US can sell new jets to Taiwan: senator

SYRIA ANGLE::Senator Ted Cruz said if he were the US president, he would sell F-16C/Ds to Taiwan in response to a possible Chinese veto of a UN vote against Syria

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 4

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has proposed that the Pentagon sell F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan if China vetoes a UN Security Council vote condemning Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

Cruz, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, made the proposal during a TV interview earlier this week with former US president Bill Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos.

The first-term senator said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a “brutal murderer” who had gassed more than 1,400 of his own citizens, including 400 children, and he “rightly should be subject to condemnation worldwide.”

However, Cruz insisted that a US military attack on Syria would be a mistake.

He said such an attack would not be based on defending US national security or defending the US or its allies.

Rather, he said, it would be “explicitly framed” by US President Barack Obama as a defense of “international norms.”

Cruz said there were many other steps the US could take to express strong disapproval of al-Assad’s “murderous conduct.”

Pressed by Stephanopoulos about what he would do as president, Cruz said he would do several things.

“Number one, there are reports that Iraq is allowing Iran to fly over and resupply Assad,” he said. “I would right now cut off Iraq’s US$500 million in aid unless they cut off air rights.”

“Number two, we should force a vote in the US Security Council condemning Assad’s use of chemical weapons to murder his own citizens,” Cruz said.

Stephanopoulos interrupted to say that such a vote would be vetoed.

“Yes, we know Russia and China would veto it, but we should make them veto it on the world stage,” Cruz said. “And if they do veto it, we should respond by, with respect to Russia, we should reinstate the anti-ballistic missile station in Eastern Europe that was canceled at the beginning of the Obama administration to appease Russia.”

“And with respect to China, we should go through with selling the new F-16s to Taiwan that again this administration put the kibosh on,” he added.

Asked how that would hurt al-Assad in Syria, Cruz said it would unify international opinion condemning him.

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday he would put a resolution to the UN Security Council to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they could be destroyed.

The resolution would threaten “extremely serious” consequences if Syria breached its conditions, Fabius said.

The US Congress is expected to vote soon on a resolution authorizing Obama to take military action against Syria, although opinion polls show that a majority of voters are opposed to the idea.

A survey by the Associated Press news agency showed 61 percent of Americans want Congress to vote against authorization for military strikes.