The US' Scorched Earth Policy for Taiwan
A new US Defense Department assessment of China’s military capabilities has Washington scared and panicking and considering a “scorched earth” policy for Taiwan.
The Defense Department’s November 29 report “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” reaches the conclusion that Chinese military strength has reached the point where the US can no longer defeat China in a military struggle for Taiwan off China’s coast.
The two main factors causing the growing disparity between Chinese and US military capabilities in the theatre are China’s large modern anti-ship missile arsenal and growing ISR (Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) satellite capability.
China’s satellite coverage in the Western Pacific has doubled to more than 260 systems since 2018, granting increased detection and targeting capability that can guide its arsenal of thousands of land, sea and air-based missiles to moving targets, including US aircraft carriers.
Surface ships, including aircraft carriers, can’t adequately defend against a barrage of modern missiles that can downlink guidance data from reconnaissance satellites.
China has also developed hypersonic glide vehicles that hug the ground or sea and maneuver at several times the speed of sound. No existing air or missile defense system can stop HGVs.
On top of this China has about 800 4th gen fighters and close to 200 5th gen stealth fighters deployed in the theater.
The combination gives China’s military a powerful precision strike capability off China’s coast, in the South China Sea, or anywhere in the West Pacific theatre.
Its now estimated that this growing precision strike capability will allow China to overwhelm Taiwan’s Patriot missile defenses, incapacitate its navy, and ground or destroy large portions of its air force in the opening moments of an invasion.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy & Force Development and China hawk Elbridge Colby has warned “Senior flag officers are saying we’re on a trajectory to get crushed in a war with China, which would likely be the most important war since WWII, God forbid.”
General David Berger, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, warned,
“Everybody around this table should not be comfortable with where we are or the rate at which we're moving,” on preparing for a potential invasion of Taiwan from China.”
The strategic takeaway is that the United States can no longer win a firefight close to China’s coast and can’t defend Taiwan whether it wants to or not.
This now has Washington considering a scorched earth policy in Taiwan, to destroy its strategically valuable semiconductor industry in order to deny it to China.
Former US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien asserted,
“If China takes Taiwan and takes those factories intact – which I don’t think we would ever allow – they have a monopoly over chips the way OPEC has a monopoly, or even more than the way OPEC has a monopoly over oil.”
The aforementioned former Pentagon official Elbridge Colby agreed,
“We can’t allow such a valuable equity to fall into Chinese hands, I think it would be nuts.”
Speaking on the threat of Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturing falling into China’s hands, former US Treasury Secretary adviser Nouriel Roubini warned it would result in an economic catastrophe for the US, “We depend more on semiconductors today than on oil.”
Just one Taiwanese manufacturer, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company alone produces about 55% of the world’s semiconductors, and about 80% of the high-end ones - used in everything from smart phones to computers and sophisticated military weapons and equipment.
To this threat a recent paper from the Army War College, has proposed that “the United States and Taiwan should lay plans for a targeted scorched-earth strategy that would render Taiwan not just unattractive if ever seized by force, but positively costly to maintain. This could be done most effectively by threatening to destroy facilities belonging to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the most important chipmaker in the world and China’s most important supplier.”
The study says the US could install automatic self-destruct systems in Taiwanese semiconductor factories in order to deny them to China.
In addition, the US may be planning to evacuate the island’s semiconductor engineers and scientists to the US in the event of a Chinese invasion to preserve the vital human component of the island’s semiconductor industry.
This scorched-earth strategy is a considerable departure from the standing “porcupine strategy” espoused by Taiwanese and US defense officials. Instead of deterring a Chinese invasion by raising the prospect of unacceptable casualties, a scorched-earth strategy could destroy Taiwan’s strategic and economic value to deter China from pursuing forceful military reunification.
However, there is no indication that the Taiwanese people are on board for this possible US scorched earth policy for their island
Former KMT chairman Hung Hsiu-chu argued that most Taiwanese will not be able to stomach the idea of Taiwan ending up as scorched earth.
Hung also chastised hawkish factions advocating such a strategy as having never lived through war, sticking to wishful thinking about US assistance, and profiteering from human suffering.
It’s actually not at all clear that the US Hegemon, trapped in Thucydides Trap thinking, would ever factor the opinion of the Taiwanese people into their grand strategy for the island in its geopolitical conflict with China.
The US just might have to destroy Taiwan in order to “save it” from China.
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Who would willingly be an ally to the USA? A suicidal cult, maybe?
Great piece supported by lots of citations and secondary links. Looks like Ukraine 2.0 is in the making, unless the geniuses in the U.S. State Department/CIA/MIC/and others that run U.S. foreign policy/ discover their humanity. Note that recent local elections in Taiwan see the majority of Taiwanese people on the side of reason, rejecting the U.S.'s saber rattling.