Taiwan Arms Sales & the Erosion of US-Sino Diplomacy

Decades ago, Washington abandoned its carefully negotiated commitments to Beijing out of political expedience, setting the stage for current dangers in the Taiwan Strait, says Ambassador Chas W. Freeman.

Taipei skyline. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Chas W. Freeman, Jr

Chas FreemanThe U.S. approach during the Reagan administration’s handling of the Taiwan arms-sales controversy epitomized “deep diplomacy,” that is, the rearrangement of circumstances to induce others to conclude that they should do things that serve our interests – not to please us, but to secure their own interests.  

The negotiations illustrated how a dangerous impasse born of very different perspectives rooted in domestic politics could – in the common interest — be set aside for future resolution.  The talks showed the value of mutual trust between individual negotiators as well as the importance of well-timed direct communication between leaders.  The arms control agreement the talks produced yielded the results the U.S. negotiators had hoped it would for a solid decade before it fell victim to the exigencies of American politics.  Ultimately, this showed the danger of bottling up problems with military deterrence rather than pursuing their resolution through patient diplomacy.

As George Kennan observed, “History does not forgive us our national mistakes because they are explicable in terms of our domestic politics. . ..  A nation which excuses its own failures by the sacred untouchableness of its own habits can excuse itself into a complete disaster.”  

The politically expedient abandonment of solemnly negotiated commitments to China concerning the Taiwan question devalued our word as Americans.  It has left a legacy of Chinese distrust that continues to hobble Sino-American relations today.  A reputation for reliability, once lost, is almost impossible to restore.

What is the ‘Taiwan Question?’

(Wikimedia Commons)

Simply put, the Taiwan question is what the political relationship between Taiwan and the rest of China is or should be. 

Until 1895, Taiwan was a province of China.  In that year, the Japanese empire forcibly annexed it.  Five decades later, at the end of the Second World War, Japan surrendered Taiwan to the then-Chinese government.  Within China, the end of Japan’s 14-year-long rampage through China rekindled the struggle between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party and Mao Zedong’s Communist Party over which would rule China.

In 1949, Mao’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) defeated Chiang’s army and replaced his KMT regime in most of China.  Chiang and roughly 2 million of his troops withdrew to Taiwan.  The PLA prepared to bring the Chinese civil war to an end by conquering Taiwan.  As 1950 began, the United States, which continued to maintain diplomatic relations with Chiang’s government, declared that it did not consider Taiwan strategically significant enough to intervene to save it.

But in mid-1950, north Korea stormed over the 38th parallel to unify all of Korea under its rule.  Two days later, the United States placed the 7th Fleet between Chiang’s forces and the PLA.  The stated purpose of this U.S. intervention was to preclude the expansion of the war in Korea to other parts of Asia. 

Washington demanded that each side in the Chinese civil war cease attacks on the other.  U.S. intervention effectively suspended but did not end their war, which is in abeyance but unconcluded to this day.

Mao Zedong declares the founding of the modern People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. (Orihara1, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By October 1950, as all of Korea was about to fall to General Douglas MacArthur, Chinese forces intervened to preserve north Korea as a buffer state.  The Korean conflict became an undeclared war between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  Mutual hostility escalated.  In 1954, Washington concluded a defense treaty with Chiang Kai-shek’s rump Chinese government, placing Taiwan under American protection as the United States sought to isolate, contain, and overthrow the communist regime on the China mainland by both fair means and foul.

For the next 20 years, American diplomats worked hard to sustain the legal fictions that there was only one China; that its government was in Taipei, not Beijing; that this government could and should represent China internationally; and that it was not a government in exile because Taiwan was part of China.  I took part in our defense of these propositions.  It worked until 1971, when the international community rebelled and rejected Taipei’s preposterous continuing representation of China in the UN.

Two decades of success at enforcing Beijing’s ostracism is proof that, at our best, American diplomats can work miracles in the service of grand strategy, including nullifying unwelcome realities. This is worth remembering because, as has become obvious, we can also be utterly ineffective when there is no strategy to match resources to realistic objectives or to guide diplomatic tactics.

