Month: September 2015

Making sense of Israeli-Russian military coordination in Syria

(My latest op-ed)

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in order to set up a deconfliction and communication system to prevent any accidental clashes between the Russian and Israeli forces present in the region. This comes at a time when Moscow continues to send troops to its growing base on Latakiya and Tartus. According to latest reports, intelligence spurces, independent news outlets and satellite images, there are more than 28 Russian air force planes in Latakia now, up from a mere four even a few days back. American media also reported, quoting unnamed intelligence officials, that Russian drones are now currently operating as a part of pre-sortie recon missions.

In that context, the most high profile visit of Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu in Russia happened. Israeli PM has previously visited Russia in 2013, to prevent the sell of Russian S 300s to Iranian forces. That was a different time, and now the current visit comes at a drastically changed security situation. Back in 2003, Sysian regime under Assad was almost falling, as the moderate rebels were scoring lightning victories. ISIS was not a force like it is now. And the negotiations with Iran was just starting.

Now, the Assad regime has proven to be much more enduring, and strong than previously calculated by security and intelligence analysts. Although the forces of Assad has been decimated in this war of attrition, he hold on to his Alawite heartland in the west coastline of the rump state of Syria that he rules now, as the post- colonial borders are obsolete between Syria and Iraq. In those circumstances, Russia intervened rapidly in shocking speed that stunned almost every player present in the field. Currently over 500 Russian marines are present in Syria alongside, fighter jet squadrons, drones, T 90 tanks and massive artillery support.

To underscore the seriousness of the situation, Netanyahu was accompanied on his current visit by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi. Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin also joined the trip to serve as an interpreter. As per Netanyahu’s press briefings, Russian President Putin was informed that Israel considers two important objectives, when it might be forced to act. The two situations are Hezbollah getting any modern Russian weapons, or when there is an immediate threat to Israeli lives. Apparently President Putin agreed to the two situations.

Russia and Israel therefore are setting up joint communication centers, and hotlines between the two militaries in the country. This is a standard process of deconfliction when two militaries act in a region where the area of operation tend to overlap. To be fair, Russia’s area of operations, should it begin, will be focused on the North and Eastern part of Syria, and Israel’s areas of intervention has always been the South of Syria. For all practical purposes Israel and Russia will not be facing each other even by accident in the Syrian warzone.

So why is Israel suddenly genuflecting to Russia, and what does it say of the situation? First of all, Israel is not genuflecting, and it is a prudent calculation for the Israelis to talk to the Russians. Israel is facing a potentially hostile superpower right next to her borders the first time since the Yom Kippur War. It is only natural being the smaller of the two militaries it will try to start a communication channel with the bigger power. The burden of de-escalation is always more on the smaller power in a conflict zone. Having said that, it would be a mistake to imagine Israel and Russia are adversaries. Even though they have lot of areas where the interests of the two countries are not aligned, but they also have a surprisingly good understanding of each other’s foreign policy and generally abide by. Analysts will remember Israel decided to stop selling Georgia weapons, during 2008 war, and Russia deciding to post-pone selling of S 300 until after the conclusion of the Nuclear negotiations. Infact until recently, even with the Russian buildup in Syria increasing, Israel is selling Drones to Russia to spy on Ukraine border.

Another important thing to note is that Israeli PM Netanyahu shares a terrible working relationship with a professorial US President Obama, and would much rather prefer working with Putin, a military-intelligence man, who is quick to decide and can bypass his cabinet. It is always easier to do business with a pragmatic, authoritarian-ish leader, as they both will understand each other and their interests well. Finally, there is a consensus, in both US intelligence and political community and Israel, that maybe the preservation of Assad is a good thing against ISIS. Also, US and Israel administrations would not be able to say in public as a rhetoric, but in private would be more than happy to delegate the security of Syria to Russia. This comes from a Middle east war fatigue and a guilt of wrecking Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi, which in hindsight, is the main cause of the refugee crisis that is destroying the EU. It is still unclear as to how much Russia is willing to actively participate in cleaning Syrian mess, but what is clear is that Russia is back as a major player, and is getting recognition for it in Middle east. Power vacuum doesn’t stay for long.

