Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The UN Power Deficit

I have a close virtual friend who works for the UN. We are good friend but politically opposed and that often make good conversation and discussion. A few weeks ago, when Bolton was the new of the day, my friend criticized the piece by David Brooks in the New York Times. Her thoroughly fisked the piece from top to bottom. But I only want to comment on the part about the UN structure. I do not really care about Bolton, one way or the other. My concern is with the UN structure.

This is the excerpt of David Brooks’ op-ed, "Loudly, With a Big Stick" (New York Times)

John Bolton is just the guy to explain why this vaporous global-governance notion is a dangerous illusion, and that we Americans, like most other peoples, will never accept it. We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions.

In which she commented.
Why is there no global democracy? The UN delegates are sent to the GA or the Security Council by their own (usually) democratically elected governments, and speak for those governments. They vote, both at the GA and the Sec. Council. Why is that not "global democracy"?

As to "undemocratic" - I don't see how a body that works by majority votes, votes cast by people sent by democratically elected governments, can be "undemocratic" (of course the UN delegates are not elected by the people of their countries; but neither are the ambassadors to other countries, or the secretaries of State, Defense, the Attorney General, etc. Does that mean everything the State Dept or the Dept of Justice do is "undemocratic"? The only undemocratic thing at the UN is the right of veto of the permanent members of the Security Council, of which the US is one, and, at that, the one who has used it more than any of the other 4 permanent members - more often than not to protect Israel from well-deserved condemnation. So the last people who can complain about it are the Americans.
When France cast its vote, the vote is cast on the behalf of the French people who democratically elected their government, who then appointed their ambassador. We can disagree with the vote, but the government of France is democratic and so does it votes in the UN. But when Libya casts it votes, who does its represent? Not the people Libya. That vote represents Colonel Qadafi and no one else. The fact is countries like Libya represent more than half of the UN member states. And roughly two thirds of the Earth population lives under such a regime. Of course, the UN General Assembly is undemocratic. It is delusional to think other wise. So is the UN Security Council where five member states decide the fate of the rest of the globe.

But people often forget that on the date the UN was created, democratic process was not a consideration. The Security Council was created with five permanent members with veto power. Why did those five have disproportional voting power? Certainly not democratic virtue. Of the five, two were oppressive Communist tyrants who killed million of its citizens, two exploited their colonies shamelessly, and the last one oppressed its minority. Hardly democratic! The reason is the permanent five could incinerate any other country with their nuclear arsenal. The UN was not created on the principle of democracy. It was created on power politic. Until the rise of the US as the hyper-power, that was how the UN functioned.

Why so many Americans are dissatisfying with the UN now? Why are there talks of UN reform? Let looks at the UN Security Council, an organization operates on power relation. Of the original fives, only two are still qualified as super powers – China and the US. The other three’s power are greatly diminished leading to serious imbalance of power. In fact, there are several other countries who power (militarily and economically) exceed that of the three had-beens. If the UN cannot live up to the ideal of democratic process (in the General Assembly), and we cannot depend on it to operate on the pragmatic of power politic (in the Security Council). What are we to do with the UN?

It is obvious that the UN is in desperate need of reform. But few know where to begin. Of course there are a few who advocate a democracy only organization - political counterpart to the WTO (or EU) where member-states must meet certain prerequisite before membership. Other have offer a more realistic solution in reforming of the Security Council by adding India, Japan and maybe Brazil. Regardless there will be much opposition. On the former, most of the undemocratic countries will oppose. On the later option, the had-been powers would certainly oppose.

Please Bring Back the Big Tent

I was delighted to have joined the Coalition of the Chillin’. Because I thought that the filibuster deal was a victory for Republican. But more importantly, I also hope that the Coalition can bring back the “big tent.” What happened to the “big tent?” You know - the one under Ronald Reagan - the one where social conservatives, libertarians, neoconservatives, and various other strain of conservatism live in relative harmony.

This day, Republicans are frequently calling other Republicans “traitor” and “sell-out” whenever there are disagreement. The aftermath of the filibuster deal is a perfect example. Just look around the blogosphere, and no doubt you will smell the poisonous venom. The tent is getting smaller and smaller. Chill out, brothers. The GOP is an inclusive party. At no time in the history of the GOP, have everyone agree on everything. We never had political commissar to ensure we follow the party line. This is the Party of Lincoln not Stalin.

I am a faithful believer of market economy and a robust foreign policy (including supporting the war), but I am not a social conservative. Does my lukewarm attitude on a few issues such as defense-of-marriage, judicial nominees, and abortion make me a traitor; despite multitude of other issues which we share common interests. Why are we counting the issues of difference instead issues of common interests?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day’s Story

It is usually on Memorial Day that we remember our veterans and soldiers – a show of appreciation from our citizens to our men and women in uniforms – past and present. Today, as Iraq war veteran, I am taking the opportunity to thank our citizens for their continue support. I could not have done it without them. There are plenty of stories about heroic soldiers but not enough about loyal supportive citizens. So I am telling you the story.

Early September 2004, I was allowed to go home for 2 weeks leave. After two days of traveling from Iraq, our chartered plane landed on Atlanta International Airport. The plane full of soldiers emotionally cheered as the wheels touched our beloved soil. The joy was immeasurable. Atlanta was the hub from there we take other connection flight to our home, where our families anxiously awaited.

My connection flight home was several hours away, so I wandered aimlessly in the airport, simply appreciation America. If you think the airport is uninteresting, you have not been to Iraq. I felt like a child. The air smelled clean, unlike the dusty smell of Iraq, and it was safe. We were all in our uniform (DCU) wandering the airport like kids in a toy store. I would never think an airport could be exciting.

I was however apprehensive about the reception we would receive. According to the poll at the time, support for the war fell below 50 percent. I thought of our Vietnam veterans who spat on when they returned home. I fear was quickly dismissed by comments from flyers at the airport. “Thanks you for your service” and “we are proud of you” are the type comments I personally received. Many people walked to me and shook my hand.

I was hungry and desperately want to eat something other than Army food. So I enter a restaurant (I cannot remember which restaurant) and ordered lunch. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I ordered more than I could eat. The food was the best that I ever had. Thinking back, it was probably not all that good, but my taste bud was deprived for many months; so as far as I concerned, it was fit for a king. After I stuffing my face (which is an understatement), I asked for the check. The waiter informed me that my bill has been paid for by a patron in the restaurant. I asked him who it was so I can thank that person, and the waiter responded that the patron want to remain anonymous. Later on that day, on our commercial flight home, first class flyers offered another soldier and I their luxurious seats.

