U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno met with commanders of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing, China, Feb. 21, 2014. Gen. Odierno, spoke with different Chinese commanders to strengthen and promote military to military relations between the United States and China. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle/Released)

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NATO Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg says the security concerns of the Western military alliance and Japan are “closely interconnected.” Accordingly, for the first time both Japan and South Korea are attending the NATO Summit at Vilnius, as is Australia.

Taiwan, of course, was not invited even as an observer.  Allowing Taiwan to attend might offend the pro-China players in Europe and many in the Biden administration. But how is it possible to have some kind of NATO coverage for Japan and Korea and not for Taiwan?

Taiwan is a big part of the problem in the Far East, although everyone that matters treats the island nation as a pariah. This is despite the fact that Taiwan is a stunningly vibrant democracy and a technology powerhouse.

Meanwhile, the US secretary of state went to China to be humiliated and Janet Yellen, because China needs her, managed to bow and scrape obsequiously in front of Chinese officials, and probably is giving away the store without getting paid.

The Chinese, however, are keeping up their military harassment of Taiwan every day, probably because nobody in Washington told them to cut it out. In other words, whatever leverage Washington may have had has been forfeited by top US officials.

Thus we have NATO expansion north and east. In the North it means that Sweden will be allowed to join once the Turkish parliament rubber stamps Erdogan’s deal with Stoltenberg and Biden. Turkey previously offered to trade Swedish membership for Turkey’s membership in the European Union, but Al Jazeera reports that the current deal involves different items on Ankara’s wish list “that range from buying US F-16s to visa-free travel to Europe’s Schengen area.

At Vilnius there has been no agreement to include Ukraine in NATO now. Stoltenberg had proposed a fast track, but Washington, Berlin and others didn’t want to move until the war is over. Late Tuesday there was an offer, for what it’s worth. “NATO says it will invite Ukraine to join when ‘conditions are met’; Zelensky calls lack of timeline ‘absurd,’” says the Washington Post headline.

Truth be told, the main “condition” is: “We don’t want to do it because it would mean war in Europe.”

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