Not long after last week’s column, I received a series of e-mails from a respected source in the US with knowledge of the workings of The Heritage Foundation, probably the most influential think tank stateside.
Heritage is a very conservative bunch of people. It has a fascinating history that will appall or delight according to your political bent. But one thing is certain: For years it has been home to solid advocacy of freedom from communist thuggery, even when Republican presidents gave up the ghost.
In the past, Taiwan was a US interest mostly because it was anti-communist. Today, things aren’t so simple: the Chicoms and their despised Siamese twin, the KMT, are rejoining at the hip in a manner likely to injure the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese and cripple the integrity of a budding democracy.
Heritage’s most hardline, pro-Taiwan commentator — indeed, one of the most hardline in the US — is John Tkacik (also an occasional Taipei Times columnist), a former diplomat, who has written years of analysis on such matters.
But that has all come to a sinister end. My informant told me that Tkacik has been removed from his post at Heritage as Senior Research Fellow.
Unfortunately, with people too nervous or professionally vulnerable to go on the record, I can’t print most of what was said in the e-mails, including one particularly explicit and disturbing allegation. My legal budget extends about as far as challenging a ticket for double parking.
Anyone for a broad hint? Read on:
The obvious question is: Who would dance with joy to see Tkacik shorn of institutional respectability? Here are some possibilities, though they’re not the only ones:
1. The Chinese government;
2. Taiwan’s KMT government;
3. US individuals/groups/firms with Chinese interests;
4. A rival colleague(s).
Just out of curiosity, when I asked if Heritage could identify “the exact amount of money that the Taiwanese government donates to Heritage formally or informally,” an official kindly sent me a reply.
He said: “The Heritage Foundation receives no funding from the government of Taiwan. And the ASC is entirely a part of The Heritage Foundation. ASC does not have any independent source of income.”
Now that’s a denial. And just as well, too. Gracious, what would have been the ramifications of the top US conservative think tank taking conditional cash from a government that longs for China to be more powerful than the US one day?
So, for now, I’ll have to leave you in suspense on why Tkacik is no longer at Heritage. My humble message to him on behalf of Taiwan’s concussed democrats is: Thank you, John, and Godspeed.
Since my legal budget consists of borrowing money from Johnny Neihu to contest my parking tickets, that's all I am going to say on this subject. My readers are excellent mathematicians and will have no trouble combining 2 and 2 to attain 4.
This is a blow, especially with the so many in the US engaged in those periodic fantasies that strike each generation of Americans anew that if we only make China happy, it will make us rich. Unfortunately being right is not enough; institutions magnify voices, and Heritage was a powerful base for John T.
Thank you, John, and good luck.