The Chen Shui-bian (
Speaking at a Washington seminar on the Iraq war's implications for Asia, Bush noted Chen's unstinting support to the US during the war despite domestic criticism.
He said that if the pan-blue forces had been in power, they "would probably have done the same as President Chen did."
"Chen took a decision that was in Taiwan's national interest. Despite political problems, Chen recognized that Taiwan had benefitted from the US' support in the past, and that they were obligated to reciprocate," Bush said.
He called Chen's decision, "no surprise" and a "no-brainer," meaning an it was an obvious one.
In other comments, Bush called "unfounded" concerns in Taiwan that "the US will be put in a position that it will have to sacrifice Taiwan's interests" to secure China's cooperation in solving the North Korea nuclear crisis. This may mean that the US may not be able to come to Taiwan's defense after a planned reconfiguration of US troop strength in East Asia and the Pacific.
Also at the conference, the former chief of American military forces in the Pacific, Admiral Dennis Blair, refused to be drawn into speculations over how long it would take the US to respond militarily to a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
Blair, who retired from the post of Pacific commander-in-chief in May last year, commented, however, that the US forces in the region have sufficient capability to deal with any such situation.
"The US has plenty of power to do what it has to do," Blair said, in response to the question. But he indicated that the circumstances of any Chinese attack would be such that the amount of time the US took to respond would be moot.
"I think that talking about a week here and a week there when you're talking about circumstances which would just be traumatic failures for China, the US and Taiwan just doesn't really make sense," he said.