"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Monday, March 05, 2007

China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Anyone else and the 4% for Freedom Solution

Via the NY Times I read this morning that:

A spokesman for the National People’s Congress, Jiang Enzhu said regarding China’s military buildup:

“We must increase our military budget, as it is important to national security. China’s military must modernize. Our overall defenses are weak.”

American and European military analysts add:

China’s public military budget actually reflects only a fraction of its overall defense spending, and that the real figure is likely to be two to four times higher. Most defense analysts agree that China’s military focus is to build a force that would prevail in any conflict with Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province, and also to be capable of creating a deterrent to American military intervention.”

Of the Chinese revelation, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said:

“I think the point we would make with respect to military spending and military acquisition of various types would be the point about transparency.”

Setting aside the fact that this remark was made by the deputy in Beijing; I would like us to be a bit more realistic. Mr. Negroponte represents our nation’s diplomatic corps, which with all due respect does not concern itself so much with outcome as much as with process; this to me earns them their name (in a) foggy bottom.

I am not a negotiator or diplomat in my wildest "Walter Mitty" dreams, but asking for more transparency guarantees a little bit more of that which is contingent upon much, much more from us. We give them the farm and they just take the farm, continuing on with business as usual.

Like North Korea, of which John Bolton said this morning in an OpinionJournal piece:

“In any arms-control negotiation, the need for verification is directly correlated to the propensity of the other side to lie, cheat and conceal its undesirable activities.”

In contradiction to that, diplomats will hail any increase in “transparency,” regardless of the actual decrease in its level of opacity. Think 1994’s “Agreed Framework,” then flash to the present. It’s not the Bush administration that caused NK to ignore its obligations under this agreement before the ink was dry, nor was it the administrations fault that it was revealed NK was going about their research and development in secret; this just happened to be the administration in charge during this discovery.

Any naiveté and high hopes aside, diplomats wish to do the very same thing today in regards to NK. Why, because that’s what they do. They revel in and bow down to the intellectual elitism inherent in the “process.” Stick with “process” and you cannot go wrong; you can actually walk away with an extra hop in your step, oblivious to the fact you are dislocating your shoulder as you pat your own back.

Bolton closed with the very good point of questioning where the president’s support will come from. Will it be from “liberal editorialists enthusing about his newfound foreign policy "pragmatism"?” Pragmatism of the kind recognized by “foreign policy experts, administration critics on Capitol Hill and former diplomats.”

Rather than consuming ourselves with only the “diplomatic” need for more “transparency,” how about we not concern ourselves with this too much and ratchet up our “intelligence.” This way we don’t have to ask the Chinese for all their secrets as a “favor” in the interest of “transparency.”

We also might consider the approach as suggested by Jim Talent at The Heritage Foundation; which he refers to as the "4% for Freedom Solution." This solution calls for defense spending at no less than 4% of GDP, regardless of whether we are living a “peaceful” existence as we did in the 1990’s.

Friends, sometimes friends and enemies might take this into consideration when trying to make trouble. At the least, our military would remain the more capable force on the planet. Rather than cut funding and slip back into complacency as we and most others have done in the past after military actions; we would remain up to date and not have to play catch up. This is imperative in this day and age, when “intelligence,” doesn’t appear to know its *ss from a hole in the ground.

Jim Talent believes:

“This program -- called the "4% for Freedom Solution" by the Heritage Foundation -- would send the clearest possible message to America's friends and enemies that, whatever happens in Iraq, America will remain a force to be reckoned with. For some purposes, defense policy is foreign policy. Imagine the impact on China and North Korea, for example, of realizing that the U.S., by using only a small fraction of its economic resources, can guarantee an increased and highly capable naval presence in the Western Pacific for years to come.”

I tend to agree, at the least it is very worthwhile looking into.

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