Recognizing Beijing

In 1969, clashes broke out along the Sino-Soviet frontier.  President Richard Nixon, who had already come to the conclusion that no world order excluding China could be stable, feared the geopolitical consequences of a Soviet military conquest or humiliation of China.  He switched U.S. policy from using Taiwan to contain the PRC to enlisting the PRC to contain the U.S.S.R.  Doing so required addressing Chinese demands that the United States recognize Beijing rather than Taipei as the capital of an undivided China, that we withdraw our military presence from Taiwan, and that we terminate our defense treaty with it.

In 1972, Nixon dramatically visited Beijing, the capital of a then-hostile government America did not recognize.  He finessed the Taiwan question by acknowledging that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China,” adding that “the United States Government does not challenge that position.”  He announced a U.S. “interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind,” he affirmed “the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan.” In the meantime, he pledged to “progressively reduce [U.S.] forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension in the area diminishes.”

This was artful language.  Uniquely for a diplomatic document, it was preceded by several pages of candid recitations by both sides of profound disagreements about Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, Japan and Kashmir.  This was Zhou Enlai’s diplomatically inventive proposal.  Reaffirming such Sino-American differences reassured our respective security partners that rapprochement between the PRC and the United States did not imply a sell-out of their interests.  Candid statements of disagreements have a place in diplomacy.

Nixon privately assured Mao and Zhou that he would recognize the PRC in his second term.  Watergate then struck him down.  Gerald Ford’s accidental presidency was too politically precarious for him to implement Nixon’s pledge.  The U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense was beginning to change from a strategic expedient to a matter of national honor.

U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toast, Feb. 25, 1972. (White House/Wikimedia Commons)

Normalization Left to Carter

It was left to President Jimmy Carter to “normalize” relations with the PRC.  As 1978 faded into 1979, Carter did so with Deng Xiaoping.  Carter’s purpose was to intensify pressure on the Soviet Union.  For his part, Deng wanted an opening to the United States both to de-Sovietize China’s domestic political economy and to put Moscow off balance as he used force to convince Hanoi not to ally with the U.S.S.R. to encircle China because this would cost Vietnam vastly more  than it could ever hope to gain.

To “normalize” diplomatic relations with Beijing, Washington had to “abnormalize” them with the rival Chinese government in Taipei it had previously championed.  While retaining substantive, nominally unofficial ties to Taiwan, the U.S. transferred formal recognition and relations from Taipei to Beijing and withdrew its forces and installations from Taiwan. 

The Chinese declared their determination to make best efforts to reunify their divided country by peaceful rather than violent means.  The president gave the one-year notice needed to terminate the U.S. defense treaty with Taipei and suspended further weapons sales throughout 1979, while the treaty was expiring.  But he informed the Chinese that “sales of carefully selected defensive weapons on a restrained basis” to Taiwan would resume in 1980.  Not surprisingly, they registered strong objections to this and reserved the right to raise the issue for resolution later.  Nevertheless, they went ahead with “normalization.”

In Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, he pledged to restore official relations with Taipei and to upgrade Taiwan’s military capabilities against the PRC through unrestricted arms sales.  But when he entered office, he became aware of the extent of clandestine Sino-American cooperation against the USSR.  

Since 1980, the U.S. and PRC had jointly operated major intelligence bases on Chinese soil.  These more than replaced the capabilities of those lost to the Islamic revolution in Iran the year before.  China had its own covert program in support of the Afghan resistance, but it was also supplying the U.S. with many hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of weapons each year for the much larger U.S. effort to dislodge the Soviets from Afghanistan.  And China was providing the U.S. with tens of millions of dollars-worth of MiG-21s and other Soviet-designed, Chinese-manufactured equipment to enable our armed forces to train against the Soviet threat.

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina, October 1980. (Ronald Reagan Library via Wikimedia Commons)

New Generation of Aircraft to Sell

Reagan abandoned his proposed restoration of official relations with Taipei.  But he held fast to the idea of selling Taiwan a new generation of aircraft – the so-called FX.  Beijing reacted by redoubling its conciliatory offers to Taiwan, expressing mounting fury at what it saw as a renewed American invasion of Chinese sovereignty and internal affairs, and audibly reducing its overt alignment with the U.S. against the U.S.S.R.

