Rethinking US Security Commitment to Taiwan
Should the United States end its security commitment to Taiwan to avoid war with an increasingly powerful China? This chapter argues that accommodating China on Taiwan will increase—not decrease—the probability of conflict in East Asia. Drawing on IR theory, I analyze the five errors of accommodationist proposals—underestimation of structural pressures, mistaken assumption of China’s limited aims, damage to US alliance credibility, downplaying of Taiwan’s democratic and strategic values, and destruction of the delicate balance between deterrence and reassurance. Contrary to accommodationist arguments, ending US security commitment to Taiwan will not make Asia more peaceful but rather more dangerous. For US grand strategy toward Asia, Taiwan is an asset, not a liability.
KeywordsAccommodation Deterrence Alliance Realism Credibility
- Allison, Graham T. 2015. The Thucydides Trap: Are the US and China Headed for War? The Atlantic, September 24. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/.
- Betts, Richard K. 2015. Realism Is an Attitude, Not a Doctrine. The National Interest, September/October. http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/realism-attitude-not-doctrine-13659.
- Bush, Richard C. 2005. Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
- ———. 2013. Uncharted Strait: The Future of China-Taiwan Relations. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
- Chen, Jian. 1994. China’s Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Christensen, Thomas J. 1996. Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947–1958. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Freeman, Chas W. Jr. 2011. Beijing, Washington, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige: Remarks to the China Maritime Studies Institute, May 10. http://www.mepc.org/articles-commentary/speeches/beijing-washington-and-shifting-balance-prestige.
- Friedberg, Aaron L. 2011. A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
- Gaddis, John Lewis. 1982. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gilley, Bruce. 2010. Not So Dire Straits: How the Finlandization of Taiwan Benefits U.S. Security. Foreign Affairs 89 (1): 44–60.Google Scholar
- ———. 2011. Will China’s Rise Lead to War? Why Realism Does Not Mean Pessimism. Foreign Affairs 90 (2): 80–91.Google Scholar
- Goncharov, Sergei N., John W. Lewis, and Litai Xue. 1993. Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gowa, Joanne. 1994. Allies, Adversaries, and International Trade. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Kastner, Scott L. 2009. Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence Across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kissinger, Henry. 2001. Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Mearsheimer, John J. 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- ———. 2014a. Can China Rise Peacefully? The National Interest, October 25. http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/can-china-rise-peacefully-10204.
- ———. 2014b. Taiwan’s Dire Straits. The National Interest 130 (March/April): 29–39.Google Scholar
- Organski, A.F.K., and Jacek Kugler. 1982. The War Ledger. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
- Owens, Bill. 2009. America Must Start Treating China as a Friend. Financial Times, November 17.Google Scholar
- Paul, T.V., ed. 2016. Accommodating Rising Powers: Past, Present, and Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Rigger, Shelley. 2011. Why Giving Up Taiwan Will Not Help Us with China. AEI Asian Outlook 3 (November): 1–9.Google Scholar
- Romberg, Alan D. 2003. Rein in at the Brink of the Precipice: American Policy Toward Taiwan and U.S.-PRC Relations. Washington, DC: Henry L. Stimson Center.Google Scholar
- Schelling, Thomas C. 1966. Arms and Influence. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Snyder, Jack L. 1991. Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Swaine, Michael D. 2011. America’s Challenge: Engaging a Rising China in the Twenty-First Century. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
- Tucker, Nancy Bernkopf. 2009. Strait Talk: United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis with China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Van Evera, Stephen. 1999. Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Yoshihara, Toshi, and James R. Holmes. 2010. Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Zakaria, Fareed. 1998. From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar