By Caitlin JOHNSTONE
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to pour gasoline on the foreign policy dumpster fire that is her planned visit to Taiwan next month, now reportedly encouraging other members of congress to come along for the ride.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has invited a small group of lawmakers on her official trip to Taiwan, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” NBC News reports.
This trip, which Beijing perceives as an egregious transgression of Washington’s longstanding one-China policy, is already so incendiary that the Pentagon is now planning to send in fighter jets and other war machinery to protect Pelosi’s plane in case of attacks by the Chinese military.
While U.S. officials say they have little fear that Beijing would attack the U.S. House speaker’s plane, they are aware that a mishap, misstep or misunderstanding could endanger her safety. So the Pentagon is developing plans for any contingency.
Officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan — still an uncertainty — the military would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region. They declined to provide details, but said that fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems would likely be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time on the ground there.
This risk alone would be reason enough to cancel the trip, but adding to the concern is the fact that the Chinese government has begun warning against it using the same “red line” language that Russia was using in the lead-up to its invasion of Ukraine.
“We have repeatedly made clear our our firm opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan. If the US side insists on making the visit and challenges China’s red line, it will be met with resolute countermeasures,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang said Wednesday. “The U.S. must assume full responsibility for any serious consequence arising thereof.”
China has been using this same language since news first broke about Pelosi’s planned trip, with Chinese state media Global Times saying last week that “visiting Taiwan is definitely a red line that Pelosi must never cross.”
During the lead-up to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia was issuing similar warnings using the same phrase. Putin warned over and over again that the west was taking Moscow’s “red lines” on Ukrainian neutrality too lightly, and Washington brazenly dismissed those warnings while continuing to float the possibility of future NATO membership for Ukraine.
“I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” President Biden told the press in December of last year when asked about the warnings.
Weeks later Putin made good on his threat, launching a horrific war that has killed thousands and which could easily have been prevented with a few low-cost concessions.
“This is that red line that I talked about multiple times,” Putin said. “They have crossed it.”
Was it worth it?
Of course not.
Failing to learn from history is one thing; failing to learn even from the last five months is quite another. Pelosi and whoever’s orchestrating her trip should abort those plans immediately, because the dangers that are being toyed with here are not worth the moral victory of being able to say that China didn’t make you swerve in the stupidest game of “chicken” that has ever been played.
And that’s exactly what’s happening here. China’s “red line” warnings make it clear that Pelosi landing in Taiwan will at best kick up brinkmanship between the two nations another notch, while Republicans are aggressively pushing the narrative that if the trip doesn’t happen it will mean that “Communist China is winning.” The political pressure is on the side of escalation, with even progressive Democrats supporting Pelosi’s move and calls for de-escalation and detente becoming increasingly relegated to the sidelines.
We shouldn’t have to deal with this. We shouldn’t be watching a whole new country added to the potential flashpoints for nuclear armageddon just because some octogenarian in congress is too old to care if her plane gets shot down. We shouldn’t be risking another deadly conflict which stands to benefit no ordinary person over what amounts to nothing more than petty egoic chest-pounding.
We shouldn’t have to hope that the world’s most powerful people don’t take some idiotic risks for no good reason which could hurt us all or even end up getting us all killed. We should not have systems in place which can allow the worst things imaginable to happen if the tyrants who rule over us don’t happen to make the wisest decision on any given day.
Our futures shouldn’t depend upon the better angels of the worst monsters. Those with power have far too much of it, and the ordinary people of this world have not nearly enough.