Key Point: Taiwan puts Ameirca in between a rock and a hard place.
Paul Dibb, in his recent Strategist post, writes that America's strategic position in Asia would be fatally undermined if it didn't go to war with China if China attacked Taiwan, and that Australia's alliance with America would be fatally undermined if we didn't then go to war with China too. The conclusion he draws is that, in the event of an unprovoked Chinese attack on Taiwan, America should go to war with China, and so should Australia.
I think Dibb's premises are correct, but his conclusion is wrong. Failing to come to Taiwan's aid would seriously weaken and perhaps destroy America's position in Asia, and our alliance with America would be seriously weakened if not destroyed if we failed to support the US. But it doesn't follow that either America or Australia should therefore go to war with China to defend Taiwan.
That depends on who would win the war. Such a war, like any war, would be a calculus of uncertainties, but at the very least one could say that a swift, cheap and decisive US victory over China would be very unlikely. America's military power is very great, but China's military power, and especially its capacity to deny its air and sea approaches to US forces, has grown sharply, and is now formidable.
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