The dramatic photographs of passenger planes hitting the World Trade Center towers now spark different feelings from those they evoked at the end of 2001. \nThe immediate reaction of Americans was to join together against a faceless enemy that killed 3,000 innocent civilians without formally declaring war -- an enemy that provoked a sense of vulnerability never before felt in a country spared by its location and power from such attacks through most of its history. \nThe country rose to the challenge. In an outburst of support for the victims, hundreds of Americans lined up to give blood for the wounded, even as the sad realization sunk in that there were few survivors. The Red Cross and other organizations helping families of victims were flooded with donations of food and other items. \nDemocrats, Republicans and independents, conservatives and progressives, southerners and northerners, city residents and midwesterners -- all felt moved. And they felt justified in defending their lives after the attacks. \nAmerican flags were hoisted over gardens, homes, buildings, shops, cars, motorcycles and vans as had not been seen in recent memory. \nSupport for President George W. Bush, who faced severe problems in the 10 months after his highly controversial 2000 election win, rose to unprecedented levels, despite the near 50-50 division in the country between Bush supporters and opponents. \nBush rallied an international coalition to go to war in Afghanistan and push out the Taliban regime that had harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden with support from not only the US public, but also from ordinary citizens abroad. \nBut any unity started to dissipate as the Bush administration pushed through an agenda that prodded great unease. \nThe Patriot Act drafted by Attorney General John Ashcroft introduced unthinkable violations of the civil rights deeply imbedded in US history: detention of suspects without charge, arresting suspects without allowing them to speak to lawyers, and spying on telephone and e-mail communications without a judge's order. Even librarians were supposed to submit to secret searches of their lending records without informing borrowers. \nProtests from civil-rights groups were barely heard amid the Bush administration's arguments for the war on Iraq. \nBush chose to state the case against Iraq at the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, noting the UN demand that Iraq give up its supposed weapons of mass destruction or face force. He pushed the issue to a divided UN Security Council, causing huge splits in the transatlantic alliance, with Germany and Russia and France refusing to wage war in Iraq. \nThe unity Americans boasted after the attacks has, three years later, turned into deep division. The US led a "coalition of the willing" against former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, and continues to supply most of the financial and military resources in the ever-escalating conflict. The purported weapons of mass destruction, administration officials had to admit, were never found. \nThe near 50-50 division has split open again, with only a small margin of undecideds expected to tip the November elections. \nHalf of the country thinks Bush has ensured that the US averted other attacks. The other half thinks Bush has put in place noxious measures that undermine civil liberties, and has followed a foreign policy that has alienated and provoked the international community. \nSome, like Hashima Johnson, who just finished a master's degree in Brazil studies, have decided to leave the US and go elsewhere, in her case to Brazil. \n"Bush is going to win, I'm sure of it, and he's going to appoint one or two Supreme Court judges, and the country I love will cease to exist," she said. \nMany who oppose Bush will \nof course stay in their country. \nProtests against Bush have increased. More than 1,700 arrests during the Republican Convention in New York last month broke the previous record of 600 arrests during the raucous Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement. \nAmerican unity went up in smoke after bombs were dropped on Iraq. The fallout has been an acrimonious election campaign filled with mutually personal attacks by Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.
ILLUSTRATION MOUNTAIN PEOPLE
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
In 1955, US general Benjamin Davis Jr, then-commander of the US’ 13th Air Force, drew a maritime demarcation line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line. Under pressure from the US, Taiwan and China entered into a tacit agreement not to cross the line. On July 9, 1999, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) described cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state” relationship. In response, Beijing dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, crossing the median line for the first time since 1955. The PLA has begun to regularly traverse the line. On Sept. 18 and 19, it
Midday in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 16, was sunny and mild. Even with the pandemic’s “social distancing” it was a perfect day for “al fresco” dining with linen tablecloths and sidewalk potted palms outside one of New York City’s elegant restaurants. Two members of the press, outfitted with digital SLR cameras and voice recorders, were dispatched by The Associated Press to cover a rare outdoor diplomatic meeting on one of these New York streets. American diplomat Kelly Craft, Chief of the United States Mission to the United Nations, lunched in the open air with Taiwan’s ambassador-ranked representative in New York, James