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Nancy Pelosi is the symbol of monstrous arrogance

Nancy Pelosi, European, Taipei

Opinion

Nancy Pelosi is the symbol of monstrous arrogance

Commenting on August 2, 2022 Taiwan visit of Nancy Pelosi, Member of the European Parliament Clare Daly said: “Wasn’t even put off by Biden and the US military warning her not to. A stupid, vain, reckless decision, with potentially dire consequences for everyone alive, taken for the sake of a meaningless publicity stunt. God save us from the monstrous arrogance of Nancy Pelosi”.

Replying to Clare Daly’s tweet, one commentator said, “Pelosi apparently believes this stunt might get republicans to switch parties in November. My God. How dumb have we become? Is it the increasing levels of CO2 in the air?”

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Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip was clearly a war provocation. It showed the Biden administration is desperately looking for opening another war front, by pushing the US to a direct war against China. This has generated fears and uncertainty even in the minds of Taiwanese masses. But British newspaper The Guardian in an opinion-editorial turned-down the possibility of any war igniting in Taiwan. It said:

At a central Taipei branch of a popular bank on Tuesday, a few clients came to Joseph Chiu, a teller, with an odd request: to withdraw millions of kuai from their accounts. “They worry the bank will close its doors tomorrow,” he said during an afternoon streetside smoke break.

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Chiu said he wasn’t worried about such an event, and there is no indication that it is even a possibility, but it was a small sign that among Taiwan’s stoic, often fatalistic population, something had shifted this week.

A few hours later Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, landed at Taipei’s Songshan airport with a delegation from Congress. The visit – plans for which were leaked some weeks ago – comes at a time of extraordinary sensitivity and has threatened to spark a fourth Taiwan strait crisis.

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Foreign reporters quoted Taiwanese people telling the world once again: we have been under the threat of Chinese invasion every day for decades, so what’s the use in worrying about it?

“It’s useless to worry too much,” said Chiu. “You’ve seen the Russian war, and what war looks like. If it happens, it happens.”

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People’s reasons not to worry are diverse, ranging from seeing invasion as an unstoppable inevitability, to a futile mission bound to be resisted by Taiwan or thwarted with US help, to something that simply won’t happen because no one wants it.

But then Pelosi’s visit was confirmed and the mood shifted. News sites ran polls, with almost two-thirds of UDN’s respondents saying the visit was destabilizing. Talk radio discussed preparation and escape plans, and walked listeners through their growing anxieties. At one point more than 300,000 people around the world were tracking her flight on FlightRadar24, before the site crashed under load.

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Generally, Taiwan’s population had not been overly interested in the talk of a visit. As international media pumped out headlines and op-eds, domestic news prioritized local elections, a long-running heatwave and celebrity news. In one bulletin, Pelosi didn’t even make the top half. Having fun with it, some commentators bet bags of rice that she wouldn’t visit.

Commenting on Pelosi’s Taiwan rendezvous, David Anderson, editor of Pressenza International Media in an opinion editorial wrote:

On August 2nd, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1997, against all warnings from China and and from American officials, who said it could lead to more aggressive military posturing.

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The objective of the visit was not clear, besides making a stand against China with the usual “democracy” rhetoric. What will America gain by this visit? Nothing. There is nothing to win from this type of bullying, but very much to lose.

After Ukraine’s proxy war with Russia, it seems as if Taiwan is becoming the focus in a proxy war between the US and China. That would be suicidal, as the US can not go to war in any form with China. We have already experienced the unforeseen consequences of the present conflict in Ukraine, which has impacted the world’s food and oil supplies. A conflict with China would have a hundred times more consequences that could take the White-West to a point of no return.

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The world has changed drastically in the past 100 years, yet some of our politicians have not, and Pelosi is the perfect illustration of that. They carry the old mentality of power, control, and forcing everyone to adopt their worldview. In the world today, we are mainly interdependent on each other and there is no going back. As we saw with a small country like Ukraine, whose war has disrupted the lives of maybe a billion people across the globe.

