Commentary Magazine


Topic: engineer

How Do You Impose Peace?

This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:

The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It’s going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an “outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”

“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children,” the statement said, adding that “the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace.”

So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — “We condemn this behavior,” for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?

At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:

Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.

The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.

Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.

It can’t be done in a summit.

It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.

It can’t only be negotiated top-down.

It has also to be built bottom up.

Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.

It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.

It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.

Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a  notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, “They can’t be serious!”  Blair got it when he declared: “The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it.” The Obami don’t.

It therefore follows that the Obami’s indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither “honest” nor “brokering” — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism.

This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:

The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It’s going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an “outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”

“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children,” the statement said, adding that “the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace.”

So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — “We condemn this behavior,” for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?

At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:

Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.

The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.

Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.

It can’t be done in a summit.

It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.

It can’t only be negotiated top-down.

It has also to be built bottom up.

Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.

It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.

It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.

Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a  notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, “They can’t be serious!”  Blair got it when he declared: “The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it.” The Obami don’t.

It therefore follows that the Obami’s indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither “honest” nor “brokering” — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism.

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Mind of the Peanut

I couldn’t decide whether to call this Mind of the Peanut or the Devil is In the Details. Either way, here’s an interesting glimpse of the cranial gears of our worst ex-President: George C. Edwards III, “Exclusive Interview: President Jimmy Carter,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 1.GE:…You are known for your mastery of complex policy, and you are interested in the details of policy as a good policy analyst.  Other presidents have been less interested in details.  So let me ask you into how much detail should a president delve in making a decision?…

PRESIDENT CARTER:  …Regarding the details, I am still an engineer by thought.  You know, when I run my farm or when I run the Carter Center, I want to know what is going on.  When I took on the personal responsibility, say for the Mideast peace process, I really believed that when we went to Camp David I knew more about the details than anybody there.  I had mastered the psychological and historical analysis of Begin and Sadat.  I knew everything they had done since they were born that was recorded, how they had reacted to crisis, how they dealt with pressure, who their allies were, and what their obligations were.  So when we got to Camp David, I knew them, and I knew the map of the West Bank and Gaza.

…I did basically the same thing with the Alaska Lands bill.  I knew the map of Alaska in great detail.

I read a lot.  I would say I read an average of 300 pages a day.  That is just something that I quantified years ago, so I am just not talking casually.  I took a speed-reading course.  I did, and about fifty other people did, from Evelyn Wood in the Cabinet Room within the first two months of my term.  So I could read a lot….

GE:  Another aspect of decision making, and another challenge for a president, is to get his advisors to tell him what he needs to hear as opposed to what they think he wants to hear. …How did you make sure that you heard the full range of options?…

PRESIDENT CARTER:   …we had regular cabinet meetings…. We would go around the entire table, and I would encourage each secretary to tell me the most important things that affected their departments that we needed to discuss. …If the issue was complex and they required more than two or three minutes of exposition, I encouraged them to put it in writing and submit it to me.  Those papers always came to me, and I relished the concise nature of their presentation.  It required them to get their thoughts in order, and I was very much a stickler for not splitting infinitives and so forth.

And all those papers are in the presidential library now.  I think the scholars that have been over to the presidential library to look at my notes have been impressed, I started to say overwhelmed, with the meticulous detail with which I would answer sometimes each paragraph in a complex proposal — I approve this, I do not approve this, see me about this, or explain this, and so forth.

