Strategic ambiguity is dead, long live strategic ambiguity: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

How many times does the President of the United States of America have to say the same thing before the DC press corps, American academia, think tankers, and officialdom stop branding it as a “gaffe”?

Washington DC chattering class and their parlor games notwithstanding, I assume this simple statement of fact surprises zero leaders in Beijing and Taipei. The flashy headlines are about committing American fighting women and men in defense of Taiwan – the strategic clarity of American policy has always been that the United States of America and its allies will not tolerate the changing of the “status quo” between communist China and democratic Taiwan by force. Nor will the US accept unilateral changes to the status quo by any party.

The worrisome aspect is not that President Biden has now stated this simple fact four times, or that the DC foreign policy luminaries do the hysteria meltdowns they always do on the Twitters. It is signs from Japan, the US, and other democratic allies that a Chinese communist invasion to annex Taiwan is no longer theoretical. Strategic ambiguity is being erased not because America is choosing it, but because Chinese communist clarity is forcing the issue. This is why President Tsai needed to demarcate the international borders between the PRC and ‘RoC’Taiwan and its democratic sovereignty on October 10, 2021. This is why former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needed to declare that a crisis for Taiwan is a crisis for Japan, and hence a crisis for the United States. And this is why President Biden has had to declare America’s military defense of Taiwan four times.

As someone with many relatives in Taiwan, I’d say for most democratic citizens of Taiwan, though they may be grateful for any foreign assistance, the point is not for American soldiers to fight for Taiwan, but to have a comprehensive, global democratic effort to deter and prevent Beijing from starting a war – without Taiwan giving up its democratic sovereignty. Strategic ambiguity may have made sense – sort of – four decades ago – but ultranationalist and controversial dictator Xi Jinping has removed its utility. What comes next – in the interest of democracy and peace in the Indo-Pacific, the vast majority of the US media, academia, and think tank hot takes on Twitters are beside the point. Do we have good enough intelligence on Beijing’s plans and intentions? Are US, Japan, Taiwan, and other democratic allies properly supplied, trained, and coordinated to respond to a Chinese invasion? Are the US, Japan, and EU properly communicating to the Chinese communists the price for an unwise war of choice? If the brave citizens of democratic Ukraine have taught us nothing else, it is that letting a barbarous dictatorship initiate an invasion is a failure for all democracies. 20.9.2022

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