The Skeptics

Trump's Embrace Puts Taiwan in a Tough Spot

Taiwan likely concluded that participation in THAAD risked provoking Beijing beyond endurance. Those concerns were warranted. China had issued ominous warnings that it might use military force if Taipei joined that system. Whether Tsai’s government would have made the same cautious decision if it had been confident of strong, reliable U.S. support is uncertain. But with the Trump administration’s return to the One China policy, the risks of seeking inclusion in a system that China adamantly opposed were clearly deemed too great.

An important feature of an intelligent, effective foreign policy is consistency and reliability. Donald Trump did Taiwan no favors with his blatant inconsistency. If he was not serious about altering Washington’s policy toward Taiwan, he should have refrained from raising false hopes in that country and needlessly roiling the U.S. relationship with China. Such actions are the hallmark of an amateurish foreign policy.

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: Change of the Guard of Honor at the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/CEphoto, Uwe Aranas