Saturday, December 29, 2007

"The difficult we can do immediately; the impossible

will take a little longer."

-Herman Haupt, Chief of U.S. Military Rail Roads in Virginia, to Abraham

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bhutto Assassination



"Investigators with our Product Safety Bureau have

identified the factory that produced the defective

sun roof that killed Mrs. Bhutto as "Al Qaeda Sun

Sun Roof Manufacturing, Inc." and have closed

it indefinitely. I congratulate those involved in

so swiftly bringing this investigation to a

conclusion," said the Pakistani President.

The Bhutto Assassination



"We must restore confidence in the safety of Pakistini

sun roofs," said the President.

The Bhutto Assassination


Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Bhutto Assassination, America, Pakistan, and The Clash

In the long-ago Cold War, America "tilted" toward

Pakistan in its continuous subcontinent feud with

India. Our countries have remained cordial ever

since. In the "war on terrorism" President Musharaff

was one of the most outspoken (if somewhat panicked)

in the world, certainly in the Islamic world, in

condemning the attacks. He pledged help to the

Bush administration, and has delivered some.

The old bromide that politics makes strange bed-

fellows applies here, of course. India is the world's

largest democracy; Pakistan has had far more coups

than free elections. India is a stable country;

Pakistan has gone through more leaders than

Lincoln went through generals. Finally of course,

Pakistan is Islamic and India is Hindu and our Clash

is with Islam.

Bedfellow Bush has snuggled up to bedfellow

Musharraf, to the detriment of both countries, and to

our side in the Clash. He has done all that he can to

protect Musharraf against surges of Islamist violence

and assassination attempts. On the bedfellows theory

that would seem to be a good thing, but it's not. The

Musharraf regime is about to fall, that will be one of

the results of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto

today, and in it's place will be...who knows in Pakistan,

but eventually, probably later rather than sooner, an

Islamist government. And this one will have the bomb.

That's a very bad thing. Pakistan developed and test-

launched its bomb under President Musharraf, and

with President Bush looking on, or looking the other


The most vital threat that America faces in the Clash is

an Islamic bomb in the wrong hands. That is closer to

happening today than it was yesterday.

The bed-fellows approach has produced this result.

The U.S. never should have permitted Pakistan to

develop its atomic capability. This day was foreseeable.

In the Clash, instead of the bedfellows theory that

delays the inevitable, this page has proposed an

opposite theory, of encouraging the inevitable.

We have called it "constructive provocation" and,

applied in the context here, the U.S. would have, if

necessary, bombed the Pakistani nuclear facilities out

of existence. That would have brought down the

Musharraf regime. Constructive provocateurs would

say, better sooner than later, better by our action than

the improvised reaction that the bedfellows theory

produces, better that we fight the Clash at a time of

our choosing rather than the enemy's. Whatever one

thinks of theories, we should have prevented the

Pakistani nuclear capability by all means necessary.

Long before President Bush, America should have

gotten out of bed with Pakistan. Pakistan shares none

of America's values. The bedfellows approach shunts

that consideration aside--for defensible reasons--for

geopolitical expediency. But there's the rub. The

bedfellows theory is supposed to be temporary and,

given the "strange" relationships it produces, it is

critical that each relationship so produced be

constantly reevaluated.

It has been the long-standing view here* that Pakistan

has not been a net plus for America in the Clash.

Rather, we have consistently argued that Pakistan and

Saudi Arabia are our greatest enemies. Shortly after

9/11 The New York Times Magazine did a story on

President Musharraf's madrasahs, the Pakistani schools

that inculcate Pakistani children in Islamist hatred.

As does our other major "friend" in the Islamic world,

Saudi Arabia, the madrasahs were one way for President

Musharraf to buy off Islamist threats to him personally,

and to his regime. The result for America however is a

new generation in Pakistanis--and Saudis--who, when

they come of age, will act out their school lessons with

the violence and hate that they were taught.

Additionally, U.S. intelligence indicates that Osama

bin Laden is alive and well. In Pakistan. In that "lawless"

tribal area in the mountainous border region it shares

with Afghanistan. Reportedly, we had a bead on bin

Laden in that area of Pakistan at one point, but

Secretary Rumsfeld called off military action for fear

of destabilizing our "friend." Acting under a theory of

"constructive provocation," obviously the U.S. would

have gone in and gotten bin Laden.

President Musharraf's fiat does not extend over a large

geographic area of his country; he does not rule the

hearts and minds of a large segment of his people;

he hasn't been able to produce bin Laden; our

ability to capture bin Laden ourselves has been

thwarted by concern for our bedfellow; and he

is teaching his youngsters to make jihad on us.

Another old bromide comes to mind, with friends like this...

* Our Friends in Pakistan, May 29, 2002.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

China's Great Wall of Silence: China's "Eichmann's Defense" Law

At his trial in Israel in 1961 Adolph Eichmann defended himself

as someone who "never did anything great or small,

without obtaining in advance express instructions from Adolf

Hitler or any of my superiors."

