How China became Red …

Posted on May 5, 2018. Filed under: Books, Personalities, Uncategorized |

Gen Bhimaya Writes – General of the Army, G.C. Marshall held almost every important appointments (Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, during the critical stages of World War 2.) He also was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal. Hailed as the Chief Architect of Allied victory in World War 2, Marshall was expected to bring about the reunification of China, under a non- communist leader; Chiang-ki-sheik..

Unfortunately, despite his prior knowledge of China and his experience in handling Chinese commanders during war, he was outwitted by Zhou-in-lai who was equally well versed in statecraft, having studied and mastered it in Sorbonne, France. In fact, Zhou even transformed Clausewitz’s concept of war literally and figuratively. (Clausewitz: War is a continuation of politics by other means   Zhou: All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.)

Marhall, it is believed, failed to understand the Chinese culture: While Marshall relied on tactical adjustments as a prelude to the final reunification of China, Mao, ably supported by Zhou, yielded to tactical agreements, while stubbornly maintaining the aim, that is, a reunification of China under communist ideology.

James D. Hornfischer ‘s  ‘The Man who Lost China”

Here are some things no one ever says about Gen. George C. Marshall today: That he was vain, dull, a bungler. That he was guilty of “criminal folly” in his handling of foreign affairs. That he was not only disloyal to his country but also part of “a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man.”

These dumbfounding slanders, delivered by Joseph McCarthy on the floor of the Senate in the summer of 1951, are well and deservedly forgotten. But they reflected the tremors of their time, after the United Nations “police action” in Korea had spun beyond control, engulfing U.S.-led forces in a massive ground war with China—the same China that less than a decade earlier had been a U.S. ally.

What had Marshall, the now almost universally admired U.S. Army chief of staff who had contributed so much to victory in World War II, supposedly done wrong? He had dared and failed in something grand. In December 1945, he went to China as a special envoy of President Harry Truman in an attempt to broker peace between Chiang Kai-shek’s governing Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s insurgent Communists. In the end, though striving mightily, Marshall failed. As Mao drove Chiang and his forces to Taiwan and unified the mainland under Communist tyranny, his good name back home fell into a snake pit of paranoiac partisanship.

In “The China Mission,” Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, the executive editor of Foreign Affairs, skillfully tells the story of Marshall’s quixotic and forlorn diplomatic initiative. Deeply researched and written with verve, the book ought to be read by any U.S. foreign-policy maker practicing diplomacy in Asia. Marshall’s oft-forgotten experience in Asia has been covered before, notably in Forrest C. Pogue’s four-volume life (1963-87). But Mr. Kurtz-Phelan has performed a service in reviving this important episode with such aplomb, rigor and pace.

Three days before Christmas 1945, Marshall arrived at a small stone bungalow in Chongqing to begin a series of parleys aimed at ending 18 years of civil war. After an eight-year hiatus following the Japanese invasion in 1937, the conflict had resumed with a vengeance.

While there was idealism in Marshall’s heart—he was gravely concerned about the famine confronting ordinary Chinese people—power politics justified the effort too. Without a strong, unified China, Washington calculated, the Soviet Union could assert control of Manchuria, which it was already infiltrating and pillaging for industrial capital and infrastructure. Truman and Marshall believed a negotiated peace could serve American interests at home and abroad. Yet the American people in 1946 had little patience for expensive foreign projects.

Doggedly pushing through thickets of disagreement, Marshall won a quick cease-fire pact between Chiang and Mao’s emissary, Zhou Enlai. Chiang had come to the table because his extermination campaign against Communist forces failed once they retreated into China’s hinterlands. Though Mao professed to be a “Soviet pupil,” Stalin had humbled him, signing a peace treaty with Chiang’s government.

‘The China Mission’ Review: The Man Who ‘Lost’ China

On Jan. 22 Marshall handed Chiang a draft bill of rights, a procedure for a constitution and a plan for interim coalition government. He followed this up by securing an understanding to unify the rival Chinese armies under Chiang’s national leadership. “Marshall had achieved what even cynics were calling a miracle,” Mr. Kurtz-Phelan writes.

Praising him breathlessly were not only American journalists, who believed peace in their time was finally at hand, but his Chinese hosts as well. Chiang’s emissary called Marshall the midwife of unification, the leading strategist of the world and an ambassador of peace. Thus the American general departed Mao’s headquarters on March 5, 1946, flattered and hopeful.

But a stronger geopolitical tide was rising. On that very same day, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave his “Iron Curtain” speech in Missouri. America had already resolved to contain Soviet Communism, of course. And the previous June, the U.S. War Department had concluded that the “Chinese Communists areCommunists,” in league with the movement directed from the Kremlin.

The three-man “truce teams” dispatched throughout China to effect the cease-fire soon encountered difficulty. Both Chinese sides considered the negotiations a stratagem for improving their position on the battlefield before the peace terms froze the lines in place. The cease-fire provided a rationale to press disputes that kept the fighting going.

Mr. Kurtz-Phelan’s brisk narrative handles all this as a compelling drama. He adeptly paints his characters as more than mere avatars of political positions. Zhou was polished and gracious, a talented actor and dissembler who had become a communist in Paris, where he learned to debate with the best the Sorbonne had to offer. With a “personality full of mobility,” he engaged Marshall with relish about “Lincoln’s spirit of freedom and Washington’s spirit of independence.” One of Marshall’s aides thought Zhou “could run General Motors.”

Mao himself needed the talents of Zhou in order to play Marshall, for the Communist leader was by his own admission emotional, arrogant and quick to point fingers. Mao’s strength was his mystical sense of himself and a massively ambitious ego fueled by the resentments of his upbringing.

