Wednesday, April 11, 2007

U.S. military buildup urged to counter China

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
April 11, 2007

The United States should build up military forces in Asia to counter China’s military expansion, according to a report on U.S.-China relations by a blue-ribbon panel.

“The United States should sustain and selectively enhance its force posture in East Asia, ensuring it has capabilities commensurate with the region’s growing importance to the U.S. economy and other vital national interests,” the report by a task force of the Council on Foreign Relations stated.

The task force, whose report was made public yesterday, was led by retired Pacific Command chief Adm. Dennis Blair and former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills.

“We believe that the United States should maintain the air, maritime and space superiority that we have in the Western Pacific that’s been the basis of a lot of Western Pacific/East Asian development ever since the end of the Second World War. And we need to maintain that position,” Adm. Blair said.

The report stated that upgrades to the U.S. military base on the Pacific island of Guam should continue and that the U.S. military should “invest broadly” in next-generation technologies that are appropriate for the Pacific, such as advanced naval and air forces.

The Pentagon also should consider “shifting the balance of its naval forces toward the Pacific from the Atlantic,” the report stated.”

The maritime interests of the United States in the future are increasingly in the Asia-Pacific region, and the stationing of its naval forces should be aligned with this trend,” it stated.The buildup and shift of forces to the Pacific is part of what the Pentagon calls its “hedge” strategy of being ready to defeat China swiftly in any military conflict.

The report also stated that the United States needs to improve its intelligence-gathering and analysis of the Chinese military, including training more intelligence specialists with Chinese language skills.

The task force disagrees with part of the Pentagon’s four-year strategy, stating that it does not think China will become a “peer competitor” of the U.S. military in the near future.

"We don’t see it becoming a peer competitor, but we think the United States needs to maintain its capability that it’s had,” Adm. Blair said.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on China’s military, said he disagrees strongly with that assessment.

"By 2010, most of China’s anti-access forces will be in place, making it very difficult to use Pacific forces to help Taiwan,” Mr. Fisher said.

“Unless we double the number of our aircraft carriers and triple our bomber fleet, China is going to be a peer competitor by 2030.”

The 30-member task force included former government officials, business specialists and academics, most of whom are known to favor conciliatory policies toward Beijing. They include former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, defense officials Ashton B. Carter and Charles Freeman, and former State Department officials Winston Lord, Wendy Sherman and Randy Schriver.

Arthur Waldron, a task force member and University of Pennsylvania professor, said the report accurately highlights the many problems and issues facing China at home and abroad but fails to recognize that they could lead to a rapid and spontaneous change that “is more risky and volatile than anything we have seen to date in China.”

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Dennis Miller provides a hip alternative to Rush Limbaugh

By Joe Holleman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 11, 2007

Not many people can take you on a wilder ride of cultural references than Dennis Miller.In two minutes on a recent radio broadcast, the stand-up comedian and "Saturday Night Live" alum started with rock group Metallica, zipped past Atticus Finch and O.J. Simpson lawyer Barry Scheck, dropped in the Louvre, touched on English lit giants Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, and then came to rest on Boss Tweed. That adrenalized analysis is now available on St. Louis talk radio: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on KRFT (1190 AM, the Talk Monster.)

Having embraced a conservative, or at least a pro-Bush position on Iraq, Miller has become a lightning rod for the left and a far more hip haven than Rush Limbaugh for right-leaners. (This interview took place before the controversy over radio host Don Imus erupted.)

And have no fear: Miller — who once referred to liberal presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich's brain as "skull jelly" — can still rant with the best of them.

Recently, Miller took part in a telephone interview. He said "this" about "that":

Q: Why has your humor taken a turn toward the conservative?

A: They bombed those two buildings, remember? I woke up the next day and had an epiphany. I want our guy to go kill terrorists. It's that simple. People think it's some big shift. I can't believe that a good portion of my country doesn't believe that as well. Not only do they fly planes into buildings, they wire up their own kids to bombs.

You could've gone into the bunker with Hitler and Goering and suggested they wire their kids to explode, and they'd have said, "Hey, let's slow down. That's a little crazy."

Q: In a sense, does your career mirror Winston Churchill's notion that if you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at 40, you have no brain?

A: That's exactly the process I've gone through. I'm 53, and I'm a pragmatist. We watched punks blow up our buildings and, what, I'm now supposed to sit around and think about how we wronged the punks? Things get cut and dried as you get older. And what about the people who never, ever change the way they think about things? Those are the people I slide away from at cocktail parties.

Q: You've taken shots at Barbra Streisand for her liberal activism. Why?

A: Barbra Streisand is an ungodly talent, but she went into the (show business) bubble at 16. And she reflects that in all the shallow, typical ways.

She has the political beliefs of a sixth-grader.

Q: When it comes to political thought, which authors do you read?

A: I read Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Friedman and Mark Steyn. Personally, I think Krauthammer is a genius.

Q: Handicap the most prominent presidential candidates for the 2008 election:

A: John McCain — I love him and (his service as a Vietnam POW) is one of the most noble, courageous acts ever. But he's 73. I want to see him ride off into the sunset and enjoy the rest of his life.

Rudy Giuliani — That's who I'm voting for. He's a tough guy. And I don't care if he's been married three times.

Barack Obama — Sweet kid. If I were 19 years old, I'd vote for him. But if Michael Corleone was right about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer, he better spot-weld a Clinton to each hip.

Hillary Clinton — She's boring, basically. I read her book last year and she said she had no idea Bill was running around on her. Really? I'm not sure you're smart enough to be my president.

Al Gore — At some point, he'll come riding over the hill like he's the cavalry. But it won't take long for everyone to figure out he's not Forrest Tucker. He's Larry Storch, and he's got his hat on sideways.

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