Monday, January 31, 2005

Always Listen to Professionals Who Have Your Best Interests In Mind

A lucky young man in Taiwan avoided advanced cancer when he listened to a professional in a related field who detected something amiss. Even though her contractual obligation had reached its culmination, she nonetheless offered her professional opinion that he should see an oncologist, stat. I am happy to report all is well.

The “Rover” Incident in Taiwan and the Making of US Marine Corps Small Wars Doctrine

In the 1800’s, the US Navy patrolled the sea-lanes of the world, essentially as the “little brother” of the much more powerful British Navy. The US Navy was a small force, barely one hundred vessels worldwide. After the US Civil War, American priorities had shifted from military pursuits to domestic priorities: building the transcontinental railroad, reconstructing the South, settling the West, and assimilating massive amounts of immigrants from Europe. As a consequence, the number of ships in the US fleet shrunk from a high of around 700 at the end of the War towards 60 by 1890. The period immediately after the War, during which the “Rover Incident” occurred was the start of this long decline. This period was also the high point of independence for the Admirals at the far ends of the world who represented US interests. Given the great distances from the US and the need for a quick response to challenges to US authority and power, US Navy Admirals were given great latitude to respond to slights of the American flag. During this period, even given the neglect suffered at hands of the US Government, the US Navy, and its Naval Infantry, the US Marine Corps, landed no less than 80 times around the world to conduct operations of various sizes. In 1867, immediately after the US Civil War, the Marines conducted one of these landings.

A large part of the responsibility of the US ships stationed in the Orient at Shimonoseki was to provide what protection they could to the US and British flagged merchants in the region. The support, however, was mostly punitive and after the fact. Given the distances and the scarcity of communications, often the best that could be done would be for the Navy to arrive on scene after a confrontation and extract retribution. Sometimes, this retribution would be in the form of demands issued from the decks of the ship, or perhaps include shelling or even a landing by the Marines.

The Marines had three roles during this period in American Naval History. The Marines were originally constituted by act of the Continental Congress in 1775 to serve “during the present war in the colonies.” However, their gallant performance in numerous battles during that conflict encouraged the Congress to continue funding of the force. Over time, the role of the Marines evolved.

Onboard ship, Marines enforced the captain’s discipline to ensure smooth operation of the ship and to prevent mutinies; served as the ship’s self defense force to repel boarders; and acted as infantry for operations ashore. During the “Rover Incident”, Marines fulfilled this last function.

As will be evident later in the paper, punishing the natives, though perhaps satisfying on a visceral level, ultimately proved counterproductive. Fortunately for the US Marine Corps, many of the officers involved in these various operations paid close attention and wrote extensively of their experiences. From these accounts, later Marines drafted a doctrine that came to be known as the Small Wars Doctrine, enshrined in the “Small Wars Manual.” One of these incidents that contributed to the drafting of this Marine Corps doctrine occurred on the Taiwan coast in 1867.

Following the shipwreck of the US merchant ship “Rover” on 13 March 1867, the survivors came ashore on the southeast coast of Taiwan, where they were set upon, murdered, and eaten by the local aborigines. The “Rover” had set sail from the Chinese port of Swatow for Newchang in the north of the country. Blown off course, the ship went aground in southern Taiwan. The badly damaged ship soon sank but not before Captain Hunt, his wife and the crew managed to row away from the wreck in small boats. The small party managed to make it ashore. However, members of the Koalut tribe, a group of Aboriginals, observed the progress of the sailors. A band of warriors swept down on the shipwrecked party and murdered all hands with the exception of one Chinese sailor. This sailor escaped to Takow (Kaoshiung) where he told his story to the local British consul. The consul then passed this information up the coast to the British consul in Taiwanfu (Taichung), who passed word to the British Ambassador in Peking, who told the American Ambassador, Mr. Anson Burlingame. There is an interesting note about Ambassador Burlingame. Once his tour of duty in China was complete in 1868, the government of China asked Burlingame to represent their interests in the West. Burlingame died in Russia in 1870 as the Chinese ambassador there.

Meanwhile, the British Navy, stationed at Taiwanfu (Taichung) in the person of Captain Broad, put to sea in the gunboat Comorant. Captain Broad intended to investigate the report, which had been obtained from the Chinese sailor, of the atrocity, and to rescue any Westerners should any still survive. The British Captain reached the scene of the slaughter on 26 March 1867. The Captain commenced his explorations in the area with the sailors he had onboard Cormorant. The Koaluts descended upon the exploration party and quickly drove the unprepared, and lightly armed sailors back to their ship. Unprepared for combat on land, and with no other options, Captain Broad shelled the natives, then withdrew to Takow.

The American consul for Amoy, General Charles W. LeGendre, attempted to contact the chief of the Kaoluts to obtain promises of good behavior in the future. The Kaoluts did not respond to his repeated requests. LeGendre then took his complaints to the local Chinese officials who argued they had no jurisdiction over the aborigines. (Davidson, p. 119)

In the words of the Qing Dynasty’s top official in Taiwan:

“The uncivilized aborigines are beyond the imperial domain and the realm of our civilization. The foreigners are advised to obey the boundary policy and not to venture into the forbidden aboriginal territory.”

Li Futai, the Governor of Fujian province echoed this sentiment in his report about the incident:
“The Koaluts tribe located in the aboriginal territory and the murderers are the uncivilized aborigines. They are not Chinese people. The territory is beyond the imperial domain and the capacity of our military authority. It is really difficult to meet the (American) request.” (Chang, p.25)

This is another interesting footnote to this period. Several in the contemporary Taiwan independence movement have seized upon these statements to argue that China recognized all along that Taiwan is not a part of that country. Whether these statements represent binding evidence under international law is a topic for another paper. However, the replies and the sentiments of the Chinese officials made it clear that China could not and would not be of assistance to the United States in this instance.

It is also interesting to note LeGendre’s involvement in the Japanese colonization of Taiwan. While serving as Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Japanese Government in 1874, General LeGendre wrote:

"Unless Japan takes possession of the series of islands from Karafuto (Sakhalin) Island in the north to Taiwan in the south, encircling China mainland in a crescent shape, and maintain foothold points in both Korea and Manchu, otherwise it is inadequate to ensure the safety of Empire and control East Asia.” (China Institute, p48)

LeGendre’s arguments made a deep impression on the Japanese, and gave impetus to their push to include Taiwan as a colonial possession. So, although LeGendre is tangential to the intellectual basis for the Taiwan independence movement, he is pivotal to Taiwan’s painful period of colonization.

Washington, although outraged by the massacre and by China’s tepid responses, nonetheless dithered as to the response. After three months’ delay, the War Department finally issued the order to the Far Eastern Fleet to respond. Admiral Bell of the Far Eastern Fleet assembled two ships of war, the Hartford and the Wyoming, and 181 Marines. Admiral Bell put this expedition under the command of Flag-Captain Belknap. The ships finally landed on 19 June.

Captain Belknap landed the Marines under the command of Lieutenant Commander McKenzie with the intent of punishing the aborigines. The attack was a dismal failure. The Marines blindly pursued the aborigines through thick jungle in withering heat. Many of the Americans succumbed to heat injuries. Additionally, the Aborigines adopted effective tactics of firing from cover and quickly moving their positions. In the lone decisive engagement with the Aborigines, the natives killed Lieutenant Commander McKenzie and forced the Marine to withdraw. The Marines did manage to kill some of the offending tribe members and probably killed a large number of innocent civilians, but were nonetheless ultimately forced to withdraw from the field when faced with the loss of their commanding officer. (Davidson, p. 115)

Later, the American Consul General LeGendre led an expedition of Chinese mercenaries into the interior of Taiwan with the intent of negotiating with the tribes. This is not so foolish an errand as it might sound. General LeGendre had been an accomplished General in the American Civil War, and had only retired to the diplomatic corps because of a debilitating injury that resulted in the loss of an eye. He was well acquainted with leading men into harm’s way, and had experience negotiating treaties. There probably was not better man in Asia available for the task General LeGendre undertook. (Stephenson) The diplomat had a couple of advantages when he finally located the Kaoluts to negotiate the treaty. The large mercenary force impressed the aborigines with the threat of uncontrolled violence. Secondly, General LeGendre was willing “to sacrifice a vain revenge (which might be hereafter used as a pretext for retaliation) to the incomparable advantage we would gain in securing ourselves against the recurrence of crimes we had come to punish.” (LeGendre) This last point is particularly salient. The reason the Kaoluts had murdered the crew of the Rover is because years before, without provocation, a group of foreigners had massacred a portion of the tribe. (Lin) So, the first time the tribe had a chance for revenge against foreigners, they had seized it.

Because of the advantages General LeGendre possessed, the aborigine tribe and their chief Taketok decided that it was in their best interest to conclude a peace treaty with the American. Eventually, General LeGendre persuaded the chief to give assistance to shipwrecked or foundering ships provided the mariners waved a red flag, signifying peaceful intention.

The “Rover” incident is a microcosm of the lessons learned by the Marine Corps in 100 years of fighting small wars. The Marine Corps defines small wars as:
“operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our nation.”

The “Rover Incident” fits into this definition, but as we will see later, everything that could go wrong in the initial encounter, did go wrong. Later, the American diplomat LeGendre did everything correctly.

The “Rover Incident” contains many lessons that Marines would later incorporate into the “Small Wars Manual.” The first of these lessons is that reprisals never work. The original attack by the aborigines on the survivors of the “Rover” was because of an earlier attack on the natives by foreigners. The attacks by the crew of the “Cormorant” and by the Marines only hardened the position of the Kaolut tribe and made it more difficult to negotiate with them. Using coercive force first only tends to backfire as noted in the “Small Wars Manual.” From the Psychology Chapter:
“Drastic punitive measures to induce surrender or action in the nature of reprisals may awaken sympathy [against the Marines]. Reprisals and punitive measures may result in the destruction of lives and property of innocent people and have an adverse effect on the [Marines who must carry out the measures]. (Small Wars Manual, p.18)

The primary “adverse effect” in this case was the death of poor unfortunate Lieutenant Commander McKenzie. However, because the British and American instinct in 1867 was to shoot first then collect the bodies, there could have been no other outcome. Violence in this case simply begat more violence.

