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The Rationale Behind US Military Aid for Taiwan

October 27, 1992



I was disturbed by the Opinion page article "Sale of Fighter Jets Harms US Credibility," Oct. 20. Contrary to the article, I strongly believe that United States credibility is not harmed or weakened by this sale but rather strengthened in view of the present situation in Taiwan.

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Taiwan is a young and vital democracy in Asia - perhaps the strongest in the region. The sale of 150 F-16 fighter jets by the US will only bolster Taiwan's defense system, protecting it from the communist threat and helping to uphold the freedom of its people. Despite Taiwan's depot of arms, Chinese communists are still adding to their arsenal by purchasing 24 advanced SU-27 fighters from Russia. Furthermore, they have consistently denied Taiwan's request to renounce the use of force against it.

Under these circumstances the US, in fulfilling its duty and obligation to provide appropriate defensive weapons to Taiwan as stated in the Taiwan Relations Act, has no choice but to make sales to Taiwan for defense purposes. The balance of arms must be equalized across the Taiwan Strait. In turn, the show of strong support for a free people on Taiwan will increase US credibility as we once again commit ourselves to freedom around the world. Stephen Rabasco, Boston Avoiding an arms race

The front-page article "Arms Sales Take Off in Asia as China Bids for Supremacy," Oct. 5, brings to our attention the possibility of a serious confrontation with China. China is building a military that could dominate the Asian region and is developing nuclear weaponry and long-range missles. We have economic interests in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Will the resistance of these countries to China's domination draw us into a conflict with China?

It is going to take skilled diplomacy to avoid getting into an arms race with China. President Bush is a seasoned diplomat. His proven experience as a diplomat will help him to come to an accord with China that will not only benefit the United States but will give the world a feeling of peace. Mr. Bush's worldwide expertise is also needed to handle the problems associated with the unification of Europe. There is at this time a greater issue than our economy: It is world peace. Warren Pease, Honeoye, N.Y. The president's word

A critical test of a leader's character is whether he stands by his words and deeds. In April 1991, after the end of the hostilities in Kuwait, President Bush was charged with abandoning the people in Iraq whom the United States had encouraged to rise up against their government.

A typical charge was that addressed to Mr. Bush on April 16, 1991: "... your administration estimates that up to 1,000 Kurds are dying each day. How do you reply to critics who say that you've acted too little, too late, and that you've turned your backs on the very people that you inspired to rise up against Saddam Hussein?"

Bush's replies to this charge were variations upon his assurance of April 7, 1991: "I went back and reviewed every statement I made about this, every single one. And there was never any implication that the United States would use force to go beyond the objectives which we so beautifully have achieved."

There are more than a dozen public statements on record in which Bush, during and immediately after the hostilities in Kuwait, sought to inspire the people of Iraq to rise up against Saddam. It is not surprising, therefore, that it never occurred to Bush's audiences that American force would not be used to support the uprisings he called for. George Anastaplo, Chicago Professor of Law, Loyola University