"Nobody approaches the objectivity and precision of Bush and O'Hanlon when it comes to analysis of the military and political dimensions of the Taiwan issue. This is one challenge that U.S. policymakers and military strategists cannot afford to get wrong, and scholars cannot afford to ignore."
- Michael Green, former Senior Director for Asian Affairs National Security Council
The Showdown to Come
In 1995, during a heated discussion about that year's Taiwan crisis, a Chinese general remarked to a U.S. diplomat, "In the end, you care more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei." In a single sentence, he both questioned the level of America's commitment to a longtime ally and threatened massive, perhaps nuclear, retaliation should the United States intervene militarily on Taiwan's behalf. In the end, President Clinton sent two aircraft carriers to the region, and China ceased its military exercises in the Taiwan Strait. A decade later, however, China is much stronger, both economically and militarily, and it holds a significant amount of America's national debt. If another Taiwan crisis should occur-as it almost certainly will-would China back down?
In A War Like No Other, you'll discover how little it would take to transform the close cooperation and friendly rivalry between the United States and the People's Republic of China into the first-ever shooting war between two nuclear powers. This chilling look into one possible future offers thoughtful advice to both governments on how to reduce the chances of such a nightmare actually occurring. Two Brookings Institution scholars offer specific prescriptions on how the two nations can improve communications, especially in times of crisis; avoid risky behavior, even when provoked; and, above all, remember which buttons not to push.
"A supremely thoughtful, sober assessment of what is one of the most dangerous fault lines in the world today. The authors carefully avoid unduly alarmist assessments, yet convincingly demonstrate that miscalculation and misinformation could produce the unthinkable."
—James B. Steinberg, Dean, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Clinton
"A modern classic for those who think seriously about the prospective national security challenges confronting the United States in a dangerous world. It is must reading for everyone who recognizes that the Asia-Pacific region is where the real drama of the 21st Century will play out."
—Kurt M. Campbell, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic and International Studies
"A War Like No Other provides a riveting case study about grand crisis and the key insights for managing one successfully. We have been managing this crisis between China and Taiwan for some years now; we know the actors, we know the issues, and we even know the flashpoints firsthand. China is a deliberate actor; we should be able to anticipate her actions, reactions, signaling, and potential use of force from her most recent interventions in Korea, India, and Vietnam. These patterns give hope that this crisis can be contained, perhaps someday resolved. Yet, China-Taiwan remains a dangerous standoff, mandating that all, who represent any of the actors, read this study."
—General Eric K. Shinseki, U.S. Army (Retired)
1 Thinking the Unthinkable.
2 An Emerging Rival?
3 Competition versus Opposition.
4 The Lost Island.
5 The Taiwan Tinderbox.
6 Adding Fuel to the Fire.
7 China Might Think It Would Win.
8 Spiraling Out of Control.
9 From Standoff to Stand-down.
Appendix: Why China Could Not Seize Taiwan.