Taiwan’s Election is a Communist Rejection

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On January 16, 2016, Taiwan held national elections. The results were clear. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, the Democratic Progressive Party (“DPP”) chairperson and presidential candidate, won a landslide victory with 56.1% of the votes. Eric Chu of the Kuomintang Party (“KMT”) garnered 30.1% percent of the votes.

 

President-Elect Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen Image by MiNe(sfmine79), wikimedia commons.

President-Elect Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen
Image by MiNe(sfmine79), wikimedia commons.

 

In the same elections, the DPP achieved a clear majority in the legislature, winning 68 of 110 seats. That is enough for the DPP to legally overcome any opposition in the legislature. Whenever a national election results in a landslide, usually at least one of two things is true – either the elections are the single candidate, North Korean style farce, or the voters are unhappy with the status quo. In the case of Taiwan, it is the latter, but there is more to it than that.

Prior to the elections, the Taiwanese public had made it clear that they were tired of the corruption and economic mismanagement that their government had inflicted on them. On January 16, they were largely voting for change.

At the same time, a significant portion of previously steadfast KMT loyalists had lost faith in their party because the KMT had shifted toward overt cooperation with the communist regime in Beijing. The KMT had bet heavily on the benefits of economic cooperation with Communist China. That bet did not pay off.

It is a mystery why the Kuomintang Party ignored the pathetic examples many Western nations have set by trusting Communist China in business and diplomatic dealings. A glance at the last thirty years of US history would have let them know what to expect. They either never took that glance, or they were serving interests other than those of the people of Taiwan.

Communist China’s reactionary response to the DPP’s victory was swift and predictable. The regime in Beijing publicly warned Taiwan that any attempt at declaring independence will result in an immediate, crushing military defeat by the Red Army.

To Westerners, this response might sound a bit severe and childishly undiplomatic, but nobody in Taiwan was surprised. The communists have been demanding the “return” of Taiwan to Communist China since the Chinese Nationalist Army retreated to that island in 1949. Since then, “obey our rule or die” has been Beijing’s standard mantra toward Taiwan.

 

Taiwan, Chinese coast, and that pesky 110 miles of water. Image by CIA, public domain.

Taiwan, Chinese coast, and that
pesky 110 miles of water.
Image by CIA, public domain.

 

One might wonder why, since the Maoist regime in Beijing was so easily able to invade and occupy Tibet, wouldn’t they do the same with Taiwan?

The answer is water – about 110 miles of it. That’s the distance from the mainland shores to the beaches in Taiwan. The Red Army did not require a navy to invade and occupy Tibet. Invading Taiwan, on the other hand, would require a strong enough navy, and China does not quite have that yet. They are working on it. For decades, Communist China has consistently declared its intent to “reunite” Taiwan “by force, if necessary.” So far, the threats have not caused the Taiwanese to surrender their freedom to Beijing. When the KMT decided to move closer to the communist regime the Taiwanese voters threw them out.

So what do the election results mean for Taiwan’s Western Pacific neighbors?

For South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Brunei, it’s good news. All of them have grown weary of Communist China’s increasingly aggressive policy. Taiwan’s increasing acquiescence to Beijing had been a worrying development for them.

What does it mean for the United States of America?

For the moment, the reaction in the US has been quiet relief. In diplomatic terms, here is the official US response:

“We share with the Taiwan people a profound interest in the continuation of cross-Strait peace and stability. We look forward to working with Dr. Tsai and Taiwan’s leaders of all parties to advance our many common interests and further strengthen the unofficial relationship between the United States and the people of Taiwan.”

Leave it to the folks at Foggy Bottom to simultaneously use the terms “profound” and “unofficial” when taking a “stand.” Or would that be a “non-stand?”

Diplomatic ambiguity aside, US leaders, albeit at the pace of a disabled snail, have come to realize that China has, in fact, been telling the truth for the last sixty-six years concerning its aggressive intentions, and that even the government in Beijing occasionally speaks the truth.

Hard core Beijing-lovers in Washington have fallen on hard times. Their cash is still welcome, but they are as out-of-fashion as integrity inside the Washington Beltway. In practical terms, the US government will continue to pretend to believe that fair and friendly cooperation with Communist China is possible. In the meantime, the US will allow a dribble of military aid to flow to Taiwan and the Philippines. Relations with Viet Nam will improve, and the US will send that country token military aid. The cost of the PR photo shoots in Viet Nam heralding in the new cooperation will be greater than the value of the equipment we send them.

In my view, the election results in Taiwan are good news. Let us hope that for the sake of the people of Taiwan, and for the sake of everyone in the Western Pacific, the DPP will use its power to truly represent the democratic will of the people of Taiwan.

