Archive for September, 2012

CHINA’S LINES AROUND ISLANDS COULD MEAN MORE CONFLICT WITH JAPAN

September 29, 2012

Fox News on September 29, 2012, published an AP report on a new map of what China calls the Diaoyus; Japan, the Senkakus. The map shows a kidney-shaped main island with splotches of green, and a list of 70 affiliated “islands” that are really half-submerged rocks. Excerpts below:

China published the map amid outrage over Japan’s purchase of some of the islands, and has engaged in another type of mapmaking that may escalate the conflict.

It has drawn territorial markers around the islands and submitted them to the U.N.

THE FAILURE TO TEACH AMERICA’S KIDS ABOUT THE HORROR OF COMMUNISM

September 28, 2012

Professor Paul Kengor on Fox News on September 27, 2012, commented on the fact that a band at a high school near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania performed a halftime show titled, “St. Petersburg 1917,” a musical commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, replete with hammers and sickles, military uniforms, and red flags. Excerpts below:

The superintendent of the school genuinely pleaded innocence. “It’s a representation of the time period in history, called ‘St. Petersburg 1917,’” she said. “I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am.” She continued: “If anything is being celebrated it’s the music…. I’m just very sorry that it wasn’t looked at as just a history lesson.”

To be fair to the superintendent, she sincerely doesn’t seem to understand what’s so bad about this incident, and why it’s in bad taste. In fact, therein is the basic problem: We have failed to teach the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution specifically and of communism generally.

Those horrors include over 100 million corpses generated by communist governments, starting with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917—that is, “St. Petersburg 1917.” For perspective, 100 million is twice the combined deaths of World War I and II, the two deadliest conflicts in history. Even then, 100 million dead, which is the estimate provided by the seminal Harvard University Press work, “The Black of Book of Communism,” is a conservative figure. The latest research claims that Mao Tse-Tung was responsible for the deaths of at least 70 million in China, and Joseph Stalin alone may well have killed 60 million in the USSR.

We now have an entire generation of Americans born after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and USSR. They didn’t live through the mass repression and carnage that was Soviet communism. They need to learn about it, just as my generation learned the evils of Nazism.

I lecture around the country, sponsored by groups like the Young America’s Foundation and Intercollegiate Studies Institute . I’m often requested to give a talk titled, “Why Communism is Bad.” When I read passages directly from the “Communist Manifesto,” or when I cite authoritative sources on the maimed and dead, the students are aghast, eyes wide open. Rarely are their professors in attendance.

Those same professors, incidentally, write the textbooks used by high schools. Several years ago, I did a comprehensive, two-year study on “World History” and “Civics” texts. The study looked at roughly 20 texts used in public schools. Their treatment of communism is scandalous.

The greatest abuse is the sins of omission. I could not find a single text that listed figures on the dead under communist governments.

In short, we now have an entire generation of Americans born after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and USSR. They didn’t live through the mass repression and carnage that was Soviet communism. They need to learn about it, just as my generation learned the evils of Nazism.

Unfortunately, they are not. And so, we shouldn’t be surprised when they merrily march to the triumphal sounds of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the new book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor” (Mercury Ink, July 17, 2012)

RETREATER IN CHIEF

September 27, 2012

The Weekly Standard in the October 1, 2012, issue (Vol 18, No 3) reported on the Taliban somehow managing to penetrate the coalition’s main base in Helmand Province, Camp Bastion, and blow up six Marine Corps Harrier jump jets and damage two others, making this the greatest single-day loss of American warplanes since the Vietnam war. (The Harrier squadron commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, was killed in the attack.) Another Taliban suicide bomber struck in Kabul, killing a dozen people, including contract workers for the U.S. embassy. Oh, and there have been more “green on blue” killings, bringing to 51 (and counting) the number of coalition troops killed this year by Afghan security personnel. Excerpts below:

These attacks have led the U.S. Special Forces to suspend training of new recruits for the Afghan Local Police, a critical force designed to supplement the regular police and army, and more recently the NATO command to suspend at least temporarily joint operations with the Afghans below the battalion level.

Amid such serious setbacks, what do we get from the administration? Robotic statements from White House press secretary Jay Carney that the timeline for withdrawing personnel—now, with the surge completed just days ago, numbering 68,000 U.S. troops, down from a wartime high of 100,000—remains unaffected.

