In October, The White House National Security Council told U.S. spy agencies to downgrade the priority of intelligence gathering on China from “Priority 1” to “Priority 2,” after the Chinese government protested the publishing of a National Intelligence Strategy report identifying China as one of four main threats to U.S. interests (also garnering this distinction: Russia, Iran, and North Korea). The priority reduction, in practice, means a reduction in spending on intelligence operations on China.

Bill Gertz writes in The Washington Times that Obama administration officials, “speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the new policy is part of the Obama administration’s larger effort to develop a more cooperative relationship with Beijing.”

In light of the recent intelligence blunder–which failed to stop the Christmas day terror attempt averted only by a faulty bomb and brave flight passengers– is it really wise to ignore those in the intelligence community (see Gertz’s article) who charge that Beijing’s military buildup and cyber-attacks deserve continued and increased surveillance and resources?  

While Obama recognizes the danger of failing to connect the information “dots” and calls the Christmas underwear bomber fiasco a “systemic failure,” he appears to be actively choosing to downgrade the importance of even collecting “dots” on the Chinese.

The overestimation of feel-good diplomacy is dangerous, especially when paired with a serious underestimation of the very real and persistent threats that face the United States. Simply, China should be returned to its “Priority 1” status and the intelligence community should be urged and supported in its analysis and intelligence collection on China.