Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: National defense starts at home

There are rumblings that comments at last week's press conference by American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young have endangered the passage of the arms procurement bill.

Whatever the motivations of those who ordered Young to give Taipei his ultimatum, there are a few unsettling truths that need to be aired.

There are those in the US who believe in Taiwan and believe in its freedom, and these people work hard to convince the military, the executive and Congress that Taiwan is worth supporting and, if necessary, fighting for.

Then there are those who think that Taiwan is expendable. They think Taiwanese are a jumped-up bunch of Chinese who cannot be trusted to run a democracy, let alone to defend themselves from the Chinese juggernaut. To them, Taiwan endangers good relations with China and industry and is simply not worth the trouble -- despite the fact that Taiwan's democracy grew under US protection.

There is a strong case to be made, therefore, that Young was ordered by his superiors to ignite the pan-blue camp's deep anti-Americanism so that the procurement bill would be scuttled -- providing ammunition to pro-China forces in the US of the "unwillingness" of Taiwan to defend itself.

Whatever the truth of the matter, a clash between pro-Taiwan interests in the US and the pan-blue camp was inevitable because pan-blue contempt toward the US has always nestled very close to the surface. Never mind that the pan-blue elite are US-educated; the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a long and inglorious history of relying on US funding, education, technical know-how and military support, then denying its own incompetence and its debt to the American people and labeling the US "colonialist" for presuming to defend Taiwan against Chinese dictatorship.

What Washington has to understand is that KMT hypocrisy and carpetbagging do not represent the sentiments of the average Taiwanese, nor even the sentiments of the average KMT supporter. Taiwanese politics is polarized, but Taiwanese themselves maintain a civilized polity that is worth standing up for. The other option is to condemn Taiwan to the care of a regime that a draft US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report has described as a country unlikely to be willing to act as a responsible world power.

With US support apparently on the wane, it is crucial that Taiwan's executive take harder action in defending this country's institutions from Chinese interference and espionage.

So to the key question: Just what is the National Security Bureau doing to protect this country?

We know, for example, that the bureau spends resources on dossiers for Taiwan-based foreigners who write on local issues, and congratulations are due to the bureau for compiling such scintillating data for the next generation of historians.

But when it comes to the activities of legislators and leaders of political parties who cut deals with Beijing to spite the elected government of the day, there is no response. No retaliation. Whatever illegality that exists goes unpunished.

The bureau should make public its intelligence on which legislators are communicating with Beijing in a way that threatens the national security -- and then have them prosecuted. It is high time that legislators who receive inducements or funding from the Chinese be held to public and judicial account.

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