Is Obama a Realist in Syria? TL-DR: No.

Nick Cohen is wrong about Syria and “Realism”

Obama is not a Realist, and the way the West dealt with Syria, is not Realism, and it is about time this recurring myth is talked about.

Nick Cohen, one of my favorite writers, also wrote about the Syrian Refugee crisis recently, and opined, that the future generations will blame our Realism in dealing with the refugee crisis. In this instance, however he suffers from a notable disadvantage, of being wrong.

Needless to say, as a researcher of foreign policy and realism, I find this argument of Western Realism a bit oversimplified. Studying the Western response deeply and empirically, one would notice, that the policy of the West to deal with the Syrian crisis was neither Realism, nor Liberal Interventionism. It has been one of shabby half-hearted indifference.

First of all, I don’t want to go into the details of policy frameworks, partly because I have written about it before, and partly because better men have commented on it, and I don’t want to add on to the literature. However, I feel compelled to point out, that an actual realist policy for Syria would be markedly different from the one we are observing presently.

First of all, Realism is amoral and solely based on State interest. However the first fallacy of this line of thought is that the West is not acting to deal with the Syria crisis as a single block. We see a Realist Britain and some specific East European countries, trying to maintain an offshore balancer role, an inward looking and isolationist America busy with Hillary’s email skulduggery and an insufferable Donald Trump and his twitter hordes, and a terribly liberal Germany and Sweden, now facing a shocking reality check about their own demographic unrest.

A Realist policy for Syria therefore would actually be somewhat like this.

  1. Form a no-fly zone in northern Levantine sea coast, to carve out an area, which can house genuine refugees.
  1. Train the fighting age men and boys (almost 70 percent according to a startling UNHCR report), and send them back to fight ISIS. Accept the women, children and war infirm, the genuine refugees, rather than the economic migrants. That’s what India did during the 1971 waragainst Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
  2. During the 1815 Barbary wars, a joint naval British-Dutch taskforce, under Lord Edward Pellew negotiated with the Algerian human traffickers with “shots and nothing but shots”. It bombed and destroyed the human trafficking network. There’s a lesson for the policy makers for Syria while dealing with overcrowded boats carrying refugees to Europe.
  3. European navies with their overwhelming superiority should put up a Mediterranean blockade similar to the Second World War.
  4. Help the Kurds to carve out a state of their own. The old boundaries from the Sykes-Picot agreement are invalid, and it would be prudent to accept that and make policies based on new facts in the ground. Give the Peshmerga weapons to battle it out with the ISIS. The Kurdish forces are the most modern, egalitarian and secular fighting force in the entire Middle East. They are an asset to the West.
  5. Finally, keep an eye on Russia and Iran, but don’t try to stop them. This is the Middle East’s version of the Thirty years war going on. Having Russia and Iran try and balance the Middle East will have its own advantages. There will be an opportunity to study Iranian and Russian forces in actual combat and COIN operations, even if they get bogged down, without direct loss of money and manpower for the West. As Kenneth Waltz wrote before his death, power begs to balance itself. If Russia and Iran balances against the Wahhabi forces, Jihadists and Islamists, at the cost of their money and lives, nothing wrong in that.

However, as we can see, this is not what the West is doing, obviously. In place of an actual Realist grand-strategy, we are caught winging it, with heavy rhetoric about saving human lives, and stopping the war, and having a democratic middle east, while being simultaneously completely ambivalent to the ground realities.

Now, I write these policies as a researcher of Realism, being detached from my emotional considerations. I know I might be coloured heartless for that, but this is a purely academic discussion. I feel horrible seeing the photo of Aylan Kurdi as much as the next man with conscience and sanity. But drafting policy is not an emotional job. It is not activism. It is prudence, pragmatism, logic and reasoning, and a clear assessment of goals and capabilities. Hopefully foreign policy mavens or commentators keep that in mind.

