He wouldn’t dare.
That was the prevailing wisdom of far too many Washington strategists as they watched Vladimir Putin threaten the people of Ukraine. They changed their tune when Putin turned to weapons so gruesome the Geneva Convention forbade their existence.
Russia’s continued assault on Ukrainian sovereignty is a brutal rebuke of Western naïveté toward governments that do not play by our rules and do not wish us well. Officials in the United States and Europe are wringing their hands over collapsed food and energy supply chains even as they deny that the standard diplomatic template has empowered our adversaries.
Now, Xi Jinping is exploiting this weakness against Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party insists their aggression is a proportionate response to Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the island, and many of those same strategists who blame Zelenskyy for Putin’s crimes have lined up to blame anyone but Xi for the missiles flying toward Taiwan’s coast.
For decades, global leaders and pundits have enabled this insanity, some to avoid rocking the diplomatic boat, others to gain access to the goldmine that is the Chinese market. The COVID-19 pandemic finally exposed how economic entanglement and outsourced supply chains have made the United States vulnerable to CCP influence, yet in more than two years we’ve seen no sincere attempt to change the status quo. Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and the Democratic rank and file are backed into a corner and have made themselves comfortable there.
In the summer of 2020, my legislation dedicated to securing critical supply chains earned bipartisan support because everyone understood the danger we were in. This month, the Democrats’ best attempt at a “China competitiveness bill” ended in a multi hundred-billion-dollar boondoggle that does more to subsidize the environmental lobby than it does to unravel semiconductor manufacturers from Chinese suppliers. The White House’s embarrassing reaction to Pelosi’s visit stemmed not from any real fear for her safety, but from their collective panic at the prospect of confronting Xi.
This isn’t responsible diplomacy—it’s a hostage situation, and the American people are saddled with leaders too weak-kneed to save us. I am on the ground in Taipei this week because we can no longer afford to let the Chinese Communist Party write our foreign policy. For decades, any nation with enough power to challenge Beijing has begged others to speak up.
These reactions are divorced from reality. The world has spent a solid half century fleeing moral clarity in favor of appeasement, and what has that gotten us? Concentration camps, atrocities, missiles in the sky, and a dangerously entangled economy. The only way we will stop and reverse Beijing’s quest for global dominance is by demonstrating our resolve to ensure they fail.
Silence is no longer an option—we need to get in their way. This means defending the Uyghurs and the dissidents, repatriating our supply chains and helping our allies do the same, sending Taiwan the supplies and training they need to defend themselves, strengthening our presence in the Indo-Pacific, and—at the very least—not turning the plane around when Xi Jinping objects to our travel plans.