Archive for September, 2014

NATIONAL LIBERATION FOR CHINA?

September 30, 2014

Wall Street Journal on September 29, 2014, reported that massive democracy rallies in Hong Kong have offered Chinese President Xi Jinping stark choices between concession and crackdown, either of which poses problems for his government—and his own political standing. Excerpts below:

Throughout the weekend…, protesters, mostly students, confronted police and halted business activity in parts of Hong Kong. Crowds thinned in the early morning hours Tuesday but were expected to grow again during the day.

Police fired tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the thousands of students gathered outside government headquarters, but the protesters regrouped and re-emerged in greater numbers, choking off roadways in the heart of the city.

As the protests swelled, Mr. Xi stayed in Beijing and made no public comments on the events. Instead, lower-level government spokesmen called the unrest illegal and warned foreigners not to get involved in a domestic issue.

The Hong Kong demonstrations—in which protesters are resisting Beijing’s proposed limitations on how the city’s leader is elected—bring to the fore sensitive issues for the Chinese government.

The leadership is always concerned that protests in one part of China, if left unchallenged, might encourage people in other parts to rise up. Hong Kong, which was given limited autonomy and freedoms upon its return to China from British colonial rule 17 years ago, was supposed to be a showcase for Beijing’s ability to manage a cosmopolitan financial hub with a minimum of intervention.

Now, President Xi faces tough choices: Modify the proposed formula for Hong Kong’s election system and appear weak, or dislodge the protesters with force and risk conjuring memories of Beijing’s bloody 1989 pro-democracy crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

ON THE THINKING OF POLYBIUS

September 27, 2014

The historian Polybius (ca. 200 – 118 BC) was of Greek heritage. He was held hostage in Rome and befriended Scipio Aemilianus, whose campaigns, including the destruction of Ca rthage, he later attended. His overall theme is how and why the Romans spread their power as they did. His history describes the years 164 – 146 BC of the rise of Rome.

Fragment

Polybius: Of everything that has an effect on war, the spirit of the combatants exercise the greatest influence in regard to both defeat and victory.

Source: Polybius VI, Loeb Classical Library, 2012

SUN TZU WOULD NOT BE HAPPY WITH THE OBAMA SYRIA POLICY

September 26, 2014

Sun Tzu: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

At one time the US president intended to conduct a surgical military strike against Syria.

For a long time “hope” seems to have been the American administration’s strategy regarding Syria. Surgical strikes for the most do not do the job alone.

The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu has often been compared to Carl von Clausewitz as master strategist of the ages. He concluded, for instance, that it is an army that has to be the instrument of administering the coup de grace to an enemy. It is has, however, to be remembered that winning 100 battles is not the acme of skill – to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

The Swedish market has been flooded with Sun Tzu translations lately. There is one translation into Swedish with commentary that stands out. It was made by Theo Hartman, a pseudonym, in the 1980s and two editions have been published 1989 and 1996. A third is on the way.

THE POWER AND FORCE OF WATER

September 25, 2014

One of the translators of Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh Ching was the father of the constitution of the Republic of China (now Taiwan), John C. H. Wu. Below an excerpt of his translation of the Chinese classic published in 1990:

78

Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;
But, for attacking the hard and the strong,
There is nothing like it!
For nothing can take its place.
That the weak overcomes the strong, and
The soft overcomes the hard,
This is something known by all…

A few biographical notes on John C H Wu:

b. Chekiang, March 28, 1899 d. 1986.
Honorary President, College of Chinese Culture.
Minister to the Holy See, 1947 – 1949.
Professor, Seton Hall University, USA 1951 – 1961.

ON REDUCING TAXES AND SPENDING

September 24, 2014

Strike for the jugular. Reduce taxes and spending. Keep government poor and remain free.

Justice O. W. Holmes

REPORT FROM MARS BY NASA

September 23, 2014

NASA has reported on the Opportunity mission. Excerpts below:

Its panoramic camera (Pancam) recorded the component images on Aug. 15, 2014, from an elevated portion of the west rim of Endeavour Crater. A brief video places the scene into context with the rover’s entire driving route of more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) since the mission’s 2004 landing in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars.

