US/China Taiwan war could lead to 'nuclear annihilation': conservative
Democratic leaders, from President Joe Biden to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), have emphasized that protecting Taiwan from possible aggression by Mainland China is a high priority for the United States. Many MAGA Republicans, regardless, have been accusing Democrats of being soft on the authoritarian government in Beijing.
Washington Post opinion columnist and Never Trump conservative Max Boot, who supported Biden in the 2020 presidential election, is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy. But in his April 17 column, Boot warns that a military conflict between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China would be absolute hell — especially if it were to escalate into a nuclear war.
"(Rep. Mike) Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) is right that the United States and China are locked in an existential struggle, because this new cold war, like the original Cold War with the Soviet Union, has the potential to turn into a nuclear conflict," Boot explains. "This is a danger that China hawks — and the U.S. public in general — do not pay sufficient attention to. President Biden, for example, repeatedly says that the United States will defend Taiwan if it's attacked, without any mention of the potential consequences of a conflict with China."
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Boot notes that the "lack of a nuclear exchange" is "quite common in U.S.-China war games" but adds that a "senior defense official" he spoke to said that "this is no longer the case with top-secret Pentagon war games." And the conservative columnist also points out that Mainland China "is in the midst of a rapid nuclear buildup."
"The risk of nuclear escalation is all the greater because, as a senior U.S. admiral explained to me, it would be difficult for the United States to win a war over Taiwan by attacking only Chinese ships at sea and Chinese aircraft in the skies," Boot warns. "The United States could find itself compelled, as a matter of military necessity, to attack bases in China. China, in turn, could strike U.S. bases in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Guam, even Hawaii and the West Coast…. When two nuclear-armed powers attack each other’s territory, it would be difficult to keep the conflict contained at a conventional level."
Retired U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, former U.S. supreme allied commander for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a frequent guest on MSNBC, is among the military experts who believes that a war between the U.S. and Mainland China would have a good chance of going nuclear.
Stavridis told Boot, "If the U.S. and China manage to sleepwalk into a conventional war, the chances of it escalating into a nuclear exchange are significant. Two great powers who face each other in combat are unlikely to avoid using tactical nuclear weapons, at least at sea. Once that threshold is crossed, it is but a short step to a much broader nuclear conflict. Think 1914 with nuclear weapons at the ready."
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It was in 1914 that World War 1 started; the U.S., under Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, officially entered that conflict in 1917 on the side of the Allies (who ranged from the U.K., France and Russia to Japan) and against the Central Powers (who included Germany and the Ottoman Empire).
Boot comments, "1914 with nuclear weapons? Now that’s an existential danger."
Boot isn't the only one who is sounding the alarm about how catastrophic a U.S./Mainland China conflict would be, especially if it went nuclear.
In an article published by Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on March 13, physicists Richard L. Garwin and Frank N. von Hippel warned, "The United States is in a developing military confrontation with China over Taiwan, made more dangerous by the enormous perceived stakes: global leadership and the future of democracy.… Objectively, this prospective confrontation is absurd; China and the United States should be focused on improving life for their citizens, not on threatening the future of civilization."
Boot stresses that the U.S. can stand up for Taiwan without getting into a war with Mainland China.
"This is not an argument for kowtowing to Beijing or abandoning Taiwan," Boot writes. "It is, however, a potent warning about the dangers of blundering into war with China. The United States should continue to support Taiwan and to deter China, but should also keep lines of communication open and avoid needless provocations such as recognizing Taiwan’s independence — as has been rashly suggested in the past year by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 19 House members."
Boot continues, "That's a fast-track to World War 3. Maintaining the fiction that Taiwan is a renegade province of China is a small price to pay for avoiding nuclear annihilation."
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Read Max Boot's full Washington Post opinion column at this link (subscription required).
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