Topic: Asia

"The Rock" in Afghanistan, 2009-10

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Video from the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment -- aka "The Rock" -- during Operation Enduring Freedom X:


Does anybody think these troops deserve to have their pensions gutted?

This is not the corporate world

Food for thought

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Flat out evil

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If this CNN report is accurate, then the military's got at least one ideal candidate for the death penalty.


Murder merits swift punishment. Next issue: why didn't any officers stop this?

Obama's West Point speech on Afghanistan

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This is a visualization of the 100 most frequently-used words in tonight's speech. Click to enlarge:

Visualization of Obama's Afghanistan speech

The Weekly Standard has the transcript.

Allah.

Allah Allah Allah.

Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah Allah.

So there. Bite me.

H/T: Hot Air

Yesterday the UN Security Council unanimously passed toothless sanctions against North Korea:

The resolution demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country, a demand by the Russians and Chinese. Bolton warned Pyongyang, however, that if it continues pursuing nuclear weapons, the U.S. would seek further measures.

Great. This is the international equivalent of saying: "Stop, or I'll tell you to stop again."

Wargames as preparation for invasion?

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Fascinating speculation about joint Russian/Chinese wargames in North Korea's back yard. Keep an eye on the Far East.

Is China the threat we assume it to be?

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Australian optimist Arthur Chrenkoff looks northward toward China and reads the tea leaves to see if future conflict with America is really a foregone conclusion. Chrenkoff gathers disparate threads from the news that demonstrate China's ambition to control East and Central Asia (military buildups, diplomatic overtures, business deals), but then throws in an interesting wild card I hadn't thought much about recently: the rise of Christianity in Chinese culture, especially among that society's elites.

Fascinating stuff.

But I wonder ... whatever happened to China's secretive Assassin's Mace program? It sure has dropped from sight in the news, but that doesn't mean a doggone thing. Anybody have any news about it?

One other wild card comes to mind: capitalism (see Dinocrat's related post). If free market economics continue to make inroads into Chinese society, can China long remain a communist nation? If it does become some sort of democracy or republic, then it would be much less likely to clash militarily with America. After all, democracies don't attack each other.

Definitely something to ponder.

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UPDATE: More China blogging from Why are all the good names gone ...

From Reuters, we have "U.S. Warns Iran Over Missiles, Punishes Chinese Firms." Since the release of Seymour Hersh's article on Monday, MSM sources have turned an increasingly sharp eye toward anything involving Iranian friction with the U.S.

Oddly, no official announcement of the sanctions was made, leading me to wonder if this is because the United States has no desire to highlight disagreements with China over Iran. Considering U.S. efforts to highlight Iran's intransigence, I would have otherwise expected this to receive more play from the administration:

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The most indepth coverage was provided in the Times. I found the end of the article to be the most informative. China is a high-growth country with ever-expanding energy needs. Considering the fact that U.S. interest in the Middle East stems largely from a desire to meet its own energy needs, our position on the "moral high ground" regarding the spread of WMD is based primarily on the same sort of realistic calculations China has made in seeking to secure its own national interests:

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The article suggests that Chinese nonproliferation efforts are taken more as an economic step (to avoid U.S. sanctions) than out of genuine concern for the spread of WMD and delivery system technology:

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Talk of China and its expanding role in regions such as the Middle East reminds me of the recently waged debate within the EU regarding an end to the current arms embargo levied on China.

I've discussed the idea of political realism outweighing the notion of "shared values" here and here. Steps by some members of the EU (most specifically France) to court China as a strategic balancing point to U.S. influence serve as a reminder that national interests often take precedence over shared values.

Interesting Iranian/French angle. It can be maddening, trying to keep everyone's hidden agendas straight in one's mind.

Want to get really complex? Throw into the mix Colin Powell's recent statements revising America's stance on the "One China" policy, which appear to leave Taiwan twisting in the wind (presumably in exchange for an as-yet-unmentioned something from China). I wonder what Condi Rice will have to say about this (if anything)?

UPDATE 2: Finally! The shipping lane map I've been hoping for! Great find by Little Red Blog, along with more good analysis on the EU-China arms connection.

UPDATE 3: This post has merged at high speed into today's Beltway Traffic Jam.

Dissent in North Korea

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Courtesy of Instapundit comes a story in the UK's Telegraph newspaper documenting anti-regime graffiti on a poster in North Korea. That kind of thing gets you a summary death sentence, so it's remarkable that it even happened (much less showed up on a videotape).

For background on the world's most reclusive and oppressive country, browse the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Is the "Dear Leader" Il?

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Something fishy's going on in North Korea. Kim Jong Il hasn't been seen in some time, supposedly because he's in mourning over the death of his favorite concubine. Reports indicate that the cult of personality around Kim and his father may be eroding, and it's certainly odd that portraits of the "Dear Leader" are reportedly coming down from very prominent places. Anti-Kim leaflets have reportedly been popping up in inconvenient places. Japanese politicians, who normally limit statements about their nutty neighbor to vague nothings, have begun to mention the possibility that change is in the air. The last Stalinist regime on earth might be quietly undergoing major internal power struggles.

Some speculate that a coup's in the offing, spurred by China at America's request (in return for a major concession in our Taiwan policy). I remain skeptical, so I'll keep watching to see what else shakes loose. Let me know if you spot something pertinent.

On a related note, the demise of the nuclear bunker buster bomb project will figure prominently in the geopolitical calculations of our adversaries, especially in Iran and North Korea.

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