GIS Intelligence Newsletter May 30, 2022

 

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GIS Rewind: On Taiwan, the West needs pragmatism, not weakness
Last week, the Biden White House came under criticism for sending confusing signals on Taiwan. When answering questions from journalists during a trip to Japan, the U.S. president appeared to abandon the United States’ traditional position of “strategic ambiguity” by saying that Washington had “made a commitment” to defend Taiwan militarily if it is attacked. His administration later walked back those comments, saying U.S. policy had not changed.

Whether one thinks that the U.S. should or should not defend Taiwan militarily, it is hard to deny that such confusion makes the White House look weak and disorganized. That kind of inconsistency could prove disastrous, as GIS founder and chairman Prince Michael of Liechtenstein wrote nearly two years ago, saying that on China, “shows of weakness can be fatal.”

He continued: “There is little doubt that China will use its massive and modern military force as a deterrent to back up its political ambitions. And while it is true that the People’s Liberation Army has little combat experience, as opposed to the U.S. Armed Forces, it would be most unwise to underestimate its strength.”

He concluded that in this context, “pragmatism is a political necessity,” especially for Europe. “The utopian hope that democracy would spread throughout the world is dead,” he wrote. “This makes it only more important for European countries to assess their policies toward China. The goal is not to exclude Beijing but to support other countries’ international order and sovereignty by expanding economic relations. A stronger European commitment to defense is needed, too.”

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Ana Rosa Quintana

Ana Rosa Quintana

Ana Rosa Quintana is a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee. Previously worked at the Heritage Foundation.

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