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An article published in a new book by the American Enterprise Institute warns that the Biden administration’s preparations for a possible armed conflict with China could be entirely wrong, arguing that a war against Beijing would last much longer than officials would expect. think so.
In the think tank’s publication, “Defending Taiwan,” senior scholars Hal Brands and Michael Beckley write that “Washington may be preparing for the wrong kind of war,” while offering suggestions for how they can plan to the right way.
“The Pentagon and many defense planners appear to be focused on winning a short, localized conflict in the Taiwan Strait. That would mean nullifying an opening missile bombardment, blunting a Chinese invasion and thereby forcing Beijing to relent. “, say Brands and Beckley. in their article, “Preparing for a Long War: Why a US-China Fight in the Western Pacific Won’t End Quickly”.
They also claim that China is making the same mistake and that their leaders “seem to be planning rapid, crippling strikes that will shatter Taiwanese resistance and present the United States with a fait accompli.”
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“Both sides would prefer a splendid little war in the Western Pacific, but that is not the kind of war they will have,” they wrote.
On the contrary, they argue that a war between the United States and China over Taiwan “is likely to be long, not short; regional, not localized; and far easier to start than to end.”
One of the main reasons for believing that a war would drag on is that both sides would have much to lose and the ability to sustain casualties.
“If the United States were successful in repelling a Chinese assault on Taiwan, Beijing would not simply give up,” they write, explaining that Chinese President Xi Jinping has “explicitly” said the Taiwan issue must be resolved during this generation and that “reunification” is necessary for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. If he concedes defeat, according to Brands and Beckley, it could cost Xi his power and “maybe even his life.”
On the American side, they cite the repercussions on the balance of power, outrage at home over what would likely be “a Pearl Harbor-style missile attack” on the United States to start the war, and the evil of a quick defeat without hurting China. would cause Washington’s reputation as the reasons why the White House would stay in the fight.
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Predicting a long war, Brands and Beckley offer four ways Washington can prepare. The first, they say, is for the United States and Taiwan to increase their stockpiles of supplies and ammunition so they can beat China in “the race to reload.” Second, they say the United States “should demonstrate its ability to hold its own” by taking steps such as “securing critical networks, expanding Taiwan’s civilian shelter system, and expanding its stockpiles of fuel, food and medical supplies”.
Then they say the United States should “own the escalating ladder” by preparing to cut off China with blockades so that it “can threaten to turn a protracted conflict into an economic disaster for China. “.
Finally, they argue that the United States must define what victory looks like in realistic terms. Since both sides are nuclear-armed, they predict that a “negotiated compromise” will eventually come to an end.
So how would this end?
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“The simplest settlement would be a return to the status quo ante: China would stop attacking Taiwan in exchange for a promise that the island would not declare, and America would not approve, formal independence.” , Brands and Beckley say, suggesting that the United States might offer to withdraw its forces from Taiwan as an added incentive.
“The United States would have saved a vibrant, strategically positioned democracy. Both sides would save face and live to see another day.”
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