A crumbling global security architecture brings a chilling prospect of the world order where smaller countries can be expendable.
US speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week should not have been exceptional – it merely reaffirmed the right of elected legislators to declare their support for democracy there.
I hope that many more defenders of freedom and democracy will soon follow suit.
Yet the visit was followed by live-fire exercises and naval manoeuvres in the vicinity of Taiwan island. These aggressive military actions have implications far beyond the Taiwan Straits, South China Sea or even the Pacific.
Global security architecture is creaking dangerously. We see attempts to rock the boat of international peace and stability everywhere.
There is a temptation to close the eyes to blatant threats to snuff out one of the most vibrant free societies and progressive democracies in Taiwan.
Can 23 million people, and their aspirations to live in a free democratic society, be considered expendable in order to appease China? For some it may seem like a small price to pay to avoid a major conflict.
But this is based on faulty logic.
Encouraged Russia to launch war
There were those who thought that Ukraine’s legitimate aspirations to be in the EU and Nato could be sacrificed to keep Russia happy after it invaded the country in 2014.
It did not lead to peace but encouraged autocratic Russia to launch the biggest war Europe has seen since the Second World War with tremendous amounts of bloodshed, suffering and destruction – and with no end in sight.
Appeasement does not lead to peace. It encourages tyrants to think the free world is weak and irresolute, and encourages them to start new wars on an even greater scale. We should have learned this after Munich in 1938, we should have remembered those lessons after the invasion of Georgia in Aug 2008, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, but somehow we failed to do so.
This raises a chilling prospect of the world order where smaller countries and millions of people can be expendable to satisfy authoritarian fantasies of grandeur and domination.
The only way to prevent further wars is not to cede an inch of the territory. Cession of ground – real or metaphorical – leads to certainty of war.
Our capacity to maintain strategic attention is being tested by ever new theatres of geopolitical tension and conflict. In the face of these attempts to shake up the global security architecture we have to find in ourselves the strength to safeguard it. We cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. And we have to prepare for the long haul.
A test for the EU
China has been conducting a trade war with Lithuania ever since we became the first EU member to open a Taiwanese representative office under the name Taiwan in summer 2021.
This was a test for the EU and the West at large.
If the global security architecture begins to crumble, if we permit ourselves trade-offs to buy peace, where will it stop?
We need a global order where smaller democracies such as Ukraine, Taiwan or Lithuania, are not expendable.
To prevent this we must send a loud and clear signal now: the free world cannot and will not allow Taiwan to become a second Ukraine.
Open letter of Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Article first time published on The Telegraph.
Cower illustration: A rocket is fired into the Taiwan Strait by China's Eastern Theatre Command during a long-range live-fire drill from an undisclosed location last Thursday. This image was released on August 5, 2022. PLA Eastern Theatre Command handout via Reuters.