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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Amnesty for Snowden? Security at Sochi Olympics
Created by John Eipper on 01/05/14 4:42 AM

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Amnesty for Snowden? Security at Sochi Olympics (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 01/05/14 4:42 am)

Recently there were two suicide bombings in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), suspected to have been carried out by militant Islamists. Chechen and Islamist militants swore to disrupt the Sochi Winter Olympic Games scheduled for February 7-23.

What if the US could help Putin to secure the Sochi Games and in appreciation, Putin decides to extradite Snowden? The former NSA contractor first approached China before heading to Russia. This is not a typical whistleblower who has the privacy of fellow Americans foremost in mind. He obviously tried to gain from the information he stole from the US government, without thinking how Americans serving overseas would be affected.

Retired CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell in a rare interview aired on CBS's 60 Minutes on Oct. 25, 2013 said:

"Snowden's leaks are the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the US intelligence community."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvFZcXfHJjo)

Morell also said that "enhanced interrogation" is the "wrong thing to do," echoing WAISer Miles Seeley's position on the counterproductive nature of torture.

While now would be a good time to lay down the rules of engagement and interrogation procedures, the US mid-term elections would be a concern. But how do we conduct an unconventional war against violent, ruthless and fanatical groups? How do we defend and preserve our way of life against these extremists? How are we going to enlist the help of allies who may not want to do away with "enhanced interrogation" methods?

Towards the end of the interview, Morell reveals his main concern: "What really keeps me up at night is the inability of our government to make decisions that push our economy and our society forward. And one of the things I've learned looking at the world is that a country's national security, any country's national security, is more dependent on the strength its economy and on the strength of its society than anything else.

"I think that for some reason that I don't understand, John, there's been a change from a willingness of the two parties to work together to get things done, to today the two parties at each other's throat and simply trying to score political points. And I don't know why that's occurred. And I don't have a good understanding on how to fix that. But that's what needs to be fixed."

JE comments:  Bienvenido Macario is the first WAISer to bring up the Volgograd bombings and the subsequent security worries for the Sochi Olympics.  It's a very important topic to discuss.  I don't see any sort of "security for Snowden" deal between the US and Russia, however, as it would paint both countries as cynically politicizing the Games.  Moreover, for the he-man Putin to admit that he "needs" security help would be an unthinkable acknowledgement of weakness.



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  • Snowden and Aldrich Ames (John Heelan, UK 01/06/14 9:21 AM)

    Bienvenido Macario (5 January) forwarded this quote from former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell:


    "[Edward] Snowden's leaks are the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the US intelligence community."


    Presumably Mr Morell is overlooking those of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, who between them apparently jeopardised the greatest number of CIA assets? The latter was described by the DoJ Commission for the Review of FBI Security programs, The Webster Report, March 2002, as perpetrating "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history."


    http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/websterreport.html


    JE comments:  Ames's revelations to the Soviets resulted in numerous deaths.  But Snowden's leaks caused embarrassment on a national level.  It's hard to say which case is more of a "disaster."


    Which leads to an interesting question for the Floor:  what was the worst intelligence disaster in US history?  Shouldn't the failure to predict Pearl Harbor be at the very top?  How about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg?

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    • The Worst Intelligence Disaster in US History? (Herbert Abrams, USA 01/06/14 12:48 PM)
      In response to JE's question (see John Heelan, 6 January), the worst disaster in American intelligence was the concentration on Robert Oppenheimer as a possible security risk by the FBI throughout the period of the Manhattan Project, and the failure to grab Klaus Fuchs, whose contributions to the Soviets were huge. Of course the Soviets would have gotten the bomb sooner or later (with physicists like Sakharov deeply involved,) but Fuchs in particular accelerated their program.

      Snowden leaked to inform American citizens about illegal activities of their government that compromised the privacy of all. The manner in which he is now being treated will discourage whistleblowers who perform an essential function in American democracy. History will regard him as a hero of the period.


      JE comments:  It's a pleasure to hear from our colleague Herbert Abrams, a distinguished radiologist and founding member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.  Best to you for the New Year, Herb!

