News about the US official who claimed that Taiwan's government could be overthrown in a matter of minutes may have been fabrication or simply an instance of bad journalism, but the truth of the matter is more of this is to be expected in the lead-up to next year's presidential election -- more bad journalism, sadly, and more veiled, deniable threats out of Washington.
Forget about CIA-orchestrated coups d'etat in Iran in 1953 or Guatemala in 1954. As veteran New York Times journalist Tim Wiener writes in his history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, with roughly half its workforce still trainees in their 20s, the CIA has begun to "abandon the techniques of the past -- political warfare, propaganda, and covert action -- because it lack[s] the skills to conduct them." In other words, in its present state, the agency probably could not even overthrow the principal at a high school in Virginia.
But the US doesn't need the CIA to act upon its discontent with a regime, friendly or otherwise. In fact, beyond covert operations, it has a long history of meddling in the domestic affairs of states -- even allied democracies -- when it perceived that doing so was in its interest. A little known example of this is the 1962-1963 plot by the John F. Kennedy administration to overthrow Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker by launching an elaborate propaganda campaign involving journalists, the business sector and politicians and even dispatching a secret campaign adviser to the opposition in Ottawa.
What had prompted the US was Diefenbaker's opposition, just as the Cold War was picking up steam, to the deployment of a US missile system in Canada. In the end, the pressure paid off, Diefenbaker was knocked off, and Lester Pearson, whom Washington had identified as amenable to their missile scheme, walked into office. The missiles were deployed, and Washington celebrated.
Forty-five years later, as President Chen Shui-bian (
And the theme will be an undeniable one, for it has become obvious that Washington wants the trouble-some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of power. Unless its presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh (
The US is an unequaled master at the game and, when it didn't achieve it via the CIA or militarily, it has used its political and economic clout, as well as its conservative media, to interfere in foreign elections and, occasionally, change governments. Ideological opponents, suspected communists, alleged state sponsors of terrorism or would-be nuclear proliferators are not alone in facing the threat of Washington's pressure. As the Diefenbaker example shows us, even its closest, democratic allies can fall from grace with Washington.
But while it undeniably has the means to bring about change in the domestic politics of other countries, what Washington lacks is the foresight that would allow it to fully comprehend the long-term consequences of its actions. More often than not, the coups it engineered ended up creating more misery than good and ultimately proved not to have been in the best interests of the US.
Coup or no coup, everyone could benefit from a little more foresight stateside.
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
The small Baltic nation of Lithuania last week announced that it would accept a Taiwanese representative office in its capital, Vilnius, and that it would establish its own trade office in Taiwan by the end of the year. This was more than a welcome announcement to Taiwan and goes far beyond the normal establishment of trade relations. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis summed it up succinctly, boldly saying: “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other.” With these words, Landsbergis was purposefully going beyond normal diplomacy; he was also presenting a moral challenge and reminder to other democratic nations. A look