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The Illogic of American Arms Sales

I was disappointed to read the Obama administration has, reportedly due to Chinese pressure, declined Taiwan’s request to purchase 66 new F-16C/D fighter aircraft for a reported price tag of $4.2 billion. China may be resurgent, and the worst message the United States can send to our regional allies is that Washington will defer their national security concerns to those in Beijing. No Chinese strategist is seriously concerned about a Taiwanese invasion of mainland China. The opposite is, of course, not true. Projection of weakness seldom provides a firm foundation for regional defense.

Against this backdrop, I return to the proposed sale of our latest generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey. While Turkey has reportedly scaled back its order from 120 to six of the stealth fighters, all it takes is one in the wrong hands to provide a windfall to our adversaries (and, increasingly, Turkey’s allies) in countries like Iran and China. Unlike Taiwan, Turkey fears no imminent invasion of its territory from any neighbor.

There is something very wrong in Washington when the basis of foreign policy becomes dismissing allies for the sake of ingratiating ourselves to adversaries.



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