Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Straight Talk Needed

This post argues that defending Taiwan is essential to defend America. I agree. There isn't much novel in this piece (which doesn't make it less true, of course, but I won't quote that material) but there is one aspect that I want to highlight (since I've mentioned it myself):

In short, America needs something it has not had in decades; a strong Taiwan policy. Instead, we have had the disgraceful equivocation of the Bush administration. Before that, Washington maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” which just encouraged the Chinese to test American resolve.

Strategic ambiguity was fine as long as China could not actually invade Taiwan. China's uncertainty about our response to a Chinese attack on Taiwan paled in comparison to the absolute inability of China to mount an invasion if we responded with just about any level of force.

Those days are gone. China now seeks the capability to grab Taiwan while holding us at bay long enough to complete the conquest. Strategic ambiguity just means we will waste precious time debating whether to intervene.

So we need strategic clarity to show China that attacking Taiwan means war with America (and Japan). And that clarity will focus our minds on what we need to do should China lunge across the strait with little notice.

Ambiguity worked when we had absolute superiority in the air and water around Taiwan beginning on day one. We may be able to wrest that superiority given several weeks, but with strategic ambiguity we may not get those weeks.