No sooner had the ink dried on George Washington University professor Charles Glaser’s attemped slam dunk against Taiwan – in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine – than two rebuttals in equally-influential publications slamming Glaser’s glazed potshots surfaced.
Writing in ‘The Diplomat‘, James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, both associate professors of strategy at the US Naval War College, said that ceding territory to land-hungry powers, as Glaser opined in “Foreign Affairs”, was a “morally bankrupt enterprise” that can only represent a temporary fix.
J. Michael Cole, deputy news editor of the Taipei Times, frontpaged the two rebuttals.
He noted that while “Glaser said that to avoid a costly arms race between the US and China and to ensure Beijing’s cooperation on a number of disputes in Asia, Washington should accommodate Beijing by backing away from its security commitment to Taiwan” — and that when a power has “limited territorial goals,” meeting those demands might not lead to further demands, but rather reduced tensions – Holmes and Yoshihara wrote in “Getting Real About Taiwan” that “‘buying peace with land has been tried many times before – with ephemeral results at best.”
“The United States should make every effort to enlist China as co-guarantor of the international system over which it has presided since 1945 – a system that benefits all stakeholders in globalisation, including China and fellow Asian nations,” Holmes and Yoshihara added.
While Washington should not pay any price for an Asia-Pacific entente, Holmes and Yoshihara wrote, “Glaser apparently would. He terms Taiwan a ‘less-than-vital’ US interest. In international relations-speak, that means an interest for which the United States shouldn’t fight.”
“The island and its residents – US friends of long standing – would be the most obvious casualty of this effort to create a new normal in East Asia,” they wrote, Cole noted, adding that ”sympathy for stricken friends aside, morality should not be the only consideration for the US.”
“It’s far from clear that trading the [democratic] island [nation] away would stabilise broader Sino-US relations or Asian security,” Holmes and Yoshihara wrote. “Taiwan has long served as a literal and figurative cork in China’s bottle, riveting Beijing’s attention on the cross-strait stalemate while complicating north-south movement along the Asian seaboard and access to the Western Pacific.”
Enter the Wall Street Journal, where US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said there were both moral and strategic reasons for the United States standing by Taiwan, its longtime ally, pointing to partnerships on research, design and manufacturing technology between the two nations upon which US firms have come to rely.
“The recent severing of Chinese rare earth exports to Japan should focus minds on supply-chain security and how reliable we feel our business partners are, particularly when intellectual property is involved,” Hammond-Chambers wrote in an article titled “Time to Straighten Out America’s Taiwan Policy.”
So it’s Glaser 1, Holmes, Yoshihara and Hammond-Chambers 2. Stay tuned. More re-rebuttals and re-re-rebuttals are coming soon. It’s a never-ending story and it’s all Strait talk.