I couldn’t decide whether to call this Mind of the Peanut or the Devil is In the Details. Either way, here’s an interesting glimpse of the cranial gears of our worst ex-President: George C. Edwards III, “Exclusive Interview: President Jimmy Carter,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 1.GE:…You are known for your mastery of complex policy, and you are interested in the details of policy as a good policy analyst.  Other presidents have been less interested in details.  So let me ask you into how much detail should a president delve in making a decision?…

PRESIDENT CARTER:  …Regarding the details, I am still an engineer by thought.  You know, when I run my farm or when I run the Carter Center, I want to know what is going on.  When I took on the personal responsibility, say for the Mideast peace process, I really believed that when we went to Camp David I knew more about the details than anybody there.  I had mastered the psychological and historical analysis of Begin and Sadat.  I knew everything they had done since they were born that was recorded, how they had reacted to crisis, how they dealt with pressure, who their allies were, and what their obligations were.  So when we got to Camp David, I knew them, and I knew the map of the West Bank and Gaza.

…I did basically the same thing with the Alaska Lands bill.  I knew the map of Alaska in great detail.

I read a lot.  I would say I read an average of 300 pages a day.  That is just something that I quantified years ago, so I am just not talking casually.  I took a speed-reading course.  I did, and about fifty other people did, from Evelyn Wood in the Cabinet Room within the first two months of my term.  So I could read a lot….

GE:  Another aspect of decision making, and another challenge for a president, is to get his advisors to tell him what he needs to hear as opposed to what they think he wants to hear. …How did you make sure that you heard the full range of options?…

PRESIDENT CARTER:   …we had regular cabinet meetings…. We would go around the entire table, and I would encourage each secretary to tell me the most important things that affected their departments that we needed to discuss. …If the issue was complex and they required more than two or three minutes of exposition, I encouraged them to put it in writing and submit it to me.  Those papers always came to me, and I relished the concise nature of their presentation.  It required them to get their thoughts in order, and I was very much a stickler for not splitting infinitives and so forth.

And all those papers are in the presidential library now.  I think the scholars that have been over to the presidential library to look at my notes have been impressed, I started to say overwhelmed, with the meticulous detail with which I would answer sometimes each paragraph in a complex proposal — I approve this, I do not approve this, see me about this, or explain this, and so forth.

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Chinese Espionage Techniques

The FBI has stepped up counterintelligence investigations of Chinese espionage in the U.S., reports the Washington Post this morning.

The paper reprises several recent cases, including, that of Chi Mak, convicted of stealing sensitive naval technology plans from a U.S defense contractor; Dongfan Chung, a Boeing engineer arrested in February, accused of funneling classified space shuttle and rocket documents to Chinese officials; Noshir Gowadia, indicted last fall for providing cruise-missile data to Chinese officials; and Gregg W. Bergersen, a Pentagon official who pleaded guilty this week to charges that he gave classified information on U.S. weapons sales to China.

What does this flurry of cases mean? A couple of non-mutually exclusive possibilities suggest themselves. One is that the Chinese are stepping up their collection efforts in the U.S. Another is that the FBI, in stepping up its counterintelligence and its work is bearing fruit. A third — a combination of the first and second — is that Chinese intelligence is not ten-feet tall.

That last possibility is suggested by some of the amateurish spycraft displayed by the Chinese in the Bergersen case. In one sense, the operation was fairly sophisticated. Bergersen was induced to take part in a false-flag operation, that is, an operation in which he believed he was selling secrets to a U.S. ally, Taiwan, when in fact the “businessman” he was dealing with, Tai Shen Kuo, was actually a spy from the mainland.

But there was also some remarkably sloppy behavior by the Chinese in this case. An elementary task of spying is maintaining covert communications. Kuo was eager to do so and he acquired PGP Desktop Home 9.5 for Windows, a commercially available program for encrypting emails. That was smart. It was not smart, on the other hand, to discuss this encryption software on an open phone line with his taskmaster in China. The FBI was listening in on the call.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Bergersen contains many other arresting details. One high point occurs when Bergersen returns from a trip to Bulgaria and his wife finds a wad of espionage cash in his wallet. Bergersen told her it was gambling winnings. Her reaction: she insisted on taking half of it “as her share.” Bergersen related this to Kuo who offered to make up the amount that he had lost to his spouse. This generous offer was declined.

