By Shazia Anwer Cheema
US is selling arms to Taiwan with justification from The State Department that the sales are in line with a longstanding US policy of providing defensive weapons to the island and described the “swift provision” of such arms as being “essential for Taiwan’s security.”
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on September 3, 2022, that the arms package would include 60 anti-ship missiles, 100 air-to-air missiles, and contractor logistics support for a surveillance radar program.
George Lakoff a Cognitive Linguist says that “most of what we understand in public discourse is not in the words themselves but in the unconscious understanding that we bring to the words”. Words as a linguistic unit give a particular denotation but with the process of langue and parole, they change their signification. Semiotically if one word signifies inference A, it may evolve to the level that inference A becomes irrelevant and new novel inferences get attached to it. Let’s take the example of the words “peace and security”, which signifies harmony and rhythm in nature and nurture, however, these words have the tendency of being exploited especially political exploitation. Once peace in a society would have meant brotherhood and no violence but human genius is capable of attaching new inferences with exciting ideas that’s why we see the USA version of the words “peace” and “security”. In US doctrine, linguistic units “peace” and “security” has a special place, during the last two decades the US manage to disassociate old signification of peace by coining new fancy ideas, such as “war for peace”, and “fighting for peace”, peacekeeping soldiers, etc. apparently the word peace is always in opposition to war, arms, conflict however USA’s peacekeeping process is sheer destruction and devastation as we can see in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The point to understand here is how USA’s Political and Military doctrine persuades the masses that waging a war is a peace process and the answer lies in the mechanism of human understanding.
The human brain understands in terms of metaphors, whatever the human mind acquires from embodied experience it is acquired through combinations of words. Words combing with other words create novel ideas, like smooth sailing, bumpy life, true love, kind wind, etc. when two or more linguistic entities combine together they create strange inferences and the human mind accepts them, these connotated inferences are called metaphors, again George Lakoff wrote in his book, Metaphors we live by “The heart of metaphor is inference. Conceptual metaphor allows inferences in sensory-motor domains (e.g., domains of space and objects) to be used to draw inferences about other domains (e.g., domains of subjective judgment, with concepts like intimacy, emotions, justice, and so on). Because we reason in terms of metaphor, the metaphors we use determine a great deal about how we live our lives”.
After delivering peace in the middle east and Afghanistan now USA peace mission has entered Indo-pacific
As cognitive semiotics is my subject and how we create and understand meaning is my quest but the most important phenomenon I am experiencing is how the meaning-making process (cognitive semiotics) is impacting our politics. Coming back to the point of US Politics which relies heavily on diction, unarguably the most relied upon weapons for its hegemonic ventures.
USA’s language engineers since the cold war are reinforcing the importance of society and social norms by compelling us to think of the world as a “global village” and we as members of that closely knitted society must agree upon some shared commitments for the greater good to endure peace. By playing this entire world one village game USA is enchanting the slogan that we must abide by the shared commitment which is in fact imposed commitments to endure. However, how much and to what length we the citizen of the global village must endure in order to attain peace is ambiguous.
There is an important point to be noted why the US after a lull of over 20 years is placing Taiwan again on the global stage?
After delivering peace in the middle east and Afghanistan now USA peace mission has entered Indo-pacific, for every new alignment, cooperation, and commitment, the face statement is always “let us follow our shared commitment for enduring peace”. For ready reference take an example of AKUAS, QUAD, Indo-Pacific Framework, and now Liberation Taiwan, catchphrase remains the same “let us unite soldiers for peace, let us save humanity by bombing them, let us fight for global justice via war crimes, let us sell arms for better society”.
In a public announcement, the US confirmed in 2017 that Taiwan had faced a $14 billion backlog in foreign military sales from the United States. What is the total sale from the US till 2022 has yet not been shared publicly but many Chinese Think Tanks believe that sale could be over $20 billion since the year 2017. However, nobody knows how many weapons have been delivered to Taiwan because the US publically claims that China is blocking delivering of US weapons to Taiwan via sea route. Lara Crouch who is a Republican staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during her talk at the Heritage Foundation panel this August commented that the US needs to start having new legs to fly capability to Taiwan (maybe for delivering weapons through the air route).
We are already facing the consequences of US-led European adventurism of throwing Ukraine and Russia into war and this situation has already played havoc with the food security of the world
There is an important point to be noted why the US after a lull of over 20 years is placing Taiwan again on the global stage? US political investment of opening de facto Taiwan embassies in Eastern Europe, US statements that China is the biggest threat to the US, and Biden’s announcement in his first speech as President that the US would place everything including Middle East engagement and Afghanistan at back burner and only focal point of US would be China are serious developments to be noted. We know the rise of China is the biggest worry and sad development for the US but it does not mean that the world should allow Washington to meddle with global peace once again by igniting another conflict that can become the bloodiest. We are already facing the consequences of US-led European adventurism of throwing Ukraine and Russia into war and this situation has already played havoc with the food security of the world. I am sure that US-led NATO members have done their homework to present Taiwan on the war stage as they placed Ukraine in front of Russia. I believe that the US-led NATO is inclined to engage every rising power in war with its neighboring countries. I fear Türkiye and Qatar would be their next targets because they all are emerging powers in strategically important regions.
In response to selling arms to Taiwan Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, said “It sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and severely jeopardizes China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures in light of the development of the situation.”
After a long time, I am hoping to infer the “peace” and “security” the way it is supposed to be. China is not Afghanistan, the humiliating pack-up of peace and security drama is enough to assess the US deteriorating meddling capability. China is going to be a perfect language teacher for the USA, I am convinced that the time is close when China will help the USA to realign its linguistic inferences by giving new metaphors to peace and security, especially in terms of war.
Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is a Prague-based author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student and researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.