The Defense Department is ruining America: Big budgets, militarization and the real story behind our Asia pivot
“Our defense contractors await your business.” That was the message behind Obama and Carter’s visits to Asia
You have to tip the cap to Defense Secretary Carter. People in Washington spin things as a matter of course, as Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, just explained in that New York Times profile considered in this space a few weeks ago. The spin is the thing. But never mind all that. Ashton Carter spins aircraft carriers, and right before your eyes.
There he was last month, a few weeks before Obama’s current swing through Asia, on the flight deck of the John C. Stennis as it passed through a narrow strait in the South China Sea hard by the People’s Republic’s territorial waters, pronouncing in the somber tones these people favor that China is militarizing the western Pacific. TheStennis, you need to know, is a nuclear-powered supercarrier that forward-deploys for indefinite periods with a strike group of escort vessels attending it. It travels with eight squadrons of attack craft on its deck—25 to 30 fighter jets.
Think about that for a sec. For my money Carter gave us one of the quintessential moments of the Obama presidency with that brief tableau. Then think about this:
A week before this occasion Carter attended 10 days of joint military drills in the Philippines—the first time a Sec Def has done so in the decades these things have been held. A week after it, our Ash sent half a dozen A-10 Thunderbolts, heavily armed jets designed to support ground troops, to buzz the Scarborough Shoal, which is among the disputed land formations in the South China Sea over which Beijing and other Asian nations claim sovereignty.