The FBI has stepped up counterintelligence investigations of Chinese espionage in the U.S., reports the Washington Post this morning.

The paper reprises several recent cases, including, that of Chi Mak, convicted of stealing sensitive naval technology plans from a U.S defense contractor; Dongfan Chung, a Boeing engineer arrested in February, accused of funneling classified space shuttle and rocket documents to Chinese officials; Noshir Gowadia, indicted last fall for providing cruise-missile data to Chinese officials; and Gregg W. Bergersen, a Pentagon official who pleaded guilty this week to charges that he gave classified information on U.S. weapons sales to China.

What does this flurry of cases mean? A couple of non-mutually exclusive possibilities suggest themselves. One is that the Chinese are stepping up their collection efforts in the U.S. Another is that the FBI, in stepping up its counterintelligence and its work is bearing fruit. A third — a combination of the first and second — is that Chinese intelligence is not ten-feet tall.

That last possibility is suggested by some of the amateurish spycraft displayed by the Chinese in the Bergersen case. In one sense, the operation was fairly sophisticated. Bergersen was induced to take part in a false-flag operation, that is, an operation in which he believed he was selling secrets to a U.S. ally, Taiwan, when in fact the “businessman” he was dealing with, Tai Shen Kuo, was actually a spy from the mainland.

But there was also some remarkably sloppy behavior by the Chinese in this case. An elementary task of spying is maintaining covert communications. Kuo was eager to do so and he acquired PGP Desktop Home 9.5 for Windows, a commercially available program for encrypting emails. That was smart. It was not smart, on the other hand, to discuss this encryption software on an open phone line with his taskmaster in China. The FBI was listening in on the call.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Bergersen contains many other arresting details. One high point occurs when Bergersen returns from a trip to Bulgaria and his wife finds a wad of espionage cash in his wallet. Bergersen told her it was gambling winnings. Her reaction: she insisted on taking half of it “as her share.” Bergersen related this to Kuo who offered to make up the amount that he had lost to his spouse. This generous offer was declined.

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Google and America’s Defense

With a market cap of $215 billion, Google has become the second-most valuable technology company after Microsoft. An article in the New York Times provides a fascinating glimpse of how Google has pulled off that feat in less than ten years.

“Conventional software is typically built, tested and shipped in two- or three-year product cycles,” the article notes. “Inside Google, Mr. [Eric] Schmidt [the CEO] says, there are no two-year plans. Its product road maps look ahead only four or five months at most. And, Mr. Schmidt says, the only plans ‘anybody believes in go through the end of this quarter.’”

As an example of how this “quicksilver” culture works in practice, the article offers the story of a new Google product:

Early this month, Google released new cellphone software, with the code-name Grand Prix. A project that took just six weeks to complete, Grand Prix allows for fast and easy access to Google services like search, Gmail, and calendars through a stripped-down mobile phone browser. (For now, it is tailored for iPhone browsers, but the plan is to make it work on other mobile browsers as well.)

Grand Prix was born when a Google engineer, tinkering on his own one weekend, came up with prototype code and e-mailed it to Vic Gundotra, a Google executive who oversees mobile products. Mr. Gundotra then showed the prototype to Mr. Schmidt, who in turn mentioned it to Mr. [Sergey] Brin [Google co-founder]. In about an hour, Mr. Brin came to look at the prototype.

“Sergey was really supportive,” recalls Mr. Gundotra, saying that Mr. Brin was most intrigued by the “engineering tricks” employed. After that, Mr. Gundotra posted a message on Google’s internal network, asking employees who owned iPhones to test the prototype. Such peer review is common at Google, which has an engineering culture in which a favorite mantra is “nothing speaks louder than code.”

As co-workers dug in, testing Grand Prix’s performance speed, memory use and other features, “the feedback started pouring in,” Mr. Gundotra recalls. The comments amounted to a thumbs-up, and after a few weeks of fine-tuning and fixing bugs, Grand Prix was released. In the brief development, there were no formal product reviews or formal approval processes.