I took charge of our infant embassy in Beijing in early July 1981 as this controversy was just beginning.  It rapidly intensified.  By October, the Chinese were signaling with ever greater urgency that, if the United States did not agree to a schedule to end arms sales to Taiwan, they might downgrade or even break relations with the U.S.

China had earlier downgraded relations with the Netherlands over submarine sales to Taiwan, lending this threat a measure of credibility. 

In late 1981, as both sides began to formulate negotiating positions, the president asked the Joint Chiefs whether there was in fact a compelling case for the sale of the FX to Taiwan.  Around the same time, an effort to open bilateral negotiations produced only a thundering diatribe by a Chinese vice foreign minister, who spoke to newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Arthur Hummel and me from a raised dais in the former Austro-Hungarian embassy in Beijing’s Legation Quarter.  Indirectly, we let the Chinese know that the vice minister’s haughty harangues would take us places neither side should want to go.

Meanwhile, the JCS’s worst-case analysis determined that Taiwan did not really need the FX.  In January 1982, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Affairs John Holdridge arrived in Beijing to inform the Chinese that we no longer planned to sell an advanced aircraft to Taiwan.  His visit enabled China to switch to a new and more congenial, though equally tendentious, chief negotiator.  Initial meetings with him also gained no traction. After a few unproductive encounters, we proposed that the chief negotiators each delegate the task of drafting a text to a select group of subordinates.

Talks Over Lunches

These talks, four to a side, took place over lunches at my apartment.  My chef – now my foster son – served up superb Chinese cuisine for my guests, creating an atmosphere conducive to informality and candor.  As the great British statesman, Lord Palmerston remarked: “dining is the soul of diplomacy.” 

My Chinese counterparts and my team knew each other well from numerous previous diplomatic interactions.  They were tough professionals whose word could be relied upon.  Like me and my American colleagues, they operated under very tight instructions and floated no proposal without assurances from the very highest level of their government that trade-offs based on it might prove acceptable.

The Chinese had the advantage of being on their home ground, with direct access to their superiors.  We in the American embassy were 7,000 miles from Washington and Reagan.  There were no secure phones or email in those days.  We were dealing with issues that were politically explosive and tightly compartmented back home.  To protect the privacy of our communications with the very able team supporting us in Washington, we wrote them in romanized Chinese, not English.  There were no leaks.

Slowly, the two side began to build a text based on “I think I could persuade my government to say this if your government would say that.”  All agreements over the dining table were tentative and ad referendum to internal policy processes personally overseen by Reagan and Deng Xiaoping.  Occasional formal meetings at the ambassadorial level were convened to nail down trade-offs that had been found to be mutually agreeable.  Both sides understood that nothing was final until everything was final.

Setting Objectives 

On the U.S. side, we understood our objectives to be:

  • the restoration of an overt entente (limited partnership) with the PRC against the Soviet Union;
  • the enhancement of prospects for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue between the Chinese parties;
  • a linkage between peace in the Taiwan Strait and any reduction in arms sales to Taiwan;
  • the avoidance of any schedule to end such arms sales;
  • the preservation of a credible bargaining position for Taipei vis-à-vis Beijing; and
  • setting aside the Taiwan arms sales issue as an obstacle to expanded cooperation with the PRC.

For their part, the Chinese negotiators sought an outcome that:

  • fixed an early date for the complete end of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, thereby putting pressure on the island to seek terms for its reunification with the rest of China;
  • avoided any commitment to use only peaceful means to end the Chinese civil war and reunify China;
  • removed the Taiwan arms sales issue as a domestically insuperable political obstacle to expanded cooperation with the United States;
  • affirmed “respect for … sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs” as the guiding principles of Sino-American relations; and
  • left open the possibility, mutatis mutandis, of eventual rapprochement with the neighboring U.S.S.R.

Both sides shared an interest in putting the Taiwan arms sales issue behind us.  The question was how to do this in a way that could withstand the inevitable political backlash from opponents of compromise in both countries.  Each side had to make its own judgments about what might do that for it.

The talks made progress, but tediously.  In May 1982, Reagan sent his vice president, George H. W. Bush to Beijing to convey letters from him to Deng Xiaoping as well as China’s premier and party chairman in the hope that this might jumpstart progress.  In his letters, Reagan stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation, recognized the significance of China’s willingness to attempt a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, and declared his willingness to reduce arms sales to Taiwan if China maintained a peaceful approach to the island.  The leadership of both countries had now clearly communicated a desire to put the Taiwan arms sales issue behind them and get on with practical business.