 

Critical Threshold for US-Philippine Relations

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On August 26, 2015, the Philippine government took a major step in Philippine foreign policy toward its closest ally, the US.

During an official visit to the Philippines, the commander of US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, met with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. During that meeting, Secretary Gazmin requested US military assistance in resupplying Philippine military forces in the West Philippine Sea, or, as China calls it, the South China Sea.

Though largely ignored by most Western media outlets, that request is a signal event in US-Philippine relations.

Those of us who remember that the US military was unable to settle workable continued lease terms for two huge major US bases in the Philippines in 1992 might have to subdue an automatic “we told you so” response. Harris is a smart man, and he gave no such smug response. Instead, he politely listened and agreed to pass the request up the chain of command.

 

Spratly Islands with flags from the five contenders. Image by CIA, public domain.

Spratly Islands with flags from the five contenders.
Image by CIA, public domain.

 

The Spratly Islands, which lie between Viet Nam and the main Philippine islands, are germane to this request.

The islands are under conflicting claims between the Philippines, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, and Brunei. Since the largest of the Spratlys, Taiping Island, is only 110 acres at best, depending on the tide, it is clear that the land in the Spratlys is not what is central to the competing claims. Even the fishing rights, oil, and natural gas deposits are not what really drive the claims.

The critical underlying issue is the effect that a successful territorial claim would have in defining the national boundaries of China and the other claimant nations, and how those boundaries would impact navigation through what has previously been considered international waters.

The Philippines’ request for military assistance from the US is, on the surface, simple enough. However, beneath the surface, there has been a lack of unity on several issues that have greatly impacted US-Philippine relations since the fortunate demise of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The standard view of the fall of Marcos and the rise of Corazon Aquino in 1986 holds that the Marcos regime ended, Aquino brought democracy, the new democracy evicted the US from Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Field Air Force Base, and everyone lived happily ever after. The reality was, and remains, somewhat more complex.

 

Clark Air Force Base in Philippines, 1989. Image by US Air Force, public domain.

Clark Air Force Base in Philippines, 1989.
Image by US Air Force, public domain.

 

Marcos died, but the Marcos regime did not quite die with him.

The pressure for the US to abandon its bases in the Philippines did not come from a populist groundswell of Filipino public opinion, as was assumed by most Western journalists. Many on the right assumed that the US would, and should, remain. Many working class Filipinos also had no desire to see the US gather up its cash and leave. In fact, according to Philippine research, 85% of the Philippine people viewed the US favorably then, and still do today. Principally, wealthy landowners and the senators that they owned drove the desire for the US to leave. They saw the US as having enabled the fall of Marcos and the eventual rise of Corazon Aquino, a land reformer, to the presidency in 1986.

 

Corazon Aquino, 1986, at Andrews Air Force Base. Image by US Air Force, public domain.

Corazon Aquino, 1986, at Andrews Air Force Base.
Image by US Air Force, public domain.

 

One of the central themes in Corazon Aquino’s campaign was land reform, which was not a welcome concept to the wealthy plantation owners.

In 1972, her husband, Senator Benigno Aquino, was arrested and imprisoned on various charges after he spoke out against the Marcos regime. In 1980, after Benigno Aquino suffered a heart attack in prison, Imelda Marcos, likely in part due to US pressure, arranged for him and his family to travel to the US for medical treatment and asylum. The Marcos regime and the wealthy landowners that supported it hoped that they had seen the last of the troublesome Aquino family. They hadn’t.

In 1983, Marcos was hospitalized for a kidney transplant, and reformers sensed change in the wind. Aquino, well aware of the danger that awaited him, returned home to the Philippines, intending to battle the Marcos regime from prison by way of grass roots public support. He thought it would work. Unfortunately for Aquino, Marcos thought it would work, too.

When Aquino stepped off the plane, security forces ushered him toward a waiting van. He was shot in the back of the head, and he died before reaching the hospital. Marcos and his pals had allowed a hapless communist agent to slip past the massive security scheme, and he may or may not have fired the .357 magnum revolver that killed Aquino. He may have simply been placed in the right location to be framed for the murder. The communist agent was shot dead at the scene, too, so we can’t ask his opinion.

 

Statue of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in Conception, Tarlac. Image by Ramon F Valasquez, CC3 License, wikimedia commons.

Statue of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
in Conception, Tarlac.
Image by Ramon F Valasquez,
CC3 License, wikimedia commons.

 

The murder of Aquino backfired on the Marcos gang.

