See my eyes, I can hardly see.
See me stand, I can hardly walk.
I believe you can make me whole.

Longtime Asian scholar Ezra Vogel has a very mixed piece in the Boston Globe that combines a couple of quite truthful observations on the US attitude toward Taiwan with some disgusting deification of Ma….first the good part:

The United States has a “one China policy” and recognizes the government of Beijing as the sole legitimate government of China but does not recognize Taiwan as part of China, for it considers that the status of Taiwan has not been determined. The United States does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, but it maintains unofficial relations with the “people of Taiwan” and supplies Taiwan with weapons to defend itself.

As unbelievable as it may be, although the United States has opposed the use of force to resolve the Taiwan problem, it has never explicitly declared that it would support an agreement reached peacefully by the two sides. Some mainland Chinese leaders still believe the United States wants to block reunification to slow down China’s rise.

Note the two key facts of US foreign policy: (1) Taiwan’s status is unresolved and (2) the US has not declared as a matter of policy that it will support a “peace agreement.” Vogel, like everyone in the Establishment, believes that Ma will “bring peace” which has become the latest euphemism for “sell out Taiwan.” Vogel then gives his advice:

The United States should declare categorically support for any agreement that Taiwan and Beijing reach peacefully and actively encourage both sides to reach agreements.

Perhaps that is OK as far as it goes, but what does Vogel write about the architect of peace?

The election of Ma Ying-jeou provides the best opportunity to defuse the Taiwan situation since Beijing and Taipei representatives met in 1992. It is not clear when another such opportunity will arise. Mainland officials have said that if Taiwan agrees to preconditions they are ready to carry on dialogue with Ma Ying-jeou.

Ma Ying-jeou is extraordinarily well-prepared for the job. A strategic-thinking Harvard Law School graduate and former secretary to President Chiang Ching-ku (son of Chiang Kai-shek), formerly a leader of national unification work, charismatic politician, he has been thinking about this opportunity for three decades. He has made it clear that he will not discuss unification, which the local Taiwanese public is not ready to discuss, but he will discuss closer cooperation. He will also strengthen military cooperation with the United States to be able to negotiate with the mainland from a position of strength.

Just today in the Taipei Times an editorial commentator complained about the intoxicating deification of Ma Ying-jeou….

The presidential election was just three weeks ago, and certain media outlets have already begun Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) deification. The editorials in some newspapers have complimented Ma for having a good physique and for working out daily.

They have also called him wise and said that he has learned a great deal from his wisely chosen companions.

Not only has this kind of sycophantic praise become an Internet joke, embellishments made by television stations are even more jaw-dropping: Ma is frugal, squeaky clean, full of filial piety, sincere, loyal to his party and patriotic to his country, adept at negotiations, as charming as former US president John F. Kennedy, and radiates gentleness from his double-lidded eyes.

With such a fine husband, even Chow Mei-ching’s (周美青) way of tying her shoelaces is extraordinarily sleek. Needless to say, the beauty of their daughter, Lesley Ma (馬唯中), and her many talents, are also praised.

The presidential cult of personality isn’t new. Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was known for having deduced great wisdom from observing swimming fish in his childhood: no wonder he became the saviour of his people, as well as a military strategist, politician, philosopher, educator, thinker, calligrapher, and artist all rolled into one.

It would have been difficult for his son and heir, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) to have been anything less than magnificent.

The economic miracles, political liberalization and his Ten Major Construction Projects, are all credits to his name; whereas the Taipei Tenth Credit Cooperative corruption scandal and the murders of Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) as well as Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) and his family, are swept under the carpet to prevent harm to his achievements.

The internet joke, a friend told me, is that Ma is now “God Ma” (神馬). The Leader Cult is latent in the theology of the KMT, and in its Leninist political structure; it is overt in the claims that Ma is a savior and only he could “save” Taiwan. It is also profoundly anti-democratic. Just wait until Ma makes 12 holes in one in his very first round of golf….

Still, one expects it of the local pro-KMT media, but of a US Establishment scholar? Ma is not merely smart, he is “extraordinarily well-prepared.” This is….a bit of an overstatement. I especially like the “he has been thinking about this for three decades” line. Hard to argue with a qualification like “thinking about it for three decades”…

INTERVIEWER: So, do you have any experience operating heavy lifting equipment?
APPLICANT: No, but I’ve been thinking about it for three decades.

Maybe I’ll try that line on Farah Fawcett-Majors, heartthrob of my adolescence…

FARAH: Why should I hop in bed with you?
MICHAEL: Well, I’ve been thinking about it for three decades….

Just another example of the ugly trend of deifying Ma that is becoming commonplace in the international media — not to mention Chiang Ching-kuo, who ran his father’s security state and oversaw the deaths of thousands of people. But why speak of the ugly past, when it is so much easier to idealize it?

Two other things caught my attention. First, we are also told — very slickly — that China will negotiate with Ma if he fulfills “preconditions.” This throwaway sentence contains all the key issues: the precondition is Taiwan’s acceptance that it is part of China. This directly contradicts Vogels statement that he will not negotiate on unification. How can that be? It is the only coin he has to offer. Ma cannot “ease tension” without giving on that issue, because the tension is caused by China’s desire to annex the island.

Second is Vogel’s assertion that Ma will strengthen military relations with the US. As I have noted, the long-term plan to move Taiwan into Beijing’s orbit almost certainly calls for better relations with the US, for the same reason that an adulterous husband acts especially sweet toward his wife. Another implication is that the previous President screwed up military relations. The reality is the opposite: the KMT blocked the arms purchases in the legislature, as everyone knows, and roiled defense relations with the US — and the US also strangled military contacts on its end. None of that was Chen Shui-bian’s fault. But Vogel gives credit to Ma the Savior: there is nothing His Healing Touch will not improve.