October 16, 2005

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If Michael Turton is right, and the Bush administration is either willfully ignorant of Taiwanese domestic developments or just trapped between Beijing and Taipei, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's trip to Taiwan is doomed to failure.

Recall further that the weapons package is one of a score of bills that needs passing, all stalled by the pan-blues. The US needs more than just an armed Taiwan; it needs a well-run government with a stable economy if Taiwan is to support the US policy of containing China. Any US response to the arms package should also focus on the fact that it is just one aspect, albeit the most public, of a multi-pronged campaign by the two pro-China parties to bring the nation's government to a halt. Effective governance, after all, furthers Taiwan's autonomy.

Turton's advice to "thump KMT and PFP heads" might not be Rumsfeld's intent, if this skittish, unnamed Defense official is any indication:

On the roadblocks in the Legislative Yuan to passage of the arms sales funding, the defense official, who briefed on the condition that he not be named, denied that Washington was trying to "force" Taiwan to fund the sale.

"It isn't our obligation [under the Taiwan Relations Act] to force anything on Taiwan," he said.

The decision is up to the Taiwan people, the official said. "So we are not attempting to interfere, as we are so often accused. We're simply saying that however it is budgeted, this is an issue for the people of Taiwan. If the people of Taiwan decide not to budget for it, then that's their business," he said.

Admiral William Fallon, US Pacific Commander, seems to be towing the party line, too. if this is all for Beijing's benefit, it's unlikely to persuade the KMT and PFP to play ball.

Another problem is the fast-approaching APEC summit in November. The government and opposition do seem to have agreed upon a representative. Finally, there is the issue of the cross-strait peace advancement bill.

Meanwhile, Canada is angry about Beijing's "bullying" over bill C-357, The Taiwan Affairs Act. Handling Taiwanese relations, with all these side-plays and domestic distractions, isn't a job for the military. Sending Rumsfeld just doesn't seem to be the right US cabinet official to send.

Cross-Posted at Barbarian Envoy

posted by Infidel on 10.16.05 at 05:34 PM in the Taiwan category.


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