Review: Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program

Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons On-Demand

David Albright and Andrea Stricker’s 2018 book on the abandoned nuclear weapons program of Taiwan tells the true story of one of the biggest nuclear programs that never resulted in a functioning bomb. The authors themselves note the similarities to the previously-reviewed underground South African program-and the huge differences.

The big catalyst was, unsurprisingly, the mainland’s successful deployment of nuclear weapons in 1964. What followed was a decades-long game that lasted as long as the Taiwanese military regime itself, where it tried to slip nuclear construction ability under the nose of the Americans who feared escalation. A tale of both technical and political detail, it’s excellently told.

Where I differ book is in its conclusion. Albright and Stricker argue that the Americans were fully in the right in stopping the program. To me, I would feel a lot more comfortable about Taiwan’s security if it had the ability to make Shanghai and other close, large cities disappear in a fireball. Many Taiwanese themselves made legitimate arguments against them that were quoted in the book: It would trigger the PRC to rev up earlier, and Taiwan was so small that they’d be vulnerable to a counterforce strike. But I still think a submarine deterrent would go a long way.

Still, opinions aside, this is a great look at an underappreciated weapons program.

Operation Causeway

Operation Causeway was a proposed plan by the US military in World War II to land on Taiwan. It would have been a massive high risk, high cost, and high reward operation. In actual history, Causeway was shelved in favor of landing in Luzon.

The initial landing sites for Causeway would be in the south.

The Causeway documents are useful not just as an alternate historical reference, but also as a general guide to what a large amphibious invasion of Taiwan would entail (something that, for some mysterious reason, has remained relevant postwar).

The Asian Sportsbook

Finally got the chance to hear about the peculiarities of Asian sportsbooks in an old podcast by betting hand Matthew Trenhaile. Of course it comes a year after I wrote an Asian megabook as if it was a western-facing post-up (you deposit money in the book instead of operating on credit) one in The Sure Bet King. Anyway, the entire segment is great and I recommend you listen to it.

Asian sportsbooks have had (note the past tense) a reputation for being “sharp”, ie taking bets unquestioned with huge limits. But as the podcast notes, it’s wrong to compare them to the western-facing “sharp books” (Circa Sports / Pinnacle /BetCRIS). The short version for their “balancing act” is simple:

  • A complex “agent system” that evolved from technological constraints and also legal ones.
  • More importantly,a gargantuan pool of recreational money (at least in soccer) and the ability to, for lack of a better word, “dilute” the sharp money across it.

The podcast, recorded in 2018, mentioned this system declining already. Limits were being noticeably reduced, especially for lower-tier leagues. The wider adoption of the internet makes the tangled agent pyramid less and less necessary. Since then, everything I’ve seen has indicated this trend becoming more pronounced.

It’s a fascinating look at an extremely important but murky even by sports betting standards component.

A Thousand Words: The Story of Ricky

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

It’s time to review one of my favorite movies of all time. The story of The Story of Ricky is one of bizarre decision-making. A Hong Kong producer looked at a Fist of The North Star knockoff manga and bought the rights. Then came the decision to make the movie. However, it comes across as having almost all of the budget spent on fake blood. And most of the rest spent renting out the sets for the jail.

The plot is this: The titular character ends up in a prison and gets into fights. Actually, that isn’t quite right. There is only one properly choreographed bout in the entire film. The rest is just someone getting hit and cheesy, bloody special effects resulting. That’s basically how you can describe the entire movie, and it is amazing. Hearing the bad-as-you’d expect English dubbing is part of the fun.

This movie is, in its own stupid, horrible way, a masterpiece. It’s one of the best “B-movies” I’ve seen and if you don’t mind (fake-looking but still plentiful) gore, then you have to watch this. Don’t expect well, anything technically good from it. But do expect a lot of fun.

Review: ATP 7-100.3 Chinese Tactics

ATP 7-100.3 Chinese Tactics

After seeing the excellent work on North Korea, I eagerly awaited the next installment in the ATP 7-100 series on the most potential opponents. When ATP 7-100.3, Chinese Tactics dropped, I was not disappointed. Well detailed and well laid out, this is the first comprehensive unclassified analysis of the PLA in decades.

In some ways, being a far more advanced opponent that’s far closer to the fictional maximum-challenge “composite OPFOR” than North Korea is means that the tactics shown feel a lot more mundane and slightly less interesting. But showing the (deliberately overcomplicated and confounding) organization is where this shines. The modern PLA is organized a lot like the old “GENFORCE-Mobile” OPFOR with a bunch of brigades and combined arms battalions jumping straight to corps-equivalents with six line brigades each.

This is a great resource and I highly recommend reading it. Besides its topicality, seeing a force structure diverge from the classic Russo-American style is interesting to see and valuable for wargamers.