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U.S. Think Tanks Debate ‘Is Taiwan Indefensible?’

May 22, 2021 (EIRNS)—Foreign Affairs magazine is continuing a debate series with “Intelligence Squared Debates” on major foreign policy issues in an effort to create “comity” in the foreign policy debate. Defending the thesis that Taiwan, indeed, is indefensible, was Lyle Goldstein from the U.S. Naval War College and Charles Glaser, Director, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University. Arguing against was Elbridge Colby, the grandson of CIA Director William Colby and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Trump and now at the Center for a New American Security, and Elizabeth Larus, political science department chair at the University of Mary Washington.

Goldstein defended the thesis quite effectively, being the most versed in Chinese military thinking and strategy and military capabilities. Glaser was namby-pamby but was frightened enough to end up on the right side of this debate. Colby was making the argument that defending Taiwan was possible and that a military conflict over Taiwan would not necessarily lead to nuclear war between China and the U.S. He also pushed the line that China wanted to dominate the region, saying that if it succeeded in taking over Taiwan, it would then move to take the Philippines, Japan and other countries in the region. Goldstein had to roll his eyes at this take on the old “domino theory” which was the excuse for the U.S. war in Vietnam. He also countered Colby that the very basis of the U.S. relations with China was the acceptance of the thesis that there was only one China and that Taiwan was a part of it. Without that, the relationship becomes moot, and that in itself can lead to war.

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