In retrospect, the United States was extremely naïve in assuming that if we allowed Communist China in the community of nations, we could remake that repressive regime in our own image. It is no secret that the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) through both economic and military power has a strategic goal of achieving world hegemony. Yet in spite of this American corporations continue to kowtow to the Chinese communists while at the same time the PRC steals our intellectual property, technology, and military secrets while we sit idly by and watch the decline of our own nation.
Speaker Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan though perhaps an attempt to shore up her weak legacy as a leader tough on China was a small step in the right direction. However, future actions to deter Chinese aggression must continue unabated; they must be strategic and applied firmly regardless of the inevitable setbacks as world events change the geopolitical landscape. Chinese leaders have not attempted to forcibly occupy Taiwan up until this point simply because they are not confident that the costs both during and after an invasion that will be incurred outweigh the potential gain.
Our national leadership through the continued naval presence and robust military assistance must ensure that the PRC unmistakably reaches this same conclusion time and time again. Once they sense a real or even perceived weakness or a lack of resolve on the part of the United States the games is over.
First, in order to accomplish this, we need leverage. The United States must initiate and lead a broad coalition of nations to credibly convince the Chinese that crossing the Taiwan Straits would be too costly for them to launch a full-scale invasion.
Second, the United States must prepare Taiwan to withstand and then prevail in a Chinese-initiated missile attack. Taiwan’s defenses must be able to withstand the damage from a first strike and also be able to respond in kind. In addition, U.S. bases and facilities in the Pacific such as Guam and Hawaii must be hardened to withstand the inevitable retaliatory strike.
Third, the United States must stress to the PRC our resolve and nuclear deterrence capability so that there can be no doubt of a Chinese misunderstanding. The use of tactical nuclear weapons against U.S. forces would result in an outcome not favorable to the PRC – the risk would not be worth the potential gain.
History time and time again has shown that initiating armed conflict results in a tragic outcome – let’s hope the PRC has taken that lesson aboard that it is not worth the risk. But in the end, I suspect we will look the other way and express “grave concern” while the PRC takes over Taiwan and goes on to dominate the pacific rim and eventually surpass the United States.
So, no matter how you slice it, the defense of Taiwan is the ultimate Hobson’s Choice – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.