To the credit of the Americans, General LeGendre had an instinctive grasp of the psychology of combatants, probably from his long experience in the Orient and from his days as a General in the American Civil War. He realized that the force the Americans could muster was inadequate to the task. 181 Marines were not enough in rough, mountainous terrain and freakishly hot, humid weather to engage or much less, intimidate the Kaoluts. So, realizing this fact, General LeGendre recruited and financed a force of approximately 1800 Chinese regulars and militia, and marched into Kaolut territory. The Kaolut were impressed by this show of force, and quickly agreed to negotiation. (Davidson, p 119) This show of force is an excellent example of going into an unknown situation armed and ready, but always seeking to negotiate.

“The aim is not to develop a belligerent spirit in our men, but one of caution and steadiness. Instead of employing force one strives to accomplish the purpose by diplomacy…[all the while] preventing, as far as possible any casualties among our own troops.” (Small Wars Manual, p.18)

The best way to prevent casualties and to accomplish the mission is to so impress your potential adversary that he does not bother to fight but is instead quite willing to negotiate. With the Kaolut, General LeGendre accomplished this most worthy of goals. This lesson and hundred of similar ones learned by the Marines in engagements from Latin America to Mainland China to Africa to the Philippines throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were ultimately distilled into the “Small Wars Manual.”

The Marine Corps took these lessons learned from the “Rover Incident” as well as those from numerous other engagements, and in the mid-1930’s, wrote a manual called the “Small Wars Manual.” This manual tells those who would study it how to fight and win small wars. And while it does include information on how to physically fight the battles necessary to win against an armed opponent, of far more interest are the chapters on Psychology and on Diplomacy.

The bulk of the “Small Wars Manual” is taken up with descriptions on how to fight and win battles in the rough terrain that a Marine is likely to find in what we would now call the “Third World.” The Manual contains voluminous information on preparing ambushes in various environments as well as details on numerous other tactical matters. There is also a lot of more prosaic information regarding the care and provisioning of pack animals and matters such as the best way to assist a pack mule in fording a river. But it is possible to disregard some of the outdated parts of the Manual and focus on the parts that are more or less timeless. The Manual contains an excellent discussion on three topics of great interest to warriors of today. Those topics are Strategy when dealing with insurgents, the psychology of the natives and the interrelationship between the military and civilians. Each will be examined in turn.

As an aside, also of great interest are the concluding chapters of the manual. The final two chapters of the Small Wars Manual are “Supervision of Elections” and “Withdrawal.” While the events in Taiwan in 1867 probably contributed little to the drafting of these two chapters, nor did the situation involving the negotiations Kaoluts require them, those two chapters definitely have relevance for the current situation in Iraq.

The chapter on strategy makes it clear that small wars can and often do occur in conjunction or simultaneously with the diplomatic effort. However, the key is that there must BE a diplomatic effort. “The military leader in [small wars] is limited to certain lines of action as to the strategy and even as to the tactics of the campaign. This feature has been so marked in past operations that Marines have been referred to as State Department Troops in past campaigns.” (Small Wars Manual, p 11) The military leader is part of the diplomatic effort, and not the main focus of effort. This is where small wars differ from major operations. The primary difference between “small wars” and “major operations” is that “in the latter case, war is undertaken only as a last resort after all diplomatic means of adjusting difference have failed and the military commander’s objective ordinarily becomes the armed forces. “ (Small Wars Manual, p11)

Here is where the “Rover Incident” is instructive. Both the British Captain and the American Captain charged to the scene of the murders, and without attempting any sort of mediation, began shooting. The hard lesson is that shooting first is NEVER going to work, unless the aggressive force kills ALL of the targeted people. Failing that, all that will be accomplished is to outrage the locals and make them even more recalcitrant. Small wars doctrine teaches that violence and threat of violence is only effective in the context of a larger diplomatic effort. The Kaoluts did not come around to negotiate until they realized that General LeGendre was serious not only about negotiating, but also about exacting punishment where he thwarted in his effort. The combined efforts of diplomacy with the credible threat of overwhelming force have been shown empirically to accomplish far more than just diplomacy or just violence.

The second and related topic of interest regards the psychology of the natives. The Small Wars Manual demands that Marines always act with tact when dealing with local populations. Treating potential adversaries with respect and deference has the potential of “sapping the strength of actual or potential hostile ranks by the judicious application of psychological principles [and] may be just as effective as battle casualties.” (Small Wars Manual p 19) Of particular interest to Marines regarding people they encounter are the following: Social customs, political affiliations and religious customs. Marines are cautioned that “appearance of political favoritism should be avoided, strict neutrality in such matters should be observed. [Further], indifference in the above matters can only be regarded as a lack of tact.” Small Wars Manual p19) Such an admonition to a Marine would be enough to let him know that his honor would be stained should he act less than tactfully when dealing with the local population.

Once again, the “Rover Incident” is illustrative. Without regard for the point of view of the natives, the Western forces ran around essentially trying to exterminate the Kaoluts. The Marines did not even know what tribe they were fighting. It was not until General LeGendre arrived on the scene with the sincere interest in negotiating with the Kaoluts as equals did the Americans realize their goals of preventing future atrocities at the hands of the Aboriginals and having American seamen cared for during times of distress.

The third area of interest in the Small Wars Manual is the relation between civilian and the military. There is a long tradition in the United States of having civilians control the military. There are a number of reasons for this, primarily to prevent the possibility of a military dictatorship. However, as a practical matter, experience has shown that having input from civilians regarding military matters can often de-escalate a situation whereas a “military only” solution could make matters worse. It is like the old aphorism: When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. For the military, there is a danger that they will treat every problem as if it could be solved by the application of more firepower. The presence and input from civilians to the military can give more total tools to policy makers. There is not a direct line of control by civilians of the military except from the President, and his representative, the (then) Secretary of War. Nonetheless, Naval Regulations as quoted in the Small Wars Manual speak explicitly of the relationship between the State Department and Naval Forces (including Marines) operating in “small wars.”

(1) The Commander in Chief shall preserve, so far as possible, the most cordial relations with the diplomatic and consular representatives of the United States in foreign countries and extend to them the honors, salutes, and other official courtesies.
(2) He shall carefully and duly consider any request for service or other communication from such representatives.
(3) Although due weight should be given the opinions and advice of such representatives, a commanding officer is solely and entirely responsible to his own superior for all official acts in the administration of his command. (Small Wars Manual, p34)

While the third paragraph makes it clear that the on-scene military commander is still responsible for the actions of his command, the prudent commander will listen to the State Department representative, as admonished in the second paragraph.

The “Rover Incident” provides a useful example of this principle, although in the extreme. General LeGendre, as mentioned above, had commanded troops previously, and actually rode at the head of the column of troops that encountered the Kaoluts. Even during LeGendre’s day, such behavior was extraordinary for a diplomat, and is probably unthinkable today. Nonetheless, even though he commanded the troops, he never let that fact make him lose sight of the notion that he was a diplomat sent to negotiate, not a warrior sent to fight. By subordinating his martial impulses to his diplomatic ones, he was able to accomplish the mission that had eluded the military forces that had preceded him.

There are three additional, contemporary observations to make about the “Small Wars Manual.”

1) The date of publication is telling. It was published in 1940, immediately prior to the outbreak of hostilities in World War II. Because of the subject matter, this manual was largely put aside during World War II and Korean War because there was nothing small about either conflict. Both were large-scale wars with the goal of total victory. Military forces on both sides were engaged in total war, often with the goal of demoralizing the civilian population by destroying the civilian infrastructure. Such combat was orders of magnitude different from the scale of conflict envisioned by the Small Wars Manual.
2) As a consequence of putting the Manual aside in the 1940’s and 1950’s meant that it had been forgotten by the 1960’s when the US became involved in Vietnam. The United States forces in Vietnam made many of the same mistakes poor Captain Belknap made during his attacks in Taiwan. For example, General William Westmoreland, the Commander in Chief in Vietnam in the 1960’s, tried a conventional big-unit approach, with disastrous consequences. The relations of American soldiers with civilians were not, for the most part, characterized by "tolerance, sympathy and kindness" as required in the Pyschology chapter of the Small Wars Manual. Nor did the Americans turn over the fight to "native troops . . . as early as practicable" as required in the Civilian and Military Affairs portion.

3) The poor showing by US forces lead to a reappraisal of the Small Wars Manual, and the larger lessons were adopted in the most recent edition of the manual, which is in use by the Marines in Iraq. Security sweeps in Sunni areas of central Iraq are combined with efforts to reopen schools and hospitals. Marines are training Iraqi forces to police and safeguard themselves. Marine commanders make efforts to sit down with local leaders to listen to grievances, and come up with practicable solutions. This is not aimless humanitarianism but, as the manual reminds us, a vital step to winning hearts and minds. And it is interesting to note, that although the Army has been taking an average of a casualty a day, the Marine have not lost anyone since the end of the war.
It is easy to look at the “Rover Incident” as yet another occasion when western forces encountered a more primitive society and set out to punish those “primitives” for alleged slights. However, what this incident really shows is that the Aboriginal tribe that attacked and killed the sailors from the “Rover” were people with a grievance. They had been mistreated by foreigners in the past, and sought to take out their frustrations on the first group of vulnerable foreigners who came along. We cannot say that this fear of foreigners was unjustified nor was the response by the Aboriginal people necessarily an atrocity.

