Asia overtakes Europe in military spending

This seems like a pretty significant shift:

Asian defence spending is this year set to exceed that of Europe for the first time in modern history as European Union nations slash their military budgets and Chinese expenditure accelerates, a leading think-tank reports on Wednesday.In its analysis of Asian defence spending, IISS reports that expenditure increased overall by 3.15 per cent in real terms in 2011. China, Japan, India, South Korea and Australia accounted for more than 80 per cent of total Asian defence spending.

The IISS says Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are all investing in improving air and naval capacities, as are India, Japan and South Korea. However, China, the region’s top spender, has – according to IISS estimates – increased its share of regional expenditure to more than 30 per cent.

By contrast, European expenditure presents a very different picture. The IISS notes that last year’s Libya campaign highlighted gaps in the capabilities of European states in targeting, tanker aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

I'm actually a little surprised it's taken this long. Europe has only a fourth of the population of Asia, no individual economies that rival the size of China or Japan, and, with the exception of the Balkans, no major military conflicts since the end of World War II. Asia meanwhile has seen massive military buildups on the Korean peninsula, the India-Pakistan border, and, of course, China's military modernization. 

The demilitarization of the European continent is actually even a bit more dramatic, as the U.S. military will be moving units away from the continent as part of its planned pivot to Asia. In the short term this demilitarization seems to make sense given the priorities of European economies, but taking the long view, it's a pretty momentous development in modern history. 



Romney fuzzy on presidential 'first trip' etiquette

Romney gets his pander on at AIPAC:

As President, peace will be my solemn goal. A peace based not on empty assurances, but on true security and defensible borders. This will require American strength, and a demonstration of our resolve. That’s why, as President, my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo or Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem.

If this is a dig at Obama, I'm not sure exactly what Romney is referring to. The president's first trip abroad wasn't to Cairo, Riyadh, or Ankara, it was to Canada. On his first major international trip in April 2009, he visited Britain, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic before hitting Turkey.

This is pretty standard practice. Since Franklin Roosevelt, nearly every president has gone to either Canada or Mexico first. (Carter went to Britain first; Truman and Nixon went to Belgium.)

As far as I can tell, Israel has never been particularly bothered by this practice. But between this and "that oil from Canada that we deserve," Romney is running a serious risk of incurring the wrath of our neighbor to the north.