Every empire has its inflection point when it starts going downhill. From Philip Pilkington at theamericanconservative.com:
The American obsession with Taiwan, much like the British obsession with the Suez Canal, is merely a distraction from much broader global geopolitical shifts.
In late-July 1956, three months before the Suez Crisis, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden wrote a letter to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. At this stage it had become clear that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to seize the Suez Canal, a key global shipping route and at that time still under the control of the British. “We cannot afford to allow Nasser to seize control of the canal,” Eden wrote, “If we take a firm stand over this now, we shall have the support of all the maritime powers. If we do not, our influence and yours throughout the Middle East will, we are convinced, be irretrievably undermined.”
The situation in the South China Sea today is very different to the situation in Egypt in the summer of 1956. The British at the time could be confident that Nasser was indeed moving to nationalize the Suez Canal. Today, despite much noise emanating from Washington, it is by no means clear that the Chinese have any intention of seizing the island of Taiwan with military force. Yet one can imagine that letters very similar to the one written by Eden are being written in Washington and read in capitals all over the world.
In 1956 the British sensed, correctly, that if they fought for the Suez Canal and lost this would precipitate a sharp decline in British influence in the world. Today America senses something very similar with respect to Taiwan. This feeling has built up in Washington because of what can only be described as the dismal failure of U.S. foreign policy strategy in Europe. This failure has become manifest in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Not content to pick a fight with Russia, the American foreign policy establishment is also going after China. From Ted Galen Carpenter at chinausfocus.com:
The 2022 midterm congressional elections in the United States have been characterized by stark, sometimes shrill, partisan disputes on an array of issues, both foreign and domestic. One area that has not featured such a division, however, is policy toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Instead, there has been a growing consensus regarding that issue; the only contest appears to be about which party can and will take the harder line toward Beijing. Indeed, within the Republican Party hard liners are even bashing fellow members who advocate restoring the traditional GOP stance that favored a policy of engagement with China.
The strength of the anti-China trend is evident on multiple issues, including trade policy, human rights, Taiwan, and the extent of the security threat that the PRC now supposedly poses to the United States. Going forward, it matters little whether Republicans or Democrats are the majority party in Congress; the days of bipartisan support for a policy of cooperation with China are over.
Hostility toward the PRC has been building for several years in both Congress and the American public. Beijing’s imposition of an uncompromising national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 both broadened and deepened that hostility. The PRC’s tightened restrictions on Hong Kong followed on the heels of growing anger and suspicions in the United States about the Chinese government’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. Even moderate American critics condemned PRC authorities for their apparent failure to provide timely information about the onset of the virus and its rapid spread. Hawks on China policy openly charged that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, not in nature. Public opinion surveys taken in 2020 showed a surge of negative opinion about the PRC on multiple issues, and that the growing hostility was strikingly bipartisan.
Biden pledges war, his aides walk his statements back, and these are the people who can pull the nuclear trigger. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The president of the United States has once again committed the US military to direct hot war with China in the event of an attack on Taiwan, a commitment that was once again walked back by his White House handlers.
In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Biden was asked point-blank by CBS News’ Scott Pelley if US forces would defend Taiwan from an attack by the mainland.
“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” Biden said.
“After our interview a White House official told us US policy has not changed,” Pelly narrates after the comment. “Officially, the U.S. will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan. But the commander-in-chief had a view of his own.”
“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US Forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Pelley asked.
“Yes,” Biden replied.
When China concludes there’s no hope of a negotiated or otherwise peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue, it will probably invade the island and just get it over with. From Scott Ritter at rt.com:
Washington’s ambiguous Taiwan policies are edging towards conflict, but Beijing wants to exhaust peaceful options first
American relations with China in regards to Taiwan have been dictated by years of ambiguous statements and commitments. Now this rhetoric is breaking down and armed conflict seems closer than ever – but is Washington ready to fight over Taiwan, or capable of winning?