I was my best day since I went to Iraq. Not because of the free food, but the statement behind it. The reception at the airport lifted my desponded spirit. To refresh your memory, the months of August and September were terrible months in Iraq. We were fighting two simultaneous insurgencies, the Shiite one by Sadr Militia and the Sunni one by Batthist/Salafists. Several cities –Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra, Baquba, Najaf, and Karbala - were hotly contested. They were either completely or partially controlled by the enemies. Thing did not look good then, both in Iraq and at home. At home, support for the war fell dramatically. I was desponded. [More on my Iraq experience here]

I cannot say if those Americans supported the war or not. It would be arrogant for me to assume their political position. But one thing I know with certainty. They support the troop. And throughout my two weeks vacations, I received nothing but praises and encouragements, from strangers as well as friends. I flew back to Iraq two weeks later. Again meals were paid for and first class seats were offered.

Thank you, American citizens and patriots. The rest of my deployment was much easier after knowing I have your backing. Your support is vital to the war effort. So keep showing your yellow ribbon, let our troops know that you care. You were invaluable and indispensable. Your moral support strengthens our resolve and steels our spirit. And on Memorial Day, I, an Iraq veteran, want to say thank you to all of you. Thank you.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I was tortured

It is true. I was tortured.

I recently discovered that I was a victim of a shocking crime. I was a tortured victim. No, I am nor ever been a jihadist being detained in Guantanamo, neither am I an insurgent being held in Abu Ghraib. I was never being captured in a war, detained or arrested by any government. But by definition of the many liberal pundits, I was tortured. And the perpetrators of the heinous crimes are no strangers; they are my parents and teachers.

Here is my ordeal. “Stress position” and “solitary confinement” were forced upon me, numerous times, and for many years. My parent routinely punished me by making me stand at attention in the corner, facing the wall, for hours. This torture occurred on a weekly basis, depended on how often I exercise my individual freedom (they call it “misbehavior”). This “stress position” tortures also occurred at school, where I am not the sole victims. Many of my fellow classmates were also victims of this despicable crime, perpetrated by our evil teachers. Readers would find it scandalous that our parents approved and at time applauded this torture. They often wrote thank you notes to our teachers for torturing us. Those evil parents!

And of course, the worst form of torture is the “solitary confinement.” How could I forget those hours I that I could hear my friends playing soccer outside and I could not join having to stare at a empty wall, contemplating my “misbehavior” as they say it; or being lock up in a room after school because I thought loudly to the whole class that the lecture, or fail to do my homework. Now that they say that those detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were tortured because they were put in “stress position” or “solitary confinement,” I want justice too. Damn it, I was tortured. Where do I go to file my formal complaint? Who do I address to? Where are CBS and the New York Times? I am entitled to be interviewed. I am a tortured victim. Where is the ACLU who supposes to advocate for my case?

Sarcastically challenged readers, the above paragraphs are intented as satire. On a more serious note, are we being squeamish here? Do “stress position” and “solitary confinement” constitute torture? What will we classified as torture next? Does screaming at a detainee constitute torture? Must also be sensitive to his feeling?

We must draw the line between torture and permissible methods of interrogation. By arbitrary define anything that detainee object to as torture is to make torture meaningless. Worse, it degrades real victims of torture, rendering their legitimate complains meaningless. Are we ready to equate heinous acts such as electrical shock or fingers amputation to solitary confinement?

Using pressure absent of physical harm to extract information is morally permissible – not doing so is immoral. Of course, if any US interrogators who physically harm detainee should be prosecute for their crimes – it is a crime in our book. But we should not hamper their mission by dilute the meaning of torture.

I am chillin'

Proud member of the Coalition of the Chillin'. If you do not know what I am talking about, check this out.

(If someone can show me how to post picture, I would post that cool logo)

Coalition Members:

GOP and the City
Right Side of the Rainbow
John C. A. Bambenek
The Radical Centrist
Decision '08 - Coalition Founder
My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Two Dogs
The Strata-Sphere
Right Hand of God
Tempus Fugit
Loaded Mouth
Election Projection
WC Varones
Tinkerty Tonk
The Flag of the World
Little Miss Attila
The Big Tent Blog
The Bernoulli Effect
Professor Bainbridge
The Hole Card
Semi-Random Ramblings
Viking Pundit
Info Theory
Argan Argar
INDC Journal
The Buzz Blog
Dangerous Dan
The Indepundit
State of Flux
Kinder Gentler Machinegun Hand
Lime Shurbet
Country Pundit
Wave Maker
The Politburo Diktat
Mistress Tootie Bell
The Bandwagon
The Anchoress
The American Mind
Navland Rumbling Politico
The Jade Monkey
Say Uncle
Mark Daniels
Vote for Judges
Cavalry Charge
Jim Miller on Politics
Obsidian Wings

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Coalition For Darfur

I just joined the Coalition for Darfur. It is a wonderful blog by two bloggers, Feddie of Southern Appeal and Eugene Oregon of Demagogue. Feddie is on the Right and Eugene is on the Left. After much disputes over judicial nominee, they found out that they both care deeply about the situation in Darfur and create a joint-blog to raise awareness. I am proud to be part of their coaltion, and even prouder that they put their difference aside for the greater good.
Here is a sample of the recent post titles "Complexity as an Excuse for Inaction" which dismiss the claim by Paul Wolfowitz that the issue in Darfur is complex to intervene.
Ten years later [in reference to Rwanda], it now appears as if a few relatively simple measures backed by the necessary political will could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But in 1994, the genocide appeared massively complex and that complexity was routinely cited as a justification for not intervening. And Wolfowitz is making exactly the same justification for not intervening in Darfur today. Were there feasible solutions to Rwanda? In hindsight, the answer is obviously "yes." Are there feasible solutions to Darfur? It is hard to say because right now it seems so complex, but there certainly are if the world powers can muster the will to address them. But unfortunately, it is far more likely that ten years from now, when perhaps another one million Africans have needlessly died, we'll wonder why we did not act when "it looks in hindsight to have been so simple to prevent something that was so horrible."
I guess whether you are politically on the left or right, you can agrees that Darfur is a terrible thing and something must be done about it. So please support the Coalition for Darfur. And if you are a blogger, join the Coalition.

