Monthly Archives: October 2005

Japanese Soldier’s Diary, Okinawa, 13 September 1945

September 13, 1945 (Thurs.), clear and windy

We talked all day, half-believing and half-doubting what the pacification team members told us last night. I lay down alone and dozed. No matter how much we talked about it, without seeing the evidence the pacification team said they’d bring, conversation was pointless. I didn’t like talking.

It was around eight in the evening. The same two members of the pacification team who had come last night arrived with conclusive evidence of imperial Japan’s surrender.

First, letters from our war buddies in units that had been attacked and surrendered were distributed to each of us. The letters explained Japan’s unconditional surrender and urged us to surrender right away. Then they showed us copies of the “Potsdam Declaration,” which Japan had accepted; the emperor’s “Surrender Rescript”; and the “Surrender Instrument” from the deck of the USS Missouri. There also were orders from Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, the top official overseeing the occupation of our country, and issues of the Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri newspapers that had pictures and articles about the August 9 “Soviet Invasion of Manchuria,” the “Damage from the Atomic Bombs” dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the “Failed Suicide Attempt of Prime Minister Tojo.

The seven of us stared silently at the evidence–its meaning was all too clear. I felt as though my whole body had suddenly collapsed and I were being attacked by a dark loneliness.

Then after recovering from this feeling of loneliness, I was assailed by an inexpressible anger. Who or what in the world was the object of my anger? I couldn’t say.

I stamped my feet on the floor like a child and screamed words of anger. I felt the urge to run like a cannonball right into the center of the American camp.

In the end, even as I was being attacked by these violent feelings, I agreed with everyone else that we should surrender.

Frankly, even if I acted alone and raced out of the bunker, the surrender of Japan as an actuality wouldn’t change, and the mop-up operation the American troops would launch in the wake of such an action would be directed continuously at all the Japanese soldiers in the vicinity of the military field warehouse bunker.

Rather than rant and rage, I kept my thoughts to myself, left the group, and slowly walked to the back of the bunker.

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 154-155

This soldier, Nomura Seiki of Kochi City on Shikoku, surrendered the next day, but didn’t retrieve his diary until later, after which he wrote a long and poignant account of his actions and feelings on his final day as a soldier of Imperial Japan. It was too long to excerpt here, but here’s his subsequent and final diary entry on 10 November 1945.

Today, with the help of American soldiers, I visited the field storage bunker at Shuri and was able to recover the diary I left in the back of the bunker the night before I surrendered on September 14. This was a wonderful find. I have followed and recorded my memories of that day that brought things to an end for me as a Japanese soldier, and this is the end of this diary.

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Marines (and Sox) on a Roll

Canada.com carries an AP report on Game 2 of the Japan Series.

TOKYO (AP) – Saburo Omura, Matt Franco and Lee Seung-yeop all homered in the sixth inning Sunday, leading Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines to a 10-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers in Game 2 of the Japan Series.

The Marines, bidding for their first Japan Series title in 31 years, take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championships.

After scoring single runs in the first two innings, the Marines blew the game open in the sixth with five runs.

Read that lede once again, savoring the names as they stumble off your tongue. Okay, now let’s compare the AP lede for Game 2 of the World Series in frosty Chicago.

CHICAGO Oct 24, 2005 — Scott Podsednik made it two electrifying home runs for the White Sox and two World Series wins. Podsednik’s home run off Brad Lidge in the ninth inning gave Chicago a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday night and put the White Sox halfway to their first World Series title in 88 years.

“I don’t think anyone in the ballpark was thinking about me hitting the ball out of the ballpark,” Podsednik said.

After yet another questionable umpiring call, Paul Konerko capped a momentous week with a seventh-inning grand slam on reliever Chad Qualls’ first pitch, giving the White Sox a 6-4 lead and sparking the crowd of 41,432 to life on a drizzly, dreary night.

A few old-fashioned MLB names there.

Just to rub it in, here’s a 2004 profile of the White Sox by the Yankeecentric YESNetwork‘s Steven Goldman.

THE BEST: Nothing. Okay, Paul Konerko, maybe Aaron Rowand, Shingo Takatsu.