Benigno Aquino became a martyr for the people of the Philippines. Aquino’s funeral on August 31, 1983, started at 9:00 a.m. at Santo Domingo Church with the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Sin, conducting the mass. It ended at 9 p.m., when Aquino was buried at the Manila Memorial Park. More than two million people lined the streets during the procession, which was broadcast by the Catholic Church-controlled Radio Veritas. The state controlled media did not broadcast the funeral. Eventually, after Corazon Aquino became president in 1986, twenty-four members of the Philippine military were convicted for conspiring to murder Senator Benigno Aquino.

Most of the long-awaited fairytale democracy has yet to materialize in the Philippines, but democracy has survived, land reform did occur, and now here we are in 2015, fielding a request from the Philippine government for military assistance. And who occupies the office of president of the Philippines now? Benigno Aquino III, the son of the late Senator Benigno Aquino II.

 

Inauguration of Benigno Aquino, III in June, 2010. Image by Govt. of Philippines, public domain.

Inauguration of Benigno Aquino, III in June, 2010.
Image by Govt. of Philippines, public domain.

 

So, what does that request for US military assistance mean in real terms?

It means that in 2015, the Philippines live too close to China. It also means the Philippines has not yet fielded a credible military force to prevent Communist China from moving its border to within two hundred miles of its shores. At this point, even the pissed off ex-landowners are thinking that the US Navy, backed up by a US Air Force, operating from US funded non-US bases in the Philippines could make life easier in the South China/West Philippine Sea.

To state this simply and accurately, the country of the Philippines is requesting that the US play the role of the colonial protectorate in guarding Philippine transport through the Spratly Islands. The Philippines is asking the US to risk military confrontation with China on its behalf.

What’s in it for the US?

The primary advantage is keeping international maritime traffic open through the region. It is not in the US interest for China to expand its Exclusive Economic Zone and its border to the eastern edge of the Spratly Islands. Another advantage is that, if the US must ever resort to a conflict with China, the alliance with the Philippines has the potential to extend the US perimeter to the Spratlys, helping to keep the fight away from our shores.

And how will the US respond to the request?

Cautiously, and quietly . . . We have been waiting for that request for a few years now, and nobody in the Pentagon or the State Department was surprised by it. The preference thus far has been to encourage the Philippines to start building a credible Navy and Air Force. That might happen one day, but not soon enough.

Lots of plans have been announced, but five years into their planned grand naval expansion, the Philippines has yet to acquire a functioning frigate to send to the Spratlys. Their new fifty meter patrol craft are not going to scare the Chinese. I cannot read the mind of President Obama or his closest advisors, but I don’t imagine that the White House would be anxious to commit to another military escalation while heading into a campaign season. A slogan such as “More Wars for Your Enjoyment” isn’t going to win any elections.

My best guess is that the US will step up diplomatic efforts to encourage closer military ties between the Philippines and all its neighbors not named “China.”

In the meantime, China is now dealing with economic problems and complex domestic political intrigues, and it is not as rock-solidly prepared as it would like us to believe to escalate beyond harassment and intimidation in the Spratlys. China will take everything it can get by way of intimidation, but I don’t see it significantly escalating its aggression in the Spratly Islands in the near future.

 

Operation Fox Hunt — China Targets Its Expatriates

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

According to news stories in Western sources, China is now conducting a global campaign to capture Chinese fugitives and recover illicit funds. Chinese police and security forces are entering foreign countries, illegally detaining fugitives, and shipping them back to China without any due process.

 

Fox silhouette with concept phase inside on blur background of forest

 

Some of the fugitives may have been guilty of committing acts that would be considered crimes in the US and other Western nations. Unfortunately, in China, the term “fugitive” is also applied to political dissenters that have escaped.

Even in cases involving actual criminals, the Chinese are ignoring US laws in pursuit of their quarry.

Foreign governments wishing to detain criminals that have escaped to the US must first convince the US government of each individual case’s legitimacy. If the US agrees that a case is legitimate, then foreign police officers may be granted legal entry. The foreign police officers would then have to work with US law enforcement agencies to arrest the suspect. The Chinese have no desire to meet these normal requirements of US and other Western governments.

One of the results of China’s new economic success combined with its endemic corruption is that it now has more criminals escaping China with wealth.

In communist China, today’s revered business mogul, general, or party official may be tomorrow’s wanted criminal. Financial corruption at all levels of the Chinese government is completely normal. As long as a corrupt individual remains in favor with the oligarchy, he may remain a revered hero. That same “hero” instantly takes on demon status when he falls from favor. When said hero sees the ideographs on the wall and gets out of Dodge – or Shanghai, Beijing, etc. – a fugitive is born. If said fugitive demon manages to transfer wealth out of China while getting the hell out of Dodge, then he becomes a more urgently wanted fugitive.

