Sunday, July 20, 2008

Taiwan Tango

Taiwan is about a 100 miles off shore from the largest collectivist autocrazy ever in world history. Red China.

a sexyful, hot! democrazy sweetly swaying just out of reach for old school Maoists and new school auto dicts must be driving the old Red Dragon out of her mind. Flaunting those sexed up goodies like a honking economy, free speech, transparent and periodic elections - not to mention the uncommunist penchant for an independent judiciary and civie control of the military.

Everybody knows it. Instead of prepping for a war with fellow auto Russia over resource rich Siberia - China preps her future Navy for one thing> A D Day style invasion of Taiwan.

So far, Great Satan nurtures and protects her fun free BF 4 ever Taiwan the same way she hangs and watches over all her coven of daemonic democrazies sweetly blinging with free markets. Hot little tighties like SoKo, Nippon - even Little Satan all benefit from hooking up with Great Satan while living in scary hoods filled with retarded control freaks who cannot bear the thought of free choice.

Super fly smart guy Ed Ross gives a fast cool rundown of what all is in the hood over yonder while Great Satan is attracted and distracted with her quad annual Electile Dysfunctionalism.

"Among the many challenges facing the United States in an election year is the issue of arms sales to Taiwan. Before he leaves office, President Bush must decide whether or not to approve various major sales to the island, including 60 additional F-16s, Patriot PAC III missiles and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. At present, the Department of State and the National Security Council are holding up these sales. This is an issue which deserves President Bush's immediate attention."

A little history helps illuminate what's going on. In 2001, shortly after President Bush took office, he approved in principle several billion dollars in new arms sales to Taiwan. This decision reflected the President's concern for China's military build-up and a continuing U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates the U.S. to provide the island with weapons to defend itself.

During the eight-year tenure of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian, political infighting between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Kuomintang stalled the funding for these weapons purchases.

At the same time, Mr. Chen's independence-leaning policies angered China's leaders. Washington was displeased by Mr. Chen's inability to push through the arms purchases, and because his actions and outspokenness interfered with improving U.S.-China relations.

The damage those eight years did to U.S.-Taiwan relations was considerable. Taiwan's relative air, missile defense and antisubmarine warfare capabilities fell further behind as important Taiwan military acquisitions were postponed. China, however, purchased advanced weapons from the Soviet Union and increased funding for its own military research and development programs.

Equally important, mutual confidence between Taipei and Washington may have been permanently weakened. U.S. leaders lost confidence in Taiwan's leaders at a time when the U.S. was becoming increasingly dependent on improved U.S.-China relations.

In Taiwan, more than ever, domestic political considerations took precedence over national security issues. And although last year the Kuomintang-dominated legislature in Taipei finally passed a defense budget funding many new arms purchases, the damage to U.S.-Taiwan relations already had been done.

The U.S. had become increasingly reluctant to take the heat from China over weapons sales it was not confident Taiwan would follow through on.

When Taiwan's current president, Ma Ying-jeou, assumed office in May, he ushered in a policy of Taiwan-China détente and subsequently has expressed his desire for resumed purchases of U.S. arms. Still, the lingering fallout from the previous eight years and President Bush's personal reluctance to anger Beijing continue to hold up various pending arms sales.

Whether or not President Bush approves some or all arms sales after the Beijing Olympics in August -- he will attend the opening ceremony -- remains an open question. High-ranking officials at State and the White House fear major U.S. arms sales, even then, would undermine Taiwan-China détente and do major damage to U.S.-China relations.

They also ask why Taiwan needs more weapons packages now. Why not let the next U.S. President address this issue, while the sale of other, less provocative systems, training and spare parts continue?

Herein lies the crux of the problem. How much risk can the U.S. take with Taiwan's security? If it was certain that Taiwan-China détente would go forward without sacrificing Taiwan's young and still fragile democracy, none of this would be of concern.

Beijing has proven all too often, however, that it will demand much and give little and that it sees the use and threat of force as an instrument of diplomacy. Has it demonstrated otherwise? Taiwan democratically elected a president who ran on a platform of détente with China. What has changed on the China side of the equation?

Until Beijing removes short- and medium-range ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan and reduces the number of combat aircraft and troops on its side of the Taiwan Strait, why should the U.S. delay in responding to Taiwan's requests for arms purchases? It will take months for the next administration to sort out its China/Taiwan policies, only delaying important decisions further.

In the meantime, China's pressure on the U.S. will only increase as it continues to finance U.S. debt and leaves Washington worried that it won't cooperate with it in the international arena if the U.S. proceeds with major arms sales.

As Taiwan enters this challenging period of détente with China, it needs strong U.S. moral and material support more than ever. By taking action on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan before he leaves office, President Bush would bolster a democratic Taiwan and make it much easier for his successor to withstand pressure from Beijing as arms sales contracts are concluded and weapons systems are delivered.

At the same time, President Ma must assure Washington that he is committed to Taiwan's defense and that if Washington approves the sale of F-16s and other major weapons, Taiwan will follow through with signed contracts and adequate funding.

