House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strutted and clucked during her trip to Taiwan, insinuating the United States would come to their (Taiwan’s) rescue if China attacked, which would be a stupendous, irresponsible blunder. Moreover, it gratuitously compounded the risk of a catastrophic United States war with China. Alternatively, the House speaker’s triumphal words might provoke a Chinese attack on Taiwan from which the United States has to avoid the risk of nuclear extinction, leaving Taiwan in the lurch.
Pelosi’s in-your-face visit to Taiwan was reminiscent of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s conquistador-like war against Libya in 2011 turned a nation that had renounced weapons of mass destruction into a wilderness and its leader, Muammar Gaddafi, into a corpse. Clinton engineered a so-called pivot to Asia to encircle China and assert domination in the South China Sea and China’s traditional sphere of influence corresponding to the two-centuries-old Monroe Doctrine, which asserts a United States sphere of interest over the Caribbean and South America.
Contrary to Pelosi, the United States has no national security interest in defending Taiwan from an attack by China. Indeed, that is why the Taiwan Defense Treaty was revoked in 1980, diplomatic relations with Taiwan were severed in 1979 and the United States acquiesced in the expulsion of Taiwan from the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly in 1971. Moreover, for more than 40 years since the termination of the treaty, neither the president nor Congress has ever championed its rebirth.
China is not an existential threat to the United States, with or without Taiwan. Its military strengths are anemic compared with America’s multitrillion-dollar military-industrial security state.
Their aircraft carriers are emblematic compared with the United States, which has 11 in active service. China has three inferior carriers to the American variety. China has not triumphed in international warfare for more than a century. It was smartly defeated in its border war with Vietnam in 1979. The United States has encircled China with the Quad: Japan, Australia, India, and The United States. That de facto alliance against China would be the equivalent of a Chinese alliance against the United States featuring Mexico, Canada, and Cuba. The latter would assuredly provoke a sequel to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The United States has encircled China with the Quad: Japan, Australia, India and The United States. That de facto alliance against China would be the equivalent of a Chinese alliance against the United States featuring Mexico, Canada and Cuba. The latter would assuredly provoke a sequel to the Cuban missile crisis.
Notwithstanding the House speaker’s juvenile bravado and President Joe Biden’s unconstitutional pronouncements that he would defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression, the United States will balk and betray the Taiwanese. Again, the light of experience is evident.
In 1956, the United States fomented a Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union. When Soviet forces invaded, the United States stood idly by like a spectator. The price Hungarians paid for our reckless encouragement was 2,500 dead and 20,000 wounded. The United States, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a military hero, would not risk war with the Soviet Union to deliver Hungary from its communist yoke.
After the first Persian Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush exhorted Marsh Arabs to revolt against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. They did and were slaughtered and pauperized. Some 30,000-60,000 died, and their lands were decimated. The United States did nothing to interfere with the Iraqi dictator’s massacre.
Furthermore, contrary to Biden and Pelosi, Section 3C of the Taiwan Relations Act entrusts Congress with the responsibility of deciding whether the United States should go to war to defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack. There is zero probability that Congress will declare war on Taiwan. It has shied from declaring war for more than 80 years since Pearl Harbor. It refused to entertain President Barack Obama’s plea for a declaration of war against Syria to retaliate for President Bashar Assad’s suspected illegal use of chemical weapons to suppress a domestic insurrection. Despite the high-octave braggadocio from several members of Congress, none has sponsored legislation making it the policy of the United States to defend Taiwan militarily from Chinese aggression. Neither has Biden requested such legislation.
It is dubious whether China could conquer Taiwan on its own. However, superiority in numbers or weapons does not guarantee victory. Think of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the United States in Vietnam and Russia in Ukraine. What is decisive is a willingness to fight and die for your country.
Finally, a Chinese occupation of Taiwan would be self-defeating. Local uprisings against Chinese tyranny would be chronic and costly to suppress, as with the Soviet Union in Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Territorial expansion often weakens rather than strengthens. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and occupation of Chechnya have proven stupendous economic albatrosses, and both have proven featherweights in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Armstrong Williams is an American political commentator, entrepreneur, author, and talk show host.