Today, the two giants of Asia start their first joint military exercises. Code-named “Hand-in-Hand, 2007,” the event brings Chinese and Indian forces together for five days in China’s Yunnan province. The two countries are, in the words of a statement from the Ministry of National Defense in Beijing, promoting “the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.” Furthermore, they are enhancing their capabilities against “three evil forces:” separatists, extremists, and terrorists.
Is that so? What China and India are really doing is keeping an eye on each other. Neither government will say so, but each of them wants to find out how much progress the other has made since their border war more than four decades ago. “In 1962, India was defeated mainly because of the low standard of the soldiers,” says a Shanghai-based military expert speaking anonymously to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Since then, the Russians and the Japanese have helped train the Indians, and the Chinese want to find out how much improvement has occurred. And the Indians for their part are curious about how much two decades of modernization have improved the People’s Liberation Army.
This decade, these two nations have slowly begun to cooperate in the military sphere, especially since conducting joint naval search-and-rescue exercises in 2003. The Indians say they will hold another joint maneuver with China next year in India.
At yesterday’s year-end White House press conference, President Bush let his feelings about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be known. BBC News reports:
“My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago,” Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House.
“The reason why is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hizballah, suiciders go from his country into Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon.”
For that, the President gets a B+. He left out Syria’s active interest in conspiring with Iran on WMD. The Assad regime constitutes the full spectrum of Middle East threats: Baathist tyranny, Sunni terrorism, Shia terrorism, Iraq sabotage, and coddling of Iran.
Additionally, the Syrian regime exercises suzerainty by assassination in Lebanon. Lebanese statesmen actually live in their offices for fear of Syrian bombs. The Lebanese government is in near-literal paralysis. George Bush’s pronouncement is a welcome return to common sense. While Assad took a state hostage before the eyes of the world, Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi thought it only right to pay a visit to Syria’s President “with the assurance that we came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suffered a similar lapse in reaching out to Syria during peace talks in Annapolis.
In early January, President Bush is taking a diplomatic tour of the region. He’ll visit a handful of countries—none of them Syria. One crucial benefit of progress in Iraq is that it allows the U.S. to exercise a credibly muscular foreign policy. In so doing, we can embolden Syrian and Lebanese reformers (such as the March 14 coalition), who must have wept while Nancy Pelosi flattered their tormentor.
In 2005, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said that the United Nations suffered from a “culture of inaction.” This was after he had made public his findings about the organization’s oil-for-food scandal. Mr. Volcker’s analysis of the body’s lackadaiscal approach to policing the behavior of its own employees and programs was apt. But it does not accurately describe what the UN is now doing to an internal panel tasked with investigating corruption in its procurement office.
For UN bureaucrats have been busy, busy bees in seeing that the unit tasked with investigating corruption in the awarding of contracts be eliminated. Thus far, these private investigators have uncovered over $600 million in “tainted United Nations contracts and [are] currently investigating an additional $1 billion in suspect agreements.” Much of this corruption has occurred within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Kofi Annan’s old stomping grounds, which operates mostly in war-torn and developing countries. Many of those nations and the UN employees who staff the DPKO have been sucking at the international teat far too long and successfully to give the game up now. Today, the General Assembly will vote on a measure to shut the investigation down.
The United Nations has long been incapable of enforcing its own resolutions. This has never been a secret. What we discover now is that it is utterly incapable–even unwilling–to enforce its own workplace procedures, adopted in the aftermath of a massive financial scandal. The United Nations can’t police its own employees, let alone the world. Its defenders become irate when the United States insists on the organization fulfilling these rather basic expectations in return for the billions of dollars it receives every year. But what can they possibly say in response to this?
…my essay on the lavishly praised Atonement, published in The Weekly Standard, can be read here.
….goes to our fellow blogger Kyle Smith, whose take on National Treasure: Book of Secrets is a JOY to BEHOLD. (The use of ALL CAPS will become clear if you follow the link and read Kyle’s review.)
Mike Huckabee’s durability is built on more than his religious appeal. The former governor is also tapping into the country’s economic anxieties. As yesterday’s Wall Street Journal explained, “On the eve of the election year, Americans are displaying increasingly severe doubts about the nation’s economic engagement with the rest of the world.” Attitudes toward even legal immigration, often a bellwether of public sentiment, are turning negative. A new Journal poll found that as recently as this past June voters were almost evenly split over whether immigration helps more than it hurts the country. Now, according to the article,
a large majority says immigration hurts more than it helps. According to the poll, 52 percent said immigration hurts the country more than it helps, with only 39 percent seeing immigration having a positive contribution.
A decade ago voters had a slightly negative of the internationalization of the American economy. Today only 28 percent view it positively and again support comes largely from managers and professionals. Add to this growing concerns over the seemingly ineluctable increases in inequality, and it’s clear that there’s an opening for a populist candidate (just not John Edwards).
Michael Walzer and Mitchell Cohen, co-editors of Dissent, have thrown down the gauntlet on the future of the American Left, battling to defend liberalism from the illiberal forces (Marxism, anti-Westernism, etc.) that threaten to hijack its political agenda. Two examples of this challenge: Walzer’s new collection of essays, Thinking Politically (just reviewed by Adam Kirsch in the New York Sun) and Cohen’s major essay “Anti-Semitism and the Left that Doesn’t Learn.” In the latter, Cohen goes to town on the anti-Semitism that lurks behind much of the far-Left criticism of Israel. He concludes:
It is time for the Left that learns, that grows, that reflects, that has historical not rhetorical perspective, and that wants a future based on its own best values to say loudly to the Left that never learns: You hijacked “Left” in the last century, but you won’t get away with it again whatever guise you don.
Kirsch is right to praise them for their “intellectual courage.” The resurgence of illiberalism on the far Left is one of the most troubling developments in political discourse in our time.
Pick a foreign language, any language (except Spanish and Bureaucratese), and I can guarantee that U.S. intelligence has a severe lack of personnel conversant in that tongue. The more critical the language to our intelligence efforts, the worse the shortage.
Take Chinese. The National Security Agency lacks Chinese speakers to translate all the decrypted commuications it picks up. What does it do in response? It hires outside translation services. One of them, unfortunately, was run by Chinese intelligence itself.
Naval intelligence officials familiar with the Chinese spy penetration said the access to both “raw” and analyzed intelligence at Kunia caused significant damage by giving China’s government details on both the targets and the sources of U.S. spying operations. Such information would permit the Chinese to block the eavesdropping or to provide false and misleading “disinformation” to U.S. intelligence.
The redoubtable Bill Gertz has the full story in today’s Washington Times.