Limits of Coercion: Compellence, deterrence, and cross-Strait political military affairs (DRAFT)
Twomey, Christopher P.
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This paper looks to assess the impact on Taiwan, and secondarily the United States, of China’s increased military capabilities as they pertain to the Taiwan Straits. The paper conducts analysis of the triangular relationships and considers the perceptual basis of power and the use of tacit and implied threats. A notional sketch of this author’s views is laid out explicitly as this shapes the bulk of the analysis and conclusions drawn below. Then a set of stylized goals is laid out for China and Taiwan with regard to future development on the unification/independence issue. (U.S. goals are also briefly discussed.) The bulk of the paper looks at how successful each of the three has been in achieving those goals in the context of the evolving military balance. While the types of data used vary substantially across each three, the conclusions all emphasize the challenges in relying primarily on power to assess the development of politics in the region. The paper concludes that the substantial military capability enhancements by the PRC have not led to commensurate gains in coercive outcomes. There appears to be some degree of deterrence success in stemming a further move towards independence within the Taiwanese body politic. However, there is no sign of significant compellent success in pushing it toward reunification. The U.S. role in this is central, as it too if affected by that balance and it too can influence policy in Taiwan. Indeed, perhaps the critically important element is that military coercive power has complex effects on a democracy. More generally, projecting influence from power is not straightforward.
Draft submitted to International Studies Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, March 2011Forthcoming in Roger Cliff, Phillip C. Saunders, and Scott W. Harold, eds., Cross- Strait Relations: New Opportunities and Challenges for Taiwan’s Security, RAND (2011)
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