Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad News on F-16s =UPDATED=

Here's the deal: Defense News and the Taipei Times are both reporting a major military and symbolic blow to the island. We aren't getting the 66 F-16 C/D models that were requested under the Chen Administration. My readers always knew that, but more importantly, the upgrades of the existing F-16 A/B models will not be carried out in full. Only one of the two wings of the current group older aircraft will be upgraded.

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.

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.
One wonders to what extent China (and Taiwan) will become an issue in the US election.


UPDATE: The Patriot Pac IIIs approved by Obama in Jan of 2010 aren't coming either.
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.
Because of the delay going back to the KMT refusal to permit the special arms purchase from being debated in the legislature, the cost of the missiles rose. The DPP needs to roast the KMT alive for this failure.

Nope, these missiles are on track!
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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess you have also read this news item, but I think it really underlines how the US is busy hunting muslims and not wasting a single brain cell on China.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/14/us-pakistan-china-usa-idUSTRE77D2BT20110814

Michael Turton said...

Saw that. So true. Should have burned the aircraft's carcass with drone attacks.

paul foo said...

what is tsai ying-wen's policy on taiwan's military? i havent read anything that explains her plans on taiwan's defense. is she supportive of a stronger taiwan military force? does she support increasing the budget to 3% of gdp or more? does she support taiwan developing her own arms and supporting local military industry?

or is she and dpp similar to the democrats = weak on defense?

Michael Turton said...

Good question!

Raj said...

Whether the issue gets raised in the US election will all be down to the Republicans. It could be a useful issue for them if they frame it in the right way - Obama bowing to China instead of getting jobs for America.

It's probably worth you emailing whoever becomes the Republican nominee, providing you don't focus on Taiwan being betrayed. Couch the argument in a way Joe Average might somehow care about.

Readin said...

"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."

Well duh.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the illegal (no congressional approval) war in Libya aren't the problem. They're expensive but they're not what's breaking the bank.

Taiwan spends less than 3% of GDP on defense? That puts Taiwan behind Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Chad, Jordan, Georgia, Iraq, United States, Kuwait, Russia, Sinapore, Angola, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Mauritania, Burundi, Colombia, Bahrain, Namibia, Djibouti, Kyrgystan, Chile, Sir Lanka, Morocco, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Greece, Brunei, and Botswana.

Only a few of those, Israel and Georgia for example, face an existential threat the way Taiwan does.

And you wonder why so many Americans are becoming convinced that Taiwan is unwilling to defend its sovereignty? As much as I favor Taiwan's continued independence, it seems to me that the only blood Taiwan is willing to spill to secure that independence is American blood. As an American, how can I ask my countrymen to die for Taiwan when Taiwanese won't do it?

Anonymous said...

@readin....

yea but unlike all those countries taiwan is limited as to what it can buy from other countries besides the u.s. and the u.s. doesnt allow taiwan to buy everything she wants to buy, like the f-16s and submarines. and the u.s. and to an extent china wont allow taiwan to develop her own weaponry if they deem it to "offensive" and not defensive. we all know taiwan would've had nuclear weapons already if the u.s. hadnt butted in and made her stop development in 70s/80s. part of the deal was that the u.s. would sell taiwan the weapons she wants. now looks like the u.s. is backing down from that promise. good ole american foreign policy.

if taiwan was allowed to freely buy whatever she wants from the international arms market she probably would be spending 3% or more of gdp on defense.

Anonymous said...

Patriot missiles seem like such an odd idea to me. They cost more than the Chinese missiles they are designed to shoot down! How is this a beneficial proposition to Taiwan at all except if the goal is to bankrupt it or to waste its military budget?

Anonymous said...

"we aren't getting the F-16s", wait aren't you are still an American and an organizer for Democrats Abroad?

How does a guy who heads Democrats abroad get away with using "we" when describing Taiwan?

Oh, and you will still vote for Obama, though you'll rationalize it somehow...

How do you deal with the DPP railing against anyone who has "foreign" connections, like a green card, or family with green-card...

Consider this playful ribbing not an overly serious critique...

Anonymous said...

"yea but unlike all those countries taiwan is limited as to what it can buy from other countries besides the u.s. and the u.s. doesnt allow taiwan to buy everything she wants to buy, like the f-16s and submarines. and the u.s. and to an extent china wont allow taiwan to develop her own weaponry if they deem it to "offensive" and not defensive."

Yes, poor Taiwan. Nothing to do. Nothing at all. Taiwan couldn't develop mines for use in the ocean, or harden its electrical system. No that's impossible Taiwan couldn't make sure the best and brightest went into the military by offering higher salaries...no that would require US approval, uh, or something.

Taiwan can make HTC phones, but can't match soviet technology? Poor Taiwan. Sold out by America 30 years ago, and has had no time to develop any arms industry. Taiwan couldn't offer American weapons scientists large salaries to come and work for them...no that would cost money - let's sell the AEIGIS info on CD-ROMS to China instead...poor Taiwan.

Poor Taiwan can't even afford any TVs to see Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan, Finland, Israel show how small country can defend itself against much, much larger countries...

Poor Taiwan thinks its better to fight to the last GI for independence.

Anonymous said...

"Patriot missiles seem like such an odd idea to me. They cost more than the Chinese missiles they are designed to shoot down! How is this a beneficial proposition to Taiwan at all except if the goal is to bankrupt it or to waste its military budget?"

Taiwan is richer than China, or so I have been told. Also, the missiles will destroy things when they hit which may cost more than the difference in missile prices.

Anonymous said...

"he u.s. doesnt allow taiwan to buy everything she wants to buy, like the f-16s and submarines."

Meanwhile, Taiwanese don't want to import any US beef. They also stopped US banks from opening multiple branches until recently. They also didn't allow Warner Brothers to invest in a cable TV company in Taiwan. They used to tax foreigners at special high rates.

Maybe Taiwan should have paid more attention to its allies in years past.

Michael Turton said...

I don't think beef has anything to do with this.

green sleeeves said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/perry-welcomed-chinese-firm-despite-security-concern/2011/08/10/gIQAAu80EJ_story_1.html

Many Republican hopefuls for 2012 Presidential election have business connection with China, while the track record of Obama's "China policy" (if any) is at best Kowtow.

Well, isn't Ma Ying Jeou also is "kowtow"ing to China?

Do people really care? If Taiwanese do care, why is it Ma still enjoys a relatively ok approval rating ?

paul said...

"Poor Taiwan can't even afford any TVs to see Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan, Finland, Israel show how small country can defend itself against much, much larger countries..."

israel gets $3 billion+ in FREE aid from the u.s. everywhere. and technology transfers from u.s. military companies. which is how israel can produce her own advanced military arms for her own use and for export.

everyone knows the u.s. military companies takes advantage of taiwan diplomatic isolation by inflating prices selling 2nd/3rd generation weaponry to taiwan. if the u.s. really cared to protect taiwan from china, they should sell taiwan the most advanced arms at a fair market price. if they TRULY care about taiwan they should give taiwan the same type of aid they give israel and also sell her weapons at a discount knowing taiwan is outspent by china's huge military budget.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

Mike: A follow-up on the UDN/CNA article regarding the PAC-3s. All sources tell me the LOA is being prepared as we speak and that things are "on track." This discredits the claims in the UDN piece.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/08/18/2003511007