This week in Say More, PS talks with Ian Buruma, the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War II.
Project Syndicate: You have argued that preventing the further spread of China’s authoritarian model is a key reason why the United States must defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression. But if, as you have also observed, “the sun is setting” on the post-World War II era of Pax Americana, how can and should America counter an authoritarian power like China (and Russia) and defend democracy more broadly?
Ian Buruma: Taiwan is important for several reasons. If China gained control over the Taiwan Strait, the security of Japan and South Korea would be severely compromised. This would almost certainly lead to a nuclear-arms race in East Asia. Moreover, Taiwan is also the only democratic Chinese countermodel to the dictatorship in the People’s Republic of China. As long as Taiwan remains free, no one can argue – as PRC propaganda attempts to do – that liberal democracy and Chinese culture are incompatible.
The US can help to defend its liberal-democratic allies, first, by getting its own house in order. The US cannot defend democratic values anywhere else if it embraces the “America First” ethos spearheaded by Donald Trump.
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