To be fair, I must point out that chasing targets in other people’s countries is not a completely Chinese invention.

I seem to recall hearing a rumor or two about extreme cases when US agents escorted wanted individuals back to the US without the permission of the foreign nations where those individuals may have been residing. Not that I would ever do anything so impolite, myself. These are just rumors, and I don’t remember where I heard them. I’m old, and I forget stuff. In any event, it happens more frequently in fiction than in reality. Overall, it all really comes down to the relationships between the nations in question.

When nations have anything like a reasonable working relationship, they are unlikely to resort to snatch jobs.

For one thing, they don’t need to. For another, they don’t want to damage workable relationships by pursuing every annoying criminal or NSA whistle blower. Let us consider the case of Edward Snowden as a well-known example. Edward committed an unforgiveable sin. He did something that made him a more sought-after fugitive than if he had been a serial killer – he embarrassed the US government and the governments of several of our allies.

You will note that Edward resides in Russia. It’s not because he likes the food, weather, or women better than what he might have had available in, say, Italy, Spain, France, etc. Or, if he wasn’t hungry, perhaps he might even have relocated to England or Germany. But Edward chose Russia because he knew that Russia would not send him back to the US. He also guessed correctly that he would quickly become a high profile case, and that the US would not attempt to chase him while he was under the protection of Putin and pals.

In the case of China, the Chinese government knows that it has nearly zero diplomatic capital to trade on. In China’s judgment, if it wants someone, it needs to go out and hunt him down. The Chinese have named their program for hunting fugitives and their cash Operation Fox Hunt.

The agents employed by China in Operation Fox Hunt are not employees of the Chinese Ministry of Justice, but rather employees of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. The methods used by the Chinese agents chasing “fugitives” are often extreme. In some cases, the fugitives’ family members in China are threatened in order to force the fugitives to return.

The Chinese government let its citizens know that Operation Fox Hunt has captured and returned over 900 fugitives to China. That figure indicates a scope of activity that surpasses Hollywood’s wildest imagination. In fact, it even dwarfs the vast Iranian efforts at controlling, murdering, or snatching Iranian expatriates. The message to the people of China is clear. Annoy the Chinese government, and there will be no escape from its wrath.

Having publicized Operation Fox Hunt to its domestic audience, China will now deny it to everyone else.

Our well-dressed friends from Foggy Bottom (the US State Department) reported that they warned Chinese officials about the activities. I assume that the State Department’s warning will be as effective as all the other warnings that the US has issued to China in the last hundred years, as in not at all.

Next month, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the US. I have no doubt that one White House aide or another will, with a serious look on his or her face, tell us that during their meetings, our President “expressed our grave concerns.” The result of that meeting will be similar to the results of our last dozen meetings with the Chinese, as in nothing will happen.

One of the implications of China’s Operation Fox Hunt is perhaps less obvious than China’s usual lack of ethical conduct, but it is more important. For more than 900 expatriate Chinese to be captured and returned from the West, the appropriate Western agencies would have to be asleep at the switch.

 

Actual photo of Western agency during Operation Fox Hunt

Actual photo of Western agency during Operation Fox Hunt

 

Given the cost to Western taxpayers of those various agencies, the naps in question are more outlandishly expensive than an Obama family vacation or a Congressional junket. If all this activity has been missed by our beloved and oh-so-clever Department of Homeland Security, Britain’s MI-5, or the French Surete Nationale etc., then what else have they been missing? Let’s not ask them. They would simply respond by asking to have their budgets doubled.

One possibility is that Western Governments have known about Operation Fox Hunt, but they have remained silent until the Chinese decided to expose it to its citizens for the propaganda value.

Let me be clear that I am speaking from the point of view of a casual observer. I have no access to classified information concerning Operation Fox Hunt – not even the usual emails from Hillary.

That being said, Western governments might not like what the Chinese are doing, but lacking a practical and effective response, they have until now ignored Operation Fox Hunt.

In many cases, the West may have no desire to keep China from capturing its expatriate party elites. Not all wealthy Chinese escapees are criminals in the traditional sense, and it is likely that a few of them are legitimate prisoners of conscience. How many times various Western agencies may have foiled Chinese Fox Hunts is unknown. Western governments don’t usually publicize such successes unless there is a diplomatic advantage in doing so.

Behind the smoke and mirrors, one can discern a clear message.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to extend his authority to Maoist proportions, he needs to convince the Chinese people that his power grabbing campaign is actually a campaign to save China from “those corrupt traitors.” Operation Fox Hunt is just another facet of Xi’s bigger game. As long as Xi Jinping is able to hold the throne, don’t expect meaningful positive change in China.