The Marines who came to mete out the reprisal were similarly acting in the way that they thought would best accomplish the mission. The Marines’ failure, as they failed in other reprisal missions around the World, forced a reassessment of the doctrine and led to the writing of the Small Wars Manual that we see is still in use today. The lessons in the Manual boil down to the simple proposition that people in countries the Marines must encounter are PEOPLE and not just targets. They are people who are subject to fear and responsive in different ways to pressure and reward. Captain Belknap’s Marines had not learned this lesson, while Consul LeGendre understood it instinctively. Fortunately for future Marines, enough of their forefathers paid attention to lessons like that of the “Rover” to save lives of Marines in our time.


ATAYAL Organization. “Aboriginal Milestones By Era”
( Taipei: ATAYAL
Organization. Date unknown.

Boot, Max. Savage Wars of Peace. New York: Basic Books,

Chang Lung-chih. Sovereignty Debate, Civilizing Projects and
Colonial Modernity: Re-reading the 1874 Sino-Japanese
Controversy over Aboriginal Taiwan. Taipei: Institute of
Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. Date unknown.

China Institut. History of China.
http://www.china- Beijing:
China Institut. 2001.

Davidson, James W. The Island of Formosa, Past and Present
London and New York: Macmillan & Co, 1903.

Illustrated London News. June 15, 1867.

LeGendre, C.W. Reports on Amoy and the island of Formosa.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1871.

Lin, Janet. “Heritage” Chinese American First website
( from
“Taiwan Culture” magazine. 4, No. 1, February, 1989.

Rutter, Owen. Through Formosa. Taipei: SMC Publishing,
Third Edition, 1995.

United States Marine Corps. Small Wars Manual. Washington
DC: US Government Printing Office, 1940.

Stephenson, Samuel. “Charles William LeGendre.” Formosa
Magazine, date unknown.

Sunday Gospel Reading: Luke 23: 40-43

The Thief on the Cross

23:40 - 43 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This is my favorite scene in the Bible. It sums Jesus' ministry and message in four verses. The thief knows Jesus is God, and begs for mercy. Jesus, even though He is nailed to the cross and about to die nonetheless, sheds His grace on the thief. That is Christianity: Acknowledge Jesus as God and have everlasting life.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Much Anticipated Sunday Junior Brown Lyric: My Baby Don't Dance to Nothing But Ernest Tubb

This is one of my favorite Junior Brown songs. The song is the first one you hear from his first album 12 Shades of Brown. What a debut that must have been. The song is witty, features great musicianship on the guit-steel and is an homage to one of the all time greats. Perfect Sunday morning music.

My Baby Don’t Dance to Nothing But Ernest Tubb
(J. Brown)
Copyright © 1990 Mike Curb Music/Jamieson Brown Music (BMI) All rights reserved / Used by permission


I got a gal that’s mighty peculiar
She’s got a funny state of mind
Though she likes all kinds of singers
She’ll only dance to just one kind.
She likes to hear Hank moan the blues
Or Bob Wills’ faded love,
But my baby don’t dance to nothing but Ernest Tubb.

I wonder why in tarnation
She’s got such a strange fixation?
Why she won’t ever dance with me
Unless it’s a song by old E.T.?
I guess waltzin’ across Texas
Must be in her blood,
Cause my baby don’t dance to nothing but Ernest Tubb.

Well, I like to take her dancin’
But I just don’t know what for.
Cause all she ever dances to is the Texas Troubadours.
My friends don’t understand it,
How I ever fell in love
With a girl that don’t dance to nothin’ but Ernest Tubb.

Bush to China: "Communists are bullies"

Back in winter 2003, prior to the Taiwan Presidential Election, President Bush hosted the Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao at the White House. During the Q&A with the press, President Bush made some remarks that virtually all commentators said was a “blunt warning to Chen” not to declare independence from China. The idea that President Bush had “warned” Chen was re-enforced by the PRC’s reaction to the President’s comment. “We appreciate that,” I think were Wen’s exact words. But let’s look at what President Bush said that was characterized as such a “blunt warning:”

Let me tell you what I've just told the Premier on this issue. The United States government's policy is one China, based upon the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And 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.

“We oppose any change in the status quo,” and it looks like Chen “may be willing to make decisions…which we oppose.” Not exactly, “Do this and you will pay.” I have always maintained that all the President said was “We are in still in favor of the status quo.” Part of the perception that these remarks were blunt came from the President’s gestures as he spoke. He made sharp chops with his hand to emphasize his points. But the bottom line was America would continue to favor the status quo.

Nonetheless, I was troubled that the President seemed willing to go out of his way to please the Chinese Communists when he could have instead made a point of standing up for democracy. When would have have had a more opportune time to come out in favor of Chinese democracy than when he was standing next to the un-elected Communist who claims to be the whole Chinese people’s representative. 9 December 2003 was the President’s nadir in promoting freedom in China and Taiwan.

However, the President has come a long way up from this low point with his 2nd Inaugural Address. Here is the salient quote:

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

Now, many nervous nellies in Taiwan and beyond want to ameliorate the Presidents words and their meaning to Taiwan by claiming that since Taiwan already has a democracy and institutions, and because America has the Taiwan Relations Act, that is enough. After all, we don’t want to antagonize China, right?

I think the President pretty explicitly overthrew this interpretation of American policy. Where in there world is a weak democracy more threatened by a huge oppressive dictatorship bent than Taiwan by China? Taiwan is at the mercy of a bully, and must be defended, explicitly.

It would be a real show of character for the President to put some actions behind his words and, at the very least, demand that Taiwan be admitted to the UN. Even better would be for the President to recognize Taiwan as an independent country. Not to do so says that America’s commitment to democracy does not extend to China and that we are still in thrall to our fear of China.

I reject both notions. It is time to show some guts.

Commercial Outrage

I have been, how shall we say, unimpressed with the $75 Visa gift card that Bank of America gave me for opening an account with them. I have been unable to use the card at Target, and now at Borders. How is it possible that Visa and Bank of America can come up with a card that neither Target nor Borders will accept? Are these Mom and Pop stores, late to the computer age? Seems inconceivable to me that Visa has fielded a card that is such a miserable failure. That is, unless this is some kind of scam to drive us consumers to particular stores.

I would not mind getting a gift card to particular stores or types of stores, if they would just tell me! This idea that this is some kind of universal card is just a crock, one that I think the Attorney General will be interested in hearing about, especially in the light of all the recent concern about businesses defrauding active duty personnel.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Barbara's Starr-tling Ignorance and Lack of Imagination

What is up with the fascination for this stupid story. CNN's colossally ignorant Barbara Starr could not contain her glee about this. She breathlessly played the story like some kind of scoop: "Spies Like Us." And what is the upshot? That intelligence officers go with special ops soldiers to gather intel concurrent with operations. Then these intelligence officers report back to a clearing house which collates the data they collect, and write reports. And these reports are better than those of the CIA.

That is it, that is the scandal, that is the scoop. FLASH "Pentagon Collects Intelligence Using Defense Personnel." Not quite as thrilling as the punful "Spies Like Us" but actually a pretty smart way to do business. To bad CNN and BBC can't wrap their minds around the idea that the defense department might actually be good at something besides handing her press releases.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Official Chinese Schizophrenia

Today's editorial in the China post points out how clueless the Chinese government has become. Well, not explicitly, but it fits in with earlier observiations that the Chinese communists do not seem to know what they are doing. Witness their witlessness.

1) Zhao dies and the government which has heretofore forcibly broken up protests outside his house, lets them go on.

2) The PLA continues apace with their weapons modernization program (something about which I will comment later) and with their relentless sabre rattling.

3) The civil aviation authorities finally agreed on direct cross strait Chinese New Year flights.

So while protests used to be completely forbidden, now they are allowed. While the PLA prepares to attack, people can travel back and forth. Someday, this will make sense. Now, it just shows that no one is making policy for all parts of the PRC "government," something that makes it all the more likely that some freelancing hothead will do something precipitous. Times could scarsely be more perilous across the Strait.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Murderous, Nihilistic Terrorists Need Love Too, American Windbag Urges

This morning, I watched an infuriating interview on CSPAN. Pedro interviewed an American lawyer hired by Kuwait to represent the interests of Kuwaiti illegal combatants held in Guantanamo. What infuriated me was the pompous, lecturing tone this thin-necked lawyer took whenever anyone pointed out the fact that these terrorists in Guantanamo do NOT deserve POW status or any other rights. This windbag went on and on about the centrality of habeas corpus to our rights as Americans and about how failing to give full up hearings in Federal courts to nihilistic, murderous terrorists captured on the battlefield would lead inexorably to Alberto Gonzales dragging Granny out of her house in Iowa and throwing her into a detention camp.

I also had to shake my head at Counselor Windbag of the Kuwaiti Prisoner project, going on like these terrorists are latter day Nathan Hales. The most infuriating thing to note is that if one of his clients could get their hands on him, they would just as soon cut his head off as read one of his briefs. And if a detainee somehow managed to get a hold of him, American Marines and Soldiers detailed to the Detention Camp would risk their lives to get him out. Traitors like this lawyer disgust me, and DESERVE a private consultation with their clients, without risk of being interrupted by bad old Marines.

When I get Mr Windbag's actual name and a link to the interview, I will post it.

Statement of Belief

Statement of Belief

1) Jesus is God.

A. He said He was.
John 8:58 Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.
John 6:35 I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the light.

*CS Lewis aptly says that anyone making this assertion is a liar, lunatic or Lord: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

B. He proved it through His works on earth. Jesus performed 35 miracles of which we know, many of which involved raising the dead and healing paralytics. He often accomplished these miracles at a distance, outside His physical presence. Only God has this power.

C. He proved it by foretelling His death and resurrection and then accomplishing the resurrection exactly as He predicted.

Mark 8:31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.

Luke 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.

2. As God, Jesus commands us to do one thing, believe in Him as God.

A. Belief saves.
John 3:15 That everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

B. Belief alone in Christ as God is sufficient to be saved.
Jesus made this clear to the Centurion, the woman who touched His garment, the woman He called a dog, and to the Thief on the Cross.

