If there are any historians around 500 years from now, an academic specializing in Ancient American History will be tackling a never solved question – why, in August of 2022, did United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi decide that it was a good idea? All writings from the time will yield nothing that seems like a satisfactory answer because it would seem self-evident, viewed through a 500-year lens, that there would seem to be no possible good that could have come from that trip.
Of course, we are in the here and now, and the rationale for the Pelosi in Wonderland Tour has ranged from the Speaker of the House can travel anywhere in the world, whenever she wants to it is critically important that on August2, 2022 the highest ranking American official to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich in 1997 just had to be in Taipei.
No matter that the China of 1997 is not the China of 2022.
No matter that Xi Jin Ping has become the very clear leader of a China that is on a path to global importance that has not been seen in centuries.
No matter that the very existence of an independent Taiwan, buttressed by support from Americans and Europeans is a constant reminder of the humiliation visited upon China by Americans and Europeans for several centuries. (more on that in a moment)
What is clear is that somehow, in the middle of a continuing global pandemic, a war in Ukraine that is a few missteps from engulfing a good part of the planet and a global economy that is spinning madly to who knows where, the Pelosi Braintrust (now there is an oxymoron) thought it was a good idea for her to visit Taiwan. And we should keep in mind that the Taiwanese leadership has not stayed in control in Taiwan, less than 80 miles from China by poking the bear unnecessarily. In other words, this visit was engineered by Nancy Pelosi herself and so-called “hawks” in America (“hawks” who never seem to find their way to a battlefield) who thought that it was important to poke the Bear Called China in order to prove American strength and superiority and not the government of Taiwan.
The best way to explain the peril of this particular strategy is for Americans to suspend their knowledge of history and imagine that a few hundred years ago the Chinese Empire, with superior weapons and technology, took over major parts of America. Subjugating Americans, degrading American culture and religion and treating this country (along with the Japanese Empire) imposed a colonial structure on Americans.
Imagine that American churches and cultural buildings were defiled and destroyed. Imagine that American women were treated as whores or servants and that American men were considered to be disposable labor that could be shipped to China to work in mines or infrastructure projects until they died. And imagine that at some point the Chinese left but considered California to be a colonial possession because of its gold and agriculture.
Imagine that after the Civil War the defeated Confederates fled to what is now Florida and declared it an independent state and that China recognized the Republic of Florida as an independent state although the American government had never agreed to such an arrangement.
Now imagine that over a century later America has gained new strength and power. Now America reclaims California because it had always been a part of America until the Chinese came along. Now America resents the Republic of Florida as an insult to its sovereignty and does not accept the Republic as a permanent arrangement, especially since the Chinese continue to assert the independence of the Republic of Florida as a nation worth defending with Chinese blood and treasure.
If you can imagine this historical arrangement and change the time and place and players you can begin to understand that China’s concerns regarding the West are not imaginary. The Chinese suffered degradation and humiliation at the hands of the West for centuries even though the West acts like the past – particularly the uncomfortable truth about the past – is no relevant.
But sometimes it is good to look at the world through the eyes of the person on the other side of the table.
Clearly Speaker Pelosi and her enablers have failed to do that and the world is less safe today because of her thoughtless actions.