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With a market cap of $215 billion, Google has become the second-most valuable technology company after Microsoft. An article in the New York Times provides a fascinating glimpse of how Google has pulled off that feat in less than ten years.

“Conventional software is typically built, tested and shipped in two- or three-year product cycles,” the article notes. “Inside Google, Mr. [Eric] Schmidt [the CEO] says, there are no two-year plans. Its product road maps look ahead only four or five months at most. And, Mr. Schmidt says, the only plans ‘anybody believes in go through the end of this quarter.’”

As an example of how this “quicksilver” culture works in practice, the article offers the story of a new Google product:

Early this month, Google released new cellphone software, with the code-name Grand Prix. A project that took just six weeks to complete, Grand Prix allows for fast and easy access to Google services like search, Gmail, and calendars through a stripped-down mobile phone browser. (For now, it is tailored for iPhone browsers, but the plan is to make it work on other mobile browsers as well.)

Grand Prix was born when a Google engineer, tinkering on his own one weekend, came up with prototype code and e-mailed it to Vic Gundotra, a Google executive who oversees mobile products. Mr. Gundotra then showed the prototype to Mr. Schmidt, who in turn mentioned it to Mr. [Sergey] Brin [Google co-founder]. In about an hour, Mr. Brin came to look at the prototype.

“Sergey was really supportive,” recalls Mr. Gundotra, saying that Mr. Brin was most intrigued by the “engineering tricks” employed. After that, Mr. Gundotra posted a message on Google’s internal network, asking employees who owned iPhones to test the prototype. Such peer review is common at Google, which has an engineering culture in which a favorite mantra is “nothing speaks louder than code.”

As co-workers dug in, testing Grand Prix’s performance speed, memory use and other features, “the feedback started pouring in,” Mr. Gundotra recalls. The comments amounted to a thumbs-up, and after a few weeks of fine-tuning and fixing bugs, Grand Prix was released. In the brief development, there were no formal product reviews or formal approval processes.

No formal reviews, no formal approval process—and just six weeks from conception to market. Now that’s speed!

Obviously other companies can learn from Google. But so can any other large organization, in particular the Department of Defense. America’s enemies are showing a dismaying ability to quickly adapt their tactics, techniques, and procedures on battlefields such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. armed forces have had trouble moving as fast, in part because they are saddled with an antiquated, Industrial Age bureaucracy. It is doubtful that they ever could or should become as bureaucracy-free as Google. More checks and safeguards are needed when people’s lives are at stake, not just profits. But it would make sense for the armed forces to study corporations like Google to figure out how to speed up their own bureaucratic metabolism, because our decentralized foes, such as al Qaeda, are organized more along the lines of Google than of the Pentagon’s elaborate hierarchy.

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All You Really Need to Know About China

This morning, China’s Communist Party revealed its new Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing. Gone were three senior cadres. In were four new faces. Almost all of the attention in the run up to this grand announcement has focused on two of the newcomers, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Xi, close to former leader Jiang Zemin, is acceptable to all the factions in the Party. Li is the favorite of current supremo, Hu Jintao. One of them is expected to replace Hu five years from now. Xi, by virtue of his ranking in the new hierarchy, is now the front-runner.

But more important than the elevation of Xi and Li is the retention of Jia Qinglin, 67, the fourth-ranking official. Jia served as the Party boss of coastal Fujian province during the most serious corruption scandal in the history of the People’s Republic. His wife, Lin Youfang, was the head of the province’s main import-export company at the time, and was viewed to be connected intimately to customs fraud. She was investigated, and so were officials close to Jia. The pudgy cadre survived the incident only because of his close relationship with Jiang Zemin, the Chinese leader at the time. Jiang was even able to engineer Jia’s elevation to the Standing Committee in 2002—not surprising at that especially corrupt period in China’s history.