Marshall emerges in “The China Mission” as a figure of considerable sympathy. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan shows him as a devout public servant, a consummate professional and a sincere idealist who relied upon the good faith of all with whom he dealt. He could command a room yet conveyed “abject humility.” His Olympian calm coexisted with what the author calls “a reputation for truth-telling, for an almost insolent integrity in rooms of yes-men.” He was less a battlefield leader than a superlative organization man. In World War I he had spoken truth to power—to Gen. John Pershing, who promptly made Marshall his aide. In World War II, his talents had helped defeat Hitler and Hirohito. But the problem of China, in the end, was beyond him.

His warm personal relationships with Chiang and Zhou did not seem to matter. Culture was part of it—at every turn, the American was desperate to make a deal. But the Chinese civil war had a momentum, a ruthlessness, all its own. The talents that made Marshall an effective leader in Allied war councils doomed him to failure with his cynical Chinese counterparts. “Each side overplayed its hand when momentum seemed to be in its favor and them came back to negotiate when the momentum had shifted, at which point the other side was no longer interested,” the author writes.

Before Marshall knew it, American troops stationed in China to oversee an orderly repatriation of Japanese troops were caught in the rekindled civil war. Marshall pressed on nonetheless. Unable to parse the murky relationship between Mao and Stalin, he gambled on good faith, hoping for the best. An honest broker trapped in a wicked game, Marshall was in the end whipsawed by cultural and political forces beyond his ken.

By November 1946, Marshall was all but finished. More than two-thirds of his truce teams had been recalled to headquarters for reasons of their safety. With Truman’s domestic poll numbers in the tank, the midterm elections saw a Republican sweep of Congress. Marshall flew back to Honolulu two months later, never to return.

His failure inadvertently offered up America as a scapegoat for the continuing misery of ordinary Chinese. The Communists exploited it to the hilt. Chiang, meanwhile, believing that Republicans were more sympathetic to him, was counting on the 1948 presidential vote to save his cause. But his reading of U.S. politics was no keener than Marshall’s reading of China’s. With a fatal overconfidence, and poor counsel, Chiang saw his Nationalist forces stretched thin, too heavily outfitted to pursue Mao’s guerrillas into the hills. The same day Chiang’s armies finally lost Manchuria, Truman won a close re-election.

Chiang’s collapse produced an opening for McCarthyites in Washington to push back against Marshall’s idealism. The general returned home to vicious gossip. “There have been rumblings and rumors around Washington to the effect that you have been taken in by the Chinese Communists,” his colleague Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer told him.

The Marshall Mission was, by any standard, a failure. The 13 months of frenetic negotiation led to all-out war, and a Communist government in Beijing that vexes America to this day. The question is whether it had any chance of succeeding at all. After World War II, with the U.S. carrying out a massive demobilization (Truman preferred the term “disintegration”), failure was probably foreordained. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan’s book is valuable for its reminder that diplomacy is futile when it is backed only by the frail regiment of hope.

When a chastened Marshall, as Truman’s secretary of state, turned his attention to Europe, he found that change and peace were possible in war-torn regions of the world. The success of the Marshall Plan was a godsend for the ravaged continent and a boon for America too. But U.S. largesse toward Europe summoned forth hungry supplicants around the world. When Chiang’s ambassador in Washington said there should be a Marshall Plan for China—his chorus of supporters posited the existence of a racist double standard—Marshall could only laugh. Mr. Kurtz-Phelan does so right along with him. “Predictions by American diplomats and journalists that the Chinese Communists would turn into mere ‘agrarian democrats’ proved laughable.” Mao’s victory made it possible for Stalin to approve North Korea’s invasion of South Korea.

We know how the movie ends: the Communists in control by 1949, Chiang defeated and exiled to Taiwan, a customer of American arms. After Moscow tested a hydrogen bomb and war broke out on the Korean peninsula, the Cold War hit full stride.


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Karl Marx at 200 …

Posted on May 5, 2018. Filed under: Personalities, The Germans, Uncategorized |


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Four Stories to Enjoy …

Posted on May 5, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Four Stories by Mich Cochrane – “Recently I was invited to give a special lecture at the university where I teach. I accepted the invitation though, contrary to what my sons might tell you, I don’t really like to lecture.  For one thing, I’m not good at it. Also the concept of a lecture suggests to me that the speaker intends to deliver from on high some absolute Truth, with a capital T, and that does not interest me.

But this lecture was different. It would be part of a series inspired by Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. Pausch was a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who, while facing a terminal diagnosis, spoke directly to his students and colleagues about the things that matter most.

Thankfully I am not sick (illness is not a requirement to participate in the series), but I did try to take my cue from Pausch, and from a line by Bob Dylan: “Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.” Rather than deliver some brilliant thesis or clever syllogism, I simply told four stories from my heart — all of them, I hope, like the very best stories, supple and open-ended and perhaps even a bit mysterious”.

These are the four stories.


I am standing in a bedroom of the house I grew up in. I am four, maybe five years old. My sister, Sue, a year and a half older, is standing next to me, and the two of us are staring out the window into the night sky. She is teaching me how to wish on a star. She softly says the words, a kind of incantation, and I repeat them, just as softly: “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight . . .” Maybe for the first time I feel the strange power of rhythmic language, of poetry. Just to be hearing and speaking such words under such circumstances is magical. Sue explains that I’m supposed to wish for something: my heart’s desire, no limits. So I do. I wish for a stuffed bear. That’s what I want, but no ordinary teddy bear — a big one, as tall as I am. It is probably the most outrageous and impossible thing I can imagine.

Meanwhile, downstairs, my family is falling apart. My father is a successful trial lawyer, by all accounts a brilliant man, but when he is drinking — which soon will be pretty much all the time — he is angry, violent, and abusive. He throws dishes, kicks down doors, yells and hits and breaks things. In the years ahead my father will leave, return occasionally to terrorize us, but not support us. He will cause tremendous suffering and die alone in a downtown hotel room when I am in high school.