Chinese Theft and Hacking in the News — Where Lies the Blame?

By Jay Holmes

Headlines this week are reporting the not-very-new “news” that China is—drumroll and sound track of gasping readers please—stealing US technology and hacking into classified US government computer systems. A secondary aspect of the story focuses on daily denials by China. So is China really stealing US technology? If it is, then what does it mean to us US taxpayers and consumers? What does it mean to our allies and their well-bled taxpayers and highly unemployed consumers?

Stealing Data Canstock

Let’s first consider this “news” from the Chinese side of the issue.  Chinese denials are generally orated in monotone fashion by one highly placed spin doctor or another with even less acting skill than the average D.C. government mouthpiece. The denials, themselves, are always about as convincing as those issued by well-paid celebrity lawyers defending their highly privileged clients.

In China, as in Hollywood or D.C., reasonable observers start with the assumption that the spokesman is a well-practiced, lying crook. They then try to extract some grain of truth from the transparently nonsensical denials being issued. In the case of Chinese government spin doctors, the only truth available from them is the simple truth that they have no need to or intention of ever telling the truth about anything to anyone. They don’t have to. Or at least have never had to until recently.

Different cultures view truth-telling in different ways, and in the Chinese culture, telling the truth to the world at large is considered a form of severe naiveté bordering on mental illness. Add to that the fact that China has never had a government that answered to the Chinese people. As a result, in Chinese government culture, the rare and refined art of telling the truth is about as useful as space heaters in a Congolese home. In a Western context, one might imagine how weasel-like White House and Whitehall spokesmen would become if their masters and their masters’ masters never had to face the expense of another election campaign.

And yet there is one group of listeners that the Chinese find more complex and difficult to deal with—the world’s non-Chinese consumers. The Chinese have figured out that while the thoughts and opinions of their own well-policed prisoner-citizens can be easily dismissed or silenced, the image of the Chinese communist police state now matters to the Chinese oligarchy for financial reasons.

China makes trillions of dollars from Western consumers and Western corporations. As the image of the Chinese government rises and falls from the depths of the public opinion sewer, profits rise and fall. Western consumers buy cheap Chinese junk with the same enthusiasm that heroin addicts demonstrate in their methadone lines. But even with the severity of the West’s addiction to low-priced Chinese garbage, sales can and do rise and fall. A small movement in sales levels represents billions of dollars in lost revenue to the economic warlords that now run China.

What if a Chinese nouveau riche politician is considering buying another Caribbean island or US skyscraper, and his profits drop? What if he and his pals desperately need to rent some Western politicians to do their bidding, and the cash flow takes a dive? To those few people in China who are used to getting anything they want when they want it, that would be annoying. That threat of annoyance inspires Chinese devotion to keeping those revenue bumps from happening.

Predictably, the Chinese have recently switched from routinely denying that anyone in China ever would or could hack a computer, steal technology, or violate a patent, to doing the old “shoulder shrug” response. They are now saying “all governments hack other countries’ computers.” And, of course, they’re not quite right. Not all governments hack other countries’ computers. Only governments with the required resources do that. And furthermore, not all governments ignore patent violations. China does.

Now that we’ve had a laugh considering China’s denials, let’s consider the “hacking” from a Western perspective. China’s routine theft of US technology makes Western companies less competitive in the giant sludge pit that we call “the world market.” That means higher unemployment leading to higher tax rates to help the unemployed, which in turn makes the West still less competitive in the world marketplace.

As well as commercial technology, the Chinese hacking efforts also focus on US military secrets, including advanced weapons design. This means that China gets to develop their advanced weapons, such as their stealth fighter or their drones, without the expense of years of scientific research or the subsequent thousands of engineering hours that lead to lots of engineers having strokes and their employers eventually delivering a useful product. It also means that our weapons systems are less useful as deterrents to Chinese imperial aims.

In Maoist times, the Chinese military only needed to be well-enough equipped and trained to keep the Chinese people obedient to Mao. The most important characteristic of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was obedience to Mao. The emphasis was not on developing a highly skilled, powerful military, but rather a highly obedient one.

In 1978, Viet Nam invaded Laos and Cambodia to overthrow their Chinese-backed governments. In 1979, after yearlong logistical preparations, China confidently invaded Viet Nam. After China’s logistical support for its invading army collapsed, they were forced to withdraw from Viet Nam.

The Chinese military leadership has wanted to do two things since that 1979 disaster. One, it has wanted to continue using its control of the Chinese military and Chinese military industries to acquire personal wealth. In this it has excelled fantastically. In the post-Maoist era they need not hide their profits. They don’t. Their second concern has been to become a more powerful military capable of conquering someone other than themselves. They needed science and technology to do that.