Hu Jintao, as a means of putting distance between himself and Jiang, has said consistently that his administration is determined to root out official venality. At a time when corruption undermines the stability of the Communist Party, Jia’s ability to maintain his position at the apex of power says that the political system has lost the ability to deal with critical problems. In a sense, that’s all we need to know about governance in China. It certainly is more important than knowing which cautious bureaucrat is scheduled to become the next head of the Communist Party in 2012. After all, there is not much future for a political organization that cannot deal with the most serious threat to its existence.

This morning, China’s Communist Party revealed its new Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing. Gone were three senior cadres. In were four new faces. Almost all of the attention in the run up to this grand announcement has focused on two of the newcomers, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Xi, close to former leader Jiang Zemin, is acceptable to all the factions in the Party. Li is the favorite of current supremo, Hu Jintao. One of them is expected to replace Hu five years from now. Xi, by virtue of his ranking in the new hierarchy, is now the front-runner.

But more important than the elevation of Xi and Li is the retention of Jia Qinglin, 67, the fourth-ranking official. Jia served as the Party boss of coastal Fujian province during the most serious corruption scandal in the history of the People’s Republic. His wife, Lin Youfang, was the head of the province’s main import-export company at the time, and was viewed to be connected intimately to customs fraud. She was investigated, and so were officials close to Jia. The pudgy cadre survived the incident only because of his close relationship with Jiang Zemin, the Chinese leader at the time. Jiang was even able to engineer Jia’s elevation to the Standing Committee in 2002—not surprising at that especially corrupt period in China’s history.

Hu Jintao, as a means of putting distance between himself and Jiang, has said consistently that his administration is determined to root out official venality. At a time when corruption undermines the stability of the Communist Party, Jia’s ability to maintain his position at the apex of power says that the political system has lost the ability to deal with critical problems. In a sense, that’s all we need to know about governance in China. It certainly is more important than knowing which cautious bureaucrat is scheduled to become the next head of the Communist Party in 2012. After all, there is not much future for a political organization that cannot deal with the most serious threat to its existence.

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No Way, Huawei

On Friday, 3Com announced that it had agreed to be acquired. Bain Capital, the Boston-based private-equity firm, will take about 80 percent of the struggling computer networking pioneer. China’s Huawei Technologies is slated to purchase the remaining portion.

The deal faces a national security review in Washington by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. CIFUS should turn down the proposed transaction on general principles. Huawei, which Newsweek once described as “a little too obsessed with acquiring advanced technology,” should not be allowed to make any sizable acquisition of sensitive American assets.

3Com’s technology, if shared with Huawei, would help China eavesdrop on U.S. domestic conversations. Moreover, the American company’s encryption technology would make China’s networks less vulnerable to foreign surveillance. Just last year 3Com ended its joint venture with Huawei. Now the Chinese company wants the 3Com technology that it does not already possess.

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On Friday, 3Com announced that it had agreed to be acquired. Bain Capital, the Boston-based private-equity firm, will take about 80 percent of the struggling computer networking pioneer. China’s Huawei Technologies is slated to purchase the remaining portion.

The deal faces a national security review in Washington by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. CIFUS should turn down the proposed transaction on general principles. Huawei, which Newsweek once described as “a little too obsessed with acquiring advanced technology,” should not be allowed to make any sizable acquisition of sensitive American assets.

3Com’s technology, if shared with Huawei, would help China eavesdrop on U.S. domestic conversations. Moreover, the American company’s encryption technology would make China’s networks less vulnerable to foreign surveillance. Just last year 3Com ended its joint venture with Huawei. Now the Chinese company wants the 3Com technology that it does not already possess.

