Arsenal of Democracy or Disfunction?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt once called the United States the “arsenal of democracy.” He used this reference in regards to sending unlimited supplies of weaponry to Great Britain in its life-and-death struggle against Nazi Germany. Roosevelt knew that if Britain lost it could have meant that the United States, then a neutral country, could have been the next target. Roosevelt knew that when dealing with such an aggressive force as Nazi Germany there are no neutrals. Eventually even the most ardent of neutral nations would have to face a hostile force if their political system is different from a possible enemy. For democracy and dictatorship or one party rule cannot co-exist.

How sad this lesson seems to becoming lost in Washington, D.C. Recently, Barack Obama decided to to not sell the more advanced F-16C/D fighter planes to Taiwan. Instead, Obama intends to “upgrade” those F-16A/B fight aircraft Taiwan already have in their arsenal. Weapons upgrade means that new weaponry and fittings are installed so that a weapon, such as a fighter aircraft, has more up-to-date military systems. Sometimes the updates may include new engines and guidance systems. But I must point out that with all of the upgrades in the world, it does not change the fundamental fact that the aircraft are still old. The F-16A/B aircraft are already 10 to 15 years old, and no matter what upgrades may be made the aircraft bodies are still old. Because these planes have so much wear and tear on them they will be eventually retired in five or ten years. Meanwhile, China is building state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line military aircraft as I write this. More than that, the Chinese military is building them in numbers that is outnumbering the Taiwanese airforce ten to one. And if this is not bad enough, consider this fact: China sells its weaponry around the world to rogue regimes and regimes that commit crimes against humanity and genocide. China is the number one supplier to the North Sudanese government, and the North Sudanese government has been guilty of genocide in South Sudan. Does the United States tell China not to sell weapons to North Sudan?

Strangely enough, U.S. President Barack Obama had no problem selling new and upgraded F-15 fight jets to Saudi Arabia. Bear in mind that unlike Taiwan, Saudi Arabia faces Iran which however powerful that state may be is nowhere near the military level of China. I should also point out that Saudi Arabia is not a democratic state, and yet Obama is willing to do much more for Saudi Arabia than Taiwan. Taiwan is a democracy. It has elections every four years, and at least three political parties contending for the presidency and the legislature. Not helping Taiwan is being seen by other U.S. allies as caving in to China and is making them wonder if the United States will be around much longer in the Asian region. But a greater fundamental is at work. The United States is itself a democracy, and should therefore help to support democracies that are being threatened with extinction. I am not saying the U.S. should send in its troops, but at least the United States can provide any democracy that can pay for our weaponry (and Taiwan can pay) should get all it needs. Not only would we be helping a democracy defend itself but we would be giving Americans badly needed jobs. By saying “no” Obama has not only denied Taiwan armaments for its defense but has denied Americans badly needed jobs despite the record unemployment rate. Are we the arsenal of democracy or the arsenal of disfunction? In my view, we need a new president come 2012.

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