Britain, the US and moderate Arab countries will begin a concerted drive this week to push Palestinian president-elect Mahmoud Abbas towards a historic post-Arafat compromise with Israel. \nBut what these states and their leaders want does not necessarily coincide with Palestinian needs and aspirations, or with what Abbas can deliver in practice. \nLike any politician, Abbas made numerous election promises. They included the return of millions of refugees and of territory lost in 1967, and a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. \nOrdinary voters who put their faith in the democratic process will hold Abbas to these pledges. Many Palestinians feel they have already compromised enough. \nAnd even allowing for campaign hyperbole, Abbas's room for manuever is limited. From the moment he takes office later this week, the heat will be on. Expectations are running dangerously high. \nAnxious to exert influence and prioritize the issue, Britain will soon convene a conference to help the Palestinian Authority prepare for statehood. It is also working through the EU. \nBut much is at stake for British Prime Minister Tony Blair personally. He is one of those who argued that the road to Jerusalem ran through Baghdad. He has expended political capital, often in vain, on persuading the US to pursue the "road map" for peace. \n"If we can help the Palestinians to develop that basic infrastructure of a viable state, then [the US] is prepared to do the negotiations that make it viable in terms of its territory too," Blair claimed on BBC television last weekend. \nHaving mostly stood aside during his first term, US President George W. Bush now says he wants a Palestinian state by 2008. \nBut Bush also has other motives. His broader aim is creating a stable, democratic, pro-American Middle East, including Iraq. He is not about to seriously squeeze his main regional ally, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whatever Blair says. \nInstead, the onus in Washington and London remains on the Palestinians to be "realistic" and give ground on core issues. \n"The definition of `realistic' in this context is what Israel will put up with," said Rosemary Hollis, a Middle East expert at the Chatham House think tank. \n"That is so ingrained in US and British thinking that they just don't realize that it might not be possible for Abbas, because he can't bring his people with him," Hollis said. \n"The Israelis don't put much store by the road map. The Palestinians could get stuck at stage two, meaning a virtual state with borders still to be defined and no guarantee they'll get what they want," she said. \nAttitudes in the Arab world remain deeply ambivalent. Egypt and Jordan are broadly supportive of a compromise. But rejectionist Syria and Lebanon, backed by Iran, may encourage Abbas's hardline opponents, and hope that he fails. \nA fatal Hezbollah attack launched at the weekend from southern Lebanon was their contribution to democracy. \nIsrael's immediate priority is a complete cessation of terrorism. Abbas, who says Intifada violence was a mistake, is a man of peace who claims -- perhaps over-optimistically -- that a lasting ceasefire can be agreed with militant factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. \nSharon's other priority is the Gaza withdrawal later this year. \nSome Palestinians see this as a trap entailing the permanent loss of large swaths of the West Bank. In a Knesset speech on Gaza last autumn, Sharon exacerbated such fears. While reiterating his commitment to a two-state solution, he said: "I truly believe that this disengagement will strengthen Israel's hold over territory that is essential to our existence." \nAchieving a ceasefire and peacefully regaining control of Gaza would significantly boost Abbas's leadership while giving Sharon what he wants. \nBut even if that happens, the clear danger for Palestinians is that the peace process, such as it is, will grind to a halt again. \nThen the men of violence could overwhelm the man of peace.
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
As a person raised in a family that revered the teachings of Confucius (孔子) and Mencius (孟子), I believe that both sages would agree with Hong Kong students that people-based politics is the only legitimate way to govern China, including Hong Kong. More than two millennia ago, Confucius insisted that a leader’s first loyalty is to his people — they are water to the leader’s ship. Confucius said that the water could let the ship float only if it sailed in accordance with the will of the water. If the ship sailed against the will of the water, the ship would sink. Two
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
The US Navy’s aircraft carrier battle groups are the most dramatic symbol of Washington’s military and geopolitical power. They were critical to winning World War II in the Pacific and have since been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to communicate resolve against potential adversaries of the US. The presence or absence of the US Seventh Fleet — the configuration of US Navy ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region built around the carriers — generally determines whether war or peace prevails in the region. In the immediate post-war period, Washington’s strategic planners in the administration of then-US president Harry Truman shockingly