By Chensiyuan, edit by DXR - This file was derived from: 1 taipei sunrise panorama 2015.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0,

When a man knows he is about to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully, said Dr. Samuel Johnson.

If there is any benefit to be realized from the collision between China and the U.S. over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposed trip to Taiwan, it is this: America needs to reflect long and hard upon what it is we will fight China to defend in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.

China, after all, is a nuclear-weapons nation with a manufacturing base larger than our own, an economy equal to our own, a population four times ours and fleets of warships larger in number than the U.S. Navy.

An air-naval-and-missile war in the Western Pacific and East Asia would be no cakewalk.

A massive barrage of anti-ship and hypersonic missiles launched by China could cripple and conceivably sink the U.S. carrier Ronald Reagan now in the South China Sea. The Reagan carries a crew of thousands of sailors almost as numerous as the U.S. casualty lists from both Pearl Harbor and 9/11, the worst attacks in and on the U.S. outside of such Civil War battles as Gettysburg and Antietam.

What in East Asia or the Western Pacific would justify such losses?

What would justify such risks?

Since President Richard Nixon’s trip to China, and President Jimmy Carter’s abrogation of the mutual defense treaty with the Republic of China on Taiwan in 1979, the U.S. is not obligated to come to the defense of Taiwan against China, which claims that island the size of Maryland as “part of China.”

Our military posture has been one of “strategic ambiguity.” We will not commit to go to war to defend Taiwan, nor will we take the war option off the table if Taiwan is attacked.

But if the U.S. went to war to defend Taiwan, what would it mean?

We would be risking our own security and possible survival to prevent from being imposed on the island of Taiwan the same regime lately imposed on Hong Kong without any U.S. military resistance.

If Hong Kong, a city of 7 million, can be transferred to the custody and control of Beijing without resistance from the U.S., why should it be worth a major U.S. war with China to prevent that same fate and future from befalling 23 million Taiwanese?

The retort comes instantly.

Allow China to take Taiwan without U.S. resistance, and our treaties to fight for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand become suspect.

Belief in the U.S. commitment to fight for the nations of East Asia and the Western Pacific would dissipate. The entire architecture of Asian defense against Communist China could disintegrate and collapse.

If we allowed Taiwan to be taken by China without intervening, it is argued, the value of U.S. commitments to fight to defend scores of allies in Europe and Asia would visibly depreciate. U.S. credibility would suffer a blow as substantial as the loss of South Vietnam in 1975.

The fall of Saigon was followed by the loss of Laos and Cambodia to communism, the overthrow of the shah, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the strategic transfer of Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Grenada to the Soviet bloc, and the rise of Euro-communism on the Old Continent.

Pelosi’s prospective visit to Taiwan, and the bellicose reaction of Beijing, should raise other relevant questions.

If this should lead to a U.S.-China war, what would we be fighting for? And what would victory look like?

A restoration of the status quo ante? Permanent independence for Taiwan, which would require a new and permanent war guarantee by the U.S. and a new U.S.-Taiwan defense pact?

Would a permanent commitment to fight to defend Taiwan from China be acceptable to an American people weary of commitments and wars?

Again, why would we risk our own peace and security for Taiwan’s freedom and independence, when we would not risk our own peace and security for the freedom or independence of Hong Kong?

And after our victory in the Taiwan Strait, how would we secure indefinitely the independence of that nation of 23 million from a defeated power of 1.4 billion, bitter and bristling at its loss?

Consider: China, in this 21st century, has grown massively, both militarily and economically, and in both real and relative terms, at the expense of the United States.

Nor are the growth trends for China, with four times as many people as there are Americans, favorable to the USA.

What guarantees are there that 2025 or 2030 will not bring a more favorable balance of power for China in what is, after all, their continent, not ours?

Unlike in the Cold War, time is not necessarily on the side of the United States and its allies when all three of the nuclear powers in East Asia — China, Russia, North Korea — are hostile to the USA.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

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1 year ago

Yes it is. We helped the chinese in WW2 and look what happens. Oh well.

1 year ago
Reply to  MikefromTexas

Communists in DC convinced Truman that Chang Kai Check was crooked, so he starved the KMT of weapons and ammo. THAT is why Mao won the fight, no other reason.

1 year ago

Sorry, but what a load of crap…..I do believe that Hong Kong is/was a different case. Did not the transfer happen according to a tready with england, and the time was up, so the transfer occured When china (the reds) defeated the good guys they moved to the island. There NEVER was/is a agreement that it belongs to china. They have no claim over it other then what they wished they had. So much for that…..but if we let them take it,…..then nothing else will be safe….They will just take and take, and that will lead to war or they just might take over the whole world. Remember a so called person named chamberland and what happen when he backed down to hitler. Well same would happen here. Turning the other cheek only works so long. O yes if all those ……..American…..companies had not moved there and kept there production here. we would most likely have had a much larger economy then them.

John in Washington
1 year ago

So, all China, Russia, etc have to do is threaten war and we roll over. Once you start that roll over crap you are finished as a world power.

1 year ago

Looks like we should have bought Canada
And Australia when we had the chance/ and the resources…
We are not going to survive when the whole world is aiming to destroy us…
Hell,…. lately we have been trying to destroy ourselves….
China is going to have us (USA) in their hand-basket if we don’t start stratigizing…

What do do?
Not enough Americans know how to prey anymore….
Run and Hide?
Were doing that already…
An ambassador from the US once told Japan….may we thrive to maintain peace in the Atlantic and all oceans 🙏…
Before They attacked Pearl Harbor ..

Can you be more specific about the content of your article? After reading it, I still have some doubts. Hope you can help me.