Did Donald Rumsfeld and his Neocon all-star team of Wolfowitz, Feith, Cambone and DiRita – with backing from John Bolton at State – actually attempt to provoke a war with China? Did they do their best to stir up President Chen Shui-bian and his Taiwanese independence movement to derail U.S.-Chinese relations? This is the charge that Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, has leveled. And he’s being backed up on every word by the diplomat who would have been best positioned to know, the senior U.S. envoy to Taiwan in the period.
With the election of George W. Bush in 2000, some of Taiwan’s most fervent allies were swept back into power in Washington, particularly at the Pentagon, starting with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. They included such key architects of the Iraq War as Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, Douglas Feith, the undersecretary for policy, and Steven Cambone, Rumsfeld’s new intelligence chief, Wilkerson said. President Bush’s controversial envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton, was another.
While Bush publicly continued the one-China policy of his five White House predecessors, Wilkerson said, the Pentagon “neocons” took a different tack, quietly encouraging Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian. “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’s parting comment is telling. “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.
Indeed, the record isn’t closed on that, but the record supporting Wilkerson’s charges is pretty heavy at this point.