Why is it important to study the strategies of history and the ancient art of war today? Has military strategy essentially changed over the years? In part two of this week’s podcast, Andrew R. Wilson, Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College, and prolific author on the subject of Chinese military history, explains why the lessons of history are so important today.
Posts Tagged ‘China’
Ten out of the 15 countries with the worst religious freedom abuses are Muslim, according to the recently released U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2013 Annual Report identifying the status of religious freedom throughout the world, and citing countries that are the least tolerant of religious freedom.
IRFA requires the President of the United States, who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, those governments that have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom.
IRFA defines “particularly severe” violations as ones that are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious,” including acts such as torture, prolonged detention without charges, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial[s] of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”
After a country is designated a CPC, the President is required by law to take action to remedy the situation, or to invoke a waiver if circumstances warrant (As the late JFK put it: He may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB).
For the 2013 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.
USCIRF also finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
USCIRF also places countries on its Tier 2 list, where the country is on the threshold of a CPC status, meaning that the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are particularly severe and that at least one, but not all three, of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard is met.
The Tier 2 designation provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby giving policymakers an opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations. USCIRF has concluded that the following eight countries meet the Tier 2 standard in this reporting period: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Russia.
But not to worry – the State Department has issued indefinite waivers on taking any action against Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. As a result of these waivers, the United States has not implemented any policy response tied to the CPC designation for either country.
Gives a whole new meaning to the slogan “Freedom must be earned.”
In Egypt, the government has failed to protect Coptic Christians, who comprise 10 percent of the country’s 90 million people. The Copts have been tortured and killed and individuals continue to be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for “contempt” or “defamation” of religion (Islam).
Somebody should start boycotting Egyptian products…
In Iran, religious freedom for minorities has deteriorated over the last year, a bad year for the Baha’is, Christians, and Sufi Muslims. The Report details that, “physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests, and imprisonment” intensified.
Jews, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Zoroastrians have faced harassment, intimidation, discrimination, arrests, and imprisonment. Anyone who has dissented against the government, a theocratic republic, including Majority Shi’i and minority Sunni Muslims, have been intimidated, harassed, and detained. Several dissidents and human rights defenders have been sentenced to death and executed for “waging war against God.”
Human sacrifice, that must be their god’s favorite pastime.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visited the Great Wall of China on Thursday, allowing him to make the obvious comparison with Israel’s security fence, dubbed by leftists as the “Apartheid Wall.
Unlike the Chinese Great Wall, the “wall” in Israel extends less than 10 percent of the total length of the fortification, the rest of which is a fence.
“Just as the Chinese defended themselves by barricading themselves behind the Great Wall, so to will we [Israel] fortify ourselves along the southern border, the Golan Heights and all fronts,” the Prime Minister said during a brief stop and photo opportunity during his five-day trip in China.
He said the Great Wall inspired him as Israel built the security fence along the southern border with Egypt.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has concentrated on trade and economics with China during his visit. Chinese leaders and the Prime Minister have signed a series of trade and cultural agreements since he landed on Sunday.
I’ve heard suggestions that Israel should be looking east for allies, rather than toward the U.S. and Europe. Judging by the four point “peace plan” proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping while both PM Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas were in China, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea. Do we really need another plan that doesn’t mention recognition of Israel as a Jewish state?
Here are the four points, with a few comments interspersed. You can decide for yourself if this represents a positive breakthrough.
First, the right direction to follow should be an independent Palestinian State and peaceful co-existence of Palestine and Israel. To establish an independent state enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the key to the settlement of the Palestinian question. At the same time, Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns should also be fully respected.
Just in case we have any question about whether the Chinese are taking sides, the “Palestinian people” have “inalienable rights” to specific territory while Israel has only a “right to exist.” The word “legitimate” is ambiguous, too — does it mean that Israel’s concerns are legitimate, or does it mean that only “legitimate” concerns should be ‘respected’?
As we know, there are no “1967 borders,” only 1949 armistice lines which neither side accepted as having any permanent significance, and which were understood by the drafters of UNSC resolution 242 as needing to be replaced by “secure and recognized” boundaries. And if “full sovereignty” includes militarization and control of airspace, then that is simply inconsistent with Israel’s security.