THE WORST: A random starting rotation — pitchers to whom consistency is a dirty word, an outfield without much pop, a manager who thinks he’s living in the dead ball era. To be more specific, Orlando Hernandez won’t feel up to making a third of his starts, Jose Contreras will run up the white flag like he thinks the French Foreign Legion is attacking. Trading for Scott Posednik is risking getting exactly what you think you need, and Ozzie Guillen apparently slept through his entire career, which involved increasing numbers of baseballs being whacked over his head.

EX-GIRLFRIEND/BOYFRIEND: The one whose vanity far outweighed any realistic appraisal of their charms.

FINISH: Fourth in the Central.

And here’s YESNetwork contributor Will Weiss rubbing it in, too.

World Series showcases what could have been

Jose Contreras and Roger Clemens will start Game 1 of the World Series Saturday night in Chicago, Andy Pettitte will start Game 2 for the Houston Astros, and lurking in the Chicago White Sox’ bullpen is Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.

And the Yankees will be watching them on TV like every other baseball fan.

Following Contreras’s complete-game, pennant-clinching victory for the White Sox in Anaheim, numerous message board threads on YESNetwork.com and other Yankeecentric Web sites popped up about the possibility of Contreras, El Duque, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens squaring off in the World Series. The Astros’ win in Game 6 of the NLCS in St. Louis made that notion a reality (Pettitte stood as the winning pitcher in Game 5, until Albert Pujols’ monster shot sent the series back to Busch Stadium).

Yankees fans have every right to stew at the fact that what could have been 80 percent of the 2004 rotation will have a say in who wins the World Series, albeit for teams not bearing an interlocking NY on their caps. A majority of fans might look at the postseason performances of Contreras, El Duque, Clemens and Pettitte, and the way they led the White Sox and Astros to the World Series and say, “This figures.” In Contreras’s case, countless fans said, “Where did this come from?”

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Diary of a Kyoto Civilian at New Year, 1945

December 31, 1944, Sunday
End-of-the-Year Thoughts

At long last, today is the last day of 1944, and when the new day dawns, we’ll greet 1945, the Year of the Rooster. The enemy attacks are a daily affair, and there’s no New Year’s spirit. I got up at eight, but there were no sounds of tatami being beaten [in the traditional New Year’s housecleaning].

The crowing of the neighborhood roosters is pathetic, as though their lives were being sucked to the bone.

Toshie and Haruko [daughters] put on their clogs and cleaned the planks laid out over the mud. Up until two years ago, as a morning exercise, they polished the area between the Iroha [billiards parlor] signs with oil until it was smooth, but in no time, this area, which guests were once reluctant to walk on in their shoes, had become muddied and dirty. It was New Year’s Eve, and not a single cent was owed me, no loans had to be repaid, no end-of-the-year gift to be given, and nothing coming in. When I thought about this strange, unprecedented sort of New Year’s Eve, I simply accepted the fact that it felt good, and that was enough.

New Year’s Day
Impressions of a Sweet Potato New Year

Wartime conditions have come to prevail with extraordinary speed, and the weak have become food for the strong. How will we survive in this harried world? The new year promises to be one filled with problems.

It was unusual, but even the enemy planes seemed to have some humanity. On New Year’s Day alone, we’re not worrying about air raids over our heads. First of all, although it was a small matter, there was mazetakimi rice, some bamboo shoots, and sake. I’m seventy-six, and although I’m of no value for the honorable country, today I realized my humanity, and it felt like an old-style New Year’s.

It was a sweet potato New Year’s. Otsuru [eldest daughter] must not be surprised. She went to a place about a mile east of Shimokameyama in Mie Prefecture to buy fifteen or sixteen loads of sweet potatoes. What made this possible was the fact that the potatoes were black market goods. We’ve developed good relations with the farm families, and we came to buy sweet potatoes at one kan [about 8 lbs.] for three yen; even with the train fare included, one kan cost only three yen, eighty sen.

When we eat glutinous rice [mochi], we have to sacrifice one month’s worth of rice, and as a rice substitute, the honorable sweet potato is full of nourishment. Under the circumstances, while both [daughter] Toshie and I are in the house, it’s strange for us, rather than Otsuru, to be searching for, and eating, food.

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 108-109

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Game Called on Account of Fog

Game 1 of the Japan Series was called in the seventh inning on account of fog, but the Chiba Lotte Marines were given the win because they were ahead 10-1 at the time. The Japan Times reports:

The game was interrupted by fog in the seventh inning as umpires pulled players off the field after Benny Agbayani’s two-run homer.

