Dump Taiwan

Paul V. Kane is a former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of government, and a Marine who served in Iraq. His op-ed in today’s NY Times is a stunner. No, really. A stunner.

WITH a single bold act, President Obama could correct the country’s course, help assure his re-election, and preserve our children’s future.

He needs to redefine America’s mindset about national security away from the old defense mentality that American power derives predominantly from our military might, rather than from the strength, agility and competitiveness of our economy. He should make it clear that today American jobs and wealth matter more than military prowess….

There are dozens of initiatives President Obama could undertake to strengthen our economic security. Here is one: He should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.

This would be a most precious prize to the cautious men in Beijing, one they would give dearly to achieve. After all, our relationship with Taiwan, as revised in 1979, is a vestige of the cold war.

Today, America has little strategic interest in Taiwan, which is gradually integrating with China economically by investing in and forming joint ventures with mainland Chinese firms. The island’s absorption into mainland China is inevitable.

But the status quo is dangerous; if Taiwanese nationalist politicians decided to declare independence or if Beijing’s hawks tired of waiting for integration and moved to take Taiwan by force, America could suddenly be drawn into a multitrillion-dollar war.

There will be “China hawks” who denounce any deal on Taiwan as American capitulation, but their fear of a Red China menacing Asia is anachronistic. Portraying the United States as a democratic Athens threatened by China’s autocratic Sparta makes for sensational imagery, but nothing could be further from reality.

The way this Harvard scholar talks you’d think Taiwan is on an inevitable track to integrate with mainland China. I see it differently; I think they’re going to grow a lot closer, but “reunification” is not in the stars. Not for many years, if ever.

This is an extraordinary piece. The author believes that ditching Taiwan (“slowly and gradually”) will help turn the US around and boost Obama’s standing everywhere. It would, he said, immediately eliminate 10 percent of the US’s national debt (which could well be true.) Taiwan would be a super-bargaining chip, giving us leverage to get China to agree to stop supporting terrorist states and to write off our $1.4 trillion debt owned by China.

The only thing missing from this op-ed: the Taiwanese. I lived there for nearly two years. This “solution” would be met by abject horror, and not just by the Green fanatics. (And not all Greens are fanatics; I know some splendid ones. But I also know a few fanatics. And when I say fanatics….) I know plenty of politically apathetic Chinese who emphatically say Taiwan will never accept being ruled by the CCP. And they really mean it.

Read the whole column. You can’t criticize him for not being bold enough. But does bold equal bright?

Update: James Fallows goes after Kane, and you have to go there.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 93 Comments

Actually the foreign reserve does not belong to China.
Do noy forget that a large proportion of this usd3 trillion dollars are the hot money which flow into China to take advantage of the higher Chinese interest rate and widely expected RMB appreciation expected by China trading partners.

Perhaps Paul Kane should consult his country men like Soros to seek thei approval first!

November 14, 2011 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

slim: whenever you get angry about something written by cookie monster et al, take a breath: anger – in that kind of situation – is always useless.

November 14, 2011 @ 3:35 pm | Comment

Foreign reserve = Trade/services surplus + foreign Fixed Investment(FDI) + Hot Money

Actually there are some speculations in Chinese internet that if they were to take out the value of FDI and hot money,then the foreign reserve truly belong to China is a negative value!

November 14, 2011 @ 3:37 pm | Comment

slim
WAH WAH WAH I WISH U WERE DED!!

I do tend make some people cry.

SK Cheung
slim never said they would get it from scratch. He just said they would get it.

No, genius, he implied that Japan going (officially) nuclear would be some monumental paradigm shift. Anyone who doesn’t have shit for brains knows it would not be.

So slim is being over-dramatic as usual. It’s those emo glasses.

Michael Turton
Since the status quo IS a form of independence, even from your flawed POV, most Taiwanese support independence.

