The Ukraine-Taiwan Dilemma: Part 1

By Dr. John Bruni 


Having recently read George Friedman’s analysis on why there will not be a war between Ukraine and Russia or between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), The Unlikelihood of a War with China and Russia,[1] has made me reflect on some of the writings I’ve done on this topic in SAGE International’s 2020 report on the power dynamics of the Indo-Pacific[2] as well as within my LinkedIn network on both these issues.

Firstly, I cannot stress enough that war is the last resort of both the ignorant and the brash. Few ever win such contests since the unintended consequences of war is to alter the very fabric of strategic reality usually to the detriment of all combatants.

Politics drives war and if a state were to choose this option, it is usually a sign of desperation, reflecting the ephemeral hold politicians have over their people and a failure of competent statecraft.

For autocratic states, usually but not always run by men, war is a sign of masculinity and/or national strength which plays well to domestic constituents in these states. We see this in the bravado of the likes of Putin, Xi and Erdogan, the patriarchal figures of their respective countries – defenders of the faith and of their nationalities. But of course, whether autocratic or democratic – this political Ying and Yang of the international community will always remain. Humankind cannot live in the light without the darkness being manifest somewhere. And war is the deepest expression of humankind’s desire to own, destroy, dominate or seek vengeance for past wrongs. Knowing this, let us revisit the main points that Friedman makes about the ‘unlikelihood of war’ between Russia and the Ukraine.

[1] Friedman G., The Unlikelihood of a War with China and Russia, Geopolitical Futures, April 14, 2021

[2] Bruni J, Olney D.O., Jain P.C., Ludwig J.Z. & Tyrrell P.J., The strategic implications of changing dynamics and regional partnerships on major power competition in the Indo-Pacific, Ovato Press, Melb., Vic., 2020

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