Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: All-out defense

By Winnie Hung

The bickering over the purchase of weapons from the US has been going on for over two years. Last week, the bill allowing for that purchase was struck down yet again. This is nothing less than frustrating, and one wonders if it might not turn into and endless, inextricable mess. It is perhaps time we started thinking about what the impact of this quagmire will be.

Some people already say that the remarks made by American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young last week are part of those consequences. Some construe Young's statement as an attempt to humiliate the nation or perhaps even apply overt pressure.

For my part, I do appreciate the director's stern warning and take it very seriously. One can easily imagine the US' patience running short on the issue. Like an untrustworthy customer, Taiwan placed an order early on but then bargained with the salesman, the US, for five years.

Why couldn't the US' impatience make sense to us? We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that the US will wait indefinitely for us to make up our mind. In fact, it is not altogether infeasible that all of a sudden the US will pack its things up, withdraw its promise to protect us, and thenceforth refuse to deal with us, period.

Young's comments provided a timely reminder of that.

Let's look at the arms procurement bill -- and the failure to pass it -- from another angle: that of all-out defense. In light of the threat that Taiwan faces from across the Strait, it is crucial that we focus our minds on ensuring the defense of the nation, not only in terms of military capacity but -- and perhaps more importantly -- in the spiritual will to do so. This concept requires a strong belief that we possess a potent national defense apparatus.

However, at present, an appeal to all-out defense would awaken shame and embarrassment at the poor state of our weaponry. In fact, if this were to continue, it is possible that the national defense mechanism would lose people's support.

The decision to purchase weaponry needs to be made with a calm and rational mind. It certainly shouldn't be put aside -- or expedited -- out of political considerations.

Let's all hope that the arms procurement bill will be passed soon so that we can transform the nation's overall defense capabilities into something we can rely on and be proud of.

Winnie Hung


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