Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Arms purchase insight? You tell me.

There are bloggers out there who understand the arms-purchase controversy far better than I do, but I just came to a bit of an insight that I'd like to test out; comments are welcome.

What has belatedly caught my attention is that, when the Executive Yuan decided to remove some of the proposed purchases from the special appropriations budget and, at least in theory, finance those purchases at some later date from the regular defense budget, it was the Patriot anti-missile batteries that the EY decided to offload -- leaving in place the appropriation request for diesel-electric submarines and anti-sub aircraft.

This tells me -- or at least I think it tells me -- that military planners (both Taiwanese and US) are far more concerned about a Chinese naval blockade than the PRC's "700 missiles aimed at Taiwan." And if this is true, I wonder why it's so. Speaking for myself, I'd rather read about Kaohsiung Harbor being sealed off than look out my window and see a missile hurtling toward me.

My guess is that Taiwanese and US military planners would truly hate to deal with a naval blockade because, though a blockade is an act of war, it doesn't quite seem like an act of war in the way that a missile attack does. In the event of a blockade, then, it would be harder to rally international opinion in support of military action against China than would be the case in the event of a missile attack. So all concerned would much prefer that China not be tempted to try a blockade. What's left of the arms appropriation is designed to make a blockade so difficult to establish and maintain that the PRC would never dare try it. And whether the anti-missile batteries are ever purchased, or whether they're just quietly forgotten, well... China will probably never launch missiles anyway, because that would make US involvement inevitable.

As I say, comments are welcome.


Rank Beginner said...

Your reading of the special military budget "offloading" is novel to me, Dog.

I saw the removal of those items as an indication that they would be purchased before the rest of the items that remain in the unapproved basket.

In other words, the change from my perspective indicated the government puts most value on the anti-missile batteries.

DogOfTheSouth said...

Well, what's never made sense to me about the offloading is that I never hear any discussion of where the MND is supposed to get the extra money to buy the batteries. It's a nice chunk of change we're talking about -- you don't come up with that money by just economizing here and there. It seems to me the money would have to be appropriated. But maybe you're right.

Michael Turton said...

The KMT recently floated a report that said they'd buy the subs and sub chasing aircraft, but not the missile batteries. My POV is that the missiles are the most useful part of the purchase, hence, their disappearance from KMT consideration. Unfortunately the number of batteries is too small to really protect Taiwan.

The referendum in '04 asked about strengthening the missile batteries if the Chinese continued to threaten us, so the Chen gov't may feel it has a mandate, while the KMT may argue that it does not. The MND really wants the Patriots (here, but there is another consideration: the NT is falling, so the price of the package may go up. Ultimately $$ may decide the fate of the Patriot batteries.