Assurances and commitments
Officially, US policy toward Taiwan is guided by three US-China Joint Communiques issued between 1972 and 1982, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, and the so-called “Six Assurances” issued in 1982. In the Shanghai Communique of 1972, China asserted that “the Taiwan question is the crucial question obstructing the normalization of relations between China and the United States,” declaring that “the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China,” that Taiwan is a province of China, and that “the liberation of Taiwan is China’s internal affair in which no other country has the right to interfere.”
The US responded by acknowledging that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China,” something the US government did not challenge. The US also reaffirmed its interest “in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.”
The “prize” in Taiwan is the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips: Taiwan Semiconductor. From Maria Ryan at consortium.news.com:
For the U.S., it is unthinkable that semiconductor behemoth TSMC could one day be in territory controlled by Beijing, writes Maria Ryan.
An employee at Intel Corporation’s wafer fabrication facility in Chandler, Arizona, moves through its cleanroom in her industrial “bunny suit,” 2018. (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
One aspect of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan that has been largely overlooked is her meeting with Mark Lui, chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC). Pelosi’s trip coincided with U.S. efforts to convince TSMC – the world’s largest chip manufacturer, on which the U.S. is heavily dependent – to establish a manufacturing base in the US and to stop making advanced chips for Chinese companies.
U.S. support for Taiwan has historically been based on Washington’s opposition to communist rule in Beijing, and Taiwan’s resistance to absorption by China. But in recent years, Taiwan’s autonomy has become a vital geopolitical interest for the U.S, because of the island’s dominance of the semiconductor manufacturing market.
Semiconductors – also known as computer chips or just chips – are integral to all the networked devices that have become embedded into our lives. They also have advanced military applications.
Transformational, super-fast 5G internet is enabling a world of connected devices of every kind (the “Internet of Things”) and a new generation of networked weapons. With this in mind, U.S .officials began to realise during the Trump administration that U.S. semiconductor design companies, such as Intel, were heavily dependent on Asian-based supply chains to manufacture their products.
A different take on Taiwan from SLL contributor William Gudal.
Every Magic Act Consists of Three Parts
Is there even the tiniest of doubts that Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was approved if not mandated by the CIA, NSA, FBI, Pentagon, Bill Gates, George Soros, Michelle Obama, Susan Rice or whoever else is running US foreign policy? The question is why. What was the purpose of the mission? We are clearly in a world where nothing is what is seems on the surface. This is the Pledge, there are two acts to go.
Ms. Pelosi’s venture into the Taiwanese theatre triggers a number of talking points. First of all, does anyone really care what happens to Taiwan, and if you do, how much do you care? In circumstances like this, I apply the double leg test. You are on a landing craft just off the coast of Taiwan. You have a choice: you are told you have a significant chance of losing both your legs due to combat or you can turn around and leave the theatre. I thought so.
Another little nagging question is this: “we” are saving Taiwan from what? Almost every business in America has all of its products manufactured in China. Business is excellent, really excellent. China is the top sender of international students to American universities, with 317,000 last year. Chinese scientists work in industry throughout America. Eighty percent of the ingredients contained in American pharmaceutical drugs come from China. American consumers can’t get enough Chinese goods, e.g. all of the dumbbells and barbells in your fitness center are manufactured in China. Thank the Chinese for keeping you healthy. Fauci and his cohorts are happy to conduct their virological experiments in China. And don’t forget America’s newest kicks, fentanyl, virtually all of which originates in China. Annual NBA revenues derived from China reportedly range between $5 and 10 billion. America’s number one love boat product, Apple, is mostly Chinese. This is a short list.
In short, since the United States and China are now totally entwined in a double helix, what is the problem with integrating Taiwan as a partner if through the US it isn’t already integrated into this happy family? Why keep Taiwan from getting in on this gravy train? Given all this, please explain the point of intentionally or accidentally reducing your grandchildren to nuclear shadows on the sidewalk, all over a distinction without a difference. This is the Turn; please provide the Prestige. Exeunt.