My mother right now is in the early stages of an incurable, degenerative neurological disease, which will leave her depressed and crippled: she will die at home with my sister and me caring for her while we are both in college. We will be poor — no car, no telephone, and, for one memorable stretch, no hot water.

Sometime after my wishing lesson — the next day, as I remember it, but that can’t be true, can it? — my sister goes shopping with a neighbor’s family. She returns holding in her arms — what else? — one very large stuffed bear. He wears a ribbon tied rakishly around his neck. He has bright eyes and a pink felt tongue. His fur is soft and shiny. And he is big — exactly the size of a five-year-old boy. He is named Twinkles, which is clever, don’t you think? It must have been my sister’s idea. I would have named him Beary, or maybe Mr. Bear.

Twinkles, it turns out, can talk — at least, he can when my sister is around. He has quite a lively and endearing personality. He’s a good listener, too. He cocks his head and gestures expressively. Over time Twinkles develops an increasingly complex social life involving other stuffed animals, who also begin speaking and displaying distinctive personalities. Jim Henson hasn’t invented the Muppets yet, but Sue’s genius for creating furry characters is equal to his. She and I start to think of this collection of animals as inhabiting a place, an independent nation. We call it Animal Town. I’ll spare you the details, but it has an origin story, an anthem we sing together, a political structure. Twinkles is elected president year after year, term limits be damned. We have a clubhouse, sports teams — by some amazing coincidence, Twinkles plays baseball, which just happens to be my favorite sport, too — even, I kid you not, trading cards hand-drawn by Sue. Together we create a complex web of stories, a mythology almost as rich and varied as that of the ancient Greeks.

So there is my childhood. On the one hand, confusion and fear, neglect and violence perpetrated by damaged adults; on the other hand, a couple of kids with a vast reservoir of courage, imagination, and love.


I am a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, a private liberal-arts school in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am a history and political-science major: for sure I am going to law school; maybe I am going to be president. But first I need to take one more English course, and I don’t know which one to choose.

I am in Aquinas Hall, where the English-department faculty have their offices. I have heard about one English professor in particular, Dr. Joseph Connors. Several people have told me the same thing: Take a class from Dr. Connors. It’s rumored that, on the last day of the semester, his students rise and give him a standing ovation — he’s that good. I decide to ask his advice about which course would be best for me. It is wholly out of character for me to do this. I am a good student but pathologically shy. I sit in the back of classrooms and do not ask questions and generally cultivate invisibility. What possesses me to knock on this strange professor’s door? I can’t say.

I should also mention that, at this time, having graduated from a high school that enforced short haircuts, I have long hair. I also have a beard — unkempt, somewhat Amish, somewhat Russian. (I was aiming for Dostoyevsky but may have landed on Rasputin.) I am wearing boots and an Army-surplus overcoat. Probably I look like General Ulysses S. Grant after a long, bad night.

The great wonder is that, when I knock on his door looking like this, Dr. Connors doesn’t call security. He smiles. He welcomes me into his office, where the shelves are lined with books. The room even smells like books. It smells like learning.

Dr. Connors is the most deeply literate man I will ever meet. He reads all of Shakespeare’s plays each year. He also reads Boswell’s Life of Johnson — unabridged! — annually. He knows a great many poems by heart: in the middle of a lecture he will stare off into the distance and recite a Shakespeare sonnet. (I used to think there was a teleprompter hidden somewhere.)

But I don’t know any of this yet as Dr. Connors brings me into his office and makes me feel there just might be room for me in this place. He takes books down from his shelves and shows them to me. He talks about the Romantic writers he’s teaching next semester — Blake, Keats, Byron — as if they were mutual friends of ours. I nod a lot. These books are treasures; I can tell by the way he handles them. They contain secrets I want to know. Dr. Connors spends a long time with me, somehow intuiting, as all great teachers do, that behind seemingly simple queries there often lie deeper, more difficult, possibly impossible-to-articulate questions. I leave his office well on my way to becoming an English major. I don’t want to be president anymore; I want to be Dr. Connors.

He and my other professors and mentors, through their kindness and encouragement, changed my life. They gave me hope that a certain shaky, half-formed story I wanted to tell about myself just might — possibly, maybe, someday — come true. When I did my PhD studies at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Connors took me to lunch at the beginning of each academic year at the Curtis Hotel, just as his mentor had done for him.

After Dr. Connors retired, after his wife passed away, after I had become a professor myself, my wife and I would visit him. He lived into his nineties. Though increasingly frail in body, he was always generous in spirit, as sharp and curious as ever.

Every time I knocked on his door at Rosewood Estate, part of me remembered with pleasure and gratitude that first time I knocked on his door in Aquinas Hall. That day he treated me — a scruffy, shy, naive young man — like a serious person, a student of literature, someone worthy of the world of poetry and story. And somehow that is who I have become.


I am at the Gowanda Correctional Facility in western New York. It is two days before Christmas, and I have been invited here because of a program called Battle of the Books: The inmates form into teams and, after weeks of study, compete by answering trivia questions about four novels for young readers — because the prison librarian believes these books will not be too difficult or intimidating. Today a book I’ve written — about a grieving, baseball-loving girl named Molly who’s mastered the difficult art of the knuckleball — is one of the selections.

I’ve had my background checked, gone through security, and been given instructions on how to behave in here: Don’t reveal private information. Don’t walk between two inmates. Don’t stand too close to anyone. I am brought into a big open room like a gym, where the men stand in groups. A couple of hand-lettered signs announce BATTLE OF THE BOOKS and list the names of the teams that are competing. It feels a little like a high-school mixer, except everyone but the librarians is a man, and all the men are wearing green prison uniforms, and instead of chaperones there are guards. Other than that, it’s exactly like a high-school mixer.

