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With the Middle East in turmoil and the Far East entering a crisis of
its own, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak visited Bill Clinton a few
days ago only to find the U.S. president hopelessly obsessed with the
election recount on Florida. Of course, Clinton is not alone in this
obsession. The entire U.S. media — and perhaps half the country — is
obsessed with the Florida count. But in case we’ve forgotten, there’s a
big and sometimes bad world out there.

Aside from ongoing battles between Israelis and Palestinians, the Far
East is not looking good. On Monday the Philippine House of
Representatives impeached Philippine President Joseph Estrada because of
a corruption scandal. On Tuesday the embattled president of Taiwan,
Chen Shui-bian, was weakened when a crucial ally resigned from his
party. Also on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori resisted
calls for his resignation in a leadership dispute that threatens to
split Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

But the most ominous recent development in the Far East has to do
with the U.S. carrier battlegroup that protects the Philippines, Taiwan
and Japan from communist powers like China and North Korea. Incredible
as it may seem, the Russian media is claiming that Russian aircraft
penetrated the defenses of the USS Kitty Hawk on Oct. 17. According to
Izvestia, units from Russia’s Far Eastern Air Force and Pacific Fleet
overflew the Kitty Hawk battlegroup without interception. “Nothing
could be more awesome,” said Izvestia. “Had this been a combat mission
the aircraft carrier’s destruction would have been guaranteed.”

As experts will affirm, all potentially hostile aircraft approaching
a U.S. carrier battlegroup are intercepted and escorted when they get to
within 125 miles. Before they come to a distance of 25 miles they are
given a serious warning. Within 15 miles the carrier’s interceptors
could be ordered to engage.

Did Russian military aircraft buzz the flight deck of the USS Kitty
Hawk on Oct. 17 as the Russian’s claim? According to sources with
access to Western intelligence the incident did occur. In fact, two
waves of Russian planes passed over the carrier before U.S. fighters
were scrambled. According to one expert with 23 years experience in
military aviation, over 15 separate ships (in the carrier battle group),
with different and
complimentary radar capabilities, were apparently unable to detect the
approach of the Russian aircraft.

What does this signify?

Doubtless it is an important development in the military competition
between the United States and the Russia-China “partnership.” But from
a technological standpoint, the Oct. 17 incident suggests that Russia
may possess stealth technology which can render aircraft invisible to
radar.

Theoretically, a device which emits a small amount of plasma can be
used to envelop aircraft and shield them from detection. If perfected,
such a device could be attached to any type of aircraft. If the
Russians have this technology the United States is in serious trouble.
If the Russians are preparing to sell this technology to China, we may
not be able to defend our allies in the Far East.

According to Izvestia, the aerial mission against the Kitty Hawk
battlegroup was organized by Russia’s intelligence services. It was an
intelligence-gathering mission to see if Russian air units could fly
undetected into the airspace of a vital U.S. military asset. If this
mission was a smashing success, as claimed, the consequences of
Clinton’s neglect of the military can no longer be ignored. The people
of the United States have
to understand the dangerous position they are in. If something doesn’t
happen to change the inward-looking self-preoccupation of the American
public, the prosperity and liberty we now enjoy may be cut short by
catastrophic events.

With China poised to act against Taiwan and North Korea at the peak
of a 23-month military buildup, it is ominous that Russia’s military
prowess suddenly appears less than dilapidated. Of course, Americans
are not paying attention for a number of reasons. This lack of
attention is not merely because of the disputed presidential elections.
In recent years a majority of U.S. pundits have asserted that we have
arrived at an era of peace. Globalization has supposedly replaced great
power conflict on the world stage. But this type of theorizing is
childish. The world has never outgrown war and (if the term “human
nature” has any meaning whatsoever) the world never will outgrow war.
No doubt there will be those who scoff at the idea of a near-term
military crisis in the Western Pacific. Perhaps they are right. On the
other hand, we should seriously consider the words of Liu Jiangjia, a
Chinese military officer who recently claimed that a new arms race has
begun. In all seriousness, Liu stated, “War is not far from us now.”

It is more than a little curious, at this moment of political
uncertainty and division, that America’s chief anti-communist allies in
the Far East are experiencing internal upsets of their own. It is also
odd that China and North Korea have been preparing for war, and that
Russia has demonstrated the ability to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier
previously assumed to be invulnerable.

While you were busy with Florida, the rest of the world was busy too.

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