»  National Review Online

May 1st, 2001

  Not This August


Not this August, nor this September; you have this year to do what you like. Not next August, nor next September; that is still too soon … But the year after that or the year after that they fight.
             — Ernest Hemingway, Notes on the Next War

[Local announcer] Viewers, please continue to stand by. Do not change station. The President's address will be carried on all network channels, and on all cable news services. As soon as … Excuse me … Yes? … We do? … Thank you. All right, we are now going over to … [Washington announcer cuts in] Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

My fellow Americans. I address you at a time of grave crisis. As you surely know, yesterday afternoon, shortly before dawn in the Western Pacific, forces of the People's Republic of China launched a barrage of missiles against Taiwan, destroying key military and government installations there. Early this morning it was confirmed to me that the barrage was followed by extensive landings on the island by airborne forces from the Chinese mainland. Fierce fighting is now taking place at several locations. Latest reports coming to me indicate that an armada of naval vessels has embarked from various points on the Chinese side of the Formosa Strait, presumably carrying invasion troops. There has been no news from official Taiwan communications channels since the dramatic declaration of independence that followed the missile attacks last night. All channels and all internet traffic out of Taiwan are now being jammed.

At the same time as the missile launches against Taiwan, there were, as you have heard, attacks on U.S. ships and planes in the region. My fellow Americans. It is … It is my very sad, very grave duty to confirm to you now that the carriers U.S.S. Warren G. Harding and U.S.S. Benjamin Harrison have indeed been lost, along with several other vessels in their battle groups. I am not yet able to confirm the status or condition of U.S.S. Chester A. Arthur or its group. Nor am I able to confirm, or yet to deny, that these attacks were carried out with nuclear munitions. The Navy Department will issue bulletins as information becomes available. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the many thousands of brave men and women who serve … who served on these vessels. Rescue units are hastening to the Formosa Straits and the South China Sea to search for survivors. I have no doubt many of our servicepeople await rescue. We shall not fail them. However, my fellow Americans, we must brace ourselves for news of significant, of serious losses. I give you my most solemn assurance now: those who have perished in these barbarous and cowardly attacks shall not go unavenged.

Nor shall the attempt to seize Guam, which is a sovereign U.S. territory, be allowed to stand. Our latest reports from the island indicate that our troops there are holding out bravely against superior enemy forces. Help is on its way. The so-called "People's Republic of Guam" is a fiction put about by Chinese propaganda organs. Officials of this entity are not accepted as legitimate authorities by the people of Guam, and will not be acknowledged as legitimate by the government of the United States, now or ever. Guam, though not a state, is U.S. territory, and will be defended.

My fellow Americans, I must urge you not to panic at this time. There is no, I repeat no, possibility of nuclear attacks against the territory of the United States. The Chinese authorities have been told in the strongest terms that any nuclear attack on the territory of the United States would be met with a massive retaliatory response in kind against the territory of the People's Republic. The Chinese authorities understand very well what would be the consequences of a nuclear attack on us. There is no cause for panic, or for flight out of our cities, or for the stockpiling of food or other goods. I urge you all to return to your homes. It is essential at this time for us to keep social order. The necessary movement of military supplies and equipment is being hindered by traffic jams on the exit roads from our cities. Please, return to your homes and do not travel by road unless you must. After this address, I shall immediately proceed to the emergency session of Congress, to ask your representatives for all that may be needed to defend our territories, avenge the loss of our ships, planes and servicepeople, and restore peace in the Western Pacific.

In the meantime, I have issued the following executive orders, effective forthwith except where an item requires Congressional approval. Such approvals will be sought as a first priority in the emergency session following this address.

My fellow Americans, I should add that the stories you may have heard coming out of Tokyo and Seoul, demanding supervised immobilization of U.S. forces in those countries pending withdrawal, may also be artefacts of Chinese government misinformation. At the time of speaking, we maintain normal and friendly relations with both Japan and South Korea, and are in intensive negotiations with those governments regarding the status and deployment of U.S. forces stationed on their territory.

Let me say here, too, that we regard the attitude of the European Union to be extremely, in fact disgracefully, unhelpful in the present crisis. The State Department has instructed our ambassadors in those EU nations that co-signed the so-called Declaration of Neutrality to proceed home without delay, and I understand that the nations concerned have also recalled their ambassadors from Washington.

In regard to the even more disgraceful joint announcement by the governments of Cuba, the Bahamas and the so-called Panamanian People's Republic …
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Let me finally assure you that reports you may have been hearing of Chinese "electronic warfare," that is, of the ability of the Chinese military and intelligence agencies to disrupt broadcast, satellite, cable and internet traffic — to extend, as one of our own analysts has put it, "the fog of war" into the civilian sphere — are very much exaggerated. Communications traffic within the U.S.A. has not been and will not be compromised … [TV picture temporarily breaks up, then restores] … interruption to ordinary news services … [Longer break-up of TV picture, some garbling of audio] … software and communications engineers working with the U.S. armed forces … [Picture collapses into static "snow." Audio continues, but degraded] … the American people will be kept fully informed … [Severe audio degradation] … fellow Americans … [Heavy static burst on audio] … stand together … with God's help … [Audio signal collapses into static hiss] …