The people of Taiwan have delivered a stunning rebuke to China. They
have elected Chen Shui-bian to be Taiwan’s next president. With great
national courage and dignity, they have chosen their president despite
threats from the Chinese communists — threats of war and invasion.
It is no small matter to oppose the Asian communists. They have
killed tens of millions in the 20th century. They have conquered and
subjugated China, Tibet, Laos, Cambodia and the Republic of Vietnam.
They have launched unprovoked attacks against India and South Korea. It
is no small thing to oppose Asian communists. And now Taiwan has defied
them. Will America come to Taiwan’s defense, or will we force Taiwan to
The outcome is entirely in our hands.
There are voices today — from the right and the left — who say that
America should not defend other countries against communist aggression.
It is not our business, they argue, to protect civilization against
barbarians armed with weapons of mass destruction. Let the world take
care of itself.
Imagine what this would mean. In the present crisis Taiwan would be
left to face China alone. In terms of raw strength, China has 10 times
the military force of Taiwan. And China is a nuclear power with
hundreds of missiles. Taiwan by itself would not stand a chance.
Of course, we have abandoned Asian countries to communism before.
Once upon a time the United States Congress cut off all support to the
Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and that army collapsed. We also
abandoned Cambodia, where millions died at the hands of Pol Pot, who
liquidated the entire Cambodian middle class.
These disasters could have been averted. But many Americans,
including Bill Clinton, argued that it was wrong to defend Southeast
Was it wrong?
Could freedom in Europe or Asia survive without American support?
The answer to this question is obvious. If not for American fleets and
armies, there would be no free countries in Europe or Asia. As it
happens, small democratic countries cannot hold out against large and
heavily armed countries. As a matter of fact, in 1940 Europe’s
democracies — with few exceptions — were overrun by Hitler.
But are we responsible for defending the free world?
Either America defends the free world or the free world is not
defended. If not for American resolve and commitment in this regard,
the countries of the free world would be gobbled up, one by one.
What about giving the responsibility to other democratic countries?
Neither the British nor the French have the military strength or
economic capacity to face China and Russia. Germany and Japan are not
viable candidates either. Since their defeat in the Second World War,
they have been reduced to mere commercial enclaves.
So that leaves America. Either America forges alliances in support
of the world’s democracies, or it abandons them to their fate.
Regardless of what the optimists claim, this is the situation. Unless
Russia and China stop building up for a future war, unless they stop
arming rogue states like North Korea and Iraq, the United States will
have to continue its defense of the free world.
Of course, some Americans don’t care what happens to the rest of the
world. They want us to retreat from what they call “entangling
alliances.” They argue that George Washington and the Founding Fathers
anticipated today’s crisis. But the Founding Fathers knew nothing of
the future. They did not foresee a world in which gangsters and
murderers would aim nuclear missiles at America. Moscow and Beijing
have been laying the foundations of our destruction. Has this been
The courageous Chinese dissident, Harry Wu, once told me, “The
Chinese communists are your enemy.”
Retreat is not an option. In the last analysis, there is no place we
can retreat that is safe.
In early 1942 Hitler’s generals wanted to retreat. In those days the
German army was suffering from frostbite and exhaustion. One general
after another asked permission to give ground. Hitler would ask them a
simple set of questions: “Is it any warmer 50 miles back? Can you take
all your heavy equipment with you? Will it be any easier to defend
yourself after a long retreat?”
Americans should ask a similar question today: Will the fall of
Taiwan make our overall position stronger or weaker? In this context,
the many small democracies that exist across the globe form a defensive
barrier. These countries provide us with bases. They also have forces
of their own, which can be added to ours.
Some Americans complain about fighting wars in distant lands. It is
better, they argue, to fight on one’s own soil. This same reasoning
suggests, as well, that we don’t need a navy, that we should not build
long-range bombers or missiles. The only good war, after all, would be
fought on the U.S. mainland — so all these weapons that are made to
fight in distant places are no good.
How short sighted!
It is better to fight our defensive wars in distant lands than in the
rubble of our own cities. It is better to lose 100 thousand lives
defending Taiwan than 100 million defending the American heartland. And
besides these practical considerations, there is also the question of
our moral obligation.
If you see a baby crawling toward a busy highway at night, what is
your responsibility? Some might say that the child’s fate is none of
your business. After all, where are the baby’s parents? But this
question does not get you off the hook. Anyone who passively watches a
baby crawl onto a highway is a moral monster.
America is the only country that can save Taiwan from destruction.
Wouldn’t it be monstrous for us to sit back and do nothing? Wouldn’t it
be vile to push Taiwan toward accommodation and surrender?
If we are a good country, if we are decent people, we have no
choice. We must defend Taiwan.