I am here to watch the competition, which is like the bastard offspring of Jeopardy! and street basketball: nerdy knowledge wrapped in high-fives and trash talk. These guys know more about my novel than I do. They know, for example, the favorite color of the main character’s mother. (Teal.) Numbers, food, the full names of minor characters — they have memorized it all. They know the freaking batting order of Molly’s baseball team. And they know the other books just as well. Rarely does a team miss a question, no matter how obscure. There is tremendous joy in the room.

The competition lasts around three hours. After a while I almost feel as if I know these guys. Before I arrived here, I had the usual preconceived notions about prisoners. Now I see that, except for the green uniforms, the inmates look like people I might run into at the grocery store or a ballgame. I start to wonder: If the guards and inmates switched uniforms, would I be able to tell? Then I wonder: If I were to put on a green uniform, would I stand out? Would someone say, Hey, what’s the novelist doing dressed like an inmate? I don’t think so.

I find myself rooting for one team in particular. They call themselves the Twelve Steppers, or something like that. I get the reference: they are in recovery, trying to change their lives one day at a time. These men have done bad things. They’ve committed crimes. They’ve hurt people. But here they are, about to spend Christmas in this place. How can I not root for them?

Afterward the head librarian brings one of the men over to tell me something. He is about my age. “Your book,” he says, “is the first book I’ve ever read.” He thanks me for writing it. I thank him for reading. He extends his hand, and even though it is against the rules — especially because it is against the rules — I take it and try to squeeze into it all the strength and hope I can.


My sister, Sue, the Jim Henson of West St. Paul, Minnesota, grew up to major in political science and French in college and studied for two terms in France. A self-taught musician — piano, guitar, bass, banjo, harp; you name it, she can play it — she performed in various bands: bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, classical, polka, even a little punk-polka, an underappreciated genre. She graduated with honors from law school, worked with a firm that specialized in antitrust law, drank too much, got sober, started her own practice, then switched to legal aid and worked for the St. Paul American Indian Center before being named a Hennepin County Family Court judge. She got married and adopted three boys from Korea, one with special needs. Throughout her judicial career she was a radical force, always aiming to make the system less damaging and more merciful.

Ten years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing treatment, she moved for a time to traffic court, but she couldn’t give up her inclination to improve the system. She founded a community-justice initiative and went into Minneapolis neighborhoods that scared even her bailiff. She sat down with people there, without a robe, across a table in a community center, and listened to their problems, then helped them figure out what they needed to do to get their driver’s license back.

Five years ago Sue learned that her cancer had returned and metastasized to her bones and her brain. It is Stage IV, a terminal diagnosis. Since then, I have not heard her utter a word of self-pity. She also has not slowed down one bit. She’s taken her sons on a number of trips. She’s organized and spoken at a conference on the topic of “Love and the Law” — an unlikely concept to you and me, but not to Sue. She’s continued to cook and quilt. She’s maintained her meditation practice and still serves as a kind of personal Buddhist teacher to her sons, her friends, and one brother.

She’s also created a website to share some of her writing. If you visit it — just google “Sue Cochrane healing” — you’ll see that she arranges her writing under several headings. There’s a section on the law, where she explores more-humane models of resolving disputes. There’s a section called Living My Life, which contains updates on her health. And there’s a section labeled Power of Love. It contains poems, photos, and essays on compassion. To get to them, you click a link that says, “Click here for unconditional love.” It really says that. “Click here for unconditional love.” I strongly recommend you do this.

About a year ago Sue flew to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, for brain surgery. Because her husband needed to stay with their boys, I flew down to be with her. I got on a plane in Buffalo, New York, just about the time she was being prepped. I thought about what the surgeons were doing, with their scalpels and drills and high-tech vacuums, while I was crossing the Rockies. Not knowing what the result of the surgery would be, I arrived in Phoenix, got a cab to the hospital, found the surgery floor, and entered the recovery room as she was coming to.

She had a wicked gash across her scalp — nineteen staples long — and her face was swollen, one eye almost closed. She looked like she’d gone twelve rounds with Muhammad Ali in his prime. The surgery, we would soon learn, was a complete success, beyond expectations.

Sue was groggy but recognized me and took my hand. She said two things, again and again, two things I would encourage you to consider saying to yourself and your loved ones from time to time. They are words you can use in almost any circumstance. She said: “I am so happy to be alive.” And: “I’m glad you’re here.”

So there you are: four stories. There’s no thesis in any of them, no theme, no hidden meaning. If you want to draw some lessons from them, you are free to do so. You may decide to trust in the sustaining power of the imagination. You may decide to knock on a stranger’s door, or to open doors for others if you can. You may decide to shake someone’s hand, even if it’s against the rules. And I hope you will click on unconditional love. Always that: click on unconditional love.


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Saudi Arabia move over – here comes Trump’s US …

