Blogs: The Skeptics

Cutting Waste Isn't Enough to Curb Pentagon Spending

America Still Hasn't Felt the Weight of the Iraq Disaster

How to Keep Iraq's Unruly Militias Under Control

What Was the Goal of Trump's Call with Taiwan?

The Skeptics

That would be a perilous step, although there is some strategic logic for it. An independent Taiwan, closely allied with the United States, could become an air and naval bastion for U.S. forces, preventing China from projecting its military power out into the Pacific. It would serve a function similar to what Gibraltar did for the British in bottling up Spanish power. But not only would Tsai’s government have to be willing to incur the risks entailed in adopting that course, we would have to be confident that China would do little more than fume and protest.

The evidence suggests otherwise. Taiwan is strategically vital to China, and equally important, it is central to the core of Chinese national identity. There are growing signs that Beijing’s patience even with Taiwan’s continued resistance to political reunification is wearing thin. U.S. formal recognition of an independent Taiwan could easily push Chinese leaders over the edge into embracing the military option to compel reunification. Since under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States has an implicit obligation to come to the island’s assistance under such circumstances, Chinese military action against Taiwan would be catastrophic for all concerned.

It is crucial that we gain greater clarity about the meaning and purpose of President-elect Trump’s decision to take President Tsai’s telephone call. Otherwise, the nervousness and speculation will only grow worse.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 10 books, the contributing editor of 10 books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Flickr/Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

Pages

Confronting Assad's War Crimes: The Next Step for America

The Skeptics

That would be a perilous step, although there is some strategic logic for it. An independent Taiwan, closely allied with the United States, could become an air and naval bastion for U.S. forces, preventing China from projecting its military power out into the Pacific. It would serve a function similar to what Gibraltar did for the British in bottling up Spanish power. But not only would Tsai’s government have to be willing to incur the risks entailed in adopting that course, we would have to be confident that China would do little more than fume and protest.

The evidence suggests otherwise. Taiwan is strategically vital to China, and equally important, it is central to the core of Chinese national identity. There are growing signs that Beijing’s patience even with Taiwan’s continued resistance to political reunification is wearing thin. U.S. formal recognition of an independent Taiwan could easily push Chinese leaders over the edge into embracing the military option to compel reunification. Since under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States has an implicit obligation to come to the island’s assistance under such circumstances, Chinese military action against Taiwan would be catastrophic for all concerned.

It is crucial that we gain greater clarity about the meaning and purpose of President-elect Trump’s decision to take President Tsai’s telephone call. Otherwise, the nervousness and speculation will only grow worse.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 10 books, the contributing editor of 10 books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Flickr/Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

Pages

Pages