Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What China Intelligence?

"On Oct. 21, the incoming commander of the US Pacific Command, Adm. Robert F. Willard, made a little-noticed but astonishing accusation to reporters in Seoul: 'I would contend that in the past decade or so, China has exceeded most of our intelligence estimates of their military capability and capacity every year. They've grown at an unprecedented rate in those capabilities.' Very politely, the head of PACOM has accused the American intelligence community (IC) and, by extension, its political leadership, of failure to estimate correctly the capabilities and capacity of a nuclear-armed dictatorship with a history of hostility against all of its neighbors and the [US]. According to the admiral, this failure has gone on for 10 years. This sort of public bomb-throwing is very rare in Washington, especially on China issues. An informal survey of China specialists couldn't come up with a similar instance of a major official accusing the IC of 10 years of incompetency. At least not in public. ... What is known is that the admiral has a deserved reputation of competency and a low threshold for tolerating fools. ... When the Soviet Union fell, we discovered that all our estimates had been far too low by multiple factors. Fortunately, there were minimal deadly consequences from out underestimates", my emphasis, William Triplett at the Washington Times, 2 November 2009, link:

Don't you know the US spends 45% of the world's total on arms? I don't know it, despite having read that figure many times. In the late 1970s I estimated the USSR spent 2-3 times what it claimed on arms from published data. I was too low. It was 3-4 times. I estimate China spends at least 3X what it claims on arms. But what do I know? China's budget says otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Serious, serious stuff. I hope this becomes a more important issue. I imagine we have misread much about the Chinese...