It is very easy to justify our differences, to go against others: Russia against the EU and US, Democrats against Republicans. It’s a mental form that defines everything from the rich against the poor to the tensions between the US and China. But his form has reached its limit. As Ariane Weinberger argued in her study The 12 Steps,

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“Despite the conservative tendencies of our rulers and those who still believe in them, there is no denying that human consciousness has grown with globalization. In addition, with the recent events of the pandemic and planetary confinement, it is hard to ignore that the planet is ONE”.

This world is crying for new forms, which some call a paradigm shift, but mainly a new world is emerging in which a different way of structuring is required, one which leaves behind all of the references from the past that correspond to a different time in humanity’s process…”.

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Meanwhile, Chinese newspaper The Global Times in a report of August 5, 2022 said:

China on Friday [August 5] announced eight countermeasures in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s highly provocative visit to the island of Taiwan, including canceling China-US theater commanders talk, defense policy coordination talks, military maritime security consultative mechanism and suspending cooperation on illegal immigration repatriation, drug control and climate change.

It also announced Friday to sanction Pelosi and her immediate family members as she insisted on visiting Taiwan in disregard of China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, making her the highest-ranking US politician sanctioned by China. Analysts said that all of China’s countermeasures are “unprecedented” and “very necessary” and they showcased China’s strong opposition to the US’ violation of its bottom line. They warned that cancellations of exchange mechanisms of the two militaries at multiple levels may lead to more potential clashes if the US keeps making provocations, and US politicians should stop maniac actions and stop sowing chaos around the world.

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The eight countermeasures made by China are listed as canceling China-US theater commanders talks, China-US defense policy coordination talks (DPCT) and China-US military maritime consultative agreement (MMCA) meetings. 

Also, they include suspending China-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants; suspending China-US cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters; suspending China-US cooperation against transnational crimes; suspending China-US counter-narcotics cooperation, and suspending China-US talks on climate change.

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Commenting on Pelosi’s Taiwan trip, Scott Ritter (Ritter), a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer told The Global Times: “US interests, in terms of foreign and national security policy, are not the prerogative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi, like other senior members of Congress from both chambers, are consulted on critical issues, and of course Congress is empowered to hold hearings during which it can ask questions of administration officials. Congress also has the power of the purse — control of the budget — which can be used to influence policy. But in the end, it is the President who is the ultimate decision-maker regarding policy formulation and implementation and, as such, the ultimate arbiter as to what constitutes “the national interest”.

“Seen in this light, Pelosi’s trip did not conform to existing State Department policy positions, was deemed disruptive by the Department of Defense, and was practically disavowed by the White House. Pelosi was very much a rogue agent, and as such her visit was not in line with US interests. Moreover, given the harsh reaction from China, it is difficult to articulate a case where Pelosi’s visit could be construed as serving US interests”.

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Martin Jacques, a former senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University, and a visiting professor at the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University and a senior fellow at the China Institute, Fudan University in an opinion editorial wrote:

Donald Trump’s election as US president in November 2016 marked the end of over four decades of relative stability in US-China relations. Ever since, it has been downhill all the way with barely a pause. Five years have passed and we have seen two US presidents. It would be an exaggeration to suggest that relations are in freefall, but the relationship is patently now unhinged. Predictability has been replaced by uncertainty. Trust has evaporated. It is impossible to predict what the state of the relationship will be after the US congressional elections in November, or after the next presidential election in 2024. The huge uncertainty surrounding the much-mooted visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan this week summed up the present highly charged and intensely volatile nature of US-China relations. It is a salutary fact that neither President Xi Jinping nor even President Joe Biden knew whether that visit would actually go ahead.