3. Once we believe, Jesus wants us to live as he lived.
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

He then gives some specific guidance on how to accomplish this using His own life as the template.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Do this in the following ways:
A. Get baptized.
B. Obey the law, which he summarizes in Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
C. Forgo all earthly possessions.
D. Make Christ the love of your life, and forsake all others.
-These actions however do not entitle us to forgiveness of sins, they merely mark us as followers of Christ. As I will discuss below, once we believe, which is sufficient, we are saved.

4. He knows we will fail in these injunctions. Even when Jesus’ death approached, and he asked his best friend, Peter, only to stay awake, Peter failed Him. Jesus loves Peter anyway. From that, we realize that Jesus knows full well that in more mundane circumstances, in more trivial ways, we will disregard His instructions. However, He loves us anyway. He promises to shield us from what our human mind perceives to be the irrational wrath of the Father.
-Nonetheless, being a follower of Jesus is neither easy nor fun.

A. He promises nothing in this world, and wants us to forsake earthly pleasure for him. Matthew 10:21: Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

B. He wants us to turn our back on our families and turn our face only to him: Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother...he cannot be my disciple."

5. Our ongoing belief entitles us to grace from God and absolute forgiveness of sins. This is God’s gift to us. It is our ONLY gift but it is sufficient and overly generous to our wretched selves.

6. God is indifferent to our earthly existence. Jesus says that we will be provided for as are the lilies and the sparrows. Beyond that, trust in the Lord to provide, but expect not excess or earthly joy. Our joy, like our kingdom, is not of this world. Once we believe, we are in our eternal lives, and our joy is eternal. The Holy Spirit is our comfort.

7. Prayer is answered to further the will of God in the world. Prayers are answered to show the power of God to work his will in the world, and to impress non-believers or waverers of God’s power and his worthiness to be worshipped. He wants us to believe, so He does miracles to inspire belief, just as when He bodily walked the earth.

A. The flip side to this is that God specifically DOES NOT answer the corporal prayers of the faithful. The faithful are His, He has no need to assuage their earthly existences. In fact, to do so would be counter to His admonishment to put aside earthly things, and follow Him.

B. The suffering of God’s people, of Christians, and His failure to answer prayer actually bolsters the Universal Church. True believers continue to believe, and their example of belief in the face of adversity draws the curious. This God must be the true God, that even in the face of setbacks, His people continue to believe.

C. Jesus does not care about inequality on earth; He specifically told Peter who had questioned Jesus about something another would receive: “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” Essentially, Jesus told him to shut up and believe, and you will get yours in the end.

Time for a return of the "China Marines" Only this time to Taiwan!

In the late 1920’s, a detachment of Marines was sent to Shanghai and Peiping to help safeguard the areas of those cities that were controlled by the Western powers. The upheaval in China, and the warfare between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists threatened the interests of the West, and required the services of the Marines. The Marines who drew this duty came to be called the “China Marines.” Now, history repeats. Once again, the descendents of the Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan and the Chinese Communists in Beijing are in conflict, and this conflict threatens vital US interests. It is time for a bold response to the threat China poses to Taiwan. It will soon be time to get the USMC out of Japan, and it is definitely time for a return of the China Marines.

The US Marine Corps’ position in Japan is becoming increasingly untenable. Three developments make it clear that US forces will leave Japan in the near future.

1) The North Korea situation, which is the major rationale for keeping troops in Japan, appears to be reaching the end-game. North Korea claims it has nuclear weapons, and has made threats against the US and our allies. President Bush does not respond passively to threats and is not inclined to appease tyrants like Kim Jong Il. In the near future, given the gathering threat, there is a real possibility that President Bush will offer North Korea an ultimatum, disarm or face regime change. However that situation resolves, either with a verifiably disarmed North Korea or North Korea’s defeat, the Japanese will call for reduction or elimination of United States military presence in the Land of the Rising Sun.

2) China, on the other hand, represents a threat that must be countered over the long term. China perceives that it is in competition with the US economically, politically, and militarily. The military competition has both an operational component with regards to Taiwan, and a strategic component, in the PRC’s goal to create a blue-water navy to challenge the US in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The US cannot afford to ignore the threat China represents to Eastern Asia. For many countries in this region, the looming threat of China is more tangible than the threat of Islamic terrorism. China is taking advantage of the United States’ preoccupation with the wars in Western Asia to increase the pressure on the small democracies in the Far East.

3) Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has made it clear that he demands continuous re-appraisal of the old ways of doing business to see if those old ways conform to new realities. The elimination of North Korea as a threat and the emergence of China as a larger threat will challenge the notion that Japan is the best place for the bulk of America’s Asia presence. The center of gravity of the threat in Eastern Asia will move away from the Korean peninsula south along the Chinese coast. The Marine Corps should anticipate this migration and move in concert to counter it.

Already, the Department of Defense is eyeing various Pacific destinations for this expected redeployment. Guam is high on the list, as are the Philippines, Australia, Singapore and even Vietnam. However, there is one place that is conspicuously absent. It is the one place where US troops could do the most good to counter the growing PRC threat. It is a place with a friendly, pro-Western government that would welcome US troops and which has deep water ports, ample airspace for fixed wing fighter training, billeting areas for troops and a high standard of living for families. That place is Taiwan.

There are four reasons to at least begin the planning to relocate Marine forces to Taiwan.

1) China is the United States’ strategic competitor. America must have forces in the Western Pacific to thwart China’s hegemonistic designs in the hemisphere. Taiwan offers the best strategic location of any of the countries or sites being considered for relocation of US forces. Many of China’s tactical and operational targets can be struck from Taiwan by F/A-18’s carrying only one additional fuel tank. Taiwan is a huge, unsinkable aircraft carrier permanently moored 130 miles from China. America and the Marine Corps should be prepared to make full use of this asset to counter China.

2) Taiwan is a natural ally to the United States. It has a democratic government and has undergone a peaceful transition of power between different political parties. It has a liberal understanding of human rights, and has full suffrage for adult women. Taiwan has unequivocally supported the US war on terror, and would send troops anywhere in the world in any number if the US would only ask. The US could ask for no better ally in the region or for that matter, in all the world.
I make this point to contrast Taiwan with Vietnam, a country that shares some of the geographical advantages of Taiwan but which is saddled with some serious political disadvantages. Perhaps most notable of these disadvantages is that communist dictatorship’s appalling human rights record at home and its antipathy towards the US in the UN and other international bodies.

3) Taiwan requires protection. Taiwan has a robust military, but is under pressure by the Communist People’s Liberation Army that continues to grow in quality and lethality. China also threatens Taiwan with missiles that are little more than instruments of terror, which are, for that purpose, fulfilling their mission. The people here are afraid. Taiwan’s business community talks euphemistically about the “uncertainty” hanging over Taiwan that effects business decisions. What these Taiwanese people really mean is that people are afraid China will successfully invade Taiwan while Taiwan’s erstwhile friend, the US, sits by. Taiwan’s economy, and consequently, all of Asia’s (including, ironically, China’s) would skyrocket with news that the Marines are relocating to the “Beautiful Island.” Taiwan’s defense would be assured. Business people who would otherwise have fled to China to hedge their bets about a Communist take over would again direct their capital towards Taiwan and towards satisfying the US market.

4) Taiwan can accommodate all the Marine forces currently arrayed throughout Japan. Taiwan has a number of army and Marine bases both on the main island of Taiwan and on the outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and the Pescadores. Taiwan has four deep-water ports capable of supporting the new LPD class of amphibious ship. If you picture Taiwan as a clock, there are deep water ports at 12 o’clock(Keelung), 3 o’clock(Hualien), 6 o’clock (Kaoshiung) and 9 o’clock (Taichung). There are 15 airfields with runways longer that 8000 feet to accommodate Taiwan’s 4th generation fighter aircraft. Any one of these airfields after a little modification and the erection of some family housing units could support the relocation of MAG 12 from Iwakuni. And regarding quality of life in Taiwan, this place is superior to Japan. The cost of living and off-base recreation is more reasonable, virtually everyone speaks a passable amount of English, and the people of Taiwan genuinely appreciate Americans. By objective measure, the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Index of the US dollar shows that you get much bigger bang for your buck in Taiwan than in Japan.

So what is stopping the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps from strengthening ties with Taiwan? There are three obstacles.

1) US State Department’s preference tilts towards China’s interests and therefore the diplomats at State attempt to thwart any initiative that would tend to strengthen US-Taiwan cooperation.

2) The Department of Defense has adopted an overly restrained and out-moded interpretation of the “Taiwan Relations Act (TRA),” the legislation that governs US-Taiwan diplomacy.

3) Fear.

The State Department under then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spearheaded the opening of Communist China in the early 1970’s. Crucial to dealing with the Communists was for the US to explicitly acknowledge the existence of “one China.” In other words, it was necessary for the US to say that Taiwan was a part of China. Such a statement may have been of strategic necessity during the Cold War, but the State Department has taken this thirty year old semantic construction of “one China,” and continues to run with it. Since the 1970’s, the State Department has done its utmost to keep China satisfied with numerous communiqués and papers which adhere to the principle that there is only one China. To this interpretation, the Defense Department defers. The only problem with this formula is that there are in reality two Chinas. There is a China which is ruled by a brutal Communist dictatorship bent on regional hegemony and which has pointed over 500 missiles at Taiwan. And there is Taiwan, which is a peaceful democracy that is bullied by its overweening neighbor.

Although the State Department has not always seen China clearly, the Congress has. So, when President Carter ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, the Congress passed the “Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).” This law essentially says that the United States will continue contact with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations through a new entity called the American Institute. Additionally, the TRA provides that the US would ensure that Taiwan has adequate means for defense. Section 3302 of the act says:

The United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.

Taiwan's defense needs shall include review by United States military authorities in connection with recommendations to the President and the Congress.
Nothing in the TRA forbids planning for troop deployments, or even, deploying troops to Taiwan. Planning for and deploying Marines to Taiwan certainly falls within the scope of “defense services” performed by “military authorities.”

Regardless of the plain language of the statute, preceding Administrations have listened to State Department interpretations of the TRA, and have placed unreasonable restrictions on mil-to-mil contacts and military planning efforts. It is time for the Marine Corps and our smart JAG lawyers to write some aggressive briefs proposing a return to the plain text of the TRA and supporting some forward-leaning planning to expedite the move of Japan-based Marines to Taiwan.
Finally, there is the fear of China. Anytime the United States and Taiwan make any constructive moves towards one another, China responds with belligerent rhetoric and threatening actions. Many in Taiwan and the West fear that should the US offer overt support for Taiwan’s defense, such as by preparing plans to move the Marines to Taiwan, then China will choose that moment to launch an attack. But that begs the question; when is an aggressor more likely to attack a small country? When the aggressor calculates that there is a chance the United States will not respond? Or when the aggressor is GUARANTEED that the US is planning to respond and WILL respond to such an attack?

It is time for the planning organizations of the Marine Corps to step up and prepare for the new realities that are fast approaching in Asia. American once responded to a crisis in Asia by creating the “China Marines.” Now, it is time to stand up the “Taiwan Marines.”

Taiwan's migration to a professional military

Lately, I have read two interesting books that provide a lot of background into the basic conflict within Taiwan which colors all the internal contentions. One is Formosa Betrayed by George Kerr which was published in the 1960’s and the other is Through Formosa by Owen Rutter. Through Formosa is the account of a British Naval Attaché stationed in New Guinea in the early 1930’s who was invited by the British Consul in Taipei (then Taihoku) to tour Taiwan. Rutter reported that Taiwan was a well organized, efficient and prosperous colony of Japan. Rutter’s book provides the background for Formosa Betrayed which picks up the story of Taiwan from the period from the point of view of an American Naval Attaché who lived here in the time immediately following Rutter’s visit, through WWII and on into the KMT takeover of Taiwan.

The most telling observation from the juxtaposition of the two books is that Taiwanese were resentful of the Japanese presence but appreciative of what the Japanese brought to Taiwan and of the generally humane treatment they received at the hands on the Japanese. On the other hand, the local Taiwanese originally welcomed the Mainland Chinese after the war, but were quickly disillusioned by the brutalities and corruption the Mainlanders brought down on the heads of the Taiwanese. And even generations after the first KMT arrivals from the Mainland, the stories of KMT atrocities are repeated and amplified to this day.
These accounts of the early conflict between KMT and local Taiwanese is especially interesting in light of the current contentious issues in Taiwan: selection of a national language, the transition to a professional vice conscripted military, a new willingness to discuss pre-emptive attacks on China and President Chen’s recent defiant statement that Taiwan would "walk our own road, our own Taiwan road." (Washington Post 6 October 2003)

I have been most interested lately in discussing the professional military issue.
Many politicians here are not impressed with the morale of the conscripted military but sadly also display a lack of imagination on how to solve the problem. I can report that there is universal disinclination towards serving in the military among the young men I encounter. I have noticed certain trends in the stories men near draft age tell me.

There seem to be three major areas of dissatisfaction with military service.
1) The Taiwan military is offensively oriented, when it should be defensive. I have heard many times that it is foolish for Taiwan to have such a large Air Force and Army when what Taiwan really needs is air defense, missile defense and a much stronger navy. One Army first lieutenant told me that his superiors advocated “striking first” if it looked like China was preparing for invasion. He did not tell me the ranks of these “superiors” but it seems this “offensive” mindset might extend to the top. The 9 October 2003 “China Times” newspaper reported that in testimony to the Legislature, Defense Minister Tang Yiau-ming stated that “The military would not rule out taking the offensive (prior to hostilities) if the president gave the order.” This is a change in the public position expressed 2 July 2000 during a news conference when then-Defense Minister Wu Shih-wen stated: “The armed forces will not adopt any offensive military action unless the Chinese communists launch an attack."
It is unclear whether this stated willingness to take the offensive is based on the new post-September 11 paradigm of “pre-emptive” attack, or is merely an acknowledgement of previously unstated ROC doctrine. There is no disputing in the recent past, the Republic of China’s stated goal was to re-take all of China. In fact, until the end of martial law in 1987, school children were required to write at the bottom of tests and school papers:”反攻大陆解救同胞“ (Fangong dalu, jiejiu tongbao) Counterattack the Mainland, Rescue our countrymen.

Additionally, there is a perception that the unsettled political situation makes it problematic to serve in the military, especially for officers, for two reasons:
1) Most have little stomach for serving as “targets” at the opening of a potential conflict, since there is a real likelihood that the civilian leadership in Taiwan is willing to quickly surrender in the face of PRC aggression. This is a rather complex argument that those against military service make. These young men believe that the current Taiwan leadership is prepared to provoke China into conflict (i.e., the “own road” comment), on the assumption that the US will come to the aid of Taiwan once the bombs start falling. However, those who hold this belief that the soldiers will only be targets do not believe that the US will aid Taiwan, but instead, they think that President Bush will insist that President Chen make peace on China’s terms. These young men believe that a large part of the Taiwan military will be sacrificed in the losing gamble that the US will save the island.
2) In a corollary to the first point, many men believe that if you are identified as a professional officer for Taiwan, and Taiwan reunifies with China in the near future under whatever scheme, there is a real danger that the Communists will segregate you and your family for “re-education.”
In an effort to improve morale and bring in more motivated officers, the Taiwan authorities have elected to implement an all-volunteer military. NMD has erected splashly billboards, has covered buses with big recruiting ads on the sides and placed commercials on the TV and radio looking for volunteer officers. However, since January, NMD has recruited 78 civilians to officer training, well short of the “three battalion” target. (139 Marines did elect to cross-deck to other services.)

The all-volunteer aspect of the military does not address the concerns of those young men who must serve. Most men here hope that some miracle will occur and there will no longer be a need for Taiwan to have a military or much less, conscription. Alternately, they would like President Bush to unambiguously support Taiwan independence and make them, frankly, superfluous to the US military effort to defend Taiwan. Absent these dorm-room-discussion fantasies, the draft age men will only be drawn to cheerfully serve when they think there is actually something to fight for or something tangible to defend in Taiwan. As it is now, the most that Taiwan can offer its officer recruits is the opportunity to defend an ambiguous status quo that most hope will last, but who no one really thinks is long to endure. Bottom line, Taiwan just has not yet offered a compelling reason for college graduates to head to OCS.

Great prayers from the past

A Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
0 Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are
born to eternal life. Amen.
Saint Patrick's Breastplate

May the strength of God pilot us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the shield of God defend us,
May the host of God guard us
Against the snares of evil
and the temptations of the world.
May Christ be with us, Christ before us,
Christ in us, Christ over us.
May thy salvation, 0 Lord, be always ours
this day and evermore.
The Prayer of a King

Lord God Almighty,
I pray thee in thy great mercy,
Guide me to thy will, to my soul's need,
better than I can myself;
And shield me against my foes, seen and unseen;
And teach me to do thy will,
that I may inwardly love thee before all things
with a clean mind and a clean body.
For thou art my Maker and my Redeemer,
my help, my comfort, my trust and my hope.
Praise and glory be to thee now, ever and ever, world without end. Amen.
-Alfred of England
Prayer of a German Monk

0 Lord, thou knowest what is best for us;
let this or that be done,
as thou shalt please.
Give what thou wilt, and how much thou wilt....
Deal with me as thou thinkest good,
and as best pleaseth thee.
Set me where thou wilt,
and deal with me in all things just as thou wilt.
Behold, I am thy servant,
prepared for all things;
for I desire not to live unto myself,
but unto thee,
and Oh, that I could do it worthily and perfectly! Amen.
-Thomas A. Kempis
Prayer of an Archbishop of England

0 Lord our God, grant us grace to desire thee with our whole heart;
that so desiring, we may seek and find thee;
and finding thee, we may love thee;
and loving thee, we may hate those sins from which thou hast redeemed us.
-St. Anselm
A Knight's Prayer

My Lord, I am ready on the threshold of this new day to go forth armed with thy power, seeking adventure on the high road, to right wrong,
to overcome evil, to suffer wounds and endure pain if need be,
but in all things to serve thee bravely, faithfully, joyfully that at the end of the day's labor, kneeling for thy blessing, thou mayest find no blot upon my shield. Amen.
-From Chester Cathedral
Prayer of a Spanish Priest

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;
to labor and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing we do thy will. Amen.
-Ignatius Loyola
A Young Man's Prayer

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to thy word.
With my whole heart I seek thee;
Let me not wander from thy commandments!
Oh, how I love thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Let the words, of my mouth
And the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in thy sight,
0 Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Search me, 0 God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting! Amen.
-From The Psalms

Chinese and Foreign Brides, and their implications on "Taiwanese Identity"

The increased prevalence of foreign brides in Taiwan has led to concern among many people here. A recent poll shows that a majority of local Taiwanese is "worried" about the presence of foreign brides and a significant proportion is in favor of "discrimination" against those brides. (Wang) "Others are concerned that Chinese brides come here as a cover for criminal activity and rabble-rousing. In terms of social security, bogus marriages are often used to smuggle in Chinese, enabling them to engage in various illegal activities in Taiwan. Marriage has become simply a way to smuggle people into the country.

In fact, some Chinese brides, under manipulation by some political groups, are used as a means to discredit the government, and to engage in political protests under the pretense of human rights and humanitarianism. This has not only impacted on the stability of the families and created confused values about the marriage institution, but has led to various family disputes and social problems. This is not to mention the social chaos that may result from ethnic rivalries." (Liberty Times) What concrete policies are advocated to further this desired discrimination is unclear, but it seems that many Taiwanese would be in favor of forced repatriation or restraints on marriage to foreigners.

