Taiwan's Bitter End

America's allies must now look to their own safety, starting with Taiwan.

The shock and awe of the incredible shrinking American superpower continues to reverberate around the world.  Lights burn late in chancelleries and army HQs everywhere determining the best actions for their nation in a world where the United States can be counted on only to randomly create gargantuan messes while refusing, or ostentatiously failing, to assist in solving them.  As Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have ruefully told his cabinet, the world was better off with Donald Trump in the White House.

Naturally, the PM denies saying this, but his spokesman also stated, "The Prime Minister has not criticized President Biden." Given that an American general under orders from Sleepy Joe asked a British commander in Afghanistan to stop rescuing endangered subjects of Her Majesty because it was making America's failure look even worse in contrast - which order said commander indignantly refused, redoubling his rescue efforts - it's impossible for the spokesman's statement to be regarded as anything but a pro forma lie.

The only possible way any British PM in such a situation would fail to criticize Biden in words utterly unprintable in this publication, is if instead the PM had issued orders for a declaration of war - and if he didn't wax eloquent on the matter, Her Majesty most definitely would, for unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office, she cares about her subjects.

But the Brits can take care of themselves, and appear to be willing to when they must.  Of all the places looking toward the future with dread, Taiwan has to top the list.  This island off the coast of the People's Republic of China has been functionally independent for a lifetime, protected by implicit American support, but rarely by explicit statements to that effect, and, almost uniquely, not at all by international law.

By international law and convention for lo these many decades, there is but one China, even though everyone knows there are really two - the fascist dictatorship on the mainland, and the more-or-less democratic island of Taiwan that is run by descendants of people who, having lost the usual Chinese civil war that inevitably follows dynastic collapse, fled the depravities of Mao in the late 1940s.

Yet, under international law, the Red Chinese would have just as much legal right to invade and conquer Taiwan as President Lincoln had to conquer the South.  We could have fixed this long ago by recognizing Taiwan as independent, but we didn't.

To be fair, Taiwan didn't want to take that final step themselves.  Now they can't - for all these years, China has stated to all the world that recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation would be considered a declaration of war.  They have adequate military force to back up their threats, and their track record suggests that they wouldn't hesitate to make good.

To Lose Face, or Navy?

What would America do in response?  Nobody knows - and that's on purpose, going back decades.  "Strategic ambiguity" wasn't necessarily a bad idea - after all, it succeeded in avoiding war for all this time while other wars churned up around American soldiers all across Asia.  The idea was that, by never publicly stating what we would do to help defend Taiwan, we were also not stating what we wouldn't do, as in, pressing the nuclear button.

Oddly, Joe Biden has changed this policy in both directions: he recently openly stated, for the very first time from the mouth of a President, that America would in fact militarily defend Taiwan if it was attacked by the Red Chinese.  Then, his officials came out claiming he hadn't really said (or at least, not meant) that, and our policy, whatever you might imagine it to be, hasn't changed at all.

What does this mean, from the perspective of Beijing?  It means what is already patently obvious to all: Mr. Biden has no clue what he's doing or saying, the rest of the American government has no leadership, and America has no stomach for a fight of any kind.  If the United States cannot be bothered to hold at bay a few thousand savages wearing goatskins to protect tens of thousands of American citizens and other Westerners, is there the slightest possibility that it will lift a finger on behalf of an island full of Chinese who are indistinguishable from those across the strait?  No.

This matters, because for at least this whole millennium thus far, the Chinese have assumed that American would defend Taiwan, and have prepared for unification accordingly, with new-technology carrier killer missiles and aircraft carriers of their own.  Yes, our Navy has a plan to beat the threat - one hopes it's more effective than that other monument to incompetent high-tech military acquisition programs, the F-35.

Even in the very best circumstances, it would be a heavy task to defend Taiwan, on literally the other side of the Earth from us, from the world's most populous nation, a few minutes' missile-flight away.  With an Army that isn't allowed to rescue U.S. citizens, and a Navy that can't keep its ships in one piece, what exactly to we expect to be able to do?  Anything would involve our Navy, with no confidence it would end anywhere other than the bottom of the sea.

No, for all practical purposes, Taiwan will be on its own and, despite having access to some of our best equipment, their ability to use it effectively is less than stellar.  China seems to be so confident in its ability to win an invasion that they've released their overall plans as to exactly how.

So, is Taiwan doomed?  As an independent, comfortable, secure, modern high-tech nation - yeah, probably, because China can easily destroy all their infrastructure that makes life comfortable.

