Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute recently published a book advocating a fundamental change in the US' Taiwan policy. Instead of guaranteeing Taiwan's security, he argues, the US should only making weapons available to Taipei while letting Taiwan fan for itself in case of an attack by China.
Save for salient points regarding Taiwan's defense capabilities, questions may be raised on several areas of his argument, especially regarding his fundamental premises that Beijing has the unshakable resolve to annex Taiwan and that there is a net long-term benefit to the US to abandon Taiwan. The glaring absence in his book of meaningful insights into the domino effect of Taiwan's fall in the context of regional stability as well as the US global strategic interests seems to readily undermine his last assumption.
Admittedly, he saw no chance that his suggestions would be adopted by the US government under the current political climate. Casting light on Taipei's weak participation with respect to the US-Taiwan strategic partnership for cross-strait and regional stability appears to be the book's most constructive aspect, even though in the short term it will have detrimental effect on the US public's perception of the Taiwanese people. Those effects would be fleeting if the Taiwanese people quickly make efforts to nip Taiwan-bashing in the bud before it becomes a growth industry.
Underscoring the urgency is the sense of resentment prevalent in his reference to Taiwan's perceived inattentiveness in the last few years toward defense readiness. When defense thinkers -- Carpenter's feeling on this particular subject is apparently shared by many in the US -- of an ally start to depict Taiwan with expressions such as "irrationally," or more emphatically "freeloader" and "getting a free ride" as being tossed around in his book-release publicity gathering, the Taiwanese people can't afford a continuing silence. This would only suggest Taiwan's widespread numbness toward defense matters.
On a broader scale, the respect as well as empathy toward Taiwan as a democracy in the eyes of the global community could suffer irreparable damage, should the perception spread of a Taiwanese nation that is reluctant to defend itself. That would bode ill for Taiwan's efforts to join international organizations as a sovereign entity.
Strange as it may seem, the Taiwanese public's indifference might have stemmed in part from a victim's mentality pervasive in Taiwanese society, whereby the historical wrongs of the superpowers should saddle the US with the obligation to safeguard Taiwan's security.
Any remaining instinct for self-preservation is further discouraged by the US's outdated "one China" policy, which offers scant long-term prospects for a sovereign Taiwan. This is then exploited for ulterior purposes by the pan-blue camp leaders, whose repeated blockage of the special arms-procurement bill exacerbates the US' frustration.
The fact remains that the pan-blue camp is not only getting a free ride on the US, it is also freeloading on the pan-green camp's political capital. It's part of the general trend that the pan-blue camp has developed over the last six years, of taking advantage of the pan-green camp's deep concern regarding Taiwan's long-term interests -- especially national security -- for its own political gains.