Almost 40 minutes later, home plate umpire Minoru Nakamura called the game.

Lotte’s Tomoya Satozaki, Agbayani and Lee Seung Yeop all homered, and Saburo Omura doubled in a pair of runs for the victors….

“It was too bad we didn’t get to play nine innings,” Lotte manager Bobby Valentine said. “[Starting pitcher] Shimizu was fantastic.”

Lotte’s powerful offense had little trouble putting runs on the board, as the Marines reached base in every inning.

Starting with the bottom of the fifth, Lotte scored in three straight innings, taking control of the game.

Good for the Marines. And good for the White Sox in the World Series. I hope Game 2 in Chicago is not called on account of snow.

UPDATE: The Japan Times also explains the frustrations of trying to keep up with either Japanese or American baseball on Japanese broadcast channels. (Frustrations other than the broadcast-channel tendency to end coverage exactly on the half-hour, even if it’s a tie game in the 9th inning with the top of the order due up to bat.)

This is 2005, the 21st century, the age of cable and satellite and, if you are a baseball fan looking to see the games live, but you don’t have extra-terrestrial reception capability, it is going to get worse.

Probably, within a few years, fewer and fewer games will be telecast on the conventional channels, and more and more will be on cable or satellite.

But, to look at it from the opposite angle, it is going to get better. It has gotten better. A lot better.

Go back about 25 years, and all we got on TV throughout Japan were the Tokyo Giants games, home and road, picked up an hour into the game and usually cut off long before the final out was recorded.

Today, if you have the right systems, you can get all six Japan pro baseball games any day of the season, from the first pitch all the way through the hero interview, even if the game goes 12 innings or five hours.

We can also get two or three MLB games per day during the season, all the playoff games and the World Series, live and in English.

What more do you want?

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Japanese Pilot’s Diary, 3 January 1945

January 3, 1945, cloudy then clear, rain in the evening

We’ve had stews for the past three days. Today’s was the most delicious, perhaps because it was made with a miso broth. I couldn’t stomach the strange smell of the herring roe, though. The roe would have been fine if it had been soaked in water for two or three days. Serving things that even the Payroll Department couldn’t eat was just for show and was irresponsible.

Take-yan read my fortune with cards. According to what he said–in the tone of a real diviner–I would be poor and struggle, and my social standing and advancement were uncertain. My future was exceedingly uninteresting. Will Dad die before me and Mom live on? Even if I had a romantic relationship, he told me, I’d be completely rejected and defeated. He says that I absolutely will not be bound to anyone and that a man I would approve of will appear, steal her heart, and steadily captivate her. And apparently I will die young. Well, that can’t be helped, and besides that’s my basic wish. What’s strange is that she’s going to die young, too.

If he’s this sort of diviner, he doesn’t need to borrow any cards. When I laughed and said, “If you offer fortunes like this, your business will fail,” he said, “Because I do it only when asked, I don’t give discounts or do it for free.” He nonchalantly and noisily began to eat a pomelo. He gazed longingly at a second pomelo that was big and looked like a head, and he finished that off, too.

I remember that it was two years ago today that I got a thirty-six-hour pass and went home, together with a student pilot at Yatabe, my chest festooned with seven medals. A send-off party was held, and lots of sake was poured. My older brother Kitaro made a speech. I recall that he pointed out that it was the anniversary of the fall of Manila.

I’d like to reflect on that. It’s been a full three years since the fall of Manila. Hasn’t Manila been transformed into the site of frontline fighting? In that time there was the change of course at Guadalcanal. There was the gyokusai [‘jewel shattering‘ = honorable fight to the death = total annihilation] at Attu Island. The gyokusai at Kwajalein and Rota. The many infuriating results continue: the gyokusai at Tarawa and Makin and more recently the gyokusai at Saipan and Tinian at this time last summer. But we are not defeated. We’re winning. We are definitely winning this war. While everywhere we rout two or three times as many enemy and achieve splendid victories, resistance is hard, quantitatively, and we go off to commit gyokusai, pledging resolutely to save the country for seven lifetimes. Decisive battles are now taking place in the Philippines. At the moment, Japan will make a comeback with this last stand, break the enemy’s nose, and push with irresistible force, push to the end.

