Freedom Is Worth Fighting For
For several decades, the social fabric of Taiwan has been weakened by an internal disagreement between those who believe Taiwan is part of China and those who believe that Taiwan is a fully independent nation, completely separate from China. The debate between those favoring unification and those favoring independence has raged for years and at times has become highly personal and destructive to national unity.
From the point of view of Taiwan’s security, the debate has seriously weakened the island’s unity of purpose — and hence Taiwan’s ability to defend itself should the U.S. commitment to the island’s defense become ineffective someday in the future. This social division is a vulnerability Taiwan can little afford; however, it also is a division that perhaps can be healed over time. The key is to focus the attention of everyone on the island away from the unification-independence issue to something more important to all citizens, regardless of what their views might be on the ultimate political relationship with mainland China.
One such unifying concept could be freedom, specifically freedom from the oppressive rule of the Chinese Communist Party. No matter whether one is a member of the Kuomintang or the Democratic Progressive Party, or any of the splinter groups that have emerged over the years, almost no one on Taiwan favors communism as the ideology that should govern the island. Freedom is worth fighting for, and its preservation on Taiwan is a goal all citizens can rally around.
To elevate the concept that freedom is worth fighting for to the level of a national priority would probably require several years of coordinated effort on the part of Taiwan’s most influential leaders in all areas of society. The coordination does not need to be tightly orchestrated; it just needs a consensus that the island’s continued freedom is a more important goal than near-term resolution of unification or independence. If this consensus could be reached among the island’s most influential leaders, then they individually could determine how best to promote the national priority through their networks and specialized means of communications.
It should be kept in mind that one of the main purposes of establishing the concept of freedom is worth fighting for as a national priority is to strengthen Taiwan’s national unity and thereby enhance the island’s security in the face of a persistent PRC threat. Thus, the national priority needs to be actionable, that is, it ought to form the basic goal from which security-related strategies and tactics, programs and projects can be developed to help Taiwan and its people defend their freedoms. This is a whole-of-society approach to national security, so its implementation ought to include efforts on the part of both government and the private sector. The scope of activities that can be done under this approach is large and diverse, as well as creative and evolving. The net effect of these efforts will likely be a more unified and stronger Taiwan in the future.