I support the status quo. And it should be subtly enforced with a strong military and economic credibility (but spare us the DPP peasant bravado). But since you want to talk about “forms of independence” we should note that an export-dependent resource poor island is never truly “independent” in the first place, but we’re not here to talk about your bizarre DPP interpretation of the Taiwanese economy.

most Taiwanese support outright independence for Taiwan.

One thing to know for sure is to never trust your statistics. You’re not even Taiwanese and yet you’re a foaming at the mouth pro-independence type. I’m sure you’re fit for military service in case China invades as you wish, right? This is that question you just love to dodge.

If it weren’t for the KMT Taiwan would already have been an independent state a long time ago. The existence of the China threat is due to the KMT’s expansionist foreign policies

Yes lets just ignore the fact that it was annexed by the Qing before Japan colonized it – try to remember that the Hoklo aren’t exactly native. This is what I love most about the DPP peasant mentality.

November 14, 2011 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Interesting to read the not-so-surprising reaction from Netizens, but hard to accept. They will stubbornly assert the so-called rightful reclaim of TWN, whenever TWN sovereignty issue grabs all eyes. Obvious is it PRC fellows love this island the most, much more than some domestic politicians and Americans who were said to waste money to defend TWN. Seriously speaking, TWN can be part of cultural Chinese, but far from political ones. Further, TWN has spent much annually for “protection” fee – buy weapon instead of being given.

A major factor sustaining PRC loving comes from a then-secret 1949 event – the presently ruling KMT transferred tons of gold and antique to TWN after defeated. One will meet fierce debate from every rank of Chinese claiming the laborious carry largely helped fuel TWN booming before. To stage all-out courage to TWN folks, PRC can first try to recoup the land near NE China and Vladivostok harbor lost in Qing dynasty, and Mongolia separated in WWII. Here is a funny win-win solution to the stupid cross-TWN Strait dilemma – KMT returns gold and antique to where it belongs in exchange for the turf now occupied by PRC.

What’s noteworthy is Taiwanese now really really pay far less attention to “independence” issue than “reunity”. A likely win by DPP in next Janauray Presidential election does not point to a change of ROC status quo. Yet, if KMT reins the island again, most will fear a continued capoital outflow to mainland, lifting hollowed-out effect. Improved KMT-PRC link, partly reflected by signing of ECFA last year, was proved little helpful to TWN in local economy and int’l political relation. KMT, reelected as ruling party in 2008, failed to fulfil promise of “6-3-3” policy – 6% GDP growth, below-3% jobless rate and over-USD30,000 annual per capita GDP. It’s the annoying job problemTaiwanese face now, not indepennce. As always for years, to dump or not to dump TWN by others, that’s not the question. Voting can dictate our income and everything else next year.

It’s warming to see so many lovely “laowais” supporting this island. This page is interesting…….

November 15, 2011 @ 2:59 am | Comment

Taiwan is an independent state. Can’t see much that would indicate the legitimacy of the PRC’s claim on the island. People may keep chanting stuff like “Taiwan belongs to China”, but mere repetition, or reminders that the U.S., or most other governments “adhere to the one-China policy” won’t cut it. Such statements do, however, indicate that Taiwan would deserve a revaluation within the international “community”. Democratic countries above all should give the issue a lot of consideration.

November 15, 2011 @ 3:21 am | Comment

To my pet dog:
“No, genius, he implied that Japan going (officially) nuclear would be some monumental paradigm shift.”
—oh really? You know what he’s thinking? You don’t even know what you’re saying, or what you’re reading, as I just pointed out on that other thread. BTW, Japan is officially nuclear now. They’ve had nuclear energy for years. Going weapons grade nuclear and having the vehicle (ie missile) to transport it is not the same thing as having reactors for electricity. You guys were raised so poorly that you don’t know when to stop and concede, and instead keep digging deeper and deeper holes for yourselves. I suppose that’s to be expected, since folks like you operate with a proto-brain.

