Flexible bedrock foreign policy principles…

Could things be changing in the Taiwan Straits? Well, our overdue visit to our comrades from Eurasia over at Pravda gives us this examination of that question. The piece notes that in a somewhat unusual move, the United States has rather vociferously taken sides, this time with Beijing, to tell the “independence minded” in Taiwan to… shut up.
Basically, the official fiction is that China and Taiwan are, were, and always will be, one country, with Taiwan in effect “a renegade province”. This is why Taiwan was kicked out of the U.N. (the KMT government of Chiang Kai-Shek, based on Taiwan, had held China’s seat– and Security Council veto– until the 1970’s), must march in the Olympics as “Chinese Taipei,” and otherwise has a sort of unique non-country country diplomatic status. Of course, the pragmatists among us would say that if Taiwan is, de facto, a free, prosperous, independent democracy, who really cares about nonsense like “international standing”? (Ask Israel the same question!)
Taking a quick look at our comrades over in Eastasia, the Beijing House Organ People’s Daily gives us this analysis of where the PRC feels Sino-American relations should be going… note words like “maturity” and “pragmatism”.
What does this mean? The fact is, we are working with China and Russia, both of whom have U.N.S.C. vetoes, nuclear weapons, and great influence in the world, over our seemingly (and probably actually) intractable problems of North Korea, and more relevant immediately, Iran. As Jim Henley sometimes notes, we have been hellbent on showing the world that the aura of American invincibility can be undermined by irregular guerrillas and home-made roadside explosives. The reality is, our Iraqi adventure has sapped us financially and strategically. We simply do not have the means to project force in a credible manner.
It’s that bugaboo again: we actually have to depend on the kindness of strangers, or “our allies” simply because we don’t have the money or the raw power to impose our will on either North Korea or Iran.
While some may believe in American unilateralism, its effectiveness has been shown to be… of limited value. We are still a superpower in the third and fourth worlds, but that’s about the best we’ll do, and uppity countries there (see Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of and Iran, Islamic Republic of) give us a run for our money.
Oh… did we mention that our Defense Department spends hundreds of billions of dollars developing yesterday’s conventional weapons for the hypothetical wars of tomorrow with… China? At the same time that China is our fastest growing international creditor, and the country to whom we have the largest trade deficit? And, of course, we need Chinese and Russian cooperation to deal with North Korea and Iran. Got all that?
Let’s just say that all things told, it’s a darned good thing for the Taiwanese that they can defend themselves, if they have to.