Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Taiwan Needs a Taiwan Model of Defense

The idea of Taiwan rejecting subs and relying on the Iranian model of deterring America fails by the simple fact that Taiwan is trying to deter China and not America from invading Taiwan.

Good Lord, control of Iran is not a core interest of America as controlling Taiwan is a self-proclaimed core interest of China. This is nonsense:

In developing a more asymmetric strategy, Taiwan would do well to study the Iranian example. Like Taiwan, Iran faces the challenge of deterring the United States, an objectively stronger military power — albeit one much farther from Iranian shores than China is from Taiwan’s — from using regional maritime and air superiority to impose its will. Iran has managed to change the U.S. and regional Arab military calculus primarily through the development and employment of asymmetric capabilities integrated with conventional military forces.

Urging Taiwan to mimic Iran's ability to deter an American attack neglects that Taiwan is an island rather than a large land mass with land lines of communication that America can't reach.

Urging Taiwan to mimic Iran's ability to deter an American attack neglects that Taiwan lacks the ability to interfere with the world's oil supplies as Iran possesses.

Urging Taiwan to mimic Iran's ability to deter an American attack neglects that China intends to absorb Taiwan while America just wants to prevent Iran from controlling the Persian Gulf.

How does urging Iran to be the template for Taiwan even make sense with those major differences?

When you consider this basic flaw for Iran as a template for Taiwan, it seems almost pointless to address the authors further.

But I will anyway. Much of my criticism would mirror my criticism of the Hezbollah model another author advocated for Taiwan.Why some people think democratic Taiwan should mimic the civilian-killing attitudes of terrorist actors is beyond me.

So let me just address the Iran-model article's dismissal of Taiwan's submarine program:

At a time when Taiwan needs deterrent capabilities and needs them now, a 10-plus-year wait for a few squadrons of F-35s or 5-10 submarines is far too long. Instead, development of a resilient, survivable force with the ability to asymmetrically counter-attack is Taiwan’s best option for deterrence as well as defense.

Given the time it has taken to agree to upgrade Taiwan's old F-16s, I doubt F-35s are on the table.

New F-16s would fit better. Honestly, I'm not convinced Taiwan is willing to invest in their national defense enough to risk the F-35 falling into Chinese hands if China conquers Taiwan.

And to be fair, if Taiwan had bought the subs early in this millennium when they first expressed an interest, they'd have them now.

As for the big notion in the article that Taiwanese subs don't help Taiwan, first let me note that subs are part of Iran's military. I guess Iran doesn't follow the so-called Iran Model.

Second, Taiwanese subs would be a major factor in an asymmetric defense that the author advocates.

Chinese ASW capabilities aren't very advanced, and are certainly less potent than China's anti-ship and anti-aircraft capabilities. So modern Taiwanese subs capable of interfering by using missiles, torpedoes, and mines, with Chinese sea trade and threatening Chinese surface ships participating in a Chinese blockade or amphibious assault would be a very potent threat capable of surviving and fighting for a longer period of time.

Without subs, Taiwan would be helpless to counter for long a serious Chinese effort at sea and in the air to blockade Taiwan.

With subs, Taiwan can inflict pain on China rather than just endure the pain, relying on America to break the blockade--with all the risks of a wider war that entails.

Don't forget the subs. They are a key Taiwanese deterrent.

And don't forget naval mines. Lots of them. They are an under-appreciated weapon that could be acquired pretty rapidly.