by David Sisler

Diplomacy was easier before the days of instant communications. Today with news-gathering, news-reporting (and news-making) organizations positioned around the world, looking over the shoulders of diplomats and presidents, it is almost impossible to accomplish anything.

Can you imagine a reporter saying, "General Eisenhower, we have reports that Allied troops will storm Fortress Europe at the beaches of Normandy in early June. Would you comment on that, sir? The people have a right to know." I can imagine Ike having that reporter, his microphone, note pad and everything else, incarcerated until the troops were well ashore in France.

During the days of the Cold War, I heard a former CIA agent talking about reporters and arms control negotiations. "The reporters ask, ‘What happened today?' If you have good sense," he said, "you will pray nothing happened today. And that nothing will happen tomorrow. And that nothing will happen the day after tomorrow. That we held firm. That we did not cave in."

This morning comes news that, ten days after a Chinese fighter jet hit a U.S. Navy EP-E3 surveillance plane, the 24 crew members will be released as soon as "appropriate travel arrangements are made."

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher delivered a letter Wednesday to the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying the U.S. government was "very sorry" about the incident.

The text of that letter, released by the White House says, in part, "Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft. Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss.

"Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures. We are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely."

On Tuesday Mike Cecka received a personal e-mail from his 28-year-old son, David, one of 24 crew members. "He gave us reassurances that he is being treated well and will return with our own honor and that of our country intact," Mr. Cecka said.

One hopes that America's leaders will likewise continue to defend the honor of the crew and the honor of the nation. Before the announcement from China was received this morning, ripples of discontent were being sent out from those who wanted instant action. No comments show the polarization more clearly than remarks from two parents of the hostage crew members. Amanda De Jesus said, "Just say what they want us to say." Mike Cecka said, "I personally don't feel we have done anything to apologize about."

From the beginning of this crisis, the Bush administration's policy was to get our crew and our plane back, but not with maneuvers that would betray the crew, and nation they defend. How refreshing to see America stand up to international bullies!

The Clinton administration rushed to see how quickly they could bend over backwards, how quickly they could flip-flop on issues just to please the Communist Chinese, and frequently with nothing more in mind than how Clinton supporters could profit financially. Those actions of cowardice – which columnist Mona Charen described as "a prolonged and humiliating grovel" – planted seeds that make the dictators of China think the current administration is just as spineless.

China wants full recognition and entry into the World Trade Organization.

China wants to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

China continues to repress its own citizens, persecuting any who practice religion, and at the same time wants to keep open markets for commerce with America and the Free World.

The official position of the Chinese government has been, and remains, that we must apologize because their pilot flew into our aircraft. Rainbow Coalition leader Jesse Jackson, when asked by CNN's Daryn Kagan, if he had "no problem with Americans giving an apology and saying they're sorry" replied, "Of course not."

Representative Mark Kirk (R – Illinois) said, "Sorry implies guilt."

It was appropriate to express regret that the Chinese pilot died. Civilized people respect other's grief. However, confronted by the unreasonable and unwarranted demands of international bullies, it is imperative that President Bush holds firm and completes the restoration of the strength and dignity of his office, and at the same time upholds the strength and dignity of our nation.


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