Saturday, February 4, 2006

Ramping Up the ‘China Threat’

RumsfeldThere is much to love among Rummy-lovers and much to hate from the Rummy-haters, but you gotta admit the man is never dull to cover. Under the leadership of the first Defense Secretary to admit that “stuff happens,” the Pentagon has just released its Quadrennial Defense Review( QDR).


According to the Washington Post article by Ann Tyson, China is singled out in the QDR as having "the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States."


Damn! Just as Wal-Mart was getting ready for the latest mark-down on flat-screen TV monitors from the Asian Tiger.


Rummy’s Pentagon has a strategy, though. It calls for accelerating the fielding of a new Air Force long-range strike force, as well as for building undersea warfare capabilities. How mid-fifties is that? Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson in Strategic Air Command all over again—the rerun possibilities are enormous---wonder who’ll star in the Peter Sellers role when they re-make Dr. Strangelove? Rumsfeld is known to love those old movies.


ChinesesubmarinesThe fifties and sixties were The Donald's formative years. First came his ’62 election as a Representative, then his advising Nixon and a tour as ambassador to NATO, then the call to become chief of staff for Gerald Ford when Nixon self-destructed. The Strangelove Years, glorious years, cinematic years.


More recently, as the newly-installed Secretary of Defense and just one day before the 9-11 attack, Rumsfeld made the astonishing remark that

"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions"---$2.3 trillion — that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

Then the Manhattan World Trade Center buildings came down and this stupefying admission, quickly passed over, has never been restored to the public memory. Zingo! Gone! Erased from the public hard-drive!


When Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial danger, he failed to mention that the Pentagon  might just lose the money. CBS reported that the Pentagon’s own auditors ‘admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.’


And Enron is supposed to have had an auditing problem? Hey, stuff happens.


ChinesefighteraircraftAll those manufacturers and sales reps and stock market bonanzas that brought us Joe McCarthy, the Cold War, the Missile Crisis, the Iron Curtain and the Weapons Gap, have been nervous as long-tailed cats since Reagan made the mistake of winning the Cold War. There was talk of a peace dividend (horrors). Clinton began to build a non-military economy and use the unprecedented tax windfalls to pay down the national debt (a further horror that would be short-lived under Bush).


Profound fear rattled Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas. Reagan’s last-ditch effort to worry-up a missile defense shield was bogged down in the public relations disaster of continual test failures (even though Rumsfeld continues to champion those failures, as well as pay for them, today).


DrstrangeloveThe world’s greatest industrial machine---that armed friend and foe, sold weapons to some friends who would become foes, weaponized some foes who would be (or be called) friends and offloaded whatever was left over to various mercenaries---needed a public champion. Needed it in a hurry. Needed it, thank god, at a time when the lovey-dovey Clintonites had been purged. A pseudo-Strangelove was in charge at the Pentagon and lobbyists had rampant access.


Voila! China, the new and improved, low-calorie, unpolysaturated communist threat.


China, widely feared by American industry (unless they got in early and tapped that huge market), has become its greatest hope. So it seems anyway, unless you’re Wal-Mart or an average American consumer looking for a laptop computer, or (just possibly) someone who thought the last Cold War was nuts. But if you’re in the armaments industry, you’ve just been given hope at the hand of Donald Rumsfeld.


The rest of us, as always, will pay the bill, 25% of which will be lost.
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