What’s wrong with Huawei? The official story says that Ren Zhengfei formed the company in 1988. It’s more likely that Ren, a former Chinese military engineer, is acting as a front for the People’s Liberation Army. It’s impossible to ascertain the truth, but this we know: in less than two decades Huawei has grown from scratch to an enterprise with 62,000 employees in 41 countries and sales of over $8.7 billion. And how did it do that? Huawei has benefited from substantial help from the Chinese government, especially R&D funding, tax incentives, and export assistance. The company says it is not owned or controlled by the Chinese military, but its denials have failed to convince outsiders. Huawei is one of the least transparent businesses in China.

In 2005, Britain blocked Huawei from taking over Marconi. Until we know much more about this Chinese company, we should stop it from purchasing any portion of 3Com. We did not allow the Soviet Union to buy critical American assets. The same principle should apply now.

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Collaboration and Creativity

A recent article in the New York Times looked at the phenomenon of architectural firms run by husbands and wives. It was a novelty when Robert Venturi and his wife Denise Scott Brown formed an architectural partnership in 1967. But since then it has become commonplace. Some of today’s most active young firms, including Diller-Scofidio and Tsien-Williams, comprise married couples.

For Robin Pogrebin, the article’s author, such merging of personal and professional lives is a boon for the practice of architecture, “allowing for an unsparing candor that takes the work to a higher level.” (What it might mean for the marriage is not examined.)

But the article glosses over the issue of collaboration itself, a fascinating but generally neglected category of creativity. Historically, many of the great figures of American architecture have worked in partnership, from McKim, Mead & White (founded in 1879) to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (founded in 1936 and still active today).

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A recent article in the New York Times looked at the phenomenon of architectural firms run by husbands and wives. It was a novelty when Robert Venturi and his wife Denise Scott Brown formed an architectural partnership in 1967. But since then it has become commonplace. Some of today’s most active young firms, including Diller-Scofidio and Tsien-Williams, comprise married couples.

For Robin Pogrebin, the article’s author, such merging of personal and professional lives is a boon for the practice of architecture, “allowing for an unsparing candor that takes the work to a higher level.” (What it might mean for the marriage is not examined.)

But the article glosses over the issue of collaboration itself, a fascinating but generally neglected category of creativity. Historically, many of the great figures of American architecture have worked in partnership, from McKim, Mead & White (founded in 1879) to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (founded in 1936 and still active today).

Yet when we discuss the achievements of these firms, we tend to think of one member of the firm as the “creative” partner, while treating the others as non-entities. Stanford White, an erratic and volatile genius, is made in our minds into the “artist” of the partnership, while William Rutherford Mead is relegated to the role of a business partner who presumably spent his days answering White’s fan mail. Louis Sullivan is celebrated for his doctrine of “form follows function,” while his senior partner Dankmar Adler is written off as the engineer who calculated the stresses on bolts and beams. That Adler was the principal planner of the firm’s buildings, and that Sullivan’s role was more that of decorative draftsman, is invariably left out of the story.

The process of collaboration is notoriously difficult to talk about. The Times offers only the vague platitude quoted above. We still tend to think of creativity in Romantic terms, in images of solitary genius and lightning flashes of inspiration. We are in need of an expanded vocabulary to address the subject properly, one complex enough to describe the complicated interactions between individuals involved in the same artistic endeavor.

These interactions, when successful, produce an outcome of a different order than anything White, Sullivan, or anyone else might have achieved on their own. Anyone who has listened to the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney—singly and jointly—knows this to be true. Perhaps collaboration is a process akin to the operation of our own two-sided brain; perhaps every great collaboration itself becomes a kind of unruly, asymmetrically functioning brain. At any rate, the Times has found a fascinating story, of which the tale of marital bed and drafting table is perhaps the least interesting part.

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Zbig, Andrew, and the War on Terror

The often percipient Andrew Sullivan was up too early when, at 6:15 yesterday morning, he posted an attack on my attack on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s attack on the “war against terror.” Sullivan said he found it “depressing that Josh retreats to anti-Carter arguments and ad hominem slurs instead of addressing the fiasco that neoconservatives have helped engineer in Iraq.”

