Visiting Taiwan is not what you might expect – it is more. It is like America in our freest days, in our finest hours, happy to celebrate individual rights, capitalist, religious, high value on scholarship, family, work, culture, and freedoms. As neighboring Communist China – built on Mao’s admiration of Stalin, brutal to the individual, unrepentant in suppression – gets aggressive, the light-dark contrast grows.
Understanding what will happen next in the South China Sea, what Communist China intends for free Taiwan, what free Taiwan can do in response, what those actions imply – or may dictate – for the United States is vital. Preparing for what could happen – and seeking to deter it – are now central.
Borrowing from Winston Churchill, we face a gathering storm, potentially titanic battle. The battle is one of ideas, nations firm on human life, rights, liberty, and self-determination versus those which kill or amputate those rights. This is not rhetoric; it is fact. Communism is aggressively contesting democracy.
Taiwan is the next physical target, in real peril. Taiwan represents the vanguard, spear’s tip, forward-most in this battle to preserve order, liberty, and democracy, Taiwan’s hour of peril – is ours.
Already, international law and morality have been sidelined by China’s annexation of Hong Kong, creation and militarization of artificial islands in global waterways, use of antisatellite weapons, physical coercion of foreign lands – perfect reflection of Communist abuses and immorality at home.
While the Chinese people are increasingly restless, that does not help Taiwan. It places Taiwan in greater peril, as anti-Taiwan actions, including a possible invasion, give Communist China a distraction.
Peril, of course, can be contained, subdued, postponed, deterred, or surmounted. But none of those outcomes is likely without hard-headed realism, awareness of stakes, attention to history, and action.
Words alone – even brave, wand-waving, wordy visits – will do not do the trick. Needed is a graduated set of actions for allied defense of Taiwan, diminishing the likelihood of successful Chinese aggression.
Needed is fortification of the Taiwanese people, whether that means more fighter planes, anti-mining ships, antisubmarine technology, overt intelligence sharing, long-range “multiple launch rocket systems” (like HIMARS), cooperative military defense exercises, or uninterrupted presence of a US carrier battle group, action is vital.
Actions to defend an ally come with risks, but in the balance the wiser course is always to show willingness to fight, will and capacity to win, which slows – sometimes puts off – aggression.
Not needed is more mealy mouth diplomacy, words that sow confusion or doubt, talk of not provoking (which can be provocative), invitations to a “slight incursion” (Biden to Putin), or two-hour calls with the Chinese leader – whose team listens, studies Biden’s equivocation, intonation, and mental lapses.
Action speaks louder, always. Words must carry meaning, and after Biden’s horrific withdrawal from Afghanistan, bungling of relations with Russia, indulgence of near-nuclear Iran, strange overture and retreat on North Korea, anger of allies like France and Australia, and willful indifference to China’s aggression – Biden’s words mean little to nothing, even when he can read them without stumbling.
No, we are at a crossroads, and we need to see that clearly. China is testing us via Taiwan, testing Western faith in democracy, in our own self-defense, in our military and moral strength, in the concept of alliances, and the very idea of a post-WWII global order centered on democratic principles.
China knows what we are reluctant to admit. If we will not deter China by preparing to assist Taiwan, there is a great deal more that we will not defend. If we will not stand up now, face down raw Communist aggression before it becomes irreversible, we are not who we once were.
We must, in a word, be resolved – to support Taiwan, which means doing so now, when that support most counts, will have the greatest chance of deterring runaway Chinese aggression – and will vindicate the principles we say we believe in.
Taiwan is not what you think – it is far more. It is a microcosm of America, beautiful too. The Taiwanese People are free, and they love their freedom. They will fight for it. We must be clear we are as resolved as they to defend freedom’s light, not permit it to go dark.
Having visited Taiwan, my heart leaped at their irrepressible spirit, eyes popped at the majesty of their eastern mountains, and happy commerce in Taipei. Taiwan is a little land with big heart. We are a big land with big heart. As Communist China gets aggressive, we must double down. The time to stand tall for Taiwan – is now.