Wednesday, May 08, 2013

F-16s: the eternal sunshine of our spotless media

Always a pretty view above the Liyu Reservoir in Miaoli.

Leonard Shelby: If we talk for too long, I'll forget how we started. Next time I see you, I'm not gonna remember this conversation. I don't even know if I've met you before.

According to AFP, we've arrived at a turning point....
Taiwan's Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu said for the first time Monday that Taipei will not necessarily take the deal even if Washington gives the nod.

"Our demand has changed following the announcement of the upgrade project. The jet fighters we buy in the future have to outperform the F-16 upgrades if we (are) to convince the tax payers," he told parliament.

Analysts said the remark marks a key shift in Taipei's approach to the arms deal that has apparently been held off due to Washington's concerns about reaction from Beijing.
A key shift? AFP is only off by about a year. Last May, J Michael Cole published a piece in The Diplomat on the F-35s (which Taipei has been making noises about since 2006). He observed:
The F-35 could therefore become a convenient tool to kill the F-16C/D program while maintaining the politically useful illusion that Taipei remains committed to national defense. While there’s no doubt that requests for the advanced aircraft are heartfelt within the military, there’s reason to doubt that the same applies to Taiwan’s National Security Council and the Presidential Office.
This Administration doesn't want fighters. The US doesn't want to sell them. As many longtime observers have noted -- the kind of observer AFP will never cite -- the whole thing is a charade whose purpose is to delay, delay, delay. The function of the F-35s is to introduce more delay. If pigs flew and the US offered Taiwan F-35s, Taipei would immediately start balking, complaining about the budget, or arguing that it needs even more advanced warp drive craft equipped with phasers and transporters. The entire "debate" is an illusion designed to cover the fact that the KMT didn't want fighters, which is why they prevented the special defense budget from reaching the floor of the legislature over 60 times during the Chen Administration. But in the Memento Media world, the long time preferences of the KMT on this issue simply don't exist.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

1 comment:

Julian said...

If the current government were serious about national defense, they would spent more than a bare 2% of GDP on the military and properly fund the transition to a professional armed forces. President Ma promised much more in his 2008 campaign, but like so much else, that promise has collapsed into a China policy that dictates other priorities.