Drink, Dance, and Gamble Away

Ministry of Interior in Iraq abolished Saddam's alcohol, night clubs and casinos restriction law which was introduced in the 90's. The law has been abolished because it interferes with and limits Iraqis personal freedom. Businesses, however, are required to obtain a licence from Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health.

Someone please pass a fatwa against those unbelievers. How dare they deceived us. They promised to make Iraq an Islamic Republic, issue a burqa for every woman, chop hands, and stone adulteress, and make Sharia the law. They lied.
Wait a minute, they did not say those things. It was the Leftwing pundits in the West who said such thing. I hope crows are in season.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Where are the armors?

In December of 2004, Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Armor Calvary Regiment asked Secretary Rumsfeld, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up armor our vehicles?" The question leaded to great coverage in mainstream media and numerous inquiries on Capitol Hill. Everyone was talking about the need to give our troops proper equipment and protection. The Pentagon made promises of speeding up fielding of armor vehicles and armors kits. Legislators made promise of funding and oversight.

It is now six months since SPC Wilson asked the question and more than two years into the war. The recent footage of US Marines fighting in Operation Matador still shows the same ad hoc scrap metal humvees SPC Wilson spoke off. Armor welded together by troops on the field. The best it can do is provided minimal protection against small fragmentation, but not riffle round and certainly not blast. It is far less protective than our manufactured armor humvees and the armor kits.

Why are our brave marines going into battle on those things? It is utter disgraceful. It is further disgraceful no one is talking about it, not MSM, not officials, not legislators. And sadly, it is not even a hot topic in the blogosphere. Is our attention span that short?

This coming Memorial day, it is important to remember that American sons and daughters are risking their lives everyday, and their risk increase exponentially without proper armored vehicles. Show your support for our troops by keeping this issue alive. Please ask the question, where are the promised armors? I also ask that bloggers to blog more about it, at least remind your readers of the issue.

Monday, May 23, 2005

"Non" to the EU

According to this piece in the Financial Time (May 22nd, 2005), the "non" vote for the EU referendum in France is currently 52 percent. That leave the "Oui" camp 48 percent, four point behind. However it is still much better than it was a month ago, when the gap was a whopping eight points. But I fear that it is not good enough and the likelihood that the EU constitution will pass in France is low.
Even if it is passed by a point or two, there are still sizable minority who oppose it. And unlike a Presidential or Parliarmentary Election, the constitution is permanent, leaving much bitterness and resentment for years to come. The blame is mostly go to the French Government who did little to prepare their citizens for the new future with Europe. They have fail to convince their citizens of benefit of being a part of the EU. Maastricht Treaty was passed in France by 51 percent in 1993. Twelve years later, and attitude toward European Union has not changed, if not worsen.
Despite all its claim of progressiveness, France society is reactionary in nature. In 2002 election, the total votes for reactionary parties (Left and Right) equal 30 percents of the vote on the first round. Most noticably is the Facist National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen which won 17 percents of the vote. 17 percents of French are racists, the other 13 percents are rabid Communists. What's a progresive country!
There is a counter-argument that the votes for Le Pen are protest votes. A very close friend who is a Francophile -shock- make the same argument. She is a French citizen who works for the UN - more shock! She, like many of apologists explain the votes for Le Pen as protest votes against the Socialists and Chirac. It make no sense to me - none whatsoever. Here is why. Among 16 political parties, the voters had plenty of choice to cast their protest vote, But 17 percent of them pick a known racist. They cannot claim ignorance either. Le Pen is not closeted racist like Pat Buchanan, he was/is an opened and proud racist and his facist agenda was well publicized. The voters must had known his ideology when they casted their votes. Furthermore, Le Pen won even more votes on the second round, gaining one additional point. [Needless to say, my friend voted Socialist the 1st round and Chirac the 2nd round. She was unhappy that she had to make the choice between a Le Pen and Chirac.]
I understand protest vote. I did it last years. I am a traditional Republican voters. But last year, I was in Iraq. I supported the war and still do. But I was unhappy at the dismal performance of our leadership when it come to fighting the post-war insurgency - particularly the lack of preprareness by the Pentagon. My unhappiness was compounded with the rising violence, the lack of armor vehicles, and Bremmer received the Medal of Freedom. But I did not vote for the Aryan Nation. In protest, I voted for a movie actress (of the adult variety).
I would like to see the EU to form, even with France in it. It is an incredible symbol of peace and prosperity. Sixty years ago, most of the members were at war - the most destructive in European history. The scence of them forming a political union carries immeasureable significance for the future of mankind. It gives us hope that peace is possible, even in place like the Middle East. Now that the hope for a unified Europe is in the hand of France; I have good reason to be desponded.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Our military are the real targets

The President of the Newspaper Guide, Linda Foley and her comment at National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis on May 13:
…Journalists, by the way, are just being targeted, ah, verbally or, ah, or, ah, politically. They're also being targeted for real. Um…in places like Iraq. Ahn and, ah, what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal. And it's not just US journalists, either, by the way. They target and kill, ah, journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al -, like Arab news services like Al-Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios, ah, with impunity … and, ah, this is all part of a culture that it's okay to blame the individual journalists and it just takes the heat off these media, ah, conglomerates who are actually at the heart of the problem…[The name of the conference is Media Reform. Ironic, isn’t it?]
I submits that the targets are the military who our media love to hate - and there is a pattern of abuse. Peter Arnett famously quoted a US Armed Forces Major saying, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it." The context of the quote is in reference to the Battle for Ben Tre during the 1968 Tet Offensive. No one ever found the source of the quote. More likely than not, Peter Arnett fabricated it. In fact the Ben Tre was destroyed, not by the US but the Communist Forces during their retreat.

Peter then went on to fabricate other news, including the CNN scandal in which he claims that the US forces was using chemical weapons during an operation known as Tailwind. Tailwind did happen, it was a Special Force operation in Lao, but there was no chemical weapon. CNN retracted the statement. (More on the operation can be found in “SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam” by John Plaster – highly recommended.) Peter career was full of lies which ultimately resulting in him being fired by NBC.

