Monday, December 29, 2014

Is Freedom Worth So Little?

Good grief, here we go again with efforts to pretend Taiwan can defend their island democracy with means that do not in fact defend their island democracy:

The nongovernment Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is wading into delicate territory. ...

The center advocates an "asymmetric approach," with Taiwan using lighter forces to counter rather than match China's strengths. While Taiwan increasingly emphasizes such tactics, its military modernization plan still calls for big, conventional acquisitions, the report says.

The greatest flaw in this type of thinking is that it concedes the ground to China. Attempting to resist occupation and raise the cost of controlling Taiwan rather than trying to prevent occupation is already a defeat, isn't it?

Such an asymmetric approach disregards the question of whether Taiwan can put up such a stout conventional defense that the prospect of casualties needed to defeat that force--even if you are 100% positive you will win in the end--is enough to deter an attack by China. If Taiwan does not try to defeat the invasion itself, there is no deterrence to invading, is there?

I guess I should draw some comfort that people don't dismiss a Chinese invasion threat by calling it a "million-man swim."

But throwing in the towel over stopping a Chinese invasion at the other end of the spectrum is ridiculous.

I know people keep trying to think of cheap alternatives to defending Taiwan, but there is no cheap alternative to paying the price of having a real military that can fight for every inch of Taiwan should the Chinese try to storm ashore.

If China occupies Taiwan and the Taiwanese resist, China is so big and ruthless that China could deport most of Taiwan's resident's to China's Tibet and Xinjiang provinces where the locals will treat them as just more "Chinese" colonists. The locals will make the Taiwanese exiles "Chinese" by default and be the tool to ethnically cleanse the locals for Peking into a manageable minority

And then China can move in Han mainland Chinese to change the game on Taiwan from local resistance to rapid assimilation by China.

This plan to cheaply defend Taiwan is just a way for China to more cheaply conquer Taiwan.  They always sound better on paper. Keep them there.

Remember, in 1938 the USSR had a GDP twenty-five times that of Finland. Without a 100-mile-wide anti-tank ditch, Finland managed to hold off the Russians for three months in the winter of 1939-1940 and inflicted so many casualties on the Soviets that Finland escaped the war with territorial concessions but with their independence intact.

The center says that a China-Taiwan resource imbalance of 14:1 makes Taiwan's defense task hopeless. I think not. The Taiwan Strait is a defensive advantage that money can't buy.