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    • Intelligence Disasters (John Heelan, UK 01/07/14 4:20 AM)
      JE commented on 6 January: "[Aldrich] Ames's revelations to the Soviets resulted in numerous deaths. But Snowden's leaks caused embarrassment on a national level. It's hard to say which case is more of a 'disaster.'"

      The judgement probably depends on whether one is dead as a result of the leak or just politically embarrassed. The first is final, whereas the latter is only temporary.


      JE comments: John Heelan's response reminds me of the classic distinction between "involvement" and "commitment": the hen is involved in your breakfast, while the pig is committed.  (Full disclosure:  one must first make the assumption that you're breakfasting on bacon and eggs, not, say, Corn Flakes.)  Likewise, if you're one of the dead CIA "assets," Ames's revelations are as disastrous as you can get. But do you think Ames kept Reagan-Bush I-Clinton awake at night to the extent that Snowden has for Obama and Co?

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    • Greatest Blunder of US Foreign Policy? (Luciano Dondero, Italy 01/07/14 1:35 PM)
      There are different ways one could look at JE's question about US intelligence disasters or blunders. (See John Heelan's post of 6 January.)

      Do you judge in terms of how many people were killed directly as a result of a given decision (an overall ethical judgment), or how many US casualties, again directly (a narrower ethical judgment)?  Or do you decide by how much it did cost, politically and socially, in the long run (a somewhat soberer pragmatic judgment), or finally, how it did impact the US, and then the world as a whole?


      At another level, different approaches may lead to distinguish between singling out specific actions or examining overall policies.


      For instance, the bombing of cities in the course of WWII (Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki) was highly deadly, ditto the carpet bombing of Vietnam in the early 1970s, but while WWII did not have a negative impact domestically, the Vietnam war obviously did.


      The United States' policies in Latin America have had a tremendous impact on the population of that area, both directly, in terms of people killed by the military trained in all sort of dirty tricks "in order to stop Communism," however things are beginning to recover now.


      One could take issue with the overall approach of making anti-Communism the mainstay of US policy for many decades, but that's probably too broad and hard to disentangle from other intermingled factors (ie. "the military-economic complex," something that president Eisenhower worried about). And then, considering that in the end the US did win the Cold War, regardless of how much the collapse of the USSR was due to internal factors (imploding rather than being defeated à la Nazi Germany), it might not be proper to talk of failure, really.


      As far as I can tell, everything considered, it would appear that the greatest blunder of US foreign policy has been the support it granted to Islamists opposed to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. I know that in certain quarters there is a feeling that getting the USSR into the Afghan quagmire was a brilliant idea; however, let's do a little calculation here.


      Directly or indirectly (via the Pakistani ISI's activities), the US Afghan policy has lead to the birth, growth and expansion of the Al-Qaeda network of terror organisations, the Taliban not excluded. Because of their close links with US and allied intelligence, these "freedom fighters"-turned-terrorists have had privileged access to various tools and to specific training. Hence they have been deadly effective against the US (9-11). And they remain to these days one of the deadliest threats against people anywhere, even after the smart action of US special ops against Osama Bin Laden.


      Not to mention that, as one thing leads to another, one of the results of this policy has been the decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, ironically even inviting Russian troops back into Kabul...


      Meanwhile the most populous country on Earth remains nominally Communist, while it is also the main producer of cheap consumer goods for the entire planet; and, almost as a side point, all of a sudden "Communism" does not seem so terrible a foe anymore! Which should at least lead to do some rethinking of that whole issue, don't you think?


      JE comments:  Luciano Dondero has presented a convincing case:  no US blunder has caused more lasting damage than helping to create the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan.  In such discussions I'm always reminded of the film Rambo III (1988).  The mujahideen at that time were our friends...
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      • Greatest Blunder of US Foreign Policy? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/08/14 4:05 AM)
        Please let me congratulate Luciano Dondero for his excellent post of 7 January.

        However, two considerations come to mind.


        Luciano very correctly writes: "The bombing of cities in the course of WWII was highly deadly, ditto the carpet bombing of Vietnam, but while WWII did not have a negative impact domestically, the Vietnam obviously did." Well, there is a big difference between the two. WWII was a great victory while Vietnam was perceived as a defeat.  Everybody knows that victory causes one to forget all the bad, including and first of all one's own war crimes.  With defeat or perceived defeat it is the contrary.