Both the army and the navy have formed special-attack units and are continuing the intense and endless battles. I believe that 1945 is the autumn of emergencies when the Yamato race, one million strong, will choose death and make a last stand. I am overcome with emotion as I remember my send-off two years ago.

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 65-66

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Japanese Pilot’s Diary, 8 April 1945

April 8, 1945, clear

In the morning we practiced dropping thousand-kilogram practice bombs. One bomb was twenty meters off the target, and a second misfired.

The engines of our planes were in great shape, and we were in good spirits. Preparations for the attack.

This time–I’m definitely not expecting to return alive.

No, it’s not that I don’t expect to return alive. I simply intend to body-crash, and thus my dying can’t be avoided, can it?

I’ll get myself ready, write my last letters, and make arrangements for the things I’ll leave behind.

In the end, my life will have been twenty-two years long.

I’ll smear the decks of enemy warships with this teenager’s blood. It’ll be wonderful!

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), p. 79

The pilot, Itabashi Yasuo, died in a special-attack flight on 9 August 1945.

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Pop Culture vs. Corruption in Romania, Take 2

Matt Welch has another update on Romania in the October 2005 edition of Reason that reprises the theme of his 17 July 2004 essay in Canada’s National Post headlined “Rapping the Commies Away: A New MTV Generation in Romania Tries to Drive out Corruption.”

Welch’s current title is perhaps a tad overoptimistic: “The Second Romanian Revolution Will Be Televised: The TV show Dallas helped overthrow Ceausescu. Now gangsta rap and pop culture are driving out corrupt post-Soviet thugs.” But he gives a vivid account of developments in Romanian pop culture during and after the Ceausescu era. Here’s how it ends.

Pop culture, once beaten down to virtual nonexistence, has now become a valuable export. In the summer of 2004, the Moldavian-Romanian boy band O-Zone scored Europe’s No. 1 pop and dance hit, the unbearably catchy single “Dragostea Din Tei,” which topped the charts in at least 27 countries and sold more than 8 million copies. (You’ve probably heard it—think relentless Euro disco, and the phonetic phrase “Numa numa yay.”) And popular gangsta rap bands like Parazitii [‘The Parasites’], despite suffering greatly from domestic piracy and the censorious ways of the National Audio Visual Council (which banned one video simply for the reasonable couplet “alcohol is life/life is alcohol”), have still managed to sell nearly 1 million CDs since Ceausescu was shot.

Unlike the 1989 generation of anti-communist students, these twentysomethings didn’t taste the clubs of miners, didn’t help overthrow an odious tyrant, and didn’t worship at the altar of a 1980s TV show that glorified a morally corrupt business tycoon. “We were more into Seinfeld,” Parazitii manager Munteanu says. Not to mention foul-mouthed 1990s Compton rap sensation N.W.A. “You really need freedom to do this kind of music, you know?”

But their revulsion at corruption, coupled with a government that shares it, offers serious hope that post-communist Europe’s red-headed stepchild will finally emerge from its long, dark shadow and create a country far more free, successful, and interesting.

“On a recent and fairly rare venture into Bucharest’s club scene, I looked at the trendy crowd and felt for a moment that I could have been in Manhattan or South Beach,” said former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest, who led a daily crusade against Romanian corruption during his three-year tenure, in an exit interview with the monthly magazine Vivid, one of nearly a dozen English-language publications in Bucharest. “Then a series of young people brought me back to reality, stopping one by one at the table to thank me for speaking [out]…. Those who think they’re getting away with corruption are just fooling themselves. A new generation is coming, and it will demand, and indeed create, change.”

And maybe some new wealth. But are the music and film industries really going to help eliminate corruption? Only by motivating voters without fostering cynicism. Otherwise, I would guess that straight-laced bankers are going to be a lot more critical in the fight against corruption than pop musicians.

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Dangers of One-Party Control in a U.S. Democracy

The explosive outbreak in 1997 of a long-simmering scandal in Hawai‘i illustrates the dangers of one political party exercising full control of all three branches of a U.S.-style government for over four decades. In Hawai‘i’s case, Democrats maintained constant control of the legislature, the governor’s office, and the judiciary–while the state Supreme Court justices appointed the trustees of the largest charitable trust in the country. But Republicans are in no way immune to the same pernicious disease, whether at the state or national level.