What disturbs me the most is not what Foley said, but what is being said about her in the media. What is the media saying about the Linda Foley? Nothing! Zero coverage. Since Friday, May 13th, 2005, not a single major media source mentioned the event. Trust me it happened. Jackson Junction even has the actual footage, a whole 3 minutes 22 second of it, in full context. Dusty Attic has the full transcription. No doubt they know about it, Foley holds important position within the media establishment. Why is the silence?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Weekend Blog Reports

1. Tony at Across the Bay dissects the Hizballah's standing in Lebanon.
Contrary to all the predictions of the cheerleading groupies (first among which is the useless Helena Cobban), Hizbullah is nowhere near "running away with the elections." In fact, Hizbullah didn't do what many said it would, take a bite of Amal's piece of the Shiite pie. In the past, Syria pressured the two to run together, thereby, the argument went, limiting Hizbullah's representation, as it was clearly more popular than Amal. But what these people failed to understand is that after the Syrian withdrawal and with UNSCR 1559 hanging over its head, Hizbullah became one of the most vulnerable groups in Lebanon. Isolated after the Christian-Druze-Sunni alliance in March, and alienating many through its overtly pro-Syrian posturing, including mug shots with the notorious Rustum Ghazaleh, and facing the rise of a rival Shiite group, Hizbullah couldn't run away with anything. Not only didn't it break away from Nabih Berri, it needed him to maintain some sort of a Lebanese safety net. While some of the internal pressure has eased due to electoral politics, the issue of the arms is still the elephant in the room, no matter what Hizbullah says to awe-struck journalists and interviewers.
Read the whole thing.

2. Ahmed blogs about Saddam pictures, past and present. There are new pictures as well.

3. Lebanese Political Journal blogs on Bush and the UN role in Lebanon showing it is possible to compliment both.

4. Hammorabi alleges Syrian military involvement in the Iraqi insurgency.

5. Jackson Junction has the actual footage of Linda Foley infamous speech.

6. Andi, a soldier's spouse, write a letter to Linda Foley.

Friday, May 20, 2005

More on Terrorists Hypocracy

Kathleen Ridolfo on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via GlobalSecurity.Org wrote in details about terrorist sympathizing hypocrite here. As I blogged about it before (here and here), organization such as MUC and the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) are the voice of the terrorists. Their rhetoric are identical to that of Al-Zarqawi.
It is about time the MSM stop refering as civil organization or political party, they are terrorists, or at least aiding and abeiting terrorists. It is pathetic that MSM delegitimize the elected government of Iraq at the same time legitimize extremists such as the MUC and the IIP.

Huffy-Puffy on Charlie Rose

Ariana Huffington was a guest at the Charlie Rose Show on Monday 16, 2005. She went on to promote her underwhelmed blog. Most of the show was shamless self-promotion and vanity. But there is one part that I remember most, Huffy-Puffy doubted the US official statement that we have no intention of staying in Iraq and will get out as soon as possible.
Huffy-Puffy said that because the US base building in Iraq appeared to be of permanent structure, she aksed why would the US are building permanent structure if we want to get out of Iraq. Some body please tell airhead Huffy-Puffy that she should learn how to do homework, especially if she want to get in the news analysis business. Any military expert could have provided her with an answer, even outside the US military establishment.
To Mrs-I-Was-Born-With-The-Silver-Spoon-In-My-Mouth, the answer has to do with blast radius of VBIED, another word for car bomb. The structure is permanent because only permanent structures construct by concrete can withstand frequent car-bomb attacks, and frequent mortars attacks. It is not about colonizing Iraq, but saving American lives. No wonder her blog suck.
Speaking of Huffy-Puffy, there are two blogs who do the great job of fisking Huffy-Puffy, Huffington Is Full of Crap and the Huffington Toast. They are hilarious.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What's a coincidence

I blogged here yesterday on Sheik Al-Dari of the Muslim Ulema Council. After his accusation of Shiites for formenting civil war, the top aid to Ayatollah Sistani, Sayid Mohammed al-Allaf, was assasinated (reported by CNN). A threaten statement by Al-Dari, followed by an assassination. Am I the only one seeing the correlation.
Al-Dari further issued the statement after the assassination:
"We knew the sides that stand behind the assassinations of imams, sheikhs, and prayers. They are the same sides that cordoned off the camp of our Palestinian brothers in al-Baladiat area to take them out of the country. They are the Badr militant group," al-Dhari said.

"All the world should know that we are heading toward a catastrophe, only God knows when it ends. This is our warning." (CNN)
The Palestinians mentioned are four foreign jihadists captured by Iraqi government. According to Al-Dari, the four foreign terrorists are not responsible for the death of Iraqi but someone else are. Not only that, the Palestinians are referred to as brothers, follow with more threat. Those Salafists have impecable logic.

An Email To Andrew Sullivan

(This is an email I sent to Andrew Sullivan on Abu Ghraib. I am most disappointed in Andrew. I really like him. He was a conservative who I felt comfortable with, not the in-your-face bible thumper, not the isolationist. He criticized the conduct war without criticizing the soldier. But of late, I am of an opinion that he is no longer supportive of the troops. Let hope that I am wrong. I do not think he will respond or even comment on it, but you certainly can respond and comment.)

Dear Andrew,

I feel the need to write you an email after reading your relentless posting on Abu Ghraib and related scandals. Not that I find your criticism of the scandal unwarranted or that torture should not be criticized. But I find your belief that the practice is widespread and institutionalized is disturbing to say the least, if not personally offensive. I was in Iraq in 2004 and I was in the interrogation business. So I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I am your target; that you indirectly question and doubt my honor and integrity, as well as all of my brethren-in-arms. Do you?

More than 150 detainees pass through our detention facility, not one was ever abused or mistreated in anyway. They never ate pork and all of them received daily medical examination, everyday at 1300 hours. Some eventually ended up in Abu Ghraib, other were released. I’ve personally never seen an abused detainee, not by the US soldier. So when Abu Ghraib hit the news, it was as much a shock for me as it was for you. If I did not see the picture, I would not believe it. Even before Abu Ghraib, there were always rumor of misconduct against us. Detainees who we suspected to be insurgents, but lack evidence, were released. And often they would spread disinformation. One former detainee claimed that we stole his money. I know it did not happen. When I took him in custody, I accounted and logged everything on his person. Every miscellaneous piece of junk, every dinar was returned to him when he was released. It was only one among the many rumor maliciously spread by our enemies. This is why I initially doubted Abu Ghraib.

In the US, where we are not fighting a war, within our own correctional system, misconducts were uncovered frequently. Inmates were occasionally sexually and physically abused by correction officers. There were narcotic smugglings or nefarious behaviors by prison staffs. We know that it is not institutionalized or part of some governmental policy. If these scandals occurred frequently in our own prison system, Abu Ghraib should not surprise us. There were 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq, some of them had to be substandard, stupid, and cruel. Abuses are inevitable. But it was not our policy to torture. And I would think of you even less if you dare say that it is the military culture. I would hate to be lumped with the like of Specialist England.