 

Hungary is just a starting point

As the internet woke up with photos of a camera woman of the nationalist Hungarian TV channel N1TV, which is closely associated with the far-right Jobbik party kicking and tripping on three different instances, refugee children running from police. Petra Laszlo, was filming refugees scrambling from police crackdown, when there was a father with his daughter in his arms, who Petra tripped by sticking her leg ahead of her. When he fell down and came up and started asking why was he kicked down, Petra continued to film it. German TV channels picked up the footage, and it went viral, with other instances coming out, when she kicked on two separate incidents, a refugee boy and a girl. She has since been dropped by her channel, although the incident sparked furious debate in Europe.

However bizarre this incident is, it somehow doesn’t defy logic. Questions were asked, about if she was just doing her job, because sensationalism sells on TV. A rambling, incoherent, frothing at mouth Syrian dad, with a scared helpless looking child would make a great footage after edit on a nationalist channel. It will justify exactly the narrative being promoted, of Europe under siege. But what if it is not as simple? What if she is just an example of a simple day earning living person, being swept off by fascist propaganda, being in the middle of it 24 / 7? What if she is genuinely in a moment of hatred and anger actually thought of kicking a young girl, who was fleeing brutal bombing in her own country? What if we are seeing a start of a kind of xenophobia, rarely so virulent since the 1930s? This narrative, this fever pitch rhetoric, this partisan and divided Europe is very similar…to what we saw eighty years back. And that didn’t end well. Fascism is an idea. A little bit of fascist is there in every ethno-religious-sectarian group, which raises its ugly head, during times like these, with war and economic downturn being the norm of the day.

Why is Viktor Orban, Hungary’s maverick head of state, fuelling this? A bit of context is necessary. Orban is old guard, was a nationalist student leader who was spearheading the 1989 movements of opening up Eastern Europe. What makes it doubly ironic is his role in opening borders of Hungary then. However, he is now just reflecting the mood of his country and broadly a massive section of European populace. And he did that by following European rules, or in other words, he paid EU back by their own coins. Hungary declined to open borders from non-EU crowds, thereby stifling the increasing number of refugees to the exodus in the west. In the midst of all the media hype, Orban masterfully took the opportunity to lecture Europe, in words that are hardly used in the stiff upper lip high nosed European bureaucracy. Orban played to the gallery saying European Christian roots are at a threat, and Europeans risk being a minority in their own continent, and the demographics are going to change due to this incessant incoming.

Ofcourse Hungary had to let these people go, and there was never a doubt Hungary will keep them in a camp. But in the two days of this drama, and the subsequent media coverage the message already was passed and resonated to a certain section of European crowd. Eurosceptics from Britain to Slovakia, were rejuvenated. Fascist, ultra-nationalist and far right forces were on the street chanting Orban’s message. And Orban successfully took the wind from the sails of his own country’s Jobbik party, putting himself further right than the far right. Orban’s party put up billboards warning migrants “not to take our jobs”. One can only imagine the caustic irony of the number of Polish and Hungarians and Czechs going to West Europe to do jobs like construction and taxi driving, and how Arab migrants might now take those.

But the problem is deeper. The main narrative is why Europe is bearing the brunt, and why not the Gulf countries. Other than Germany and Sweden, there is unbelievable anti-migrant sentiment in Europe at present. Bloomberg News tried a shoddy explainer piece on why Gulf countries are now reluctant to take in refugees, and did more harm than good. So, Gulf states are bombing ISIS and involved in conflict, so are the Europeans. Gulf states might have blowback from refugees changing demographics, so will the Europeans. Nativists might rebel in Gulf states, Nativists are being violent in Europe as well and there IS a blowback currently happening as we speak.

