The Clash of the Titans by Gustave Dore, 1866.
Rainer Rupp is the legendary Topaz agent of the GDR intelligence service, who made not a single mistake and extracted 10,000 secret documents, including those marked as top secret – cosmic top secret. Thanks to Rupp, NATO had no secrets not only from the GDR but also from the Soviet Union.
In his commentary for the Tagesdosis podcast published on January 6, Rainer Rupp posed a question what would the US elites do after a Russian victory in Ukraine followed by European governments’ attempts to restore peaceful relations and economic cooperation with Russia? To answer this question, he proposed to analyze the current discussion among US strategists about the future of Taiwan in the case of China’s military attempt to establish control over the island.
The crisis-like escalation of the situation in and around Taiwan and the possible military confrontation between the USA and China show no direct parallels to Europe and the war in Ukraine. But the reaction of US strategists to a possible victory by China, and what they want to do with Taiwan to prevent the island state’s high technology from falling into the hands of the People’s Republic, certainly allows conclusions to be drawn about how the US might react to Russia’s victory in Ukraine.
What would the Americans do with their tens of thousands of soldiers and weapons still stationed everywhere in Europe if, after a Russian victory in Ukraine, new governments came to power in the capitals of the EU that would break away from the completely disastrous US course in order to begin negotiations with Moscow to restore peaceful relations and economic cooperation with Russia? What we Europeans might then face is evidenced by the current discussion among US strategists about the future of Taiwan.
The US military strategy against China
A military-technological quantum leap of China made the previous deterrence strategy of the USA to protect Taiwan useless. Therefore, in case of a conflict, US strategists plan to preemptively destroy the base of the economic prosperity of the Chinese island province to make its acquisition less attractive to Beijing.
The US military strategy against China, based on the use of aircraft carrier strike groups, is no longer tenable because of, among other things, the new, reliable Chinese DF-ZF aircraft carrier killer missiles, especially since the US Navy has no antidote to this new hypersonic weapon. Because of this new situation, the US bombers and fighters on the U.S. aircraft carriers would not even come within range of their operational targets either on the Chinese mainland or in the Taiwan Strait. The operational radius of these US aircraft is a maximum of 500 kilometers, with a minimal bomb load. But hundreds of kilometers before they could reach that operational radius, their carrier ships would have already fallen victim to the long-range Chinese DF-ZF aircraft carrier killer missile. The DF-21D hypersonic weapon, also new, can increase the range of Chinese aircraft carriers by even several thousand kilometers by launching from a Chinese long-range H-6N bomber.
Against this background, the recent Pentagon report on China’s military power, China Power Report 2022, noted that by improving its warfare concepts and thanks to its technological developments, China had strengthened its military capabilities to wage war against the United States if Washington were to intervene in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
For the US military, and especially for the US Navy, which since the end of World War II has seen itself as the sole and undefeated ruler of the world’s oceans, this is a hard blow that requires a paradigm shift in its own concepts of warfare. In the case of Taiwan, this dramatic shift in the balance of power raises specific questions not only about US military capabilities to continue defending Taiwan but also about political willingness in Washington to do this under the new conditions.
US military computer simulations showed that a hot conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan would bring no decisive victory for any side but with high casualties for the United States in best-case scenarios. Therefore, political reluctance to engage in a direct military clash with China seems to be growing in Washington. Consequently, US strategists are intensively thinking about using other means to “save” Taiwan from China’s attempts at reunification.
The ideas that are being voiced as earnest alternatives and described in strategy papers to a frightening degree reflect the totally dehumanized nature of US warfare, in which there is no regard for the civilian population. They are strongly reminiscent of the statement made by a US officer quoted by the famous US war reporter Peter Arnett of the Associated Press on February 7, 1968, after the destruction of the South Vietnamese town of Ben Tre by US bombers, as follows:
“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it (from the Communists).”
A two-line version of the AP dispatch was published in the New York Times on the same day, making it world famous.
The peace movement presented this quote at the time as evidence of the “scorched earth strategy” that the US military had apparently copied from the NAZI soldiery in their retreat from Russia, in which not a stone was left unturned in any village or town. Well-known New York Times commentator James Reston also wrote at the time, “How do we win by military force without destroying what we are trying to save?” Reston’s column concluded, “How will we save Vietnam if we destroy it in a battle?”
It is precisely the way in which US strategists are currently pondering how to “save Taiwan” from the “communists in Beijing” by either bombing or otherwise permanently disabling the heart of Taiwan’s industry, namely its semiconductor factories, in the event of a Chinese invasion. The widely respected and widely read online newspaper Asia Times has described the activities of the US warmongers and China-haters in this regard in its article under the title US mulls scorched earth strategy for Taiwan.
At the Richard Nixon Foundation Grand Strategy Summit on November 10, 2022, former US national security adviser in ambassadorial rank Robert O’Brien stressed the importance of the US destroying Taiwan’s semiconductor factories and related infrastructure in the event of a Chinese invasion to prevent these capabilities from falling into the hands of mainland China.
“If China takes Taiwan and takes those factories intact – which I don’t think we [USA] would ever allow – they have a monopoly over chips the way OPEC has a monopoly, or even more than the way OPEC has a monopoly over oi,” O’Brien said, according to an Army Technology publication.
Army Technology also reported that the US Army War College published a study in November 2021 recommending that the US formulate credible threats underlining its intention to destroy the giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) factory in the event of an invasion, eliminating the most important supplier of microprocessing chips to China and the rest of the world.