The Opportunity mission has been investigating outcrops on the western rim of Endeavour Crater for three years. The crater spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. During Opportunity’s first decade on Mars and the 2004-to-2010 career of its twin, Spirit, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project yielded a range of findings proving wet environmental conditions on ancient Mars — some very acidic, others milder and more conducive to supporting life.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

THE TREATY OF GHENT 1815

September 22, 2014

The US Senate has reported on its website on the Treaty of Ghent. Excerpts from the report:

The War of 1812 resulted from Britain’s impressment of American seamen and its violation of American neutrality rights. In an attempt to negotiate peace, President James Madison sent a delegation of men to Ghent (in Belgium). Included in the delegation was Senator James Bayard of Delaware. Some suggested that including Senator Bayard on the negotiating team would make the Senate more favorably inclined to approve the treaty, but others insisted his involvement represented a violation of the constitutional separation of powers. The Treaty of Ghent’s resolution of ratification was approved by the Senate on February 16, 1815.

CAPTIVE NATIONS PAST AND PRESENT

September 17, 2014

Heritage Foundation’s Helle C. Dale in 2009 told the history of the Captive Nations Week. Ever since President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the third week of July “Captive Nations Week” in 1959, Americans have acknowledged the citizens of oppressed nations. Excerpts below:

Although the Berlin Wall fell nearly 20 years ago, and although the number of communist countries has dwindled to five–China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos–many peoples around the world face the evils of oppression, communist and otherwise.

Captive nations are unfortunately not a thing of the past. Not only do communist countries such as China and North Korea pose potential roadblocks for U.S. foreign policy, but regimes ruling Iran, Burma, and Libya, among others, provide constant sources of grave concern. Citizens subject to tyranny do not control their own future. They are denied basic human rights and liberties. The United States is often forced to confront these nations on an international stage, and each presents a unique set of problems. It is a challenge that the United States, as the world’s freest and most powerful nation, must continue to meet.

Comment: One can ask who the next Captive Nations in Europe will be. Here is the list from the beginning:

Armenia 1920
Azerbaijan 1920
Belorussia 1920
Cossackia 1920
Georgia 1920
Idel-Ural 1920
North Caucasia 1920
Ukraine 1922
Far Eastern Republic 1922
Turkistan 1922
Mongolian People’s Republic 1924
Estonia 1940
Latvia 1940
Lithuania 1940
Albania 1946
Bulgaria 1946
Serbia 1946
Croatia 1946
Slovenia 1946 (and others)
Poland 1947
Then Czecho-Slovakia 1948
North Korea 1948
Hungary 1949
East Germany 1949
China 1949
Tibet 1951
North Vietnam 1954
Cuba 1960

Who is next when the Soviet Union after 1991 could be restored?

Finland?
Estonia?
Latvia?
Lithuania?
Poland?

HOW THE MIGHTY FALL

September 16, 2014

One could say that 2006 to 2014 was a Freedom Era for Sweden but the rulers in Stockholm were not able to understand the grumbling of common men and women. Thus almost a million people had only one way out: to vote for the populist Sweden Democrats, who are critical of mass immigration mostly from Muslim countries.

For many years, basically from World War II Sweden was the country outside Western civilization ruled by an all powerful totalitarian like Social Democratic party. Now, in 2014, Sweden could once again become the Outsider of Europe if things go wrong.

The influential Conservative journal Nation Review on September 15, 2014, published an article by its national-affairs correspondent John Fund on the Swedish elections on September 14, 2014. Excerpts below:

The election in Sweden was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Left. The Drudge Report ran a piece yesterday from the Guardian entitled: “Free-market era in Sweden swept away as feminists and greens plot new path.” The paper, a left-wing British outlet, published the piece the day before the election; it proved to be, well, premature.

Sweden’s three leading left-wing parties did win about 44 percent of the vote, outpolling the ruling conservative four-party coalition’s 39 percent. But the balance of power may rest in the hands of the nationalist, immigration hard-line Sweden Democrats, who won 13 percent — a full seven points higher than their 2010 showing. Swedish television reports that one out of three voters who backed the Sweden Democrats in this election voted for the Moderates, the largest conservative party, back in 2010. On the left, the new Feminist Initiative party stole votes from the left but ended up falling short of the 4 percent required to earn seats in parliament. The Green party actually lost seats.

When a Swedish coalition led by the Left is cobbled together, will the country once again become the classic cradle-to-grave welfare state that U.S. leftists used to swoon over?

