Friday, August 01, 2008

Taking a step back on the ‘arms freeze’

Followers of developments in the Taiwan Strait have all been in suspense as they wait to see whether the US arms package (which includes the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, seen left) sale to Taipei will proceed or not. Absent clear signals from Washington, pundits, in the US and elsewhere, have come up with a number of theories as to why the administration of George W. Bush would choose to go against the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and “freeze” already approved arms sales to Taiwan, from a desire to appease an increasingly influential China in Washington to fear that the arms package could disrupt ongoing “peace” efforts between Taipei and Beijing. What the great majority of op-ed pieces and talking heads have failed to take into account, however, is US grand strategy, realism as a guiding principle, as well as the history of the US “empire,” which, in Europe as well as in Asia, provides clues as to what may be behind the current “freeze.”

In "Hegemonism behind arms 'freeze,'" published today in the Taipei Times, I attempt to kick-start debate in that direction and argue that US policy on preventing the emergence of multipolarity in the international system is what is preventing the arms sale from materializing. It also provides, I hope, a key to reading future US arms sales to the region.

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