Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nelson Report: Murray vs Feldman, Other defense...

This edition of the Washington insider report, the Nelson Report, discusses the previous report. Do we dare to think that the Bush Administration is coming round to the right point of view on the weapons sales?


TAIWAN noted in the Summary, we gave the wrong impression in our Report of Monday on why the Taiwan arms sale notifications expected by Congress last week were not sent up.

While the 32-page paper by Naval War College analyst Dr. William Murray has been widely circulated, read, and discussed throughout the Bush Administration, and has been made "required reading" by President Ma on Taiwan...the sales, perhaps ALL of them, are expected to be officially sent to Capitol Hill tomorrow (Thursday).

Of that we have been privately, very firmly informed by official sources, and we gather that this week's meeting of US and Taiwanese defense officials and experts, down in Florida, has produced similar assurances.

In fact, the Florida confab was told, the Administration confesses to "procedural mistakes" in handling the Taiwan sales, but that perhaps all 8 "will be sent soon".

(This from a private conversation with Taiwan Business Council chief Paul Wolfowitz.)

One key part of the package may be up in the air...pun intended...there seems still some uncertainty on whether all six of the PAC-3 batteries will come together, or be split, perhaps two batteries now, and four later, we are told.

"Fans" of the Murray critique still hold out hope that the submarine portion of the original, 2001 package may yet be shelved, but our official sources are mum on that one.

All this by way of lead-in to a question posed by Senior Adult Supervisor, and Heritage Foundation guru Harvey Feldman, after we ran the summary of Dr. Murray's paper...which we follow with Murray's response to Harvey.

Tomorrow we will continue this dialogue, bringing back consultant Gregg Rubinstein, and continuing with more from Harvey and Bill.

Today's "Perspective/Dialogue" started with a question from Amb. Feldman:

"Perhaps I'm simple-minded, but it seems to me Murray is saying that Taiwan needs to 'deny the PRC the uncontested use of the air,' but somehow doesn't need the aircraft with which to do it. It also needs to repel an invasion by 'building redundancy into its civil and military infrastructure.' Not quite sure how that repels an invasion, but maybe that's because I don't teach at the Naval War College.

Of course if we do not sell the F-16 c/ds that Taiwan could use to counter PRC Su-30s, for sure 'their fighters cannot defend Taiwan's skies'."

Here is Bill Murray's response to Amb. Feldman:

First, I think the Ambassador and I would agree that Taiwan must prevent China from achieving uncontested air superiority over Taiwan. The question that logically follows is then "How can Taiwan best do that?"

The traditional way is to have superior aircraft, pilots, air-to-air missiles, doctrine and training, and Taiwan has long possessed all of that. But in order for this advantage to hold, Taiwan must have runways from which it can fly and land.

I maintain, however, that through the use of short range ballistic missiles China now has the ability to deny Taiwan the use of its runways and airfields, and that Beijing can probably continue to crater and deny to Taiwan its runways for a period of days, or even weeks.

If I am right, then it doesn't matter what planes Taiwan possesses, since if Taiwan's planes cannot fly they simply cannot defend Taiwan. China could then use its increasingly impressive air force to directly bomb Taiwan, including Taiwan's airfields.

Consequently, I think Taiwan should very carefully consider obtaining advanced, mobile air defense systems (SAMs) that could survive a surprise SRBM attack, and prevent China the uncontested use of Taiwan's airspace.

Modern, mobile SAMs such as SLAMRAAM can be moved from site to site, thus complicating Chinese efforts to destroy them, and have sufficient lethality to offer China the prospect of a very expensive attritional campaign. I think this is a prospect China would find unattractive.

In short, I advocate Taiwan acquire a modern integrated air defense system that is sufficiently mobile or hardened to withstand Chinese counter-targeting efforts. Such a system could be useful after an SRBM attack. I don't think airfields or the fighter aircraft that require them to operate, will be.

