US to cut war spending, "direct challenge to military-industrial complex"; China urges restraint towards North Korea; Thai protestors trap PM in hotel; Raul Castro meets US lawmakers; and more
Top of the Agenda: U.S. Defence Cuts
Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled a full-scale rethink of U.S. defence spending yesterday, calling for significant cuts in spending on many traditional weapons systems but also new funding for additional troops and new technologies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The New York Times says Gates' proposal, which faces intense lobbying on Capitol Hill, reflects President Obama's desire to move toward a model focused on counterterrorism operations, while spending less on preparations for conventional warfare against large nations. The Financial Times reports the deal calls for the cancellation of production of the F-22 fighter jet, among other weapons programs.
The endeavor would have significant implications for defence businesses. The Washington Post reports the plan represents "a direct challenge to the military-industrial complex." In a separate piece, the Post reports Gates' strategy could bring an end to a boom in the defence contracting business that took place during the George W. Bush administration.
The issue will likely remain hotly political as President Obama's budget works its way through Congress. Reuters reports that several members of Congress instantly criticized the plan. Politico reports the cuts have divided lawmakers and analyzes six congressional blocs that will play a role in debate over the issue.
- This CFR.org Backgrounder explains how U.S. defence spending works and looks at some of the tough budgetary choices facing the Pentagon.
PACIFIC RIM: China on North Korea
Beijing's foreign ministry addressed North Korea's recent rocket launch, saying China believes Pyongyang has the right to pursue peaceful space development and urging all parties to show restraint (BBC).
In a new CFR.org interview, CFR's Sheila Smith argues diplomacy is the only way forward and Washington must "reassure North Korea that it doesn't really have any other options but to proceed in the conversation with us."
CHINA: New estimates from the World Bank indicate mainland China's recovery from the economic crisis could begin later this year (China Daily).
THAILAND: Anti-government protestors in Bangkok attacked (Bangkok Post) the prime minister's motorcade and trapped him for several hours inside a hotel, further raising tensions after days of recent demonstrations.