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Pentagon intelligence officials tell us the Chinese were allowed to
join the World Trade Organization this week virtually cost-free. No
concessions were made in WTO negotiations on the important issue of
China’s continuing sales of missile and nuclear technology to rogue
states. The sales contradict numerous Chinese government pledges over
the years not to sell dangerous weapons and know-how.

Numerous intelligence reports are circulating in the Pentagon on the
activity, based on reports from the alphabet soup of spy agencies — the
CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Reconnaissance
Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

One classified Oct. 20 report circulated to top defense officials is
enlightening. The report, based on sensitive intelligence, said the
Chinese recently asked Russia to provide more high-technology fiber
optic gyroscopes — key components for both China’s and North Korea’s
growing force of short-, medium- and long-range missiles.

The report identified the companies as Fizoptika, in Moscow, and
China’s Changda Corp. and noted that the Russian gyroscopes requested by
the Chinese were the same items that Beijing secretly provided to North
Korea’s missile program earlier this year. Secretary of State Madeleine
K. Albright expressed concern in July about China’s missile technology
transfers to North Korea after the sales were reported in The Washington
Times.

China angst

The internal political divisions over China policy continue to heat
up.

Pro-Beijing officials on the White House National Security Council
(NSC) staff and at the State Department were furious with recent
hard-line remarks in The Washington Times made by Adm. Dennis Blair,
commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. Adm. Blair, in an
interview at his Hawaii headquarters, invoked the Taiwan Relations Act
in saying the United States is justified in providing Taiwan with
missile defenses. The reason: China’s buildup of 500 to 600 M-9 and M-11
missiles across from the island.

“This is a major statement,” one official said. “He was stating what
everyone only wanted (to) assume.”

The White House and State Department also did not like the fact that
Adm. Blair was so clear in saying the United States will defend Taiwan
in the event of a Chinese attack.

The anti-Taiwan faction at the White House is led by National
Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger and his key aide, Kenneth Lieberthal,
who are backed by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Stanley
Roth and his key aide, Susan Shirk.

The Pentagon has been pushing within the administration for a more
balanced view of the need to maintain Taiwan’s defense in the face of
mounting Chinese belligerence. They want to end the current ban on
American generals and admirals visiting the island.

A high-level delegation of Taiwanese admirals and general has been
meeting with Pentagon officials this week to discuss U.S. arms sales. An
official told us they are expected to “go home sad” because the
anti-Taiwan elements in the administration has the upper hand on
restricting weapons transfers. The Taiwanese are seeking help with
missile defense, submarines and anti-aircraft missiles.

Bush’s defense

Richard Armitage is sending strong signals that a George W. Bush-led
Pentagon won’t be business as usual. In fact, Mr. Armitage, the chief
defense adviser to the Republican presidential candidate, is casting Mr.
Bush as a defense reformer. Weapons procurement, global strategy, even
how generals are picked, are all due for a shake-up if the Texas
governor gets elected.

Mr. Bush himself laid out the broad picture during a September speech
at The Citadel. He said every developing weapons system would have to
pass a survival test and some might be scrapped in favor of more
futuristic ones.

Then Mr. Armitage, a former Pentagon official in the presidencies of
Ronald Reagan and George Bush, put the generals on notice.

He told an Army conference in Washington the Pentagon does a good job
of promoting officers. But generals do a lousy job of advancing fellow
generals.

Mr. Armitage, who runs a Rossyln consulting firm, has emerged as the
top military voice in a campaign brimming with blue-ribbon Republicans.

Just as Mr. Bush has tied up a record amount of campaign cash, he
also has signed up a who’s who of Republican defense and foreign policy
thinkers.

Condoleezza Rice, who served on dad Bush’s National Security Council
staff, is the overall campaign leader on defense and foreign policy.

Mr. Armitage handles defense issues and wrote the first draft of Mr.
Bush’s Citadel speech.

Working with these two are Paul Wolfowitz, top defense policy-maker
under Mr. Bush; Richard Perle, a tough Pentagon arms negotiator under
Mr. Reagan; Dov Zakheim, an international arms expert under Mr. Reagan;
Robert Zeollick, a senior State and White House official under Mr. Bush;
and Robert Blackwell, a former NSC director.

In the wings acting as senior advisers are former Defense Secretary
Richard Cheney and ex-Secretary of State George Shultz.

“Bush has sort of cornered the market on all the Republican stars,”
said a campaign insider. “But he’s not just reaching back into the old
Reagan and Bush drawers. I think he’s going to have a nice mix. …
Condi is in charge. She’s the only one from the national security team
on the official Bush steering committee.”

Among the 30-somethings helping Mr. Bush is John Hillen, an Army
cavalry officer in the Gulf war who is currently on the staff of a
special commission, the National Security Study Group.

Insiders say Mr. Armitage, who has close ties to retired Gen. Colin
Powell, would be a strong candidate to become deputy defense secretary.
From the Pentagon’s No. 2 post, he could personally shepherd a reform
movement.

Miss Rice, an expert on European affairs, is said to be a shoo-in for
White House national security adviser.

The campaign’s immediate concern is dispelling the media’s
characterization of Mr. Bush as a lightweight on foreign policy. To that
end, people like Mr. Shultz and Mr. Perle are out in public vouching for
the governor’s smarts. “We have to get the editorial boards off our
back,” said the insider.

Que pasa?

The Pentagon has added an accent to its post-Cold War strategy.

Language training has shifted, putting more emphasis on teaching
Arabic, Farsi and Korean.

Those languages just happen to coincide with where U.S. troops would
likely fight the next wars — protecting South Korea or the
oil-producing Persian Gulf states.

“It’s a balancing act,” Col. Daniel Devlin, commandant of the
Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., tells Inside the Ring.

The Army-run school teaches 21 languages to an average student body
of 3,000. Most entering school are enlisted personnel. About half go on
to do intelligence work, translating intercepted communications and
documents.

“Special Forces have a lot of requirements for linguists,” Col.
Devlin said.

He said there are about 700 enrolled this year to learn Arabic,
compared with half that number 10 years ago. Likewise, the number of
Korean-language students has doubled to about 600.

But the commandant adds, “Russian continues to be one of the largest
programs. We graduate more Russian than any.

“What we’re teaching is operational linguistics,” he said. “You get
the language, but you’ve also got to have culture, politics, societal
structure, so they not only understand how the country operates, but in
some cases why the language is the way it is.”

The program is intense. A Russian-competent service member is
graduated in 47 weeks. An Arabic-learner takes another 16 weeks. There’s
seven hours a day in the classroom, then three hours of homework.

“There is no more intensive language program,” said Col. Devlin,
adding that his students can be overheard in Monterey coffee shops
practicing their new trade.

Clinton to Syria?

The U.S. Secret Service is quietly making security preparations for
President Clinton to visit Damascus, Syria, we are told. Security for
any presidential visit will be problematic because Syria is a safe haven
for several international terrorist organizations. The visit would be
part of a peace deal between Israel and Syria that is said to be close,
U.S. sources close to the talks tell us. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Barak is said to be meeting secretly with the son and designated
successor of Syrian President Hafez Assad, Bashar, on the deal.

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