One. I find this report reassuring. Taiwan cannot afford to domestically develop too many weapon systems – and for historical, diplomatic, political, and psychological reasons, this is the impression one gets, that for a modest-sized nation, with limited funds, with a very acute national security threat, Taiwan’s domestic military research institutions (mostly military and quasi-government controlled) have tried to cover too many projects. An important cause of this has been ambiguous and self-defeating US policies – forcing Taiwan to waste time and resources on the IDF jet fighters, the long-delayed Taiwanese submarine program being two of the many examples.
Two. As a part of Taiwan’s democratizing there are three pillars of “normalization” required – normalizing Taiwan’s international presence/alliance arrangements as a democratic nation-state; normalizing Taiwan’s domestic civilian-led democratic political institutions to include the military and military adjacent planning; and normalizing the process wherein domestically developed weapon system coheres with Taiwan’s overall national security, geostrategic, and geoeconomics objectives. Again, Taiwan’s national security transition faces two legacies – transforming the military from a dictatorship preservation entity into a national protection military while at the same time waiting for the US to update its previously unhelpful security assistance policies towards Taiwan.
Three. A critical area of reform is the democratization and “Taiwanization” of the national security apparatus – using Ukraine as a role model – so that the total national power of Taiwan can be harnessed by its military. Cyberwarfare and drone technology are the two glaring areas where Taiwan has world-class talents in its civil society, yet an insular and slow-to-transform national security apparatus has been unable to absorb these national advantages fully. For the last few decades, one cannot see a concerted effort to invest in intelligence and electronic warfare – surprising for a small nation facing a giant enemy. The delay by many decades of effort to develop a domestic AEGIS/VLS-ish capacity for the Taiwanese Navy is another example of structural, and institutional challenges.
Four. Many encouraging signs these last few years that Taiwan’s ruling party, as well as its democratic allies, and reform-minded Taiwanese officers understand these areas require rapid transformation. It may not be the most exciting area of discussion compared with flashy weapon platforms – I am thrilled that Taiwanese and US officials are focusing on logistics, spare parts, munitions, and vital strategic stockpiles. They may not be newspaper headline material nor look good for parades. Still, one hopes serious preparation will convince the Chinese communists that a war of annexation would be too costly for their dictatorship. 30.8.2022
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