It is constructive to criticize for the purpose of improvement. After all, the reputation of our country is at stake, my reputation as well. But I have a feeling that your criticism is not of the constructive variety. It is not constructive because you believe in the phantom theory that torture is policy and that our soldiers are prone to behave in a cruel and malicious manners. I am offended, and no doubt other soldiers are as well. I have offered a year of my life to the service of my country; and in that year, I have acted honorable as any American would. Shame on you to think otherwise, shame on you!

A former Sergeant of the 30th Brigade Combat Team.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

The Terrorist spokeperson, Harith al-Dari, is accusing Shiites militias of escallating violence. How's ironic. Al-Dhari is the head of the Muslim Ulema Council (MUC), altenative translation: Muslim Clerics Association. A good analogy would be Northern Ireland. Al-Dari's MUC is a equivalence of Sin Fein and the Iraqi Salafists insurgents the Provisional IRA. Al-Dari is the spiritual leader of Sunni Salafists in Iraq. Al-Dari, on numerous occasion, negotiated on the behalf the insurgents.
It is ironic that he is now accusing Shiites of formenting civil war. After sowing hatred for two years, after encouraging Sunni insurgents to kill Shiites, he now complain about the rising violence that he helped create. I have a curse for him. May the flea of a thousand camels infest his crotch, and may his arms be to short to scratch.

Social Security and Medicare Reform

After reading my betrayal on conservative idea by suggesting a National Healthcare, Dan at NoSpeedBumps give a link to his proposal, after he graciously blogged about my post on Yalta. Dan came up with a novel concept that completely eliminate my least favorite program, Social Security, as well as Medicare and replace them with three interdependent programs: Health Saving Account, Retirement Saving Account, and Effective Flat Tax. There will be Government subsidy, but Dan argues that it is less intrusive than the current situation with Social Security, Medicare, and our convoluted tax system. I do not think a novice like me should explain it. There is a good chance I will misrepresent it. So go read for yourself. Dan even has chart and graph.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Chinese Nationalism, the Iron Curtain of the Pacific

(My little cousin just recently wrote an essay for her History Class titles:" Chinese Nationalism, the Iron Curtain of the Pacific." I am posting it here because I thought it is very good, especially coming from a High School junior. Needless to say, I am very proud of her. Her blog is here. And if someone accuse me of nepotism; I am guilt as charge)
The new century has been dubbed the Pacific century by economists and Asian optimists alike, yet, whose job will it be to lead the Pacific in the way America led the Atlantic? Many gravitate towards China, being one of the top economic powers with a fast growing economy as well as a powerful military. However, the great expectations for China might be misguided as The Economist article “China and the Key to Asian Peace” illustrates. It is how China uses both her economic and military influences in the Pacific that will largely determine if a China-led Pacific will exist.
There are many trials China must go through to prove that she is ready. The Economist focused on two more current ones in its essay, North Korean Nuclear proliferation and China unification. It is true that how China resolve these two issues will largely determine if they are ready to acquire the mantle of Pacific leadership.

However, China has a much darker enemy among her ranks and it is a problem that is not so easily extinguish and repair. That is China own nationalist pride. In the end it is how this pride affects China rationale and decision making that will not only separate the Pacific but separate China from being the leader of the Pacific.
Nevertheless, before one can go into the true dangers of Nationalism to China, a clear understanding of Nationalism must be achieved. What is Nationalism and why is it dangerous? To get at the root of that question one must eliminate what it is not, and that is patriotism. While patriotism is the love of and devotion to one own country, Nationalism goes beyond that. It is “an ethno-political ideology that sustains the concept of a nation-identity for an exclusive group of people.. The 'glory and wellbeing' of one's own nation as a fundamental ethos” (Nationalism). In summary, patriotism is a simple love of ones country, like the way one would love America and would defend America when it is necessary. On the other hand nationalism is much more bounding tying those who follow it to a sense of false pride and superiority to others.
There in lay the true danger of Nationalism. An emphasis on the interest of one own nation and an inherent belief that one own nation, culture or ethnicity is superior to others. Many countries suffered from this condition and still do; Europe was racked with it in the previous century. The most famous being Nazi Germany during World War II. Her disregard for the rest of Europe coupled with her intense belief of Aryan superiority spearheaded one of the bloodiest war in human history. Mistakes such as nationalism perhaps could exist in the past, but now in a time when every nation are tied together by the strings of globalization and international relations, there is no room for the superiority and self serving attitude of nationalism.
Yet, at least one country still holds steadfast to its nationalist view, China. This can be clearly seen not through what China says but what China does. Such as the way China dealed with Taiwan in her policies. Although the global community views Taiwan as a legitimate country in her own right with ideology and government. To this day China does not. Taiwan is often seen as nothing more then a renegade province. The reason can not be stated any clearer then in The Economist's article “China and the Key to Asian Peace.” In which the author states that “a China where nationalism has largely replaced communist ideology as the party’s rationale for clinging to power has no patience for Taiwan’s developing democracy – the first in 5,000 years of Chinese history – or wishes of its people”. Taiwan holds no true benefit to China and both countries exist in two completely different nature of government, yet, because Taiwan belonged to China for the pass centuries, Chinese pride cannot allow such a separation. However, would China risk going to war for something as trivial as that of a state separated decades ago? Evidently so when earlier this year China passed an Anti-Succession law against Taiwan. Even though Taiwan has been de facto independent for decades now, it has never made a formal declaration of independence. With the new Anti-Succession law, however, China threatens to go to war if Taiwan “officially” succeed.
This law however not only points out the massively low level of rational in China when nationalism is involved but a clear sign of how damaging China’s pride can be for international relationships as well. Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, stated that “we also want to show to the Chinese side [through massive Taiwanese protest] that we are angry over the Chinese action and we want to let the Chinese side know that the law has dealt a severe blow to the prospect of peaceful negotiations in between Taiwan and China” and not only in between Taiwan and China but China and the global community because many nations do not accept China’s disregard for peace due to pride over lost territory (“Thousands”).

