China Responds To Nancy Pelosi With Warships, Missiles, Drills
Primary night previews, Jon Stewart's smear, Conversion Therapy, Ari Fleischer
Tonight’s primaries will feature several major storylines in Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan. Read Josh Kraushaar on the storylines. The predicted outcomes this time around are expected to serve as a boost for Trump-supported candidates, with the added ridiculous caveat of his dual endorsement of “Eric” (Schmitt? Greitens? The Half-Bee?) in Missouri.
Perhaps more immediately interesting will be the outcome in Kansas’ referendum on abortion. Despite its status as an obviously conservative state, Kansas has constitutional language which its supreme court interpreted as a guarantor of abortion back in 2019. If Kansas voters change this, it could be a sign of things to come in November:
The Kansas primary, normally a sleepy affair, has become the focus of intense campaigning, with supporters and opponents of the amendment each spending millions and making emotional appeals to voters through television ads, billboards and door-knocking efforts.
The Value Them Both Coalition, which opposes abortion and supports the constitutional amendment, has raised about $4.7 million this year. The group has run ads warning that, if the amendment fails, Kansas could become an abortion haven as many of the state’s neighbors have banned most abortions.
Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, which supports abortion rights and opposes the amendment, has raised some $6.5 million this year. The group has tried to paint abortion restrictions as a government mandate that interferes with private medical decisions.
Other states, including Michigan, California and Kentucky, are likely to have measures on the ballot in November that propose either to weaken or enhance protections for abortion.
The Kansas vote is expected to be close. A poll released July 19 by Co/efficient, a data-analytics firm based in Kansas City, Mo., found that 47% of likely primary-election voters planned to vote for the amendment, while 43% said they planned to vote against it.
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China Responds To Nancy Pelosi
China’s defense ministry announced Tuesday that its military would conduct “targeted” drills and missile tests around Taiwan in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival there on Tuesday, in Beijing’s latest escalation since news emerged of the speaker’s highly anticipated trip.
The “targeted military operations” are designed to “safeguard national sovereignty” in response to Pelosi’s visit, the defense ministry said Tuesday, vowing to “resolutely thwart external interference and ‘Taiwan’s independence’ separatist attempts.”
Experts raised alarms over the exercise, with some noting that the drills would overlap with Taiwan’s territorial waters. M. Taylor Fravel, director of the MIT Security Studies Program, said the drills appear to be “unprecedented,” noting that they would be “the largest number of exercises to be conducted very close to the island of Taiwan itself, and the first to take place on all sides surrounding Taiwan. The drills could also include Chinese missiles overflying the island, Fravel said.
In another provocation, 21 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense zone on Tuesday, Taiwan’s defense ministry announced.
U.S. officials, however, have concluded that China’s threats against Pelosi — including a suggestion that her plane could be shot down — are nothing more than an intimidation tactic.
Perhaps most importantly, Beijing has already rejected the U.S. explanation. Indeed, it is precisely because Washington has declared that Pelosi’s visit is normal and that Beijing has “no reason” to react that Chinese leaders feel compelled to do so. It is worth recalling that Beijing reacted vehemently to then-Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui’s 1995 visit to the United States partly because the Clinton administration had initially told Beijing it was opposed to granting Lee a visa on the grounds that it would violate the “One China” policy, but then allowed the visit after deciding it would be consistent with that policy. Washington thus should not be surprised if Chinese leaders conclude, as they did in 1995, that Beijing must now take actions to demonstrate that it has red lines on the Taiwan issue and to insist that the “One China” policy has reliable substance. And today, China is delivering that message with capabilities and leverage that it did not possess in 1995—indeed, capabilities that Beijing was prompted by the events of 1995 to pursue.
Washington appears to have underestimated or dismissed the possibility of a severe Chinese reaction to Pelosi’s visit, calculating that Beijing would not assume the risks of escalating it into a crisis—including the potential domestic political risks to Xi Jinping on the eve of the upcoming 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress, where he seeks “reelection” to an unprecedented third term—or would not dare challenge and provoke the United States, and thus would accept the argument that Pelosi’s visit was symbolic and consistent with the “One China” policy. If so, Washington miscalculated on all three counts. Beijing sees the need, and it obviously is prepared to accept the risks of demonstrating its red lines. Xi clearly believes that his domestic credibility requires him to push back firmly rather than acquiesce and retreat. And Pelosi’s visit obviously has prompted Beijing to draw a line in the sand.
Where we go from here will depend on whether there is still room for mutual understanding between Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. This would require all three to confront the core unresolved issues underlying the cross-strait dilemma, rather than focus exclusively on rhetorical posturing and deterrence games. One online U.S. commentator has insisted that Beijing cannot be allowed to “control the narrative” on Pelosi’s visit in an attempt to justify its actions and shift the blame to Washington for any escalation. But neither should Washington and Taipei expect that they will be able to control the narrative and escape some responsibility for creating the crisis we now face.