Bad Ideas for U.S. Policy in Asia
Joseph Bosco makes a number of questionable proposals about U.S. policy in Asia, and this one makes the least sense of all:
Washington also needs to discard its policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding its commitment to defend Taiwan against China’s stated intention to take the island by force if necessary.
This suggestion is tacked on near the end of the piece, so there is no explanation of why the U.S. “needs” to do any such thing. Would it make Taiwan more secure to make an explicit security guarantee? It is hard to see how it would. Since this would represent a departure from existing U.S. policy, it might not be taken seriously, or it might be perceived as a shift to a more aggressive posture on our part. Either way, such a move would almost certainly heighten tensions between the U.S. and China, and that is unlikely to make the region more stable or Taiwan more secure.
Taken together with Bosco’s other proposed “red lines,” it would represent a more confrontational policy towards China at a time when the U.S. should want to be discouraging its allies and other states in the region from taking hard-line positions in their territorial disputes. The U.S. should honor the treaty commitments that it has, but that doesn’t require the U.S. to do any of what Bosco suggests. What Bosco proposes is to make U.S. policy a hostage to disputes over rocks in the ocean in which Americans have absolutely nothing at stake. More to the point, doing as he suggests could encourage allied governments to become more intransigent in their dealings with China, thereby turning manageable disagreements into possible triggers for conflict.