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China Top Card in Pentagon Shuffle

xin_47080331080723207961.jpgSo, imagine you are the Rumsfeld Defense Department. You are locked in a “global struggle against violent extremists” stretching from“stretching from Indonesia through the Middle East,”. You have 150,000 troops stationed in Iraq as the central front in said struggle. The United States is facing major foreign policy crises in Iran and Lebanon, of other which might involve your beloved Pentagon.
You decide to elevate one Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with regional responsibilities to become a full Assistant Secretary over a region. This is an easy call. You pick: Asia-Pacific.
Oh, sure, sure, you have no exit strategy for Iraq and you are sizing up air defenses around Tehran, but c’mon … real men hate on China.
Of course, focusing on China … er the Asia-Pacific … was the plan, from the first Defense Strategy Review by Andy Marshall which reportedly “cast the Pacific as the most important region for military planners…” I kind of admire the sticktuitiveness of the whole thing, 9/11 and Iraq be damned.
You almost wonder why they didn’t have the stones to pin the 9/11 attack on Jiang Zemin. After all, their friends did.
I’ve posted the new organization at my blog, Arms Control Wonk​.com. USD℗ Eric Edelman explained the issue as one of matching up to State and NSC:

The secretary sensed that we were misaligned in some ways … and we wanted to make it easier for Policy and the (combatant commands) to figure out what the right address was (in the other agencies) to go forward solving problems. I think this will make it a little easier to operate interagency.

Now, when I was at Policy — oh so briefly — the fact that the State Department Bureaus were headed by Assistant Secretaries, one level higher than the equivalent DOD offices, was kind of irritating.
And maybe I am being too cynical. As an “Asia expert” — whatever that means — I am psyched to see my region getting attention. And, were I ever lucky enough to hold that office at OSD, I’d appreciate the extra step to full Assistant Secretary.
But, really, wouldn’t a single “Assistant Secretary for South West and Central Asia” with DASD’s for the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia better protect the country’s interests?
Jeffrey Lewis, cross posted at Arms Control Wonk​.com

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Skinner August 31, 2006 at 4:49 pm

Good Afternoon Folks,
I’ve away for a acouple of days. On the news this afternoon I heard Sec. of Def. Rumsfeld say we are at war with “Islamic Facists” now. What happened, did we win the “Global War On Terrorism”?
Byron Skinner


J. August 31, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Very nice. I needed that chart. Here’s a CRS report on US vs China… http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33607.pdf


Steve August 31, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Well, at least this will help ensure that the big budget programs (F-22, F-35, F/A-18, etc) all receive proper funding. Without a big, nasty, some-what equal enemy, some of those programs would go bye-bye faster. Although I do have my doubts about the DDX program, yikes.


Skyler August 31, 2006 at 6:44 pm

The problem with the thinking here is that few people are capable of looking past the immediate thorn in the side of Iraq, and the middle east (which, for all the problems we have there, in the grand long term centenial scheme of things, it is not as big an issue as the continued arms buildup of China.) You can laugh at those who prepare today for China tomorrow, but when the time comes, 15-20 years from now when China is capable of war with the United States toe-to-toe, you’ll be taking it back. Oh, and if you don’t believe this to be the case, then there’s no further explaination necessary - that’s just plain ignorance. To quote another editorial on here, war is a “come-as-you-are” affair. If you’re building up your military for the threats of today, without planning for tomorrow, then you’ve already lost. The hot and cold wars of the future 15-25 years from now, will most certainly revolve around China, and its proxies. Terrorisim and Iraq are a moot point next to China once they become a superpower on par with the United States, and the late Soviet Union.


Kaltes August 31, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Yeah, I think the people poo-poohing the threat from China are being very short-sighted. I feel better about our military knowing they are ensuring that they are prepared when China finally decides to embark on further wars of aggression.
The US military is already fighting the war on terror, and will continue to do so. The terrorists, as bad as they are, are nowhere near the kind of threat posed by a major nation-state like China.


Noah (the other one) August 31, 2006 at 8:37 pm

China is what Iraq and the Middle East are all about. Whoever controls global oil reserves has the ability to throttle any economy (like the US oil embargo did to Japan in 1941).
For better or worse, we are up to our eyeballs in China (just like we are in Saudi Arabia), and any move that threatens the status quo will have disastrous global consequences. Officially, we keep screaming for them to let the yuan float, but if they did it would soar and the world economy would crash.
The idea of open war with China is unthinkable from either side, but that won’t prevent our heroes from pursuing a strategy of indirect economic attrition, trying to force China into bankruptcy and collapse (a la the former Soviet union) in an arms race.
The problem is that we will go bankrupt long before the Chinese. Not only do they have the benefit of >$120 billion annual trade surplus with the US (quadrupled since 2001), they are too smart to get embroiled in such a stupid exercise.
The Chinese are also more than clever enough to reverse the attrition strategy on us, and will build enough military capability to keep us busy pumping hundreds of billions into wasteful (but highly profitable for a few) military expenditures while they further develop their already steamrolling economy.


