Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Buying from a bully?

By Mark Perrault

The recent debacle surrounding the arms procurement package underscores the contemptuous nature of the Bush administration and it's preferred option of pressure tactics, deception and war profiteering. This controversial arms purchase will hopefully put to an end any remaining illusions the Taiwanese people might have about benign intentions of US policy vis-a-vis Taiwan. The Bush administration has clearly shown that its relationship to Taiwan is contingent upon the latter's willingness to be another client-state of US bully capitalism.

It is no secret that the Bush administration has been largely financed and supported by US arms manufacturers, and that in effect these benefactors are simply collecting a return on their investment. In other words, the Bush administration is doing what it does best -- paying back all of its corporate donors. With the US election in a month's time and Iraq threatening to unravel into an all-out civil war, the Bush administration needs hard cash to divert to the Iraq front, and it's a simple enough maneuver to exploit existing tensions elsewhere to finance the Iraq mess.

Chen's decision to purchase weapons at this time appears to be a feckless gamble. That aside, however, Taiwan is playing the willing dupe. What is doubly ironic, but somehow no less surprising, is that twice in the last year, Taiwan has sought more constructive -- but again, perhaps ill-advised -- means of promoting its national identity through partial membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) and failed membership in the UN, both of which were thwarted by China.

Naturally, the Bush administration did nothing to help Taiwan promote its identity through respected and multilateral world bodies such as the WHO and the UN -- mostly as a measure to avoid upsetting China, but quite conceivably because it hasn't shown much regard for the UN as a viable mechanism outside of cleaning up the chaotic aftermath of US adventurism.

The Bush administration has demonstrated that it doesn't support multilateral world organizations which seek to advance a more principled international mission of conflict resolution that would mean holding US global military power in check. It is sadly obvious that in this American election year, the Bush administration is looking to bankroll its mistake in the Middle East with arms sales to countries abroad who need diplomatic encouragement rather than a dangerous military build-up.

Mark Perrault

Taipei

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