Jonathan Kraut | Is Taiwan the Next Ukraine?

Jonathan Kraut

As we are reminded every day by the news, Russia continues to press into Ukraine with a military invasion not seen in Europe since World War II. 

The loss of life to both sides of the conflict is devastating and will impact families for generations. Perhaps most haunting are the views by drone cameras of entire towns, urban neighborhoods, and even whole cites utterly destroyed and devoid of human life.  

I place some of the blame for this war on the feeble and cowering positions of the U.S. and NATO. 

In late 2021, U.S. intelligence understood that Vladimir Putin was mobilizing to invade Ukraine. Our response at the time was clear: We as a nation would not stop or directly engage with Russia should they invade. 

This is like waving a white flag and stating to Putin, “Come on in, we won’t stop you.” 

On Dec. 8, Reuters reported that, when asked about “putting American troops on the ground in Ukraine to deter a potential Russian invasion,” President Joe Biden stated that this action was “not on the table.” 

On Feb. 24, as the Russians began their assault, Biden announced “U.S. troops are not and will not be engaged in conflict with Russia in Ukraine.” 

These comments were big mistakes. And these representations were also lies. 

Our position of neutrality was not and is not the case. We have been and are engaged in this war. 

We have seen billions and billions of American dollars in military aid being sent to this day to Ukraine. U.S. troops are training Ukrainian soldiers, albeit in neighboring countries, on how to use the U.S. artillery, U.S. anti-tank weapons, and U.S. munitions we are donating to fight off the Russians. 

Even our intelligence information is being shared with Ukraine. This information is key to Ukrainian survival. 

We have been and are engaged with the conflict with Russia. 

I believe we and NATO should have told the Russians back in December that if Russia invaded, we would actively provide military aid, intelligence, and even consider the deployment of missiles and air sorties to help protect Ukraine from invasion. 

If we had the courage to do so and state our defense of Ukraine, the Russian invasion of its neighbor would have been quelched. 

Just a few days ago President Biden accurately announced the U.S. would protect Taiwan if invaded by the People’s Republic of China, i.e. Communist China. 

Regarding Biden’s statement on May 23, the Guardian wrote, “The U.S. president said the U.S. would “get involved militarily” to defend Taiwan if it came under attack from China. The answer was interpreted by some as an indication of a major policy shift. However, within minutes the State Department began walking back the comments, and Biden himself clarified on Tuesday that there was no change to US policy. 

Biden stated the truth the first time: We will come to the aid of Taiwan. This is not a shift in policy, only a shift in rhetoric.  

Why should Biden later have backed off? China’s fake outraged should be ignored.  

China has for years asserted that Taiwan, a separate and independent nation for over 70 years, is owned by Communist China. Recall Communist China formed in 1949, years after Taiwan had become an independent nation in 1945. 

Taiwan is not owned by China. The fact that people of Chinese heritage live on the island does not cede control and ownership to Communist China. 

We could make the same argument regarding American neighborhoods that have formed in parts of Mexico and Costa Rica. Because American retirees form local communities in another country does not mean the host country should surrender sovereignty to the U.S. 

Ukraine is a democracy populated by those who speak a language many say is more closely related to Polish than Russian. Taiwanese is a language distinctive from Mandarin and other Chinese dialects. 

Making either the language or heritage argument is ludicrous. 

Who says we can’t come to the defense of other democracies when invaded by an aggressive neighbor? Why do we back down when a bully such as China or Russia make outrageous claims? 

I would like the introduction of the Biden Doctrine: That the U.S. will militarily defend a democracy from invasion when asked simply by a democracy for help. If we do so, I believe NATO and our allies will join us in protecting the innocent and vulnerable. 

Let’s step up and admit we will protect others. 

Let’s prevent Taiwan from being another Ukraine. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations. 

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