torsdag 26. august 2021

John Bolton and Derik R. Zitelman: Why Taiwan Matters to the United States

Amidst talk of U.S.-China competition, Taiwan too often devolves into a policy football, a subset object at the prey of larger geopolitical forces. Calls to make an explicit security guarantee for Taiwan, maintain the status quo, or even abandon the island cannot exist apart from U.S.-China competition. While reducing a vibrant island of 23 million to a policy point may be an invariable fact of statecraft, Taiwan is not simply an entry onto the balance of power ledger. Nor are simple Cold War analogies able to frame American interests in Taiwan vis-a-vis China in light of U.S.-China trade and modern competition.

Below we seek to rectify this simplification by analyzing what exact interest the U.S. has in Taiwan and how such interest should compute in U.S.-China statecraft, especially over the next critical decade. We conclude that Taiwan’s geopolitical position and economy, while important, are not critical to American interests in East Asia. However, Taiwan’s status as a vibrant, autonomous democracy is critical and an American interest.