President Bush Can Stick Shift!!
Jude Wanniski
April 12, 2001


Memo To: Website fans, browsers, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Maneuvering with China

It wasn’t pretty, but our young President got the job done. The image that came to me was that of a young fellow in his first sports car, trying to master the stick shift. There was grinding from first gear to second and more grinding from second to third, and back to second, and up to third and fourth. But in the end, there he was, breezing along in overdrive, the airmen on the way home and the mini-crisis resolved.

As I had opined at the outset, this was a perfect little “crisis” for George W. Bush to get his feet wet in foreign policy and national security. I’d actually advised our clients that it was a positive crisis, in that it would force the new administration to get to know the ways and means of the People’s Republic of China right off the bat, and vice versa. In the last eight years, our relations with the PRC went steadily downhill from a fairly high level. Vice President Dick Cheney, a steady hand at GWB’s side, even recalls Beijing’s help and support in the Gulf War. President Bill Clinton, never quite interested in foreign policy, especially in his early days, let the relationship fray with a series of small diplomatic errors that irritated Beijing, gave the Taiwanese bitter-enders a wedge, and provided steady fodder to the anti-China intellectual coalition that thinks we will go to war with China someday, so we might as well get it over with now.

The way President Bush and his team handled this first test indicates it will be much easier to inch our way back to where we were when his father left the White House, with mainland China and Taiwan accelerating the integration process that has been underway all along. The only downside was that a Chinese pilot had to lose his life, although he may still turn up. Otherwise, all’s well that ends well, and except for a few bellicose screwballs at The Weekly Standard the whole world is now thinking nice thoughts about Mr. Bush and his wonderful team of seasoned foreign policy advisors. There will be other tests, other foreign policy “crises” as the world moves ahead, but thank goodness this team has gotten off on the right foot.