The Chinese suffered decades of “cultural revolution” that included purges of “intellectuals” that would have made even Stalin jealous. The problem with killing all those nasty, opinionated university types, though, is that nobody was left to develop technology. As a result, stealing science and technology became a huge imperative for the Chinese government in the post-Mao age.

Now that China has avoided the routine random slaughter of university professors for a few decades, they have a powerful and effective scientific/engineering community, but that community remains hamstrung by government agencies that are so corrupt that they make Western governments appear to be honest and efficient by comparison. So stealing technology and military secrets remains a priority for China. In fact, it remains a priority for all governments that have the ability to effectively spy.

It’s easy to get angry at the Chinese for being the thieving crooks that they are, but let’s be realistic a moment. The Chinese would give us the standard Chinese answer to that indignation. They would—and frequently do—laugh at us for being so stupid as to allow ourselves to get robbed. In this, they are right.

Most of the Western corporations that whine about the Chinese hacking their computer systems and stealing their technologies have factories in China manned by Chinese employees. While unemployment remains depressingly high in Western nations, these same Western corporations are building yet more factories in China.  Wondering where all your GM bailout cash went? It went to building factories and research centers in communist China. No need for the Chinese to steal GM’s technology. GM gives it to them on a silver platter. And YOU paid for that silver platter!

Whose job is it to secure US military secrets? Is that the job of the Chinese? I don’t think so. Hacking into US intelligence and military networks should not be a “crime.” It should be an impossibility. The fact that it can be done at all is a travesty. Basic compartmentalization to keep top-secret data off of internet systems would prevent that.

So while we listen to the not-so-new news reports about Chinese theft of US technologies and military secrets, we should perhaps not bother questioning China’s spin-doctors. Instead, we should be asking our own government and corporations why it’s happening in the first place.

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Horse Paints & Sells Work In Gallery

I always joke that Kandinsky paintings look like my kids ate crayons and barfed on the canvas. I’m definitely thinking about feeding my kids some crayons after this.

Metro the Painting Horse

Come on, kids. You want to go to college, don’t you?

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

The Most Misunderstood Writing Rule: Write What You Know by #1 Amazon Best Seller Aaron Patterson of Stonehouse Ink.

Forensic Fridays: All About Autopsies by Garry Rodgers.

Emily Cannell takes us on at trip to see the Terracotta Warriors in China. A Forced March to the Terracotta Warriors – Xi’An China

Terracotta Warriorsimage by Emily Cannell

Terracotta Warriors
image by Emily Cannell

How James Bond Won the Second World War by Colin Falconer.

Our PBS history question for the day. Did Black People Own Slaves?

Jenny Hansen asks, What Lights Your Creative Spirit On Fire?

Horses aren’t the only animals exceeding the limitations of society’s concepts. I only wish I could skateboard like this dog does.

Campaign Poll Daddy Question of the Week:

All the best to all of you for a week of exceeding society’s limitations.

Piper Bayard

The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Chinese Women “Occupy” Toilets

China’s ‘occupy toilet’ protests spread

Fed up with the long lines at the ladies’ rooms next to the absence of lines at the men’s rooms, Chinese women are having their own “Occupy” movement by occupying men’s rooms as a way of protesting. They are demanding equal time, or lack thereof.

Click here for the full story.

What do you think? Should American women try this one? Especially at sporting events?

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Vicki Hinze’s Diamond Giveaway Contest. Enter to win a copy of her exciting new release, NOT THIS TIME, and a half carat diamond necklace. (Feel free to lie and say your name is Piper Bayard when you enter. :))

I love seeing two favorites in one place. New York Times Best Selling Author James Rollins interviews Golden Globe winner Howard Gordon, a writer who’s brought us such gems as X-Files, 24, and Homeland. Author to Author: From Screen to Page with Howard Gordon

Howard Gordon, writer of X-Files, 24, Homeland, and now Awake.

Wonderful analysis from Lonny Dunn over at ProNetworkBuild. Does Your Twitter Profile Really Matter?

Holmes spotted this hysterical post by Leanne Shirtliffe over at Nickmom. 9 Ways Feeding an Infant is a Lot Like Having Sex

Having grown up in a very fundamentalist Christian part of the world, Jenny Hansen’s post had me ROFL, especially the video. Perfect for the season of Lent. Help Prevent Sinning with “The Sin Collar”

I went to see This Means War with my daughter, and we loved it. Great fun. Jillian Dodd has a terrific review with, of course, some great pictures. Movie Review: This Means War

Welcome to the Otherworld by Kate Wood. This falls under “pleasant things to think about that stimulate the imagination.”