This is not to suggest by any stretch of the imagination that things are as bad in Afghanistan as they were in Vietnam in 1967 or in Iraq in 2007. The overall level of violence is much lower, and there has been demonstrable progress as a result of President Obama’s surge. Coalition troops have managed to clear the Taliban out of many of their sanctuaries in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces. The buildup of the Afghan security forces, which are now 350,000 strong, is proceeding despite the dangers posed by insider attack. There have even been some scattered successes in improving the delivery of local services in districts that have been major centers of coalition activity.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The Taliban (and related groups, such as the even-more-fanatical Haqqani network), are far from defeated.

The greatest cause for despair is the lack of presidential leadership. President Obama notoriously refuses to talk about the war, to explain setbacks, and to tell the American people how his plan for victory will work. “Victory” is not, in fact, a word he ever uses. Instead he talks mainly about how he is “ending the war,” by which he means pulling U.S. troops out—thereby making a bigger war more likely.

Obama’s determination to withdraw is plainly evident to Afghans, friend and foe alike—and undercuts the assurances of continuing American commitment contained in the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement signed earlier this year. The Taliban are obviously expecting, with all U.S. combat troops gone by the end of 2014, that they will be able to make up lost ground. And those Afghans who are allied with the United States are visibly nervous, wondering if they should make accommodations with the Taliban lest they wind up on the losing side. This could well account, at least in part, for Karzai’s willingness to break publicly with the United States on numerous issues; it could even help to explain why some renegade soldiers and police turn their guns on their coalition partners.

In some ways the current situation—with an uncertain and likely deteriorating situation on the ground accompanied by unconvincing assurances from the top that everything is much better than you think—reminds us of Iraq in 2006. Only a surge of troops and a change of strategy—making victory rather than withdrawal the military objective—saved us from defeat in Iraq.

We sympathize with the criticisms that lawmakers are making and agree it is high time for President Obama to reevaluate his strategy and to explain more fully to the American people just what we are doing in Afghanistan and how we are doing it.

Like Sen. Graham, we can’t imagine how America’s security could be improved by a hasty departure from Afghanistan. Our withdrawal would probably plunge the country into civil war. The last time that happened, in the 1990s, the Taliban emerged victorious. There is every reason to expect that, with Pakistan’s support, they would come out on top again. Taliban leaders have promised not to allow their territory to be used as a staging ground for attacks abroad, but there is no more reason to trust them now than in the 1990s.

If the Taliban do take power in Afghanistan, it is certain to have a corrosive impact on Pakistan’s already fragile stability, raising the nightmare possibility of jihadists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. And, of course, a victory for jihadists over the last remaining superpower—which is how an American pullout from Afghanistan would be perceived in the Middle East, regardless of how it was spun by the White House—would be a big boost for al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist groups which already have found openings in Libya, Syria, and other countries thrown into turmoil by the Arab Spring.

The present path in Afghanistan—of drift and drawdown—is discouraging. But hard as it may be to swallow, Republicans—including their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney—need to avoid the counsels of despair and to push for a robust, long-term American engagement that can stabilize Afghanistan and prevent al Qaeda’s allies from once again taking over.

U.S. AIR FORCE TO LAUNCH SECRETIVE X-37B SPACE PLANE IN OCTOBER

September 26, 2012

Fox News on September 25, 2012, published a Space.com report on the U.S. military’s hush-hush robotic X-37B space plane which is slated to blast off again next month, Air Force officials say. The mission will test the robotic spacecraft’s reusability and may eventually land on the Florida runway once used for NASA space shuttles.

The X-37B space plane ’s next mission — called Orbital Test Vehicle-3, or OTV-3, because it is the program’s third-ever spaceflight — is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) sometime in October.

That maiden voyage of the miniature space plane lasted 225 days. It launched into orbit on April 22, 2010, and then landed on Dec. 3 of that year, zooming in on autopilot over the Pacific Ocean and gliding down onto a specially prepared runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A different X-37B vehicle made a similar Vandenberg touchdown this past June 16, having stayed in orbit for 469 days on its OTV-2 mission.

The X-37B program is being run by the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The two space planes — which are 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide, with a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed — were built by Boeing Government Space Systems.

“One of the most promising aspects of the X-37B is it enables us to examine a payload system or technology in the environment in which it will perform its mission and inspect them when we bring them back to Earth,” Bunko said. “Returning an experiment via the X-37B OTV enables detailed inspection and significantly better learning than can be achieved by remote telemetry alone.”

