eastofethan

Stories from the New China (and beyond)

Archive for the ‘Global’ Category

Once upon a time in China…

leave a comment »

What really happened ten years ago, adapted from my recent talk at the European Parliament, Brussels.

Written by eastofethan

April 24, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Iranian nuclear warheads–a technical note

leave a comment »

As you probably picked up from my carping in the previous post, there are a couple of things on my mind. Such as this: The Iranians will have enough materials for two nuclear warheads (unclear what yield–25 kilotons, perhaps–the Jerusalem Post is referring to here) by the end of 2009.

Without minimizing the implications of that, let’s point out  that no state, including America in the middle of an out-and-out war, has ever used a nuclear weapon, or even threatened to use one, without testing first. For the Iranians to fire a dud–or what’s usually called a fizzle, i.e. the trigger does not “ignite” the bomb material properly or the modifier does not allow for a chain reaction–at Israel…well, that would invite full-on, uninhibited, nuclear retaliation on the Iranian bunkers, command and control, and nuclear facilities. Never mind hitting Tehran, the Israelis will use a high exoatmospheric airburst producing a pulse that will knock out every electrical system, every computer, every vehicle, every toaster in Iran. (This can’t be done to Israel’s electrical grid without knocking out Amman, Damascus and Beirut as well–Israel is just too small). All this, and the Iranians haven’t even killed any Jews. That’s pretty suicidal right? So they have to test, right?

The twist: There is no way to test in secret. Even the Israeli test in the South Atlantic/Indian Ocean, the so-called Vela Incident, was picked up by observatories and sensor stations around the world, even back in 1979. So in 2009, the world will know. Israel will know. And there will be time, maybe very little time, but time, for the Israelis to attack the Iranian nuclear assets preemptively , using conventional and nuclear assets. World opinion will still condemn the Jews, yadda, yadda, but coming in the wake of an Iranian test, the Israelis will have a legitimate case.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eastofethan

April 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Sunshine came softly through my window today…

leave a comment »

Yesterday I woke up to this (the news that the opposition leader of Venezuela had fled the country). Now the honest truth is that I pay little attention to Latin America. It’s not my expertise, so perhaps I’m wrong…but, well, anyway, in my pre-coffee, still REM-like state, I saw a sort of linkage. President Obama’s dreamy handshake with Hugo Chaves kept running through my mind, as did other images of opening gambits–a North Korean missile launch, planes flying homeward from a Kyrgiztan base, operating tables in China, Iranian centrifuges spinning away–the images of a hobbesian world outside my window.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eastofethan

April 23, 2009 at 11:47 am

Beigel politics

leave a comment »

I don’t much care for identity politics, particularly when I am a guest in another country, a country I respect and admire. But the fact remains that I am an American Jew (half-Jewish anyway, but that’s enough for some people), living in London with my family.

I send my kid to a British school, I eat British food, I have a couple of favorite pubs and I have two bona-fide British friends (OK, I cheated, one’s actually a Scotsman). I like London and I think the English have plenty to be proud of and I tell my son that the English are beloved cousins…And yes, the New Republic article [update: the link has vanished] is a coherent and accurate description of British culture today especially, let’s face it, among the left. You can say anything you want about Jews as long as you call them Israelis. It’s cowardly, it’s sanctified, it’s racism, and I feel it in the marrow of my bones.

But riddle me this: Should I take some comfort in the fact that native English people don’t just tend to dislike Jews, but Muslims too–and the French, and the Russians and yes, themselves a great part of the time? Or should this place–the left-wing aspects of this place to be precise–just give me the frigging creeps? These are not rhetorical questions by the way. They are real.

Written by eastofethan

April 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Family, Global

Sea monkeys

leave a comment »

Chang gets it exactly right.

Written by eastofethan

March 18, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Posted in China, Global

Why eastofethan?

About six years ago, when I was in the middle of writing “Losing the New China,” my friend Terry Halsey called me and asked how I was doing. “Slow” I said. “I’m a slow writer. And when I’m done, no one will care. It’s about China, Terry. Americans like to read books about themselves.”

In fact, Terry doesn’t really like to read about China either. He’s a typical trendy New Yorker (with an atypically large brain, one that is always chafing against the conventional cage that he has erected for himself—which his large brain tells him it is futile to resist). Anyway, Terry had a high-tech promotion idea. We would place webcam cameras all over my house, in the backwoods mountains of Vermont—and the video would stream into a website called “THE MAKING OF Losing the New China.”

I told Terry that all it would capture was me padding around in a bathrobe, scratching myself, smoking, and then going into the badly lit kitchen to make myself a snack. What a freaking stupid idea.

This blog is an admission that Terry was, in some way, right.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eastofethan

March 14, 2009 at 1:05 am

Freeman is OUT

leave a comment »

Yesterday was Purim, and appropriately enough for the conspiracy-minded, Chas Freeman resigned as the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

If you want a quick postmortem (I don’t want to dwell on this either), check out the WP editorial. The China human rights crowd may have actually done the lion’s share of the work here. I haven’t looked at the Newsweek piece that the WP references–something about Pelosi being “incensed” by Freeman’s statements on Tiananmen–but perhaps there’s some life in Pelosi yet? And did the Obama admin reveal their China card too early?

UPDATE: I should mention that my own minuscule contribution to the Freeman pile-on was published in this week’s Weekly Standard.  It’s worth reading anyway because my point was much wider than one man: The Obama administration has sent clear signals to the Chinese leadership that they are no longer interested in human rights and democracy in China. The consequences will be truly horrific.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eastofethan

March 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm