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My *@&#$^@*&#$^ students keep telling me that Young was kvetching at CHEN! And then they bitch about the US selling Taiwan second-hand weapons. Somebody. owns. their. brains. Today I finally lost my temper with one of my brighter students who faithfully regurgitated all the propaganda at me, obviously believing it, even though we had gone over it in class for the writing the other day. AARGH! Some days it just isn't worth getting out of bed. Which reminds me, gotta blog on that.


If your students are representative of the Taiwanese as a whole, then I expect a lot more "messages of displeasure" from Washington until they finally DO figure it out.

The "softly, softly" approach has been tried for two years now. It clearly hasn't worked.

"The "softly, softly" approach has been tried for two years now. It clearly hasn't worked."

As I commented at "A View", I think it might be an idea to have Young do the talk show circuit with a Taiwanese ex-military general. Any blues on that show would look like fools.

Also, I was telling my wife the other day: even though I'm Canadian -- I'm wondering when this anti-American sentiment is going to land in my face.

It's disgusting (although not surprising) that the pan-blue leadership is not trying to diffuse this blatant irrational anger. But that would get in the way with their political opportunism, wouldn't it.

I am a USA citizen living in the USA and I agree with the Government of Taiwan. Mr. Young's comments were way out of line. What would the USA government do if Communist China's diplomats made such remarks? What if the Chinese Ambassador said the US must import more goods or China will call due the $1 Trillion in USA debt China owns?

As to Mr. Burton's comments about his student regurgitating propaganda: I will assume Mr. Burton is not a citizen of Taiwan. If my assumption is correct then Mr. Burton should not be spewing his propaganda at his English class students. They are there to learn English. Not Mr. Burton's unimportant view of Taiwan politics. God knows the USA political system is definitely not perfect.

The Government of Taiwan DIDN'T complain about Mr. Young's remarks. The capitulationist KMT opposition did. And they certainly didn't think it out of line when America slapped the Taiwanese government down on previous occasions.

In fact, they CHEERED and ENCOURAGED it. Obviously, KMT objections to American "interference" are a matter of convenience, not principle.

You claim that Michael is spreading propaganda, so perhaps you could identify some of it for me. A student claimed that Young was complaining about President Chen, while Michael said that Young was complaining about the KMT. Both Michael and the student are entitled to their own set of opinions, but not their own sets of facts. So let's take a look at Young's remarks:

The most relevant comment in the speech can be found when Young says, "Last week, there was an article that sought to characterize U.S. relations with the Chen administration as 'strained.' I just have to stress that that's not the case..."

Sorry, but I just don't see how Michael is spreading "propaganda". The student insisted Young was complaining about Chen, yet we have it straight out of the horse's mouth that Young WASN'T.

(I would think that part of English writing is being able to read a text in English and understand what the heck is actually being said. Otherwise, why bother learning how to read at all?)

The claim that the weapons are "outdated" is equally absurd. Perhaps you could explain to me, how the proposed submarines could be obsolete if the darn things haven't even been DESIGNED yet?

Like it or not, Taiwan's security depends upon the American military just as Europe's did during the Cold War. I don't think it would have been unreasonable for Cold War-era America to ask its European allies to pick up some of the slack. Likewise, I don't think it unreasonable for America to request that Taiwan to shoulder more responsibility in defending itself.

I suspect most American taxpayers would agree, too.

What he said. Thanks, Foreigner.


No problem. But I have to admit that up until now, I'd never really stopped to consider how surreal the student's claim was. If Mr. Young really WAS complaining about President Chen & the DPP, who would be the party most likely to object?

The DPP? Or their arch-rivals, the KMT?

That the pan-blues are the ones most visibly upset by Young's remarks is a pretty good indication they're the ones whose ox was gored.

The USA government wants Taiwan to go into extraordinary debt on military spending just as they have burdened the American people with huge debt from the stupid Iraq war.

Jaysus, now I have to DEFEND Michael Turton!


Is it fair for Taiwan to "go into debt" i.e. spend some money on weapons if they also want the US to defend them against Chinese attacks?

Why shouldn't Taiwan bear the cost of its own defense ?


The local media have been most remiss in not printing excerpts from big, bad Bush's infamous "We want Taiwan to go into extraordinary debt" speech. One of these days, I'm going to have to google it to get myself a copy.

Let me assure you though, if America's sole interest was simply to see Taiwan go into debt, it wouldn't bother trying to sell it weapons at all. Better instead to sell an equivalent dollar value of products from some American sunset industry, like textiles or tobacco. That way, America would earn exactly the same thing, profit-wise, while the Bush administration would go on to reap a windfall of votes from older workers, grateful that their jobs had just been spared.

And the kicker is that an America that contented itself with only selling textiles or tobacco to Taiwan would need never fear economic retaliation from China. Because as far as weapons sales go, what the Taiwanese hand giveth, the Chinese hand threatens to taketh away. Selling weapons to Taiwan is simply bad business.

Don't believe me? If an industry is profitable, what does elementary micro-economics predict? Market entry. At which point, I humbly point out that there aren't a lot of countries clamoring to get a piece of the "profitable" Taiwanese arms market. Quite the contrary in fact. The number of countries willing to sell military equipment to Taiwan has dwindled to a grand total of one. Which is precisely the sort of response one would expect from suppliers involved in an unprofitable industry.

At some point in this argument, you might object that Taiwan is offered weapons simply because it wouldn't be interested in buying American textiles or tobacco. Taiwan would find the COST of these things exceeded their VALUE (relative of course, to cheaper foreign alternatives), and would instantly reject them. But apply that argument to defensive arms, and we suddenly notice a curious thing.

What we notice is that the executive branch of Taiwan's government DOES believe the value of the weapons package outweighs its costs. It behooves us then, to explore the reasons why.

The first reason a weapons package is valuable is the most obvious. It's valuable... because it contains weapons. Should war break out, having weapons on hand is usually considered a GOOD thing. Against a full assault, Taiwan needs enough weapons to hold Chinese invaders off for a few weeks until an American fleet can arrive. A Taiwan that's unwilling to make that investment is a Taiwan that America might not be able to help, even with it's best effort.

(Taiwan also needs to concern itself about possible Chinese "ankle-biter" tactics. Grant from the start that Patriot Missiles will never be able to protect Taiwan against a missile onslaught like that recently unleashed against Isreal by Hesb Allah. The cost of such defense would be prohibitive. But Patriots might come in VERY handy in defending against a one-a-day Hamas-style attack chiefly intended to demoralize Taiwan's civilian population into accepting "reunification" talks on Beijing's terms.)

The second reason that weapons are valuable to Taiwan is that they provide military deterence. They do this by raising the price of war to a level that Beijing might not be willing to pay. For example, as things stand today, China might calculate that its fleet of submarines could cheaply and easily blockade Taiwan, bringing the island to its knees. With Taiwan in possession of modern anti-sub airplanes, however, and the equation changes. That cheap and easy blockade suddenly isn't so cheap and easy anymore, now that Chinese subs can be blown out of the water. Sure, Taiwan's anti-sub airplanes are pretty slow and can be shot down, but that means China has to deploy fighters in order to fight a RATHER expensive air war with Taiwan. And so, it's time for China to fish or cut bait. China can either risk a whole lot more forces than it originally intended to...or it can end up leaving Taiwan alone.

The final reason that weapons have value for Taiwan is because they provide political deterence. What I'm trying to say here is that there is a deterent effect to be gained not merely by the possession of weapons, BUT BY THE POLITICAL ACT OF BUYING AND DEPLOYING THEM. Such an act is a kind of signal which contains information about the level of determination a country or its leadership might have for resisting aggression. However, one must also admit that a country which DOESN'T attempt to defend itself in the face of aggression, and simultaneously expresses a willingness to give away its political crown jewels in exchange for a peace treaty, sends a message of quite a different both its friends AND its enemies.