Foods for a Beautiful Brain by August McLaughlin. You’ll be surprised at some of the foods on this list that can help your brain be its best. The only flaw I can see in it is the absence of bacon. That has to be a mistake.

A little known Piper Fact. I love rabbits. So when I saw this video of a Swedish rabbit that takes charge of the barnyard and herds the sheep, I had to share it with you. It had me laughing through the whole thing. I especially like how the sheep dog and the farmer hang out and and watch through a lot of it. Meet Champis, the sheep herding rabbit.

All the best to all of you for a week of keeping your sheep in line.

Piper Bayard

Who is Watching in Libya, What are They Learning, and What Does That Mean To Us?

By Jay Holmes

China, Syria, and Iran are watching the military operations being conducted by NATO forces in Libya with great attention.

China sent the 4,000 ton frigate, Xuzhou, into Libyan waters, supposedly to assist in evacuations of Chinese citizens from Libya. However, its real mission was likely an ad-hock attempt at quietly conducting SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence) and ELINT (ELectronic INTelligence) operations against the Western powers involved in air operations in Libya. China will invest massive human resources into the analysis of any information it gathers, but it will use that information for long term planning and development rather than in any political decision making.

China expects no conflict with Western nations in the near future, and there is no reason to panic about China’s SIGINT efforts. Great Britain, Japan, and the United States conduct SIGINT and ELINT operations against China from international waters and air space every day of the week. In the last half century, China has come to understand that these operations do not foretell a pending invasion by Western powers. At the same time, we realize that any attempt by China to take possession of Hawaii will be conducted with real estate agents and stock brokers rather than frigates.

In the case of Syria, what they will learn is simple. They are (re)learning what their defeat would look like if NATO ever decided to invade Syria. The air power and missile barrage brought to bear in Libya are very minimal as compared to what a NATO launched attack could be. In Damascus, even the most politically connected, untalented general will have realized that moving or supplying Syrian forces anywhere in Syria will be nearly impossible with NATO air forces present.

The Syrian Air Force is far larger, better equipped, and better trained than the Libyan Air Force. But Syria is aware that the air power NATO is using in Libya is a token force by the standards of alliance, and that in any major conflict with NATO, the missile attack on Syria would be approximately four times larger and would destroy much of Syria’s air force within the first hour of war.

What Syria observes from the Libyan conflict will cause no major change in its strategy. It will simply continue with its sensible course of not provoking the West to invade, which, given the West’s generally defensive strategic stance, will not be difficult. The lessons learned from Libya will simply confirm the validity of that current strategic stance.

What Syria has newly learned from watching Libya is that it should avoid public threats to conduct genocide against its own citizens as protests are arising in Syria. That is a lesson that Gadhafi and his overconfident gangsters learned too late.

In the case of Iran, the Iranians will analyze information gained by observing the Libyan conflict with great interest. Unlike Syria and China, Iran does not assume there will be no conflict between itself and Western nations.

The two things about the tactical aspects of NATO operations that most interest Iran are the command and control methods of NATO air forces, and the effectiveness of the upgraded Tomahawk missiles employed against Libya. The strategic question of even greater interest to Iran concerns the fact that Western powers mobilized military force against Libya without waiting for the Western political tortoise race to conclude.

While the effectiveness of the air power of NATO nations and of the Tomahawk missiles will cause no great shock in Tehran, the fact that an attack took place in spite of the lack of complete agreement by Western powers is bad news for the ayatollahs and their generals. Iran may find itself recalculating the exact position of the “line in the sand” in their neighborhood.

In the twisted minds of the junta in Tehran, a military conflict with the West may seem like a glorious opportunity to be relished, rather than a threat to be feared. They see that as an improving opportunity over time as Iran improves its military capacity and accomplishes its goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the weekly ayatollah update meetings in northern Iran this week. I would absolutely love to hear the well-educated Iranian generals trying to explain the implications of the conflict in Libya to the mostly-functionally-illiterate Supreme Council. Nothing in their years of memorizing the Koran and debating its obscure aspects have prepared the mullahs for leading a near nuclear power like Iran.

The Revolutionary Guard leaders are, no doubt, well-practiced in the art of smoothing over the most awkward of conversations between the megalomaniac ayatollahs and the frightened generals. After all, disagreeing with an ayatollah can cause spontaneous separation of the head from the neck.

