A MAD, MAED World?

A recent report from the RAND Corporation seeks to elucidate several scenarios by which the United States and China could become embroiled in armed conflict.  While much will be made of a single sentence at the beginning of the report that predicts the possibility of a China stronger than Soviet Russia during the Cold War or Nazi Germany during World War II—and despite providing excellent summaries of potential East Asian flashpoints—the authors actually judge the probability of great power conflict in the Asia-Pacific to be relatively low.  More interesting are the recommendations offered for decreasing conflict—particularly, the section on . . .
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Taiwan: Arms Sales and the Strategic Costs of Provocation

Last week the New York Times reported that the Obama administration has decided not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. Instead, the U.S. will help the Taiwanese refurbish their current fleet. Of course, members of Congress are up in arms (no pun intended) about what is seen as buckling to pressure from China. Debate over Taiwan and its implication on U.S.-Sino relations is nothing new, but it is getting increasingly difficult for the United States to balance obligations to Taiwan while maintaining cordial relations with China. If you boil down the issue, and the caricature-like debate, it is . . .
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Taiwan, Wounded Knee, and the Difficulty of Historical Analogies

American Taiwan boosters tend to avoid articulating the strategic value of Taiwan as a reason for continued U.S. security assistance.  Sure, shared democratic values are nice—even though they were absent in Taipei for most of the history of U.S.-Taiwanese relations—but they don’t necessarily mean anything as far as reciprocal security relations are concerned.  John Copper, writing at the National Interest, makes a solid effort to define the relationship in strategic terms, but unfortunately chooses a poor historical analogy to make his case.

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Drawing on the history of American expansion in the late 19th century, Coppers . . .
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Is an Arms Race in Asia Inevitable?

Does the United States need to maintain its alliances in East Asia to prevent a regional arms race?  According to a post at the Diplomat, written a few weeks back by Michael Mazza of the American Enterprise Institute, a hypothetical regional arms race is one of the major reasons the United States needs to maintain a presence there.  Coming on the heels of Charles Glaser’s provocative piece in Foreign Affairs that argued the United States could do without defending Taiwan, Massa argues that the United States must continue to defend the Republic of China to ensure U.S. allies of . . .
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