GUEST COMMENTARY - The recent provocative and unnecessary visit to Taiwan by Democratic Congresswoman Pelosi may well be a turning point the US (and potentially, the world) will regret.
No matter what the Senator and her supporters may think and say, this was not just an ordinary visit. If it had been an ordinary visit, Ms. Pelosi would have flown first class (or maybe a charter) across the Pacific surrounded by her regular security and travel staff. She would not have been flying in a military plane flanked by fighter jets, tracked by military-run tracking devices on the earth’s surface and in the sky, with everything enforced by extra navy warships and other military on higher alert than normal.
Indeed, the militaristic nature of the Representative’s trip highlighted the exceedingly more martial approach undertaken by the United States against China in recent years; an approach that has seemingly intensified since Joe Biden became president. Although some commentators and politicians might try and claim that Donald Trump would not have militarized the situation between China and the US if he were still in office, I find that opinion to be both naive and ignorant of the moves taken by the Trump administration against China during his term. In fact, as the New York Times pointed out in its January 20, 2021 edition, “Among its final acts, the (Trump) administration declared that Beijing was committing genocide against Uighurs and other Muslims in a far western region. It held a video conference between a senior United States envoy and the president of Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing. And it jettisoned longstanding guidelines limiting exchanges with Taiwanese officials.” In other words, the Trump administration was instrumental in paving the way for Pelosi’s visit and the increased tensions that visit has provoked.
Of course, it’s not like Donald Trump was doing anything unusual when his administration issued these and other anti-Beijing orders in its final days. US foreign policy is not usually a partisan endeavor. In other words, both the Democrats and the Republicans are died in the wool cheerleaders of Washington’s imperialistic policies overseas and will pretty much vote to fund any request they believe will further the goals of those policies. One need only look at the recent congressional votes to arm the Ukraine military and invite Sweden and Finland into the NATO military alliance to understand this. Both votes passed the Senate with overwhelming majorities ($40 billion to Ukraine:86-11, NATO invitation:95-1) No matter what their differences over domestic spending on schools and health care, contraception and racism, the men and women elected to the US Congress rarely waiver from approving the requests of the Pentagon and those other agencies for which the military serves as the bared fist.
According to documents of the lobbying organization run by former Congressman Richard Gephardt, the Gephardt Group received $3.1 million dollars from the government of Taiwan since 2018 to lobby US politicians for more military support. If this lobbying took the form of other such efforts, this probably included some direct favors to powerful US politicians. The US watchdog group Center for Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative was quoted in a South China Morning Post article discussing these payments saying that this lobbying was part of an effort that began with Taiwanese officials lobbying US military officers “for the sale of weapons, including meetings with Defense official to discuss Taiwan defense needs.” The government of Taiwan was quick to respond to the allegations in the mainland newspaper that concluded Pelosi was paid by the Taiwanese government. The information available seems to agree that, while the Taiwanese government and the current party in power did give money to the Gephardt Group for lobbying purposes, there is no smoking gun that denotes direct payments to Pelosi for the trip or anything else.
Since Joe Biden moved into the White House, there have been four substantial weapons sales to Taiwan, with a fifth one awaiting Congressional approval. Nominally only defensive in nature (as proscribed by US law), these sales include a multitude of land, sea and air weaponry. More militaristic elements in Taiwan and the US are pushing for Taiwan’s military to obtain overtly offensive weapons. Of course, as any intelligent observer knows, many defensive weapons can quickly become offensive in nature. One need only look at Israel’s use of defensive weapons against Palestinians and others it has deemed enemies.
Current Taiwanese politics tend to be confusing to most US residents. The current ruling party the Democratic Progressive Party is considered center-left domestically while favoring independence from the People’s Republic. Meanwhile, the primary opposition party the Kuomintang state publicly that they agree with the arrangement between the mainland and Taiwan in existence since 1979. The status quo is a bit murky, but is usually described as “One country, two systems.” It is the desire by some elements in both places for a clearer status that continues to cause consternation. As far as the United States is concerned, certain politicians continue to agitate for an independent Taiwan. Others, while not stating so in public, take actions which suggest their support for such a reality. In terms of the overall and seemingly endless pursuit for full spectrum dominance by Washington, the separation of Taiwan from the mainland certainly exists as a part of contingencies designed to achieve that dominance.
The current commander of the US Army in the Pacific Region is Lt. General Charles Flynn. Besides being the younger brother of former Trump adviser and right-wing/fascist organizer General Michael Flynn, Charles is accused of lying under oath to the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoDIG) and the House Oversight and Reform Committee looking into the January 6, 2021 rightist riots at the US Capitol. According to the author of the report, Staff Judge Advocate US Army National Guard Colonel Earl G. Matthews, Flynn and other high-ranking military officers essentially conspired to create an alternative narrative about the events and the military’s decisions on how to respond to them. In his report, after several pages detailing the high commands conversations regarding deployment of National Guard and other scenarios, Col. Matthews writes this about the report contrived by Flynn and other generals and their testimony to the congressional committee: “The document is an effort to mislead the Congress and to retroactively change history. The very existence of the document calls into question the honesty and integrity of (Generals) LaNeve, Piatt and Flynn. The Army Staff most significantly has avoided releasing this document to the public, but we know it contains a few things from Piatt and Flynn’s perjured (emphasis mine-Ron J.) testimony before Congress.” (Col. Earl Matthews, The Harder Right: An Analysis of a Recent DoD Inspector General Investigation and Other Matters, p. 19, Dec. 1, 2021)
Given this report and the questions it raises, one has to wonder why Joe Biden and the Senate approved General Flynn’s appointment to head the entire Pacific region of the US Army. It begs the question from this writer as to the seriousness of all the Congressional investigations into the January 6th events. It also adds to concerns about a military conflagration between the US and People’s Republic of China. Granted, General Flynn does not seem to be General MacArthur reincarnated, but his apparent and willing cooperation in an apparent cover-up as outlined in Colonel Matthews report indicates an arrogance all too common to those who carry stars on their military shoulders.
The combination of shyster politicians like Nancy Pelosi, a war-based economy that needs a war to justify its existence and maintain its profits, an increased belligerence in the Washington councils that design the military elements of foreign policy, and a stumbling US economy is a dangerous set of ingredients. The US public would be smart to look beyond the disinformation being sold to them about China, NATO, Iran and the rest of the world and reject the increased trending towards greater conflict. The perjury accusations concerning General Flynn’s testimony before Congress makes it clear that not only are politicians lying about important matters, but apparently so are high-ranking military officials. Back in the day, the mainstream media called it a credibility gap. Now it’s called fake news or alternative facts. Me, I just call it lying.
(Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: [email protected].)