The Other Israel
Israel, through no fault of its own, is a pariah nation almost completely surrounded by larger nations that do not even recognize the existence of the State of Israel. Iran routinely refers to Israel as the "Little Satan," and European nations typically take overtly anti-Israeli policies to curry favor with Islam. Yet Israel is not alone in being disparaged for no reason other than that it is small and its enemies are large.
Taiwan, the Republic of China, is a free land that has political and civil values precisely like what we ought to want the rest of the world to have. Freedom House has only two nations in Asia stretching from Sinai to Sakhalin listed as "Free," Japan and Taiwan, which has a freer press than even Israel or South Korea. The contrast between Taiwan and most nations in Asia is as stark as the contrast between Israel and the nations surrounding it in west Asia and north Africa.
Freedom House gives Taiwan the "1" rating (the highest rating) for political rights and "2" for civil rights, exactly the same rating as Israel. China, by contrast, is listed as "unfree," the worst category, and it has a "7" rating (the lowest rating) for political rights and a "6" (the second lowest rating) for civil rights.
Taiwan is a prosperous land, despite the absence of natural resources. The island's per capita GDP is $47,000 per year – higher than Germany or France or Canada – and just as Taiwan is as free and democratic as Israel, Taiwan is as prosperous as Israel, despite, like Israel, having no real wealth except the diligence and intelligence of its people.
The per capita income in China is that is 30% of the per capita income in Taiwan. The per capita income of Jordan and Egypt, to pick two peaceful nations as close to Israel as China is to Taiwan, is 30% of the per capita income of Israel. Indeed, Taiwan has a high per capita income than any nation in Asia – including Japan and South Korea – except Singapore.
Taiwan has no fewer than five political parties with seats in its national legislature and ten parties with seats in municipal or county government. Tsai Ing-wen, elected like Trump earlier this year, was the first woman to be elected president of the Taiwan, and real feminists (there aren't any, of course) would be thrilled that Trump talked to her when Obama and Hillary did not.
Our attitude toward Taiwan reeks of the same sort of sick double standard we are used to seeing in how nations that ought to know better deal with Israel. Both states represent the answer to virtually all our national security and diplomatic problems. Indeed, Taiwan and Israel are, in a practical sense, our two best allies in the world.
But there is another reason to celebrate rather than timidly skirt around the success of Taiwan and Israel. The transformation of the rest of Asia and Africa into countries that embrace civil rights, democracy, peaceful prosperity, and friendly relations with all who will be friendly in return is the precise solution to the problems of the world.
If the rest of west Asia and Africa had the levels of freedom and liberty and prosperity that exist in Israel, our problem with global terrorism would largely vanish as the liberated peoples in these lands found better use for their sons and daughters than as suicide bombers. If the Pacific Basin from the shores of Asia to the coast of Latin America had the levels of freedom and liberty and prosperity that exist in Taiwan, the flood of illegal aliens across our southern border would slow to a tickle as these people found in their native lands a good place to live.
President Trump ought to continue what he seems to have started: not shrinking from our true and most logical friends in the world, Taiwan and Israel, but rather publicly recognizing the truth that these nations are models, not pariahs, and that despite daunting obstacles and enemies, both of these nations work in the way we wish all other nations worked.