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John McCarthy
Computer Science Department
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305

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Here are some questions to supplement those offered by Paul Cohen about the hypothetical Taiwan blockade crisis.

During the 1997 June 3-5 HPKB meeting in Staunton, Virginia, a crisis scenario was presented in relation to the Genoa Challenge task. The scenario involved an Independence Party winning elections in Taiwan and declaring Taiwan independent of China. The scenario followed this with China declaring a blockade of Taiwan.

The challenge problem would be to extract material from publicly available sources to make a high performance database that would permit answering questions about what might happen in the crisis.

A number of questions were listed, but none of them were about U.S. options. Here are some additional questions that may be considered relevant.

What are the U.S. alternatives?

1. Do nothing physical. In this case what would the Japanese do? Could the Japanese break the blockade? What would the Japanese say to the U.S.?

2. Protest. It seems that a database derived from newspapers should enable predicting that the U.S. would at least protest. Would the Chinese anticipate that the U.S. would protest? Would the Chinese make concessions to a protest?

Would they make concessions to a protest accompanied by dispatching most of our carriers and attack submarines?

3. Airlift supplies to Taiwan as in the Berlin Blockade. Is this feasible? You won't find that in a newspaper database. Would Japan co-operate? Would the Philippines co-operate? Some precedents should be discoverable, e.g. Korea and Berlin.

4. What are credible U.S. military threats.

a. Counter-blockade. What risk would this involve to American lives? The database should tell us that this will be a consideration.

b. Use the U.S. Navy to break the blockade. Would the Navy succeed? Suppose enough carriers could do it? Can the carriers be protected against submarine attack?

5. How might the Chinese escalate against these actions or make credible counter-threats?

6. What would the Japanese Socialists say about a U.S. request for co-operation? This should be inferrable from a knowledge base derived from any major newspaper (NY Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Times of London, Le Monde, Figaro) or the files of A.P., U.P. or Reuters. The answer I would expect is that Japan should never participate in any military action or even co-operate in it. It might be inferrable from their reaction to a proposal that Japan send doctors to help with U.N. peacekeeping in Cambodia.

It should also be inferrable that the Liberal Democrats might be more activist.

7. What would the diplomatic events be? Would the Security Council take up the case?

8. What would be the talking points of the various parties--Taiwan, China, U.S. Japan, Western Europe, Russia, U.N. Secretary-General, U.N. Assembly? Which countries would take the position that it was entirely a Chinese internal matter.

9. What would the U.N. reaction be to proposals for economic sanctions? Newspaper based knowledge bases should suggest that the French would not go along. They should also express doubts about the U.S. business community. It's a bit exotic for a knowledge base to express doubts.

10. Is there likely to be a long stalemate of some kind? What would be the effect of a stalemate persisting for a year? Three years?

An analogous situation was the Soviet blockade of West Berlin in 1948. It was countered by an allied airlift that lasted for 15 months. The Soviets abandoned the blockade in May 1949, but the Western Allies kept flying until September, building up a year's supply of essential goods.

The historical example has the advantage that knowledge available in 1948 can be used and question answerers can be tested by seeing if the actions taken or discussed by the various countries come out as plausible to the question answerer.

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Next: References

Sat Jun 21 13:20:29 PDT 1997