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U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan are All About Profits, Not Security

Calling America the ‘World’s Largest Exporter of Death,’ this editorial from China’s State-run People’s Daily argues that it is the desire for ‘staggering profits’ rather than Taiwan’s security that is behind the Pentagon's campaign to sell the island American weapons.

October 1, 2005

Original Article (English)

At the recent so-called annual US-Taiwan Business Council-Defense Industry Conference [Sept. 18], a senior official with the Pentagon explicitly demanded that Taiwan’s "Legislative Yuan" pass the "defense budget" for the purchase of $15 billion worth of American weapons, and warned that the U.S. "Taiwan Relations Act" is not a rubber check for Taiwan’s protection. Therefore, if Washington confirms that Taiwan has no plan for its "self-defense," then it would be impossible for the United States to "defend Taiwan."

Earlier, 33 members of House of Representatives sent a strongly worded letter to Taiwan’s opposition parties, asking them to give unequivocal support to the "arms purchase plan," saying that “there should not be any more delay" in the matter. Although this "arms purchase plan" was again rejected on September 27, the U.S. side continues to relentlessly push the weapons sale.

 [Editor’s Note: Shortly after President Bush took office in 2001, his administration approved the sale of some of the most sophisticated weaponry ever extended to Taiwan, responding to long-standing criticism from Taipei that Washington wouldn't let it buy what it needed].

Why do the Pentagon and Congress so energetically press Taiwan to continue buying U.S. weapons? Is it really "to defend peace across the Taiwan Strait" as they have claimed? No!

The motivating force behind boosting arms sales is actually the result of the Iron Triangle of U.S. weapons industry, that is, federal agencies represented by the Defense Department, defense-related Congressional committees as well as military-industrial entities in the private sector (including manufacturers, laboratories, and chambers of commerce related to weapons production).

It was this Iron Triangle that so viciously promoted the recently released Pentagon report on "Chinese Military Power.”

—READ: The Pentagon's 2005 Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China

Major U.S. arms makers not only promote, but directly participate in the decision-making process on arms sales to Taiwan. At the conference on Taiwan arms sales, there were seats reserved for representatives of the arms dealers.

What is the purpose of the American war industry Iron Triangle, which is so bent on selling weapons to Taiwan? Let's have a look at a living example.

The Kidd-class Destroyer, The USS Chandler; An Arleigh Burke AEGIS Class Destroyer

The United States will deliver two "Kidd" class destroyers from the U.S. Navy to Taiwan in November. The ships are an element of the large-scale arms sale announced in April 2001. The two destroyers were decommissioned in 1998 and 1999, respectively, are over 20 years old, and have systems that are obsolete. The United States once tried to sell them to Greece and Australia, who rejected the offer.

The United States sold these rejected goods to Taiwan at the astronomical price of $875 million. What those in the Iron Triangle are most happy about is that the sale of the ships will continue to pat dividends, because follow-up expenditures on relevant weapons, maintenance and servicing will prove even more expensive than the original sale.

These weapons were released from service to provide "a ready source of money," to the United States, so of course, the Pentagon redoubles its efforts to sell them.

No wonder discerning people say that only the Taiwan authorities are willing to be “deceived on account of their generosity."

Certain Americans seriously pretend that what Taiwan needs most to “defend itself” are AEGIS destroyers. As a matter of fact, the manufacturer of these destroyers, the U.S. company General Dynamics, succeeded in winning just a single contract for AEGIS between 2005 and 2007. Other than Taiwan, no other country or region has shown any interest in buying "AEGIS."

Selling such warships to Taiwan undoubtedly represents "a life-saving straw" for the company to maintain production.

The Penatagon Protects the 'Iron Triangle'

On a Web site jointly established by General Dynamics and other U.S. military enterprises gave away a secret: “The AEGIS plan involves 1,938 contractors in 49 states, and will earn $21.5 billion for the American economy. This is further evidence that U.S. government officials and people in Congress are exerting tremendous energy to force the purchase of weapons that are not at all for Taiwan's security, but for selfish U.S. interests, for the profits of U.S. enterprises, for increasing job growth and for canvassing more votes.

The report "Conventional Weapons Transfers to Developing Nations" released recently by the Congressional Research Service shows that since the end of the Cold War, the United States has once again maintained its position as the world's top supplier of munitions. In 2004, U.S. foreign arms sales were valued at $14.5 billion. It is thus clear that under the pretext of "defense," America’s military industrial Iron Triangle strives for one thing only: staggering profits.

The United States, otherwise known as "the world's largest arm trafficker" and "the top exporter of death,” should engage in a serious self-examination.

"Exporting large quantities of arms for the defense of world peace?" Who Would believe such nonsense?

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