        My second consideration is rather a question for the various WAISer historians/geographers (knowledge of history without a knowledge of geography is nonsense): how it is possible that among the advisers of the last several US Presidents there were none that could have explained that US actions in the Middle East would bring disaster? It seems to me that even a good high-school teacher of history and geography could have foreseen the quagmire of Afghanistan and elsewhere.


        JE comments:  Two military maxims for the ages: don't make war in Russia in the winter, and don't invade Afghanistan--ever.  Yet post 9-11, the US public was demanding some sort of revenge.  It's water under the bridge, but Eugenio Battaglia raises an important question:  starting in the 1980s, how could the US have conducted a Middle East/Central Asia policy that was so decidedly short-sighted?  More to the point, was American "Exceptionalism" at work again, with the belief that the US would succeed where Britain and the USSR had failed?  (To be sure, the US was joined by many coalition partners in Afghanistan, including Italy.)



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        • Another US Foreign Policy Blunder: Qian Xuesen (Mike Bonnie, USA 01/09/14 5:56 AM)
          I appreciate the views of Luciano Dondero (7 Jan.) and Eugenio Battaglia (8 Jan.), who recognize the seriousness of civilian bombing. Not only do the deaths of people, often casually passed off as "collateral damage," affect us all but, the cultural genocide of destroying places of worship and learning as well as sites of historical significance have world-wide consequences. In a past posting to WAIS, I referred to the book Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History, by Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn B. Young (The New Press, 2009). See my post "on Truman, the Bomb and Bombing Civilians," 21 February 2009:

          http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=34369&objectTypeId=28619&topicId=1


          In my view, one of the greatest blunders of US foreign policy was the imprisonment and deportation of Dr. Hu-shen Tsien (Qian Xuesen) in 1955. A pioneer in US space rocketry, Hu-shen became a victim of McCarthyism, was stripped of his security clearances and virtually imprisoned under house arrest for five years. Upon his release he returned to China, where he became known as the "Father of Chinese Rocketry." Most notable throughout his career was development of the Silkworm missile at the Institute of Mechanics of the People's Republic of China's National Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. A brief history of Qian Xuesen can be found on Wikipedia. A more in-depth biography of his life and works, used often in references, is the book, Thread of the Silkworm (Basic Books, 1995) by the late Iris Chang.


          JE comments:  Iris Chang was a singularly talented historian.  One of the discipline's greatest losses was her suicide at the young age of 36.  It's been nearly ten years since that tragedy (9 November 2004).

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          • Iris Chang (Robert Gibbs, USA 01/10/14 4:18 AM)

            John E. is correct in his assessment of Iris Chang. (See Mike Bonnie, 9 January.) I met her in San Francisco at a book signing for her The Rape of Nanking (I have it somewhere around here, signed).  Later, over tea, the impressive Miss Chang was an intense and extremely committed young lady who could not (would not?) accept the whitewashing of the Imperial Japanese war criminals from the Emperor on down. We did excuse the Emperor's family (generals) and scientists who murdered thousands with biological weapons, even US prisoners of war, allowing them to escape justice. It was overwhelming to her then in the 1990s, and I believe this distress led to her demise.



            The relevance here is that Mike writes of civilian bombing and collateral damage. This, like bombing in general and even to some degree sniping and the "pink haze," is done at a distance without the feel, the touch and the smell of an actual massacre such as Iris researched. The utter brutality Iris researched, discussed and wrote about is not for the faint of heart. My point is that Nanking (her book) was not collateral damage, but cold-blooded murder and brutality of the highest nature, much like medieval warfare that or Rwanda.



            In case WAISers wonder, I think that Iris wanted to talk to me as some sort of US official to further her cause or at best a desperate attempt to have an official listen to her. I did listen and was impressed, but the people she wanted punished were dead and Japan still denies what it did in Korea, let along in China.



            I realize that to many here there is little if any difference between collateral damage and deliberate killing on a battlefield--and to the recipients there probably doesn't seem to be much difference.  But there is a difference, a vast difference.



            As an aside I was in Turkey when I learned of Iris's suicide, and it did affect me.  I still remember her--as I said above she was impressive.