AMB Feldman's second point seems to be drawn from the conclusion of my paper, so I can readily see how he may have misunderstood my argument. I do not mean to advocate hardening and redundancy as the primary means of withstanding a blockade, though such measures would help since they would allow Taiwan to better withstand a long-range precision bombardment that could accompany a blockade. I think that the best means available to Taiwan of withstanding blockades are not military.

I think instead that building adequate stockpiles of fuel and other critical consumables would provide Taipei the best option for withstanding a blockade. Also important would be the development and exercise of comprehensive civil defense measures including emergency food, fuel, medicine, governance and information distribution measures. The key outcome would be to extend Taiwan's ability to withstand Chinese coercive efforts.

This would, as I tried to emphasize in my paper, provide the US more time in which to debate whether intervening in such a scenario would be in the national interest, and deliberately respond as appropriate. I think that is really the key thing.


Perhaps the "porcupine" is possible although it would seem to me that Taiwan must have a powerful offensive missile and aircraft attack capability. Otherwise Murray simply proposes a plan that concedes the strategic and tactical initiative to China -- a plan that makes Taiwan's defeat a certainty, since it presents Taiwan as a set of passive tactical problems to be solved on a one after another basis (can anyone say "Maginot line" mentality), just as Japan solved the many issues involved in attacking Pearl Harbor. Note the underlying assumptions that the US will not move to protect Taiwan.

Murray and many others are correct in observing that Taiwan desperately needs a consensus on defense, but as long as the KMT has power, we are never going to get it. The US foreign policy establishment cannot on one hand argue that Taiwan needs a consensus on its defense, and then on the other, struggle to lever into power the KMT, which has been the chief obstacle to a consensus, and then complain that Taiwan has no consensus on defense....never mind that the KMT itself seems split into competing factions that advocate abject capitulation and utter resistance to the Communists. Had the US worked to keep the DPP in power, it could be assured of a government that would work for a positive consensus on defense and resist China. Chen Shui-bian was an opportunity to be grasped, not a fly in the ointment to be swatted....

Also on tap today is a small notification (hat tip to Raj at Peking Duck for alerting me to this over at the Taiwan military forum) that the US is selling Taiwan missiles:

Contract Award

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $422,625,362 firm fixed price cost plus fixed fee contract for the STANDARD Missile II (SM-2) production of All-Up-Round (AUR) missiles, AN/DKT-71A Telemetric Data Transmitting Sets (TDTS's), section level spares, post production spares, shipping containers, and associated data. The contract provides for the procurement of 419 missiles, 96 AN/DKT-71A Telemetric Data Transmitting Sets (TDTS's), 265 shipping containers, spares, and associated data for U.S. and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $428,712,667. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy, (22.34 percent) and the government(s) of Japan, (5.75 percent), South Korea, (37.99 percent), Taiwan (33.91 percent), and Netherlands, (.01 precent) under the FMS Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., (74 percent); Andover, Mass., (18 percent); Camden, Ark., (5 percent); and Farmington, N.M., (3 percent), and is expected to be completed by Dec. 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $9,258,627 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-08-C-5347).

Finally, a piece on US-Taiwan-China defense issues by Doug Bandow in The National Interest, also reiterating the point of view that Washington should avoid committing to intervention in the Strait but sell Taiwan the weapons it needs. The piece is long and thoughtful, and well informed:

America should adopt a two-fold policy, obvious to both Beijing and Taipei. First, the United States intends to maintain a close relationship with Taiwan. That means meeting any reasonable request from Taipei to purchase weapons that would better enable the island state to defend itself. It also means expanding non-military ties, particularly negotiating a free trade agreement—admittedly difficult in today’s political environment.

Second, while Washington does not plan on intervening militarily in any conflict between China and Taiwan, it should warn the PRC that aggression would be extremely costly. The United States would have no choice to respond to a military attack on a democratic friend, and Sino-American political and economic relations would suffer. So would Beijing’s ties throughout Asia and Europe. Most important, China’s goal of global leadership, which requires the trust of other nations, would be set back years if not decades. It would be impossible for any of Beijing’s neighbors to give credence to the PRC’s oft-repeated promise of a “peaceful rise.”

