Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said sending troops to fight China over Taiwan would be “on the table” as a response to a Chinese attack.
“If communist China invaded Taiwan, it would certainly be on the table and something that would be discussed by Congress and with the American people,” McCaul told Fox News when asked about sending troops. “Are they prepared to do this? Is Taiwan worth it? I can argue for a lot of reasons why it is.”
McCaul said to send troops, Congress would need to authorize the deployment or issue a formal declaration of war. “You’re talking about an authorized use of military force that would come out of my committee or a declaration of war, which we haven’t utilized since World War II,” he said.
McCaul’s comments demonstrate the difference in rhetoric in Washington over Taiwan compared to Ukraine. Besides calls to implement a no-fly-zone over Ukraine in the early days of Russia’s invasion, no members of Congress have pushed for sending troops into the country to directly fight Russian forces.
The implication of a direct war between the US and Russia is that it could quickly go nuclear. While Beijing’s nuclear arsenal is vastly smaller than Moscow’s, the risk of nuclear war still exists in the event of a direct US-China clash, but American officials don’t seem to care.
In September 2022, President Biden vowed he would send troops to Taiwan to fight in the event of a Chinese attack. He was asked explicitly if, unlike Ukraine, American men and women would be sent to defend Taiwan, and replied, “Yes.”
McCaul said conflict with China is the “last resort” and that the US would focus on “deterrence” by increasing support for Taiwan. But China’s actions and rhetoric have made clear increasing US-Taiwan ties will make a military conflict more likely.
McCaul made the comments from Taiwan, where he led a bipartisan delegation to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who just met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). McCaul’s visit to Taipei came as China launched three days of major military exercises around Taiwan over the Tsai-McCarthy meeting.