Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army colonel who was Powell’s chief of staff through two administrations, said in little-noted remarks early last month that “neocons” in the top rungs of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China — an act that the communist regime has repeatedly warned would provoke a military strike.
The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan at the time, Douglas Paal, backs up Wilkerson’s account, which is being hotly disputed by key former defense officials.
“The Defense Department, with Feith, Cambone, Wolfowitz [and] Rumsfeld, was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on,” Wilkerson said, referring to pre-1970s military and diplomatic relations, “essentially to tell Chen Shui-bian, whose entire power in Taiwan rested on the independence movement, that independence was a good thing.”
Wilkerson said Powell would then dispatch his own envoy “right behind that guy, every time they sent somebody, to disabuse the entire Taiwanese national security apparatus of what they’d been told by the Defense Department.”
“They are dangerous men who will lie about almost anyone or anything,” Wilkerson angrily responded by e-mail, singling out Feith, DiRita, Cheney and Rumsfeld for scorn.
He called back-stage encouragement of the Taiwanese “even more serious” than the alleged manipulation of Iraq intelligence, because it could provoke China to attack the island, triggering a U.S. response and the world’s first nuclear shooting war.
Thank God these men are as incompetent as they are idiotic. Even President Bush could be talked into going along with this and told the men to knock it off.
As for our actual policy with respect to Taiwan, I've always suspected that our real policy is all show, no go. I can't imagine any American president risking a nuclear confrontation with China over Taiwan, but you never can tell what some people will do. I know the American people would not be supportive.