While both previous X-37B missions touched down at Vandenberg, the Air Force is considering landing future flights at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, next door to the Cape Canaveral launch site.

CAN JAPANESE TROOPS DEFEND ISLANDS?

September 25, 2012

Wall Street Journal on September 25, 2012, reported on the Japanese military building up its capabilities for defending remote islands. That’s why 40 troops from the Ground Self Defense Force have been on Guam and nearby islands in the past few weeks, receiving training from U.S. Marines on amphibious war tactics. Excerpts below:

In a worst-case scenario — highly unlikely at this point — where Japanese troops actually have to defend an island, how would they do? During our recent trip to Guam Wall Street Journal posed the question to some real pros from Japan and the U.S. Their conclusion: GSDF troops are well-trained, professional soldiers, but when it comes to specific skills required for landing on and defending an island, they still need training.

Some views:

Lt. General Kenneth Glueck, Commander, Marine Forces Japan:

“By working together, which we plan to do, I think over the next year, they will be able to develop a very credible capability. We start at a crawl phase, we walk and then we run.”

Eiji Kimizuka, Chief of Staff, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force:

“Until now, we haven’t paid much attention to island defense. Our capability for landing, amphibious tactics — the area of expertise for the Marines — is severely limited. I hope these drills will help us make strides.”

Japanese troops will continue practicing. Japan is more than willing to admit this is an area where much more work and resources must be devoted. The Japanese government has singled out island defense as an area of focus for its defense strategy.

TAIWANESE SHIPS NEAR DISPUTED ISLANDS

September 25, 2012

Wall Street Journal on September 25, 2012, reported on a flotilla of nearly 50 Taiwanese boats entered territorial waters near disputed islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea as another Asian neighbor protested the Japanese government’s purchase of the islands. Excerpts below:

About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and eight Taiwanese coast guard boats entered the territorial waters near the largest of the disputed islands, Uotsuri island, on the morning of September 25, the Japan Coast Guard said. It was the first time ships from Taiwan have entered the waters since the Japanese government announced earlier in the month it would purchase three of the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

The vessels were met by the Japan Coast Guard and a minor altercation, broadcast on Japan’s NHK, ensued. One of the Japanese vessels was seen racing up alongside a Taiwanese fishing boat and trying to cut off its course. The footage also showed the Japanese boats spraying the fishing vessels with water, while the Taiwanese patrol ships sprayed water back.

The development comes as a reminder that Taipei also claims the Senkaku, after the recent focus on anti-Japanese demonstrations in more than 100 cities in China, in the wake of Japan’s decision to buy the islands. China also claims the islands, which are situated in supposedly resource-rich waters.

A Taiwanese fishing association said the fishing boats went to the islands to assert their right to fish in “traditional fishing grounds” and that they had planned to circle the islands at a distance of 12 nautical miles. The Taiwanese Coast Guard Administration said the ships were ultimately unable to circle the island as planned and turned around, describing the altercation as “mild.”

The Japan Coast Guard also released a photo taken of one of the Taiwanese fishing boats bearing a sign saying “Diaoyutai are Taiwan’s,” referring to the islands’ name in Taiwan.

Japan’s top government spokesman said Tokyo has lodged a protest with Taipei authorities.

On September 24, Taiwan’s Presidential Office reiterated its stance on Taipei’s claim to the islands, but said it would not team up with China in the dispute.

IRANIAN MILITIAS ‘POSE THREAT TO U.S.’

September 24, 2012

Washington Times on September 20, 2012, reported that Iran’s extremist militias and their proxies were behind a recent string of terrorist attacks against Israeli diplomatic targets around the globe and might seek to strike the United States, U.S. counterterrorism officials said. Excerpts below:

“Quds Force, Hezbollah and others have shown they both have the capability and the willingness to extend beyond that [Middle East] region of the world and likely here into the homeland itself,” Kevin L. Perkins, associate deputy director of the FBI, told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“We look at it as a serious threat,” he added, saying the bureau is “focusing intelligence analysts and other resources on that on a daily basis to monitor that threat.”

Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said “Iran remains the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism in the world. We have seen an uptick in operational activity by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Quds Force over the last year or so.”
The Quds Force is the elite division of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for operations abroad…

A senior official of the Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, was indicted in October for his involvement in the plot, which actually was an elaborate sting by a Drug Enforcement Administration informant. He remains at large in Iran.

