Weaker U.S. Leads to Insecurity in Taiwan

It is also the case that Obama administration impulses to withdraw from foreign commitments make it extremely unlikely the U.S. would respond militarily to Chinese adventurism. For all practical purposes Taiwan is a literal and figurative island at the mercy of Chinese leadership.

This is not to suggest that China is prepared to attack Taiwan. Such an event would poison Chinese ties to the West and its position in the World Trade Organization. However, this does mean that China can apply pressure on a vulnerable Taiwan, thereby accelerating the goal of unification and forcing Taiwanese leaders to make concessions of various kinds.

Presumably Taiwan can seek military alliances in Asia with Japan, South Korea, and India in an effort to thwart Chinese ambitions. But, with the exception of India, most nations in Asia recognize putative Chinese regional leadership in the face of America’s evanescing Asian presence. The new Japanese government, for example, is already making overtures to Beijing in an effort to forestall Chinese inroads into the Sea of Japan.

It is instructive that a world with a less powerful United States leads to political instability in many parts of the globe. The Taiwanese are a resilient and remarkable people who have taken a once largely barren island and converted it into one of the most vigorous economies on the globe. Yet this development could not have occurred without the protective shield of the United States. One can only wonder how it can be sustained without active American assistance.

To learn that the Taiwanese now recognize checkmate in the Taiwan Strait is upsetting for any of us who admire the fierce determination of the island’s people. A new day is dawning and from the perspective of democracy and prosperity, it is a very gray day indeed.