So, why not sell out Taiwan?

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So, why not sell out Taiwan?

Postby Storyteller » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:57 am

To Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan

WITH a single bold act, President Obama could correct the country’s course, help assure his re-election, and preserve our children’s future.

He needs to redefine America’s mindset about national security away from the old defense mentality that American power derives predominantly from our military might, rather than from the strength, agility and competitiveness of our economy. He should make it clear that today American jobs and wealth matter more than military prowess.

As Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared last year, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.”

There are dozens of initiatives President Obama could undertake to strengthen our economic security. Here is one: He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.

This would be a most precious prize to the cautious men in Beijing, one they would give dearly to achieve. After all, our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war.

Today, America has little strategic interest in Taiwan, which is gradually integrating with China economically by investing in and forming joint ventures with mainland Chinese firms. The island’s absorption into mainland China is inevitable.

But the status quo is dangerous; if Taiwanese nationalist politicians decided to declare independence or if Beijing’s hawks tired of waiting for integration and moved to take Taiwan by force, America could suddenly be drawn into a multitrillion-dollar war.

There will be “China hawks” who denounce any deal on Taiwan as American capitulation, but their fear of a Red China menacing Asia is anachronistic. Portraying the United States as a democratic Athens threatened by China’s autocratic Sparta makes for sensational imagery, but nothing could be further from reality.

The battle today is between competing balance sheets, and it is fought in board rooms; it is not a geopolitical struggle to militarily or ideologically “dominate” the Pacific.

In fact, China and the United States have interlocking economic interests. China’s greatest military asset is actually the United States Navy, which keeps the sea lanes safe for China’s resources and products to flow freely.

China would want a deal on Taiwan for several reasons. First, Taiwan is Beijing’s unspoken but hard-to-hide top priority for symbolic and strategic reasons; only access to water and energy mean more to Chinese leaders.

Second, a deal would open a clearer path for the gradual, orderly integration of Taiwan into China.

Third, it would undermine hard-line militarists who use the Taiwan issue to stoke nationalist flames, sideline pro-Western technocrats and extract larger military budgets. And finally, it would save China the considerable sums it has been spending on a vast military buildup.

Jeffrey Lewis, an East Asia expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, estimated that one-fourth to one-third of China’s defense spending goes to forces in the vicinity of Taiwan — at a cost of $30 billion to $50 billion a year. A deal for the resolution of Taiwan’s status could save China $500 billion in defense spending by 2020 and allow Beijing to break even by 2030, while reducing America’s debt and serving our broader economic interests.

The Chinese leadership would be startled — for a change — if the United States were to adopt such a savvy negotiating posture. Beyond reducing our debt, a Taiwan deal could pressure Beijing to end its political and economic support for pariah states like Iran, North Korea and Syria and to exert a moderating influence over an unstable Pakistan. It would be a game changer.

The deal would eliminate almost 10 percent of our national debt without raising taxes or cutting spending; it would redirect American foreign policy away from dated cold-war-era entanglements and toward our contemporary economic and strategic interests; and it would eliminate the risk of involvement in a costly war with China.

Critics will call this proposal impractical, even absurd. They will say it doesn’t have a prayer of passing Congress, and doesn’t acknowledge political realities. They might be right — today.

But by pursuing this agenda, Mr. Obama would change the calculus and political reality. And Congress should see a deal with China as an opportunity to make itself credible again.

Debt is not in itself bad, when managed, but today’s unsustainable debt will suffocate our economy, our democracy and our children’s futures.

By tackling the issue of Taiwan, Mr. Obama could address much of what ails him today, sending a message of bold foreign policy thinking and fiscal responsibility that would benefit every citizen and be understood by every voter.


That should make for an interesting discussion, I expect ;)
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Postby vison » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:11 am

But the status quo is dangerous; if Taiwanese nationalist politicians decided to declare independence or if Beijing’s hawks tired of waiting for integration and moved to take Taiwan by force, America could suddenly be drawn into a multitrillion-dollar war.


Those are mighty big "ifs".

The integration is happening now. A little patience will achieve the it. There are almost none of the old hardliners left alive in either China or Taiwan and as time goes by the inevitable will keep being inevitable.

China is not prone to going to war. That's not true of the US, of course. But in this case, I think China holds the trump cards and will continue to be China: patient and playing the long game.

As for the suggestion in the article? Jeez . . . .
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:15 am

What I find interesting is the way the action is described in the title of the article and the title of the thread.

Not: Change our relationship to Taiwan,

But: "Ditch" Taiwan, "Sell Out" Taiwan

The subtext belies the message of the piece, doesn't it?
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Postby Storyteller » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:20 am

Jnyusa wrote:What I find interesting is the way the action is described in the title of the article and the title of the thread.

Not: Change our relationship to Taiwan,

But: "Ditch" Taiwan, "Sell Out" Taiwan

The subtext belies the message of the piece, doesn't it?

