What US retreat from Afghanistan means for Taiwan

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2021-09-17 16:41:48

By Chen Shiliang

Ever since the US began to pull its troops out of Afghanistan, the narrative “today’s Afghanistan, tomorrow’s Taiwan” has been spreading on the island, which seems to show that people on the Taiwan island have not only been terribly disappointed at the US but also confused about Taiwan’s fate. In response, Taiwan leaderTsai Ing-wensaid at a video conference of the Democratic Progressive Party(DPP) that “Taiwan’s only option is to make itself stronger, more united, and more determined to protect itself.” Is that all she has learned from America’s disgraced pullout from Afghanistan?

America’s “national interests” are the main source of world turmoil. The two world wars made America extremely rich and sent it to take Britain’s place as the world hegemon with superior economic and military strengths. Since then, to cement itself in that position, the US, in disregard of the UN-centered international system and the basic norms governing international relations with the UN Charter as the cornerstone, has taken it upon itself to play the “world cop” and crazily plundered resources worldwide and interfered in other countries’ internal affairs by hook and crook.

Incomplete statistics show that the US has built 374 military bases of various sizes in over 140 countries and regions across the globe, with about 300,000 troops consistently stationed there, which gives it the perfect reason to charge the host countries and regions “protection fees.” Since the 1950s, the US has successively launched the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraqi War, Libyan War, Kosovo War, and Afghan War, leaving tens of millions of refugees homeless and some countries still devastated with their people living in dire misery and poverty.

Take US invasion of Afghanistan. The US has spent 20 years and threw more than USD 2 trillion intothe war in Afghanistan, but what has this most protracted war in US history left? It’s the prolonged and tremendous financial burden on the US, enduring unrest and aggravating terrorism in Afghanistan, and an abyss of disasters and tribulations for the Afghan people. The scrambled withdrawal from Afghanistan signified America’s total failure in the country, and it also threw the country into a severe humanitarian crisis. The ongoing turbulence in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan today is totally and entirely the making of the US and the wars it has waged.

Taiwan is just a “card” played by the US against China, which can be abandoned based on the situation. There is the voice that the US ended its Afghan War to concentrate on containing China. With China’s growing economic and national strengths in recent years, it has acquired more and broader influence globally, which Washington sees as a serious challenge to its dominant position. Therefore, it will take China as another main rival after the Soviet Union, Japan, and the EU and leave no stone unturned to suppress it.

With such a mindset, Washington naturally takes Taiwan as an important card against China. It has sent senior officials to visit the island, sold it more weapons and equipment, and dispatched numerous military vessels and aircraft to flex muscles across the Taiwan Strait in the name of the so-called “freedom of navigation,”operations, or FONOPs, with the sole purpose of countering China with the “Taiwan card.”

At the end of the day, Taiwan, Afghanistan, and those allies that were once used but later easily betrayed or abandoned by the US for the sake of its national interests are no more than a chess piece on America’s board. Once they conflict with its national interests, who can say that Washington won’t discard Taiwan the same way it had discarded Afghanistan?

(The author is President of the Shanghai Institute for Public Relations.)

Editor's note: This article is originally published on taiwan.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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