Saturday, June 04, 2005

Governments have to be accurate. Extremists don’t

Secretary of War Rummy Rumsfeld criticizes China for the increase in its military budget: “Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: why this growing investment?” No nation threatens China? Isn’t it kind of a threat when the nation with the largest military budget suggests to the nation with the third-largest that its military is too well-funded and acquiring too many advanced weapons? What did Rummy hope to accomplish? Obviously China wasn’t going to respond by saying Why you’re right, what were we thinking, building ballistic missiles when no nation threatens us, our bad. Mostly I expect the speech was a threat that if China didn’t put more pressure on North Korea, he’d start berating them in public.

That said, while Rummy is a terrible spokesmodel, calling for the US to have “rods from God” and bunker-buster nukes and so on while telling everybody else who tries to upgrade their military (Venezuela as well as China) to content themselves with pointed sticks, it is true that China’s military expansion is designed to give it offensive capabilities, so it can operate outside its borders and invade or coerce Taiwan, and this is a Bad Thing. And this is the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, so I’m not having especially warm & fuzzy thoughts for Beijing today.

Rummy also criticized Al Jazeera, again, for daring to broadcast the views and actions of terrorists, especially the beheadings, Rummy has a real thing about beheadings. He thinks terrorists are bad, and terrorism is bad, but doesn’t trust that people watching them on tv will draw the same conclusion. The problem, he says with a straight, albeit troll-like, face is that the bad guys can lie: “Governments have to be accurate. Extremists don’t.”

The South Korean minister of defense (left) is still laughing, not realizing that Rumsfeld wasn’t joking when he told him to lick his shoes.

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