            JE comments:  Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking has left a mark on my memory like very few other history books.  I've purchased and loaned (and purchased again--I never get them back) four or five copies over the years.  In addition to Bob Gibbs, our colleague John Recchiuti also spent time with Chang, when she gave a lecture at Mount Union College (now University).  I'd be grateful if John could send a note.

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            • Drones (John Heelan, UK 01/11/14 1:06 PM)
              Robert Gibbs observed on 10 January that "bombing in general and even to some degree sniping and the 'pink haze,' is done at a distance without the feel, the touch and the smell of an actual massacre."

              Perhaps even more so today, with the increasing use of drone warfare operated from comfortable armchairs in warm bunkers thousands of miles away!


              JE comments: It's killing-as-video-game, and US Army recruitment commercials in recent years seem to stress the game aspect of the war toys.


              I didn't ask Bob Gibbs when the question first came up, but what exactly is "pink haze"? Isn't napalm yellow?

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              • The Azon Bomb: Drone's Precursor? (Mike Bonnie, USA 01/12/14 4:31 AM)
                An early step in the development of drone technology was the guidance system for the Azon (azimuth only) bomb, the first radio-controlled bomb. Azons showed considerable success in bombing narrow bridges during the China-Burma-India campaign of WWII. It helped pave the way for building the China-Burma railroad. The Azon predicated development of the Razon, a dual-channel radio control for range and azimuth guidance, and the ASM-A-1 Tarzon used briefly in Korea. The Tarzon mated "the guidance system of the earlier Razon radio-controlled weapon with a British [-made] Tallboy" medium-capacity bomb.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarzon



                "When used in combat, it [Azon] was dropped from a modified Consolidated B-24 Liberator, with earlier development test drops of the Azon in the United States sometimes using the B-17 Flying Fortress as the platform. Some ten crews, of the 458th Bombardment Group, based at RAF Horsham St Faith, were trained to drop the device for use in the European theater."


                In the Pacific Theater (Burma) in early 1945, similarly modified B-24s of the 10th USAAF, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squad (Heavy), dropped Azons with "considerable success, fulfilling the designers' original purpose for the ordnance."


                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azon


                The 493rd was based at Pandaveswar (Panda) Airfield, India, the same base where a family relative (Francis E. Sawyer) also serving in the 7th HD Bombardment Squad was stationed. I briefly mentioned the Azon bomb during the WAIS Conference at Stanford in October 2009, where I discussed exploring history through a family story of the China-Burma-India Theater of WWII.


                Azon bombs in use:


                India-based B-24 Liberators of the 493rd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, 10th Air Force, drop radio-controlled Azon bombs on Pegu-Martaban Railroad bridges in Burma on January 29, 1945.


                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkJdlxG_6Aw&feature=player_embedded


                Liberators of the 493rd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, 10th Air Force, drop radio-controlled Azon bombs on Pegu-Martaban Railroad bridges on January 11, 1945.


                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WDDpCQVRag&feature=player_embedded

                JE comments:  The videos above are fascinating, reminiscent of the legendary Baghdad bridge footage of the First Gulf War--the one featuring a passing car that escaped the bomb by just a few yards.  But would it be accurate to call the Azon bomb "smart"?  It was steerable, but had to be guided by a bombardier.
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                • Was the WWII Azon Bomb a "Smart" Bomb? (Mike Bonnie, USA 01/13/14 4:19 AM)
                  A followup in response to JE's questions.  (See my post of 12 January.)  JE asked: "Would it be accurate to call the Azon bomb 'smart'? It was steerable, but had to be guided by a bombardier."

                  I could/should have made several points in my original post:  the concept of drone development from the technology employed in the Azon, Razon and Tarzon bombs; the proximity of the bombardier to the target; and the method of delivery (B-24 bomber/bombardier vs. a technician sitting at a remote computer screen). The order of command in targeting and launching the bomb/drone ordinance appear similar in concept.


                  In reviewing the "The Azon Bomb: Drone's Precursor?" post I ran across this film by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, forerunner to the CIA) from 1944. The video describes assembly and functions of the Azon bomb components. The film caption reads, "The Azon (for AZimuth ONly) VB-1 kit was produced until November, 1944, by which time 15,000 units were built. It was deployed in the ETO from February, 1944, and used extensively in Burma for bridge dropping strikes. The 15th AF in the Mediterranean is credited with Azon attacks on the Danube river locks, and the Avisio viaduct. In Burma, Azons were used to destroy 27 bridges using 493 rounds, including the famous Kwai River bridge."


