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Friday, February 16, 2007

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Taiwan: The Threatened Democracy

Matthew Greenwich of Taiwan Journal reviews the new book Taiwan: The Threatened Democracy by Bruce Herschensohn...

No stranger to government, Herschensohn's career took him from the U.S. Information Agency--the now-defunct institution dedicated to public diplomacy--to the White House, where he served as a deputy special assistant to President Richard Nixon. Starting in the present, he opens the book with a segment from President George W. Bush's 2005 second inaugural address, in which the president called for actions with the ultimate goal of "ending tyranny in our world." Immediately following this quote, any perception that Herschensohn would treat civil servants kindly is quickly dispelled, as the first chapter fires a salvo against the State Department, which is shown no love throughout the book. He constructs fictitious dialogues--though he claims they are based on actual conversations--between Foreign Service officers, in which they reject the president's comments as naive. State Department employees, the author writes, are often at odds with the president as they prefer stability, while presidents often pursue change. Even the military understands the capabilities and the threat of China, but the State Department, it seems, would rather keep its head in the sand.

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