The Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

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Last week, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates was on Chinese soil, Beijing’s military flew its stealth J-20 fighter publicly for the first time. Chinese President Hu Jintao told Gates the timing was a coincidence. It immediately triggered calls back in the U.S. to restart production of the F-22 fighter, at $350 million each, that Gates has shut down.

Tuesday, as Hu headed toward Washington for a meeting with President Obama, the Taiwanese fired off 19 missiles designed to deter an attack on the island nation from Hu’s mainland Chinese government. Five of the missiles missed their targets — a sixth failed to explode — generating calls that Taiwan, which broke away from the mainland in 1949, needs to buy new and better weapons from the U.S.

Both events, more theater than theater-of-war, provoke calls for increased production of U.S. weapons.