Culture war makes the West fragile if China attacks Taiwan

Nobody but Mr Xi knows if CCP will attack Taiwan or not, but in this uncertain and volatile situation it’s crazy that Western leaders don’t stop the culture war by abandoning wokeness and returning to the main pillars of constitutional democracies: moderate liberality and moderate cultural conservatism.

Woke leaders may live in a bubble world where they are as naive as optimistic globalists in July 1914. Or they are perhaps too distracted by today’s chaotic and fragmented politics to really focus on a danger they are intellectually aware of. But if you read the below excerpts from a recent article in Foreign Affairs (July/August 2021) you will see that it’s insane when leaders in the West continue the nationally divisive culture war when a perfect (nuclear) storm will perhaps hit us at any time now.

The Taiwan Temptation

Why Beijing Might Resort to Force

By Oriana Skylar Mastro

” … Beijing is preparing for four main campaigns that its military planners believe could be necessary to take control of the island. The first consists of joint PLA missile and airstrikes to disarm Taiwanese targets—initially military and government, then civilian—and thereby force Taipei’s submission to Chinese demands. The second is a blockade operation in which China would attempt to cut the island off from the outside world with everything from naval raids to cyberattacks. The third involves missile and airstrikes against U.S. forces deployed nearby, with the aim of making it difficult for the United States to come to Taiwan’s aid in the initial stages of the conflict. The fourth and final campaign is an island landing effort in which China would launch an amphibious assault on Taiwan—perhaps taking its offshore islands first as part of a phased invasion or carpet bombing them as the navy, the army, and the air force focused on Taiwan proper.”

“Among defense experts, there is little debate about China’s ability to pull off the first three of these campaigns—the joint strike, the blockade, and the counterintervention mission. Neither U.S. efforts to make its regional bases more resilient nor Taiwanese missile defense systems are any match for China’s ballistic and cruise missiles, which are the most advanced in the world. China could quickly destroy Taiwan’s key infrastructure, block its oil imports, and cut off its Internet access—and sustain such a blockade indefinitely. According to Lonnie Henley, a retired U.S. intelligence officer and China specialist, “U.S. forces could probably push through a trickle of relief supplies, but not much more.” And because China has such a sophisticated air defense system, the United States would have little hope of regaining air or naval superiority by attacking Chinese missile transporters, fighters, or ships.”

“But China’s fourth and final campaign—an amphibious assault on the island itself—is far from guaranteed to succeed. … The then commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Philip Davidson, said in March that China will have the ability to successfully invade Taiwan in six years. Other observers think it will take longer, perhaps until around 2030 or 2035.”

” … As Beijing hones its spoofing and jamming technologies, it may be able to scramble U.S. early warning systems and thereby keep U.S. forces in the dark in the early hours of an attack. …” (…)

” … The PLA wants to make its presence in the Taiwan Strait routine. The more common its activities there become, the harder it will be for the United States to determine when a Chinese attack is imminent, making it easier for the PLA to present the world with a fait accompli.” (…)

” … It might, for example, begin with low-cost military options, such as joint missile and airstrikes, and only escalate to a blockade, a seizure of offshore islands, and, finally, a full-blown invasion if its earlier actions fail to compel Taiwan to capitulate. Conducted slowly over the course of many months, such a gradual approach to armed unification would make it difficult for the United States to mount a strong response, especially if U.S. allies and partners in the region wish to avoid a war at all costs. A gradual, coercive approach would also force Washington to initiate direct hostilities between the two powers. And if China has not fired a shot at U.S. forces, the United States would find it harder to make the case at home and in Asian capitals for a U.S. military intervention to turn back a slow-motion Chinese invasion. An incremental approach would have domestic political benefits for Beijing, as well. If China received more international pushback than expected or became embroiled in a campaign against the United States that started to go badly, it would have more opportunities to pull back and claim “mission accomplished.””

” … Chinese military strategists believe that if they give the United States time to mobilize and amass firepower in the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait, China’s chances of victory will decrease substantially. As a result, they could decide to preemptively hit U.S. bases in the region, crippling Washington’s ability to respond.”

“In other words, U.S. deterrence—to the extent that it is based on a credible threat to intervene militarily to protect Taiwan—could actually incentivize an attack on U.S. forces once Beijing has decided to act. …” (…)

” … Some argue, too, that China’s large domestic market makes it less reliant on international trade than many other countries. (The more China economically decouples from the United States and the closer it gets to technological self-sufficiency, the greater this advantage will be.) Chinese leaders could also take comfort in their ability to quickly transition to an industrial wartime footing. …” (…)

” … (Since 1996, China has convinced more than a dozen countries to switch their diplomatic recognition to Beijing, leaving Taiwan with only 15 remaining allies.) In other words, many of China’s most important trading partners have already sent a strong signal that they will not let Taiwan derail their relationships with Beijing.”

” … One South Korean official put it more memorably in an interview with The Atlantic, comparing the need to pick sides in the U.S.-Chinese dispute to “asking a child whether you like your dad or your mom.” Such attitudes suggest that the United States would struggle to convince its allies to isolate China. And if the international reaction to Beijing’s crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang is any indication, the most China can expect after an invasion of Taiwan are some symbolic sanctions and words of criticism.”

” … The PLA’s military textbooks assume the need for a significant campaign to consolidate power after its troops have landed and broken through Taiwan’s coastal defenses, but they do not express much concern about it. This may be because although the PLA has not fought a war since 1979, China has ample experience with internal repression and dedicates more resources to that mission than to its military. The People’s Armed Police boasts at least 1.5 million members, whose primary mission is suppressing opposition. Compared with the military task of invading and seizing Taiwan in the first place, occupying it probably looks like a piece of cake.” (…)

“An enhanced U.S. military and intelligence presence in the Indo-Pacific would be sufficient to deter most forms of armed unification, but it wouldn’t prevent China from using force altogether. Beijing could still try to use missile strikes to convince Taiwan to bend to its will. To deter all Chinese military aggression, the United States would therefore need to be prepared to destroy China’s missile batteries—which would involve U.S. strikes on the Chinese mainland. …”

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