While these negative attitudes seem to be a visceral reaction against foreigners, there are more worrisome trends to consider. Many here in Taiwan realize that the presence of large numbers of Chinese Mainland women and other Southeast Asia women having children represents a serious threat to the character of Taiwanese identity. More succinctly, if large numbers of children are born into families with mothers who do not see themselves as "Taiwanese," then what type of "Taiwanese" will these children be? And if these children do not define themselves as "Taiwanese" in the same way that the current majority does, the what implications will this have on the future of the "Taiwanese" identity.

At present, foreign brides do not appear to have proportionately more children than Taiwanese women although this interpretation of the data is open to dispute. Liu argues that "According to data published by the Ministry of the Interior this June, some 100,000 Southeast Asian and 168,000 Chinese immigrant spouses currently reside in Taiwan, 90 percent of whom are female. Together, they constitute about 1 percent of the island's population of 23 million. Although that figure may seem insignificant, a major worry of policy-makers is the fact that, presently, about 8 percent of Taiwan's newborn are mothered by Southeast Asian wives and 4 percent by Chinese wives." However, according to 2000 population figures from the US government, the female population of Taiwan for 15-64 year olds was 7,629,195. (CIA Factbook)

Assuming an even distribution across this range of ages and assuming that the birthrate of women under 17 and over 40 is statistically insignificant, the number of women in the prime of their fertility is around three million. Of these, approximately 300,000 are foreign brides, or 10% of women in the prime of their fertility. If we further assume that the figures from the Ministry of the Interior are correct, then foreign-born women, who represent 10% of the fertile women in Taiwan are having 12% of the babies. While the number of babies they are having is disproportionately large, the figure is only marginally disproportionate. However, as trend seems to be for more and more foreign brides entering Taiwan, even this small statistical anomaly portends a much more disproportionate number of children born to these foreign women.

Additionally, evidence suggests that these foreign-born women are younger than and more willing to have more children than Taiwan-born brides. Younger, or older but more willing Mainland mothers will produce more children during their child-birthing years than older, less willing Taiwan mothers. In the last 15 years, the average age of all first time brides in Taiwan has increased 1½ years to 22.7 whereas the age of college educated brides has increased to 26.48. (Ministry of the Interior, 2001) Meanwhile, Southeastern Asia brides are on the average 23 years old, while the Mainland brides are 30.(Taipei Times, 16 Dec 03)

Although the Mainland Chinese average age seems high, the average is skewed by the presence of many women who have been in Taiwan for many years and have had multiple marriages. "Statistics have shown that two Chinese brides topped the number of marriages with nine each, followed by three Chinese brides who have married eight times. There are 491 who have married four times and 3,000 who have married three times." (Chang) In some ways, the increased birthrate will have the effect of invigorating the Taiwanese population. Without the Mainland wives and their children, the population of Taiwan will age more rapidly.

According to US Census data for Taiwan, unless Taiwan makes policy changes, in 20 years, there will be a large population bulge of those in middle age and relatively few of the younger generation to replace them. Taiwan's population will age, as seen in the chart, and eventually, lose population. Unless Taiwan can increase the fertility rate against the resistance of the native born women, the government must relax restrictions on immigration. Otherwise, an aging population, an expanding welfare safety net and lack of workers will doom the Taiwan economy.

Easing the ability of foreign-born wives and their children to enjoy full rights as citizens is a good step in the direction of a sensible immigration policy for Taiwan. Currently, it takes eight years of continuous residence in Taiwan for a foreign bride to receive citizenship. Proposals in front of the Legislative Yuan would extend the waiting period to eleven years, but remove the continuous residency requirement. (BBC) There are also restrictions on the type of work that these women can do. Changes in this antiquated policy should aim to provide additional workers now, and to provide replacement workers in the future. More women coming to Taiwan to have children will result in a younger population of workers contributing to the economy which will mend and repair the fraying social welfare safety net. All these additional foreigners with legal residence in Taiwan, and full rights, will, of course, challenge the perception of what it means to be "Taiwanese."

However, this struggle is not unique in today's world, or even particularly noteworthy. Every industrialized country has to contend with immigrants who upon arrival and establishment of roots begin to demand the same rights as those who have been in country for generations. The Irish in the United States, Indians in Great Britain, Algerians in France, Turks in Germany all are examples of immigrants who have arrived and demanded the right to "be" in their new country. Taiwan now faces a similar challenge. How Taiwan's people and government responds will help determine Taiwan's acceptance into the family of advanced industrial democracies.

THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION: By the President of the Republic of China:


"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 2005, all persons held as
subjects to the Communist Chinese Authorities shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the Republic of China, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do
order and declare that all persons held as subjects within China are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to
abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and
I recommend to them that, in all case when allowed, they labor
faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known that such persons of
suitable condition will be received into the Citizenship of the Republic of China.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

Taiwan Marines in Iraq

The recent House Resolution 437 introduced by Dana Rohrabacher and Jim Ryun strikes me as a brilliant way to alert Taiwan and the Taiwan people that they will soon be asked to shoulder a more onerous burden. Up to the present, Taiwan and its leaders have, consciously or not, calculated that in case of conflict with China, the United States would be there to defend its friend and under-the-table ally.
Someone, probably not Representatives Rohrbacher and Ryun, has decided that it is now Taiwan’s turn to prove its willingness to participate in its own defense. This unknown person is probably the same architect of the policy that has compelled all of America’s allies in Asia to contribute troops to the effort in Iraq. I don’t attribute this idea to the Representatives for two reasons: 1) I have spoken to both men, and have heard their views regarding Taiwan, and I do not believe that either has a real grasp on the issues that face Taiwan. 2) I think that both men sincerely see themselves as friends of Taiwan but would not make the type of proposal they did without prior consultations with the executive branch.

The proposal deftly fits into the policy that the US has pursued throughout the region. Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand (Australia is in a different category and New Zealand is, sadly, irrelevant) have all, even in the face of substantial local anger, contributed troops to the effort in Iraq. The reason for this common decision can only be because the United States has compelled them to make the decision. The logic used (if my conjecture is correct) is unassailable. These small countries rely on the US for their defense from larger and ruthless neighbors. None really believes that they would successfully be able to defend themselves in the face of aggression, and all had made the same calculation that Taiwan has made.

Now, the equation has changed. Possibly because of 9-11, and possibly because of a new executive branch policy that would have been enacted even in the absence of 9-11, America’s allies are now required to, as a component of their own defense, to assist America in conflicts that might have nothing to do with them. Korea, Thailand, the RP, and Japan have all heard this compelling argument and have responded. Taiwan, apparently with its head in the sand, figured that its unique geopolitical position would shield it from the responsibilities that the other democracies in the region have been forced to bear. It is time for the Taiwanese to wake up.

This policy offers a number of concrete benefits. It solidifies Taiwan’s defense, relieves US of some rear area responsibilities in Iraq, gives Taiwan troops valuable real world experience, and enhances Taiwan’s military’s interoperability with the US. The downside, which is really all that most can see, is: that the policy risks irritating China. However, as I explained in my Chase competition essay, China really has no leverage. I quote the passage of my essay below:

Finally, there is the fear of China. Anytime the United States and Taiwan make any constructive moves towards one another, China responds with belligerent rhetoric and threatening actions. Many in Taiwan and the West fear that should the US offer overt support for Taiwan’s defense, such as by preparing plans to move the Marines to Taiwan, then China will choose that moment to launch an attack. But that begs the question; when is an aggressor more likely to attack a small country? When the aggressor calculates that there is a chance the United States will not respond? Or when the aggressor is GUARANTEED that the US is planning to respond and WILL respond to such an attack?

There are other reasons to conclude that China will not attack. These reasons are lack of lift, lack of adequate covering fires, and if they are successful, the likelihood of a disastrous and long occupation on a hostile island that would sap its resources and topple the central government. Perhaps the thing that protects Taiwan more than anything else is the precariousness of China’s economy that would absolutely tank in the face of armed aggression towards Taiwan. China blusters that they are indifferent to the consequences on their economy should they attack, but they only believe that if they are insane or have a death wish. Crashing the Chinese economy would, in short order, result in the overthrow of the Chinese communists by a popular uprising. We can take heart in an ironclad proposition: Communist China is run by a Committee and no committee in human history has ever had a deathwish.


Given Taiwan President Chen’s personality, the assessment of the threat, the weakness of the PLA and the likelihood of US protection, now is a time fraught with danger. It is likely Chen will act precipitously and the China, even though desperate to maintain the status quo, will nonetheless give into the leadership bloc that is spoiling for war with Taiwan. Policymakers and operators should be conscious of the confluence of events and attitudes and be prepared to act decisively on short notice.

1) China’s recent belligerence towards Taiwan has many asking “why now?” What has happened in the near term to cause China’s leadership and leadership media outlets to become so hostile to Taiwan? The answer is two-fold: China’s precarious economic situation threatens to undermine the Communist regime. Therefore, China’s leaders, who are a decidedly un-imaginative group, have decided that their best gambit to remain in power is to stir nationalist sentiment on behalf of China and by extension, the Communist Party. The unprovoked nature of the rhetorical attacks on Taiwan (and Hong Kong) speak to the weakness, possibly fatal weakness in the structure of China’s government. And if one accepts the proposition that this is the end-game for China, then one must also face the proposition that this is an extra-ordinarily dangerous time in SE Asia, more dangerous even than the crisis in 1996.

2) The evidence of China’s fragile economy continues to mount. While official Chinese government statistics point to near double digit growth, these figures are increasingly dubious in the face of real world observations. China’s governmental economic figures are not subject to independent analysis, so are always suspect. The US government assesses China to having “between 170-250 million” unemployed persons. (Taipei Times 15 October 2003) That is roughly the entire population of the United States rattling around inside China, looking for work. Official Chinese unemployment statistics underestimate unemployment by a factor of 10. The Chinese government knows the danger this large army of employed represents. In 2000, word reached the Western press of a riot by 30,000 unemployed in NE China. (Associated Press, April 3, 2000) The riot took days to put down after a full-scale battle with riot police and troops. Since that time, the Communist government has moved quickly to crush gatherings of the unemployed and to shield their activities from the press. However, similar reports of uprisings and subsequent crushings by the government continue to trickle out via dissident and Christian networks. This determination by the government to crush gatherings of the unemployed is likely behind the recent oppression of Christian Churches that have served as a haven and succor to the unemployed. The Government is attempting to disperse the unemployed to prevent any coalescing of discontent that might result in a real uprising.

