The United States should keep open the option of using all means at its disposal to prevent China from using military force to seize Taiwan.

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Since WW II, the world has been relatively free of significant military aggression to seize territory, with the notable exceptions of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s earlier annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine, and Russia’s military intervention in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia. We believe that this period of relative peace has been the case largely because the United States has maintained a global military advantage and has signaled a willingness to use it. There is a now significant threat that China will use military force to seize Taiwan.

The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 may well have been triggered by a U.S. diplomat, inadvertently, signaling to Saddam Hussein that the United States would not oppose the invasion. The U.S. and its allies need to make it clear that Chinese military aggression against Taiwan will not be tolerated. No options should be off the table.

The United States and most other nations have agreed that there is only one China. The U.S. has also maintained that we would support Taiwan in “defending itself” from military invasion by China. China may eventually persuade Taiwan to agree to peaceful reunification. This outcome certainly appeared possible while China maintained the “one country-two systems” policy with respect to Hong Kong. China’s efforts to exert more autocratic authority in Hong Kong have made this kind of gradual peaceful reunification with Taiwan less likely.

As China has dramatically increased its military capabilities in recent years, the notion of Taiwan being able to “defend itself” seems highly doubtful, regardless of the amount of weaponry that the U.S. provides Taiwan. It is our opinion that if we want to deter a military invasion of Taiwan by China, the U.S. is going to have to become much more explicit about the nature of the U.S. commitment to Taiwan. Ambiguity is not a good strategy.

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