Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Taipei's Request For New F-16 C/Ds

“Why does the administration continue a fiction that Taiwan has not formally requested more F-16[C/D] fighters? Why do mid and junior-level officials within the Obama administration allude to instructions from ‘senior leadership’ to hold congressional notifications on Taiwan arms sales and not to expect another major sale in 2010?”
Asks Randy Schriver in today's Taipei Times.

As a preliminary to having my say on this subject, I should state that although I hold to my libertarian premise that the government in Taipei has no moral right to purchase weapons on behalf of the people of Taiwan, I personally would be happy to contribute to this purchase at least ten times as much cash as what the government in Taipei expects from me in annual income tax - if only I could be certain that money was going towards the cost of purchasing new F-16s.

Now, my ethical demands met, I can discuss the reality behind the question: there are at least two major vectors in play here. First, I would imagine that from the perspective of the Obama administration, the foreign policy priority with regards to China is to keep the government in Beijing buying Treasury bonds to help provide part of the funding for the growth in Federal spending. Treasury bonds, together with higher taxes and the monetization of government debt are the ingredients Obama has decided upon for brewing the Amsoc oxymoron. So, to keep that project bubbling away it'd be better not to give the Chinese any excuse to sell and thus force the Treasury into increasing the rate of return on its bonds. For now, the Feds will not be able to find an alternative source of revenue to replace the Chinese - and until either the people of Taiwan, or the government that stands over them, can offer the Amsoc project anything of serious political value (they certainly could not offer serious financial value), they will not get much of a hearing in the current White House.

*Note to all those "Americans" in Taiwan who voted Democrat in 2008 - fuck you.*

Second, those who staff the higher echelons of the government in Beijing are simply trying to survive in power; that is a very large and dangerous tiger they are riding. Whether they would actually begin to sell their T-bonds might well be a decision taken in sensitivity to acute political crisis rather than long-term interest and so the internal politics of Beijing, and of China more broadly, are likely to be of far more importance to that government's decision-making than long term economic forecasts.

A third thing of course is the general malaise of utter moral bankruptcy in the U.S. Congress with transparent shills for Beijing like Dianne Feinstein chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee. Even assuming the Obama administration had any remaining vestige of American ethics to see the value in selling the updated F-16s to the government in Taipei, any attempt to do so would necessitate buying off or otherwise neutralizing Feinstein and certain other powerful figures in Congress.

I would, of course, be delighted to be proved wrong, but I don't think Taiwan's airforce will be receiving any new F-16s at least until after the Obama administration's first term has expired.

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