Insufficiently euphemistic?
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:24 am

The author says one thing while subtextually leading us in the opposite direction.

We can always save ourselves by running away, can't we.
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Postby Storyteller » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:26 am

Jnyusa wrote:The author says one thing while subtextually leading us in the opposite direction.

We can always save ourselves by running away, can't we.

It might very well be a "modest proposal" of sorts. But I'm curious as to the counter-arguments. Why isn't it a grand idea?
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:04 am

You'll have to get a hawk to answer that one.
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Postby Storyteller » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:01 am

Jnyusa wrote:You'll have to get a hawk to answer that one.

In other words, only a hawk would consider it a bad idea?
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Postby Faramond » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:14 am

The US could also save a lot of money and strengthen its strategic position by renouncing its relationship with Israel as well.

A lot would depend on what sort of deal was struck, how much economic and political freedom the people of Taiwan would be allowed to retain. At worst this kind of deal would be a cowardly and calculating "anything for a dollar" deal. There have always been plenty of people in the US government and public who would go for that.
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Postby Storyteller » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:35 am

Faramond wrote:The US could also save a lot of money and strengthen its strategic position by renouncing its relationship with Israel as well.

Which is an argument rather frequently deployed.

Of course, the US would mostly be shooting itself in the foot with said renouncing, but the relevant thing here is that this idea has some following. Taiwan, however, is a far more interesting case. Whatever one thinks of that relationship's balance of pros and cons, there is no question about there being pros. Benefits to the US from alliance with Taiwan are much harder to see.

At worst this kind of deal would be a cowardly and calculating "anything for a dollar" deal. There have always been plenty of people in the US government and public who would go for that.

That, basically, is the question. Once the idea of "renouncing the relationship" (let's go with the obfuscatory term, for the comfort of non-hawks) has been mainstreamed, why stop at one? Why not have a firesale?
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Postby Faramond » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:54 am

At worst this kind of deal would be a cowardly and calculating "anything for a dollar" deal. There have always been plenty of people in the US government and public who would go for that.

That, basically, is the question. Once the idea of "renouncing the relationship" (let's go with the obfuscatory term, for the comfort of non-hawks) has been mainstreamed, why stop at one? Why not have a firesale?


Do you prefer "ending the alliance"? I thought you might protest that there was still even an alliance between the US and Israel given your characterization of President Obama's actions and speeches regarding Israel.


I probably made a huge mistake bringing Israel into this, but that is the first thing I thought of when I saw the idea of selling out a country being floated. I find the idea of the US ending its alliance with Israel appalling. But there are already plenty of threads discussing Israel so maybe it's best to keep it out of this one.

Are we going to strip the economic and political freedom of the people of Taiwan so we can save some money on our national debt? It's not that simple, though. We wouldn't be doing it, but we might be making it easier for the People's Republic of China to do that eventually. "Your children will be thrown in jail for writing the wrong thing in a political blog, but it's worth it because look at all this money we're saving!"

Yet -- I'm not convinced that the US would actually go to war with China just to save Taiwan from that government. I think the US should back the freedom of the people of Taiwan, but to the point of going to war -- I don't think so. I'm also not convinced China would go for this kind of deal. That's a lot of money for one island that they may get anyway later on.
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Postby Jnyusa » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:25 pm

Storyteller wrote:In other words, only a hawk would consider it a bad idea?


I don't know enough about the arguments on either side to represent them in discussion. But if you are looking for someone to articulate the cold-war hawk argument, then you'd better go to a cold-war hawk to get them.

There are two populations in Taiwan who would be differentially affected if the country were absorbed by the PRC. It's not clear at all to me that they would both view that event the same way, or that the US actually cares how one of them views it.

If we are going to prognosticate, we should look first, I think, at the experience of Hong Kong.

And remember too that if a road goes East it also goes West, as the PRC learned from Quongdong Province after the Tienanmen Square uprising. Does the PRC really want to absorb Taiwan, or is this a posture they've adopted because it can be used as currency in some other issue?
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Postby Frelga » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:31 pm

There seems to be a great deal of difference between the position of "we support Taiwan's independence, but will not commit to entering a war with China on Taiwan's behalf" which Faramond put forward, and the highly hypothetical scenario of "let's approach China and promise not to defend Taiwan if they pay us." In the first, China is the aggressor, in the second, we are the traitors.

Moral considerations aside, I don't see why China should be interested. They must see that there is a pretty big chance that the US will adopt the first position free of charge to them.
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Postby Cenedril_Gildinaur » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:15 am

Faramond wrote:Are we going to strip the economic and political freedom of the people of Taiwan so we can save some money on our national debt? It's not that simple, though. We wouldn't be doing it, but we might be making it easier for the People's Republic of China to do that eventually. "Your children will be thrown in jail for writing the wrong thing in a political blog, but it's worth it because look at all this money we're saving!"


Every time I propose pulling our troops out of some part of the world, that argument comes up. "Are we going to surrender them so that we can save some money?"