This accelerated progress in the negotiations.  So did personnel changes in Washington, which removed the pro-deal Alexander Haig as secretary of state and replaced him with the more skeptical George Shultz.  This convinced the Chinese that delay risked a relapse into rancor.  By the end of July, after intense deliberations in both capitals, the two sides agreed a compromise.

George Shultz, left, with President Ronald Reagan, December 1986. (Ronald Reagan Library via Wikimedia Commons)

In a Joint Communiqué issued Aug. 17, 1982, China unilaterally strengthened its commitment to a “fundamental policy to strive for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question.”  The U.S. unilaterally stated that in light of this Chinese policy, the United States did “not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan [would] not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it [intended] gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.”

The negotiations thus concluded with the Chinese having had to accept that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would continue indefinitely, though at steadily declining levels.  The contradiction between normal relations with Beijing and continuing assistance to its adversary in the unconcluded Chinese civil war was left unresolved.  The U.S. was compelled to add awkward specifics to its earlier undertaking to sell only “carefully selected defensive weapons on a restrained basis.”  Neither side had been able to obtain more than an implied linkage between its own commitments and those of the other.  As we issued the communiqué, the negotiators on both sides figuratively held our noses.

Positive Strategic Consequences

But the compromise the two sides had reached had positive strategic consequences.  Without Americans prescribing any particular course of action to either party to the Taiwan dispute, we had created circumstances that induced them both to set aside military confrontation in favor of some sort of “peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question” between themselves. 

Beijing knew that the progressive reduction in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan depended on its visibly reducing its military threat to Taiwan.  China thus acquired an interest in proving its peaceful intent, which it proceeded to do in both word and deed.  Meanwhile, the prospect of steadily diminishing American military assistance left the Chinese on Taiwan with no choice but to consider realistic alternatives to military confrontation to manage relations with Chinese on the mainland.  Within a decade, Taipei responded to Beijing’s repeated offers of political dialogue.

The realization by both Beijing and Taipei that rapprochement offered a more promising approach than military posturing to the management of cross-Strait relations took time to take root.  But it did take root.  For a time, it even survived the abrupt U.S. abandonment of limits on American arms sales to Taiwan a decade after we had agreed to them.

Leaders signing agreement to eliminate the U.S.S.R. and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States, Dec. 8, 1991. (RIA Novosti archive, iCC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In September 1992, the collapse of the common Soviet enemy, the deterioration in U.S.-China relations after the 1989 Tiananmen incident, and a long-running campaign by proponents of military versus diplomatic approaches to securing Taiwan came together.  The expediencies of U.S. election-year politics produced a massive sale of advanced fighter aircraft to Taiwan – the largest arms sale package to any single foreign purchaser to that date.  So much for the progressive reduction of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as an incentive for a sustained peaceful approach to reunification by Beijing!  Military deterrence had shoved diplomacy aside in America’s handling of Chinese nationalism.  This turnabout froze cross-Strait rapprochement and encouraged Taiwan independence advocates to step up their defiance of Beijing, while provoking the remilitarization of cross-Strait relations.

And that’s how the stage got set for us to arrive where we are.  The military balance in the Taiwan Strait now clearly favors Beijing.  We’re back in the business of transferring advanced weapons systems to Taiwan.  This creates an increasing danger that the Chinese civil war could reignite, leading to our first war with a nuclear power over where its borders lie.

Remarks to a “master class in diplomacy” of the Center for the Study of the Conduct of Diplomacy, The Foreign Service Institute, Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 19, 2019.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman is a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He is a retired U.S. defense official, diplomat, and interpreter, the recipient of numerous high honors and awards, a popular public speaker, and the author of five books.

This article is from ChasFreeman.net

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13 comments for “Taiwan Arms Sales & the Erosion of US-Sino Diplomacy

  1. robert e williamson jr
    September 29, 2019 at 15:01

    Are you talking reconciliation of the books, like maybe a world wide economic collapse?

    Or are you talking reconciliation of relationships.