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Interestingly here are a couple of figures in the refugee data released by UNHCR.  Striking on the refugee data charts, that the males outnumber the females and children massively. 66% are males, and also 8% are from “other places” which include places like Ivory Coast, with absolutely no wars going on. Exactly the reverse trend than any other wars we have seen in recent memory, where women and children were sent off as refugees, with men staying behind to fight. This is a new phenomenon absolutely NO ONE is highlighting. Also, a very important question that is being pondered in Europe is that if these “refugees” are not staying back to fight and make their “own” country a better place, what loyalty will they have for their host countries, as diverse and culturally different as Scandinavia to Germany to Italy, to England? This is the predominant policy question with far reaching implications. As we speak, there is massive battle going on in the historic and mythical Greek island of Lesbos, where migrants are fighting pitched battles with local police.

The European Union dream is falling apart, and that is not sensationalism or conflict mongering; that is a fact. European leaders should act fast to ensure stability. As far as ethno-nationalism, war and social cohesion is concerned, Europeans don’t have history on their side.

A Chart of What is and isn’t Classy, According to Trump Supporters

I included this chart in my longer article about the non-principles of Trump supporters, but I thought I should include it here so it is easily accessible without having to read (or scroll through) the long article:

Classless Classy
Obama selling a campaign promo that uses Obama’s logo in the American flag. Trump tweeting an image of the American flag with his face in it and Nazi soldiers.
Obama issuing an image that says, “Vote like your lady parts depend on it.” Trump stating that Megyn Kelly was “bleeding from her eyes … bleeding from whereever.”
Obama selling a tee shirt that says, “Healthcare reform is still a BFD” [big fucking deal]. Anything Trump says.
Obama “disses” Vegas. Trump says, “Atlantic City is a disaster.”
Vegas tourist industry gets subsidies, benefits from government. Trump brags about how he contributes to politicians to get “something from them,” supports the government using eminent domain for his own private economic development, got a widow’s house bulldozed to build his own parking garage, and tried to get the government to prevent others from opening competing casinos.
Obama’s spokesman tells Fox News reporter not to take it personally when Obama attacks Fox News. Trump attacks Fox News, retweets their reporter being called a “bimbo,” calls conservative columnists “a dummy” and someone “who can’t buy a pair of pants”, among other things.
Politico writes an article about a major Romney donor. Breitbart writes an article about a small-scale Obama donor.
Obama builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance. Trump builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read my article anyway: The Contradictions of a Trump Supporter

The Contradictions of a Trump Supporter

The appeal of Donald Trump to Republicans remains baffling.

He’s leading in the early primary polls in a party that opposes socialized healthcare, despite praising socialized healthcare in the first debate. He’s a classless bully winning supporters who once called Obama a classless bully. He’s a billionaire who brags about using his ties to politicians to enrich himself who is hailed as a populist man of the people.

In order to try to understand why Trump supporters support Trump, I look to Trump’s PR outlet, Breitbart. It’s a website that, when a Buzzfeed journalist wrote an article that portrayed Trump honestly (and thus somewhat negatively), wrote a long article reciting Trump’s one-sided attack on the reporter, McKay Coppins.

The article by famous Breitbart writer Matthew Boyle attacks Coppins for allegedly doing things that Trump’s supporters cheer Trump for doing. Case in point:

Trump himself said Coppins is a “scumbag,” recalling that at his Florida resort, Coppins said he wished his wife looked like two beautiful women who had just walked by.

We know it is terrible to compliment women on their looks, since Trump is so politically correct.

But Trump himself complimented his own daughter on her looks in a creepy way:

“Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …”

Rolling Stone interview

Of course he also attacked his opponent Carly Fiorina for her looks:

“Look at that face!” he cries. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

So we know that Trump and his supporters have no problem with men either complimenting or demeaning women for their looks. In the first debate, Trump famously defended his claims that various women were “fat” or “pigs,” calling it politically correct to keep one’s attacks on women focused on substantial reasons–and then he went on to attack moderator Megyn Kelly for having “blood coming out of her whatever.”

