State Rep. AARON SCHOCK, who is running for Congress, has some audacious – well, maybe “shocking” is a better word – ideas about foreign policy.


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FOR PUBLICATION IN THURSDAY MORNING NEWSPAPERS. SHOULD NOT GO ON WEB BEFORE THURSDAY MORNING 

State Rep. AARON SCHOCK, who is running for Congress, has some audacious – well, maybe “shocking” is a better word – ideas about foreign policy.

I couldn’t attend Schock’s official announcement of his candidacy for Congress, but I did recently receive a copy of his speech, which included a number of foreign policy proposals.

In particular, Schock’s plan to offer nuclear arms to Taiwan if China doesn’t go along with U.S. policy toward Iran seemed odd to me.

An international relations expert I checked with agreed, saying that idea not only shows “incredible naivete,” but, if carried out, probably would lead to war between China and Taiwan.

Shock, a Peoria Republican, at 26, is the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly. He also is one of the three Republican candidates to replace retiring U.S. Rep. RAY LaHOOD, R-Peoria, in Illinois’ 18th Congessional District. Schock made his intentions official Oct. 27 with events in Peoria Heights and Springfield.

In his speech, he noted that President RONALD REAGAN came to the aid of such rebel groups as the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Schock said Reagan also provided freedom movements such as Solidarity in Poland “with CIA training in organizing, and all the equipment necessary to function.”

“Any freedom movement in a totalitarian country faces enormous difficulty in organizing against the unlimited resources of a ruthless state,” Schock said in the speech. “Those freedom movements need help from free nations. In Congress, I will advocate for them.”

Schock said he would propose spending the same amount to support “freedom fighters inside Iran” as Iran gives Hezbollah in Lebanon each year

“Let’s turn the tables,” Schock said.

The money could be used to train underground leaders in how to organize and prevent detection, satellite phones, communications, radio broadcasts from nearby countries, “and eventually arms,” Schock said.

“Funding a freedom movement to overthrow the regime will cause massive turmoil in Iran,” he went on. “No American troops will be necessary. We will simply facilitate the people’s overthrow of the Iranian regime, just (as) we did successfully all over Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.”

In regard to Taiwan, Schock said the U.S. should put more pressure on China and Russia to go along with tougher economic sanctions against Iran.

“If China continues to be irresponsible about nuclear proliferation in Iran, we should tell them that if they do not care about proliferation – and since they are enablers of it in Iran – that if they don’t change their position, we will sell Pershing nuclear missiles to Taiwan for their defense.”

“Non-proliferation will either be enforced universally or not at all – it is their choice,” Schock continued. “The Chinese will come around, I have no doubt.”

I thought this seemed bold, to say the least, coming from a new candidate for Congress, so I solicited an outside view from PAUL DIEHL, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Diehl, an expert on international conflict, has written or edited 17 books and more than 100 articles on international relations matters.

Diehl, who said he’s personally a political independent, said Taiwan is a “very sensitive issue” in the region.

“The statement about selling nuclear weapons to Taiwan reflects an incredible naivete about international relations,” he said of Schock’s idea. “Transferring nuclear weapons technology to any state is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It would also encourage other states to do the same, specifically to enemies of the United States.

“I can't think of anything more provocative to China than giving Taiwan nuclear weapons, assuming that they would even foolishly accept them. A nuclear Taiwan would not be strong enough to deter China and indeed (would) probably provoke an attack before the missiles could be deployed.”

Schock’s campaign manager, STEVEN SHEARER, responded that “academia routinely looked down on President Reagan and ridiculed him when he said that the Soviet Union was going to fall into the ash heap of history.” Reagan’s controversial positioning of Pershing missiles in Europe in the early 1980s “led to the first arms reduction in history,” Shearer claimed.

Schock “has studied that issue and was reading from different foreign policy magazines” as he developed his stand on the issue, Shearer said.