November 15, 2011 @ 5:09 am | Comment

SK Cheung
You know what he’s thinking?

Whoops I forgot, you’re mentally stunted and can’t read meaning from context. Meanwhile, slim is a histrionic, screeching crybaby.

If we put the two of you together you’d almost be a complete human, minus of course 90% of basic brain function and all logic.

November 15, 2011 @ 5:54 am | Comment

“you’re mentally stunted and can’t read meaning from context”
—the point is that most normal humans can infer meaning from context. But when I say “you”, I literally mean you. And CCP apologists like you are not normal humans. You guys are this morass of poor logic, dollar-store intelligence, and questionable character with poor quality upbringing who can only engage in disingenuous arguments, it would seem. Your performance on the other thread is exhibit A (well, actually I’ve lost track of how many times you’ve made an idiot of yourself, but let’s just say exhibit A for the last 15 minutes).

November 15, 2011 @ 8:56 am | Comment

SK Cheung
You guys are this morass of poor logic, dollar-store intelligence, and questionable character with poor quality upbringing

Yeah, I guess these guys bring

1) massive economic growth
2) massive advancement in scientific and technological output
3) the end of poverty for hundreds of millions
4) the prevention of millions of unnecessary deaths

Oh but to slim and others of barely human intelligence, these are “bread and circuses”.

The two of you would combine to form one single emotionally balanced imbecile.

November 15, 2011 @ 9:23 am | Comment

he implied that Japan going (officially) nuclear would be some monumental paradigm shift.

Nope, he didn’t.

Imagine how allies like Japan and South Korea would respond to this. Probably go nuclear fast.

Seems to me that the “Probably go nuclear fast” comment shows he understands Nuclear Latency (i.e. The Japan Option). It’s not that uncommon. Japan could likely have nuke-armed missles within a week, SK not far behind. Sweden, Germany, South Africa, Australia, Taiwan, etc. possess the technology and production base to have nukes in a very short time.

But you can be fucking sure of one thing, there would have to be a paradigm shift for them to take the next step.

November 15, 2011 @ 9:24 am | Comment

A Taiwanese view of this NYT oped
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2011/11/15/2003518326

November 15, 2011 @ 10:06 am | Comment

Atticus
But you can be fucking sure of one thing, there would have to be a paradigm shift for them to take the next step.

From my experience with Japan, I highly doubt that. The people may not like the idea of having nukes, but the right wingers who dominate politics are utterly shameless.

Aside from literal terrorist attacks on the opposition parties they have no qualms at all with shady underhanded dealings with America that absolutely go against will of the average Japanese person.

November 15, 2011 @ 10:07 am | Comment

From Mike’s article:
As this newspaper argued in response to the previous articles, the 23 million people who inhabit this nation are not mere commodities who can be traded by larger nations on a diplomatic chessboard.

I think he must have missed the last few decades

November 15, 2011 @ 10:09 am | Comment

Mike, I’m a bit taken aback by the Taipei Times’ personal swipe at Kane at the end of that editorial. I hated Kane’s article and read it in dismay, but the personal attack based on gossip was a bit much.

November 15, 2011 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Personal attacks based on gossip is the DPP’s modus operandi. At least they didn’t empty a pail of feces in his office.

November 15, 2011 @ 11:11 am | Comment

@Richard
I guess his article must have struck an editorial nerve.

November 15, 2011 @ 11:17 am | Comment

To my little doggie,
When I said “you people”, iwas referring to feeble ccp apologists like you.

That is rather different than your reference to “these guys”. I have utmost respect for what Chinese people can do. But the typical ccp apologists are most certainly not Chinese people, just disgruntled Americans like you.

November 15, 2011 @ 12:17 pm | Comment

@Richard – I was all set to agree with you, as I am not exactly a fan of TT’s editorial style. Too many of the pieces they run consist of poorly-sourced paranoia directed at the KMT or the mainland written by individuals whose qualifications are dubious, to say the least. One particularly dire piece by Li Thian Hok published back in June referred to a “secret” communique from Deng Xiaoping in which he commented on things that happened after he died. Really.

