Part of the issue is the conclusion in some circles that Chinese missiles would make short work of the fighters in the event of war. In any event China's advanced fighters, which outnumber all of Taiwan's fighters, are better than even the new/upgraded F-16s. Part of it also is the lack of funds for this in Taipei, a product in turn of the KMT's apparent program of weakening Taiwan's defenses. Ma of course never wanted the F-16s -- his party blocked them from reaching the floor of the legislature more than 60 times (yes, it is amazing how quickly that fact vanished from the media discourse once Ma became President. Also, remember Ma's promise to get military spending up to 3% of GDP?). But mostly, this decision appears to be driven by the Obama's Administration's fear of China and by the decline of the US since our purblind decisions to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Had the Obama Administration taken even the tepid stand of insisting on refurbishing all the existing aircraft, the money could easily have been found. Instead we've handed our foreign policy off to Beijing.....
Even now it is not too late to give up our insane wars in the oil states and turn our hands to the future.
Ironically, the Obama Administration says US-Australia defense alliance will become more intimate. The contradictory position of the US is that it will hand over Taiwan to China but then beef up things elsewhere in anticipation of the coming war -- which could have been fought with Taiwan on the right side.
Perhaps the US simply seeks justification for pursuing a war strategy: "Look, we gave them Taiwan, but they still went on to claim _____." Or perhaps the US feels Taiwan will be more of a problem for Beijing within the fold than out. Or perhaps the US feels that by weakening Taiwan it can entice Beijing into attacking, creating moral justification for US intervention.
Or perhaps too many members of our policymaking class are doing business with China, and feel handing off Taipei will make Beijing turn up sweet.
AIT still denies that a decision has been made.
How will this play at home? The DPP might be able to make hay out of the KMT failure to protect the nation, and also out of how Ma hasn't restored good relations with the US. But the KMT could then retort that Taiwan now only has one realistic path, that of annexation, which the DPP isn't going to pursue.
Any way you look at it, this decision sends a powerful signal, not only to Taipei and Beijing, but also to Tokyo and other capitals in the region. Let's hope all this reporting is wrong and US officials are merely floating trial balloons....
ADDED: Gorden Chang on the US decision in Forbes.
Obama’s policy, as generous as it was, did not work. After China finally resumed relations—to the relief of American officials—General Chen Bingde, the chief of the PLA General Staff, came to Washington, where he arrogantly proceeded to lecture his hosts. He followed up last month’s performance by denouncing the United States in a 15-minute rant in front of our South Korean allies a few days later. The White House now seeks to avoid repeat shows of Chinese hostility.One wonders to what extent China (and Taiwan) will become an issue in the US election.
Taiwan, however, needs the newer versions of the F-16 to defend itself. The Taiwan Relations Act essentially requires the United States to sell Taipei what it needs to do so. In the face of China’s arms buildup—the biggest and fastest in the world at this moment—Washington has lost the will to defend a democracy of 23 million people.
The Obama administration has no Taiwan policy—other than doing the minimum—so as not to enrage a “sensitive” China. The President should know better by now: his administration’s attempts to establish cooperative relations with Beijing in February and November 2009 directly led to increased Chinese aggressiveness. The first of those efforts—by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—was immediately followed by an attack on an unarmed U.S. Navy reconnaissance vessel in international waters. The second—by then-National Security Council staffer Jeffrey Bader—came days before President Obama’s disastrous trip to Beijing.
The United Daily News (UDN) cited military sources as saying that the Obama administration approved in January 2010 the sale of two additional Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) III anti-missile systems to Taiwan, but the military has not yet signed the deal because the cost exceeds its budget by 40 percent.
The paper said the U.S. authorities have informed the military that if no progress is made on the project by the end of this year, the previously quoted prices for the systems would be invalidated and that the new prices could be even higher.
Nope, these missiles are on track!
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