Strategic ambiguity : thoughtful engagement or a reckless gamble? the factors of the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis
Ogden, Thomas Michael.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The United States has used strategic ambiguity as a means to deter war and prevent conflict between China and Taiwan since 1950. The closest these actors came to war was arguably the 1995-96 Crisis in the Taiwan Strait. The research question I investigate in this paper is: Was the United States' use of strategic ambiguity the major factor preventing war in the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait Crisis? To determine the presence of strategic ambiguity (the deliberate refusal to explicitly state one's plans and intentions) in the crisis, I analyzed major actions of the United States, China and Taiwan; determined their impacts based on press reporting, official government statements or speeches in response to these actions and observed military action; and found that ambiguous actions resulted in a decrease in tension whereas clear actions resulted in an increase in tension between the actors. Alternatively, I researched other factors (China's domestic and economic situation, China's status in the international community, and China's demonstrated capability to wage war) to determine their role in preventing war. I found that these factors also had a role in preventing war but could not disprove that strategic ambiguity was the major factor. The strategy of ambiguity was found to be of utility still today and should continue to be used by the United States in its policies with China and Taiwan, or other three party relationships.
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