However, so long as they actually do have sources at Harvard who hold those opinions, I think the attack on his academic credentials is in-bounds. I too wondered what exactly was meant by him being a “former fellow” at the Harvard Kennedy school, and how exactly his experiences in Iraq qualified him to write such an article. It now turns out that he was small part of the occupation government in 2003 – something that from any perspective was a total disaster.

The main problem for me with this kind of attack, though, is not the nature of the attack itself, but the fact that they are so very unqualified to criticise the NYT in this way when their failings are actually worse. If TT wants to make this kind of criticism, they should also apply the same standards to their own editorials. So far they have not.

November 15, 2011 @ 3:16 pm | Comment

…but the right wingers who dominate politics are utterly shameless.

Aside from literal terrorist attacks on the opposition parties they have no qualms at all with shady underhanded dealings with America that absolutely go against will of the average Japanese person.

Kids, this is what’s known as a pot-meet-kettle moment. Please thank Mr Merp for the demonstration.

November 15, 2011 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

FOARP, it was this line that jumped out at me:

Sources describe him as a “poseur” and a “climber” who should not have been allowed to set foot in Harvard to begin with.

This does not allege that the sources came from anyone within Harvard. it is purposefully vague and, unfortunately, reads like hearsay, gossip. It may well be true, but it would be a lot more meaningful if he has said “Sources at Harvard,” or something to indicate that these sources are legitimate and not just the opinion of some blogger or anyone who’s pissed about the article. The way it’s written sounds very catty.

November 15, 2011 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Kane’s ideas can certainly be criticized based on their merit or lack thereof. But I think it was bang-on appropriate as an op-Ed for NYT. After all, editorials should aspire to get people talking, and not necessarily to elicit agreement. So this editorial has certainly achieved what it set out to do.

It definitely got TT’s knickers in a twist. The analogy to Cambodia and Khmer rouge I thought was a little rich.

While Kane makes himself fair game merely by virtue of putting himself out there, it should be sufficient to address his ideas. His never receiving a degree from Harvard doesn’t change the fact that he was a fellow at Harvard. And none of that has much relevance to his opinion anyway. And the unnamed sources bit was definitely needlessly cheesy.

November 16, 2011 @ 1:07 am | Comment

@Richard – Re-reading, I agree with you. “Sources” does not mean “sources at Harvard”.

November 16, 2011 @ 1:49 am | Comment

I hope everyone saw the NMA parody of Kane’s column. Priceless. Those guys are geniuses.

November 16, 2011 @ 4:06 am | Comment

Atticus
Kids, this is what’s known as a pot-meet-kettle moment. Please thank Mr Merp for the demonstration.

The kids have already seen and read enough “America can do no wrong” tripe for that lesson, Mr Dogsbody.

And no, there is no real Chinese Nationalist party in China.

November 16, 2011 @ 4:32 am | Comment

@Richard – Actually, the more I think about it, the worse it gets.

The person who wrote that Taipei Times editorial was J.Michael Cole, TT‘s deputy editor. J. Michael Cole wrote an editorial back in September criticising the Financial Times for running an article in which anonymous US officials were quoted as having “distinct doubts” about Tsai Ingwen, the DPP presidential candidate. J. Michael Cole described the FT‘s decision to run the piece as “questionable”, although other authors, Michael Turton in particular, described the piece as a “hack job” and the decision to use anonymous quotes as unjustifiable and “propaganda” – although they did not feel this way about the latest TT editorial.

J. Michael Cole hardly appears to be in a position to question Kane’s credentials. He describes himself as a former Canadian intelligence officer, which is true – he served with CSIS for one year, before resigning out of protest at what he saw as a looming invasion of Iran in the middle part of the last decade. He does have a master’s from the Canadian Royal Military college – but does this match a fellowship with Harvard? And if the qualifications are relatively unimportant (as I believe they are) then why attack them?

