National defense will be in jeopardy if decisionmakers cannot point out a clear direction for Taiwan’s national security. It is critical for policymakers and politicians to bear in mind that strength is the best bargaining chip in international negotiations. National defense capabilities comprise one of the most essential components of national strength, which is particularly vital for a small state like Taiwan.
Therefore, national security and national defense should never be underrated and traded for short-term economic interests. Although some politicians boast that the past few years have been the most peaceful and successful period in the development of cross-strait relations, Taiwan’s security seems to be gradually eroding and moving toward a dangerous situation.
For far-sighted and prudent leaders, peace provides a golden window of opportunity to enhance national defense capabilities and conduct necessary military reforms to be better prepared for unpredictable threats in the future. It is naive to believe that peace can be achieved by the weak.
Political leadership plays a crucial role in boosting military morale, arousing military honor and restoring the military’s reputation. The vision, determination and concrete action of political leaders to support the military are key to preventing national security and national defense from suffering further degradation. Only with robust and formidable military forces as the backbone of the state can Taiwan be confident of its ability to preserve its democracy and way of life, and its ability to defend national interests in possible political engagements with China.
Eric Chiou is an assistant professor at National Chiao Tung University.