Adm. Mike Mullen: I support diplomacy in Iran; Iraq needs to stand up a government
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, discusses diplomacy in Iran, Iraq's unstable government, and China's military buildup.
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The longer that (impasse) lasts, the more I and others worry about what the future holds. There is a tremendous opportunity for the political leadership and for the Iraqi people as a result of all the sacrifices. I just hope they take it.Skip to next paragraph
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I am concerned about the unknowns of China's military buildup
Question: There is a gathering debate about what China’s military buildup means – whether it is still minimal and essentially defensive, or something to be concerned about. What gives you concern about China in this respect?
Mullen: What concerns me more than anything else is what I don’t know. Their defense budget – the defense budget we can see – has gone up fairly dramatically. There is ample evidence that we don’t see the entirety of that defense budget and actually don’t know what it is.
I am concerned about some of the knowns – specifically, the anti-carrier ballistic missile that they are developing. There is a tremendous investment in what I would call the maritime world, particularly on their eastern seaboard.
They are very aggressive in the waters off their east coast, South China Sea, East China Sea and even the Yellow Sea. You saw what happened when Secretary Clinton talked about a unity of effort that included us with respect to the importance of those sea lanes.
We will operate in the Yellow Sea
There has been an assertion that we, the US, shouldn’t operate in the Yellow Sea. That is international waters. We’re going to operate in the Yellow Sea. We and others.
So, my concern is less the here and now than it is the future. China has had a pretty significant rise in their defense spending for a number of years.
Obviously, a country has a right to build defense capability tied to its national interests, to defending itself. I don’t have a problem with that. As best I can tell, their overarching strategy is to have the kinds of capabilities that will prevent others (from threatening them), although sometimes it is difficult to tell.
The concern is that I can’t sit down and talk to them about it because we’ve got no military-to-military relationships. I certainly don’t have the expectation that if we sit down for discussions that we will agree on everything. But I think it is dangerous to not be able to discuss issues, even if we agree.
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