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This is a very dangerous situation. The relationship has lost all predictability. Where previously the US-China relationship was based on a well-established and deep mutual understanding and respect for each other’s position, now there is very little, at times seemingly none. The guardrails that prevented the relationship suddenly swerving off course are no longer in place, as we have seen so dramatically over the last week or so. What makes the situation even more dangerous, frightening in fact, is the growing power vacuum in the US. Biden, up until the last minute, did not appear to know whether fellow-Democrat Pelosi would go to Taiwan. As we have seen, on two different occasions his aides intervened to reassure the media that had to reinterpret his suggestion that the US would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of Chinese military action.

It is impossible to predict who might be US president in 2024. It is not difficult, for example, to imagine the return of Trump or someone even worse. Meanwhile, driving the process of polarization and fragmentation in the US is American decline. It is this, above all, which is responsible for the growing breakdown of the global order. We have entered the age of disorder and instability, both in the US itself and, of course, in the wider world. It represents a mortal threat to global peace. In just a few short years, the language of war, conquest and conflict has replaced the language of cooperation and peace. The idea of war is becoming progressively normalized. That means there is a rising likelihood of it actually happening.

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It is no accident that the flashpoint is Taiwan. One of Trump’s first actions as president was to take a call from Tsai Ing-wen, the first time since 1979 that a US president had spoken with a Taiwanese regional leader. He even began to question the One-China policy, although he was dissuaded from pursuing this by wiser heads. One of the great achievements of the Nixon-Mao rapprochement was a series of understandings that for the next 40 years would inform and underpin the US-China relationship on Taiwan question. Once the US-China relationship began to unravel after 2016, it was inevitable that Taiwan question would once again become a hot-button issue.

For China, nothing is more important than the return of the lost territories and the reunification of China. For China this is an existential question. Notwithstanding this, the PRC has shown great patience ever since the illegal occupation of the island by Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. Mao made it clear to Kissinger that China would be patient providing the One-China policy was strictly observed and the Taiwanese government did not declare independence. According to Kissinger, Mao said, “We can do without Taiwan for the time being, and let it come after 100 years.”

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Over the last five years the US has been encroaching on these understandings by increasing weapon sales to Taiwan, boosting military patrols in the region, and giving diplomatic backing to the island through visits by US politicians. A visit by Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, would raise the bar of provocation. Not since 1997 has an American of her stature visited the island. If Pelosi, then what or who next? A pattern is steadily taking shape. As the relationship between China and the US becomes increasingly unpredictable, Taiwan has become by far the most dangerous source of tension and conflict.

The Pelosi visit will serve only to raise tensions, increase suspicions, and heighten the danger of a military conflict. But even if the visit does not proceed, it will not halt the incipient process of escalation. The two countries need to reaffirm the basic principles of their long-held and shared understanding over Taiwan. The danger of a military conflict over Taiwan is now far greater than at any time since the 1970s. Any such conflict would be far more serious than if it had happened previously because China is now the equal of the US and a far more formidable military adversary. It is a conflict that both sides must seek to avoid at all costs.

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What would be the consequence of Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan tour when we hear from the US media about a possible disastrous doom for the Democrats during this November’s midterm elections? For sure, Pelosi is at the end of her political career, while Joe Biden would either become a lame duck or face impeachment once Republicans gain majority in the Congress and the Senate. But, just before the demise of her political career or speakership, she already has made Taiwan a far the most dangerous source of tension and conflict, which may ultimately result in a direct war between the United States and China. With China now already having an equal power of the United States and far more formidable military adversary, the war will result in a massive disaster to the US, while it will be no “happy hour” for Taiwan.

With its bitter experience in Afghanistan and currently in Ukraine, the US administration may not yet have learned any lesson. It still wants to poke nose into domestic affairs of foreign countries and open newer war fronts. Although it may be well understood that the US administration’s war-mongering attitude is aimed at benefitting American arms manufacturers, the ultimate price of such wars won’t be sweet to Americans as they already are burdened with acute economic burdens and plenty of social odds.

Sohail Choudhury is the Executive Editor of Blitz

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