The Obama administration has established a new (even lower) standard for kowtowing to Beijing. In the first instance, the White House has decided against selling Taiwan 66 new F-16s the government in Taipei has been asking for over the last few years. With an aging inventory of Taiwan air force fighters and the continued buildup of Chinese advanced air defenses, fighters, and fighter-bombers, the sale was absolutely essential if the deteriorating air balance over the Taiwan Strait was to be addressed.

Ignoring his legal obligations under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military equipment it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities, the president has allowed Chinese threats of a rough patch in relations to dictate American -security policy.

The second matter was the backgrounder given to the Financial Times last Thursday in which “a senior U.S. official” trashed Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of Taiwan’s opposition party, the Democratic Progressives, and its candidate in this winter’s presidential election.

“She left us with distinct doubts about whether she is both willing and able to continue the stability in cross-Strait relations the region has enjoyed in recent years,” the official told the Financial Times after Tsai met with administration officials, knowing full well that this would be read back in Taiwan as a sign that, if the Taiwanese people want continued help from the United States, they had better not choose her to be their next president.

You don’t get much more blatant than this in trying to interfere in the elections of -another democratic country. And, again, all in the name of trying to assuage Chinese Communist “worries” that an independent, sovereign, and democratic Taiwan might choose to be headed by someone who believes that -Taiwan should not be thought of as a province of the People’s Republic.

Pretty shameful stuff. America’s other democratic allies in the Asia-Pacific region will -surely take note as they ponder whether Washington is to be trusted to stand up to the bullying tactics of Beijing.

The Upward Mobility of the Academic Left

The Scrapbook was thumbing through the Washington Post the other day and stumbled on a mildly unpleasant surprise, a name that hadn’t registered in a good many seasons: Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole.

The last time The Scrapbook was reading about Dr. Cole in the Post was in November 1992 when, as president of Spelman College, she headed one of the “cluster” teams for President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition. The clusters were charged with identifying and recruiting personnel for incoming cabinet departments, and Cole (according to the Post) was “cluster coordinator for education, arts, labor and humanities” and odds-on favorite to become secretary of education. Then, as now, the Post had little specific to say about Cole except that she was an anthropologist by training and something of an academic vagabond, having taught at UCLA, Washington State, the University of Massachusetts, Hunter, and Emory before landing at Spelman, the historically black women’s college in Atlanta.

It was then that Cole’s upward mobility momentarily ground to a halt. For (no thanks to the Post or any other major news outlets) it was soon discovered that, in addition to being an academic administrator and corporate board member, Johnnetta Cole was also a lifelong left-wing political activist and self-described “revolutionary,” with a particular predilection for Communist regimes, especially the one in Havana. She had been a member of the National Committee of the Venceremos Brigade—an outreach project of the Cuban intelligence service—and a reliable public voice on behalf of Fidel Castro and Marxist-Leninist insurgencies in Africa, as well as something of a racial philosopher. White Americans, she had written,

know that racism is a necessity for the continuation of their system of economic and political exploitation. And those who rule this country know also that when a people develops a firm anti-racist and anti-capitalist ideology and practice at home, this same ideology becomes a cornerstone of their international practice.

While The Scrapbook admits that it is not fully certain what that means, this passage and other highlights of Cole’s résumé nixed her appointment as “this country’s” education secretary during the Clinton administration—and despite the fact that Democrats controlled the Senate in 1992-93. Fast-forward two decades, and we learn that Cole is now at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, where she has been director since 2009, and where, if you consult the website, the first thing you learn is that “Johnnetta Betsch Cole makes history in receiving prestigious 2011 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award.”

On the one hand, The Scrapbook assumes that Dr. Cole can’t do too much damage at the Museum of African Art, a small, underfunded backwater in the great Smithsonian sea. Her Post interview consists of the sort of motivational platitudes—“At the core of my leadership style is a collaborative spirit. .  .  . I don’t care how brilliant my vision is. If it is mine, it ain’t going nowhere. We have a strategic plan that is the vision of all of us”—that have earned her honorary degrees from Williams and Mount Holyoke, as well as the Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award. On the other hand, it’s annoying to be reminded that a certain kind of far left academic careerist always lands on his/her feet, and that one’s taxes pay the salary of a veteran Fidel groupie.

‘Losing Iraq,’ cont.

Max Boot warned in these pages last week that the Obama administration “appears to be determined to bug out from Iraq.” The administration reportedly wants to remove all but 3,000 to 4,000 troops by the end of the year. As Boot noted, this is “far below the figure recommended by U.S. Forces-Iraq under the command of General Lloyd Austin. It has been reported that Gen. Austin asked for 14,000 to 18,000 personnel—enough to allow his command to train and support Iraqi security forces, conduct intelligence gathering, carry out counterterrorism strikes, support U.S. diplomatic initiatives, prevent open bloodshed between Arabs and Kurds, and deter Iranian aggression” (“Losing Iraq,” The Weekly Standard, Sept. 19, 2011).

Last week, a group of 42 foreign policy experts and former government officials (including Scrapbook boss Bill Kristol) sent an open letter to the president urging him to maintain “a robust American presence” to “help ensure Iraq remains oriented away from Iran and a long-term ally of the United States.”

They wrote, in part:

The United States has invested significant resources in Iraq over the last eight years. Under your leadership and that of your predecessor, America has helped Iraq’s fledgling democracy emerge as a symbol to other peoples of the region, becoming, in the words of former Secretary of Defense Gates, “a multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic society in the Arab world that shows that democracy can work.”

We are thus gravely concerned about recent news reports suggesting that the White House is considering leaving only a residual force of 4,000 or fewer U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year. This number is significantly smaller than what U.S. military commanders on the ground have reportedly recommended and would limit our ability to ensure that Iraq remains stable and free from significant foreign influence in the years to come.

While the Iraqi Security Forces have become increasingly capable of defending Iraq against internal threats, they are not yet able to defend Iraq from external forces. As a result, Iraq’s troops will require after the end of this year continued U.S. assistance in combined-arms training, border protection, air and naval capabilities, logistics, and intelligence. .  .  .

We were encouraged by your pragmatism in 2009 as you showed flexibility in the pace of America’s drawdown. We believe that the same pragmatism would counsel a significantly larger force than 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of this year.

You can read the full letter at the website of the Foreign Policy Initiative,

Sentences We Didn’t Finish

"There has already been a lot of theorizing about why a little-known Republican businessman, Bob Turner, won Tuesday’s special Congressional election in a traditionally Democratic New York City district .  .  . ” (New York Times editorial, September 14, 2011).


A photo caption in the September 12 issue incorrectly identified the soldier below as a U.S. Marine in Eastern Afghanistan. In fact it depicts a U.S. Army soldier from the 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, as should have been clear from the club insignia on the side of the helmet. Thanks to eagle-eyed correspondent Colin Knight for the correction.

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