B-2 Plans for Sale?
June 1, 2009
Record deficits and a crashing economy appear to be taking a toll on the young Barack Obama Administration. The Administration has been talking about hiking income taxes and perhaps instituting a VAT tax.
China is also concerned with the mounting deficits in the United States budget. China is the single biggest holder of US Treasury Bonds and is one of Washington's biggest trading partners. The People's Republic has had a burgeoning economy, but is increasingly wary of the falling US dollar.
While the exact amount of Chinese ownership of US treasuries is unknown, it is estimated to add up to over a trillion dollars. If China were to call in US guarantees on these bonds, economists fear it could lead to an economic collapse larger than the Great Depression.
China has recently expanded its defense budget, ostensibly to keep up with its economic growth. China is reportedly working on its own version of a stealth bomber (the US has the only functioning model) but is lagged by technological defects.
On April 1st, President Obama spoke to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao during the G20 Summit. During this meeting, Mr. Hu expressed interest in writing off some of the US debt in exchange for military technology. The President has since referred the matter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The Defense Department is reportedly furious with the President's proposal to sell blueprints of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to the People's Republic. Gates has flatly rejected the President's plan, but has since been asked to step down if he will not facilitate the process.
According to the deal, the United States would sell the plans for the B-2, along with radar-absorbing paints and metals in exchange for $50 billion in debt relief. The B-2 cost the US government $23 billion to develop the bomber in the 1980s.
According to the Administration, this proposal will help the United States resolve its debt issues. They point out their belief that the B-2 bomber is "strategically obsolete", according to a source in the White House Press Office. In addition, the source claims that the Chinese would be unable to create their own functioning stealth bomber fleet for "at least eight years."
American allies Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are very wary of the proposal. Koo Syi, a geopolitical analyst from South Korea, points out that this technology could be passed to China's allies. This was the case when Chinese nuclear technology was transferred to Pakistan and North Korea. According to Koo, Obama has rendered US allies' opinions as "irrelevant."
While this proposal is controversial, it is not being presented to Congress, where it could meet with stern opposition. Instead, the State Department has been informed to assist the Defense Department with the transfer of materials.