It is not America’s purpose to serve as the world’s 911 number. But the United States can help equip friendly states seeking to defend themselves. South Korea, Japan, and the Europeans all could and should take over their own security, with or without U.S. weapons. But Taiwan faces a more difficult circumstance and needs access to the American arsenal to defend itself. Helping friends help themselves while getting out of the crossfire should be the basis of America’s foreign policy.

My how our "interest" shifts over the years.... of course all this discussion of Taiwan-PRC relations and the threat of attack puts into grim perspective Ma's comments in Mexico a few weeks ago to the effect that Taiwan is a "region" in its relations with China. Does a "region" resist? And does the US defend a "region?"

The most important factor in China's equation is not taking Taiwan, nor defeating the US, nor even keeping Japan out of the battle, but the postwar occupation of Taiwan -- on what basis is it to be conducted? Surely the Chinese must recall the numerous revolts against the Dutch, Qing, and Japanese, the threat of violence against the KMT, the armed struggle conducted briefly during the 2-28 revolt. What the Chinese really want is not for KMT to turn the island over to them, but to turn it over to them in such a way that the stubborn Taiwanese propensity for resistance has been defanged.


Anonymous said...

1. That Doug Bandow piece was a good read. Thanks for that.

I noticed on top of the site a link to a DVD called The World without the USA that looked interesting. I watched both trailers - In the first one, there is a clip of the CKS memorial being wiped out by a nuke. (near the end). The second trailer has a clip of Hsiao Bikim "we fought very hard for our democracy and we don't want to lose it" then right after, another city gets blasted. (japan?taiwan? hard to tell).

2. I am convinced that after the vote this morning in the US Senate for the foreign bank bailout, the dollar is headed for the wastebasket and a market collapse is imminent. Here are a few links if anyone is interested to piece together the puzzle:

On this thread, there is a good summary of why the bailout is happening. Here is a short read on how the US saved the EU bank system. (AIG bailout). No wonder all the EU bankers had their panties in a bunch the past few days.

Peter Shiff, get out of the dollar now youtube

Dems Against Bailout: - Rep Brad Sherman youtube

I'm just sick of this mess. Nothing good is going to come of it and our life here in Taiwan will change for the worse.

Anonymous said...

Why is Mr. MT and readers of this blog all huffing and puffing about Ma and worrying about Taiwan independence from China? At the current rate of using foreign banks to fund your deficit spending, America will be owned by China very soon.

With this awesome $700 billion bail out plan, America is going to borrow even more money from China...hehehe.. You have a bigger financial independence problem yourself in America, so stop preaching independence to us. Go mind your own business.

Raj said...

Can you access the Nelson report online from a dedicated location?

Dixteel said...

Thank you for posting and discussing military matters. Shameful to say, I think quite some Taiwanese just don't care about military matters when it's one of the most important challenge Taiwan has to face.
After reading some of the debate I think Murray intend was good and his concerns are valid. But I am worried if Taiwan just follows his strategy, Taiwan would loss all initiatives...its fate would be in the hands of China and the US. Investing so much effort only to have its fate decided by others? Is that the best Taiwan can do? I wonder if Murray thought about that. Surely a better solution can be found for Taiwan. For example, if airfield is prone to missile attack, why not use mobile airfield like aircraft carriers? or "underground airfield," or use VTO aircraft like the new JSF or harriers? Of course for Taiwan there are a lot of limitation because of China's pressure and TRA, but with China's growing arsenal, I really think Taiwan and the US need to start thinking outside of the box instead of inside of the box.

Dixteel said...

Also I have to agree with you on KMT being a obstacle of defense on Taiwan. For the past few years they have been blocking PAC 3 when DPP was in power. They had a truck load of excuses ranging from PAC 3 doesn't work to people didn't agree to buy it. Now they are in power, suddenly they bought it.
Also, you have to wonder...can the US actually fully trust KMT, who has strong tendency toward unification, with the weapons?
But then again a lot of high rank military officers in Taiwan are KMT member due to past the situation is complicated, to say the least.