Mon, Nov 08, 2004 - Page 8 News List

What to look forward to with Bush

By Lin Cheng-yi 林正義

During the US presidential and vice presidential debates, the main focus was on the issue of national security. Senator John Kerry portrayed himself as a "multilateral cooperative internationalist" and President George W. Bush as a "unilateral isolationist."

The Taiwanese government has refrained from expressly stating it, but one can understand why they were hoping for a Bush victory. Bush sees good and evil in black and white, and is willing to send in the troops. He is still the best bet for Taiwan, even if a great deal of the government officials sympathetic to Taiwan leave during his second term. Many other countries favored a victory for Kerry, but there are special circumstances facing Taiwan.

A president's style (his manner, his words, his personal connections, his views on human nature), his world view (his political ideology), his personality (positive or cynical, and how much time he devotes to his job) will all influence his work. Whether or not he is, by nature, commanding or submissive, introvert or extrovert, bellicose or reticent, active or passive, willing to deal with a situation head on or tending more to avoid it, will all have a great effect on his choice of advisors.

According to a survey conducted by the Washington Post, many more Americans believe that Bush is trustworthy and reliable than they do Kerry. As far as the majority of voters are concerned, Bush is a tough leader capable of making the US safer. Fewer could say this for Kerry.

Most surveys revealed that a majority of the American electorate hold that, in terms of homeland security and the fight against terrorism, Bush is a safer bet than Kerry. One of the biggest factors in favor of a Bush victory was the fact that most US voters were concerned with the issues of terrorism, the Iraq war and national security, rather than the economy or unemployment, which are traditionally top of the list.

As far as the situation in Iraq goes, despite the fact that many other nations are divided regarding Bush's motivations for going to war in the first place, or his methods, he is at the very least perceived as seeing it through to the end, and both the reconstruction of Iraq and the elections there are going to be a huge challenge.

Bush advocates the development and implementation of a missile defense system and retains the option of continuing the research and development of a new generation of nuclear wea-pons if necessary. He also wants to reduce the US military presence overseas, planning to partially withdraw troops from the Korean Peninsula. So long as they increase military capability in the Ryukyu Islands and on Guam, this should not affect Taiwan too much.

For Bush, the sooner a ballistic missile defense system is developed and put in place the better. In this, Taiwan, faced with a threat from missiles, is in complete agreement.

US military intervention abroad may be brief, but post-war restoration will be a nightmare. This is true in Iraq, and the question of whether the US has a strategy to end its military involvement in other areas will affect its decision of whether or not to intervene.

The US has all kinds of proposals on cross-strait issues, but it does not necessarily have a detailed plan of getting itself out of a war. This indicates that the US needs to push harder for cross-strait talks, lest the current situation between Taiwan and China leaves the US with no choice but to intervene militarily.

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