However, the previous Taiwanese protest brings to mind another protest, one more current and this time it was China’s turn. The event in question has been dubbed the “Japanese Textbook Scandal.” When the Japanese government approved a set of textbooks that downplay what the Japanese Military did during the war, where the Nanjing massacre was referred to as an “incident.” And instead of 300,000 people died, it became “many people”. As a result thousands of Chinese have begun protesting, boycotting, and vandalizing Japanese properties in China, such as embassies and business. The Chinese governments have done little to nothing to protect Japanese investment in China which clearly displays China own stance on the issue. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao even made a statement in which he reprimanded Japan, saying “Japan needs to face up to history squarely” (qtd. in Hiatt).
Mr. Jiabao’s statement is truly commendable because what can be more noble then the proper treatment of history? However, is that all there is on the Premier’s mind? To put the event in context, one must see how the two societies “face up to history.” Fred Hiatt, the writer of “China’s Selective Memory”, puts the issue in perspective. “Many textbooks receive ministry approval in Tokyo, and no school is forced to use any particular one. Issues of war guilt or innocence, and of proper historiography, are debated endlessly and openly in Japanese newspapers” (Hiatt). Compare this to the strict control that the Communist Regime of China has on history. In which “there is only one acceptable version of history, at least at any given time; history often changes, but only when the Communist Party decides to change it”, even the event of Tiananmen Square can be omitted (Hiatt).
It is clear then that the anti-Japanese reaction from China’s government is not about “facing up to history squarely.” But if it isn’t, then what is it? The answer can be found in the UN or more specifically the UN Security Council. The most powerful organ of the UN, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. Currently there are five permanent UN Security Council seat are the United States, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, the Republic of France, and the People Republic of China. However, soon the possibility of Japan along with Germany, India, Brazil, and Nigeria obtaining permanent seats in the UN Security Council is very high.
The matter of the Japanese textbook incident is not a matter of history but its politic; China does not want Japan to have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. China does not want the balance in the Pacific to be changed, to hold on to her current political superiority. Although with another nation from the Pacific on the Security Council might prove beneficial to the Pacific as a whole. In the way the European Union is for Europe, the advantage of a Union within the Pacific is unfathomable. However, as The Economist special reports states, “such entities require at least some willingness to share sovereignty, which China for the moment will not consider” (“So hard”).

To consider would be going against their own nationalist based policies. But that is the dangers of nationalism, where it wreaks the most havoc. In a global community where foreign relations reign supreme, the doctrine one follows with foreign policy must be a pragmatic one not one of pride. Thus it is true that it is not impossible for China to lead the Pacific, however, that probability remains unclear especially when their pride is so excessive. To be able to lead the Pacific, China must have a good relationship with other nations of the Pacific. Until china can take a bite of the humble pie, a China-led pacific is just a dream. Unless China wants to lead through war and bloodshed, then that would be no different from Europe of pass centuries and a dream of the Pacific would become a nightmare.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Welcome Chrenkoff's readers. Hope you enjoy your staty. Just a couple of lines from Arthur, and my traffic increased ten folds. Thanks, Arthur. My house is far more humble than Arthur's, but I can at least be hospitable.

I apologize that I was not here earlier to greet you. I went to Charlotte, NC over the weekend for a reunion with my war-buddies. We served together in Iraq last year (2004). Before our tour, we were strangers, now we are best of friends.

I just drove for seven hours, so I will go sleep now. More blogging tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2005

From Yalta to Paris

The Baltic States got an apology from the US. On May 7th, 2005 at Riga, Latvia, President Bush said:
"... As we mark a victory of six days ago -- six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history..."
Great! I was hearten by the comment. An admission of guilt by the most powerful superpower toward a minor little country about an policy 60 years ago, an understandable and forgivable policy? It could not get better than that. But those on Left certaintly did not share my sentiment. They was foaming at the mouth about the comment. David Greenberg, who was guessed blogging at Daniel W. Drezner devoted three posts to it. (here, here, and here). His description was "outragous" and "scandalous." He also wrote an article on Slate title: "Known Thy Allies: What Bush Got Wrong About Yalta." What was and is the cause for the knee-jerk reaction from the Liberal Left ? They argue that (1) it was revisionist history, that their beloved FDR did not sell out the Baltic or Eastern Europe to Communist International. That Yalta was neccessary in the context of time and circumstance. True. But the Baltic and Eastern Europe was condemn to four decades of Communist tyranny is a fact. And whether our action was justified or not, we did it. Stalin swallowed Eastern Europe knowing with certainty that we would not intervene.
(2) But the second reason that the Left found the speech troubling has less to do with historical nuance but paranoia. David Greenberg mentioned the McCathyism. Kevin Drum call Yalta righwing's "codeword."
But here's what I'm curious about: why did Bush mention Yalta at all? For most people alive today this is long dead history, but Bush's speechwriters are well aware that "Yalta" was once a codeword extraordinaire among a certain segment of the population. In fact, it was perhaps the single biggest bugaboo of the wingnut right in the late 40s and 50s, right up there with Alger Hiss and Joe McCarthy's list of communists in the State Department.

But most of those people are dead. So who was the reference aimed at? Not just the Latvians, that's for sure. Bush is a master of using codewords in his speeches, and inserting Yalta into this speech wasn't a casual decision. It was there for someone. Who?
Kevin. It was for me, and people like me. The little people who had to live the consequence of power politic between the giants. For the people of Latvia and Eastern Europe who had to live under Communism, it is not easy to forget the event that lead to their immeasurable suffering. They were freed just recently; the wall just came down in 1989. Most of them still have painful and fresh memory of those day.
Unlike liberal Western academics, I did not have the luxury of studying tyranny as an academic subject from afar; my experiene with it was close and personal. I was only one year old when the Paris Peace Accord was signed. To this day I am still bitter about it. It was long ago for most people, mere history. But it is fresh in my memory since I had to live it. For most of my childhood, I lived under Communisst tyranny, the one that born out of Paris 1973. I still remember having to listen to VOA and BBC clandestinely, having to turn the volumn just enough so that it can only be heard if I put my ears next to the speaker. I still remember the food shortage of the late 70's and 80's, the one that result in my malnutrition. I still remember growing up for years without my father, for he was in jail. I still remember the fears and paranoia of living under a police state.
I have no doubt the Latvians remember and were hearten by the comment. For all their pain, they deserved to hear an apology and I am happy for them. And I hope that when it is time for a US president to apologize for the 1973 Paris Peace Accord, no liberal academic will rub salt in my wound by denying me those words of comfort.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Rethinking National Healthcare