Posted on May 2, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Stephen Moore – a columnist for The Washington Times, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works – and who was a senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
I have argued many times on these pages, and elsewhere, that the shale oil and gas revolution is the story of the decade. 
Since 2007 U.S. oil and gas output has risen by about 75 percent and the renaissance is still in its infancy stages
This year the surge in domestic energy production has further accelerated in part due to higher world prices for oil (approaching $70 a barrel) and to massive drilling operations in rich oil patches like the Permian Basin in Texas and in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.
The Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. could surpass Saudi Arabia in oil and gas by the end of the year. With massive oil and gas shale reserves, we could be No. 1 in the world before the end of the decade.
The Wall Street Journal confirms that U.S. output is “expected to surpass Saudi Arabia by the end of the year” and we will rival Russia for No. 1 in the world. 
American production will rise to almost 11 million barrels a day, the most ever in American history. Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when the left was running around shrieking about “peak oil?” More like peak idiocy.
Last week Reuters argued that the American shale boom should be called “Donald Trump’s Revenge.” The story reported that “U.S. oil now floods Europe at the expense of OPEC and Russia.” 
Couldn’t have happened to a couple of nicer guys. America is now selling more than one-half million barrels a day thanks in no small part to the end of the oil and gas export ban in 2016.
What all of this means is that we are getting very close to the day when America returns to becoming a net exporter of oil. This would reduce our trade deficit by more than $200 billion a year. 
The chart below shows the precipitous decline in imports over the past decade. Saudi Arabia is still a major player in the market that can move the world price by turning on and off their spigots. The recent spike in gas prices to more than $3 a gallon is due to Russia and Saudi production cuts.
 But the OPEC nations can no longer hold the world hostage, as it did in the 1970s when we had gasoline lines and price controls and had to bow to the Saudi oil sheiks.
What a difference a president makes. Mr. Trump has been all in on encouraging fossil fuel production. He’s freeing up federal lands in places like Alaska for drilling, allowing permits for new pipelines and relaxing some of the anti-fracking regulations that were enacted in the Obama years.
As Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Energy, which owns much of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, recently told me: “It makes a big difference when you have a president who actually LIKES your industry.”
One idea that is floating around on Capitol Hill now is to use the royalties and lease payments from drilling on federal lands to reduce the trillion-dollar annual budget deficit. This is essentially free money to Uncle Sam and by some estimates these payments could exceed $1 trillion over the next decade. Why not?
Only a few years ago Mr. Obama told the nation that “we use 20 percent of the world’s oil but we only have 2 percent of the world reserves.” He was only off by well more than an order of magnitude on our nation’s share of world supplies.
Mr. Trump has always had a much more optimistic and realistic world view. He says he wants to “make America energy dominant,” and after a little more than a year in office we are on our way.

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What the Army in Kashmir Thinks …

Posted on April 18, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities, Searching for Success, Uncategorized |

This NYT Article by Phil Klay, a Marine Corps Vet, fully applies to the Indian Army in Kashmir and the NE – 
“We’re at war while the Nation is at the Mall.”

I’m not sure when I first heard this in Iraq, but even back in 2007 it was already a well-worn phrase, the logical counterpart to George W. Bush’s arguing after the Sept. 11 attacks that we must not let the terrorists frighten us to the point “where people don’t shop.”

Marines had probably started saying it as early as 2002. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some lance corporal muttered to another as they shivered against the winds rushing down the valleys in the Hindu Kush. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some prematurely embittered lieutenant told his platoon sergeant as they drove up to Nasiriyah in a light armored vehicle.

Whatever the case, when I heard it, it sounded right. Just enough truth mixed with self-aggrandizement to appeal to a man in his early 20s. Back home was shopping malls and strip clubs.

Over here was death and violence and hope and despair. Back home was fast food and high-fructose corn syrup. Over here, we had bodies flooding the rivers of Iraq until people claimed it changed the taste of the fish. Back home they had aisles filled wall to wall with toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and body spray. Over here, sweating under the desert sun, we smelled terrible. We were at war, they were at the mall.

The old phrase popped back into my head recently while I was shopping for baby onesies on Long Island — specifically, in the discount section on the second floor of the Buy Buy Baby. Yes, I was at the mall, and America was still at war.

There’s something bizarre about being a veteran of a war that doesn’t end, in a country that doesn’t pay attention. At this point, I’ve been out of the military far longer than I was in, and the weight I place on the value of military life versus civilian life has shifted radically. On the one hand, I haven’t lost my certainty that Americans should be paying more attention to our wars and that our lack of attention truly does cost lives.

“We’ve claimed war-weariness, or ‘America First,’ and turned a blind eye to the slaughter of 500,000 people and suffering of millions more,” the former Marine Mackenzie Wolf pointed out in a March essay on America’s unconscionable lack of action in Syria up to that point.

On the other hand, I’m increasingly convinced that my youthful contempt for the civilians back home was not just misplaced, but obscene and, frankly, part of the problem.

After four United States soldiers assigned to the Army’s Third Special Forces Group were killed in an ambush in Niger, the American public had a lot of questions. Why were they in combat in Niger? What was their mission? How do you pronounce “Niger”?

Answering these questions would have required a complex, sustained discussion about how America projects force around the world, about expanding the use of Special Operations forces to 149 countries, and about whether we are providing those troops with well-thought-out missions and the resources to achieve them in the service of a sound and worthwhile national security strategy.

And since our troops were in Niger in a continuation of an Obama administration policy that began in 2013, it also would have meant discussing the way that administration ramped up “supervise, train and assist” missions in Africa, how it often tried to blur the line between advisory and combat missions to avoid public scrutiny, and how the Trump administration appears to have followed in those footsteps. It would have required, at a bare minimum, not using the deaths as material for neat, partisan parables.

Naturally, we didn’t have that conversation. Instead, a Democratic congresswoman who heard the president’s phone call to the widow of one of the fallen soldiers informed the news media that Mr. Trump had ineptly told the grieving woman that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Quickly, Americans shifted from a discussion of policy to a symbolic battle over which side, Democratic or Republican, wasn’t respecting soldiers enough. Had the president disrespected the troops with his comment? Had Democrats disrespected the troops by trying to use a condolence call for political leverage? Someone clearly had run afoul of an odd form of political correctness, “patriotic correctness.”

Since, as recent history has shown us, violating the rules of patriotic correctness is a far worse sin in the eyes of the American public than sending soldiers to die uselessly, the political battle became intense, and the White House was forced to respond. And since in a symbolic debate of this kind nothing is better than an old soldier, the retired Marine general and current chief of staff, John Kelly, was trotted out in an Oct. 19 news conference to defend the president.

He began powerfully enough, describing what happens to the bodies of soldiers killed overseas, and bringing up his own still painful memories of the loss of his son, who died in Afghanistan in 2010. He spoke with pride of the men and women in uniform.

