The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes up to US$12 billion in grants and loans to Taiwan to buy US weapons over the next five years. The bill passed the Democratic Party-controlled House on a 350 to 80 vote. It is expected to clear the Senate next week before being sent to the White House for US President Joe Biden to sign into law. The act would authorize up to US$2 billion in annual grants from next year to 2027, and an additional US$2 billion in loans for Taiwan to use to bolster its military capabilities with weapons from the US. It also authorizes a regional contingency stockpile for Taiwan that consists of munitions and other appropriate defense articles costing up to US$100 million a year for use in the event of a conflict.
Have we ever had a case in American history where a designated aid nation did not request aid, and US Congress generously, voluntarily provide such a massive amount? And instead of debating whether this is good policy, perhaps the first prudent thing to do is to ponder what is going on in this moment of world history that such an unusual move has been taken.
Novices and bad actors will focus on the dollar amount, while experts and those with a sincere desire to protect democracy in the Indo-pacific will notice that the direct military aid is only the tip of a very large spear against the China threat — technology, education, trade, democracy, law enforcement, intelligence, and counterintelligence, etc. are other realms where this global struggle are occurring.
The most important part of the NDAA is Congress forcing a lumbering executive branch to pivot to face the China threat for real — i.e., increasing production of critical munitions, money for base protection, a stockpile of critical munitions in the region, etc. Novices and bad actors will focus on allegedly “provoking” the Chinese communists and rising tensions even though the communists are experts at self-provocation — they will fuss about budget and deficit, and they will spread lies that the Taiwanese prefer to surrender. Experts from this point on will avoid focusing on weapons sold and transferred, and see if Congress is able to force the executive branch and the Pentagon to do real interoperability — i.e., to abandon the idiocy of Jimmy Carter and invite the Taiwanese military to participate in US-Japan-Australian-NATO exercises. I wonder, and this is speculation on my part – would the US government voluntarily grant this massive amount of foreign military aid without sending American military advisors? Taiwan’s archaic and dated military leaders require a push and a nudge re: modern warfare – rapid pace, technology-centered, intelligence-counterintelligence, modern logistics, and creativity. What the Taiwan military leadership requires most, and perhaps this is where American, Japanese, and European advisors can best provide, is the lesson of Ukraine – a national military divorced from the democracy of its nation cannot and will not fight. Taiwan’s national security establishment requires democratization so that it can absorb and adhere to the strengths of the democracy it is suppose to protect.
I am against large US military presence in Taiwan, having nothing to do with the easily hurt feelings of the Chinese in China and the Chinese in Taiwan — but that it makes little tactical and strategery sense. Quick and thoughtful public and routinized rotations of American and Japanese units in and out of Taiwan to work on interoperability and training, with a small officer-advisor corp in Taiwan as advisors to the Ministry of National Defense and Taiwan’s democratically elected civilian leaders, and massive munitions and platforms depot in the area ready for the fight immediately are hopefully enough to deter the communists.
Now that the American aid is here, Taiwan must increase its annual war budget by the same amount — we have to increase our war budget so that our American congressional allies will have cover from domestic bad actors, united front fellow travelers. All multinational policies regarding the China threat is to prevent Beijing from even considering starting a war of annexation against Taiwan.
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