To be honest, unless there is evidence that Kane actually was trying to deceive people into thinking he was more qualified than he is, I cannot see this as anything more than an unfair attack on the credentials of someone whose opinions are unfortunately moronic by people who are hardly in a better position credentials-wise.

November 17, 2011 @ 5:52 am | Comment

The Taipei Times is infested with non-Taiwanese, pro-West shills installed in prominent positions.

What a shocker.

November 17, 2011 @ 10:32 am | Comment

And no, there is no real Chinese Nationalist party in China.

Oooooh! Ya got me there, Merp. The CPC could never be considered nationalist, could it? I mean, it’s a Communist party and that means it’s internationalist, doesn’t it, Merp?

Hold on a second. I just checked some first year, second semester textbooks and they say… that you’re a mendacious wanker.

November 17, 2011 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

Swiftian satire – ha, ha, haaa…, haaaaaa…….

November 18, 2011 @ 4:56 am | Comment

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/11/selling-taiwan-to-mainland-china-the-author-explains-his-swiftian-intent/248637/

Nearly identical letter by kane to fallows. Whereas he sounded ballsy but stupid before, now he just sounds stupid. Pretty lame to be backtracking from the main thrust of his argument to now basically say he was only kidding. His point didn’t work based on merit, and doesn’t work as satire either.

November 18, 2011 @ 8:04 am | Comment

Fallows sure let’s him have it in the update. Wow. You can tell he feels a bit of contempt toward Kane.

To Foarp above: That’s really shocking. It doesn’t make the Taipei Times look anything but petty and unprofessional.

November 18, 2011 @ 8:52 am | Comment

@Richard – Cole has clarified that he resigned from CSIS after three years, not one. However, the point still stands.

November 18, 2011 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

I SAID THREE DAYS AGO: “the KANE Piece i now believe was mere MODEST PROPOSAL satire a la Jonathan Swift…i think he was trying to make a point, the opposite point…. he loves Taiwan in fact…..he hates CHina….this was SATIRE.”

But everyone took him too seriously. DOn’t people know how to READ anymore.

He now admits to the world that IT WAS A SATIRE. Now what do you say Joe Bloggers and Professors of Taiwan? Get thee to a nunnery!

from Trevor in UK
descendant of Jon Swift

PS; — My UK friends doubted me saying: “uh, Trevor, old boy, Do you have any reason to believe that this is a Jonathan Swift type of satire? Or is it wishful thinking? I hope you might be right. Kane once worked on Ted Kennedy’s staff.”

November 18, 2011 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

It wasn’t funny if it was a satire. If so, he fooled everyone because the way he wrote it was very specific and serious. Read his letter, and you’ll see he still stands behind what he wrote. I don’t really believe it was a satire; he is scrambling because the world denounced his harebrained scheme.

November 18, 2011 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

Atticus
I mean, it’s a Communist party and that means it’s internationalist, doesn’t it, Merp?

The CPC loves foreigners and minorities, so yeah, it’s not exactly nationalist – not in the way you think it is.

Are you going to start crying now about how poor laowais are mistreated in China?

November 19, 2011 @ 5:10 am | Comment

Merp, the CPC is explicitly nationalist. Every honk from the CPC goose is nationalist.

“Honk! You have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Honk!”

“Honk! You don’t understand how China works. Honk!”

“Honk! The West is trying to keep China from its rightful place in the world/leader of Asia. Honk!”

“Honk! Japan, blaaaargh, blaaargh. Honk!”

“Honk! Those islands are ours. That sea is ours. Honk!”

“Honk! U.S. forces in Australia are there to harm China (be careful Australia you wouldn’t want to get caught in the middle). Honk!”

Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk!

The CPC is nationalistic in exactly the way I think it is.

