As the special arms-procurement bill continues to be kept off the legislative agenda, some of Taiwan's US friends, who have shown concern for the nation in the past, are becoming disillusioned, and have begun to question whether Taiwan truly has the determination to defend itself. Statements by a US defense official indicate that there is a shift in attitude and policy on the defense of Taiwan.
On Sept. 19, Edward Ross, director of the US Defense Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said at a defense industry conference sponsored by the US-Taiwan Business Council in San Diego, California, that by virtue of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the US is not obliged to defend Taiwan. He said that the terms of the agreement were that the US come to the aid of Taiwan for the purpose of Taiwan's "self defense" if and when Taiwan came under attack.
Ross went on to say that the responsibility for Taiwan's self defense should lie with Taiwan itself rather than with the US, and that if Taiwan does not have the ability to defend itself, then the US was not obliged to defend it.
Ross said that over the past decade, Taiwanese political leaders have been overly dependent on Washington, which has resulted in a decrease in Taiwan's defense budget.
He then fiercely criticized the special arms budget, which has become a political football and remains stalled in the legislature. The American public is beginning to ask, "If Taiwan is not willing to invest in its national defense, why should the US defend Taiwan?"
It was ironic that at around the time Ross made these comments, the arms budget was once again rejected by the legislature's Procedure Committee for the 29th time.
Taiwan is a sovereign nation. Therefore, it should have the ability and determination to defend itself since this is the way to safeguard the security of its people's lives and property.
If Taiwan continues to depend on foreign military protection and does nothing to defend itself, it will be despised by the international community and be a disappointment to its allies. It would be undermining its own status as a sovereign nation.
Can a nation that cannot develop or manufacture advanced military weapons, that refuses to spend any money on such arms offered by its allies, but instead believes that its allies have a duty to defend it, be considered an independent nation?
Ross's scathing comments unquestionably embarrassed pan-blue politicians, who do not fear China only because they believe the US has a moral responsibility to defend Taiwan. Some lean toward Beijing, and look forward to entering the embrace of the "motherland." As they expect Taiwan to revert to China one day, they don't see any need for self defense.
The pan-blue camp continues to obstruct the arms bill and ignores the normal behavior of an opposition party in a democratic country by refusing even to give legislators an opportunity to debate the issue. They cite innumerable excuses for behaving in this way, the most preposterous of which is the idea that they are "caring for the public's wallets."
The true motive, however, is evil and will never be publicly admitted, because it runs counter to the interests and wishes of the Taiwanese people.
The Chinese military threat toward Taiwan is a serious one while Taiwan's military capabilities are falling further behind Beijing's. Most importantly, the arms procurement bill was planned and proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government, but US President George W. Bush only approved the sale after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power.