Second, negotiation should be taken as the only way to peace between Palestine and Israel. The two sides should follow the trend of the times, pursue peace talks, show mutual understanding and accommodation, and meet each other half way. The immediate priority is to take credible steps to stop settlement activities, end violence against innocent civilians, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and properly handle the issue of Palestinian prisoners in order to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of peace talks. Comprehensive internal reconciliation on the part of Palestine will help restart and advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Ending violence against innocent civilians, if this means stopping Arab terrorism, would be great. But keep in mind that the PLO promised — when it signed the Oslo accords, and received weapons, money and training for its “police force” — to do just that. PLO-supported terrorism continued, before, during and after the murderous Second Intifada, under Arafat and Abbas, on both sides of the Green Line, and is even increasing today, giving rise to fears of a third intifada. So any agreement must include a way to ensure that the PLO would honor it, as well as a way to restrain Hamas and the other extremist factions.
I recall the ill-fated “Road Map,” whose full name was, “A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” It called for “ending terror and violence” and stopping incitement as part of Phase I. Supposedly there would not be a Phase II if this didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t. Along the way, the idea of conditioning Israeli concessions on Palestinian performance seems to have been given up.
Regarding “settlement activities”: the argument has been that even if a “settler” adds a bedroom onto his house within an existing settlement, then he is somehow creating facts on the ground which prejudice a future agreement with the Palestinians. This is illogical, considering that (a) the settlement blocs where most Jews live are expected to remain part of Israel under any reasonable agreement, and (b) there is established precedent for Israel withdrawing from inhabited settlements.
But more important: Arabs, too, are building “settlements,” especially in Area C, the part of Judea/Samaria that is supposed to be under full Israeli control. Will they agree to stop their “activities” as well? Because they are the ones creating facts on the ground today.
Chinese media have reported Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s current visit as secondary news, reflecting China’s distance from the Israeli-Palestinian Authority issue.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also in China, and his visit has gained slightly more attention than Netanyahu’s.
The Prime Minister’s main mission is economic, and Israel’s trump card in any political dealings between Beijing and Ramallah is Israel’s capacity for helping China in the fields of agriculture and high technology.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported a seven-paragraph blurb on Netanyahu’s first day in the country, with most of the report referring to his scheduled tour of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The site illustrates Shanghai’s providing a safe heaven for approximately 30,000 Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has not brought up the matter of Syria in his visit and is not likely to talk about considering China’s objections to foreign intervention and its condemnation Sunday of Israel’s bombing of Iranian missiles in Syria that were headed for Hezbollah.
Abbas is trying to convince China to be more vocal in his bid for declaring the Palestinian Authority an independent country based on his own definitions while ditching a negotiated agreement with Israel.
However, China has little to gain from joining Abbas’ worldwide campaign for support and has a lot more to gain from Israel’s technology.
China Central television gave Abbas more coverage than Netanyahu, and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented a four-point proposal for Palestinian Authority.
The People’s Daily featured a photo of Abbas and the Chinese president shaking hands, and the caption read, “China firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people.”
However, experts in China doubt that Abbas will receive much more than headlines.
Prof Yin Gang, associated with a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences state-run think-tank, said Beijing is “very unlikely” to playa significant part in the deadlock between Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to the South China Morning Post.
Li Shaoxian, a Middle East expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a state security ministry-affiliated think-tank, told China Daily that China can “hardly match” Washington’s role in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Shanghai Monday and immediately traveled from the airport to an exhibition at a high-tech industrial park and promoted Israel’s high-tech industry.
Next to a wall on which were the logos of the companies operating in the high-tech park, the Prime Minister said, “We see here the logos of many of the world’s leading companies. I hope that we will soon see on this wall the logos of many Israeli companies; this is the goal – to expand bilateral economic cooperation and significantly increase Israeli exports to China.”
He viewed a series of innovative technological developments in the fields of alternative energy, urban development, the environment, aviation and space, computer networks, medicine and entertainment technology by leading companies active in China.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is on his way to China on Sunday evening, but he won’t be the only one. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is also on his way. The two are not expected to meet – it is a big country after all.
Netanyahu will be in China for 5 days to discuss economic agreements between China and Israel. He will be meeting with the Chinese president and prime minister, as well as other senior officials.
It’s almost certain that Netanyahu will talk to Beijing about Iran. Less than two weeks ago, head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, secretly met in China with his counterpart to reportedly discuss Syria and Iran.
As China has stood with Russia opposing Western intervention in the Syrian civil war, this trip could be very interesting considering the reports of multiple Israeli air strikes against Syrian chemical weapons.