University of Hawai‘i law professor Randall Roth was instrumental in bringing the extent of the scandal to public attention and forcing state and federal officials to begin attempts to redress the sorry state of affairs. Here’s an excerpt from his article in the journal of the International Center for Not-for-profit Law in 1999. Much has changed since that time.

Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate (KS/BE) was established 114 years ago by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter and last descendant of King Kamehameha the Great. Initial funding of this charitable trust consisted of roughly 10% of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s land mass, including all of Waikiki. The KS/BE corpus today is estimated to be worth approximately $10 billion, including a 10% interest in Goldman Sachs….

The will directs that trustees be chosen by justices of the “Supreme Court,” which at the time of the princess’ death meant the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawaii. But Supreme Court justices continued to make the selections when Hawaii was a republic, territory and state … until late last year. It was then that four of the five justices, bowing to public pressure, agreed not to participate in future trustee selections. The one dissenter has suggested privately that he has authority to make future selections “as a majority of one.” In past years, the justices did not hesitate to decide cases involving the trustees they selected. But earlier this year, the justices agreed to recuse themselves in such matters.

HIGHLY COMPENSATED TRUSTEES. KS/BE trustees have paid themselves annual fees averaging about $900,000 each. They argue that this has been within the compensation cap set by mechanical application of Hawaii’s statutory fee provision. But the nation’s preeminent authority on trust law has called this formula “practically incomprehensible … an awful statute.” Among other problems, it does not define “revenue,” “income” and “general profits.” As a result, it is not clear in what circumstances net income as opposed to gross income is to be used, or to what extent capital losses are to be offset against capital gains.

These ambiguities take on greater meaning when you consider a few numbers. During the three-year period currently under review by a court-appointed master, the trustees experienced losses and loss reserves totaling $241 million. This exceeded investment income from all sources, including Goldman Sachs. Plus, annual management and general expenses rose from $42 million to $52 million to $61 million. According to the master, the total return for this three-year period was minus 1.0%.

Due to a dramatic, last-minute floor vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives, the 1998 Legislature replaced the statutory fee formula with a simple requirement that trustee compensation always be “reasonable under the circumstances.” The bill had been bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee (whose chair has for years received a $4,000 monthly retainer from KS/BE), and was actively fought by the Speaker of the House (who recently received a $132,000 consulting fee on a KS/BE land transaction).

POLITICAL CONNECTIONS. One of the current trustees was Speaker of the state House of Representatives at the time of his appointment in 1984 and for several years thereafter. Another had been President of the state Senate just prior to being appointed a trustee. A third had just been chairman of the state Judicial Selection Commission, and a fourth was a physical education teacher turned state Department of Education administrator who recently had served as chairperson of the sitting Governor’s re-election committee on the island of Maui. The fifth trustee, Oswald Stender, is sometimes called the accidental trustee. Unlike the other four, he is not politically active and was not the first choice of any justice. Stender emerged as a compromise candidate only when the justices reached a stalemate over other candidates, one of whom was generally regarded at that time as a political “king maker.” Stender is the only trustee with CEO-like credentials. [All trustees have now been replaced.–J]

Cynics sometimes point out that members of the Judicial Selection Commission are selected by the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court … and that KS/BE trustees in recent years have included a Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Governor also selects Commission members, and the most recent trustee is the best friend and political confidant of the Governor. [emphasis added]

The law firm of another recent Judicial Selection Commission chairman has received $15 million in fees from KS/BE since his tenure on the Commission, and the law firm of a former Governor received millions in fees soon after he left office in 1995.

Unsuccessful candidates for justice of the state Supreme Court have described being quizzed by members of the Judicial Selection Commission about who they might be inclined to name as a KS/BE trustee. These candidates concluded that no one gets appointed to the high court in Hawaii unless they answer this question “correctly.”

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has a special website devoted to its extensive coverage of this evolving story between 1997 and 2003.

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U.S. Embassy Beijing, 5-8 June 1989

President [George H.W.] Bush called me Monday morning, June 5th [1989]. Earlier that day in Washington, in his first official comment on the crackdown, the president had announced a ban on new weapons sales and suspension of military contacts. In our phone conversation, I told President Bush that things were pretty calm on the ground but that my main concern was the safety of American citizens in Peking, particularly American students living at Peking universities that were the locus of the student movements.