    The timing is just not right. No one has went to jail, no one has admitted heir wrong doing in detail. The super wealthy elites, the SWETS have shown absolutely nothing that appears they are willing in good faith to change their actions.

    I for one desire a reconciliation of the books before I see any need for reconciliation of the relationship between the public and their corporate masters.

    There exists still far too much poison to swallow.

  2. Zhu
    September 28, 2019 at 08:26

    Very interesting. More discussion of Taiwan’s politics would have been good.

  3. September 28, 2019 at 08:25

    History has been very hard on Nixon for all the well-known reasons but he addressed some big problems and did some great things.

  4. Ghost Ship
    September 28, 2019 at 07:47

    Interesting position with Taiwan independence. The U.S. demands that Russia return Crimea to Ukraine before the Crimeans can exercise their right to self-determination. I wonder if the U.S. will similarly demand that Taiwan return to China before it can exercise its right to self-determination. The U.S. interferes in too many places for it not to be regarded as hypocritical.

  5. Brockland
    September 28, 2019 at 00:30

    U.S. hawks will never give up trying to provoke a China-Taiwan war, which would be far safer than a U.S.-China war.

    Peace turned Asia into the world’s leading economic regions, with no end to expansion in sight. Provided they remain at peace.

  6. robert e williamson jr
    September 27, 2019 at 16:36

    1971 Nixon takes the U.S. off the gold standard. Faced with runaway inflation, a contrived oil shortage and his fear of a run on gold.

    Nixon blinked. Remember that breif case full of cash Adnan Khoshoggi left at San Clemente late 1968 when he visited “The Tricky Dickster”.

    1972, BCCI is created just in time to finance the operations of the Safari Club created in 1976 with it’s stellar list of national security heads from Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France. During this time I believe Bush 41 was instrumental in ensuring creation of the Safari club and maybe BCCI both. Joseph J Trento has argued that Saudi Intelligence had strong influence by way of Kamal Adham. who signed the charter of the Safari Club.

    This at a time when the CIA was working hardest to avoid being pinned down for their dirty deeds.

    As Bob Baer points out in his book “SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL” Chapter four, the Saudis soon became the U.S. 401K program.

    • September 28, 2019 at 08:19

      Thank you Robert. That is exactly what is required. We have to let all the poison out before reconciliation can arise. Thanks

  7. Pablo Diablo
    September 27, 2019 at 11:52

    The USA has broken A LOT of treaties it had signed. Starting with Native Americans. Its word means nothing, its military demands prevail.

  8. September 27, 2019 at 05:51

    Owen Lattimore was a leading State Department voice in advising America on its China policy but the moneymen saw immediate advantages in liaising with the Nationalists who did a good job in spreading it around, loot and pretty girls. It was a successful strategy for a defeated side with nothing more to lose and Joe McCarthy fortuitously helped out with his fatuous witch-hunt.

    There were chances to change course – Nixon provided the best one – but the significance of the act was never recognised – it was just another event in the never-ending chain of one thing after another. That’s the tragedy that befalls all who abandon morality and go for gold.

    It was the beginning of American decline in Asia. In the 1840s they were the most favoured nation, offered the foremost share in China trade. A century later they were comprehensively distrusted, both in their verbal and written undertakings. How are the mighty fallen from their high places.

  9. Jeff Harrison
    September 26, 2019 at 19:38

    Fascinating. I’d love to get a peek behind the scenes in the current round of trade negotiations. Donnie Murdo clearly thinks that he can play small ball with the Chinese but I suspect that by destroying our reliability we also destroyed our ability to get any real concessions from China (assuming that we deserved any). I understand that China is moving to buy Argentinian soy beans which they’ll probably hold off doing until after the Argentinian election which Macri, an American stooge, will certainly lose. We’ll see what else China does to direct its business away from the US.

  10. vinnieoh
    September 26, 2019 at 17:27

    (Excellent piece and well suited for a master class. Just before reading this I wrote out something that had coalesced in my thoughts in a moment of mental pause. It is serendipitous that this article is related, and gives me a reason to post it here. I don’t have any similar credentials as Mr. Freeman, nor his finely honed diplomatic understanding and articulateness, nor the patriotic allegiance that must have sustained him in his career. If my composition has any merit, I’m sure others here will say yea or nay.)

