We are coming off a debacle departure from a country in which we were entangled for 20 years. There are many Americans that look skeptically at entering another country to defend it against evil forces. In this case, we have a mostly different situation. It is imperative for us and our allies that we defend Taiwan.
Americans have recently been left with a cynical attitude due to our military actions. We entered a country (Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Trio) with a just cause and it turned into quicksand. We arm and train the local population to defend itself against the enemy (Viet Cong, ISIS, and Taliban) and as soon as we depart the local forces fall apart thereby wasting everything for which we were fought. Taiwan is not that.
Taiwan is a democracy and wants to remain a free and independent country. Despite assertions by Xi Jinping (head dictatorial authoritarian), the fact that Taiwan is part of China is a stretch. After thousands of years of existence, it became part of China in 1683 and remained so only until 1895 when taken over by Japan which controlled the island until 1945. From there it was part of China for four years until becoming a free independent country in 1949.
The current population consists of Taiwanese (almost all born on the island) in a free country, and they want to keep it that way. They have seen what the Chinese did to Hong Kong and the agreement that they have cheated on and they want no part of China. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Taiwan is six times that of China on a per capita basis. We can easily see why China wants Taiwan. It is clear why Taiwan does not want to become part of China. Why would any country want to join with another country where they would lose their freedom and become incontrovertibly poorer?
Another distinction between Taiwan and the Trio of policy failures was the enormous corruption in these countries. We sent our money over to the three countries and it disappeared into wasted projects and Swiss bank accounts. Taiwan is a country low in corruption. On scales used to judge this they are 28th in the world, just below the US at 25th. China on the other hand is ranked 78th.
Another distinction is it was clearly questionable how much the people in the Trio liked us. Taiwanese love us and know their future is dependent on us helping to keep them independent.
The bigger picture begins with the fact Taiwan does not need our money. They can support themselves. They have their own defense forces. They have their own army, navy, marines, and air force consisting of 165,000 active personnel with 1,655,000 reserves.
So why do they need our military support? The answer is easy: They are facing a behemoth of a country that is led by a diabolical dictator which has an active military over ten times the size of Taiwan’s. Xi is hell bent on taking over Taiwan and converting the twenty-four million Taiwanese people into his economic slaves.
Since he has already usurped Hong Kong against the signed treaty and has his sights set on swallowing up Taiwan, what makes anyone think he will stop there? The Philippines is right next door. 22.6% of Malaysia are people of Chinese descent. Over seven million people in Indonesia are of Chinese descent. People like Xi (Putin) are excellent at making up excuses for taking over other countries.
What is the United States’ self-interest in defending Taiwan? Other than maintaining one of the world’s free democracies – a lot. Taiwan is the U.S. ninth largest trading partner and our largest microchip supplier. Taiwan produces 63% of the world’s semiconductors, a market China has tried to enter but made little progress. Taiwan freely and willingly trades with us. Everything we obtain from China is subject to a dictatorial bureaucracy which could be cut off at any time. Taiwan would not do such and we certainly do not have to make contingencies for such.
We need to sign a mutual defense pact with Taiwan incorporating Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, The Philippines, and Viet Nam into the pact as a minimum. We need to send immediately at least 5,000 troops to the island along with another 5,000 troops from the allies who all have a self-interest in defending Taiwan. That should be a start to tone down China’s bellicose actions. We currently have an estimated 55,000 troops in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea. We could draw from there or we could and should augment that with fresh forces in Taiwan. We should base some of our Air Force there and we would not have to build an air base. Taiwan is a first world country.
The time to act is now. We must show China they cannot and will not run over our allies. We cannot act like paper tigers. We have some forces in Taiwan now. We can defer China from their action of taking over Taiwan by force. Xi may want to take on Taiwan, but he certainly is not going to take on America and the allies.
I will paraphrase Richard Nixon during the Israeli Yom Kippur war: “Ship them what they need and keep on shipping them until we are out.” That is how paramount defending Taiwan is to the United States, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world. There is no time to waste.