Monday, March 5, 2007

Do We Laugh or Cry ? Actually, Both.

. . .Liberty and interest alike seemed to the Georgians therefore to demand a strategic approach to international relations. They saw national power as the essential foundation of national independence; commercial wealth as a means to power; and war as among the means to all three. They accepted it as natural and inevitable that nations should be engaged in a ceaseless struggle for survival, prosperity and predominance.
Correlli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power,
(Humanities Press International, reprint ed. 1987, p. 20).
To nobody's surprise, the Chinese are increasing their military spending. According to reports today by the New York Times and the AP, China’s new state budget will include a 17.8 percent increase in military spending to just under US $45 billion. The increase supposedly includes increased appropriations for military salaries and benefits as well as force modernization and technological upgrades.

China is beginning to deploy, among other things, the new J-10 fighter aircraft, and is also buying and building some new destroyers.

Given China’s astronomical economic growth, it’s only to be expected that some of China's scads of money, (dropped into the treasury courtesy in part of spend-happy Americans), would be devoted to increased military spending. Were I calling the shots for the Chinese military budget: I’d want a great deal more money than a paltry $45 billion.

It’s probable that the actual total is a good deal higher: some analysts say that the actual Chinese military budget is about three times higher than the publicly disclosed sums. The regular budget does not take into account government subsidies for military industries, spending on the paramilitary police, much military, research and development, and, apparently, purchases of foreign military technology and products. Finally, the Chinese, being sensible people, consider military budget figures a matter of national security and -- like sane people un-afflicted by liberal scruples or by idiots from Berkeley or the New York Times editorial page in positions of power -- engage in a certain amount of chicanery with numbers presented to the public.

Naturally, Washington is upset. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, sometime Director of National Intelligence (DNI) chided the Chinese for being so secretive about their military build-up and demanded more “transparency.”

Should I laugh, curse or cry ? I would give a lot to see some video of Mr. Negroponte’s speech – I mean, hopefully he had the good grace to smirk, or cringe with embarrassment when he had to mouth all that ludicrous claptrap about the Chinese needing to be transparent.

Why should the Chinese be transparent ? What about the concept of “great power rival” does Deputy Secretary Negroponte not understand ? It’s not for the Chinese to be transparent, but for the American intelligence community to render the Chinese transparent by finding out what we need to know, by fair means or foul. I’m being unfair to former DNI Negroponte: Deputy Secretary Negroponte is in no way a rube from some Lefty or lawyer reservation, he knows Real World Rules very well, but he’s constrained to make such foolish statements to appease the dummies who think we live in some peaceable kingdom where the Americans are the only superpower forever.
If the Chinese military programs are a concern to the US -- and they should be -- the appropriate response is to procure 200 or so new F-22's and F-35's, and six new CVN-21 Ford class carriers, with supporting elements as appropriate. If national finances will not permit it, then raise the taxes appropriately. If this cannot be politically be done, so much the worse for us, and there will be a reckoning. But lets have an end to the bleating and special-pleading about "transparency."

The Chinese desire to expand their national power. Nothing hard to understand about that -- read Correlli Barnett's thoughts on this subject above. What’s harder to understand are all the Americans who want to hamstring American power.

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