WarNerd August 31, 2006 at 11:47 pm

There goes Noah again with his epic battle for global resources conspiracy. We and China are joined at the hip whether we like it or not. We work together, everyone wins; we impose tariffs or start a great power war, the whole world loses. It really is that simple.
We need each other. It is time to dump Taiwan and BMD so we can lock in China as an ally now. We need their massive army to help us with


Kaltes September 1, 2006 at 6:13 am

“It is time to dump Taiwan and BMD so we can lock in China as an ally now.”
Yeah, let’s side with communists over a democracy… good plan!
“China is not Communists, they are early stage Capitalists.”
Don’t confuse the with economic the political. Although ideologically pure communists will not pursue capitalist economic policy, China remains a repressive 1-party dictatorship, hell-bent on building up its military might despite no external threats. Red China has been the aggressor before and will again.
“If you think they are going to screw that up, you are crazy. They will be busy suckling the global utter for at least two decades.”
Don’t be so sure. China will become overtly aggressive as soon as its economic growth plateaus (inevitable) and it is not so completely dependent on US trade (pretty likely).
“We don


Will September 1, 2006 at 9:06 am

I can’t stand the fact that so many Americans are so ready to give up, and accept that fact that China will surpass us in the next few years.
China is using the west to help it’s economy become self sustaining. It’s the equivelant of us feeding a dragon in order to keep our house warm, but if we keep allowing it to grow, it will eventually burn the house down.
China, wants to be number one, and I have no doubt they will do anything to get there.


Haninah September 1, 2006 at 10:29 am

Now, I’m no fan of dictatorships, which is clearly what we have in China, and was troubled already under Clinton when we decided to let the Chinese government get away with whatever it wanted to domestically, but I have to ask one thing: I’ve seen Kaltes talk in this thread about China “embark[ing] on further wars of aggression,” and refering to China’s “inherent aggressiveness.” Would he care to give an example of a past war of aggression that they’ve embarked on, aside from their invasion of Tibet, and explain whether the second comment was anything more than some bizarre and rather ill-fitting essentialist description of how he sees their culture?
There are a lot of things wrong with China today, but a tendency to launch wars of aggression abroad has not generally been one of them (again, aside from Tibet.)


WarNerd September 1, 2006 at 1:28 pm

You people really need to get out and visit the world, instead of listening to selfish politicians in the US. I suggest you go to Macau, China, the Asian Las Vegas. They are not going to be the next Soviet Union. They are Chinese.
China is Communist in name only. They are however a single party state, one that has an identity crisis. It takes decades of institution building to create a democracy. Interaction with the outside world is more important than a democracy at this time. It will be the last to be implemented in China, but all the trends point in that direction, despite the government


Brian September 1, 2006 at 1:46 pm

China’s economy is growing rapidly. That’s because it’s easy to grow from nothing. You could teach a caveman how to make fire and you’ve just given him 10 thousand years of technological development in like half an hour.
China cannot sustain its current economic growth. They’ve got loads more problems than we ever thought about having. Ever hear of the 4-2-1 problem? That “one child” policy did them a world of hurt.
We’ve sustained higher economic growth for longer periods than any other country in history. Oh sure, China’s economy is growing at 10%, but it still lags far behind ours. Depending on which sources you use, China’s economy is smaller than California’s.


Jaye September 2, 2006 at 5:51 pm

Real Chin; Taiwan is pushing the PRC very hard, so soon, very soon the PRC will attack and invade Taiwan and the the Chinese Union will be born with North Korea joining also. So cheer up, drink some Sake and do not destroy the world, thanks.


Kaltes September 3, 2006 at 2:30 am

“In fact,99.9% of the Chinese don’t want to fight to anyone in the world,”
“we hardly concern the international affair,we only want to live better…”
“who wants to separate the Taiwan from China,we will destroy whom ,if we can’t beat it ,we even destroy the earth with nuclear warhead,that means if we can’t live in the earth, we won’t let other’s live in going on.”
So yeah, we are all peaceful and dont want to fight anyone, but interfere with us from waging a war of aggression against a free democracy and we will destroy the entire world to spite you? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
I would think this post was a joke, but the sad truth is Ive heard sooo many ignorant typical chinese guys talk like this, it is one of the reasons that I know we will end up in a war with them. China is the next great threat to world peace.


Jaye September 3, 2006 at 10:16 am

Tell em, Kaltes; Real_chinese has been hitting the opium again. However recently in the news, Taiwan has been pulling away from the PRC, so hard that very soon the PRC has no choice but to attack and invade to save face and to get women for their men because the “One Child Policy” has turned China into Homoland and good Commies are not Homos. Maybe,when we attack Iran they will attack Taiwan, then their would be nothing we could do to stop them! God only knows!


alan September 13, 2006 at 8:24 pm

The only freat china posses is nukclaer warheads. but then russa has more of them than any one. WEST Rules man..Down with china!!!!


alan September 13, 2006 at 8:26 pm

The only freat china posses is nukclaer warheads. but then russa has more of them than any one. WEST Rules man… and thats the FACT


alan September 13, 2006 at 8:29 pm

Bring It On Man..and we will see who wins)


alan September 13, 2006 at 8:34 pm

only jokeing stay where you are..


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