Breitbart’s John Nolte, who ranks Trump among his top five favorite candidates and has written positive things about Trump, thought it was “classless” when the Obama campaign released an Tumblr image extolling women to “Vote like your lady parts depend on it.”

So what did Nolte think when Trump referred to Kelly’s lady parts in a much more vulgar way?

Nolte has been supporting Trump and forwarding his attacks on Kelly since the debate:

If anything, debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly is taking on the most damaging post-debate water.

By fearlessly and relentlessly going after a very powerful journalist who works at a very powerful network who he believes treated him unfairly, Trump is sending a painfully obvious message to the rest of the mainstream media: If you don’t treat me fairly you will pay a price.

An article of summaries of 7 Trump tweets

So we know from this that Nolte has no problem with a politician viciously attacking reporters–particularly female reporters and Fox News. So what did he write when President Obama attacked Fox News?

He doesn’t see the opposition as loyal, but as bad players — his enemy. This is especially true of Fox News, which Obama ripped as anti-poor bigots during a Wednesday afternoon summit on poverty.

We’re used to this Obama, the forever-partisan who has never seen himself as president of all the people but only of those who worship him.

Yes, because who would support a demagogue whose followers worship him? Can anyone think of any presidential candidate like that???

Well, Obama is a narcissist with “creepy, narcissistic cult of personality merchandise” on his campaign site, per Nolte. In fact, Nolte even “violate[s] [the] U.S. flag code.”

If this were Mitt Romney putting his “R” logo in place of our stripes, the media would be in Armageddon mode right now over how egotistical the move is and how incompetent any campaign must be to sell something that so clearly violates the flag code of the United States.

I can only try to imagine the media hyperventilating over a campaign promo in the form of a flag. Why? Because it would probably never happen. Nolte and some other conservatives seemed to be the only ones outraged when a particular candidate did that. In a kind of reverse phenomenon, Scott Walker introduced the flag into his logo, and clearly and rightly didn’t get any flack for that. (He did get some flack from a company that thinks he copied their logo.)

The “imagine if a Republican did this” argument is a lazy one used too often by conservatives, because it lets the writer get off the hook from actually analyzing the issue at hand and instead analyzing imagined media bias that didn’t happen. One could look at an actual example that did happen and see if there was proportionate outrage.

For example, if a Republican candidate like Donald Trump put his own face into a portrayal of the American flag (along with Nazi troops), would John Nolte be just as outraged as he was by Obama?

Well, Nolte didn’t appear to write an article either way about that, which does indicate he wasn’t outraged enough when Trump did it to write an article but was outraged when Obama used the flag for his own promotion.

What does Nolte think about vicious, demeaning and mean-spirited comments meant to humiliate their targets? Well, he attacked Obama in 2012 for releasing “a vicious, demeaning, and mean-spirited ad meant to humiliate its target.”

Would calling people “losers,” “scumbags,” “pigs,” people who are bleeding from “wherever,” “loser and a village idiot” (about a farmer in Scotland standing in the way of Trump’s golf course development), a “dummy,” or “a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants” be considered “vicious, demeaning and mean-spirited” comments “meant to humiliate their targets”?

I have created this table to help summarize what is classy and what isn’t:

Classless Classy
Obama selling a campaign promo that uses Obama’s logo in the American flag. Trump tweeting an image of the American flag with his face in it and Nazi soldiers.
Obama issuing an image that says, “Vote like your lady parts depend on it.” Trump stating that Megyn Kelly was “bleeding from her eyes … bleeding from whereever.”
Obama selling a tee shirt that says, “Healthcare reform is still a BFD” [big fucking deal]. Anything Trump says.
Obama “disses” Vegas. Trump says, “Atlantic City is a disaster.”
Vegas tourist industry gets subsidies, benefits from government. Trump brags about how he contributes to politicians to get “something from them,” supports the government using eminent domain for his own private economic development, got a widow’s house bulldozed to build his own parking garage, and tried to get the government to prevent others from opening competing casinos.
Obama’s spokesman tells Fox News reporter not to take it personally when Obama attacks Fox News. Trump attacks Fox News, retweets their reporter being called a “bimbo,” calls conservative columnists “a dummy” and someone “who can’t buy a pair of pants”, among other things.
Politico writes an article about a major Romney donor. Breitbart writes an article about a small-scale Obama donor.
Obama builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance. Trump builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance.