It seems only appropriate that Nancy Pelosi wore the symbol of mindless fear—a facemask—on her “bold” trip to Taiwan. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
The sight of Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan – fully Face Diapered, along with her entourage of Sickness Kabuki Players – is almost as risible as the nasal sound of Anthony Fauci’s voice whining about how awful it is that Americans won’t “adhere” to his counsel regarding “public health measures.”
Is there any better barometer of the Failed State of these United States?
Either the “leadership” cadre is almost unimaginably stupid – and bullheaded, which is a peripheral characteristic of the very stupid – or they are almost unimaginably evil, as this column has suggested previously.
At this point, the only people who wear “masks” by choice are very stupid people, possibly rendered so by a near-three-year pounding of stupidity, via such as Anthony Fauci – a medical doctor who continues to urge people to wear them, despite the fact that he has got to know better.
Unless, of course, he is almost unimaginably stupid – or too stupidly stubborn to admit he was wrong and should have known better.
Is there a mind left in the democratic party? Among its gerontocrats, is there anyone not severely afflicted with dementia? From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has left Taiwan after a brief but diplomatically corrosive visit, the aftereffects from which may be felt for years to come.
Toward the end of her speech alongside Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi’s brain underwent one of its increasingly common software glitches, causing her to begin babbling inarticulately.
Here is a transcript of what Nancy Pelosi’s brain said:
“In our earliest days at our founding of our country, Benjamin Franklin, our presidency, said, freedom and democracy. Freedom and democracy, one thing, security here. If we don’t have- we can’t have either, if we don’t have both.”
The question in the title assumes that Taiwin’s independence would be preserved if we went to war to secure it. That’s a dangerous assumption. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
Why would we risk our own peace and security for Taiwan’s freedom and independence, when we would not risk our own peace and security for the freedom or independence of Hong Kong?
When a man knows he is about to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully, said Dr. Samuel Johnson.
If there is any benefit to be realized from the collision between China and the U.S. over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed trip to Taiwan, it is this: America needs to reflect long and hard upon what it is we will fight China to defend in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.
China, after all, is a nuclear-weapons nation with a manufacturing base larger than our own, an economy equal to our own, a population four times ours and fleets of warships larger in number than the U.S. Navy.
An air-naval-and-missile war in the Western Pacific and East Asia would be no cakewalk.
A massive barrage of anti-ship and hypersonic missiles launched by China could cripple and conceivably sink the U.S. carrier Ronald Reagan now in the South China Sea. The Reagan carries a crew of thousands of sailors almost as numerous as the U.S. casualty lists from both Pearl Harbor and 9/11, the worst attacks in and on the U.S. outside of such Civil War battles as Gettysburg and Antietam.
What in East Asia or the Western Pacific would justify such losses?
What would justify such risks?
It must be remembered that in Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Many prominent men and women in government do not have a single success to their names. From Ted Galen Carpenter at antiwar.com:
Tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are rising sharply over the Taiwan issue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stated intention to include a stop in Taipei to meet with Taiwanese officials during her forthcoming trip to East Asia is the latest source of trouble. Pelosi apparently escalated that provocation further by inviting other prominent members of Congress to join her in that stop. Her actions have caused even the staunchly pro-Taiwan Biden administration to quietly press her to change her plans. Conversely, congressional hawks are urging Pelosi not to back down.
The reason for the administration’s caution are readily apparent. Beijing has reacted with unusually intense anger to the prospective visit, with President Xi Jinping warning the United States not to “play with fire” on the Taiwan issue. Pelosi’s visit is the latest – and most serious – in a series of U.S. actions over the past several years that have infuriated PRC leaders. The Biden administration needs to exercise even greater wariness about Pelosi’s venture than it already has. Indeed, Washington needs to back away from its overall hardline policy toward the PRC.