For What Should We Fight Russia or China?
Apparently, if Manila uses force to assert its claims and expel the Chinese, then we will fight beside our Philippine allies. This amounts to a war guarantee of the kind that forced the British to declare war on Germany in 1939 over the invasion of Poland.
Two weeks ago, 20 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone in the largest incursion yet by Beijing over the waters between Taiwan and Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands. As national security correspondent Bill Gertz writes in today's Washington Times:
"China is stepping up provocative activities targeting regional American allies in Asia ... with an escalating number of military flights around Taiwan and the massing of more than 200 fishing ships near a disputed Philippines reef.
"China also raised tensions with Japan, announcing last week that Tokyo must drop all claims to the disputed Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited island chain that Japan has administered for decades but that Beijing recently claimed as its territory.
"The most serious provocation took place March 29. An exercise by the People's Liberation Army air force that included 10 warplanes flew into Taiwan's air defense zone is what analysts say appeared to be a simulated attack on the island. It came just three days after an earlier mass warplane incursion."
While China appears clear about its aims and claims to virtually all of the islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea as well as Taiwan -- it is less clear about its intentions as to when to validate those claims.
As for the U.S., does the present foggy ambiguity as to what we may or may not do as China goes about asserting its claims serve our vital interests in avoiding war with the greatest power on the largest continent on earth?
If red lines are to be laid down, they ought to be laid down by the one constitutional body with the authority to authorize or declare war -- Congress. And questions need to be answered to avoid the kinds of miscalculations that led to horrific world wars in the 20th century.
Are the reefs and rocks the Philippines claim in the South China Sea, claims contradicted by China, covered by the U.S. mutual security treaty of 1951? Are we honor-bound to fight China on behalf of the Philippines, if Manila attempts to reclaim islets China occupies?
What is our obligation if China moves to take the Senkakus? Would the United States join Japan in military action to hold or retrieve them?
What, exactly, is our commitment to Taiwan if China attempts to blockade, invade or seize Taiwan's offshore islands?
John F. Kennedy in the second debate with Richard Nixon in 1960 wrote off Quemoy and Matsu in the Taiwan Strait as indefensible and not worth war with Mao's China.
With its warnings and threats, China is forcing America to address questions we have been avoiding for about as long as we can.
China is saying that it is not bluffing: These islands are ours!
Time to show our cards.
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 www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.