                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qTTgn-PFuM


                  The destruction of 27 bridges using 493 rounds is not a very good success rate. It would be interesting to know the success rate of drones.


                  JE comments: I'm similarly curious about the "success" rate of drones. Are any accurate statistics available?

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              • Poem: "Bombing Gaza: A Pilot Speaks" (David Krieger, USA 01/14/14 2:57 AM)
                Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago, "Bombing Gaza: A Pilot Speaks." It is about bombing Gaza, but it could be anywhere. In the poem, the pilot has the self-awareness to view himself as a "cog in a fancy machine/ of death." Perhaps the drone "pilots" (John Heelan, 11 January) see themselves that way, too. I've read that there is a high incidence of PTSD among drone operators.



                Best wishes,



                David


                BOMBING GAZA: A PILOT SPEAKS



                The stain of death spreads below,

                but from my cockpit I see none of it.

                I only drop bombs as I have been trained

                and then, far above the haze and blood,

                I speed toward home.



                I am deaf to the screams of pain.

                Nor can I smell the stench of slaughter.

                I try not to think of children shivering

                with fear or of those blown to pieces.



                They tell me I am brave, but

                how brave can it be to drop bombs

                on a crowded city? I am a cog,

                only that, a cog in a fancy machine

                of death.



                David Krieger

                January 2009


                JE comments:  A great way to start the day's WAISing.  David Krieger (President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara) doesn't pull punches in his poetic expression.  I'd call the style denunciatory.  I'm still thinking about David's poem "War Over," posted almost exactly two years ago (8 January 2012).  As the US continues its withdrawal from Afghanistan, it's a good time to replay it:


                http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=67895&objectTypeId=62145&topicId=118


                Robert Gibbs (next in queue) has also sent a response to John Heelan on drone warfare.


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                • "Bombing Gaza: A Pilot Speaks" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/16/14 3:10 AM)
                  As someone who has had the dubious "privilege" of being on the other side of air bombardment, I wish to express my appreciation to David Krieger for his two poems posted on 14 January. Really the pilots who were more disliked in Italy were not the ones flying the bombers of Sir Harris, the Butcher, and of H. H. Arnold, but those who would pass low and strafe anything that was moving, including the civilian cyclist on the road, the lone peasant cultivating his field, or the mother with a child running for shelter.

                  Furthermore in reference to the comments of JE to the post of Robert Gibbs (14 January), can anyone explain how the former Axis powers became close friends of the USA after the defeat and in spite of Allies' terrorist bombing, while the new enemies remain full of hatred? Is it just a failure of the Psychological Warfare Department, or because of the different civilizations, or due to the lack of cupidity or servility toward the powerful Empire?


                  JE comments: The wars against Germany, Japan, and Italy involved powerful and well-organized states, which makes the task of turning a defeated enemy into a friend that much easier.  Contrast this with the situation of a non-state enemy, which by nature is ungovernable.


                  My thanks to Eugenio Battaglia for reminding us of the people on the receiving end of the bombs.  We Americans, even very sensitive ones, tend to think of bombardment as something that is done to others.

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              • Drones (Robert Gibbs, USA 01/14/14 3:23 AM)
                John Heelan (11 January) raised a very interesting and important question regarding drone warfare. Yet, isn't drone warfare really just an extension of bombing as it developed from WWI to WWII and beyond? From dumb bombs to smart ordinance to brilliant ordnance to drones, the only real difference is that the distance is greater and the result more efficient. For the pilots there was danger from fighter attacks and flak. The difference today is that the pilots go home via the 405 in Southern California. This is the face of warfare today, and it is spooky to think that any of us could be going down the road in our automobiles--boom--and it is all over and there is no one in sight for hundreds if not thousands of miles. In one sense it is like the hand of God lifting one out of the earth in the Rapture. Except in this case the "hand of God" is a twenty-something Lieutenant or Captain.



