Stirring Up Trouble on a Second Front: US Honchos Alight in Taiwan

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, with the world teetering on the rim of nuclear annihilation, the geniuses in the Biden administration decide to beat the war drums and provoke China. Because there aren’t enough dangers besetting the globe already. So why not stir the pot by dispatching a slew of Washington notables to Taiwan to show that the U.S. is ready to cook up the same curdled ragout it contributed to in Ukraine?

This surprise visit of retired generals and others manages to insult and threaten China simultaneously. So I guess it’s a twofer for the virtuosos of idiot foreign policy in the Biden administration. The visit demonstrates support for Taiwan’s secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). For the majority of Americans only passingly familiar with these potentially earth-exploding details, it’s a bit as if a group of eminent retired generals from the People’s Liberation Army visited Puerto Rico to boost the fighting spirit of violent separatists wanting to smash their link to the U.S. Except of course that Washington has never regarded Puerto Rico as a renegade, breakaway part of the mainland, since it never was. Unlike Taiwan, whose people are and speak Chinese, Puerto Rico has always maintained its own different language and culture.

Making matters worse – because that’s our government’s modus operandi, right? – on March 2, South Korea’s Hankyoreh headlined that “Washington resurrects talk of two-war doctrine in nod to China.” Just in case Beijing thinks that a nuclear holocaust between Russia and NATO would tie our military’s hands, our kamikaze warriors’ message is “nope, we’ll fight a radioactive hot one over Taiwan too.” It kind of makes you wonder about the gray matter between the ears of the people in charge of our weapons of mass destruction.

So who were the American luminaries who plopped down on Taiwan March 1? Well, former joint chiefs chairman Mike Mullen led the gang. Along also came Meghan O’Sullivan, a Bush national security adviser and Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense under Obama and Biden’s runner up for top defense warlord. Two other former nat sec bigwigs tagged along as well. So the conclave had a decidedly martial tinge. That was the point. Or as a U.S. official told Reuters, these sachems’ arrival underlines “our continued robust support for Taiwan.” I suppose that’s a nice way of saying, we’ve armed Taiwan to the teeth and will continue to do so.

You can bet China knows exactly what form that “robust support” will take and it ain’t trade in truffles and student exchange programs. After all, the pentagon wouldn’t want Beijing to think moves on Taiwan will merely occasion the sort of total propaganda war and total economic war unleashed on Russia over Ukraine. No. The message is clear. China will get the full military treatment in addition to the two other aforementioned assaults, should it attempt to do what it has told the world, for decades, that it intends to do – namely reunite with Taiwan.

The timing of this visit bespoke American politics: the Biden emissaries scheduled their confab with president Tsai Ing-wen for the same day former Trump henchman Mike “We Lied, We Cheated, We Stole” Pompeo touched down on the island and promptly announced, with one eye firmly fixed on his presidential run, that the U.S. should recognize “free” Taiwan. I guess we know what happens if Pompeo ever becomes the big cheese in Washington: extermination of humanity via World War III. The same doubtless holds true for all other GOP candidates. Preppers: time to head to Costco to stock up for the end of the world, cause Biden’s poll numbers don’t look too good. Not that he’s done a competent job with Ukraine’s neutrality status. On that he failed. But at least he nixed U.S. army boots on the ground in Kiev, thus sparing the world atomic obliteration.

So with both wings of the U.S. bipartisan war party flapping loudly and like mad over Taiwan those first days in March, China got the memo: American politicos will make hay over the island no matter who’s in charge in Washington. In fact, U.S. big-shots fall all over each other to make promises to Taiwan they either won’t keep or will start nuclear Armageddon over, take your pick. Either way the irresponsibility shoots off the charts into the stratosphere of, well, mushroom-cloud insanity.

China promptly denounced these little tourist stops. But that was predictable. It was, in fact, desired. To show that proud American warriors are standing up – until either they don’t or all of us glow in the dark – for Taiwan. (Pompeo, meanwhile, received the epithet “despicable” from the Chinese government.) Washington deliberately stepped on Beijing’s toes, just three days after an American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait. Gee, I wonder how Washington would react if a Chinese naval vessel sailed between Key West and Cuba? Would it label the action “provocative” like China did or would American torpedoes sink that ship? Just an idle question from a member of the peanut gallery, puzzled by the application of Washington’s exceptional, vaunted, so-called “rules-based international order.”

The much-ballyhooed purpose of these stopovers in Taiwan? To proclaim that the U.S. will stand by the island come what may. What may is an atomic apocalypse. For if the U.S. injects itself further into this dispute, there is one outcome: war. And war between the U.S. and China involves a terminus for the human species that even neo-con meatheads without IQs may be able to envisage. Disappointing is the understatement of human history for the fact that Biden has packed his administration, particularly the state department, with such imbeciles.

On day two of the U.S. delegation’s tour, another story of imperial overreach landed on the front page of China’s Global Times, crowding out Washington’s military pomp in Taiwan. The new offense involved NSA cyberattacks on China, “with Chinese government departments, high-tech companies and military-related institutes among the key targets,” Global Times reported. It really never stops. When it comes to pushing boundaries, to see how far it can go before igniting catastrophe, the U.S. empire never sleeps.

And then Donald “I’m Still Really the President,” Trump weighed in. On March 2 he announced on a Fox business show that in the wake of the Russia/Ukraine war, “Taiwan is next.” He proclaimed that this Chinese attack on Taiwan would happen soon. Surprising no one, he did not reveal his source. Maybe it was a Ouija board or a QAnon sanhedrin. Stranger things have happened. After all, way back in the 1980s, Nancy Reagan’s astrologer was said to sway white house policy.

Also in Trump-mode was the head of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces. This mucky-muck, general Kenneth Wilsbach, proclaimed on March 3 that surveillance of Chinese president Xi Jinping was so intense, that in fact, Wilsbach was “watching him like a hawk” in case Xi planned any funny-business in Taiwan. “I haven’t seen anything so far, but that doesn’t mean…that they won’t try something,” Wilsbach told an Air Force Association conference. Some may find it reassuring that an air force pooh-bah monitors Xi’s every breath, but I am not among them. It smacks of alarming brinksmanship, the chance of mistakes and pouncing on China at the drop of a hat. But with a bit of luck we can still hope that a U.S./Chinese conflagration is a few years away. That gives us all a little time to install our bomb shelters.

That is, if the clock hasn’t already run out. The way things are going between Russia and NATO these days, nuclear winter could be upon us before spring. The folly of our rulers knows no bounds, and it might even, in a moment of despair, appear a darkly humorous spectacle – with the emphasis on dark.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Busybody. She can be reached at her website.