Should the U.S. Military Intervene in Taiwan? A Soho Forum Debate

Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston debates former State Department diplomat Peter Van Buren


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Should the United States use military force to deter China from invading Taiwan?

That was the subject of this month's Soho Forum debate, which took place in front of a full house at the Sheen Center in downtown Manhattan.

William Galston, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Brookings Institution and a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, defended the resolution. He argued that the U.S. should use all the tools at its disposal to deter foreign powers from engaging in conflict with their neighbors, with the ultimate goal of preventing an outright war such as the one we are witnessing in Europe. 

Peter Van Buren, who spent 24 years working as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department, took the negative. He argued that Americans rarely have the context or understanding to intervene productively in foreign conflicts, and that more often than not, what looks like deterrence to one party looks like provocation to the other. Invoking the many years of experience he gained as a State Department diplomat stationed in Asia, he stated confidently that there would be no invasion of Taiwan by China either soon or in the distant future.  

The debate was moderated by Soho Forum director Gene Epstein.

Narrated by Nick Gillespie; intro edited by John Osterhoudt

Photos: event photography by Brett Raney; CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom; Kyodo/Newscom; Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Jameson Wu/EyePress News EyePress/Newscom; Ju Peng Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; TOM WALKER/UPI/Newscom