3) Other under-reported bad economic news for China include: a large number of imminent bank failures because state banks are forced to carry a disproportionate share of non-performing loans on their books. In the past, China’s banks were required to loan money on generous terms to state-controlled companies, many of which companies are headed by members of the Communist party. The loans were given for dubious economic reasons, often on little more than wishful thinking, and many have never been nor is there any intention to repay them. China itself recently admitted that the NPL rate in the largest bank was 40-50% of outstanding loans. (Beijing Review August 5, 2004) These loans stay on the books of these banks, artificially pumping up the asset value of the bank while in reality, these loans are worthless. With the coming of WTO’s full implementation in 2006 and that treaty’s demand for banking transparency, the Chinese banks with their bloated NPL portfolios, will be forced to call in the loans to compete with foreign banks who will be allowed into the China. Calling in the loans will bankrupt moribund state-owned businesses. These businesses will be forced to sell assets because they have no positive cash-flow. Once they businesses begin shutting down, even more people will be thrown out of work, thereby worsening an already desperate situation.

4) Recognizing what will happen once foreign banks are allowed to compete on the mainland, China has begun to strong-arm Hong Kong banks to assume some of the NPL’s at a major discount. On 1 Jan 2004, China signed a “free trade agreement” with Hong Kong. The agreement, called the CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement), has been used by the Communists to bolster its claim to be coming under compliance with WTO rules. (Xinhua News Agency, 30 August 2004) In reality, China has used CEPA to compel well managed Hong Kong banks into “partnering” with Chinese banks in an attempt to shore up losses of Mainland banks and in some cases, even to give new loans to otherwise hopeless business. This policy of partnering will not forestall the bankruptcies and foreclosures that are in the offing and will ensure that Hong Kong’s economy will suffer the same effects that are coming for the Mainland economy.

5) The Hong Kong people can see the writing on the wall. With the coming of CEPA and recent moves by the Central Committee in Beijing to curtain rights that has heretofore been enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic law, Hong Kong has become restive. A recent pro-democracy march in Hong Kong attracted upwards to 500,000 protestors. Chinese armed forces stayed in the background, but in a “conciliatory” gesture a few weeks later, China marched 3000 troops into Hong Kong in a parade that was designed to “soothe tensions.” (Straits Times August 2 2004) Unfortunately for the Chinese government, this gesture soothed tensions as effectively as banging a hammer on a toe would soothe a hangnail. But the significance of this lesson was not lost on those in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, some of whom had first hand experience with Tiananmen in 1989. Nor was it lost on the people of Taiwan.

6) Further exacerbating the economic troubles in China is the absence of the rule of law and the lack of consistent electric power. First, the rule of law. Companies not affiliated with the Communist Chinese government always lose in court. It does not matter if the opposing litigant is a foreign company, a Taiwanese company or even a Chinese company without the appropriate “guanxi” (关系) or connections. The courts favor those in power. In an attempt to circumvent the corrupt courts, a consortium of Taiwanese and liberal minded Chinese corporations established of Taiwan companies came together to form an arbitration mechanism to resolve commercial and contractual disputes. Yet even this informal work-around has been subverted by the Communists who decreed that the arbitrators must be approved by the already corrupt judiciary. Predictably, once co-opted, the results of the arbitration panels began to mirror those in the officially constituted courts.

7) Recognizing the difficulties inherent in doing business on the Mainland, increasing numbers of Taiwanese companies have begun to return operations to Taiwan, abandoning China for the safer jurisprudence of Taiwan. This trend is especially worrisome for the Chinese economy because Taiwanese companies serve as the vanguard for Western investment into the Chinese economy with the advent of World Trade Organization membership. Taiwan’s overseas-focused businesses are well trained in Western business practices and many of the businessmen are educated in the West. Taiwan’s business leaders also have the advantage of cultural and linguistic commonality with those business leaders in the Shanghai business corridor. Also, Taiwan’s businesses are well capitalized with sophisticated banking support. Yet, the fact is, even with all these advantages, Taiwanese businesses have found the appeal of China to be a siren song, luring unwary businesses of the massive market with cheap labor only to be dashed by corruption and lack of power.

8) Believing government growth statistic and fueled by ridiculously easy credit terms, Chinese entrepreneurs have been on an infrastructure growth binge. There are so many huge buildings (many without tenants) consuming so much electricity that the creaking electrical generating and delivery systems cannot keep pace. Consequently, power to businesses unfavored is frequently interrupted. Organizations and activities favored by the government receive smooth, even power. One of these activities is the German engineered Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) High Speed Train in Shanghai. The train is a vanity project for the Communist government and sucks up an inordinate amount of electricity for almost no ridership. Nonetheless, the train continues to receive uninterrupted power, while many Taiwanese ex-patriot, tax paying companies receive 12 hours of power per day because they are Taiwanese companies. This policy makes no sense, is undermining the Chinese economy and is eroding the options that China has in dealing with Taiwan.

9) There are two opposing forces at work at the top level of Chinese Communist leadership. On one vector, the senior leaders crave the trappings of wealth. Men who could not balance a budget on a scale nonetheless traipse importantly in convoys of huge Mercedes reviewing high profile business ventures, the construction of which are controlled by their more fiscally astute family members. This pull of wealth also explain why Communists treat the state banks as their personal piggy banks to be raided to keep the party going.

10) The other vector is the desire of the Communists to be “laoban” (老板) or boss. In Chinese culture, you are not the boss unless you assert your authority. A good target on which to assert authority is the legion of Taiwanese-owned business Demanding ridiculous building requirements, onerous workplace rules and high taxation levels from which locally owned and favored companies are exempt, in addition to the electricity problems mentioned above, gives the Communists a chance to prove they are “laoban.” This attitude towards Taiwanese businesses also makes it clear to many Taiwanese businesses that they need to flee to where there is more likelihood of fairness. The Chinese fixation on being laoban is further eroding the business climate so necessary to Communist party rule.

11) The result of these contradictory forces working in China is the splitting of the country into three classes. At the top is a stratum of hyper-wealthy and corrupt leaders presiding over and wrecking an economy that is propped up on seriously underpaid workers and exploited foreign businesses. Below this maligned class are a quarter of a billion unemployed workers whose ranks will swell with the coming of WTO and the fleeing of Taiwan businesses. It is an overwhelming concern of those at the top to do what is necessary to prevent the two lower classes from expressing their economic discontent with a mass uprising. The upper class’ conundrum is that the tried and true way to distract the masses is to stir the nationalism inherent in the Chinese people by appealing to “reunify” Taiwan and China. However, the Chinese leadership is finding that when they allow the people to rally and protest against Taiwan, those protests often turn to more general protests for increased democracy. Since such a thing cannot be tolerated by the Communists, they are often out of ideas on how to rally the people otherwise.

12) Part of the lack of imagination in the Chinese Communist Central Committee is the hardening of factions there. There are four identifiable groups. One group is those of the “true believers” who see the phony government economic statistics, look at the gleaming buildings and watch Deng Xiao Ping hagiographies on TV. These people think that all is well with China and the future is a straight line from the present. This group can be counted on to continue the revolution and the fight against the “splittists” in Taiwan.

13) The other groups are more clear-eyed in their assessment of the current situation in China. The first of these groups are the reformers. This group sees the serious problems in the economy and in governance confronting China and seeks to enact changes that will prevent a debilitating economic crash that would be so destabilizing. These men are not democrats but could be likened to a combination of late 1980’s Gorbachev Russia and current day Singapore. These reformers would enact stringent banking transparency laws and crackdown severely on governmental corruption all the while attempting to maintain a firm grip on political power. This group is very leery about actually engaging in conflict with Taiwan because there is so much potential for economic disruption which could result in internal political upheaval. Both there results are unacceptable to this group, so they can be counted to resist the temptation to attack Taiwan.

14) The next group is the “saber-rattlers.” This group sees that the best way to deal with problems in the economy is prosecute “corruption” with big show trial and quick executions and to demonize Taiwan as “splittist.” This group knows that Taiwan is the engine of growth in China, but at the same time, is the easiest symbol to use to appeal to the mass of Chinese. The saber-rattlers attempt to rile the Chinese people against Taiwan independence, making that the sole focus of political dissatisfaction thereby deflecting the people’s ire away from the lack of democracy in China. Saber-rattlers hope that by threatening Taiwan, the Chinese people will patriotically rally behind the government and ignore economic problems in pursuit of the goal of re-unifying the motherland. At the same time, by only rattling and not USING the saber, the goal is to intimidate Taiwan politically but not completely end Taiwan’s desire to invest in China. These men are opportunists and ultimately only interested in staying in control of the government to enjoy the power and attendant luxury. If threatening Taiwan helps to accomplish their goals, fine. If accommodating Taiwan would also accomplish their goal of staying in power, that tact would also be used. They also are well aware that using popular passions as they do includes the real danger that those passions will spin off in a direction that the leadership cannot contain or control.

15) The last group is the “saber-users.” This is another group of true believers but they take Mao’s dictum that "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" literally. They are hegemonistic and expansionist. They believe that Taiwan must be retaken and the “splitists” must be crushed. This group is intent on asserting China’s standing in the world and craves to have China recognized as a super-power which they perceive would give China the same freedom to act in the world that the US has. This group is indifferent to the effects combat might have on the economy and even to the presence of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. They believe that an assertive and aggressive China that is a world power will mean that people will come regardless. These men would be willing to violate the status quo to accomplish their political goal of making China a feared world power.

