Is Capitalism Driving Bush Foreign Policy?
George Bush, the president who claims he supports independence, democracy and self-determination for nations around the world (after having campaigned on the theme of the U.S. keeping its nose out of the internal affairs of other nations) reprimanded Taiwan this week, demanding they do nothing to affect the status quo that exists between Taiwan and mainland China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province.
And what has precipitated this rebuke? The possibility that Taiwan may hold a vote calling for independence from mainland China, so that they can be a totally free, independent, democratic state.
While Chinese Premier Wen Jioabo was in Washington to discuss, among other things, trade and the Chinese economy, the issue, raised by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, was brought to the table concerning the possibility of a potential vote for Taiwan's independence during their current campaign cycle.
Clearly mainland China does not want to see Taiwan as an independent country. Yet, why is it necessary for President Bush to go so far as to admonish Taiwan for desiring freedom and democracy, values we so cherish here in the United States?
White House analysts claim that the Taiwanese president may be discussing a potential independence vote for purely political reasons, hoping to gain him support in his bid for re-election.
As if no American president has ever postured in order to help gain re-election?
Some might consider the current president's "reform" of Medicare, which many claim will not actually make prescriptions more affordable in the long run, is actually posturing.
However, from a president who convinced a nation to go to war with Iraq in an attempt to liberate the Iraqi people, it seems horribly hypocritical to take a stance that freedom is okay for the Iraqi's but not for the Taiwanese.
Yet again, Mr. Bush is seemingly also hypocritical in his approach to North Korea, a nation whose leader claims can nuke our west coast and is considered one of the greatest tyrants of the world.
Yet, there is no attempt to liberate the millions of North Koreans who live under the yoke of Kim Jong II. Rather we send emissaries from China to intervene to hopefully diminish the threat against us and our close allies Japan and South Korea, to whom North Korea is also a threat.
It is easy to question President Bush's rationale and not that entirely difficult to proffer a thesis or two as to why there appears to be such a contradictory stance on which people get liberated and which do not.
A cynic might say that since the U.S. and many of our allies rely on Middle Eastern oil, liberating a nation that is rich with oil, and whose reserves the president and vice president's friends can control after the liberation, makes perfect sense enough to liberate Iraq.
Why then do we not support an independent Taiwan?
Clearly a Taiwan declaration of independence may well provoke hostilities between mainland China and Taiwan, at which time, the U.S. by law must step in to defend Taiwan - something that would be potentially difficult for us to do with the military stretched as thin as it is today.
Additionally, however, mainland China and its billions of people make for a ripe trading partner, therefore, a partner we do not want to offend.
A trade partner that already makes everything from clothing to Christmas ornaments that flood the American market.
Direct relations with an independent Taiwan would not afford us as great an economic boon as does trade with mainland China.
Additionally, after the pillaging of North Korea by Kim Jong II, does the United States want to - and can we afford to - re-build another nation after the skyrocketing costs we are incurring to rebuild Iraq?
Is then capitalism the only driving force behind our nation's foreign policy?
Can we hope that we can be a nation that stands and defines itself on principles, at least ones that imply that freedom is something we support above all else - including the almighty dollar?