20 July 2005


The United States is currently Taiwan's strongest ally in the world. It is fair to say that without U.S. sponsorship, Taiwan would have succumbed to Chinese military ambitions long ago. China has devoted vast military resources to the mission of attacking and retaking Taiwan as its own.

Taiwan is a worthy ally. While it has not always been Democratic, it is now. It has a vibrant free market economy as well. It leaders have been circumspect about their independence wishes, but in my view this has more to do with not tempting fate than it does with the reality that Taiwan has been defacto independent for half a century.

The vast majority of our nation's naval capabilities, and a good share of our Air Force and Army have, as their primary military objectives, protecting Taiwan, Japan and South Korea from attack by Taiwan and China, and of the three, Taiwan is by far the most vulnerable. Probably 20-25% of the defense budget is devoted to being capable of taking on this mission, on the order of $80 billion a year, year after year, for the foreseeable future and going back for decades.

Our decision to defend Taiwan militarily has been an extremely expensive choice. It is not one I think we could in good faith abandon now, although we could shift more military equipment and responsibility to Taiwan itself. But, this is the single greatest area where the rewards of an amicable solution would have huge economic dividends for the United States.

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