The recent news concerning GM and Ford cause me to rethink the Social Healthcare concept. To recap the news, GM and Ford's bond were recently rated as junk bond. They are not doing too well. And main reason is seemed that the cost of healhcare for their employee is too high. For every car that they produced, $1,500 goes to healthcare. Steel per car is only $800.
While some of the problem of GM and Ford is more than just healthcare cost, it worth taking a look at our healthcare system in term of global competitiveness. With many of our competitors having national healthcare, their businesses do not incur additional cost of funding health insurance for their employees. Some even call it a soft subsidy. But since other countries healthcare system cover employee as well as people who are working, this is hardly a subsidy to businesses.
Nevertheless, it impacts our competitiveness. Perhap to make us more competitive globally, we should bring back the national healthcare idea. I know. I know. I can see the dismay and shock on some your faces. A conservative is proposing national healthcare? It is heresy. But hear me out.
I understand the problem of public healthcare than most. Being a member of the military, I have seen the poor quality of healthcare being offered to servicemen, the lack of customer service, the bureaucracy and redtape, being treated like a nuisance instead of a patient. I have endured all those frustration. But can we have a public healthcare system without those problems? It is an idea worth exploring. If it works, it would greatly reduce the cost of doing businesses for American companies, so they can concentrate on being competitive.
Of couse before the idea can be implemented, there are several obvious issues that stand in the way, primarily the cost of healthcare. Healthcare in the US is too expensive. They are expensive for reasons external to the healthcare system. They are expensive because the cost of being a doctors is too high. Beside other forms of insurance, an average physicians have to pay $50,000 on malpratice insurance. The cost of bringing drugs to the market is too high, and it take too long to get approval for new drugs. Therefore the path to national healhcare run through tort reform and reform of the FDA. Sadly liberals want national healthcare, but they want to cater to ambulance chasers as well and want to do nothing about reforming the FDA.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Selected Quote from F.A. Hayek

"The Road to Serfdom" was written in 1940. His word is still true today, and probably will be true in the future. It is true for all circumstance. In his introduction Hayek wrote of the frustration that, unlike history, one cannot predict the outcome of event.
"Contemporary events differ from history in that we do not know the results they will produce. Looking back, we can assess the significance of past occurances and trace the consequences they have brought in their train. But while history run its course, it is not history to us. It leads us into an unknown land, and but rarely can we get a glimpse of what lies ahead. It would be different if it were give to us to live a second time through the same events with all the knowledge of what we have seen before. How different things would appear to us; how important and often alarming would changes seem that we now scarely notice! It is probably fortunate that man can never have this experience and know no laws which history obey."
How true! Let take Iraq. If we know what we knew now two years ago. How much better would thing be. We would have had enough troops, not went through with De-Baathification, and not disband the Iraqi Army. But we did not know. Or did we?
"Yet, although history never quite repeats itself, and just because no developement is inevitable, we can in a measure learn from the past to avoid a repetition of the same process. One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers. An accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see."
Certainly it was not the first time an counter-insurgency war has been fought, not by us and certainly not in history. Yet why are we going through the same painful lessons that were taught to others. Yes Iraq is distinctively different from other event in history. The comparision with Vietnam is . . . stupid. Yet there are lessons to be learned from Vietnam.
One lesson is that insurgency can be defeated. Uninformed pundits will tell you that we lost in Vietnam to ill equiped barefoot guerrila. We lost, but not to them. The Communist insurgency in South Vietnam was completely defuncted by 1971. We were successful in destroy an insurgency far more deep rooted, far more wide spread, and had much better support (politically and militarily).
South Vietnam was defeated by a force superior in arms and superior in number. Uninformed pundits must have forgotten column of tanks and armour vehicle crashing into the Presidential Palace on April 19, 1975. Hardly the barefoot pajama clad guerillas that Communist sympathizers claim. North Vietnam received 2 billion dollars worth in military assistance from the Warsaw Pact and China per year. South Vietnam at peak received 1 billion. In 1975, the military assistance was zero.
But Vietnam is not the subject of my post, it is merely an illustration. An illustration that an insurgency can be defeated. In fact history would showed that the majority of insurgencies fail, only a very small percentage succeed. But it is often the successful one that is studied and taught, reinforcing the erroneous impression that insurgency cannot be defeated.
Have faith. We can prevail in Iraq. But we need to do a better job studying history. The last two years were riddled with avoidable mistakes, mistakes that other already made, and we fail to learn. It is time we become a better students of history.

Friday, May 06, 2005

In Defense of the NEA

Yesterday I attended a wonderful violin concerto at the Strathmore, Morzart Symphony No. 5 if you are curious. Strathmore is a newly built concert hall by Montgomery County, Maryland. It average two classical concerts per week featuring either the National Philharmonic or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It costs the County approximately 48 million dollars. Most promising is the large number of young people, 12 to 16 ages range. I am not a fan of Douglas Duncan, -naturally he is a liberal and I am an conservative - but this is one of the thing he deserves full credit for. It has improved the county as a cosmopolitan center and enhance it as a place of culture.
Which get me to the next point about the National Endowoment for the Arts, mainly that too many conservatives are (wrongly) criticizing it. Imagines the US without the NEA. There would be no National Gallery of Arts where young curious student can learned and appreciated the Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci. There would be no concert hall where a young mind can be spirited by Morzart Requiem - perhap the most haunting and beautiful requiem. Without the government funding various cultural programs, Western Civilization would have became extincted. And all we have left is the vulgarity produced by Hollywood.
This is not an issue of market function. We cannot depend on market alone to sustain our cultural heritage. Funding for the arts is an educational function, which is a common good that only the government can provide. If conservatives have no problem in advocating school voucher, they should not have any problem supporting the NEA. The main issue that irks conservatives about the NEA is its occasional funding for dubious arts project. Projects that either are rubbish in quality or offensive in taste. But the most neglect fact is NEA grants seldom goes to those trashy projects and they consist of a miniscule amount of funding. Our government have funded far more offensive projects at a much higher cost. Most of the NEA funding goes to museums like the National Gallery of Arts and concert hall such as the Kennedy Center. I doubt that anyone would find "Madonna and Child" offensive or "Dvorak, Symphony No. 9."
And just like the Stratmore Center which enhanced the cultural value of Montgomery County, the NEA and its various project enhance cultural value of the US. Still not convinced. Then check out this site.

