The Hard-Liners

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The Chinese word for crisis, sinologists like to say, combines the characters for danger and opportunity. Despite the risks to U.S.-China relations, a small group of China specialists in Washington views the spy-plane incident as the best chance yet to alert the Establishment to Beijing's growing strategic threat to the U.S. "This basically puts a stake through the heart of appeasement," says Edward Timperlake, a former Marine fighter pilot and an author who worked in the Reagan Administration.

Timperlake is a member of the Blue Team, a loosely organized group of conservative congressional aides, experts and political operatives who reject...