Scholar calls on Taiwan to learn from Israel in field of defense

11/21/2021 04:15 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (left) inspects ground troops at Chiayi Air Base on Nov. 18 (CNA file photo)
President Tsai Ing-wen (left) inspects ground troops at Chiayi Air Base on Nov. 18 (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) The United States should consider helping Taiwan build a sounder indigenous defense industry to boost its qualitative military edge, or QME, amid rising threat from China, as it has done with Israel for decades, a local defense scholar said recently.

According to Wu Tzu-li (吳自立), a researcher at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), the long-standing U.S. commitment to maintaining Israel's QME forms a central pillar of the Jewish state's security strategy.

According to a definition detailed in 2008 U.S. legislation, QME is defined as "the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states, or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means."

Such military means should be "possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors."

Israel has a relatively small populations and territory but is surrounded by Arab neighbors that remain hostile.

Understanding the dangers of this quantitative disadvantage, Israel has worked to ensure that the country will instead develop a qualitative edge: the ability to defend itself through military superiority, by heavily investing in high quality training and equipment, with help from the U.S., Wu said.

According to Wu, the U.S. has given Israel foreign aid surpassing US$1.25 trillion as of today, with almost all of it for military assistance.

Israel now has one of the world's strongest armed forces, a robust domestic defense industry and has become one of the largest weapons exporters in the world, he said.

Even the U.S. buys weapons from Israel, including investing in Israel's Iron Dome and other systems which can intercept incoming rockets, among others, he noted.

Taiwan also faces growing military coercion from the Chinese communist regime that has significant superiority in terms of military power despite Taiwan substantially increasing its defense spending in recent years, Wu said.

U.S. lawmakers have also focused on this issue, according to Wu, for instance, several senators introduced a bill earlier this month that would increase military aid to Taiwan to bolster the country's defenses against China.

The Taiwan Deterrence Act, proposed by Republican Senators Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Bill Hagerty, Mitt Romney, John Cornyn and Marco Rubio, seeks to authorize US$2 billion a year from the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program for Taiwan from 2023 to 2032.

Another piece of legislation proposed by Senator Josh Hawley titled "Arm Taiwan Act of 2021" earlier this month would allow the U.S. to authorize US$3 billion annually for such an initiative from 2023 through 2027 to provide assistance to Taiwan's government, such as equipment, training and other support.

However, the proposed legislation also envisages that in addition to arm sales from Washington, Taiwan should also do its part by investing more to boost its self-defense capabilities, Wu said.

Wu, therefore, called on the U.S. to help Taiwan boost its QME as it did with Israel so that Taiwan can build a stronger domestic defense industry like Israel.

Doing so would significantly speed up the time needed to boost Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, Wu said.

The scholar made the suggestion during a Defense Security Brief published by the INDSR on Nov. 19.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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