"They should release the prisoners," said Moorer, who was once the nation's highest-ranking military official, in referring to the 24 U.S. airmen and women being detained after the emergency landing.
"The onus is on the Chinese," added the admiral, who also serves on the board of directors of NewsMax.com. "They are taxing the rule of international waters."
President Bush has handled the situation well so far, the retired military officer believes.
"But as time goes on," the president will have "no other course of action" but to "gradually tighten the grip" and "take a hard position."
Several options are available for the president to consider, Moorer argues. And he thinks any, all, or any combination of them should be considered.
"A hard position is necessary," Moorer reiterated. "The Chinese have no respect for international law."
In answer to a question, the retired admiral said China has been preparing for ultimate war with the United States.
"They’ve stated flatly the U.S. is their No. 1 enemy," he declared.
To those who say provoking the Chinese will result only in their carrying out missile threats against the United States, Moorer said, "I’ve heard that for so many years," recalling similar fears about confronting the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
He said a lesson that has to be learned over and over again is that you don't pacify aggressors with weakness.
"The only thing they understand is strength," and allowing ourselves to be pushed around will only whet their appetite.
"They are right in the Caribbean with an operation," he noted, referring to a large sea container port operated by a Chinese-controlled firm in the Bahamas.
"The time has come" to put an end to China's "free-wheeling."
Among his other achievements, Adm. Moorer, a Navy pilot in World War II, received the Silver Star for "extremely gallant and intrepid conduct" during an attack by Japanese aircraft. He also received the Purple Heart after being wounded.
The admiral served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974, during the Vietnam war. Moorer also commanded the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet.
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