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  • Pentagon Report Underscores Urgent Need for More Taiwan Arms

    Taiwan Fighter Jet

    With the public release of a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report on Taiwan’s air power, there is now a public US government assessment of Taiwan’s ability to fend off Chinese attack. And while the report does not directly state how well Taiwan would do against the PLA, there is little reason for optimism under current conditions. Three of the four aircraft in the Taiwan air force inventory are problematic: its F-5s are reaching the end of their operational life; the Ching-Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter has limited ability to sustain high sortie rates; while the operations and maintenance costs of the Mirage-2000 are so high as to affect operational readiness.

    In this light, Taiwan’s standing request for 66 additional American-built F-16s to supplement current defensive capabilities is more urgent than ever. So far, both the Bush and Obama administrations have withheld them from Taiwan.

    Delaying the sale of these fighters not only undermines the ability of Taiwan to defend itself, especially in light of the weaknesses that the US Department of Defense has identified, but also raises questions of US commitment to Taiwan consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act.

    Alternatively, if the intent is to delay the sale until a later date in the hopes of currying favor with Beijing, the Chinese reaction to the recent visit of the Dalai Lama, after President Obama had delayed it last year, should provide food for thought. Beijing’s view, on both the visit and Taiwan arms sale, is that it is fundamentally illegitimate for the United States to engage in such actions, whenever they might occur. Putting off the sale, like the visit, will no more lead to Chinese approval than a delay in visiting the dentist will make a cavity go away.

    In this light, the administration should bite the bullet, and proceed with F-16 sales to Taiwan.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Pentagon Report Underscores Urgent Need for More Taiwan Arms

    1. Paul Sebastian, Phil says:

      To believe that Taiwan could ever be capable of defending itself against the PRC is duplicitous at best. Without the direct intervention of the US, Taiwan could never defend itself against a PRC invasion. If Taiwan believes in its own independence, why does it not declare as much? Simple answer: it has already been told by the PRC that such a declaration means instant 'response.' The US constantly walks the diplomatic tightrope with respect to the PRC and Taiwan: it recognizes that the PRC is the sole 'government' of China (the One China policy) and yet supports Taiwan, but does not support its independence. So, this being the case, why should the US be concerned whether Taiwan can defend itself? America's commitment must never include becoming engaged in a war with the PRC over, of all things, Taiwan. There's an old adage that countries rarely go to war with countries with whom they engage in trade and given the Taiwan, PRC and USA level of trade interactions, let's leave well enough alone. Additional F-16s will do nothing but provoke the PRC for Taiwan can never defend itself successfully against such an attack without the intervention of the U.S. which must and should never happen under any circumstance.

    2. Fabrice B, Annandale says:

      I agree with Paul, Taiwan will never be able to defend itself against China. In fact, spread out as we are, I'm not even certain we could defend ourselves against them. The White House needs to stop trying to be everyone's BFF. Why antagonize the Chinese on a meaningless transaction.

    3. Drew Page, IL says:

      We can't afford to get involved with Taiwan's defense. I say we stay out of it. Don't spend another dollar on sending arms or military aid of any kind to Taiwan.

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