At the U.S. Embassy, we were already getting heat from the American press, which had gathered en masse in front of the embassy at 7 that morning, clamoring to know how the embassy was going to safeguard the lives of Americans in Peking. Fortunately for the U.S. government, McKinney Russell, a career officer at the old United States Information Agency, was an experienced hand. Russell knew that any story, once the fighting subsides, becomes a local story. He had called me at about 6:30 a.m. that morning, and we got our cue cards together. Yes, we assured the journalists, we had scouted out evacuation routes and organized buses to get students out of harm’s way and take them to hotels or to the embassy. We fended off the hungry journalists, but we knew they would be coming back for more.

At this point, I should have put into place a general evacuation order as some other embassies had done, in particular the Japanese and French Embassies. I would have saved myself a lot of headache, but we went about it piecemeal. We started evacuating students on Monday, and on Tuesday embassy personnel started calling all Americans to urge them to leave Peking. But we waited until Wednesday, June 7, to inform American residents of a voluntary evacuation procedure for all Americans. Initially, I relied on the Consular Section, which has the responsibility for the welfare of American citizens, to do the calling and planning. Later, at [military attaché Jack] Leide’s suggestion, I switched the evacuation planning to the military attaché’s office because, as military men, they were better organized to handle this sort of crisis operation.

[Assistant military attaché] Larry Wortzel’s frustration over delays was the catalyst for the change. On June 8, after scouting evacuation routes and informing American citizens of collection points, Wortzel returned to the embassy prepared to lead a convoy of embassy vehicles at 11 a.m. But he discovered that little progress had been made in assembling the convoy. Diplomats and others were haggling over insignificant details, like who would drive which car. Wortzel stormed out of the room, cursing a blue streak. He bumped right into me. Ten minutes later, I found Wortzel in his office. I dumped the batch of motor pool keys on his desk. “You are in charge,” I said. “Get this convoy out of here in 30 minutes.”

The delays brought all sorts of opprobrium down our–largely, my–head. Disgruntled Americans gave the media the story they wanted: The American government wasn’t performing well in a crisis. Stories appeared in the stateside press about the embassy’s “failure” to assist U.S. citizens trying to get out of China. Magnifying the “failure” was news footage from Peking that showed a city under lockdown with the possibility of more clashes. There was talk of civil war between branches of the Chinese military, which had different views of the crackdown. The reports were wrong. At the embassy, we knew from accurate reporting by Wortzel that rumors of a split in the PLA were overstated. It turns out that a Canadian military attaché, who had never been trained in ground combat, asserted to the press that civil war between ground troops was imminent. The attaché had looked at tanks facing outward on a highway overpass with guns pointed in three directions and come to his erroneous conclusion. This fueled the rumor mill racing around Peking and over the airways.

Nevertheless, despite our best efforts, I was behind the curve. Hysteria set in on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Our Citizen Services Center started getting about 2,000 calls a day from Americans concerned about family members in China, and politicians in Washington excoriated the Bush administration for failing to act to protect Americans. I had people badmouthing me in Peking and all over the U.S.

SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 324-326

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Niall Ferguson on Europe and China

Economic historian Niall Ferguson contrasts Europe and China in today’s LA Times.

EUROPEAN UNION finance ministers went to China last week. Their trip may shatter the complacency that seems to pervade European capitals these days. “Wake up and smell the coffee” is what we like to say here in the U.S. when we encounter complacency. But it’s the Chinese green tea that the Europeans need to wake up and smell….

Today, as a result of reforms dating to the late 1970s, China has the most dynamic economy in the world and quite possibly in all history. Europe, by contrast, is fast becoming the “sick man” of the developed world — a title held until recently by Japan.

Over the last decade, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook report, growth in the core economies of the EU that make up the Eurozone has been a sluggish 2% per year. Growth in China has been more than four times faster. In dollar terms, China’s gross domestic product is already about one-fifth the size of the Eurozone. Project those growth rates forward and China could overtake the Eurozone within 30 years.

Europe’s sluggish growth is only one of several reasons why China’s leaders rank the EU significantly behind the United States in the global pecking order. Leave aside the two other big reasons, lack of military clout and lack of significant energy reserves, both of which make Russia seem more important to Beijing than Europe. And purely as a potential market for China’s exports, Europe seems less promising than China’s own Asian neighbors.

via RealClearPolitics

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