COMMENTARY

Memorial Day Message from China

Charles A. Kohlhaas | May 26, 2024

The front page of yesterday’s Friday’s Wall Street Journal had a picture of a large public TV screen in Beijing showing a satellite image of Taiwan off the coast of mainland China and how the Chinese military is conducting “maneuvers” encircling Taiwan. The headline: China Sends Taiwan Message With Military Drills. This message is not for Taiwan; it is for the US.

China has made it clear in speeches, announcements, publications, and in practice they do not want to take over the world by force. They are not interested in conquering a world by destroying it. They prefer to dominate a functioning world. They want to be the conductor of a world orchestra made up of subservient countries and strong economies all working for the benefit of China. China will decide who does what, when, and how - and if someone objects or does not comply, he disappears.

Taiwan is a prosperous economy. They dominate high-tech semi-conductor chip manufacture. China does not want to destroy that. They want to take it over. Taiwan is an island. The obvious way to take it over is with a blockade. Starve it of imported resources and export income until it agrees to be part of China.

The problem with that idea is that the US has pledged to defend Taiwan. But China knows the US military is a shadow of its former self. At the end of the Cold War the US military was the most effective, formidable force on the planet. It demonstrated that conclusively in the first Gulf War when it destroyed the Iraqi Army in four days, an army equipped with state-of-the-art Soviet equipment.

But 30 years of bad policy, based on naïve fantasies of a benign world ruled by mellow democracies, have withered the US military. Because of misguided decisions by a cadre of foreign policy advisers largely composed of Ivy League lawyers, the US now has few shipyards and only two repair ports. It cannot build many ships and cannot repair them when needed (nearly one-third of the Navy fleet is backlogged waiting for repairs). In addition, aircraft and munitions manufacturing capacity were reduced drastically, and woke and vaccine personnel policies were introduced which caused widespread resignations and recruiting shortfalls.

The Navy is hollowed out, ill-equipped, and ill-supplied. Results of our wargames of a defense of Taiwan by the US Navy are published and consistent. They all predict the US will run out of munitions in less than a week, lose two carriers, 10 to 20 surface warships, hundreds of planes, and thousands of lives - and lose.

China knows those results as well as we do. What would the Biden Administration do if it were confronted with an ultimatum from China to the effect that China will blockade Taiwan regardless of whether the US sends its Navy to defend it. Always dealing from weakness, it would renege on its commitment, tuck its tail between its legs in humiliation and let China do as it wishes.

That acquiescence will concede US world leadership for all to see.  

China is already establishing a strong presence in the Solomon Islands. After Taiwan, what will be its next target knowing the US is no longer a problem? The Philippines. A strong ally of the US without effective US support will be swinging in the wind. China will soon dominate its economy and politics and establish a strong military presence there. A short look at the map and it becomes quickly apparent this puts China across the major sea lanes of the western Pacific. It isolates Japan from its major resource supplies and cuts off Australia, Indonesia, and the rest of SE Asia from US support which by then has crawled away in shame, anyway. Obama’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific was like so much of Obama: All talk and no follow up and this is the result.

On this Memorial Day weekend, we honor all those men and women under rows and rows of white crosses and Stars of David in cemeteries throughout our country and in many foreign lands. They are there because of their sacrifice to ensure the United States would remain strong, prosperous, and free. For their efforts the world respected us and depended on us. They, and the free world, have been betrayed.

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal front-page picture shows four young ladies being sworn in as US Navy officers upon their graduation from the Naval Academy. These are enthusiastic, well-trained, young people, some of the best of our country. How sad a shrunken, weakened force awaits them. The young also have been betrayed.