As it happens, I have addressed that very subject. In the February issue of the Foreign Service Journal I wrote:

Bush has gotten himself and our nation into trouble in Iraq. For that, he and those of us who extolled his actions deserve to take our lumps. . . . But . . . that does not prove that Bush’s overall strategy of promoting democracy or his decision to treat terrorism as a matter of war rather than law enforcement were wrong.

Brzezinski’s article, however—and here’s where Andrew needs to rub the sleep from his eyes—was not about Iraq. It was about the war on terror. “Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’: How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America” was its title. Whatever you think now about Iraq, the question Brzezinski posed was whether our problems with terrorists are essentially self-inflicted and exaggerated or whether there is a real and menacing enemy out there. Andrew has trumpeted his own reversal on Iraq. Does he also repudiate his support for the war on terror?

The often percipient Andrew Sullivan was up too early when, at 6:15 yesterday morning, he posted an attack on my attack on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s attack on the “war against terror.” Sullivan said he found it “depressing that Josh retreats to anti-Carter arguments and ad hominem slurs instead of addressing the fiasco that neoconservatives have helped engineer in Iraq.”

As it happens, I have addressed that very subject. In the February issue of the Foreign Service Journal I wrote:

Bush has gotten himself and our nation into trouble in Iraq. For that, he and those of us who extolled his actions deserve to take our lumps. . . . But . . . that does not prove that Bush’s overall strategy of promoting democracy or his decision to treat terrorism as a matter of war rather than law enforcement were wrong.

Brzezinski’s article, however—and here’s where Andrew needs to rub the sleep from his eyes—was not about Iraq. It was about the war on terror. “Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’: How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America” was its title. Whatever you think now about Iraq, the question Brzezinski posed was whether our problems with terrorists are essentially self-inflicted and exaggerated or whether there is a real and menacing enemy out there. Andrew has trumpeted his own reversal on Iraq. Does he also repudiate his support for the war on terror?

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Antique Courage

I love old books and I (mostly) like the gentle souls who sell them. Yet an elderly, convalescent antiquarian bookseller seems an improbable hero in the war on terror. Arthur Burton-Garnett deserves a medal for giving chase to a suicide bomber who had just failed to kill him and his fellow-passengers on a London subway train.

This is one of several extraordinary stories to emerge from the trial of six men who are accused of attempting a repetition of the 7/7 London bombings two weeks later, on July 21, 2005. According to the prosecution, Ramzi Mohammed tried to detonate his bomb as the train travelled between Stockwell and Oval stations just south of the River Thames.

Mohammed is alleged to have turned so that his backpack, containing a home-made bomb, pointed towards a young mother, Nadia Baro, with her nine-month-old baby in a buggy. He then set off his device, but only the detonator exploded, sounding like a large firecracker. Most of the passengers fled to the next carriage, but Mrs. Baro was left behind. A middle-aged off-duty fireman, Angus Campbell, helped her to get away. As the train drew into Oval station, he told the driver on the intercom: “Don’t open the doors!” Even though this was only two weeks after the carnage of 7/7, the driver ignored this request, and Mohammed ran out of the train. A retired engineer, George Brawley, tried to grab him, but he broke free.

At this point, Mr. Burton-Garnett decided to give chase. Though the fugitive was a third of his age and highly dangerous, the unarmed septuagenarian bookseller was fearless. He ran up the escalator after Mohammed, shouting: “Stop that man! Get the police!” In his own words, Mr. Burton-Garnett “tore after him but he was about nine or ten stair treads ahead of me. Halfway up I sort of ran out of steam. I was just recovering from a gall-bladder operation, otherwise I think I might have been a bit faster.”

