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When Truman blinked
By Michael Moriarty
Taiwan, in the absence of the Cold War, now sits quaking in fear. This irony amuses the communist warlords of Beijing, bewilders Washington, D.C. and sticks President George W. Bush with the legacy Harry Truman left his successors in the Oval Office: when the "Atom Bomb President" blinked before North Korea, he passed the big buck of "liberation wars," such as Vietnam, onto succeeding administrations.
When President Bill Clinton portrayed the Red Dragon of China as a baby panda bear, when North American liberals couldn't wait to see Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji wear baseball caps and cowboy hats, the Taiwanese began to tremble in fear. They now know that the communists, to avoid embarrassing their liberal friends, aim to occupy Taiwan during a Republican presidency.
Bush's dilemma is that he may have to destroy Taiwan in order to save it. The only possible response to Beijing's growing threats and military posturing in the Taiwan Straits, is to offer the Red Chinese a quid pro quo: if you take Taiwan, we'll take North Korea. To Taiwan, North America should echo General Douglas MacArthur's cry to the Philippines: "We shall return!" We must free North Korea before we can negotiate with China over Taiwan.
In not heeding MacArthur's warnings that North Korea must be freed before it possessed atomic weapons, Truman utterly emasculated those who succeeded him in the White House. Dubya must summon up a stronger version of the courage his father displayed in the Persian Gulf War -- to invade a rogue, threatening nation for the sake of something other than oil, and to send a message to the International Communist Party that its close ties to worldwide liberals does not mean complete ownership of the American soul.
If Red China sweeps into Taiwan and Washington's response is limited to bombast and posturing, then the nightmare of the Vietnam War will extend to North America and a domestic uproar will provoke a state of martial law. If tyranny cannot be stopped abroad, it will most certainly be faced at home.
A formal declaration of intent -- that if the free world loses Taiwan, then the communists will lose North Korea -- spoken by a conservative U.S. president -- would rock the world political stage. It would, however, cause the Red Chinese to pause in their invasion of Taiwan, against the lame objections of a liberal administration in Washington. The liberals have emboldened Beijing. Let the liberals pay the price for their appeasement and face the shame of losing Taiwan to their communist friends.
Ultimately, a One Korea policy, modeled on Beijing's One China declaration, will receive similar approval in the United Nations and the "end of the Cold War" will be seen for what it really is: collaboration and capitulation by the free world to communism.
Without any return to MacArthur's implacable clarity, Truman's myopia will have set the stage for Taiwan and South Korea's fall to communism. Inevitably, the Vietnam War's final battlefield will be North America.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe winning actor who has appeared in the landmark television series Law and Order, the mini-series Holocaust, and the recent movie Along Came a Spider.
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