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Monday, June 27, 2022

National interest: Europe is an opportunity for the United States to avoid war in Asia

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Former Deputy Secretary of State AI Wes Mitchell, in an article in the US magazine “National Interest”, discusses the relationship between Taiwan and Ukraine and says that the fastest way to motivate Chinese President Xi Jinping to invade Taiwan is not to deal firmly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. .

If the United States and its allies fail to harm a second-tier economic power like Russia, China may conclude that the West will have less influence over it.

And if the US and its allies can inflict enough pain on Putin after his Ukraine adventure, Xi might conclude, at least for the foreseeable future, that it’s not worth the risk, given its consequences.

It may seem inconsequential, because every effort the United States makes in Europe would seem unavailable in Asia. In a military sense, the United States needs to secure enough strength to deal with China if the latter is going to use Ukraine to advance on Taiwan.

In the current crisis, China is keeping a close eye on two things. The first, and most important, is Russia’s military performance.

Like Russia, China has spent the last few years applying the lessons learned from the US military’s attacks in the Balkans and Iraq, and how to build up its forces.

Ukraine is the first display of these results against a serious opponent. By helping Ukraine inflict heavy losses on the invaders, the United States and its allies are demonstrating the dangers of a great power in a long-running conflict on hostile territory. The same can happen in Taiwan.

Economic performance
The second thing is that Beijing is watching Russia’s economic performance. As with Moscow, China was threatened with crippling sanctions if it tried to invade Taiwan. Much more than the commodity economy Russia depends on, China is intertwined with the global economy and therefore vulnerable to disruptions to its trade flow.

If the United States and its allies fail to harm a second-tier economic power like Russia, China may conclude that the West will have less influence over it.

In this context, US President Joe Biden was right when he said before the invasion that “great powers don’t cheat”.

And if the United States threatens catastrophic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, they had better be truly catastrophic, because the credibility of the United States as the leader of the financial system is at stake by punishing widespread aggression. The United States only has one chance to prove its credibility, and that is Ukraine.

The good news is that Ukraine has provided the United States and its allies with the opportunity to act decisively not only to deal with the situation inside Ukraine, but also to prevent any moves against Taiwan that could escalate into a global conflict.

The effect of Putin’s brutality in mobilizing Europeans to shoulder the defense burden was a game-changer in US global strategy.

With Germany spending more on defense in the next few years than Russia will spend $110 billion versus $62 billion, the US will be able to focus its conventional forces on deterring China.

In short, the United States must act decisively now, in a way that is not limited to the “now.” The United States has a chance in Europe to avoid a war in Asia.


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