Cecilia Vega: Just to follow up on [the defense cuts], what message then might this send to North Korea? And is there any concern that this new focus on Asia might be provoking in any way this new, untested leader?
And then domestically on the same issue, defense companies are talking about losing hundreds of jobs, potentially thousands as a result of these defense cuts. What do you say to that?
MR. CARNEY: As regards North Korea and the change in leadership there, I mean, obviously that’s a recent development and the president’s focus on Asia and his goal of rebalancing our strategic view towards Asia long predates that, so there’s no relation there. And our position on North Korea remains as it was.
On the issue of budget cuts, these are the product of a bipartisan bill, the Budget Control Act that was passed, as you know, in August. And the fact of the matter is that after 9/11, for good reason, our defense budget increased rather dramatically and for a sustained period of time. And over the past three years our defense budget has been increasing. So we are making sensible choices that reflect our need to get our fiscal house in order, and we are making those choices driven by a strategy rather than just giving the Defense Department an across-the-board haircut, because that would be irresponsible.
We’re eliminating old Cold War programs to ensure that we can enhance our investment in intelligence, reconnaissance and other areas that are more suited for modern-day defense strategy.
So there’s no question that there are difficult choices involved in this, but the fact of the matter is that even with these cuts our budget, defense budget, will be substantial and larger even than it was towards the end of the Bush administration.