LagoGate and Taiwan...

Sunday, August 14, 2022 8:37 AM

Good morning judge, what may be my fine?—Furry Lewis

Saturday, August 13th, 2022

Dear Friends + Interlocutors,

Can we get back to the topic of Taiwan for just a second? 

The ongoing food fight which has broken out here in America over the home invasion of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion is sucking up lots of oxygen. Ex-POTUS Donald Trump is being confronted with the trumped-up charge of espionage. 

The D.C. Dem politicos and their far-flung media flunkies—WashPost, NY Times, CNN, FT, Vanity Fair, etc.— have thrown away their guard rails. They are spinning the fiasco as fast as they can. Will they succeed? Stay tuned. Let’s provisionally call the affair LagoGate.

[Full disclosure. This affects me personally because I drive by Mar-a-Lago on my way to the croquet courts across town to practice my split-shots. Now I may need to take a detour to avoid the cops and the hubbub. It's unfair to be inconvenienced for no good reason.] 

But let’s face it, there are only so many supposedly-sane individuals—outside the circle of the blinkered MSM media and the hard-core Dems—who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. In point of fact, there may not be enough of them nation-wide to pull off this caper. In which case, Trump may land back in the White House.

In the real world outside America, we have a Washington-instigated war in Ukraine and the threat of another one breaking out momently in the Far East over the bogus issue of the status of Taiwan. Remember, Washington officially recognizes that Taiwan is part of China. Both conflicts are gratuitous and stupefying. Can’t we just get along?

With respect to Taiwan, there is a misguided strategist named Elbridge Colby who is a “defense” expert for the USG. He served in the Trump Administration and in Iraq during the Cheney Regency. He also worked on various commissions during Saint Obama's time in the White House. Colby graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law.

Colby writes well and convincingly, judging by his articles in Foreign Affairs. Here’s his most recent. He does not appear to be a Neocon or Neoliberal ideologue. He’s an independent thinker. The problem is, he’s off on a tangent. He can’t see the forest for the trees, to coin a phrase.

Alex Lo of the South China Morning Post, penned a disturbing, alarming article about Colby in May. It is partly reproduced below. It concerns U.S. policy for Taiwan and Colby’s new book, The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict. 

According to Lo, pre-Pelosi Taiwan stopover, Colby believes a hot war with China, using Taiwan as the trip-wire, is a smart option and should be on the table. Otherwise, China will continue to rise and be unstoppable. Curiously, Colby's book was reviewed by Foreign Affairs, and got short-shrifted

Foreign Affairs' reservations notwithstanding, Colby’s obsession with respect to China is not marginal. The outlook is commonplace inside Washington and in no way limited to the grandstanding Dems. Most Republicans are all-in on China as well. Posturing or not, this attitude is a problem for the whole world. Perhaps a bigger one than LagoGate.

Here are excerpts from Lo’s article. My emphasis in red.

  • US strategy to portray China as aggressor over Taiwan

    • Don’t believe the United States wants war over Taiwan? Just listen to Pentagon officials, past and present, and their brazen public statements and strategic plots

By Alex Lo, SCMP Columnist, May 24th, 2022
They say great minds think alike. Perhaps devious ones are like that, too. My column from last week, “The US is priming Asia-Pacific for war”, has provoked some angry responses from readers, and also ridicule.

Unbeknown to me, my argument that the United States could try to trigger a war with China over Taiwan and risk a major conflagration in Asia-Pacific was actually advocated as a strategy by Elbridge Colby, who was a deputy assistant secretary of defence for strategy and force development at the US Department of Defence, during the presidency of Donald Trump. Really, you can’t make this stuff up, not me anyway.


...a friendly reader alerts me to Colby’s new book, The Strategy of Denial: American Defence in an Age of Great Power Conflict. It seems Colby and I are making the same point, only that he thinks it’s a great idea while I think it’s monstrous and genocidal.

I must admit I haven’t read his book; I doubt I will even bother. Instead, I am relying on an online summary by Singaporean economist Tan Kee Wee of Waveney Economics, who is also a former economist at Standard Chartered, United Overseas Bank, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. I also refer to a review of Colby’s book in Foreign Affairs.

Here’s Tan’s summary of “the strategy of denial” with respect to China, as proposed by Colby:

A war over Taiwan is desirable, otherwise China’s rise is unstoppable.

The US has a chance of winning such a war.

China must be provoked into appearing as the aggressor.

For another summary, this one is from Foreign Affairs. Colby’s proposed strategy rests on the following assumptions, it says:

“[T]hat China is set on achieving regional hegemony in the short term and global predominance in the long term, that military preparations and eventual war are the best or only way for the United States to respond to China’s ambitions, that countries in the region that have made absolutely clear their determination not to choose between allegiance to China and allegiance to the United States would nonetheless be willing to join a coalition predicated on military confrontation with China, and that a major war over Taiwan would stay confined to Taiwan.”

Well, in case you wonder why President Joe Biden and political leaders from both major parties in Washington are talking up mainland China’s threat to Taiwan practically every day now while there is no such military movement from the Chinese, and encouraging the island on a path to independence, that’s why.

All that is done relentlessly despite the hot war going on in Ukraine; or rather, that’s the plank on which to draw a fake analogy between the Russian war and the Chinese claim on Taiwan.

And for years, the “independent” and “free” mainstream US press have been drumming up the “China threat” day in and day out for the news consumption of the American public. You repeat the same thing long and frequently enough, people will think it must be true.

The easiest way to do that is to fuel, rather than discourage, secessionist sentiments, including the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, so that the island will keep making needlessly provocative moves while building up its war machine by buying overpriced and ill-suited US weapons.

Many military experts and even some US politicians have complained that most US weapons sold have been premised on the island’s defence against a full-frontal amphibious assault similar to D-Day at Normandy. Given that both sides know the heavy costs of such a takeover, it seems likely mainland Chinese generals will plot alternatives.

The US has effectively, if not formally, abandoned the one-China policy. For Washington, this means never allowing Taiwan to be unified with the mainland. Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said as much at a US Senate hearing on foreign affairs in December.

He said: “Taiwan is located at a critical node within the first island chain, anchoring a network of US allies and partners – stretching from the Japanese archipelago down to the Philippines and into the South China Sea – that is critical to the region’s security and critical to the defence of vital US interests in the Indo-Pacific.”

While formulated or phrased differently, there is no substantial difference between Ratner and Colby; they amount to the same policy of provocation and “denial”.