Mon, Jun 18, 2012 - Page 8

Taiwanese disillusionment

While I can understand and sympathize with the call for political unity in Taiwan (“Blue-green fault line weakens Taiwan,” June 15, page 8), I feel there are a number of oversights and mischaracterizations in the editorial that warrant a rebuttal. Before I get to these, I should first point out the strengths of the piece. It rightly identifies that the state of Israel is an occupying force, accurately asserts that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is not a dictator and justifiably attacks the political gimmicks and ineffectiveness of the opposition parties. So where did it go wrong?

First, using Israel as an analogy for Taiwan is deeply inappropriate. Trotting out the long-refuted line that Iran is bent on denying Israel the right to exist and has shown determination to use force to achieve that end is easy, but what evidence, outside of the mis-attributed comments from a few Iranian religious and political leaders, is there for this view? Is this not just the regurgitation of Israeli and US talking points on Iran whose sole purpose remains to prepare those respective nations’ reluctant populations for another foreign policy disaster as ordered by the military-industrial-security-penal complex and their investors on Wall Street? The contradiction of this point is apparent when the piece rightly points out that Israel has the upper hand militarily and is further bolstered by the facts that Israel holds nuclear weapons, but refuses to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whereas Iran does not hold these arms and is financially and politically pressured to cooperate with the IAEA.

If Taiwanese would like to follow an example of a people acting collectively to face down an existential threat, they might do better to look to Iceland rather than take notes from Israel, a country that is rapidly descending into xenophobic fascism.

Second, the author is well aware that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been in official contact and cooperation with the People’s Republic of China since at least 2005, a partnership that in many ways has been both undemocratic and unconstitutional. The danger in this partnership is that it has heralded not the return of authoritarianism, but the implementation and extension of gradual unification by “law fare.” Ma has already altered “the fundamentals” of Taiwan by signaling to the world that it is “the other area of China, awaiting peaceful resolution of political differences within one country.” The vast majority of KMT members may not wish for unification, but there are lots of signs the leadership has a roadmap that it is reluctant to allow either party members or public opinion alter the course.

Ma is not a dictator, but a puppet of political and economic forces far more powerful than himself, for whom the “pivot to China” promises greater medium and long-term profit.

Finally, perhaps Taiwanese struggle with defending their nation because they are still being sent contradictory messages about its true name, size and sovereign area. Perhaps the practice of vote rigging at local and national level elections has undermined the principle of democratic representation that should function as the generator of state legitimacy and authority. Perhaps 40 years of dictatorship has induced in Taiwanese a fatalistic dependency on the state that causes its citizens to not expect justice via rule of law, but rather hope that sympathy and mercy will be extended by the ruling class to those who prostrate themselves the most pitifully.

In this environment, is it any wonder Taiwanese, who I believe also have little patience for clownish behavior in the Legislative Yuan, do not believe that the democratic political process is an effective mechanism for protecting their most strategic interests — the survival of their families and businesses?

Ben Goren

Greater Taichung