So ends my brief outline of why Taiwan's executive views the special arms bill advantageous to Taiwan. I should also point out that the party which controls the legislative branch (the KMT) disagrees, despite the fact that it was the party which originally REQUESTED the special weapons package in the late 90s. The cause for this change of heart is somewhat difficult for an outsider to ascertain. Does the KMT leadership believe that the cost of the weapons outweighs their value, or do they instead believe that the package has merit, but the the value of boycotting it outweighs the cost of procrastination?

If the latter is true, then it can be fairly said that the KMT has been playing games with Taiwan's security not because they deemed the special arms bill unworthy, but because they desired to obtain short-term political benefit. In this case, Mr. Young's recent outspokenness on the issue serves to move the bill forward, because his comments raise the diplomatic costs of procrastination.

However, it is troubling to think that the former may be more reflective of their views. The KMT believes in unifying Taiwan with China, and a secure Taiwan is unlikely to find unification an appealing option. If the KMT has boycotted the bill out of principle, then Mr. Young's views are fairly irrelevant, for no amount of cajoling will ever cause them to vote for weapons whose existence only delays the anticipated date of capitulation. His comments can only give the KMT leadership pause if a significant faction of KMT supporters remain committed anti-communists, because supporters of this type may be open to defection to other parties if sufficiently alarmed by a deterioration in Taiwanese-American relations.

(This turned out a bit longer than expected. I'll probably break it up later and use the pieces as new posts.)

Dear Sir/Madam,
I'm Giuseppe De Santis.I live in the UK and I don't have any link with Taiwan but I'm really interested in this country.
Here in the UK I'm a member of the British National Party( party,with a turbolent past,now has changed:under Nick Griffin it got rid of antisemitism and expelled many violent thugs(I'm saying that because you may be have a negative opinion about us;you should look at the website).
As a nationalist party we recognise the right of self-determination of Taiwan and we would like to make contacts with Taiwan political parties and other influential people and organizations because we think we can gain from helping each other.
You biggest problem is the lose of many allied countries.In the past you got support from many latin american and african countries in exchange for external aid and investment but now many of them prefer mainland China because of its much bigger economy.
As far as I know in Europe only the Vatican state recognise you as an independent state.
So I think us as a party can help you with that.
In the short term we could write articles supporting you in our newsletters and publications so many people will know more about you and,at the same time,we could expose the appalling crimes committed against people in Tibet by China.
We would commit ourself,when we will get in power to:
1)recognise Taiwan as an independent state and host a Taiwanese embassy in the UK
2)use the power we will get from the EU's withdrawal to act against China by blocking import and expelling chinese living in the UK(actually we plan to incentivate all no british to come back to their countries).
In exchange you would help to promove us in any way available.You could,for example,advertize only in the UK publications willing to support us(actually no one does).This is an example of course but we can discuss about that.
The BNP actually is a small party with only few elected councillors but it's growing fast and you have all to gain from that.
Government hates us so much that the news you are supporting us will force it to take your concern more seriously.
On the other hand,if with your help we will get in power,we would help you in many ways.
At the moment not many are on your side in Europe so you should take this opportunity.
You are free to critisize my post and if you think it's not related with the group,plase tell me where I can post it.
I would also like to know other political parties,groups and other organizations where I can send this e-mail.
I'm waiting to hear from you.
You can also put me in touch with some tawanese politician.Even if you hate my party,you to bear in mind we are the only who can help you and than remember,in politics,you forge alliances with anyone that can help you,even if you don't like the ally.
Thank you for your time and apologizes in advance if I offended someone.
Your sincerely.

Um. Your name's Guiseppe. And you belong to a political party that wants to provide "incentives" for non-British to go back to their home countries.

Let me know how that works out for you.

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