Lloyd Evans, president of the Taiwan Veterans Badge of Honor Association, recently sent me a link to a document that was prepared back in January 1966 for the Defense Department by the Rand Corporation.
It describes the events surrounding the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis and provides insight into the decision making process during those events. Many will recall the shelling of the islands by the Communists, the naval blockades, and the dire threats to the United States from both Peking and Moscow.
Fortunately for President Eisenhower, all he had to contend with was possible nuclear war with the Chinese Communists and with Khrushchev's Soviet Union. He wasn't bound by trillions of dollars in Chinese loans as the United States is today and could base his decisions simply on what was best for us and our allies on Taiwan.
It was a scary time and, as with other flash points during the cold war, nobody at the time knew how it might end. You can read or download the document at the Rand Corporation website. Depending on your connection speed, it may take a few minutes to load. Unfortunately, just like the CINCPAC histories that I've been writing about, this is a large (647 page) PDF document that can't be searched for key words. I did find that the author's exhaustive list of sources begins on page 579, so that makes it a little less lengthy -- probably about the size of an average novel.
If you think that a similar crisis could not happen today, then you need to read this article in today's Taipei Times. Despite what seems to be a gradual warming between the Taipei government and the People's Republic, there are now approximately 1,500 missiles aimed at Taiwan, an increase of about 200 missiles within the past year.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.