Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Long Time US Ally Gets Bushwacked

I've been following the freeze of arm sales to Taiwan story since July 18th and have observed that just as in so many other situations where Conservatives are raising their voices asking President Bush to act, he seems to be tone deaf. For an overview of Bush's history of giving into into China see this story:

Bush Burnishes China Card for Obama, McCain in Taiwan's Shadow

By Michael Forsythe and Dune Lawrence

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- When Barack Obama or John McCain takes over the presidency in January, he will inherit a stable U.S.-China relationship. Part of the credit will belong to someone who gets few kudos for his foreign-policy initiatives: George W. Bush.

The president, who travels to China for the fourth and last time of his presidency this week to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, ``leaves a relationship that is basically in good shape,'' says Kenneth Lieberthal, who was director for Asia on the White House National Security Council during Bill Clinton's presidency.

Since taking office 7 1/2 years ago, Bush has personally eased tensions over Taiwan. Henry Paulson, his Treasury secretary, stopped Congress from escalating trade disputes; Robert Zoellick, his former No. 2 diplomat, invited China to play a bigger role internationally. Meanwhile, the administration enlisted China's support to fight terrorism and persuade North Korea to begin dismantling its nuclear program.

China's leaders ``will miss him after he steps down,'' says Shen Dingli, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Bush will bequeath his successor a base to work from in dealing with a country that owns more than $500 billion in Treasuries, is the top source of U.S. imports and is on track to become the world's second-biggest economy in a decade.

Click here to read the full article.

The following July 31, 2008 letter is a Congressional attempt to get President Bush's attention regarding US commitments made in the Taiwan Relations Act to provide for the defense of Taiwan through arm sales based solely on Taiwan defensive needs:

CTC July 31, 2008 Letter to Bush, p. 1-3
(click on each image to view)
And here's how the story was reported in Taiwan.
Fourteen senators call on Bush to allow arms sales
By Charles Snyder
Taipei Times Saturday, Aug 02, 2008, Page 3

In another congressional effort to prod US President George W. Bush to unfreeze the sale of major weapons packages to Taiwan, more than two dozen members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus on Thursday sent Bush a letter urging him to allow the sales to go through.

Spearheaded by caucus co-chairmen Steve Chabot and Shelley Berkley, both of whom conferred with visiting Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) this week, the lawmakers pledged to help the administration process the sales as soon as possible after the White House and State Department lift the freeze.

“We believe the freeze on foreign military sales to Taiwan violates the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act. We request a briefing on the status of these sales from all appropriate agencies, and urge the administration to expeditiously execute consideration of these requests,” the letter said.

Click here to read the full article.

Since many who read this will not be familiar with Taiwan politics I should point out that the name of the new (as of May 20, 2008) President of Taiwan is Ma Ying-jeou. Knowing that Taiwan's President is named Ma and that his KMT Party blocked all attempts by the Legislative Yuan from 2001 through most of 2007 to purchase defensive weapons authorized by the Bush Administration in 2001, is important to appreciate the title of the article below:
Look, Ma, No Arms
Why is the Bush administration delaying arms sales to Taiwan? by Matthew Continetti The Weekly Standard, 08/04/2008, Volume 013, Issue 44

Early in 2001, President Bush approved the export of arms to democratic Taiwan. At the time, Bush said the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend its tiny, besieged Pacific ally. That was yesterday. Today, it's looking more like Bush was just kidding.

How else to explain the administration's recent decision to freeze $16 billion worth of the arms deals? Bush approved the sale of Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, and submarines to Taiwan more than seven years ago. Since then Taiwan has also requested 66 F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging planes. The Taiwanese legislature has appropriated the money with which to buy the weapons. In some cases it has already even put down payments. In return, America has given Taiwan a whole lot of nothing.

On July 16, the head of Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating, told an audience at the Heritage Foundation that the administration has concluded "there is no pressing, compelling need for, at this moment, arms sales to Taiwan of the systems that we're talking about." This must have been news to the Taiwanese government, which says the weapons are needed to defend Taiwan. And it certainly must have been a surprise to the authors of the Pentagon's annual report on Chinese military power, who have for the past several years noted the dangerous shift in the military balance of power between Taiwan and China.

Click here to read the full article.

And if your thinking "so what does it have to do with us", here is one assessment from Ryan Mauro of referencing the Look, Ma, No Arms article.

Bush Administration Leaves Taiwan Out to Dry

Read this article to see the changes in the Bush Administration’s second term. It is very unfortunate how the U.S. is freezing the arm sales to Taiwan which were already agreed upon and sometimes, paid for. The Administration may argue that they need China’s help on this or that, finding excuse after excuse to not offend them. But the author is correct: Our approach towards China is based on fear. The longer we don’t recognize that China is on the opposite side, the weaker Taiwan becomes and the greater this danger, which we try so hard to blind ourselves to, becomes.

The Pentagon is warning about Taiwan’s growing vulnerability to China. China is building a huge underground submarine base, has over 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan now, and has five submarine programs. The stronger China becomes, and the weaker Taiwan becomes, the more likely it is that China will exercise a military option and act like the very bully we’re trying to stop from being created.

The U.S. is acting like a child running around on a playground, kissing the behind of the school bully and turning away as plans to trip the kid next to him. As we all have learned as kids, sucking up to that bully to avoid becoming that kid he schemes against only delays the inevitable time when he decides you are the next weak person to challenge.

Click here to read the full article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you always for your diligence to post on Travis Monitor Blog the important latest articles on and related to Taiwan. I know that if I am not on the Internet for a while on Taiwan issue, I can count on reading your blog for update.

Last Friday night, Aug. 1st, four legislators from Taiwan, including 2 DPP and 2 KMT members who are pro-Taiwan, visited Taiwan Center here in Flushing, Queens. In town hall meeting format, they analyzed Bush administration's "arms freeze" to Taiwan has its purposes:

1) KMT majority Legislative Yuan blocked President Chen's proposals of his government's military budget to consummate purchase of the arms which President Bush approved in 2001. This went on year after year for the last 7 years. Bush wants to know now what President Ma's real intention is. The State Department has to hear it through members of Legislative Yuan from both parties. These four legislators, also 2 men and 2 women split, can reflect better the will and heart of the 23 million Taiwanese. So the four members' mission is to tell Bush Administration that both Blue and Green camps ask sincerely the US to please to procede with President Bush's promise of the arms sale before his term is over.

2) In the recent past, there has been leaks of the very highest military secrets to China, all through retired Nationalist generals who now live in China -- we Taiwanese call them the 1949ers, Chiang's followers. So the US is very cautious about who its foes and friends are. We worry, too, but in general, we can tell better than the Americans.

Again, thank you for your service of providing information on Taiwan.