Finally, we have some good news

The news is so depressing lately that it takes nerves of steel to open the newspaper, turn on the TV, or visit an internet news site. However, there is good news out there if you know where to look.

First Item: Taiwan has been jolted awake by the Afghanistan debacle! For months, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has been nervously watching The People’s Republic of China (China) amass and marshal its land and naval assets in a continuing threat to try to conquer the island through military force.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has recently remarked that Taiwan must become stronger, writing on Facebook, “I want to tell everyone that Taiwan’s only option is to make ourselves stronger, more united, and more resolute in our determination to protect ourselves.” However, it was the Biden debacle in Afghanistan that added urgency to Taiwan’s realization that it must build a deterrent.

The August 27 editorial pages of the Taipei Times featured an editorial entitled “Defense Autonomy To Deter China,” which quoted President Tsai saying, “It is not an option for us to do nothing ... and just rely on other people’s protection.” The editorial continued:

It was an uncharacteristically forthright intervention by Tsai, designed to ram home an important truth to the Taiwanese public: The events in Afghanistan demonstrate that Washington will eventually lose patience with any US protectorate or ally that cannot stand on its own two feet or is not prepared to fight for its own survival. Moreover, Taiwan cannot assume that this or any future US administration would muster sufficient political support at home to place US troops in harm’s way to defend a far-flung nation about which the average American knows very little. As Tsai said, Taiwan must improve its defense autonomy. Taiwanese politicians and military planners can no longer assume that the nation only needs to hold out against China for a couple of days and US carrier strike groups would sail over the horizon to the rescue. Not only might this be militarily impossible, given China’s investment in anti-access area denial capabilities — it might also be politically impossible.

The editorial ends on a hopeful note:

It cannot be a coincidence that a source within the Ministry of National Defense last week disclosed a plan to inject an additional NT$200 billion (US$7.16 billion) into indigenous missile defense capabilities to accelerate the mass production of precision and long-range missiles, including hypersonics. This is an astute move that would furnish the military with a potent asymmetric deterrent ahead of schedule, and signal to Washington that Taiwan is serious about defending itself.

The second item of good news is that there were boos heard in Alabama!

To no one’s surprise, Donald Trump’s recent campaign rally in Alabama was a raucous success, with the campaign raking in over a million dollars in contributions. But the high point of the rally was the booing that greeted Trump’s advice to get the vaccination. This was genuinely refreshing because it reminded Trump (and everyone else) that Trumpsters are not mindless robots but thinking beings capable of independent thought.

We can cheerfully grin and bear it as Trump pats Xinnie the Pooh on the rump and declares his love for Chairman Xi all as humorous political theatre so long as he stays firmly tethered to Trumpism: border control, energy independence, China containment, national defense, rule of law, limited government, etc.

However, the boos refreshingly show that Trumpsters are for Trumpism, not necessarily for Trump. They should not be expected to mindlessly bleat approval when the Donald steps out of bounds, such as by promoting the vaccine or when he’s seduced by the swamp sweetly whispering “forever wars.”

Sometimes matters drift along much like a swimmer floating along, unwittingly, in a riptide. It’s only when the swimmer realizes what’s happening that he takes action—and if he acts quickly and appropriately, he can save himself. Both these stories show that Biden’s presidency is forcing people to pay attention, and that’s good news.

Image: Taiwan’s military drills. YouTube screen grab.

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