Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cross-strait ‘detente’ is unilateral, critics say

The Ray Ting-2000 during a military parade in 2011
The nation has reduced spending on defense and is now acquiring non-combat platforms like excavators and rafts as the threat from China continues to grow 

Low spending on national defense as well as cuts in projected weapons acquisition, are signs that the armed forces are moving away from a combat-oriented to a relief-oriented military role and that detente in the Taiwan Strait is “unilateral,” critics of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration have said. 

During the presidential campaign in 2008, Ma vowed to bring spending on national defense to 3 percent of GDP, a pledge that he has not met in his four years in office. The proposed national defense budget for next year has been set at NT$314.15 billion (US$10.59 billion), lower than the NT$317.2 billion for this year. 

Beyond a failure to meet the target defense spending, appropriations for next year also indicate a shift away from combat readiness to operations other than war, predominantly relief operations, reflecting Ma’s 2009 announcement that natural catastrophes were now Taiwan’s “No. 1 enemy.” The Chinese-language United Daily News reported on Sunday that initial plans by the army to procure 57 domestically produced Ray Ting-2000 (“Thunder 2000”) multiple rocket launchers for a total of NT$14.45 billion had been slashed by one-quarter in next year’s budget. According to the report, the Ministry of National Defense ordered in July last year that production be dropped to 43 launch vehicles, which are to be divided into three battalions. The budget for the acquisition has reportedly been cut to NT$13.22 billion. 

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

5 comments:

Michael Fagan said...

"The nation has reduced spending on defense and is now acquiring non-combat platforms like excavators and rafts as the threat from China continues to grow."

Although this decision was made by the leaders of the ruling KMT administration (note: not "the nation"), it may be noted that had the political opposition (both the pan-greens and the students) not been reflexively Statist in character and ideology over the last decade, then they could have done much more to stop the gutting of the military.

One supposed tactical advantage of limited government is that, the fewer functions the agencies of the State are allowed to perform, the better they can perform them since the politicians are supposedly unable to divert resources elsewhere.

It may be difficult to imagine how rescue, recovery and mitigation efforts could be competently carried out independently of the State, but that difficulty may well be due to the layman's comparative lack of relevant knowledge, experience and imagination; just because I can't imagine how something can be done, doesn't mean someone else can't.

Michael Turton said...

, it may be noted that had the political opposition (both the pan-greens and the students) not been reflexively Statist in character and ideology over the last decade, then they could have done much more to stop the gutting of the military.

Concreteness, please.

Michael Fagan said...

No. What is needed first is destruction, not construction. The concrete mixers can wait.

Rather than one or two specific acts to prevent the debilitation of the military, the effect could have been cumulative: the result of pushing back against the scale and scope of State power on multiple fronts.

The market could have developed responses to the needs of rescue and disaster mitigation efforts had the possibility of independent supply of such services not been crowded out by State provision via misappropriation of the military. There may have been people who could have seen in Typhoon Morakot (or preferably much earlier) an opportunity to start a business, but who would pay the insurance fees given popular expectations for the government to save them "for free"?

Why? Because it is now an ingrained reflex to expect the State to act on almost any kind of social problem whatsoever. The DPP have long taken part in the training of this reflex.

The opposition could have advocated and protested for the repeal of the land expropriation act in 2010. They didn't. They ended up protesting for the State to bestow "land justice" and to take better account of "environmental and social concerns" and various other half-baked, waffly bullshit substitutes for private property rights.

The wormtongue academics in the universities are to blame for that, as the editorials in the Taipei Times this year and in 2010 testify.

The opposition could have advocated and protested for the withdrawl of both State funding and State control (the two go hand in hand) of the education system, which is the government's single largest budgetary expense. They didn't. They ended up protesting against the introduction of new Chinese-centric elements in the curriculum.

Why this? Because Taiwanese nationalism is one of the few skinny-skirt rallying dances they know, and one which, like their fashionably green heart-sleeves, dovetails easily with the reflexive Statism trained in the universities and the editorial pages of the Taipei Times.

The idea of advocating principled limitations to the power of the State is alien to the Taiwanese partly because the Lefties deliberately go out of their way to conflate limited government with an attitude of apathy or contempt for the environment, or the poor or whatever else.

As much as it is the KMT leadership that has decided to scale back military preparedness, the opposition movement must take some of the blame for having made it so easy for them to find excuses to do this.

If I were a commie in Beijing dreaming of the annexation of Taiwan, I would be barely able to contain my delight every time the DPP failed to restrict State power and ended up looking for ways to expand it - I would even have a name for them...

Useful idiots.

Michael Turton said...

Well, I probably should have known better than to ask for something concrete from you.

Michael T

Michael Fagan said...

I gave you plenty of concrete in my reservoir essays...

Anyhow, a protest is "concrete" enough - what has to change are the principles that inform it.