A missile fired by the Republic of China Marine Corps from a U.S.-made Chaparral air defense system toward a sea target during a drill in March veered off course toward land and exploded near civilian houses in a village in southern Taiwan.
The news broke Sunday, coinciding with an announcement by the U.S. Pentagon that 60 percent of U.S. naval forces will be deployed in East Asia by 2020 to help maintain regional peace and safeguard the country's interests there.
The Pentagon declaration immediately drew a strong backlash from China, which claimed that the planned deployment is targeting it.
These developments remind us of the vanity of President Ma Ying-jeou's assertion that his "modus vivendi" approach to dealing with China has helped create peace in the Taiwan Strait over the past four years.
From a historical point of view, Ma's policy will at best delay the outbreak of war rather than end war forever.
Roman orator Publius Tacitus famously said thousands of years ago: "They make a desolation and they call it peace."
Historians point out that Roman Emperor Augustus faced the problem of making peace an acceptable mode of life for the Romans, who had been at war with one power after another continuously throughout their history.
Many historians agree that peace is a rare situation when competing nation states are consolidating their power or preparing for the next stage of war.
The Romans regarded peace not as an absence of war but only a condition in which opponents had been beaten down and had lost the ability to resist.
Ancient Greek history also features long and nasty wars, while more than half of China's 3,000 years of history has been dominated by war.
Even though the invention of nuclear weapons has helped deter large-scale wars among big powers in recent decades, medium-scale wars have not stopped since the end of World War II.
The possibility of a medium-scale military conflict breaking out between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has never receded. Therefore, we can never afford to indulge ourselves in the false peace touted by President Ma.
His rhetoric could lead to dereliction or laziness in military training and discipline, backwardness in the country's arsenal and a decline in morale. Should that be the case, our country could collapse like Iraq when a cross-strait conflict erupts.
We do not oppose unification with China, but it should happen only when China is democratized and when more than half of Taiwan's people agree to it through a referendum. We adamantly oppose unification by force. Therefore, Taiwan should never ease up on its combat preparedness. The government should let the people know that peace is false, fragile and transient. (Editorial abstract -- June 4, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)