At her trial in China in 1981 Jiang Jing defended herself in the

same way, "I was Chairman Mao's dog. He told me who to bite

and I bit them."

Israel convicted Eichmann and China convicted Jiang but

Israel is a nation of laws and applies them indiscriminately;

China is a nation of orders which it issues at its whim.

"Following orders" is not a defense recognized in a society

ruled by laws; it is a defense in a society ruled by orders.

It is for this reason that those responsible for the murder of

Bian Zhongyun and of 3,000,000 others during the Cultural

Revolution go unpunished. When it wants to, as in the case of

the Gang of Four, China issues orders holding people

accountable. When it doesn't want to, it issues no such orders.

Wang Jinyao, Bian's husband, has found this out over the

years. Wang has tirelessly sought justice for his wife's murder.

Pausing here for a moment we note another distinction.

"Memorializing" and "justice" both are important, noble

concepts. There are two parties to a murder, the victim and the

murderer. Memorializing focuses exclusively on the victim:

when we lay wreaths on the graves of our loved ones we do so

regardless of whether they died by murder, accident, in

war, or by natural causes. Justice focuses on both victim and

murderer. When Wang Jinyao went to his country's authorities

it was not to memorialize Bian; he has done that in his

apartment since 1966. Wang sought justice, he wanted those

responsible for his wife's murder to be held accountable in

some way.

When Wang sought justice he was cited a Chinese "law" that

codified Adolph Eichmann's defense. Wang was told that since

Bian's murder had occurred in the midst of a "mass movement"

the requisite criminal intent could not be imputed to any

individual. Without criminal intent there is no crime. Without a

crime there is no criminal. Therefore, no one was responsible

for Bian's death. Such was the Chinese government's order.

Justice is not revenge, the two, like orders and laws and

memorializing and justice, are often conflated. Justice is the

product of the shared values of a society, those values are

embodied in its laws and a society's fairness, that is, its

legitimacy, depends on the enforcement of those laws, that is,

those values. Wang Jinyao received no justice from his country

for his wife's murder because, you see, his country has no

justice to give. This is Public Occurrences.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poetry Lives, American Culture Lives

Credit, not for the first time, to Arts and Letters Daily at

Monday, December 10, 2007

China's Great Wall of Silence: The Struggle for History. Photo #1 Again

We have to understand our fellow man and their
perspectives; we have to take into account their
Now, to you and me, and anyone else without
a brain lesion, these are photographs of dead people.
But Red Guards have more complex thought processes
than you and me. They were the elite of the Chinese
educational system, the "morning suns" of progressive
Maoist thought.
To them these are not necessarily dead people. In the
reality which the Red Guards inhabit these folks could
all be sleeping. Yeah, see, never thought about that, did
you? That's because you're not as, how to say, erudite
as them, as they are, excuse me. Those people in the
bottom left hand corner, who's to say they aren't in
sleeping bags instead of body bags. Pshaw, we dumb
people are always jumping to conclusions.
Or they're dead people--no deceased hominids, no post-
living bipeds--but where is the evidence that they were
murdered, Huh? Perhaps they all died of heart attacks,
or from some other pre-existing medical condition, as
Dr. Weili Ye claimed was the case with Bian Zhongyun
in Carma Hinton's tour de farce Morning Sun. Were
there autopsies conducted, another salient point raised
by Weili Ye, Medical Examiner? No?
The Red Guards smell a rat, a frame-up of historical
proportions, just like that perpetrated on their own
Song Binbin. They'll get to the bottom of this, just you
wait and see. All they have to do is focus their super-
brains onto this conundrum and they'll come up with
an explanation, they'll come up with an explanation
all right, an explanation that satisfies--them. I am
Benjamin Harris.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

China's Great Wall of Silence: The Struggle for History. Photo #2

Here we see more of the results of the youthful
idealism of the Cultural Revolution celebrated by Carma
Hinton, Weili Ye, Liu Jin, and...Oh where to stop. So many
Red Guards, so little time.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

China's Great Wall of Silence: The Struggle for History. Photo #1

Above are photographs of the corpses of human beings
murdered during the Cultural Revolution. As can be
seen they were splashed unabashedly across a full page
of a Chinese newspaper of the time. The newspaper
article in which they appear was sent by a person
living in the P.R.C. Similar such articles have been
published here previously (1). More will follow.

In a recent paper (2) Dr. Youqin Wang writes of the
dichotomy that exists between the Chinese
government's official history of the Cultural Revolu-
tion and the "real" history. The former ignores the
scholarly purpose of truth-seeking. It cites to other
official accounts, thus completing the circle, rather
than to original documents like that above or to first-
hand interviews. The official account is not really
history at all but a sanitized account whose purpose
is not factual accuracy but regime protection.

The Chinese government's purpose is aided by the faux
academic efforts of foreign apologists such as Americans
Carma Hinton (3) Weili Ye (4), and the openly Maoist website, by the French philosopher Alan
Badiou (5), and others. These "useful fools"--to use Lenin's
phrase-- perpetrate their ideology-disguised-as-history on
insouciant Western audiences.

