The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Know your friends

SMUndinista!
 Know your friends
Know your friends

Know your friends

Last fall, the Bush administration clarified its stance on Taiwan. Essentially, this is the administration’s attitude: “We will assist the Taiwanese if they are attacked, provided they do not bring the attack upon themselves.” At first glance, this appears to be a reasonable policy, inasmuch as Taiwan’s Prime Minister Chen rose a bit of a furor recently by stating out loud what everyone already knows, namely, that Taiwan is genuinely independent of the mainland and has been for a long time. However, when one considers the situation the Taiwanese find themselves in and how ludicrous it would be for them to actually provoke a war with the mainland, one is tempted to wonder what kind of idiots the Bush administration takes them for.

When you translate it out of Bush-speak, the statements about Taiwan leaves the government with a way out of ever feeling bound to offer help in case of attack. No matter how innocent the Taiwanese are, the Bush administration will be willing and able to say, with a straight face, “We’re sorry, but you brought this upon yourselves.” I hope I’m wrong in this prediction – and I hope I never find out whether I am or not – but as it stands now I feel like my cynicism regarding American foreign policy is perfectly justified.

The Taiwanese have gotten rich despite sitting on an island largely devoid of natural resources, and they are justifiably proud of their country and are well prepared to defend it. The Taiwanese Air Force, for example, sports American F-16s, French Mirage 2000s, and their own homemade hot rod, the Ching Kuo. These jets, and similar gear on land and sea, have long given the Taiwanese military a substantial technological edge over China’s huge but backward armed forces. In recent years, however, that technology gap has closed dramatically thanks to advances in Chinese technical expertise, achieved with the assistance of nations such as Israel (seriously). The Chinese will only further close the gap in the near future.

Should the Chinese government decide that the time is right to try and bring Taiwan back under their control by force, the Taiwanese may well find themselves in the position the Finns were in upon being attacked by the USSR in 1939.

Despite substantial public support for the donation of equipment to help the Finns, the U.S. government largely left Finland to fend for itself. Thanks to their fierce determination, ingenuity, and Soviet incompetence, the Finns managed hold the Soviets to about 10 percent of Finnish territory and inflict massive casualties against their attackers. Finnish casualties, in proportion to the nation’s small population, were awful.

Our current government seems perfectly content to let Taiwan end up in the same dire straits as Finland, suggesting ominous conclusions about this administration’s ignorance and/or true intentions.

A quick look at another “ally” of America reveals the shameful hypocrisy of the situation. Bush and his advisers routinely go out of their way to praise Saudi Arabia as one of America’s true friends, and the Saudi royal family has done the same through advertising sections in major American magazines.

The fact is, the country is really just a massive family business, and the family in question – the House of Saud – is one of the nastiest governments on the planet. To quote an Amnesty International report, “Secrecy and fear permeate every aspect of the state structure in Saudi Arabia. There are no political parties, no elections, no independent legislature, no trade unions, no bar association, no independent judiciary, and no independent human rights organizations.

“Anyone living in Saudi Arabia who criticizes the system is harshly punished. After arrest, political and religious opponents of the government are detained indefinitely without trial or are imprisoned after grossly unfair trials. Torture is endemic. Foreign workers are always at risk.”

Osama bin Laden and many of his hijackers are/were Saudis, and, more seriously, it is widely known that terrorist groups receive massive support from the Saudi private sector.

And yet, Saudi Arabia is equipped with a very large, modern military of American and British origin. The United States has maintained a sizable military presence in the kingdom ever since the end of the Persian Gulf War. Ostensibly, these troops are supposed to be a safeguard against an (extremely unlikely) attack from Iraq, but few doubt their true purpose: to prevent the overthrow of the House of Saud, and thus ensure American control over the nation’s vast oil resources.

It is precisely this troop deployment that so irritates Osama bin Laden and his ilk, by the way.

The American government would do well to learn who its true friends are, and should be. Right now, it doesn’t have a clue.

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