Posts Tagged 'U.S.'

U.S. Pushes Japan to Expand Defense Budget (Hello, Military Industrial Complex?)

THE RECENT PUSH FROM U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer for Japan to “consider the benefits of increasing its own defense spending” should be viewed as highly suspect. His suggestion that the nation — whose military forces were restricted to a self-defense role following WWII — invest in new fighter jets with equipment that is compatible with U.S. weapons systems should draw even more scrutiny.

Schieffer, who was an investment buddy with George W. back in 1989 when they and ‘Rusty’ Rose bought the Texas Rangers Baseball Club (ref. State Dept), at best seems more interested in the U.S. defense department’s bottom line rather than in respecting a 1960 agreement which states that both nations will provide mutual support in the event of attack. At worst, Schieffer seems to be looking out for the interests of U.S. weapons manufacturers.

His supposed reasoning? That the Asian nations surrounding Japan are boosting their defense spending. According to the AP article linked above, Schieffer said that China has increased military expenditures by an average of 14.2 percent annually in the last 10 years, while South Korea’s defense budget has grown 73 percent. And that may well be true, but those numbers are out of context. China itself has grown exponentially over the past decade, and South Korea is taking over military operational control from the U.S. in 2012.

If the U.S. is truly interested in Japan bearing more of a load in its own defense, then it needs to consider scaling back its own military presence in the country — a move which many have been calling for in the wake of a sexual abuse case involving a US Marine, only the latest installment in a string of embarrassments. An even better move would be to advocate that all nations in the region curb military spending, taking a proactive approach to averting future tense situations.

Pleasing China

WHEN CHINA WARNED THE U.S. not to honor the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal – which he is set to receive today – their language was ludicrous [IHT]:

The Chinese officials, speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress, condemned the Dalai Lama as a separatist and said foreign leaders must stop encouraging him.

“We are furious,” the Tibetan Communist Party leader, Zhang Qingli, said during the congress. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”

But apparently saying ridiculously inflammatory shit gets you places these days. Following George Bush’s 30-minute meeting with the spiritual leader yesterday, White House aides refused to disclose details and would not release a photo of the two. Despite this sheepish behavior, Bush is apparently fighting on Tibet’s behalf [IHT]:

The Dalai Lama’s envoy, Lodi Gyari, who attended the meeting, said Bush described his efforts with China’s president, Hu Jintao, on the Dalai Lama’s behalf: “The president said he has been telling the Chinese president that you need to meet with this man, you should trust the Dalai Lama, I know this man and I trust him and you must not hesitate to meet with his holiness.”


Food Aid to North Korea

THE U.S. IS CONSIDERING SENDING food aid to North Korea and sending monitors along to make sure it gets to where it’s needed most (AFP via Serious Eats). The U.S. has previously relied on the UN’s World Food Program to deliver aid but is considering government-to-government relations because of progress in nuclear disarmament talks.

While the UN has said that it closely watches over its operations in the North it estimates that at least 4 million people are still chronically short of food there.

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