Sweden has clearly changed in the last 20 years under the governance of parties of both the Left and the Right. In the 1990s, the public sector grabbed 68 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Today it is on track to account for 50 percent of GDP, because economic growth has dramatically outstripped the growth of government spending, which has increased at an annual rate of only 1.9 percent over the last decade. Sweden scrapped inheritance taxes, wealth taxes, and most property taxes. It cut income taxes and corporate taxes, and, as a result, disposable income has risen by almost 20 percent in the last eight years of the ruling conservative coalition.

Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, has a simple explanation for the lack of jobs. “If you allow more asylum seekers into the country than the number of jobs you can create, the result is obvious,” he said in a recent speech. Sweden expects more than 90,000 asylum seekers this year, a huge number in a county of only 10 million people. According to the United Nations, Sweden received the most asylum applications per person in the world from 2009 through 2013. The share of Swedes born abroad was 16 percent last year compared with 11 percent in 2000. Akesson calls for cutting back on asylum acceptances, requiring immigrants to pass language tests, and trimming immigrants’ welfare benefits.

“The Sweden Democrats is the only political party that wants to stop immigration,” Anders Sannerstedt, a political scientist at Lund University, told the French news agency AFP. “All the other political parties have a united stance, a generous immigration policy.”

Reinfeldt’s immigration stance clearly cost his Moderate party votes this year. Its share of the vote fell from 30 percent in its successful reelection of 2010 down to just 22 percent this year. In contrast, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats more than doubled their showing from 2010, becoming the third-largest party after the Social Democrats and the Moderates. A majority of Swedes voted for non-Left parties in Sunday’s election, but the absolute refusal of any of these parties to negotiate with Sweden Democrats dooms them to remain in the opposition.

If there is a new left-wing government in Sweden, it might rein in private provision of services such as education and health care, but few observers believe that economic policy will change significantly.

So regardless of the final vote counts in Sweden’s recent election, and no matter who makes up the governing coalition, it looks as if the country will preserve many free-market reforms. The situation is reminiscent of what happened in Britain in 1997, when the Labour party’s Tony Blair ousted the Conservatives after 18 years in opposition. Far from overturning the economic agenda of Margaret Thatcher, Blair broadly accepted it and proceeded to move left on social policy and immigration. Those moves damaged Britain even while its economy grew. The same thing could happen in Sweden. Conservatives appear to have won the broad economic argument in many countries, but the culture wars are a different matter entirely.

John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for NRO.

UNITED STATES IS COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY OF THE CAPTIVE NATIONS

September 15, 2014

In a Public Law 86-90 (The Captive Nations Week Resolution) the United States designated the third week of July as “Captive Nations Week on July 17, 1959.

In 2014 aggressive totalitarian powers are once seek to capture free nations. This blog will from time to time publish US Captive Nations Week Proclamations signed by the America President. The first proclamation is the one signed by Presiden Ronald Reagan in 1983.

The list of subjugated nations in need of support in 1959 was long: Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Estonia, White Ruthenia, Romania, East Germany, Bulgaria, China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, North Korea, Albania, Idel-Ural, Tibet, Cossackia, Turkestan, North Vietnam, and others.

Proclamation 5067 — Captive Nations Week, 1983

June 6, 1983

By the President of the United States
of America

A Proclamation

Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This reaffirmed an eternal truth that Thomas Jefferson in 1776 wrote into our own Declaration of Independence. Another great thinker, Edmund Burke, observed simply that “the cause of Freedom is the cause of God.” Some twenty-five centuries before, the prophet Isaiah admonished the world “To bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives.”

Free people, if they are to remain free, must defend the liberty of others. As the custodians of a democratic tradition firmly established on this continent more than two centuries ago, Americans are deeply committed to the goal of representative government everywhere.

Each year, the United States reaffirms its commitment to the cause of liberty during Captive Nations Week, by reminding all those who are forced to live under the domination of foreign military power and alien ideology that the United States supports their aspirations for freedom, independence and national self-determination.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved July 17, 1959 (73 Stat. 212), has authorized and requested the President to proclaim the third week in July as Captive Nations Week.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the week beginning July 17, 1983, as Captive Nations Week. I invite the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities and to reaffirm their dedication to the ideals of freedom, which unite us and inspire others.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 6th. day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh.

Ronald Reagan

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:47 p.m., June 6, 1983]