Want To Set Asia Aflame? Send U.S. Missiles To Taiwan

A second Cuban missile crisis, but in Asia.

The National Interest
Date: July 24, 2020
by Robert Farley Follow drfarls on TwitterL

Here's What You Need To Remember: Under almost any conceivable scenario, deploying U.S. GLCMs to Taiwan would be a terrible idea. In the very few scenarios where such a deployment would make sense, the diplomatic relationship between Washington and Beijing will already have decayed to such an extent that war would be virtually inevitable.

In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union nearly turned the Cold War hot because of the Soviet decision to deploy nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba. A few years before that, China and the United States came perilously close to war over a few Taiwanese-controlled islands off the coast of the mainland.

In the next decade, as tensions grow between Beijing and Washington, and as the United States sloughs off the restrictions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, we could see a replay of both crises. In a few years, the United States may have new ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with the capacity to strike at intermediate ranges. And if relations between China and the United States continue to deteriorate, Washington may go looking for places to station those missiles. GLCMs in Taiwan are simultaneously China’s greatest fear, and the last card that the United States can play before war begins. They would also spark the most dangerous nuclear standoff since 1962.

What Has Gone Before:

The United States has threatened China with cruise missiles before. In 1958, the United States sent several batteries of MGM-1 “Matador” cruise missiles to Taiwan. The missiles, equipped with a 40 kt nuclear weapon, could hit targets at a range of up to 1000 km, putting a significant portion of the mainland at risk. The United States

withdrew these missiles because of obsolescence in 1962, and withdrew its entire military presence in 1979 upon the normalization of diplomatic relations with the PRC.   

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