But then, in an all too common move, he transitioned to expressing contempt for the civilian world. He complained that nothing seemed to be sacred in America anymore, not women, not religion, not even “the dignity of life.”

He told the audience that service members volunteer even though “there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.” He said veterans feel “a little bit sorry” for civilians who don’t know the joys of service.

To cap things off, he took questions only from reporters who knew families who had lost loved ones overseas. The rest of the journalists, and by extension the rest of the American public who don’t know any Gold Star families, were effectively told they had no place in the debate.

Such disdain for those who haven’t served and yet dare to have opinions about military matters is nothing new for Mr. Kelly. In a 2010 speech after the death of his son, Mr. Kelly improbably claimed that we were winning in Afghanistan, but that “you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported” by members of the “‘know it all’ chattering class” who “always seem to know better, but have never themselves been in the arena.”

And he argued that to oppose the war, which our current secretary of defense last year testified to Congress we were not winning, meant “slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”

This is a common attitude among a significant faction of veterans. As one former member of the Special Forces put it in a social media post responding to the liberal outcry over the deaths in Niger, “We did what we did so that you can be free to naïvely judge us, complain about the manner in which we kept you safe” and “just all around live your worthless sponge lives.” 

His commentary, which was liked and shared thousands of times, is just a more embittered form of the sentiment I indulged in as a young lieutenant in Iraq.

It can be comforting to reverse the feelings of hopelessness and futility that come with fighting seemingly interminable, strategically dubious wars by enforcing a hierarchy of citizenship that puts the veteran and those close to him on top, and everyone else far, far below.

But John Kelly’s contempt for modern civilian life wasn’t a pep talk voiced in a Humvee traveling down an Iraqi highway, or at a veterans’ reunion in a local bar. He was speaking to the American people, with the authority of a retired general, on behalf of the president of the United States of America. And he was letting us know our place.

Those with questions about military policy are being put in their place more and more often these days. When reporters later asked the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, about some of Mr. Kelly’s claims, which had proved false, she said, “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s highly inappropriate.”

It was an echo of the way Sean Spicer tried to short-circuit debate about the death of a Navy SEAL in Yemen by claiming that anyone who questioned the success of the raid “owes an apology” to the fallen SEAL.

Serious discussion of foreign policy and the military’s role within it is often prohibited by this patriotic correctness. Yet, if I have authority to speak about our military policy it’s because I’m a citizen responsible for participating in self-governance, not because I belonged to a warrior caste.

If what I say deserves to be taken seriously, it’s because I’ve taken the time out of my worthless sponge life as a concerned American civilian to form a worthy opinion. Which means that although it is my patriotic duty to afford men like John Kelly respect for his service, and for the grief he has endured as the father of a son who died for our country, that is not where my responsibility as a citizen ends.

I must also assume that our military policy is of direct concern to me, personally. And if a military man tries to leverage the authority and respect he is afforded to voice contempt for a vast majority of Americans, if he tries to stifle their exercise of self-governance by telling them that to question the military strategy of our generals and our political leaders is a slight to our troops, it’s my patriotic duty to tell him to go pound sand.

If we don’t do this, we risk our country slipping further into the practice of a fraudulent form of American patriotism, where “soldiers” are sacred, the work of actual soldiering is ignored and the pageantry of military worship sucks energy away from the obligations of citizenship.

I understand why politicians and writers and institutions choose to employ the trope of veterans when it comes to arguing for their causes. Support for our military remains high at a time when respect for almost every other institution is perilously low, so pushing a military angle as a wedge makes a certain kind of sense. But our peacetime institutions are not justified by how they intermittently intersect with national security concerns — it’s the other way around.

Our military is justified only by the civic life and values it exists to defend. This is why George Washington, in his Farewell Orders to the Continental Army, told his troops to “carry with them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions” and “prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens than they have been persevering and victorious as soldiers.”

Besides, let’s not pretend that living a civilian life — and living it well — isn’t hard. A friend of mine, an officer in the Army Reserves, told me that one of his greatest leadership challenges came not overseas, but when a deployment to Afghanistan got canceled and his men were called to the difficult and often tedious work of being husbands, fathers, members of a community.

My wife and I are raising two sons — the older one is 2 years old, the little one 6 months. And as we follow our national politics with occasional disgust, amusement, horror and hope, we regularly talk about the sort of qualities we want to impress upon our boys so they can be good citizens, and how we can help cultivate in them a sense of service, of gratitude for the blessings they have, and a desire to give back.

It’s a daunting responsibility. Right now, though, the day-to-day work of raising these kids doesn’t involve a lot of lofty rhetoric about service. It involves drool, diapers and doing the laundry. For me, it means being that most remarkable, and somehow most unremarkable of things — a dad.

Which is how I found myself that day, less a Marine veteran than a father, shopping with the other parents at Buy Buy Baby, recalling that old saying, “We’re at war while America is at the mall.” I wondered about the anonymous grunt poet who coined it. Whoever he was, there’s a good chance that even by the time I heard it, he’d already done his four years and gotten out.

Maybe he’d left the Corps, settled into civilian life. Maybe he was in school. Perhaps he was working as a schoolteacher, or as a much-derided civil servant in some corner of our government. Perhaps he found that work more satisfying, more hopeful and of more obvious benefit to his country than the work he’d done in our mismanaged wars.

Or perhaps, if he was as lucky as I have been, he was in some other mall doing exactly what I was — trying to figure out the difference between 6M and 3-6M baby onesies. If so, I wish him well.

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The Japanese Military …

Posted on April 6, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Uncategorized |

WSJ – For the first time since World War II, Japan’s army is a unified fighting force.