What would have happened if he had caught Mohammed probably didn’t occur to him. It is surely significant that a man of Mr. Burton-Garnett’s age and health would be so careless of his own safety. Mr. Brawley and Mr. Campbell were also older men. Younger people are much less likely to feel an obligation to intervene in such situations, having been warned by the police and brought up by their parents not to do so. They learn that the “streetwise” thing to do if they see a crime being committed is to run away. I do not wish to disparage our youth: after all, the majority of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are in their teens or twenties. And plenty of young civilians are not afraid to have a go at criminals and terrorists. But in doing so they go against the grain of an overprotective culture.

The inspiring message of the passengers on Flight 93, who prevented an even worse catastrophe on 9/11, is that a war in which the suicide bomber is a key weapon can only be won if civilians defy regulations and rely on their own initiative.

Next time I open an old book, I shall think of Mr. Burton-Garnett. He may belong in the gallery of English eccentrics, but he is a hero nevertheless. Where manliness is mocked and cowardice is institutionalized, you need to be eccentric to be brave. There is something both comic and moving about the image of an erudite gentleman, more accustomed to leafing through old folios, in hot pursuit of an alleged suicide bomber who thought nothing of killing a mother and child in cold blood.

I love old books and I (mostly) like the gentle souls who sell them. Yet an elderly, convalescent antiquarian bookseller seems an improbable hero in the war on terror. Arthur Burton-Garnett deserves a medal for giving chase to a suicide bomber who had just failed to kill him and his fellow-passengers on a London subway train.

This is one of several extraordinary stories to emerge from the trial of six men who are accused of attempting a repetition of the 7/7 London bombings two weeks later, on July 21, 2005. According to the prosecution, Ramzi Mohammed tried to detonate his bomb as the train travelled between Stockwell and Oval stations just south of the River Thames.

Mohammed is alleged to have turned so that his backpack, containing a home-made bomb, pointed towards a young mother, Nadia Baro, with her nine-month-old baby in a buggy. He then set off his device, but only the detonator exploded, sounding like a large firecracker. Most of the passengers fled to the next carriage, but Mrs. Baro was left behind. A middle-aged off-duty fireman, Angus Campbell, helped her to get away. As the train drew into Oval station, he told the driver on the intercom: “Don’t open the doors!” Even though this was only two weeks after the carnage of 7/7, the driver ignored this request, and Mohammed ran out of the train. A retired engineer, George Brawley, tried to grab him, but he broke free.

At this point, Mr. Burton-Garnett decided to give chase. Though the fugitive was a third of his age and highly dangerous, the unarmed septuagenarian bookseller was fearless. He ran up the escalator after Mohammed, shouting: “Stop that man! Get the police!” In his own words, Mr. Burton-Garnett “tore after him but he was about nine or ten stair treads ahead of me. Halfway up I sort of ran out of steam. I was just recovering from a gall-bladder operation, otherwise I think I might have been a bit faster.”

What would have happened if he had caught Mohammed probably didn’t occur to him. It is surely significant that a man of Mr. Burton-Garnett’s age and health would be so careless of his own safety. Mr. Brawley and Mr. Campbell were also older men. Younger people are much less likely to feel an obligation to intervene in such situations, having been warned by the police and brought up by their parents not to do so. They learn that the “streetwise” thing to do if they see a crime being committed is to run away. I do not wish to disparage our youth: after all, the majority of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are in their teens or twenties. And plenty of young civilians are not afraid to have a go at criminals and terrorists. But in doing so they go against the grain of an overprotective culture.

The inspiring message of the passengers on Flight 93, who prevented an even worse catastrophe on 9/11, is that a war in which the suicide bomber is a key weapon can only be won if civilians defy regulations and rely on their own initiative.

Next time I open an old book, I shall think of Mr. Burton-Garnett. He may belong in the gallery of English eccentrics, but he is a hero nevertheless. Where manliness is mocked and cowardice is institutionalized, you need to be eccentric to be brave. There is something both comic and moving about the image of an erudite gentleman, more accustomed to leafing through old folios, in hot pursuit of an alleged suicide bomber who thought nothing of killing a mother and child in cold blood.

Read Less