Every once in awhile, a spate of stories makes you sit up and pay attention. A trio just flitted across my screen:
— Vietnam wants U.S. help in defusing its growing tensions with China over Beijing’s encroachment into the resource-rich South China Sea, the Financial Times reports.
— Great Britain no longer has a navy capable of retaking the Falkland Islands from Argentina, as it did in 1982, the admiral who led the armada involved tells the London Daily Telegraph.
— The toppling of autocratic dictators across the Middle East and North Africa may be good for the citizens of those states. But it’s bad news for the U.S. spy complex, which for decades has been willing to ignore human-rights abuses in those nations in exchange for intelligence, Newsweek reports.
Toss in the New York Times story this morning on how the U.S. Navy flexed its muscle and allegedly deterred North Korea from delivering missile components to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and one thing is clear: a navy is a requisite for global power.
One other thing is also clear: the changing face of technology makes it obvious that the U.S. is no longer going to able to play nice with autocrats who bully their own people. Luckily, the Pentagon seems able to adapt to its changing circumstances. “We continue to do with Egypt what we were doing before the Arab Spring if you will,” Vice Admiral William Landay, the Pentagon’s top weapons seller, said Friday about the weapons pipeline continuing to flow to Egypt post-Mubarak.
That might explain the regal nervousness in the region.
All told, the Pentagon is now selling $327 billion in weapons to 165 nations under more than 13,000 contracts. Despite the worldwide recession, sales are expected to climb from last year’s $32 billion to $46 billion in 2011.