Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Opinion: Reforming The Military Will Not Help Taiwan's Working People

The word on the street is that there is something strange about the whole affair of a dufus firing an unarmed missile from a Taiwanese navy boat and hitting a fishing boat killing a sailor. We saw on TV the press stalk this guy on the street going to a meeting, with a big shit-grin on his face, as he tried to escape their prying eyes, like he didn't know what all the hubbub was about.

Erased was forty-five seconds of the tape that would have showed exactly what happened last week on that Taiwanese patrol ship when the missile was fired 'accidentally'. The navy officer in charge that day said he had left the scene of the crime, for just a second, to get a sip of water.

China is playing it cool, saying Taiwan should be more careful, and the corporate U.S. media is making a joke out of it, calling the dufus a fool, enough to justify Tsai Ying-Wen’s anger and loss of face. In all probability, the navy recruit who thought he was playing video games when he said “fire” and pressed the button, was an innocent stooge allowed to make a mistake accidentally on purpose, like those Saudis, learning to fly jets in Florida, but not learning to take off or land. The CIA didn’t watch them; they watched four commercial jets make unscheduled stops on September 11, 2001 killing four thousand people and used the disaster to usher in the police state; this Taiwan missile only killed one, but what is the difference?

 It is either benign neglect, or simply taking a random situation and bending it to meet a government's political agenda that we are watching here. Tsai Ying-Wen and the DPP will not lose this opportunity to remind the people of Taiwan, and appease Washington hawks, that China is still a good enemy to have when Taiwan could be a good link in a chain to contain Chinese influence in Asia.

The U.S. will not lift a finger to support independence for Taiwan any more than it would for Puerto Rico, another island they just can’t seem to get out of their system. Need I remind anyone that China is located in Asia, 129 miles from Taiwan, and that the United States is not; that the national language and residual culture of Taiwan and China is Chinese?

It would all be well and good if the U.S. exported worker unionism, and not promoted sweatshop outsourcing to Taiwanese business people all over Asia. It would all be good if the U.S. was a model of true democracy, and not some neo-liberal two-party charade.

Tsai Ying-Wen will milk this stooge’s error for all it is worth, not that her on-camera tears to the deceased's wife weren’t real, but perhaps, more to the point, she can put a dent in the KMT rapprochement with China.

For eight years, the KMT of Ma Ying-Jeou let the militarism of their past martial law dictatorship drift away; a militarism that was reinforced by the U.S. for a record thirty-seven years supporting “Free China.” But now that the KMT has changed sides and thinks China would be better for Taiwan’s future than a twentieth century English-speaking colonial white-Angelo-Saxon Protestant power holdover, the U.S. is on the other side.

The U.S. government had only expansionist ruling-class motives for being one of the foreign powers that forced its way into China to sell opium and stole the Philippines from Spanish colonists in the nineteenth century, stifled Japanese growth starting World War II in the Pacific, occupied Okinawa and Taiwan, divided Korea, and slaughtered millions of Vietnamese and Cambodian  civilians and soldiers with napalm and agent orange, and American soldiers with morphine and insanity. What useless second-hand, obsolete multi-million dollar weapons system will the U.S. force Taiwan to buy next? 

There is no alternative for the working people in Taiwan but to organize independent unions and demand better working conditions, shorter hours and higher pay. The U.S. is not going to protect them from exploitation, nor is the KMT, DPP, or even a corrupt PRC. The workers must do this for themselves. Rebuilding military discipline, even expanding the draft time for recruits, as some have suggested, is counter-productive and only an excuse to waste more New Taiwan tax dollars on needless weapons that could not protect Taiwan from either superpower. Workers on both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same goal as workers in the U.S. and elsewhere. No neo-liberal party politics will win their strikes. 

Tsai touts ‘drastic’ reforms of military

TAKING CHARGE:The president said that she would not evade problems within the armed forces and would not shirk her responsibility as commander-in-chief

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen, front center, attends a joint graduation ceremony at the National Defense University and National Defense Medical Center in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday urged the military to stride forward at a steady pace amid public criticism over recent controversial incidents implicating military officers, pledging to not shirk her responsibility as commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces and to push for drastic reforms.
“Over the past few days, some incidents occurred within the armed forces. I believe all of you are worried and, in the face of criticism from all sectors of society, upset or even feel dispirited just like me,” Tsai said in a speech during a joint graduation ceremony of the Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, National Defense University and National Defense Medical Center in Kaohsiung yesterday morning.
Calling on the military to have the courage to face its mistakes and challenges, Tsai said the greater the frustration soldiers encounter, the larger steps they should take in their march forward.
Tsai said she would not sugarcoat recent controversies involving the military and tell them that everything about the nation’s armed forces is positive.
“Saying so while standing right here would make me an irresponsible commander-in-chief. I will not evade problems, nor will I shirk my responsibility. Our armed forces require reforms and they should be bold and drastic reforms,” Tsai said.
Tsai’s speech came on the heels of the navy’s accidental launching of a locally developed Hsiung Feng III missile from a 500-tonne Chinchiang-class corvette at Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung during a drill on Friday last week.
The missile struck a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Hsiang Li Sheng (翔利昇), operating in waters southeast of Penghu County in the Taiwan Strait, killing its captain, Huang Wen-chung (黃文忠), and injuring three crew members.
The missile blunder further fueled a public outcry directed at the military, which had faced an outpouring of criticism over the killing of a dog by marines at a military base late last month.
The president said the key problems facing the nation’s armed forces include military officers’ lack of strategic guidance, defense resources, the size of the army, arms and the gap between national defense construction and economic development.
“We will also reform the military’s system and culture. The superficial formality, waste of manpower and insufficiency are all focuses of our reform,” Tsai said, vowing to make military officers gradually see changes in the armed forces’ system.
Later yesterday, Tsai paid her respects to Huang’s family in Kaohsiung, accompanied by National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Kang Yu-cheng (康裕成) of the Democratic Progressive Party.
Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tsai, in her capacity as commander-in-chief, extended her sincerest apologies to Huang Wen-chung’s wife and other family members, and vowed to ascertain the truth about the incident as soon as possible.
Alex Huang said Tsai told the victim’s family that she has instructed the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Justice to form an ad hoc group to investigate the incident.
As Huang Wen-chung was his household’s main source of income, Tsai also asked Chen and the defense ministry to help the victim’s family apply for state compensation, Alex Huang said.

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