In late 1967, Giap concentrated some 40,000 soldiers in the hills of northwest South Vietnam and orchestrated a series of assaults on a string of American combat bases in the highlands, not far from a Marine base called Khe Sanh, which the North besieged in January 1968. Giap later called these attacks a “diversion” to trick the Americans into moving forces from the populated areas to defensive positions in the hinterland. Most American leaders fell for it; one of the few who didn’t, Adm. U. S. Grant Sharp,
Merrill McPeak ends with, “But when Saigon fell, it was not a swarm of ragtag Vietcong guerrillas who overran the city, but columns of Russian-made T-54 tanks, leading a modern field army complete with artillery and surface-to-air missiles, all delivered by those tough-guy truck drivers down that seemingly indestructible Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
I hope that Gen. McPeak reads of Vietnamese history, which I believe is the key to understanding the country, its people, and it extraordinary ability to wage war. The Chinese invaded in 101 BC, and tried to make Vietnam part of China, but almost a thousand years later, in AD 938, the Vietnamese rose up and threw the Chinese out in military conflict.
By the time Ho Hue, later called Nguyen Hue, the third son of the famous three brothers who led the Tay Son rebellion, defeated 200,000 Chinese army regulars in pitched battle, it was the seventh time, counting 938. The Viets defeated an army sent by Kublai Khan, and another army of 500,000 sent by his son Kublai Khan. Vietnamese military historians have reported that many of the booby traps used against US soldiers were part of an old technology perfected by the Vietnamese in the 13th century against one of the larger Chinese invasions. Over time, the Viets determined the southern border of China.
A tsunami of human-made troubles in the Indonesian capital poses an imminent threat to the city’s survival. And it has to deal with mounting threats from climate change. By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, Photographs by JOSH HANER
“In fact, Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, faster, even, than climate change is causing the sea to rise — so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream, ordinary rains regularly swamp neighborhoods and buildings slowly disappear underground, swallowed by the earth. The main cause: Jakartans are digging illegal wells, drip by drip draining the underground aquifers on which the city rests — like deflating a giant cushion underneath it. About 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level.
Coastal districts, like Muara Baru, near the Blessed Bodega, have sunk as much as 14 feet in recent years. Not long ago I drove around northern Jakarta and saw teenagers fishing in the abandoned shell of a half-submerged factory. The banks of a murky canal lapped at the trestle of a railway bridge, which, until recently, had arched high over it.”
“Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, ordered the eviction. He is ethnic Chinese, a geological engineer by training. As governor, he tackled several of Jakarta’s big problems, or tried to. He tried, but failed, to wrest control of the water supply from the private companies. He assembled a sanitation crew, called the Orange Army, to remove sediment and garbage from rivers and canals.
And he cleared out some of the kampungs that obstructed waterways. The efforts began to make a difference. Rains that once caused days of floods drained within hours.
But many people forced out, like Topaz, resisted the moves, convinced that the evictions were really intended to enrich developers, not improve drainage. Akuarium became a hotbed of protest against the governor.
Capitalizing on residents’ resistance and the piety of the urban poor, the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front teamed with some of the governor’s political rivals and religious conservatives to tap into a vein of anti-Chinese populism. Ahok’s enemies escalated what had been a conflict over the displacement of a fishing community into an argument about whether a non-Muslim should lead a Muslim-majority city.
The governor found himself regularly attacked at Friday prayers. He lost his re-election bid, and the Islamists, who exploited anger against him, had him brought up on charges of blasphemy. He is serving two years in prison.”
David Lindsay: These stories make a good argument for communism, or fascism. Democracy hasn’t worked for Jakarta.
It seems like they are repeating an old meme from the Christian bible stories, the sins of the world were cleansed by Noah’s flood.
“JODHPUR, India — Every month, about four million more Indians get online. They include people like Manju, a 35-year-old seamstress in this city of ancient palaces, who got her first internet phone last week.
“It’s necessary for me to learn new things,” said Manju, who uses only one name. She was so thrilled to discover YouTube and other streaming video services that she quickly burned through her monthly data plan. Now her phone carrier, Reliance Jio, has relegated her to a trickle of low-speed data until next month, when her plan resets.
“It’s all finished,” she complained on Monday when a Google researcher came to visit to ask about her online habits.
“Electric cars remain something of a novelty, commanding premium prices and presenting charging challenges, but another kind of electric vehicle has been gaining momentum: the e-bike. Globally, electric cars — battery and plug-in hybrids — account for only about 1 percent of all vehicle sales, with about 1.15 million expected to be sold worldwide this year, according to EV-volumes.com. Compare that with the 35 million e-bikes expected to be purchased this year, according to Navigant, with countries like Ger. . . “
Admittedly, this article is not about Vietnam. But it is for Vietnam, and everywhere else.
“This was not a handover of power. It was a highly controlled, and easily reversible, cession of partial authority.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s decisions must be seen in this context. She is playing a long game for real democratic change. “She is walking one step by one step in a very careful way, standing delicately between the military and the people,” said U Chit Khaing, a prominent businessman in Yangon. Perhaps she is playing the game too cautiously, but there is nothing in her history to suggest she’s anything but resolute.
The problem is she’s a novice in her current role. As a politician, not a saint, it must be said that Aung San Suu Kyi has proved inept. This is scarcely surprising. She lived most of her life abroad, was confined on her return, and has no prior experience of governing or administering.