Being that Trump shares (and to a worse degree) many of the problems Trump’s supporters have with Obama, I wonder why they support Trump? What is it about Trump that makes him different from Obama?

The “Clock Bomb” Student and the Racialization of Issues

A student who brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on suspicions that his clock could be a bomb. Many have said the school and police overreacted, and for a long time conservative commentators have been pointing to examples of schools overreacting to toy guns at school, but in this particular case they weren’t so outraged. Some conservative bloggers defended the school.

Let’s look at the blog Young Conservatives, for example. In the past the blog has posted items criticizing schools for excessive policing of students like these:
Fail: A student is facing a possible year-long suspension from school for playing with toy guns…at his house
See this 7-Year-Old? You won’t BELIEVE why he was suspended from school last week [for having a toy gun]
11-Year-Old Student Suspended for Bringing NERF Bullet and Toothpick to School
“A five-year-old girl from Alabama was forced to sign a suicide and homicide contract after pretending her crayon was a gun. Feel free to face palm.”

That last one was written by Michael Cantrell, so you would think he would have the same kind of outrage to express about the clockmaker’s arrest?

Well, no… He’s defended the school and police and attacking the critics of the school in his article “This Meme Shows What the Media Won’t tell you About the Digital Clock That Caused a Muslim Student to get Arrested.”

What I didn’t mention is that the student was a non-white Muslim, because that shouldn’t be relevant to whether or not it was wrong for him to be arrested. However it has been a leading fact in stories on either side of the debate.

Cantrell also tried to link the story to politics:

As you might imagine, progressive race hustlers immediately started salivating over the incident, chomping at the bit to start tossing out the “racist” label as quickly as possible, politicizing the incident to boost support for the Democratic Party and their push to appear like “tolerant” social justice warrior do-gooders out to save the world.

It’s a story about a local school district and local police… What the hell does it have to do with the Democratic Party?

In reality, they just want to expand the voter base…

What, at all, does this have to do with driving voter behavior? Was the outrage at the student who had a Pop Tart “in the shape of a gun” just meant to “expand the voter base”?

And if this blogger is so outraged at people being suspended for having toy guns and Pop Tarts, then why isn’t he outraged at people being suspended for having clocks? He could use this very story to “expand the voter base” for his side. Instead, too many conservatives are viewing it as a story of a Muslim being arrested rather than a story of a student being arrested due to brain-dead “politically correct” policies against supposed threats.

True, this story has also gotten a lot of attention from liberal blogs because of the boy’s race and religion–for the opposite reason; those bloggers are focusing on their suspicions that he was wrongly arrested due to anti-Muslim stereotypes rather than being wrongly arrested due to “zero tolerance”-type policies. Conservatives always like to attack liberals for claiming minorities are mistreated, but sometimes they are, but even if this case wasn’t about his religion, those who are opposed to zero tolerance should be outraged about it.

Of course I wasn’t at the school and don’t know if the student said or did anything suspicious. I–like the many other bloggers who jumped on this local story–can only rely on the reporting of others. But it seems from this Washington Post article that no one was really suspicious of the clock being a bomb.

The English teacher who said “it looks like a bomb” took it and “kept the clock, and during sixth period, Mohamed was pulled out of class by the principal and a police officer.”

If this teacher really thought it might be a bomb, why would she keep it for some amount of time?

Later the article claims that one of the police who was questioning him said, “It looks like a movie bomb to me.”