                I am not sure if this answers John's question or if it can ever be answered--only experienced. Warfare is getting more and more detached except when it comes to boots on the ground; then it is as always--brutal and bloody, unforgiving and random. There, it is still the same butcher's bill.

                JE comments: I do see two paradigm shifts with unmanned drone warfare.  If there is absolutely no risk to the pilot, the gravity of embarking on an armed "intervention" is lessened. In short, drones may increase the likelihood of military adventurism. The second difference concerns how the enemies/victims of drones perceive those working the joystick. Do drones only accentuate the notion of the US as an imperialist power, and a cowardly one to boot? Drones in this sense can be a powerful recruiting tool--for the enemy. This is a topic explored at length in WAISer David A. Westbrook's book Deploying Ourselves (2011).  David is an adamant critic of drone use.

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                • Will Criminals Be Using Drones? (John Heelan, UK 01/14/14 9:53 AM)
                  My grateful thanks to David Krieger and Robert Gibbs (both 14 January) for their thoughtful responses on drone warfare. So far we have limited the discussion to military uses, but is there also a potential for criminal uses, given that up-to-date technology always eventually reaches their hands? Will we see "cops & robbers" drone firefights and chases in the future--all being driven from the safe comfort of armchairs?

                  Further, the FAA has released a "roadmap for unmanned aircraft systems," choosing six test-sites across the US (http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/ ), estimating that there will be 30,000 privately owned drones flying around US airspace within the next 20 years!


                  JE comments: Great point; it's just a matter of time. If Amazon will one day be droning in our books and games, criminal syndicates will find many uses for the technology. Drug smuggling comes first to mind, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.


                  A Brave (and Scary) New World.

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            • Iris Chang; Ying Ying Chang's *The Woman Who Could Not Forget* (Mike Bonnie, USA 01/14/14 4:00 PM)

              It's difficult to find a commentary or review that doesn't extol the brilliance of Iris Chang (Shun-Ru Chang), lament her loss to the world as a scholar and a mother, or attempt to analyze the cause of her suicide. Shun-Ru in Mandarin is an adjective that represents something pure and innocent, perhaps also a symbol of naivete. I admire Iris Chang greatly. However, for aspiring and successful writers she is a terrible role model. As we slowly gravitate toward global awareness through technology that no secret will remain uncovered, and despite the sometimes overwhelming dictum of wars that human life has little meaning, Iris Chang's trademark book the Rape of Nanking is a poignant reminder of the importance of research and writing. The goals of research and writing are to inform, entertain, explain, or persuade--not to die in the process or as a result.



              A recent book by Iris Chang's mother, Ying Ying Chang, The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond The Rape of Nanking, presents an unparalleled view of Iris Chang as I prefer to remember her. I feel certain many others will agree. Although I have yet read the full book, I'm impressed by the reviews and the Kindle excerpt found on the Amazon.com webpage. There is a narrow view of great importance that seems lost in analyzing Iris Chang's pathology toward suicide, sorting through conspiracy theories that her death was orchestrated by some hidden hand, her book as an effort to demonize Japan, or that the tragedy of Nanking was provoked by the feudal Tungchow Mutiny in a host of massacres in China.



              A review posted on Amazon.com reveals, "The book [by Ying Ying Chang] is less a tale of a renowned author's vertiginous spiral into depression than it is a mother's poignant tribute to a Chinese-American girl who achieved success through her own intelligence, hard work, and grit. The Woman Who Could Not Forget ultimately isn't a sad story, but rather a celebration of Iris's remarkable life." (The Wall Street Journal)



              "The power of One" is a credo Iris Chang professed and is attributed to her in the introduction of Yin Ying Chang's book by Ignatius Y. Ding, senior vice president of Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia. (Iris Chang was a co-founder of the organization.) Chang's friend and biographer Paula Kamen writes for Salon.com and includes in her lectures the "Iris Code": "Think big. Almost to the point of being naive." Perhaps Iris Chang's power, drive, and naivete were in reconciling folklore and the established culture of China, her family heritage of coming to America with the opportunities and drawbacks it presented, and herself having been born in America--an immense load for anyone to understand; bordering a past and the present. That's not to say her life experiences were different than anyone's. Besides that, she addressed the topics of her research with driving force that from the time has had impact beyond imagination.



