9/21/07
A friend once remarked to me that had we chosen sides more wisely in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, we wouldn’t have the problems in the Middle East that we now face, implying that our support of Israel is the primary reason why Islamic and Arab extremists hate us. I personally believe that they would quickly come up with another reason to hate us if that reason were removed, but conceding the point for the sake of argument, would that be a valid reason for abandoning an ally?
Given that nations usually act in their own self-interest, should pragmatism always trump principle in the conduct of foreign relations? Should we form and break alliances based solely upon what’s in it for us or do we support our friends when we perceive their cause or actions to be just? Do we recognize and encourage the right of all people to determine freely how and by whom they shall be governed?
J.F. Kelly, Jr.
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive
who writes on current events and military subjects.
He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
Showing support for allies can often be inconvenient, especially when there is a general lack of support from the international community and everyone just wants to get along and avoid conflict at any cost. Israel and Taiwan are, in this regard, inconvenient allies to because they complicate our relationships with others. They are, nonetheless, democratic allies and they deserve support from the United States, the world’s most powerful champion of democracy, especially since they can count on little support from the world community.
Israel is the recipient of repeated condemnations by U.N. members and organizations such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights which continued to censure Israel for human rights violations even as innocent Israeli civilians were being denied the most basic of human rights at the hands of Palestinian suicide bombers. Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, exercising authority that no one granted him, rejected outright Taiwan’s application for membership in the world body.
The world, for the most part, pretends that Taiwan does not formally exist except as an errant province of the Peoples Republic of China which will some day come to its senses for the convenience of China appeasers and succumb to the rule of that giant Communist dictatorship. This attitude is maintained to pacify the geriatric Chinese rulers who become apoplectic at the very mention of Taiwanese independence. They insist that Taiwan is a breakaway province and that any expression of independence will be answered by armed force. The timid, conflict-weary world agrees, desperate to preserve trade and to avoid conflict with the emerging giant whose tantrums simply must be tolerated like those of a spoiled child for the sake of peace. The United States encourages such cowardly behavior through its ill-considered “one China” policy instituted in the Nixon years and hailed as the opening of a mutually-beneficial dialogue with China.
The U.N. kicked the Republic of China (Taiwan) out of its ranks in 1971 and stripped our World War II ally of its permanent seat on the Security Council, giving it to a repressive dictatorship that routinely denies its people basic civil and political rights. The United States, to its shame, went along with this travesty and ever since, its “one China” policy has been a model of ambiguity. We extend diplomatic recognition to only one China, the repressive one which threatens force to keep Taiwan from acting independently, while at the same time maintaining a treaty with Taiwan which obligates us to come to its aid if that force is actually used.
At some point we need to tell our Far East diplomats and China scholars “enough doubletalk”. Taiwan, ceded to Japan in 1895, has never been a province of the Peoples Republic of China and doesn’t want to be. It has never served under communist rule and fervently does not wish to now, however inconvenient that may be to the United States, the United Nations and the rest of China’s trading partners. Taiwan, the world’s 16th largest economy is larger in size than Belgium and has a population greater that that of Iraq. It is a prosperous, stable democracy and a reliable ally and trading partner. It deserves U.N. membership.
Taiwan’s application for U.N. membership, not as the Republic of China, but simply as Taiwan, elicited a rebuke from the Bush administration because no one wants to provoke China. Yet we assert that people everywhere have a right to choose their destiny and to seek liberty just as we did at our nation’s birth. I guess we take a stand for principle only when it is politically convenient to do so. What does that say about our integrity? CRO
2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.