Peter Morici: Defending Taiwan starts with standing up to Putin

by | Jun 29, 2022 | Stock Market

President Joe Biden’s recent statement that the United States would intervene militarily if China tried to take Taiwan by force was hardly a gaffe. The U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity has outlived its usefulness. Since President Richard Nixon went to China and put the two nations on the path to normalized diplomatic and trade relations, the United States has recognized one China. It has opposed Beijing regaining control of Taiwan through force but has been ambiguous about whether it would intervene militarily if China invaded.

Purposeful ambiguity Per the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States provides Taiwan with defensive weapons but withholding an ironclad assurance that America would rush to its defense had two purposes. First, it avoided directly antagonizing Beijing to cross the straits or take wider aggressive actions in the South and Western Pacific. Second, it discouraged Taiwan from provoking a confrontation, for example, like declaring its independence. All that increasingly is now moot. In response to a 2019 controversy surrounding a sculpture at the London School of Economics that depicts Taiwan as part of China, President Tsai Ing-wen asserted Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state. Short of renting Independence Hall and sending President Xi Jinping a letter, that’s about as clear as it gets. China has hardly been restrained in its military buildup, efforts to intimate Taiwan and its neighbors in the Pacific, or preparations for an invasion if it becomes so disposed. Credibility gap For the United States, securing our Pacific allies is as much a problem of credibility as it is deploying the right kind of forces in sufficient numbers. America, by ceding control of the Black Sea and Ukrainian ports, permits Russia a chokehold on the global swing supplier of wheat, oilseeds and perhaps other key agricultural commodities. Moscow has the capacity to create shortages throughout the developing world and drive food prices to punishing levels. Over the long haul, Western sanctions will stifle the development of the Russian economy but Moscow’s counter sanctions on wheat and oilseed supplies are having quite immediate effects. The United States and NATO allies have been restrained in the weapons supplied Ukraine, because they have been needlessly intimidated by the prospect of President Vladimir Putin resorting to …

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