The real history is being written by Dr. Wang whose
website is dedicated
to the memory of the victims of the Cultural Revolution,
by Roderick McFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals (6), by
Jonathan Spence (7), Jung Chang (8), Hu Jie (9), and
Harry Wu (10), among others. Except for Hu Jie, all are
living in the West.

There is a desperate struggle for the past going on here.

The Chinese government is winning that struggle. It is very
big and very powerful. By contrast, "my voice is very weak"
is Dr.Wang's poignant description of her own brave efforts
and those of Hu Jie. For five years Dr. Wang's website has
been blocked by the Chinese government's censors. The
regime pulled Hu Jie's film from a showing at a film festival
at the last moment. Books by the scholars mentioned
above are, of course, banned also in the P.R.C.

It is not a given in human affairs that "the truth will out."
The Chinese government is winning, and there is
nothing impossible about its ultimate triumph. I
remember being struck by something that
Professor Macfarquhar wrote, that if there is to
be an historical accounting of the Cultural Revolu-
tion that it will only be done by the Chinese people.

On the YouTube site of Hu Jie's film Though I Am
Gone, a young person posted that he hadn't known
that there was such violence during the Cultural
Revolution. He has never seen the corpses in the
above photograph. There is now a generation of
Chinese coming of age in a more open China who
do not know what really happened during the
Cultural Revolution, during the far more
disastrous "Great Leap Forward" of the 1950's, or
for that matter during the entire history of the P.R.C.

At the beginning of the school day the morning after
Bian Zhongyun's murder, Liu Jin, one of the Red
Guard leaders of the school, made the official
announcement over the loudspeaker:

"Bian Zhongyun's dead. That's it. There is no reason
to talk about it."

That is the Chinese government's position on
history also. Obviously, that position has
grounding in the thinking of many individual
Chinese. Even today, the individual perpetrators
of Cultural Revolution violence go unnamed by
even those dedicated to historical truth. The
government will win the struggle for the past
unless enough Chinese people decide that that's
not "it," that there is a "reason" to talk about it.

-Benjamin Harris, J.D.

1. Public Occurrences. June 8, 2007.

2. Official History and Parallel History, Victims or No
Victims: The Antithesis in the Historical Writings of the
Cultural Revolution. China Perspectives October-November
3. Morning Sun (film), 2005.
4. The Death of Bian Zhongyun. Chinese Historical Review,
Fall 2006.
5. "The Cultural Revolution: The Last Revolution." Positions,
Winter, 2005. Duke University Press.
6. Mao's Last Revolution. Belknap Press of Harvard University
Press, 2006.
7. The Gate of Heavenly Peace (1981), The Search for Modern
China (1991), Mao Zedong (1999), et al.
8. Mao: The Unknown Story. Anchor Books, 2006.
9. Seeking the Soul of Lin Zhao, 2004, Though I am Gone,
2006. (films)
10. Troublemaker: One Man's Crusade
Against China, co-authored with George Vecsey. NewsMax
Media, Inc. 2002.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


We are all Pittsburghers

"To encourage knowledge of affairs at home and abroad; to cure the spirit of lying which prevails
amongst us; to record memorable providences."
-Statement of purpose, Public Occurrences, September 25, 1690

The college football regular season in the U.S.A. ended last night. It has been the most unpredictable season in history. Seven different teams who were ranked #2 in the country have lost during the course of the season, five of them to completely un-ranked teams. Last night both the number-one and number-two teams
played their season-ending games. Had they won they would have played against each other after the new year for the national championship.

Both lost.

Missouri, the number-one team, lost to Oklahoma, a highly-ranked team in its own right. Number-two West
Virginia however lost to the University of Pittsburgh, an un-ranked team with a losing record, over whom
West Virginia was a twenty eight and one-half point favorite. To make the result even more surprising the
game was played on West Virginia's campus. "Home" teams in American college football have a decided
advantage. Most surprising is that Pittsburgh is West Virginia's most- despised rival, thus seeming to negate
the common concern that a superior team might overlook an inferior opponent. Finally, this was exactly the 100th game between the two schools.

None of this mattered. Pittsburgh won the game 13-9.

The game has been described in historic terms by American sports writers. To lose to one's bitterest rival, at home, in the final game of the season, when playing for a chance at a national championship, while being favored by twenty eight and one-half points is indeed historic.

At its best sports presents the human condition in the starkest of terms. West Virginia's coach sorrowfully described the game as a "nightmare." We have all had those. We are all West Virginians. But for Pittsburgh's fans, and for underdog fans everywhere, the result was a miraculous joy. We are all Pittsburghers.

We have not had occasion to document memorable providences in the five-plus years that we have been publishing this electronic continuation of Public Occurrences but Pittsburgh's victory was not just historic, it was providential, that is miraculous, and so, true to our ancient mission we hereby record it. This is Public Occurrences.