Glenn Greenwald, one of America's most insightful bloggers, nails progressives, Dems, the corporate world, and Obama in a brilliant post on Obama's duplicity in the health care debacle: the truth is that Obama never intended to get a public option passed:
As was painfully predictable all along, the final bill will not have any form of public option, nor will it include the wildly popular expansion of Medicare coverage. Obama supporters are eager to depict the White House as nothing more than a helpless victim in all of this -- the President so deeply wanted a more progressive bill but was sadly thwarted in his noble efforts by those inhumane, corrupt Congressional "centrists." Right. The evidence was overwhelming from the start that the White House was not only indifferent, but opposed, to the provisions most important to progressives. The administration is getting the bill which they, more or less, wanted from the start -- the one that is a huge boon to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry.The entire piece is well worth reading, as is most anything Greenwald writes: the Lieberman Criticism, the attacks on the Blue Dogs, it was all KMT-style political theatre. What this all means for Taiwan should become clear as we explore the announcement of weapons sales to Taiwan.....
The New York Times reported on Tuesday the 15th that the Obama Administration was going to sell weapons to Taiwan....
The Obama administration will proceed with arms sales to Taiwan despite recent protests by China, an American official said Tuesday.(As an aside, could there be a luckier man than Burghardt, living in Hawaii but making frequent trips to Taiwan? I want that job!). The arms package (1) doesn't include the F-16, and (2) the Obama Administration declined to say exactly when it would go through. So here we have a package whose arrival is some time in the distant future, and which doesn't include the one thing that is really needed. Yes, we have a pattern here. J Michael Cole of the Taipei Times followed up with one of his patented penetrating analyses, pointing out that the arms package could be an expensive illusion:
The official, Raymond Burghardt, is chairman of the American Institute in Taipei, the de facto United States Embassy in Taiwan.
Speaking from Hawaii, where he lives, he said that sales of arms to Taiwan were consistent with what White House officials have been saying was President Obama’s policy. “No one should be surprised when we move forward with them,” he said.
Mr. Burghardt declined to say exactly when Mr. Obama would notify Congress of an arms sale. The American relationship with Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province, is one of the most delicate diplomatic issues between Beijing and Washington. The United States takes no position on the sovereignty of Taiwan, but acknowledges that Beijing claims that there is only one China.
The “new” arms package recently touted by US officials has yet to be confirmed by US President Barack Obama. Nevertheless, supporters of Taiwan are already hailing the news as a great victory, of Obama “thumbing his nose at the Chinese,” as Foreign Policy recently put it.Let's see -- Ma and the KMT have been making noises about soft power, and about waiting patiently for weapons -- it's not unreasonable if they take years, says Ma. The KMT doesn't want weapons, and what this whole three year long three-card monte game with she-will-sell-weapons, she-won't-sell-weapons appears to mean is that the Administration does not plan to help Taiwan upgrade by selling it new weapons, either. They'll probably keep dangling the F-16s in front of us like a salty snack held just above the nose of a Golden Retriever. In the Cole piece long-time Taiwan watcher John Tkacik peers through the magician's stagecraft, echoing what I said the other day:
There are signs, however, that there is less to the news than meets the eye.
From what has been made public, the Obama administration could release PAC-3 interceptor missiles, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as an operations deal for the “Po Sheng,” or Broad Victory, command and control program and design work on diesel-electric submarines.
Not only are the 66 F-16C/D fighter aircraft that Taiwan has sought for years missing from the list, however, there is also nothing new in the “new” arms package proposed by the administration.
“The real question,” Wendell Minnick, Asia Bureau Chief at Defense News, told the Taipei Times on Sunday, “is what is ‘new’ in the arms pipe that hasn’t been in there since 2001. And there is nothing, which is ominous.”
All these items were approved by former US president George W. Bush in 2001. Also problematic is the fact that the design work on the submarines would be both costly and may not even result in actual subs. Even if it did, it would only be many years from now and make an insignificant contribution to Taiwan’s current and mid-term defense requirements.
“I suspect that if Obama approves a new arms package, Ma’s government and the [Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT]-dominated Legislative Yuan will, once again, go out of its way to temporize, shilly-shally and complain about the costs, utility, and political tensions with China of the sales — and use those factors as excuses to stall procurements. That way, Obama can say ‘it’s Taiwan’s fault’ and [President] Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] will say ‘it’s the Americans’ fault.”Ta-da! The Obama Administration fufills its Pledge to sell weapons to Taiwan. It's just like Obama's health care reform (and it pleases the same consituency): you can have what you already would have had, if we hadn't taken any further action at all. What this means for Taiwan's future, with the corporate side eager for "cooperation" with China, isn't good.
- Marketplace with my friend Mark Forman about Taiwan, IT, and branding.
- Spencer with excellent piece on traffic cams in Taiwan, with comparisons to US traffic cams, and links to Google Maps.
- This is what Afghanistan is really about: gas pipelines.
- Ma again pushes the line: if we move closer to China, we will become more globalized. In the KMT view, sinicization = globalization.
- AFP once again completely fails to get Taiwan correct. The poll asks: Do you think that cross-Strait political negotiations should be held to achieve mutual recognition during the tenure of President Ma Ying-jeou? Yes 57% Ask yourself if this is equivalent to AFP's report that Fifty-seven percent said Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou should negotiate with Beijing to prevent war and secure peace . Really, I have no idea why they bother to spend money to keep people out here. They could source from Xinhua with exactly the same effect. DPP poll on same topic discussed at Taiwan News. Have fun with them both.
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