The bad or the terrible? \nThis is the question which people ask themselves before almost every presidential election: why, when the US is teeming with brilliant and inspiring people, are its voters so often faced with a choice between two deeply unimpressive men? \nI would have thought the answer was pretty obvious: because deeply unimpressive men continue to be elected. \nThis year, the American people have been instructed to elect one again. Almost every powerful progressive voice has told them not to vote for the progressive candidate, but to vote instead for The Man Who Isn't There. \nRalph Nader may stand for everything the Guardian, The Nation magazine, even Noam Chomsky, claim to support, but all these voices -- indeed just about everyone on the Left -- have been urging the voters in swing states to choose Democratic Senator John Kerry. \nTheir argument, of course, is that Kerry is the only candidate who can knock President George W. Bush off his perch. He might be about as inspiring as a parking lot on a wet Sunday in Detroit, but his vacuity is better than Bush's aggressive certainties. \nThe contest is so close that if even a few thousand people vote for Nader rather than Kerry in the swing states, it could win the election for Bush. This is why Republicans have been giving money to Nader. \nSo Americans should vote \nfor the Democrats this year, and worry about the wider failings of the US political system when the current president is safely out of the way. \nAnd their argument has merit. Bush has already launched two unnecessary wars, threatened 40 or 50 nations with armed aggression, ripped up international treaties and domestic regulations, granted corporations a license to cook the planet, waged a global war against civil liberties and sought to bury that old-fashioned notion that the state should tax the rich and help the poor. The world would certainly be a safer and a better place without him. \nAs a result, a Guardian lead told us last week that these are "exceptional circumstances ... Mr. Kerry's flaws and limitations are evident; but they are put in the shade by the neo-conservative agenda and catastrophic war-making of Mr Bush." \nIn an open letter to Nader in January, The Nation magazine wrote: "This is the wrong year \nfor you to run: 2004 is not 2000. George W. Bush has led us into an illegal pre-emptive war, and his defeat is critical." \nThe problem with this argument is that both publications said the same thing about the 2000 elections. The Nation columnist Eric Alterman blames former \nvice president Al Gore's defeat \non Nader's "megalomania." \nThree days before the vote, the Guardian argued that "the marginalized Mr. Nader cannot win ... Exciting [Al Gore] ain't. A visionary he is not. But he is the safe, wise choice." \nAnd similar warnings have been issued during almost every presidential election in modern times. Under the US electoral system, which is constructed around patronage, corruption \nand fear of the media, there will always be exceptional circumstances, because it will always throw up dreadful candidates. \nOnly when the Americans choose a man or woman who \nis prepared to turn the system upside down and reintroduce democracy to the greatest democracy on earth will these exceptional circumstances come to an end. In choosing the bad rather than the terrible this year, in other words, Americans will be voting for a similar choice in 2008. Whereupon they will again be told that they'd better vote for the bad, in case the terrible gets in. \nAny president who seeks to change this system requires tremendous political courage. He needs to take on the corporations which have bought the elections, and challenge the newspapers and television stations which set the limits of political debate. Kerry, who demonstrated plenty of courage in Vietnam, has shown none whatsoever on the presidential stump. \nLast week, when the Republicans were questioning his commitment to defense, he announced that "even knowing what we now know" he would have voted to give Bush the authority to attack Iraq. \nTen days ago, Kerry's national security adviser, James Rubin, told the Washington Post that if Kerry was president he would "in all probability" have launched a military attack against Iraq by now. \nKerry's ability to raise almost as much money as the Republicans is seen as a triumph for American democracy. But his corporate backers are funding him not because they believe in democracy, but because they believe that he will do what they want. And they are unlikely to \nbe wrong. When Kerry gets his orders, he reports for duty. \nThe idea that this frightened, flinching man would oversee the necessary democratic revolution is preposterous. \nHe has made the system work for him by working for the system. He knows that as soon as he turns against it, it will destroy him. What else does he have to fall back on? Charisma? Popular enthusiasm? \nHe's no Hugo Chavez. A vote for Kerry is not just a vote against Bush. It is a vote for the survival of the system which made Bush happen. \nI'm not an unhesitating fan of Nader's -- I believe that some of his positions on trade, for example, are wrong -- but no one could deny that he possesses courage. \nHis decision to stand in November, when even his former supporters are telling him not to, is as brave as it is foolhardy. He has spent his working life fighting the corporations and being attacked in the media. \nThis month he did something no other US politician has dared to do, and took on the Anti-Defamation League, the organization which smears opponents of Israeli policy as anti-Semites. \nHe won't be elected in November, of course, but that's not the point. The point is that if you want to change a system, you have to start now, rather than in some endlessly deferred future. And the better Nader does, the faster the campaign for change will grow. \nThe Nation claims that Nader would have "a far more productive impact" as "a public citizen fighting for open debates and rallying voters to support progressive Democrats." \nBut what possible incentive would the Democrats have to listen to him? He has influence over these cowering creatures only while they are afraid that he might take their votes. \nNone of this is to suggest that there is no difference between Kerry and Bush. Where Bush is active, Kerry is passive. \nHe wants to maintain massive levels of defense spending, but, despite his efforts to assure the media that he is as angry as Bush, he would probably be more reluctant to attack other nations. \nHe wants to cut taxes, but he is less willing to wage war on health and education. He wants to hold down the price of oil, but doesn't want to help the corporations open up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. \nThe question is whether this difference is sufficient to justify the abandonment of the only current electoral attempt to democratize the US political system. \nI don't believe it is. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are asking American voters to sacrifice liberty for security and democracy for expediency. The voters should ignore them.
With its passing of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to tighten its noose on Hong Kong. Gone is the broken 1997 promise that Hong Kong would have free, democratic elections by 2017. Gone also is any semblance that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plays the long game. All the CCP had to do was hold the fort until 2047, when the “one country, two systems” framework would end and Hong Kong would rejoin the “motherland.” It would be a “demonstration-free” event. Instead, with the seemingly benevolent velvet glove off, the CCP has revealed its true iron
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more
All lives eventually come to an end. Over the years, my friendship with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had its ups and downs. Lee’s passing was a heavy blow and has left me deeply saddened. We experienced a lot together and the memories have come flooding back. Lee was born several months earlier than me. During World War II, he was studying at Kyoto Imperial University, but halfway through his studies, he was forced to change his name and enter military service. I was studying at Tokyo Imperial University, but went into hiding to avoid military service, and I was later