Wed, Aug 31, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Purveyors of peace

By Huang Jei-hsuan

Some pan-blue-camp leaders, with the aid of pro-China media in Taiwan, have been trying to pass themselves off as purveyors of peace.

And, by packaging incremental surrender as a "peace process," they are attempting to hand over Taiwan piecemeal to China. Moreover, as part of their reprehensible plan, they've been blocking the passage of the special arms-procurement bill -- again, all under the pretense of peace.

But the consequence of surrender -- or "unification" -- would be the loss of peace.

Because of its strategic location, the US-Japan alliance cannot afford Taiwan falling into unfriendly hands. Combining their aversion to "unification" with the fact that a substantial portion of Taiwanese object to "unification" under any circumstances would almost guarantee a never-ending "non-peaceful" struggle.

In other words, what pan-blue leaders are selling here regarding "unification" is nothing but a faux peace.

The pan-blue leaders' refusal to pass the arms-procurement bill is no less harmful to peace.

One reason is that China's aggression derives its energy mainly from the perceived imbalance in military power across the Taiwan Strait. But with the absence of a credible deterrent capability -- a problem the arms-procurement bill is attempting to address -- the imbalance will only worsen with time. That in turns increases pressure from hawks within China and encourages further aggression.

Worse yet, Taiwan's continuing difficulty or reluctance in forging a consensus to strengthen its defense capabilities could be viewed by Beijing as the first step that would lead to eventual disarmament -- an open invitation for invasion.

It's worth noting that even if the arms bill is eventually passed, some damage will already have been done.

For instance, the success of deterrence depends heavily on the ability to ward off the enemy by means short of violence. Hence, there is a necessary psychological element that might have been lost or at least weakened because of the pan-blue leaders' behavior.

The top priority is always to scare an enemy without engaging in combat. Doing this requires that Taiwan at least demonstrate the resolve to adequately arm itself and fight. Pan-blue-camp leaders have so far shown the opposite.

One remedy might be a grass-roots campaign to educate the public and to raise people's awareness of Taiwan's defense needs. The public must be told that only with adequate deterrence can Taiwan be assured of the continuing commitments of the US-Japan alliance, which in turn will guarantee cross-strait peace in the near and medium term as a more stable and longer-term solution is sought.

Meanwhile, the pan-blue leaders' misrepresentation that anything to do with strengthening defense is tantamount to an arms race or warmongering is an underestimation of the intelligence of the Taiwanese people.

It's not everyday that a group of politicians from a small country can hold the key to the well-being of almost one-third of the world's population. But these pan-blue leaders have elevated themselves into this crucial role solely by mortgaging Taiwan's future.

Their continuing recalcitrance in blocking the arms bill might erode US trust and eventually force the US to re-evaluate its commitment to Taipei, leaving Taiwan with fewer choices.

This might be the design of the pan-blue leaders. But it's hardly that of the Taiwanese people.

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