The fall of Afghanistan and the chaotic American withdrawal have been a propaganda windfall for autocrats across the world. Nowhere has the perception of American weakness been more trumpeted than in China, where state media outlets run predictions of American decline and warn U.S. allies and partners that they, too, will be abandoned. The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, Global Times, called Afghanistan an “omen” for Taiwan’s fate.
While images from Kabul have damaged U.S. global standing in the short term, Washington can still ensure that its interests are protected over the long term. China’s desire for a coerced unification with Taiwan is no secret. Beijing has increased military, economic and political pressure on Taipei over the past year and shows no sign of easing up. Post-Afghanistan, deterring China from a catastrophic invasion of Taiwan must be the Biden administration’s principal national security objective.