But as a free nation?  Maybe not.

What's Freedom Worth?

In the 1940s, Hitler's goose-stepping thugs ruled over the entire continent of mainland Europe except for tiny, completely-surrounded Switzerland, which, while they did have to make some heavy moral compromises, managed to remain generally free and largely self-governed.

Similarly, despite the violence-porn dreams of the original Red Dawn, there has never been a Soviet invasion of the United States.  Why not?  Well, the Soviets at the time were aware of, and agreed with, this observation by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto:

You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.

It's not that Hitler wouldn't have liked to conquer Switzerland; it's just that the rough terrain combined with the fact that every Swiss householder was required to own and maintain a military-grade weapon and adequate supply of ammo would have made it far too costly.

Similarly, while America has no such general requirement, and indeed actively disarms law-abiding citizens in its Democrat disaster cities, the remainder of the vast sweeping fruited plain is packed full of people armed to the teeth.  Japan knew it didn't have remotely the resources necessary to actually conquer the U.S.; no more did the Soviets.

Imperial Japan was hardly filled with fans of the Second Amendment, but they were preparing a vaguely similar philosophy of national defense in response to the expected American amphibious invasion: the much-touted Home Defense Forces that were supposed to greet the invaders with pitchforks, awls, and wooden pikes.

No invasion ever took place, and indeed the "pitchforks, awls, and wooden pikes" never manifested themselves; but the plan was there.  Americans knew about it and greatly feared that kind of hand-to-hand bloodbath.

That's why American casualty estimates for the invasion of Japan were shocking - in the millions.  That is also why the nuclear bomb was considered a humanitarian way to immediately end the war and stop the slaughter, which indeed it did.

Taiwan has no nukes that we know of.  China certainly does, and it could make use of them on Taiwan if only to "encourage the others" as it were.  That worked in Japan because the Japanese people still worshiped their Emperor, who very carefully was not targeted for death from above.  He had to remain alive so he, personally, could order the Japanese people to surrender; no other authority or negotiation was expected to be sufficient.

Individual Japanese soldiers continued fighting WW II until 1974, assuming that reports of the surrender had to be fake propaganda because the semi-divine Emperor could not have failed.  When the Japanese government found out about the last man, they sent the officer who had personally ordered him to hold the Philippines against invaders to deliver a written order from the Emperor Himself ordering the man to stand down - whereupon he immediately did, but not before.

Is there an equivalent figure in Taiwan?  There isn't.  Thus, if the Taiwanese did not, individually or collectively, care to surrender to the Chinese, only sheer force can make them do it.

Do the Taiwanese have the ability to resist?  Perhaps: like Switzerland and unlike the United States, Taiwan has long enforced conscription, meaning that nearly all young men have had military training.  This doesn't make them all Rambo, of course, but at least they should know their way around a firearm.

Unlike Switzerland, Taiwan doesn't require its men to retain their weapons; unlike America, it doesn't even permit this, so much so that our lefty press cites them as an example to follow of disarmed citizens.  But this could change: Taiwan has plenty of weapons in storehouses, and experts believe that the nature and required scale of an invasion make true surprise impossible.  All they need is a plan to distribute them on the double and confidence in their own ability to make the PLA pay an incredibly steep price for every inch.  The best way to prevent the weapons from being sabotaged is to distribute them in advance, of course.

Can they do this?  Yes.  Will they?  Well, that's a very similar question we can ask about Americans, or for that matter, about the Taliban's desire to protect their victory in Afghanistan from the coming Chinese onslaught, isn't it?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

It's truly frightening to try and imagine what's next for the world whether it be Taiwan, the Ukraine, South Korea or even Japan because they are all on their own. And who knows what might happen in the Middle East.
Worse, since I'm an American and live in the US, is what these people in DC are trying to do to us. They leave BlackHawk helicopters and 1000's of weapons to the Taliban while trying like hell to disarm all of us.
I'm sorry to say but I only see it getting worse here. We will never retake the ground willingly ceded year after year by career Republican politicians along with the rest of the uniparty in DC.
I read a recent article on American Thinker where the author described the US, Mexico, Canada as "Region One" of the coming global reset. Maybe Region Two will be China, Taiwan, and the rest of Southeast Asia.
And I don't see any of our elected leaders or the Supreme Court doing anything but paving the way for the ultimate demise of our country.

August 30, 2021 11:44 PM
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