You don’t endure a decade and a half of house arrest, opt not to see your dying husband in England and endure separation from your children without a steely patriotic conviction. This is her force, a magnetic field. It can also be blinding. “Mother Suu knows best,” said David Scott Mathieson, an analyst based in Yangon. “Except that she’s in denial of the dimensions of what happened.”
“In any event, China’s climate agenda is not so straightforward.
The country is the world’s largest coal consumer. Even as it is phasing out coal plants at home, it is building coal plants abroad as part of an ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative, designed to expand Chinese global influence. At the same time, China has embraced renewables: It is the largest producer of electric cars, and it has proposed to set up what would become the world’s largest carbon market.
Li Shuo, of Greenpeace China, said the projected rise in emissions would not affect China’s overall trajectory toward slowing emissions at home and stepping up diplomatically.
“China can continue to play a leading role in the global climate debate, despite this short-term increase of emissions, which is temporary,” he said.
One thing still lost in the fog of global climate negotiations is whether the Chinese leader really wants to be the global leader on climate. In his speech to the Communist Party conclave in October, Mr. Xi took a swipe at the United States by criticizing what he called “self-isolation.” But he said nothing about how his country would step up to fill the gap.
Mr. Xi has said only that China will stick to its pledges. But even if every country meets its Paris pledges, the planet is expected to heat up 3 degrees Celsius or more. That would not be enough to stave off the most catastrophic effects of climate change.”
The Internet turns 20 in Vietnam: P2 – Australian professor’s contribution – Tuoi Tre News (Vietnam)
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, students at ANU would use a mainframe computer for statistical work and related tasks. The personal computer, which was not powerful enough to perform such tasks then, was mostly used to type documents and send emails. Prof. Hurle shared his disturbance at learning that overseas Vietnamese students had limited use of personal computers, preventing them from putting what they had learnt in Australia into practice upon their return to their home country.
The nagging question prompted him to travel to Vietnam in 1991.
“I brought with me a hefty modem and gifted it to Pham Bich San, one of the Vietnamese students in Australia, so that he and others could connect to the mainframe computers in Vietnam more easily,” the professor recalled.
“Totally uninformed about Vietnam, I had not been aware that the bulky modem would be a burden, as computer engineers in Vietnam, who earned a mere US$20 per month, could hardly afford phone calls from Vietnam to Australia at $5 per minute,” he added.
This reality encouraged the scientist to devise ways to connect to Vietnam through an international phone toll of $2 per minute, which engineers in Australia, whose monthly salaries were approximately $3,500, could afford.
A few months later, Prof. Hurle returned to Vietnam and contacted an overseas Vietnamese in the U.S., who suggested that he approach Tran Ba Thai from the Institute of Information Technology in Hanoi.
“By then we had made strides in substituting the mainframe system with smaller yet higher-configuration computers adopting the UNIX system [a family of multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems] at ANU,” he added.
Prof. Hurle, Thai and a few other colleagues then embarked on experiments in connecting computers in Vietnam and Australia through landline phone lines.
The Aussie designed new pieces of software for the UNIX system, so that modems could be utilized to link computers in Vietnam by allowing users access to the UNIX system before they could connect to the Internet.
The experiments were a success.”
“What do these changes really mean?
A key phrase here is “new era,” one that Mr. Xi has used throughout the congress, which began last week. Mr. Xi has described Chinese history since 1949 as divided into two eras: the three decades after Mao seized power in a revolution that established a unified People’s Republic and ended nearly a century of civil war and foreign invasions, and the three decades after Deng took power in 1978 and refocused China on developing its economy.
Mr. Xi has signaled he is launching China into a new, third era. In his report to the congress, Mr. Xi suggested that if Mao made China independent, and Deng made it prosperous, he would make it strong again. Restoring China to greatness is a central message of “Xi Jinping Thought,” and a goal that has already guided Mr. Xi’s policies of building up the military, strengthening domestic controls and raising China’s profile in global affairs.”
“Toward the end of his life, dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Mao Zedong claimed two achievements: leading the Communist revolution to victory and starting the Cultural Revolution. By pinpointing these episodes, he had underlined the lifelong contradiction in his attitudes toward revolution and state power. Mao molded Communism to fit his two personas. To use Chinese parlance, he was both a tiger and a monkey king. For the Chinese, the tiger is the king of the jungle. Translated into human terms, a tiger
Very interesting piece and comments. I tend to agree with the Chinese gentleman, who dislikes the use of the Monkey King to describe the political purges of Mao, but not entirely. I recently studied the Monkey King, or Monkey, because it is considered one of the four great novels of Chinese literature. I was delighted by the book, which is full of farce, comedy, slapstick and political satire. The Monkey King is a folk hero from stories of old China. He has super powers, and is more like a Marvel or DC superhero, a very naughty one, than any kind of political genius.
Professor Roderick MacFarquhar points out that Mao himself wrote that he was inspired by Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. That the story seems to be an entertainment for children, doesn’t change the fact that the book has many levels of meaning, especially in its covert attack on the Emperor of China, and stuck up officials of all stripes. Out of reverence for this amazing story, I crafted a synopsis of the book into one of the chapters of my first book The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteen-Century Vietnam.