Battlepanda: The importance of clarity


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The importance of clarity

I have always been sanguine about the future of Taiwan despite the fact that the island nation I originally hail from lives in the shadow of China. The assymetrical mexican standoff across the straits otherwise known as the status quo has managed to keep the peace for over half a century. It has gotten to the point where most citizens of Taiwan find it inconcievable that Taiwan might not continue as a de-facto sovereign nation.

Yet the threats from China continues to mount. First came the legistlative manouvers to make the invasion legitimate within China's legal framework. Then came the military buildup. Lien Chan, Taiwan's opposition leader, accepted an invitation to go to Mainland China -- an unprecidented overture. Taiwan's third opposition leader was also invited. But not, it goes without saying, Taiwan's president Chen, who leans pro-independence.

Even while I still refuse to believe that China will be foolhardy enough to actually strike, it is hard not to get that head-on-the-chopping-block feeling as China continues to clear roadblocks to an invasion. One disturbing scenario is an attack by China out of the blue -- to use the element of surprise to overwhelm Taiwan while the U.S. is still dithering over what response to take. We can forestall this scenario somewhat by putting an end to our long-standing policy of ambiguity.

We should make it crystal clear to China that there will be a swift U.S. response to the invasion of Taiwan. Otherwise, they might be tempted to invade quickly with decisive force in the hope of making the invasion a fait accompli before the U.S. acts.

On the other hand, we should be as blunt as possible with the Taiwanese when it comes to setting a high upper limit on the amount of U.S. assistance they can expect, especially if the situation becomes untenable. The defense of Taiwan should fall primarily on the Taiwanese, and I believe many in Taiwan feels too much complacency because they count on U.S. forces to provide the necessary deterrent and protection.

In the end, I have to differ with Elaine. China is not playing Go with Taiwan. It is playing a game of chicken.