It is time to demonstrate clearly that, while the U.S. supports Taiwan-China détente, it stands firmly behind Taiwan's democracy."


Findalis said...

It is easier for China to invade Taiwan than to take on the Russian. Well maybe not too easy. For a while there China saw the Great Satan as weak, able to walk all over us. But those days were over when the Great Satan did some regime changes in Afghanistan and Iraq. They no longer see the Great Satan as weak, they no longer think that they can whip us in a fight.

We should be sending the Taiwanese as many weapons as we can. It will keep China at bay.

Ben Sutherland said...

Absolutely, Courtney. The U.S. and world's major powers have dithered on this question far too much in appeasement of China's totalitarian impulses (and probably out of ambivalence, given Taiwan's polarized attitudes toward independence - not all Taiwanese favor independence, sadly - and their failue to get a majority of Taiwanese to affirm independence with votes like the recently failed votes for U.N. membership). There is no reason for the U.S. to sell out Taiwan's completely legitimate right to democratic self-government on the premise that U.N. Security Council veto power might makes right. We need China's help. But we don't need it so bad that we can't stand up for single biggest democratic challenge to China's autocratic rule.

I do think that the Dalai Lama is probably right that a patient move towards autonomy will probably be the least bloody and most constructive path.

But I've always said of the situation in Tibet, as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong, should they get more assertive about their desire for independence, that such does not mean that the Chinese have some kind of right to a peaceful transition. If Taiwan, Tibet, or Hong Kong thinks it is a better route to fight or if they need equipment for their defenses to back up a move towards independence, then China can have a tizzy all they want, but we should back them up. American leaders may choose not to do so for self-interested reasons. But that doesn't mean a thing about the legitimacy of Taiwan's right to self-determination.

Having said that, I don't think battling their way towards independence is the smartest move, at this point (I don't think anyone does, but I would be less upset about such a move than most, since I completely agree that their right to govern themselves is far more fundamental than any strategic self-interest that major powers may believe themselves to have. I do think that the Dalai Lama is right that a less bloody and still possible constructive path is patiently moving towards autonomy, then independence. But I am in favor of whatever efforts will ultimately secure independence.

Should the peaceful route turn out to be a dead-end, then if I were a Taiwanese, Tibetan, or Hong Kong citizen, I would be willing to fight. I just wouldn't want to die or have my countrymen die in a suicide mission where a superior force cannot be effectively challenged.

That is the challenge that Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and the U.S. and most Western democracies who, generally, support independence for all 3 of these populations, I think, in principle, but are looking out for their own self-interest and are afraid of provoking backlash that might undermine democratization efforts -the first motivation being less noble than the second, by my watch - but who want to find the most constructive route to support them.

You're right. Selling arms might be an effective way to back up the notion that while who favors independence should favor the least bloody, most peaceful route, first, it is not the only route and Taiwan reserves its right to fight and certainly to defend itself, given any Tibetan-like impulses on the part of the PRC, should they need to.

There may be legitimate reasons to hold back on those weapons transfers that I have not heard, so I am open to argument on this. But supporting the Taiwanese in this way does continue to send the signal - just because China says its control of Taiwan cannot be challenged, doesn't mean that it won't or can't.

Ben Sutherland said...

By the way, Courtney, nice video. I'd never heard of The Bravery before. Not bad. Like the name. Keep my eyes open.

Oh, and if you haven't checked out your Henry Jackson site, recently, this article might be of interest vis a vis Pakistan.

Turns out, concerns about dialogue might be warranted. If dialogue is being used as an excuse for cowardice, that is, if this article is right and the military is avoiding confronting the Taliban privately, while claiming to do so publicly. The only utility of dialogue that I can think of would be to moderate and undermine public support for the Taliban and al Qaeda, especially in remote areas of the country, to give them legitimate routes for democratic engagement, to moderate their own aims and claims and make less likely violent resistance and violent attacks on civilians, to politically isolate thugs who can then be more easily brought to justice, to facilitate relationships and communication with local populations to gather information to locate and capture or kill Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, to turn those militants who are capable and willing to turn, and to otherwise pave a path for the eventual capture or death of remaining militants. As a political strategy to facilitate military and law enforcement efforts, I think that has much potential (as does the defense and security correspondent for the Economist, who outlines similar ideas in their most recent front-page interview with him). But dialogue as a way of abdicating the responsibility to protect Pakistani citizens and to collaborate with Afghan and U.S. forces to locate and capture or kill Taliban or al Qaeda forces is cowardice and should be called out as such. We need to work with those guys and respect their territorial integrity for as smooth, constructive, and successful effort as possible. But we also need them to step up and confront these bloodsuckers with more courage and integrity.

Nice site. Thought you'd be interested.

Nikki said...

Very timely post as the Olympics approach...I had forgotten the focus on Taiwan in the beginning stages of the Bush Presidency...seems we took a turn to the arab world with good reason of course. My favorite line "Flaunting those sexed up goodies like a honking economy, free speech, transparent and periodic elections"...too good Courtney! :)N

RightDemocrat said...

The U.S. should support a free and independent Taiwan. I have long favored restoring diplomatic relations with Taipei.