Let's find the middle ground then and put it to a vote of their people - they can pay us for the privilege of our troops defending them or we can pack up and go home. If we're going to be an empire we should collect tribute.

When I was stationed in Korea I was shocked at how much the US pays South Korea to defend itself from North Korea. Not just how much the US pays to have US troops there - how much the US pays to have South Korean troops there.
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Postby vison » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:43 am

Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:
Faramond wrote:Are we going to strip the economic and political freedom of the people of Taiwan so we can save some money on our national debt? It's not that simple, though. We wouldn't be doing it, but we might be making it easier for the People's Republic of China to do that eventually. "Your children will be thrown in jail for writing the wrong thing in a political blog, but it's worth it because look at all this money we're saving!"


Every time I propose pulling our troops out of some part of the world, that argument comes up. "Are we going to surrender them so that we can save some money?"

Let's find the middle ground then and put it to a vote of their people - they can pay us for the privilege of our troops defending them or we can pack up and go home. If we're going to be an empire we should collect tribute.

When I was stationed in Korea I was shocked at how much the US pays South Korea to defend itself from North Korea. Not just how much the US pays to have US troops there - how much the US pays to have South Korean troops there.


Bingo.
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Postby portia » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:22 pm

China will act in China's interest and I do not see what is in it for them. Taiwan may be a source of irritation, or not. If it is all that certain that mainland China will emerge as the dominant party in the re-integration of the two, why shouldn't mainland China just wait? (I do not think it is all that certain.)

I think China will be the new opponent in global struggles, and we should examine any deal with them very carefully to see if there are unforeseen and unintended consequences.
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Postby Faramond » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:42 pm

Cenedril_Gildinaur wrote:
Faramond wrote:Are we going to strip the economic and political freedom of the people of Taiwan so we can save some money on our national debt? It's not that simple, though. We wouldn't be doing it, but we might be making it easier for the People's Republic of China to do that eventually. "Your children will be thrown in jail for writing the wrong thing in a political blog, but it's worth it because look at all this money we're saving!"


Every time I propose pulling our troops out of some part of the world, that argument comes up. "Are we going to surrender them so that we can save some money?"

Let's find the middle ground then and put it to a vote of their people - they can pay us for the privilege of our troops defending them or we can pack up and go home. If we're going to be an empire we should collect tribute.

When I was stationed in Korea I was shocked at how much the US pays South Korea to defend itself from North Korea. Not just how much the US pays to have US troops there - how much the US pays to have South Korean troops there.


Your reply does not have any relation to my post, CG. The proposal is that China would pay the US to take a different position on Taiwan. It has nothing to do with who pays for US military action and stationing.

If the proposal was that we can save money by pulling our troops out of Taiwan, then your reply would make sense. If that is your proposal, then fine, but why drag my post into it when it has nothing to do with it?

vison wrote:Bingo.


I'm sorry, vison, you don't actually have a bingo here. To claim bingo the reply has to line up with the original post, and it doesn't.
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Postby vison » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:03 am

Hm. I actually didn't mean to "bingo" the whole post, just part of it.

I definitely debingofy the last paragraph of C_G's post. I won't go back and change it, though, it would just mess things up more.
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Postby Storyteller » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:36 am

portia wrote:China will act in China's interest and I do not see what is in it for them.


From the article:

China would want a deal on Taiwan for several reasons. First, Taiwan is Beijing’s unspoken but hard-to-hide top priority for symbolic and strategic reasons; only access to water and energy mean more to Chinese leaders.

Second, a deal would open a clearer path for the gradual, orderly integration of Taiwan into China.

Third, it would undermine hard-line militarists who use the Taiwan issue to stoke nationalist flames, sideline pro-Western technocrats and extract larger military budgets. And finally, it would save China the considerable sums it has been spending on a vast military buildup.

Jeffrey Lewis, an East Asia expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, estimated that one-fourth to one-third of China’s defense spending goes to forces in the vicinity of Taiwan — at a cost of $30 billion to $50 billion a year. A deal for the resolution of Taiwan’s status could save China $500 billion in defense spending by 2020 and allow Beijing to break even by 2030, while reducing America’s debt and serving our broader economic interests.
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Postby Jnyusa » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:21 am

China should take a page out of Russia's lesson book where US foreign relations are concerned. We never actually go in and liberate the Hungarys, Polands, East Germanys and Taiwans of this world. We just bare our teeth and watch the other guy spend billions to defend their hegemony.
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Postby vison » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:21 am

Jnyusa wrote:China should take a page out of Russia's lesson book where US foreign relations are concerned. We never actually go in and liberate the Hungarys, Polands, East Germanys and Taiwans of this world. We just bare our teeth and watch the other guy spend billions to defend their hegemony.


China is China. China plays the long game.

Taiwan will be a province of China eventually. At the moment, China has more pressing concerns. They usually turn inward. It's interesting, but frightening.
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