16) Currently, the second group of realists predominate and continue to hold power in China. There are three reasons they are still in control. 1) The communists are a collective leadership. As anyone who has been on a committee can attest, it is much easier to maintain the status quo than to muster support for any kind of change. 2) Policies that compete with the status quo are radical and to the collective mind, unthinkable. Consider, since 1917, the start of the Russian Revolution, communists have proved to be adept revolutionaries and for the first generation of leaders, they are aggressive expansionists. Witness Lenin/Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Kim’s Korea and Castro’s Cuba. However, subsequent leadership generations quickly become ensconced and comfortable in power, loathe to take precipitous action that might fail and lead to personal downfall. The status quo in China has prevailed for 50 years. There is no imperative in the minds of the collective to make changes, only to tinker at the margins. 3) Taiwan has acquiesced to the status quo. Even at his maximum belligerence, Chaing Kai Shek never seriously moved against China once CKS came to Taiwan. Even flare-ups like the reciprocal shelling of Kinmen and Xiamen in the 60’s and 70’s were orchestrated in such a way to prevent the war spreading more widely. Taiwan’s passive acceptance of the status quo has allowed China to raise and lower pressure on Taiwan without risking a major confrontation. Most of the angry rhetoric that comes out of China is for internal consumption, for the reasons mentioned above. Give the status quo seeking nature of the current leadership, we can assume that China’s recent ratcheting up of tensions to be for internal consumption. However, the real danger is that Taiwan will stop playing the game of passive acceptance of Chinese belligerence and thereby force China into a choice of backing up their rhetoric with action or backing down.

17) Commentators around the world purport to fear such a change from Taiwan. Leaders in the US, Australia, Singapore and from all over Europe have in the last month have implored Taiwan not to do anything rash to “provoke” China. What is their definition of “rash?” Chinese propaganda lays down this preposterous standard to which the world has agreed: if Taiwan’s leaders CEASE to claim to be leaders of all of China, then China will be forced to attack. So, China has pushed Taiwan into a corner, essentially daring Taiwan to TELL THE TRUTH about Taiwan’s standing in the world. The rest of the world will be called either to side with a small, truth telling democracy or a large, bullying, lying Communist dictatorship. Preposterous.

18) Given the gloomy economic outlook noted above, the very last thing that China
needs is some kind of incident that will inject uncertainty into its economy. Hence, the sway that the status quo pragmatists hold over the Chinese government. The underlying weakness of their position: though there are those on both sides of the Strait who favor the status quo, the continued maintenance of the status quo requires the active participation of the Taiwan leadership. Yet, paradoxically, China also needs Taiwan as a “pressure valve,” an issue that the Communists can give its restive malcontents to focus on instead of on their larger dissatisfaction with the government’s terrible economic policies. So long as Taiwan plays along, China reaps the benefits of a stable economy and retains Taiwan as a convenient punching bag.

19) The problem with maintaining an equilibrium as anyone who has ever been on a seesaw can attest, is that it takes the active participation of both parties. If one side ceases to play along, then the equilibrium is lost. It is new evident what China gets from this arrangement, the question is, what is in it for Taiwan and for President Chen?

20) The short answer and the conventional wisdom says: security from attack by China, which is offended by the presence of “splittists” on their sovereign territory. The conventional wisdom looks across the Strait at China and sees 600+ missiles, a large standing army and a billion and a half belligerents and worries from the prospects of Taiwan in the face of this arrayed enmity. Leave aside the notion that China would be incapable in real terms of attacking and defeating Taiwan, the perception among many here is that the PLA would be unstoppable once it gets moving. This popular perception fuels a fear and defeatism in Taiwan that China is eager to exploit, and has. The media here is all too willing to contribute to the defeatism, inflating rigged war game simulation results to the status of dead-solid-lock predictions. Foreign commentators with dubious credentials are routinely trotted out to confirm the pessimists’ worst fears.

21) There appears to be only one person in Taiwan in public life who unaffected by this general pessimism. That man is President Chen. He is consistently sanguine in the face of vicious ad hominem attacks and in the face of relentless Chinese belligerence. In contrast, Lien Chan, the KMT candidate for President in the last election, rushed to assure China that we would never do anything to antagonize them. Chen on the other hand, rejected Chinese demands to affirm their interpretation of “one China.” Most telling, when Representative Dana Rohrabacher, co-chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and Representative Jim Ryun floated the idea that Taiwan should send 5000 Marines to Iraq, the entire government and 80% of Taiwan public opinion were against it. On the other hand, President Chen, blandly noted that if Taiwan sent troops, “Taiwan-U.S. ties would be upgraded to a quasi-military alliance relationship” and later noted in a televised interview that “sometimes small nations have to do what is unpleasant.” (Etaiwan News, 24 May 2004) Chen consistently displays real guts in the face of hostile, and sometimes violent political opposition.

22) To go along with his guts, Chen has three other traits worth noting. He is extremely smart as his academic successes all the way through law school attest. He is not afraid to gamble as he did as attorney for dissident during the KMT, as he did as an attorney for dissidents during KMT rule (although he was jailed for pushing his luck too many times during trials). And finally, he has a sense of his own unique place in history. He has spoken in private sessions of his realization that by his actions, he has the opportunity, he has the opportunity to set events in motion that could free a billion and half people from bondage.

23) This is an extremely important psychological insight. President Chen, with his combination of brains, guts and courage to gamble, also knows that he is now in a unique position, because of his electoral success, to press an agenda that could radically destabilize China. By his actions, he could force China into actions that could free ¼ of humanity. Few people in history have been in a similar position. Chen is unlikely to let this opportunity pass without at least trying to take advantage of it.

24) Here is a possible scenario: Chen advances a constitutional change that makes it clear, if not explicitly so, that Taiwan is independent of China. Whether this is a name change for the country, a change in the flag, or a change in the governmental structure is really not relevant. China has objected in the past to any of the above moves. Chen will claim that nothing substantive is being changed, yet all the world will know that is not the case. Once Chen makes his move, China will then have an agonizing decision: make good on 50 years of threats to invade, or acquiesce. The PLA is clearly not up to the task of invading Taiwan, as will be discussed below. Shooting a nuclear bomb at Taiwan would definitely put an end to independence talk, but at a disproportionate cost to China and the world and threat of a much wider conflict. The people of China will see any result short of a successful invasion and occupation as a bitter and humiliating defeat, especially given generations of Chinese rhetoric about the ease with which the PLA would “reunify” with Taiwan. Military failure in Taiwan would result in uprisings throughout China by people seriously disillusioned by Communist lies. The PLA would at that point have a choice of its own: either violently put down the rebellions, or accede to them as happened in Gorbachev’s Russia. China’s leaders have spoken ominously of having learned the lessons of the failure of the USSR. However, whether the soldiers of the PLA would have the stomach to murder their countrymen in the large numbers that will be required is an open question.

25) Acquiescence to Taiwan’s de facto independence is the more likely result. After all, at the moment, Taiwan has a form of independence, (granting passports, convertible currency, diplomatic corps) and as of yet has not provoked the Chinese. The Chinese would likely use their formidable propaganda machine to convince their people that whatever has happened in Taiwan is not independence or actually anything at all worth mentioning. Should Taiwan make the heretofore impossible to contemplate changes, China will let them pass if the Communist leadership decides the economic benefit from a strong prosperous Taiwan would outweigh the loss of Taiwan as the “safety valve.” In other words, a strong economy would safeguard the regime.

26) Another open question is the efficacy of the People’s Liberation Army. In the last 50 years, the PLA has not fought anyone of consequence, except for border skirmishes with Vietnam and India. The PLA is now more akin to a heavily armed racketeering organization. It is adept at strong arming dissidents and Christians and at running legitimate and not-so-legitimate businesses. Are the PLA generals who achieve their positions by connections, guanxi and skills at managing black market activities really up to the Eisenhower-sized task of invading an island the size of Taiwan? There is no doubt that the PLA, should it attack Taiwan, would be able to inflict damage on the island. Realistically, however, the throw weight of the explosives on the missiles arrayed against Taiwan are equivalent to one day’s sortie of B-52’s during Operation Linebacker during the Vietnam War. The missiles are terror weapons, akin to the V2 of Nazi Germany, and not militarily significant. They are insufficient to prep landing zones for airborne insertions, nor are the sufficient to cover landing craft. The idea of a “decapitation strike” is fantasy, but what we would expect from the level of generalship in China. Taiwan has sufficient defensive capability to repel and initial Chinese attack, and would be especially tenacious knowing that a US counter-attack is imminent.

27) There is a common sentiment among line troops and officers in the Taiwan Army. All express real pessimism at the idea that Taiwan would have to defend itself in the event of a Chinese attack. I have heard many times that “哥哥保护弟弟“ (big brother protects little brother). These young men have little confidence in the competence and loyalty to Taiwan of the officers above them, but all are willing to fight knowing that America is at their back. The combination of the dubious quality of the PLA, the élan of the Taiwan defensive forces, and the likelihood of an American counter-attack would be sufficient to repel the Chinese Communists.

28) There are four reasons to expect America to intervene on behalf of Taiwan in the event of war with China. 1) Taiwan has a formidable lobby in Washington and would ensure that Congress would be firmly on the side of Taiwan in the conflict. 2) The American people are predisposed to defend a small democracy against a large communist bully. 3) No American president would want to face voters amid accusations of “cowardice” in confronting a bully. 4) Should America allow Chinese aggression to stand in Taiwan, allies throughout the region would expel American troops as irritants not worth the trouble of having them in their countries, especially if American is unwilling to confront the #1 enemy.

29) Given Chen’s personality, the assessment of the threat, the weakness of the PLA and the likelihood of US protection, now is a time fraught with danger. It is likely Chen will act precipitously and the China, even though desperate to maintain the status quo, will nonetheless give into the leadership bloc that is spoiling for war with Taiwan. Policymakers and operators should be conscious of the confluence of events and attitudes and be prepared to act decisively on short notice.