Friday, April 02, 2004

Defending Taiwan

When the Bush administration took office in 2001 (and actually during the campaign the previous year as well) I predicted that the major foreign policy front would be keeping China from invading Taiwan. My chief worry was that all of Bush's rhetoric downplaying the US role in nation-building would signal a more isolationist foreign policy that would leave our threatened democratic allies -- chiefly Israel and Taiwan -- unsupported. And though I did not exactly minimize the threat that Islam poses to a democratic world-view, I had always considered atheistic communism to be the greater danger. At least Islam acknowledges a transcendent source of human value which makes democracy possible, if not likely, within its dominion.

Obviously I was wrong about both the centrality of China and Bush's isolationism. But even with the reassessment that the 9/11/01 massacre caused in America's role in nation-building, it occurred to me to wonder if the focus on the middle east and the war on terror would leave Taiwan subject to a creeping loss of security. Very little has been reported on that front, and what little does get attention is immediately eclipsed by the latest body count in Iraq.

So I find it encouraging that, even if the press has largely forgotten Taiwan, the Bush administration seems to be quietly strengthening our eastern ally. This news, for instance:

    "The United States defended its planned sale of advanced radar systems to Taiwan on Thursday, saying they were merely to safeguard the island's security.

    US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters that Washington had not received any 'formal demarche' from Beijing but said that the early warning radars were 'inherently defensive' and to enable Taiwan 'to detect and react to missile attacks'."
(Courtesy of Missile Threat)
Unfortunately, though the article indicates that these are long-range radars, it doesn't mention if they could detect a launch from as far away as North Korea.

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