The White House aptly selected Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a man who truly embodies what the current administration stands for.
Last week, Rumsfeld toured the Asian states of China, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia, as well as Lithuania. His trip was organized as a personal thank you to countries helping to foster and strengthen U.S. policy in the region and as a warning to those countries not stepping into line.
However, Rumsfeld encountered unprecedented negative sentiments in many of countries, particularly China, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia and Lithuania.
Rumsfeld was not questioned about the Newsweek investigation alleging that he approved a covert system of interrogation and detention, which has led to debates about the widespread use of torture and torture outsourcing in military operations. Instead, people greeted Rumsfeld rather warmly, although the secretary himself did receive a few surprises.
Rumsfeld made Beijing his first stop, and his visit happened to coincide with the Chinese governments first white paper on the building of political democracy in China. The report, Building of Political Democracy in China, stated that the most important factor in continued Chinese economic development is the continual and uncontested rule of the Communist Party.
The white paper also hinted that, despite U.S. warnings of dollar depreciation and world economic collapse, the selfish Chinese government does not intend to slow down its economy any time soon. I cant believe it, Rumsfeld declared after his 45-minute meeting with Chinese government officials. Its like theyve never even looked at a history book before. Ever heard of Japan, hello-o?
Rumsfeld also became the first foreigner to visit the Second Artillery, Chinas strategic missile fleet headquarters, even signing his name in the guest book. R-U-M-M-Y, he laughed as he jovially scrawled his name. Thats a form of gin.
But the atmosphere inside the missile room was tenser when Rumsfeld referred to a Pentagon assessment which states that the Chinese government exceeds its allotted military budget of $30.2 billion per year.
Chinese officials assured Rumsfeld that was not the case, and even if it were, Chinas missiles are not aimed at the United States anyway. Rumsfeld was relieved, and afterward joked with Chinese President Hu Jintao, No, but really, when do you plan on taking us over? The Chinese president was not amused.
Rumsfeld also attended a high-level NATO-Ukraine consultation in Vilnius, the captial of Lithuania. He and his European counterparts were there to help the Ukraine downsize its alarmingly enormous military, a key condition for the success of the former Soviet republics NATO bid.
Despite Russian protests and the conspicuous absence of French and German officials, Rumsfelds talks made it clear that priority partnerships were changing with the times. The United States is only interested in countries with larger militaries than our own, he said. We really dont want to be taken over.
In South Korea, people asked for control of their own army, which falls under U.S. control in wartime. Rumsfeld said that the U.S. government would think about it, and reassured them that until then, South Korea would enjoy the continuing privilege of basking under the protective U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Far from being content, the South Koreans pointed out that North Korea was developing nuclear and long-range missile capabilities. We want our army back, said the people and the government. After an uncharacteristically long pause, Rumsfeld eyed the politicians suspiciously. For what? he asked. So you can take us over?
From South Korea Rumsfeld flew to Mongolia, where he thanked that country for its contribution of 15 soldiers in Afghanistan and 131 in Iraq. The government responded by giving Rumsfeld a horse.
I am proud to be the owner of that proud animal, said Rumsfeld, who named the horse Montana. Realizing that he had no accomodations for horses aboard his Doomsday Plane, Rumsfeld offered a local herder a flashlight in exchange for temporary care of Montana. Why, look at that, said Rumsfeld cheerfully. Hes so happy!
Rumsfeld said afterward, That is how U.S. foreign policy should be run. From here on out, America will be the light of the world both metaphorically and realistically, declaring henceforth that all U.S. international diplomatic visits would end with a ceremonial horse giving and flashlight exchange. And this method will also secure the U.S.s position as the worlds greatest cavalry, he continued. If we do this a few thousand more times, theres no way Mongolia will be able to take us over.
Rumsfeld declared his Asian tour a success and postponed a planned visit to Kazakhstan. I dont really want to go to Russia anyway, he said as he boarded his aerial nuclear warhorse. Besides, were all out of flashlights.
Staff writer Jared Wall is a senior from Sioux Falls, S.D. He majors in English with a concentration in Middle East studies.