The Quds Force and the Lebanese Shiite extremist militia Hezbollah, which the Iranians have used as a proxy for terrorist attacks in the past, have been “reaching outside of their normal areas of operation in the Middle East and conducting attacks elsewhere,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and committee chairman.

Adding to concern about Hezbollah is an article in the Times of London on Wednesday based on an interview with a major general in the Syrian army who recently defected. Gen. Adnan Sillu told the paper that the Syrian regime had plans to provide chemical weapons to Hezbollah for use in rocket attacks against Israel.

SYRIAN REBELS MOVE COMMAND FROM TURKEY TO SYRIA

September 23, 2012

The Washington Times on September 22, 2012, published an AP report on the leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army saying that they moved their command center from Turkey to Syria with the aim of uniting rebels and speeding up the fall of President Bashar Assad’s regime. Excerpts below:

Brig. Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, who heads the FSA’s Military Council, told the Associated Press that the group made the move last week. He would not say where the new headquarters is located or give other details.

Despite the announcement of the command move, rebels still have to rely on Turkey as a rear base for supplies and reinforcements. In the past few months, rebels have captured wide swaths of Syrian territory bordering Turkey, along with three border crossings, allowing them to ferry supplies and people into Syria.

Al-Sheikh, another top FSA commander, said moving the command “will speed up the fall of the regime because it will give a big boost to the morale of rebels and there will be a command to follow-up on operations.”

“There are liberated areas now and it’s better for the command to be with the rebels instead of being abroad,” al-Sheikh said in a phone interview from Turkey. The general said he has been going back and forth to Syria.

Activists say nearly 30,000 people have been killed since Syria’s crisis began in March 2011. The uprising began with largely peaceful protests against Assad’s regime, but has since morphed into a civil war in the face of a brutal government crackdown.

The Syrian conflict has increasingly spilled into neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, with several hundred thousand Syrians seeking refuge there and battles occasionally being fought along Syria’s borders.

MEMORIAL TO STALIN’S VICTIMS UNVEILED NEAR KYIV, UKRAINE

September 22, 2012

Fox News on September 21, 2012, published an AP report on the Presidents of Ukraine and Poland unveiling a memorial to the thousands of Ukrainians, Poles and others killed by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s secret police before and during World War II. Excerpts below:

The memorial is part of a remembrance complex in Bykivnia, outside the Ukrainian capital, where up to 120,000 people are buried.

The victims include 3,500 Poles executed in the Kyiv region by the Soviet secret police in early 1940. They were among some 22,000 Polish officers and civilians taken prisoner and killed on Stalin’s orders in western Russia and other parts of the Soviet Union in what became known as the Katyn massacre.

“By jointly exposing and condemning the crimes of Stalinism and restoring historical justice, we not only fulfill our duty before the dead, but we also fulfill our duty before future generations,” Ukrainian President Yanukovych said.

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski thanked the Ukrainian leader for helping organize a Polish section at the Bykivnia memorial. “Here in Bykivnia, as in no other place, we feel the unity of our Polish and Ukrainian fates,” Komorowski said.

PROSECUTORS CHARGE COMMUNIST-ERA LEADER IN HUNGARY

September 21, 2012

Kyiv Post, Ukraine, on January 27, 2011, published an AP report that a former Hungarian interior minister seen as one of the main architects of repression after the country’s 1956 anti-communist uprising has been charged with publicly downplaying the regime’s crimes, prosecutors said. Bela Biszku was charged because of comments he made during an appearance on state television on Aug. 4, 2010 in which he said he had nothing to apologize for, said Gabriella Skoda, the spokeswoman of the Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Excerpts below:

Hungarian lawmakers have made it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison to publicly deny, call into question or minimize the Holocaust. In June, the law was amended to refer instead to crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi and communist regimes.

Biszku, 89, became interior minister in the wake of the anti-Soviet revolution, when over 220 people who participated in the uprising were executed and many thousands imprisoned or persecuted.

He resurfaced in 2010 after the release of a documentary film about his life that included lengthy interviews with him. Biszku and his family attempted to block the film’s release because the filmmakers had initially misled him about their intentions.

Speaking on state-run Duna TV in August, Biszku said he considered the 1956 uprising to be a “counterrevolution” that was trying to restore a capitalist system.

Historians say there is ample documentation proving that Biszku was a key figure in the repression. For many years after the revolution, for example, he was part of a secret communist party group that directed the work of the courts.