Picture this: You wake up one morning and look at the news. And things aren’t good.
Videos show Chinese troops in the midst of a surprise invasion on the island of Taiwan. Machine guns chatter in the distance as American-trained Taiwanese soldiers stage a desperate attempt to prevent mainland forces from securing a beachhead. While the island’s few aging fighter jets put up a good fight, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force has established clear air superiority.
There has been no word from the White House all morning. Suddenly, the camera cuts to Washington, D.C., as President Joe Biden solemnly walks to a podium on the South Lawn, leans into the microphone and begins to speak.
There’s no telling what the president would say — or if the statement would even be remotely lucid — but it’s hard to imagine a worse scenario for the world.
This is China’s golden window.
Convincing struggling Americans to intervene in a foreign war some 7,000 miles away is a tough sell in the first place, and even if Biden is able to unite Americans against a common enemy, he faces some major challenges.
Chiefly, U.S. forces face a screen of defenses seemingly purpose-built to stop an American intervention cold.
The best solution for Biden would normally be a blockade. U.S. warships would enter the Taiwan Strait, cutting off Chinese forces while preventing more from landing. Without ammunition or reinforcements, the communist beachhead would soon collapse.
China knows this is the single biggest obstacle to an invasion. And although the country hasn’t yet floated a navy to match ours, it doesn’t need to. Hypersonic ship-killing missiles developed by China can be rapidly produced, and are difficult to counter. Even small swarms of these could devastate a U.S. carrier group.
These missiles would turn the area around Taiwan into a no-go zone, and taking them out would require escalating American involvement beyond a simple naval blockade.
While Biden may believe he can martial the political will needed to rally Americans into supporting airstrikes or a ground war against China, heavy foreign conflict would be nearly impossible amid rising gas prices and bare grocery store shelves.
When the prize is explained to be the freedom of an island most people can’t identify on a map, this becomes even more difficult.
Biden won’t be here forever, though.
Changing political winds ushered in Republicans across the board in Virginia this week, while major elections in 2022 and 2024 hold some promise of a major shakeup as well. For China, America’s current weak leadership constitutes a perfect adversary.
Waiting around could soon see another firebrand Republican take the White House, virtually guaranteeing a U.S. response.
China openly claims the island as its own wayward province, and often calls Taiwanese independence a “dead end.” There’s only so long the 1.3 billion-strong country can rattle that saber and allow a free Taiwan.
And with the mainland’s golden window rapidly closing, the time to act has clearly arrived.
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