This study, titled “Broken Nest: Deterring China from Invading Taiwan,” became the most downloaded US Army War College paper of 2021, suggesting US plans for a targeted scorched earth strategy in Taiwan would render the island “not just unattractive if ever seized by force, but positively costly to maintain.”
TSMC produces about 55% of the world’s semiconductors, which are used for all kinds of applications from cell phones and computers to sophisticated military weapons and equipment.
The study said the destruction of TSMC’s facilities would cripple China’s war effort, with the resulting economic damage seriously threatening the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party.
Moreover, the US or Taiwan could install automatic self-destruction systems in semiconductor factories. Therefore, the study demanded a clear commitment from Taiwan’s government that it will not allow these TSMC fab facilities to fall into China’s hands under any circumstances.
After months of speculation about possible US contingency plans regarding Taiwan, the US news agency Bloomberg reported on October 7, 2022, citing an unnamed US official, that in worst-case scenarios, the Pentagon plans to evacuate Taiwanese chip engineers to the USA, thus ruining the island’s economy.
In response to the Bloomberg report, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Taiwan and the USA did not carry out any such evacuation plan during this year’s Han Kuang military exercises. According to Chiu, none of the war games in the exercise included an evacuation scenario, and he stressed that Taiwan relies on self-reliance and restraint to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
However, the US Army War College study mentioned earlier also states that the US and its allies must prepare to absorb Taiwan’s semiconductor scientists and engineers as a way to preserve the human Know How of the island’s semiconductor industry.
According to Asia Times, the new US “scorched earth strategy” for Taiwan is a considerable departure from the previous “porcupine strategy.” Instead of deterring a Chinese invasion by the prospect of unacceptable casualties, as before, the scorched earth strategy is now designed to destroy Taiwan’s strategic and economic value to deter China from forcible military reunification. As noted earlier, the USA has for some time lost its conventional ability to deter China from a military campaign in the Taiwan Strait. Therein lies the reason for the USA shift from the “porcupine strategy” to the scorched-earth strategy, because an arms race with China in the Taiwan Strait would make the cost unacceptably high for the United States.
Among senior US officers, the chorus of warnings about growing Chinese military capabilities has grown louder in recent years and months. As recently as early November of this year, the commander of US Strategic Command, Admiral Charles Richard, had stated that when it comes to the issue of the US ability to deter China, “the ship is slowly sinking.” He added, “it is sinking, as fundamentally they are putting capability in the field faster than we are.”
In other words, US conventional deterrent is declining faster and faster. “The result is aging, shrinking, less ready troops lacking enough capacity and not modernizing fast enough,” explains Mackenzie Eaglen, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness.
In an article for Geopolitical Futures published on September 2021, military analyst Phillip Orchard notes that China’s growing anti-access/area denial capabilities have made a US intervention in the Taiwan Strait increasingly expensive and dangerous. At the same time, he notes that a “porcupine strategy” for Taiwan only makes sense if Taiwan can trust US security guarantees. If not, Taiwan must develop its counterstrike capabilities, but efforts to develop one strategy undermine the effectiveness of the other, according to Orchard.
Thus, the erosion of US conventional deterrence on the one hand and China’s military modernization on the other suggest that a scorched-earth strategy is a tacit admission that the United States can no longer defend Taiwan by military means. However, there are problems with implementing the scorched earth strategy for several reasons.
In a November 2020 interview with the Chinese daily Global Times, which is indirectly owned by the Chinese Communist Party, the former chairman of the Nationalist Party of Taiwan KMT, Hung Hsiu-chu, noted that most Taiwan residents could not bear the idea that their country will end up as scorched earth. Hung sharply criticized the hawks in Taiwan who advocated such a strategy because they had never experienced war and clung to their wishful thinking of US aid and profited from the resulting human suffering.
So, Taiwanese leaders would not want to destroy the island’s semiconductor industry, as it would lose a powerful bargaining tool to manage the complex interests of the US and China.
In an article for The Strategist published in March 2021, Elena Yi-Ching Ho pointed out the strategic importance of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to the USA and its allies, and that everyone, including China, would lose from a scorched-earth strategy and the destruction of TSMC, despite US aspirations to ensure Taiwan remains independent. However, political reunification with Taiwan seems more important to China than the TSMC semiconductor group and its possible destruction. The Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council stated in an article published in December 2021 that “the mainland’s pursuit of cross-strait reunification is definitely not for TSMC.”
In line with this, Timothy Rich notes in an article published in December 2021 in The News Lens that the destruction of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry may be only a temporary setback for China’s economic growth and technological progress.
The thinking of saving Taiwan from China with a scorched earth strategy is typical of the perverse brain structures of the US warmongers. And what would happen in the case of a more or less forced US withdrawal from Europe? Would then also our best scientists and technicians be forcibly evacuated to the USA to save them from the Russians? And would the few modern industrial plants still remaining in Europe, which have not yet migrated to the USA because of high energy costs and US subsidies, be flattened with explosives to save them from the Russians?
Or would the US strategists not think of such a thing because they like our big round European eyes better than the Asian ones? Certainly not! I know this from my own experience, in Washington in the early 1980s, in the course of an argument with a Pentagon strategist about Germany, in the case of too close a friendship with Russia. With a wave of his hand, he made it clear to me at that time that it (the USA) would flatten everything before it came to that.
This is a translation of the article by Rainer Rupp published for the first time on apolut web-site.