Are you going to start crying now about how poor laowais are mistreated in China?

What the fuck are you talking about, Merp? What the hell does that have to do with nationalism. I have always been treated well in China, that fact that most Chinese people are nice doesn’t negate the fact that the CPC and its lickspittle fenqing (e.g. You) are extremely nationalistic. I should point out I have known several non-white laowai who have been on the receiveing end of racism and mistreatment in China.

November 19, 2011 @ 12:56 pm | Comment

You forgot “Honk! The sky is blue! Honk!” and “Honk! The sun rises in the East! Honk!”. Can’t leave out such insidious Chinese propaganda.

1) The West does indeed not understand how China works.
2) The West IS actively trying to contain China (and just about any other region that does not bow to its every whim)
3) Japan gets a mixed response due to their own, very real and US sponsored hypernationalism
4) The islands are a part of China, and by international law the sea follows – Taiwan agrees
5) And yes, US forces are out to harm China just as US banks and US media are out to harm China – and their own citizens

I should point out I have known several non-white laowai who have been on the receiveing end of racism and mistreatment in China.

Cry me a river. These “non-white laowai” discriminate against Chinese in the West, in their homelands, and in China itself. Tell them to get the chips off of their shoulders and be grateful for how much better the Chinese treat them compared to how their own kind treat the Chinese.

November 21, 2011 @ 3:08 am | Comment

LOL #1-5. Man, voices in your head, and shadows around every corner. You CCP apologists are a paranoid lot. There must be medication for that type of thing. Then again, mansbestfriend does appear to have a particularly bad case of it.

November 21, 2011 @ 6:20 am | Comment

@SKC #5 I don’t think I measure up as a CCP apologist.

Okay, paranoid and the occasional voice from god, but hey, this is on par for the course for all scribblers in the Sinosphere.

November 21, 2011 @ 6:33 am | Comment

SK Cheung
LOL #1-5. Man, voices in your head, and shadows around every corner. You CCP apologists are a paranoid lot. There must be medication for that type of thing. Then again, mansbestfriend does appear to have a particularly bad case of it.

Trained poodle of the West barking again. Why bother with facts when we can spew our propaganda?

I mean, a country that has “toppled regimes” in dozens of countries certainly wouldn’t think about doing the same to China, right?

Oh but listen to Fox News – it’s just your imagination!

November 21, 2011 @ 8:01 am | Comment

“I mean, a country that has “toppled regimes” in dozens of countries certainly wouldn’t think about doing the same to China, right?”
—huh? Please explain how “toppling” china would be good for America. This I’d love to hear. C’ mon, now is your chance to vow me with a great or compelling argument. I realize it will be too much to ask of you, but the reach should exceed the grasp, as they say. Has the Ccp taught you the party line to that question before?

You aren’t seriously suggesting that fox news represents msinstream opinion or government policy, are you? Cuz that would be a good one. If you’re paranoid because of what you hear on fox news, I think the cure for you might be to watch less of it. There. That therapy session is free of charge. Chalk it up as my good Samaritan deed for the day.

November 21, 2011 @ 3:06 pm | Comment

@Merp: Weren’t you trying to argue that the CPC isn’t nationalist? Now you’re trying to say that I am making the Honk! points because they’re not true. I’m making them because they are the talking points of nationalists. They are the “poor China, we’re all victims” talking points, go back and look at the talking points made in Germany in the ’20s and ’30s. You’re a fucking moron, Merp.

These “non-white laowai” discriminate against Chinese in the West, in their homelands, and in China itself. Tell them to get the chips off of their shoulders and be grateful for how much better the Chinese treat them compared to how their own kind treat the Chinese.

I’ll say it again, Merp. You’re a fucking moron.

You wanna tell me about the racism that Chinese are facing in the Phillipines, or Zimbabwe, or Brazil? C’mon, Moron, out with it or get back in your hole.

November 21, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

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