Month: January 2007

Article: The geopolitical genius of China’s satellite kill

From the January 24, 2007, Financial Times
By Victor Mallet

China’s successful launch of a ballistic missile this month to destroy a satellite in orbit has been variously portrayed by defence analysts and commentators as a damaging blow to Beijing’s relations with Washington, a sign that China has overreached itself and just made a big mistake.

These conclusions suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of how Chinese leaders have behaved in the past, how they will behave in the future and how they will probably continue to get the better of their western counterparts in the chess game of international diplomacy.

On this occasion, as before, China has put into practice a ruthless, rational and legally defensible strategy that exploits a key weakness of the world’s biggest economy and sole military superpower.


Article: Gold-Plated Indifference

From the January 22, 2007, New York Times:

Gold-Plated Indifference

President Bush’s Saturday radio address was devoted to health care, and officials have put out the word that the subject will be a major theme in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. Mr. Bush’s proposal won’t go anywhere. But it’s still worth looking at his remarks, because of what they say about him and his advisers.

On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should “treat health insurance more like home ownership.” He went on to say that “the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance.”

Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it’s like to be uninsured.


Another Excellent Speech: National Security in the Age of Terrorism

Another excellent speech by Chas Freeman. See previous speech I posted here: Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us?

Remarks to the Congressional Research Service Seminar for New Members
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)

Chas W. Freeman Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, spoke to new members of Congress last week in Williamsburg. Freeman, who was ambassador during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is now president of the Middle East Policy Council.

January 6, 2007
Williamsburg, Virginia

This is not a happy time for national security policy.


Article: He’s in the Bunker Now


From the January 14, 2007, New York Times:

He’s in the Bunker Now

PRESIDENT BUSH always had one asset he could fall back on: the self-confidence of a born salesman. Like Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” he knew how to roll out a new product, however deceptive or useless, with conviction and stagecraft. What the world saw on Wednesday night was a defeated Willy Loman who looked as broken as his war. His flop sweat was palpable even if you turned down the sound to deflect despair-inducing phrases like “Prime Minister Maliki has pledged …” and “Secretary Rice will leave for the region. …”

Mr. Bush seemed to know his product was snake oil, and his White House handlers did too.


Article: War costs are hitting historic proportions


From the January 14, 2007, LA Times:

War costs are hitting historic proportions
The price tag for the Iraq conflict and overall effort against terrorism is expected to surpass Vietnam’s next year.
By Joel Havemann

WASHINGTON — By the time the Vietnam war ended in 1975, it had become America’s longest war, shadowed the legacies of four presidents, killed 58,000 Americans along with many thousands more Vietnamese, and cost the U.S. more than $660 billion in today’s dollars.

By the time the bill for World War II passed the $600-billion mark, in mid-1943, the United States had driven German forces out of North Africa, devastated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway, and launched the vast offensives that would liberate Europe and the South Pacific.

The Iraq war is far smaller and narrower than those conflicts, and it has not extended beyond the tenure of a single president. But its price tag is beginning to reach historic proportions, and the budgetary “burn rate” for Iraq may be greater than in some periods in past wars.


Article: Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.

From the January 14, 2007, New York Times:

Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.