On Wednesday, a central command station for Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force opened at a military base just north of Tokyo. The headquarters will control Japan’s five regional armies and a new amphibious brigade similar to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The organizational shake-up is among the biggest in Japan’s postwar military history. The army, disbanded in 1945, was re-established nine years later but split into five to thwart a repeat of the conspiracy of senior army officers that helped propel the country into World War II.

In recent years, however, rising security threats, such as China’s challenge to Japan’s southern islands, have prompted government officials to highlight the splintered leadership as a weakness that would hinder quick and comprehensive deployment in a crisis. The navy and air force each has a unified command.

Hours before the command station opened, Japan reported seeing Chinese coast guard ships sailing for the third successive day in waters near East China Sea islands controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. China calls the uninhabited islands Diaoyu and Japan refers to them as the Senkakus.

China’s “unilateral escalation is a matter of strong concern,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said in a speech to mark the opening of the combined army command.

The new Japan Ground Self-Defense Force central command will also eliminate the need for the U.S. military to deal with several local counterparts for operations in Japan. Around 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under a security-treaty alliance.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, here reviewing the Self-Defense Forces in 2016, has been an advocate for the military since taking office in 2012, raising spending for six straight years and easing restrictions on its scope of action.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, here reviewing the Self-Defense Forces in 2016, has been an advocate for the military since taking office in 2012, raising spending for six straight years and easing restrictions on its scope of action. PHOTO: EUGENE HOSHIKO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“This will simplify coordination between the U.S. Army and the [Japanese army] during a natural-disaster or security situation, since the same procedures will be used during training, exercises, or crisis, anywhere in Japan,” said U.S. Army Japan deputy commander Col. Stephen J. Grabski.

The creation of the new command is part of a broad review and upgrade of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, which many Japanese still associate more with disaster relief than warfare.

Though far smaller than most regional rivals, Japan’s military is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced weaponry. The country is investing in cruise missiles, at least 42 advanced F-35 fighter jets and a new missile-defense shield. Last month, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called for the nation to develop its own aircraft carrier.

Much of Japan’s military equipment is American-made, and U.S. President Donald Trump has urged Tokyo to buy more.

In recent years Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed through legal changes to loosen restrictions on the military, including allowing it to fight in support of an ally under attack near Japan. He has set a target of 2020 for introducing a constitutional amendment establishing Japan’s right to maintain its own armed forces. Taken literally, the postwar constitution bars a military, though previous governments haven’t questioned the armed forces’ legitimacy.

Government and military officials say Japan faces the most security threats in decades, including from North Korean missiles, and have no choice but to respond.

“We have to create a truly combat-ready Ground Self-Defense Force,” Maj. Gen. Tadao Maeda, a senior army official responsible for planning the transition, said in an interview.

We have to create a truly combat-ready Ground Self-Defense Force.

—Maj. Gen. Tadao Maeda

Japan’s primary fear is that China may try to seize the Senkaku islands. To be better able to retake any islands, the army is tripling its amphibious unit to 2,100 troops. Japanese soldiers have trained with U.S. Marines for around a decade in amphibious warfare.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman didn’t directly answer a question about Japan’s central army command, but China often has criticized Japan’s military changes, calling on Tokyo not to repeat past mistakes.

Some defense experts say that while the expanded amphibious unit and single army command improve Japan’s capabilities, spending on the military spending is sometimes misguided and coordination between land, sea and air forces is still insufficient.

Jeffrey Hornung, an Japan security specialist at Rand Corp., points to the acquisition of destroyers and submarines rather than modern amphibious-troop carriers needed to carry soldiers into battle, and to the Air Self-Defense Force’s lack of training in close air support.

Following a ceremony to open the new army command, Mr. Onodera said the government is emphasizing joint operations of the three arms of the military to deal with crises such as ballistic-missile attacks, island defense or large-scale disasters.

Mr. Onodera also said there are sufficient checks against military usurpation of political power, as in the past.

“We have firm civilian control,” he said.

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Rajputs – Why they Lost …

Posted on February 21, 2018. Filed under: From a Services Career, Regimental, Uncategorized |

From Scroll.in ……  They were defeated by Ghazni, Ghuri, Khilji, Babur, Akbar, the Marathas and the British.

A thousand years ago, Rajput kings ruled much of North India. Then they lost to Ghazni, lost to Ghuri, lost to Khilji, lost to Babur, lost to Akbar, lost to the Marathas, and keeled over before the British. The Marathas and Brits hardly count since the Rajputs were a spent force by the time Akbar was done with them. Having been confined to an arid part of the subcontinent by the early Sultans, they were reduced to vassals by the Mughals.

The three most famous Rajput heroes not only took a beating in crucial engagements, but also retreated from the field of battle. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured while bolting and executed after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, while Rana Sanga got away after losing to Babur at Khanua in 1527, as did Rana Pratap after the battle of Haldighati in 1576. To compensate for, or explain away, these debacles, the bards of Rajputana replaced history with legend.

It is worth asking, surely, what made Rajputs such specialists in failure. Yet, the question hardly ever comes up. When it does, the usual explanation is that the Rajputs faced Muslim invaders whose fanaticism was their strength. Nothing could be further than the truth. Muslim rulers did use the language of faith to energise their troops, but commitment is only the first step to victory. The Rajputs themselves never lacked commitment, and their courage invariably drew the praise of their enemies.

Even a historian as fundamentalist as Badayuni rhapsodised about Rajput valour. Babur wrote that his troops were unnerved, ahead of the Khanua engagement, by the reputed fierceness of Rana Sanga’s forces, their willingness to fight to the death.

Let’s cancel out courage and fanaticism as explanations, then, for each side displayed these in equal measure. What remains is discipline, technical and technological prowess, and tactical acumen. In each of these departments, the Rajputs were found wanting. Their opponents, usually Turkic, used a complex battle plan involving up to five different divisions. Fleet, mounted archers would harry opponents at the start, and often make a strategic retreat, inducing their enemy to charge into an ambush.

