Murtha’s Hit Parade

The list of threats against which the US must plan its strategy and weapon buys are, in order, a destabilized Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and China. So said Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chair of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee Wednesday. Murtha said Pakistan and Afghanistan are “tied together” and that a destabilized Pakistan is a nightmare because of its inventory of nuclear weapons, which must not “fall into the wrong hands.” He added that there are contingency plans drawn up to secure the weapons if things go badly in Pakistan, and Pentagon planners “say they think they know where [the weapons] are.” North Korea, in Murtha’s view, is not “as near as big a threat” as Pakistan and Iran. China, however, will surely be a near-peer to guard against. He explained: “We’re going to be competing [with China] for oil, for energy, and there’s no question about it. World War II started because we cut off the oil supply from Japan. So if you think China is not going to compete and put pressure on the price of oil down the road, you’re mistaken. We have to be prepared for that kind of thing.” And, he emphasized, “That’s where tacair comes in.” Murtha said that recapitalizing the fighter fleet with the F-22, F-35, and F/A-18—in the midst of an economic crisis—constitutes some “basic problems that we have to struggle with.”