An article published in a new book from the American Enterprise Institute warned that the Biden administration’s preparations for an armed struggle with China were completely wrong, arguing that the war on Beijing would last much longer than the authorities perceived.
In Think Tank’s publication, “Defending Taiwan,” senior fellows Hall Brands and Michael Beckley write that “Washington may be preparing for the wrong kind of war,” while at the same time giving hints on how to plan the right path.
“The Pentagon and most of its defense planners seem to be focused on winning a small, localized conflict in the Taiwan Strait. In their article, “Preparing for a Long War: Why the US-China War in the West Pacific Did Not End So Quickly.”
They also point out that China is making the same mistake and that their leaders “seem to be anticipating rapid, freezing attacks that will break the Taiwanese resistance and provide ample evidence to the United States.”
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“Both sides love the fantastic mini-war in the western Pacific, but it’s not the war they get,” they write.
On the contrary, they argue that the war between Taiwan and the US and China “is long, not short; regional, not localized; and begins much easier than it ends.”
One of the main reasons for believing that the war will end is that both sides will have to suffer a lot and be able to sustain the losses.
They write that “Beijing will not give up if the United States can repel the Chinese attack on Taiwan,” Chinese President Xi Jinping “clearly states” that the Taiwan issue should be resolved in this generation, and that “reunification” is needed for the “great revival of the Chinese nation.” If he accepts defeat, Brands and Beckley claim, it will cost Xi his energy and “possibly even his life”.
On the American side, they cited the consequences for the power balance, the “Pearl Harbor-style missile attack” to launch a war on the US, and Washington’s reputation as a reason for the rapid defeat at home and the rapid defeat in the White House battle without harming China.
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Anticipating a long war, Brands and Beckley offered Washington four ways to prepare. First, they said, the US and Taiwan would increase their supplies and ammunition reserves so that they could beat China in the “reload race”. Second, they say, the US must demonstrate “tough hang capacity” by taking steps such as “securing critical networks, expanding Taiwan’s civilian shelter system and expanding energy, food and medical supplies”.
Later, they say they want to “own the ladder of growth” by being prepared to cut off China through American blockades so that they can “threaten to turn the escalating conflict into an economic catastrophe for China.”
Finally, they stressed the need for the US to define what success is in real terms. Since there are nuclear weapons on both sides, they are guessing how the “compromise through negotiations” will end in the end.
So how does it end?
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“The simple solution is to return to the status quo: China will stop attacking Taiwan instead of pledging that the island will not declare and that the United States will not recognize official independence,” Brands & Beckley said, suggesting that the US could. Offer to withdraw troops from Taiwan as an additional incentive.
“The United States has maintained a strong and strategic democracy. Both sides can maintain some face and live to see another day.”