Monday, May 09, 2005

Far Gone Green II

Chapter XIV, in which Ms. Wang eats the apple, the scales fall from her eyes, and she discovers that pursuing their national interest is often a large component of a nation's foreign policy.

“We are all aware that for Washington, its attempt to protect Taiwan is driven not by the country's achievements in democratization and freedom but by the strategic values that Taiwan represents in the Asia-Pacific, by the interests it enjoys and the leading role it plays in the region.....In the eyes of politicians in Washington, freedom, democracy and human rights are just beautiful-sounding words.”

I am always amazed at the idea that, because a nation can be shown to be pursuing its interests, it therefore follows that it necessarily couldn't have a "values" component in its foreign policy. Why couldn't it include a balancing of both? The longest- running show in Foggy Bottom is the struggle for pre-eminence between the advocates of realpolitik –seeing nations as pieces on a chessboard– and those who would define American interests as more in line with supporting democracies wherever possible. Has it escaped Ms. Wang's notice that the high-priest of realpolitik, Henry Kissinger, is a full-time, pleated skirts and pom-poms cheerleader for the regime in Beijing? (Sorry for the image). Neo-cons like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz are the most stalwart defenders of Taiwan, but they are also the most despised by the kind of "national liberation" leftists Ms. Wang most identifies with. These (neo-cons) are the people who are tough on the dictatorship in Cuba; who support democratic, small and resource-poor Israel; who (controversially) saw it as in America's interests to expend blood and treasure to try to establish Iraq as a democratic country. Is there a nation in the world that does not pursue its interests? Taiwan should hold out in an isolationist stance until it finds one? This is what Andrew Sullivan has called, referring to the post - 9/11 left, "the combination of bitterness and not thinking."