              Jean Lau Chin (2005) attempts to describe complexities of experiences perhaps similar to those faced by Iris Chang and her family in her two-part book, Learning from My Mother's Voice: Family Legend and the Chinese American Experience. Part One presents a chorus of embracing myths, legends, and customs ingrained in Chinese culture that intertwine and guide people's lives. Historical and moving descriptions of strength and courage, heroes and legends, freedom from bondage and oppression. Those family stories enhance the importance of relationships throughout transitions of close and extended family, homesteaders and sojourners. Part Two is written from Chin's' intimate recordings of talks with her mother as she describes her life witness to war and poverty, the starvation and deaths, and the separation of wives from husbands in search of release from suffering and the promise of the future. Chin recounts personal stories told to her of Japan's invasion of China, World War II, the suffering of McCarthyism during the US 1950s and China's era of communist control. Chin clearly captures the significance of folklore of her family's native land. The uniqueness of challenges and compassion of experiences in becoming Chinese-American, as Chin describes, are compelling beyond complacency toward examining one's own beliefs.



              Learning from My Mother's Voice: Family Legend and the Chinese-American Experience is part of the Multicultural Foundations of Psychology and Counseling Series, published by Teachers College of Columbia University. Jean Lau Chin, Ed.D, ABPP, is Dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Francisco. She is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years of clinical, educational, and management experience in health and mental health services.



              Chang, Y. Y. (2013). The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang before and beyond the Rape of Nanking--a Memoir http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Who-Could-Not-Forget-ebook/dp/B004W8NS64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389377680&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Woman+Who+Could+Not+Forget%3B+Iris+Chang+Before+and+Beyond+the+Rape+of+Nanking



              Bonnie, Mike (2011) book review: Learning from My Mother's Voice: Family Legend and the Chinese-American Experience, by Jean Lau Chin (2005). Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies - Trade Book Reviews. https://independent.academia.edu/MBonnie/Papers



              Kamen, Paula (30, Nov, 2004). How "Iris Chang" became a verb, from the book Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind. (2008) http://thesacredmoment.blogspot.com/2004/11/indifference-and-denial-that-kill.html


              JE comments:  I can think of few things more painful than writing a memoir or biography about one's own dead child.  Or perhaps it's a crucial part of healing; I recall of Kipling's poem "My Boy Jack."  Either way, I am going to read Mrs. Chang's book.


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        • Greatest Blunders--and Successes--of US Foreign Policy? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/09/14 2:06 PM)
          I have been straining my memory trying to identify major moves in US foreign policy which have not turned out to be blunders in the sense that they cost a great deal in the form of taxpayer money, dead and crippled Americans, dead and crippled foreign people, making more future enemies, etc. The only common thread to all these foreign blunders are that some special interests profited from them at the expense of the American people. My opinion in this area is offered as controversial food for thought; thus am looking forward to hopefully learning something.

          The last few foreign policy moves I consider very successful were the Marshall Plan for Europe, the equivalent reconstruction of Japan, and the breach of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. To me the greatest foreign policy blunders are the Vietnam War, and the planting of unpopular dictators in many countries, including Iran. The induced collapse of the Soviet Union is extremely (the most) impressive, but ironically it has turned out to be a disaster for the world because so many "rogue" nations started to show up. Further, with its Soviet rival gone, American global capitalism was free to run rampant, with the American leaders and power bases turning on their own people with global job outsourcing, global financial fraud, and more foreign interventions.


          JE comments: As for (modern) US foreign policy successes, were there more stellar moments than the Marshall Plan and the postwar reconstruction of Japan?  I'm going to agree here with Tor Guimaraes.

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          • More US Foreign Policy Successes: China (David Duggan, USA 01/12/14 5:25 AM)
            In addition to the Marshall Plan and the postwar reconstruction of Japan (see Tor Guimaraes's and JE's discussion of US foreign policy successes, 9 January), how about Nixon in China? Opening up a fifth of humanity to Western culture, economic principles, scientific methods?

            JE comments: Nixon duly "opened up" China, exporting seemingly every Western value except liberal democracy. Who in 1972 would have envisioned "made in China" on our clothes, our toys, and our gizmos? More pithily, was this a US foreign policy "success"?



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