I’m ashamed of my country today.

In 1776, the United States of America was formed in the name of independence. Our forefathers fought a gallant and war in the name of independence. They risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the name of independence.

But this week, the United States told the people of Taiwan, once again, to forget about independence.

Don’t even talk about it, the State Department warned. You might enflame the passions of the totalitarians in Beijing who want to crush your free island nation and subjugate you as one more miserable province in their fascist nightmare-land of forced abortion, controlled speech, dictatorial rule and crushed dissent.

Taiwan’s duly elected president, Chen Shui-bian, has suggested drafting a new constitution emphasizing the nation’s independence and said he believes the country deserves a seat in the United Nations.

For that he was firmly and rudely rebuked by Taiwan’s so-called ally, the United States.

The State Department said the United States “does not support Taiwan’s independence and opposes unilateral changes to the status quo by either Taiwan or Beijing.”

“We’re issuing this, in the wake of some comments by President Chen in Taiwan, that we don’t want to be inflammatory or send the wrong signal,” said spokesman Adam Erili. “We certainly weren’t expecting it and we weren’t consulted about it.”

I’ve got a bulletin for the State Department and the Bush administration: The status quo is that Taiwan is a free and independent nation in every sense of the word – like it or not.

Why would the United States oppose independence for another nation? Why would the United States condemn another people for struggling for it? Why would the nation that made history by declaring independence from the greatest superpower at the time in the world denounce another people fighting for the same thing?

The answer, of course, is obvious. We don’t want to rock China’s boat.

Imagine if the French of the 18th century took a similar stance. Imagine if Lafayette didn’t want to “be inflammatory or send the wrong signal.” Imagine if our founders were as timid as the Bush administration about freedom.

Last summer, the brutes in Beijing threatened the United States with nuclear annihilation if we lifted a finger to defend Taiwan.

“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition onto the target zone on China’s territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu. “If the Americans are determined to interfere … we will be determined to respond. We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds … of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

What did Bush say or do in response to this threat?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

That’s real courage, huh? That lack of spine is the very thing that will eventually, inevitably, lead us into war with China.

Long ago, the United States embarked on a wrong-headed, immoral policy of appeasement of China, adopting as its own official position Beijing’s claim to Taiwan as part of China. It is not. When China or anyone else talks about “reunification” with Taiwan, it is misleading itself and the world. Taiwan was not part of China when the communist revolution took place, and it has not been since.

Taiwan is an independent, free and prosperous nation that wants no part of “unification” with a closed, totalitarian government. It was a tragic error for the United States to say it will not recognize Taiwan as an independent, sovereign nation. It is by every definition. Even if Taiwan had been, as the Chinese view it, a breakaway province of China, it would have every moral and legal right to live as a free and independent nation. But that is not the case.

It’s long past time for the U.S. government to recognize China is an expansionist threat to peace in Asia. It’s long past time for the United States to recognize it is only a matter of time before China embarks on its military plan of conquest of peaceful Taiwan. It’s long past time for the United States to recognize that giving China mixed signals on this issue will have the unintended consequence of making armed conflict with China more likely – not less.

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