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Andrei Illarionov resigned just in time. As an admirer of the capitalist philosophy of Ayn Rand and the laissez faire economics of Ludwig Von Mises, his resignation this week as Vladimir Putin’s chief economic advisor is a disaster for Russia. But his announcing that “Russia is no longer a democracy,” serves to keep intact the record of there never being a war between two democracies should war break out between Russia and Ukraine. For the day of Illarionov’s resignation (Tuesday, December 27), the Russian Defense Minister threatened to invade Ukraine.



I have an admission to make: I have used Wikipedia for serious research. And in all the years I've been doing it, I've never really felt as if I've been led astray. But – a large but – I only use it for research in science or computing. Using the popular online encyclopedia for social, economic or political research calls for caution.



Finally, some good may come from the Valerie Plame kerfuffle -- if President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez have the stones to do what's right. A grave crime was exposed Dec. 16th when New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau published a story revealing President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to listen in on conversations between al Qaeda suspects abroad and people in the United States without first obtaining a warrant. "We're seeing clearly now that (President) Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator," wrote Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. But the scandal was not the program Risen and Lichtblau wrote about. The scandal is that they wrote about it.



Last week was Europe. This week it’s Asia. I’ve been giving speeches and meeting with folks in Hong Kong, Singapore, and now here in Taiwan about how to democratize China. The text of one of these speeches, delivered at Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan, is a companion article following this, entitled, Freedom and Peace in China. The meetings with democracy activists discussed the extraordinary urgency in transforming dictatorship in China to democracy within the next 15 to 18 months. For that may be all the time Taiwan has before China attacks, and the US is drawn into a full scale war that could go all-out nuclear. The Beijing Olympics are to be held in the summer of 2008. That’s 32 months from now. For all the saber-rattling China has indulged in over Taiwan, most Taiwanese figure they’ve got until after 2008 before the Chicoms will consider a military assault upon them. It really startles them to hear they may have only months and not years to go.



[This is the text of a speech I delivered at Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan, December 22, 2005.] I flew here today from Singapore. As we were flying over the South China Sea, I looked down and saw these beautiful islands – jewels of green and turquoise and white in an ocean of blue. They looked like paradise – but these, I recognized, were the Spratly Islands, claimed by China, even though they are much closer to the Philippines. In fact, if you had an official PRC government map of China, you would see that China claims the entire South China Sea as its territory, from the coasts of the Philippines and Vietnam all the way to Indonesia. 80% by value of the world’s shipping goes through the South China Sea. The countries of Asia cannot afford to let China seize this vital waterway and build military bases in the Paracel and Spratly Islands. China has no legitimate claim on the South China Sea whatever – yet China is risking war with its neighbors because of this totally absurd claim. Then the plane this morning reached the southern coast of Taiwan, and we flew along the entire length of the island to reach Taipei. As I looked down at the farmlands, the factories, the homes, villages, towns, and cities of Taiwan passing beneath me, I could not help thinking: the Communist rulers of China want to destroy all this, ruin these people’s lives, enslave them to their rule – and for what? Because all these people want is to be left alone. There is no possible way the 22 million people of Taiwan are a threat to the 1.3 billion people of China, any more there is no possible way China legally owns the entire South China Sea – yet China is willing to risk war merely because the people of Taiwan do not want their lives controlled and enslaved by the rulers of Beijing. This threat of war, the gigantic threat of China to Taiwan and all of China’s neighbors, has got to come to an end. And tonight we are going to talk about how to do it.



This was written a year ago for Christmas 2004. We will run it every Christmas season. Merry Christmas. If that offends you, why should I care? It’s your problem, not mine. Let me explain your problem a little more fully. America is a Christian country. It’s your job to deal with that, because you’re not going to change this fact. America has always been a Christian country, and - open wide now, because you’re going to have to swallow this - it will continue to be. It will continue to be because most Americans aren’t Euroweenies. They haven’t lost the moral courage to be proud of their country and their civilization. Notice the “most” - which you are not a part of. You are anti-Christian because you are anti-American. You are anti-American because you are anti-Western Civilization. You are anti-Western Civilization because you are afraid of and intimidated by the envy of the world’s impotent. Fear of being envied defines your soul.



There hasn't been a successful terrorist attack in the United States since Sep. 11th, 2001. Congress may be about to change that. Several critical provisions of the Patriot Act will expire at the end of the year, because a Democratic filibuster in the U.S. Senate blocked their renewal. Without these provisions, the FBI will lose most of its ability to track terrorists, the head of the FBI's national security division told the Washington Times. The most important of these provisions is for roving wiretaps, said Gary Bald. "We've had that capability for years on the drug side of the ship and frankly what it does is it cuts out the requirement for us to go back to a judge every time a drug dealer throws his cell phone into the river and gets another one." Before denying those who are trying to protect us from terrorists the tools law enforcement has had for years to wield against less dangerous criminals, Congress – thanks to Senator John McCain – moved to make it unlikely we will ever again get useful information from interrogation of terror suspects.



How upset are you over the CIA “secret prison scandal”? Maybe you said, “What scandal?”, or maybe you’ve glanced at stories about it carried in the back pages of your newspaper. Here in Europe, it’s the giant screaming front page headline story on every paper you pick up from England to Germany. The Europeans are in a state of high emotional froth over CIA “renditions” of Moslem terrorists seized in one of their countries and taken to a “secret prison” in Poland or elsewhere. The Euroweenies are far more concerned with the “human rights” of the terrorists than they are about the threat of terrorists to kill them. If you think all of this is just an excuse to bash the CIA and indulge in anti-Americanism, you’re right – just as planned by the weasels. Everyone on the right, it seems nowadays, from the editorials in the Wall Street Journal to conservative columnists like Mona Charen and bloggers like John Hinderacker, are issuing calls to “Investigate the CIA!” They have been suckered by the left. They should instead be demanding, “Investigate the weasels, not the agency!”



The French just arrested 20 people, apparently pretty close to doing some mean terrorist thing. In late September, nine people were arrested in Paris in "what officials said was a crackdown on suspected Islamic terrorist activities." It was later reported that the DST (internal-security service) had learned that members of this group had been trained in Lebanon, and possessed an exotic poison: seeds of the "nigelle" plant, said to be highly lethal. At the end of October, the London Telegraph reported that French authorities had discovered that "an Islamic terror cell has smuggled two surface-to-air missiles into Europe in a plot to shoot down planes at one of France's main airports..." For extras, the terror group, part of the Zarqawi network, had chemical and biological agents including ricin, cyanide, and botulin.



Here I am in Kiev, Ukraine – but in some striking ways it seems I never left Washington. The parallels go way beyond the geography, as both capital cities are on the banks of a large river, the Dneiper (nyay-purr) in the case of Kiev. In both, the political scum dominate public opinion.Ukraine is the largest country in Europe (entirely in Europe – most of Russia is in Asia). It had suffered as a colony of Russia’s since the 17th century, and underwent a holocaust perpetrated by Stalin in the 1930s that killed twice as many Ukrainians (well over 12 million) as Hitler killed Jews. When Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Soviet apparatchiks (bureaucrats) and nomenklatura (ruling elite) still clung to power. The now “ex-” Communists quickly gained control of the Ukrainian Parliament called the Rada. Socialism, corruption, and selling state assets for a song to apparatchiks and gangsters posing as “biznessmen,” flourished. The smartest and most charismatic of these “biznessmen” wasn’t a man at all but a good-looking blonde named Yulia Timoshenko.