Veni? Yes. Vidi? Yes. Vici? No
There remains no legitimate reason for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, no matter how much she and other U.S. officials will spin her trip. Her most obvious purpose for going: to irritate Beijing.
The Latin phrase veni, vidi, vici can be translated into English as I came, I saw, I conquered. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has come and she has seen, but she most definitely will not conquer China’s Taiwan. Any claim to victory she will make about visiting the island is empty. Something so tightly wrapped in symbolism must lack substance.
As we dissect the different elements along her trip, curiosity abounds.
Consider first that she arrived late in the evening, and then remember that legitimate dignitaries do not do that: A daylight arrival, allowing for significant pomp and circumstance and plenty of encomium, is the norm for leading political figures. Yes, she was welcomed at the airport by a Taiwan official, but there were no bands, no smiling children, and no words such as “I am so excited to be here” spoken.
In the coming days, there will likely be an answer as to why this abnormal arrival plan was selected. Perhaps the often-used, yet dubious, “safety” theme will be employed. Or perhaps American officials will suggest every effort was made to not antagonize China. The sarcasm attached to any such suggestion would have to be noted.
Next, consider that the White House fumbled the message about her visit. On August 1, the White House offered a strong signal of Pelosi’s plans when it said that President Joe Biden would not prevent her from going where she wished. According to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, referencing the White House, said, “We do not know what Speaker Pelosi intends to do.”
The U.S. military paid close attention to any Chinese military movement in the Taiwan Straits in response to Pelosi being in Asia. In addition, when one recognizes that the spokesperson for the National Security Council asked China not to twist a “visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policies into some sort of crisis,” there is every reason to believe that Pelosi carefully, albeit quietly, coordinated her plans for a visit to Taiwan with the White House. Any other conclusion defies common sense.
Of course, the visit itself defied common sense. There remains no legitimate reason for Pelosi to visit Taiwan, no matter how much she and other U.S. officials will spin her trip. Her most obvious purpose for going: to irritate Beijing. Pelosi’s anti-China sentiments are well-known throughout Asia and the West; now, there is nothing more she can do to validate her disdain for Beijing. What we do not yet know is how badly she has damaged Sino-American relations. This cannot be ignored, especially realizing her visit came mere days after the presidents of both nations spoke via video conference.
Her visit will be seen as consistent with Biden’s foreign policy aims, which include demanding that China keep its hands off Taiwan. But lost in such rhetorical niceties is the reality that Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. often publicly states it has no interest in undercutting the one-China policy it has supported for well over 40 years, but it also supports numerous current and former political officials talking up Taiwan. There is a healthy irony when the National Security Council can demand China not create a “crisis” when in fact the U.S. set the stage for one.
In the days to come, we will see how American audiences react to Pelosi’s poor attempt at diplomacy and whether they rally around her and the president. We know Biden is in trouble in the polls. His favorability rating continues to hover near 40 percent, a dangerously low figure with the midterm elections less than 100 days away. Americans remain frustrated by inflation that is at a 40-year high. The Federal Reserve recently announced two large interest rate increases, hoping to tamp down inflation.
Americans are also aware that COVID-19 variants continue to sicken people. In addition, three of America’s largest states by population—California, Illinois and New York—have declared states of emergency as monkeypox cases surge. One public health crisis lingers and another might soon explode.
Instead of focusing on domestic problems, Pelosi wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a trip to Singapore, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and Japan. And, yes, China’s Taiwan.
The governments and peoples of the countries in the region are not likely to be fooled by her smiling optimism.