Intelligence (Mis)Estimate

Our intelligence leading up to the War in Iraq, and before September 11, 2001, is - for the lack of better word - fucked up. But did the US deceive its citizens and the world to start a war as many have accused the US of doing.
Let look at the assessment of other countries prior to the War. Here is an excerpt of President Chirac giving an interview on February 24, 2003 to the Time.
Time: Are there nuclear arms in Iraq?
Chirac: I don't think so. Are there other weapons of mass destruction? That's probable.
What made Chirac estimated that there was other weapons of mass destruction but not nuclear? It seem that his own intelligence service had the same assessment as the US, that Saddam likely had biological and chemical weapons. I guess we were all wrong. I also hope the US is not the only one trying to reform our intelligence services.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

True Picture

This morning as I stop by for coffee, on a newstand, (Washington Post) a picture stood out. A US soldier clutching to a towel covered Iraqi child who was killed in the recent bombing. The soldier was weeping uncontrollably, his face burried in the child's remain. The towel was full of blood, and two little legs stuck out. This is a true image of an average US soldier, I met many of them and I can attest to their humanity - the same cannot be said of their adversaries. This picture encapsulates who we are [I say we loosely, since I am not one anymore], not the grotesque Abu Graib pictures. Yet it is the Abu Graib pictures that the Press printed and published most often.
This picture evoke strong emotion, for me at least, both of extreme sadness and of great pride. I cannot find the same picture on the Washington Post online edition. If anyone can find it please let me know.
UPDATE: I found the picture. I can only link it. I want to post on here, but I am semi-computer-illiterate and I have tried unsuccessfully several times with Picasa.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Discussing China at Foreign Exchange

The last couple of days, I have been discussing China at Foreign Exchange. It is not Fareed Zakaria TV show, Foreign Exchange. It is Vikash Yadav's weblog, Foreign Exchange. I found Vikash's blog through his wife Stacey's blog. I have been reading his blog for more than a month now and have always enjoy his insightful comments. He was kind enough to give me a detail respond on how the Middle East can adapt the Pacific Rim model to their economy. I was intented on posting on that subject but another post of his caught my attention instead.
Vikash discussed Robert D. Kaplan article in the Atlantic Monthly concerning China titles "How We Would Fight China." Vikash disagrees strongly with Kaplan's argument that China is desiring hegemonic dominance and he also disagree with Kaplan assessment of China military intention. The post is here with my comments. In my comment, I defended Kaplan. I actually feel guilty that my first major posting on Foreign Exchange is not of praise but criticism. And to add to my guilt, he was very generous about my comment. But I think it is my best analysis thus far, so I will post it. But the credit goes to Vikash too. His analysis is one of those analysis that you disagree with, but it is so cogent that it forces you think hard to come up with a good respond.
Here is part of our conversation. There rest is here. Vikash stated that:
Kaplan is making an assumption that China harbors a deep desire for hegemonic dominance. This is incorrect strategic analysis. Chinese military doctrine is completely defensive… The only thing that a friend or foe of China needs to understand is what China considers to be within its perimeter. China is primarily obsessed with reversing its so-called "Century of Humiliation."
In which I responded:

I have to agree with Kaplan assumption because of two underlining premises, the definition of hegemony and Chinese military doctrine. Chung Kuo is what the Chinese call their country. It is often incorrectly translated as the Middle Kingdom. The first syllable Chung mean center and the second syllable Kuo means country. This is how Chinese are taught from birth to see their country, the center of the universe, the flower of civilizations. China perception of itself, or an ideal perception of itself is key to how it perceive other. China does seek hegemony and has historically, until the last two century, enjoyed hegemony. Historically, China relationship between itself and its neighbors was were superior-subordinate relationships. That was the nature of international relation in the Pacific until the arrival of Westerners. It meant that annually, at China Imperial court, countries far and near paid tribute to China in lavish gifts and openly recognized China supremacy, swore allegiance and reaffirmed their vassals status in relation to China. Rulers of Pacific countries had to seek official recognition from China. For instance, before a Vietnamese crown-prince became a Sovereign, he had to get approval from China before his coronation. The Chinese Emperor then grant him a title and a new name, in addition to his Sovereign name. In Vietnam, the ruler called himself Emperor at home, but when addressing the Chinese emissary, he referred to himself only as King. All these were formality and symbolic but violation of these etiquettes guaranteed a war, often not annexation war, but a punitive war. The 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war is the modern example of punitive campaign. What usually happened is vassal states apologized, sent more lavished gifts, and be pardoned. This is hegemony as it understood in the Pacific.

You are absolutely correct in saying that China want to reverse its "Century of Humiliation." But that means a restoration of power relation in the Pacific to the condition prior to the arrival of the Westerners, which is the condition similar to what I described above. In such a condition, the whole Pacific is within China perimeter as a sphere of influence. China therefore naturally resent US influence in the region. The facts that other Pacific countries often went to the US first for assistance before going to China is an unbearable insult.

Chinese recent shift in its military doctrine reflect its ambition. The so call defensive people war doctrine was discarded replaced by a more offensive doctrine. There were two primary reasons for this evolution. First, the PLA was shifting its doctrine from the "People's War" to fighting a "Local War Under High-Technology Conditions." The Chinese believe their next war will be a short, fast-paced conflict on their periphery rather than a protracted war of attrition on friendly terrain...

Vikash responded:
I am aware of China's traditional understanding of hegemony vis-a-vis its vassal states (which even extended at one time to Sri Lanka). However, I would have to disagree that this is how China would like to frame relations in the current era. Let us look at China's relations with India. China did wage a (successful) punitive campaign against India in 1962, but its current relationship is not an attempt to place India in a humiliatingly superior-subordinate relationship. At least I don't think Indian or Chinese leaders perceive it that way. Admittedly, China's relations with Vietnam and the "Nanyang" region as a whole are more complex and delicate because of historical relations. However, I do not think that China since the eighties has sought to meddle in Vietnam's foreign or domestic policy, nor did it derail the re-estalishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam. (I am unfamiliar with Vietnamese history after the 1979 conflict, so correct me if I
am wrong).
...I think the shift in PLA tactics and strategy is not equal to a shift in overall military doctrine. (In fact if I recall my Garver readings correctly, that tactical shift occurred in the sixties). Your own post shows that China is not preparing for occupation, but for fighting short forward battles on the periphery and retreating. This is the tactic they used against India, Korea, etc. Their doctrine is not about regime change or occupation of foreign soil. The Chinese use force to bring states back to the bargaining table. This may cause some humiliation if a country gets its nose bloodied, but the goal is not to subordinate/overthrow/occupy/annex the neighboring country.
I still disagree with Vikash but it was a very good and challenging debate and his argument remain strong and cogent. Jing from Those Who Dare provided some additional information as well as his post on the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. Thank you, Vikash, for a good intellectual exercise.