    The Presidency of Barack Obama was a grave disappointment to me on so many levels that it would be hard to enumerate all of them. It may be fair to say though that much of what he did and did not do was dictated by realities that were passed to him when he assumed office. I don’t wish to debate the entirety of all of that here, but want to narrowly look at the one thing that he did that in my opinion was a very great accomplishment. That is, the JCPOA – the “Iranian nuclear deal.”

    First and foremost that agreement did in fact prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. It does not matter that Iran had apparently realized some time before that pursuing such a course was quite literally a dead end. And today we see Iran – which still has no nuclear weapons – successfully staring down the world’s biggest and dumbest brute. You can take that to mean either the US or Trump, as it applies to both.

    Second, this was not a bilateral agreement, but happened with the input of the current major players in world affairs. An arms agreement of this import and with this inclusive consensus had not been seen in many decades, to the detriment of humanity everywhere.

    Third, it has done no-one much good to keep Iran boxed in the category of pariah. If Iran has to some degree fairly earned that label we should first remember that it was the original cataclysmic UK/US interference there in 1953 that ultimately gave rise to the Shia Islamic fundamentalists in 1979. With one stroke those proclaimed bastions of democracy delegitimized Iran’s grass-roots democracy and then Iran’s traditional monarchy, leaving the field to the Islamists, the only cultural establishment left to them to hold social and national cohesion.

    With all of the hopeful promise this agreement engendered, all of the many diplomatic and geopolitical obstacles overcome, this was indeed a great accomplishment, not just for Obama, but also for Iranian leadership, and all of the contributors and signatories. These results alone are enough to commend it and celebrate it.

    But these effects may have obscured something more consequential to the US which in this short time is now becoming clear. Was it not the Obama administration that wished to “pivot to Asia” to counter China’s growing power in the region and globally? The growing US angst of becoming the loser in a perceived “zero sum game” first set the gears of diplomatic and military policy in motion toward that region and that effort of containment.

    I will not speculate whether the JCPOA was Obama’s masterstroke of this pivot, but I observe that Iran is essentially important geographically to China’s One Belt One Road initiative. If the normalization of relations and trade between the US and Iran had actually come to fruition it would have (could have) put a serious crimp in China’s plans. Had the US drawn Iran closer, instead of pushing them away as Trump is doing now, well, he has successfully pushed them into China’s waiting arms.

    The reasons Trump did this are fairly easy to understand. His visceral hatred of Obama, his essential bigotry and Islamophobia which was energetically assuaged by his major Zionist campaign contributors. The quid pro quo of that last were the appointments of Pompeo and Bolton. Because the House of Saud is only fraudulently Islamic Trump is symbiotically drawn to their true nature of condescending autocracy and grasping opulence.

    Considering that China’s rise to dominance is now uppermost on the minds of many in the US halls of power it would seem that many of those same minds would realize that in all of this, Israel has not been the friend or ally of the US. The Saudis simply say that it is either us or them (Iran,) even though I suspect that Iran neither recognizes nor would insist on such a barrier.

    Trump of course is neither as stupid as he often completely seems to be, nor is he the “stable genius” he fancies himself to be. The JCPOA could have been the US most immediate effective tool in countering Chinese power, if that is the unfortunate inevitable path this nation is going to pursue. Trump’s Iran policies – this manufactured crisis – has not only given China a leg up, but has destroyed a functioning tool that could have assured continuing US relevance and influence there, and possibly globally as well.

    I am not under the dogmatic and fearful spell of US hegemony. Like Rodney King I stand bruised and bleeding in the hellish street of my America and shout “Why can’t we all just get along!” The great struggle for power and dominance destroys us economically, morally, spiritually, and physically. This insane drive does not make us great, it is making our nation unlivable. And makes us unworthy of respect or trust. Eventually, continuing on this path we will make the world unlivable.

    Trump has not been outmaneuvered, he has outmaneuvered himself, with the help and urging of friends and allies that are neither.

  11. September 26, 2019 at 17:01

    All the way from Nixon to Trump, a single immensely important fact stands out in American “diplomacy.” America’s word is worth nothing.

    • September 27, 2019 at 12:26

      Nixon despite his many failings, seems like a strategic colossus and visionary when compared with the presidential midgets of the last three decades.

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