American presidents like to announce major arms sales to Taiwan when they are leaving office. George Herbert Walker Bush announced the sale of nearly $8 billion in hardware, including 150 F-16 fighters and Patriot-derived air defense units, in 1992; Bill Clinton parceled out about $2 billion in defense equipment during his final year in office, 2000; and George W. Bush notified Congress of his intent to sell more than $6.4 billion in defense equipment in 2008. Barack Obama broke this trend by announcing more than $12 billion in arms sales to Taiwan during the in-between years of his first term, in 2010 and 2011. Now approaching its final year in office, the Obama administration has announced its first arms sale to Taiwan in more than four years. And compared with its initial sales, it is uncommonly modest and inherently defensive.
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