The reference to “movie bomb” seems to suggest a fake bomb, a prop.

“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car,” [Officer] McLellan said.

Sure, but look at the context. It wasn’t left under a car. It was in his backpack and then on the teacher’s desk.

The police claim the boy was evasive:

Irving chief Boyd said he did “not have answers to your specific question” about the allegation.

But is being evasive grounds for arrest? If they knew it wasn’t a bomb, what was the arrest for?

It seems like the whole thing was a crazy overreaction. Schools make students abide by a long “code of conduct” with unnecessary rules and prohibitions. People get uptight about so many things that cause no problems. They were apparently scared that the student might have been trying to cause a disturbance, but the teachers and police were the only ones who contrived a disturbance. And police arresting someone for these questionable reasons perhaps is a symbolic of why America has so many people incarcerated.

Now there might be some truth to the arguments noted by Allahpundit at HotAir.com that liberals really exploded in disproportionate fashion over this particular story. In fact, that President Obama tweeted about it and that CAIR started a “hold up actual clocks” (as opposed to the refashioned-digital-clock-parts-inside-a-pencil-case style favored by the student) Twitter campaign shows that it might also be an example of Twitter outrage culture gone crazy.

So be it. But the headlines–on both sides–should put the actions first and put the identity of the subject in the text of the story.

China Daily: China’s Military Cuts Prove They are Peaceful and Strong

Today China Daily published a number of articles about how China is cutting the size of its military. The gist of it is that the country will cut its military by about 300,000 troops in the process of modernizing, using more effective and “efficient” weapons rather than bloated troop ranks. China Daily is a state-owned English-language paper, so it is amusing to see how the paper pushes pro-government views with contradictory statements in the space of a few paragraphs. (The front page had three big photos of Tibet’s 50th “anniversary” celebration and a note on how Tibet’s GDP grew 68 times since its “liberation.”) On the one hand, China cutting it’s troop numbers is a sign that China is committed to a peaceful rise — why else would they want a smaller military? — but on the other hand, the military will be even more effective at defending the Chinese people (that is to say, stronger, though the paper didn’t use that word).

The best example of this doublespeak argument comes from Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant for the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, who did an interview with the paper that was condensed into an op-ed, “A lighter but sharper force for peace.”

Here are 3 things we learn from Guangyu’s views:

  1. ) China cutting its military proves they are committed to peace:

In comparison, the United States has a population of 315 million and a military of 1.4 million personnel. That means 445 out of every 100,000 American citizens are military personnel. And neighboring Japan, with a population of 126 million, has 247,000 personnel in its “Self-Defense Forces”, for a ratio of 200 SDF personnel for every 100,000 people. Both are higher than China’s.

After the troop cut, only 146 out of every 100,000 people in China will serve in the military. That is solid evidence of China’s defense policy being purely defensive in nature and the country is not pursuing military superiority.

2.) Next sentence: China cutting its military will improve its military:

The move to cut troops is also in accordance with the central leadership’s policy of improving the quality of the military. As a country advances on the technology front, it can afford to reduce the size of its military without compromising its ability to defend itself. For example, even though the size of the US military is smaller than China’s, advanced technologies, excellent support systems and modern equipment enable it to reach every corner of the globe to defend American interests.

3.) Don’t worry, China is mostly just getting rid of non-combat performance troupes and troops with old-fashioned equipment.

Reports say the number of troops with old-fashioned equipment would be reduced, with the leadership using the money to provide advanced equipment and devices for elite troops. … Many analysts say the PLA will mainly cut the number of its performing troupes instead of “true military” personnel. That’s a reasonable guess, because it conforms to the top leadership’s ongoing military reform plan, and its efforts to root out corruption from all walks of life, including the PLA.

So there you have it: China’s plan to expand the strength of its military by cutting the size of obsolete troop units and entertainers and using the savings on advanced weaponry proves China is dedicated to peace.

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