SUBHEAD

Meanwhile, common sense says the way to impress an object of your affection is probably not to skip a first date, but it appears that Shock’s campaign did just that with the traditionally strong Sangamon County Republican Party.

Schock’s formal announcement actually took place Saturday, Oct. 27, but it was first planned for Oct. 13 at Sangamon County GOP headquarters. That’s also where Schock’s two primary opponents, JIM McCONOUGHEY and JOHN MORRIS, made their announcements in this part of the Peoria-centric district.

A woman with Schock’s campaign arranged for use of the building by calling Sangamon County GOP Chairman TONY LIBRI. Libri was certainly willing to accommodate, he told me when I called to ask for details.

The building, near the Illinois State Fairgrounds Main Gate, has been undergoing some remodeling, so it had to be straightened up.

“I hired people to clean up our big meeting room,” Libri said, saying the cost was $125. “I was there myself for three hours working on the place.”

The afternoon before the event was to take place, however, the same woman from Schock’s campaign called Libri – not to cancel, but to invite Libri to the Schock announcement. That announcement, she said, now was taking place at the Hilton Springfield on Oct. 27.

“She called me just after I got done cleaning the building,” Libri said. “She was calling me to invite me to the new announcement, but neglected to tell me they weren’t using my place. I said, ‘When were you going to tell me?’”

The woman, Libri said, “tried to cover as well as she could.” She called back a few days later to set up a meeting for a formal apology.

However, he said, “when they called back to apologize, they were giving me specifics about where I could meet them at their convenience. … I just didn’t think that was an appropriate apology.

“I said, ‘I’ll think about it and get back to you.’ And that’s the last time I talked to anybody.”

Libri also said Schock has never called himself to try to make amends.

“I certainly would have if I was in his position,” Libri said. “I’ve got to tell you, if the guy wants to be congressman, he’s got to have a better organization that operates more efficiently than that.”

Libri insists the episode doesn’t mean that Schock won’t get a fair chance at the Sangamon County endorsement, which will go through the party organization’s screening committee. Any recommendation he makes, Libri said, will be “based on facts, not my personal opinion.”

The 18th District includes all or parts of 20 counties, including northern and western Sangamon County.

Libri also said he will understand if state Reps. RAYMOND POE, R-Springfield, and RICH BRAUR, R-Petersburg – who both appeared at Schock’s Springfield announcement – support their “seatmate” in the House.

Brauer called Schock a “very capable individual,” and Poe called him a hard worker. “And we’ve got a lot of faith in his ability to win that election,” Poe said.

Shearer said he was unaware until I called him Wednesday that the change of plans in Sangamon County had engendered any hurt feelings.

“Aaron will call him,” Shearer said of Libri.



SUBHEAD

The numbers continue to look not so good for Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

Chicago-based Glengariff Group surveyed 600 registered voters Nov. 1-3, just days after a Chicago Tribune Sunday editorial said Illinois should allow officeholders to be recalled and used Blagojevich as its poster boy.

The polling firm said only 31.5 percent of respondents approved of the governor’s job performance, down from 50.6 percent in May. His disapproval number now is 61.2 percent, including 42 percent who “strongly disapprove.”

By a margin of 65-25, respondents said they would like a constitutional amendment to allow recall, and by a margin of 52-37, they said they would vote to recall Blagojevich.

“Governor Blagojevich’s base of support – Chicago, African American, and Democratic voters – appear to be jumping ship,” said RICHARD CZUBA, president of the polling firm, in a statement. “Illinois voters appear to be having a serious case of buyers’ remorse when it comes to Governor Blagojevich.”

REBECCA RAUSCH, spokeswoman for the governor, said Blagojevich is focused on what’s important to Illinois residents – health care, education funding, mass transit and infrastructure. “At the end of the day, politicians will be judged by what they do for people,” she said.

Full results of the survey are at: http://www.sj-r.com/extras/pdfs/110807statesurvey.pdf



Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at (217) 788-1540 or bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.