Behind these stood the central division and two flanks. While the centre absorbed the brunt of the enemy’s thrust, the flanks would wheel around to surround and hem in opponents. Finally, there was a reserve that could be pressed into action wherever necessary. Communication channels between divisions were quick and answered to a clear hierarchy that was based largely on merit.

Contrast this with the Rajput system, which was simple, predictable, and profoundly foolish, consisting of a headlong attack with no Plan B. In campaigns against forces that had come through the Khyber Pass, Rajputs usually had a massive numerical advantage. Prithviraj’s troops outnumbered Ghuri’s at the second battle of Tarain by perhaps three to one. At Khanua, Rana Sanga commanded at least four soldiers for every one available to Babur. Unlike Sanga’s forces, though, Babur’s were hardy veterans.

After defeating Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, the founder of the Mughal dynasty had the option of using the generals he inherited from the Delhi Sultan, but preferred to stick with soldiers he trusted. He knew numbers are meaningless except when acting on a coherent strategy under a unified command. Rajput troops rarely answered to one leader, because each member of the confederacy would have his own prestige and ego to uphold. Caste considerations made meritocracy impossible. The enemy general might be a freed Abyssinian slave, but Rajput leadership was decided by clan membership.

Absent meritocratic promotion, an established chain of command, a good communication system, and a contingency plan, Rajput forces were regularly taken apart by the opposition’s mobile cavalry. Occasionally, as with the composite bows and light armour of Ghuri’s horsemen, or the matchlocks employed by Babur, technological advances played a role in the outcome.

Ossified tactics

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be.

Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”.

Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.

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An NDA Cadet’s Father Writes ….

Posted on January 21, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Letters of an NDA Cadet’s Father to his Son’s Div Officer –

1. I have sent Vikas to National Defence Academy. My duty ended there. If he is not performing well in the Academy, then I suggest you review your own performance, because it is your responsibility to make him do the needful to pass all the subjects.

2. Girte Hain Shah-Sawar Hi Maidan-E-Jung Mein; Woh Tifl Kya Gire Jo Ghut-non Ke Bal Chala Karte Hain! (It is only those who ride a horse in the battle field who fall; How can cowards fall who walk only on their knees).

3. My son has dreamt to become a pilot and by shifting his stream to Social Studies you are taking him away from his dream. Vikas may fail, but he will learn. I have handed my son over to you. Do what is required. You can kick him, kill him, but I want to see him, as an Airforce Pilot.

Hard work and grit paid off and the Boy joined the IAF and won the Vayu Sena Medal

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Animal Facts You will Love …

Posted on November 24, 2017. Filed under: Personalities, Uncategorized |


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China and Realpolitik …

Posted on November 19, 2017. Filed under: Chinese Wisdom, Searching for Success, Uncategorized |

Times of India –

After a decade’s hibernation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to rally Asia’s four democratic nations is again on the table. The name ‘China’ may not be in the mission of the Quadrilateral – comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India – but Beijing is understood by all to be the group’s core concern.

The rather low key launch of the Quad in Manila this week highlighted the caution of the once-bitten-twice-shy crowd. While the menace from a resurgent China has multiplied since Japan’s last attempt to bring together this loose union of democratic countries, so too have the risks of such a venture. The Quad’s members today face greater economic and even military consequences from antagonising China than they did a decade earlier.

In August 2007, fresh from his first electoral victory, Abe came to New Delhi and to the applause of Indian Parliament announced his plan for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The initiative had already led to its first quiet meeting on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) gathering in Manila in June 2007.

Soon after Abe’s India visit, however, his government lost power and amid the more pressing priorities of the global financial crisis, the Quad project was shelved.

Strengthened by a strong new electoral mandate for his government and galvanised by China’s relentless advance towards a dominant position in east Asia, Abe has once again taken the lead in pushing for the Quad. Perhaps to avoid provoking China, at least in the initial stage, the launch was low key.

While the leaders of the four countries held consultations, they avoided a showy summit meeting. However, their differing perspectives on the Quad’s mission were revealed in the subtly different statements that they issued.

In separate statements issued by Quad partners they showed their preference and concerns in the a la carte selection of varied missions. For example, the Indian statement avoided mention of freedom of navigation and overflight – an issue that was highlighted by the others but one that is bound to raise Chinese hackles.

China has strongly criticised US Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) in South China Sea. India was silent on respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes, also shying away from mentioning one of the key objectives sought by the other partners – upholding or coordinating maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. For its part, Japan was silent on “enhancing connectivity” sought by the other three, perhaps to avoid commitment on responding to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Behind the partners’ hesitant responses lies the hard reality of economics. While all are concerned by China’s aggressive moves in the South China and East Seas, along Sino-Indian border, and its heavy-handed moves vis-à-vis other neighbours, they cannot ignore the weight of their trade and investment relations.

In 2015-16, China ranked number one among Australia’s export markets, accounting for fully 28% of exports. China remains a major export destination for both Japan and India, and has shown no hesitation in administering economic punishment in response to what it views as hostile actions. Economic dependence on China is accentuated by economic disarray thrown by President Donald Trump among east Asian allies with his rejection of TPP.

In his single-minded transactional calculus, Trump seems to value bilateral relationships not based upon strategic or political consideration, but by some notional dollar value of a given business deal. Trump has stopped disparaging the US-Japan alliance after promise of, as Trump tweeted, “massive amounts” of military equipment purchase from the US.

Australia too has pleased Trump by ordering $1.3 billion worth of spy planes. Trump may well tweet that US support for the Quad will be contingent on American military sales to these countries.

Close economic ties form the backbone of any security cooperation and Trump’s disdain for multilateral trade pacts in favour of bilateral deals, as shown during the latest Apec summit, does not bode well for the Quad.

And yet there may be Hope —


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