I wonder how they draw lots to pick the poor fools that have to deliver the report to the all powerful and none-too-wise mullahs? Perhaps the medals that we see on the chests of Iranian admirals and generals were awarded for surviving some number of meetings with their political leadership. As long as Iran is unequipped by nuclear weapons I can enjoy laughing at their internal leadership situation. A nuclear weapon in the hands of the ignorant ayatollahs would not be quite so laughable.

Special Edition Libya: They Said Whaaaat?

By Jay Holmes

In the past few days, we have seen Western powers overcome their own reluctance to commit to military action against Gadhafi. The vast news coverage of the ongoing diplomacy amongst Western nations has left us with some interesting quotes and sound bites worth considering.

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, while speaking to the press on Tuesday, March 15 presumed to speak for Arabs, saying their sentiment is, “If you don’t show your support for the Libyan people and for democracy at this time, you are saying you will intervene only when it’s about your security, but you won’t help when it’s about our democracy.”

If any Arab leaders should actually match Mister Cameron’s stated sentiment, I would simply ask them how soon they will be done taking care of the problem. After all, there is no force in Libya that could stop a determined Egyptian intervention.

I respect Mister Cameron, and I am not questioning his sincerity, but I must ask him what he knows that the rest of us haven’t heard about yet. Apparently, Mister Cameron is certain that a defeat of Gadhafi will lead to a democracy in Libya. What precisely would “our democracy” mean in Libya or in any Arab nation? The world has yet to see an Arab democracy.

As a long time Gadhafi detractor, I will not miss him when he moves to his summer home in Hell, but it is not clear to me what will occur in Libya once Gadhafi enters that post-metabolic phase of his personal adventure. I would like for the people of Libya to have a democracy run by Libyans and at peace with the region and the rest of the world, but I cannot ignore that in Iraq, the greatest number of foreign Islamic terrorists entering post-Saddam Iraq were from Libya. Many of them, in fact, come from the three main tribes of the Benghazi area. The homegrown, Al Qaida-mimicking Islamic group in Libya originates in large part from Benghazi. Right about now, too, I wish a little more urgency would have been shown concerning the destruction of Gadhafi’s 44,000 pounds of mustard gas. That gas makes for a nasty wild card in this sad poker game.

As a natural born idealist and an incurable optimist, I am hoping that Libya’s recent advances in education will be enough for Libyans to overcome the national kidnapping that Islamic Terrorists are attempting in Libya now. I see no hard evidence to support my best wishes for Libya, but time will surely tell. The air strikes by France and the UK, the missile strikes by the US, and the buildup of other Western military forces at Italian bases indicate that Western Europe (excepting Germany) has decided that the devil we know is worse than the devil we do not know. I hope that the influx of British, French, Danish, Canadian, American, Spanish, and Norwegian forces do not disrupt poor Berlusconi’s busy social schedule.

For another choice quote, on Wednesday, March 16, the often brilliant Princeton/Harvard/Oxford graduate Anne-Marie Slaughter accused the Obama administration of ignoring the human rights of the people in Libya. She tweeted the following: “U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest’ in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that will come back to haunt us.”

For starters “universal values” is a fascinating term. Whose universe is she referring to? Apparently, in her universe the United States military would be quite busy delivering human rights around a largely right-less planet to folks that might not all agree about sharing human rights with their own family members, let alone their neighbors. Would we start with China? Would we first introduce human rights in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan? What about Malaysia or Indonesia? How about a few human rights in Russia or Rhodesia? Where do we start, and who will be paying for it? Will the Chinese finance our campaign for human rights in China? That would be cute.

Great idea, except for that little war with China thing.

Anne-Marie, did you not loudly criticize Bush for resorting to military intervention in Iraq? But now you want quick and vigorous military action by Obama? What a fascinating idea…. But let’s engage the fullest powers of our imagination for a moment. Let’s pretend that Anne-Marie is not just scoring points on the Obama Camp in hopes of regaining overpaid employment with some future Obama opponent in the next election cycle. Ok, Anne-Marie, you win, let’s do it your way. Come by my house, and I’ll donate one AK-47 assault rifle and a case of ammo (1440 rounds full metal jacket). As you are installing human rights in Libya, keep detailed notes. Call us on your cell phone when you get Africa fixed up, and we’ll proceed from there. We all “universally” wish you every possible success. Pax Americana, the sequel.

And from Uncle Momo, himself, in a letter to European leaders on Saturday, “It is not your country. We could never and would never fire one bullet against our people.”

Well ok, Momo, I suppose technically “one bullet” would be unlikely. A hundred bullets every day of the week, thousands of bullets frequently, massive rocket and artillery barrages accompanied by bombardment by aircraft and followed by an assault by an armored column? Sure, several times this week. But “a single bullet”? Nah, a single bullet wouldn’t be any fun.