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Monday, August 30, 2004

MSNBC > How to Beat Bush The former campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000 offers four critical tips to the Kerry-Edwards campaign
By Donna Brazile
Updated: 1:52 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2004
Aug. 28 - It’s hard to travel across the country these days without seeing an old familiar bumper sticker: “Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot.” Perhaps the slogan rang true for many progressive voters in this highly partisan, highly charged and highly polarized electorate. But, if the bumper-sticker crowd believes it refers to George W. Bush, they are sorely mistaken.
Sen. John Kerry can win this election by understanding that he is running against a shrewd, clever and an extremely intelligent opponent who was trained in political combat by the late GOP strategist Lee Atwater.
With all the former aides and strategists to Al Gore on board, the Kerry campaign has shown that it is wise enough to learn from some of the mistakes we made in 2000. Namely, Kerry has utilized the ubiquitous President Bill Clinton as a surrogate of sorts, and also habitually reminded voters of the prosperity and fiscal discipline enjoyed during the Clinton years.
However, as tacit as the Kerry campaign has been, it must tread lightly through segments of the political battlefield. Four years ago, I personally witnessed the relentless attacks on former Vice President GoreÂ’s character from third-party surrogates with loose, but ideologically significant ties to the Bush campaign. After having a high-energy and well-defined convention where Kerry was introduced as a decorated war hero he was forced to play defense by a group of former Vietnam veterans vehemently opposed to his candidacy. As the challenger, Kerry had to personally respond to these scurrilous attacks on his character with the hopes of setting the record straight before November. Thankfully for Kerry, this back-and-forth occurred in the slow news month of August and not in October, which would have made it omnipresent in the minds of voters.
But to defeat George W. Bush, Team Kerry-Edwards must do four things well (and avoid any strategic mistakes we made in 2000 that would place him on the defense) for the rest of the electoral season.
These are simple truths, but difficult to enforce.

Message Matters
During the final months of the 2000 presidential campaign, we struggled to create a strong, compelling message on how Gore could stand up and fight for ordinary people and build on the Clinton-Gore record of prosperity. Kerry’s positive convention message of “America can do better” must remain consistent from now until Election Day. A race against an incumbent is a referendum on the direction of the country. Kerry can make the arguments much easier for voters if he’s making a compelling case—either based on a vision for the country (see: ‘Putting People First’) or something about his leadership style (‘A President You Can Trust’).

There is also room for negative message. The Kerry-Edwards ticket needs to find the one, overarching negative message about Bush that you want voters to hear time and time again. Why not say, “President Bush can't be trusted, is too extreme, etc.”? Team Kerry must get up every day and put in place events, developments, news, surrogates that drive the negative message. The campaign should recognize that you are either on offense scoring points and moving the ball downfield or on defense being scored upon. Thus, the Kerry-Edwards campaign must divide each week up like it as an inning and try to score some points.
Minimize Mistakes
In an election this close, the candidate who wins may be the one who makes the fewest mistakes. In the fall, a one-day July story becomes a one-week October story when more voters are paying close attention. Back in 2000, we made some significant errors in the final weeks that either slowed our momentum or placed us on the defense.
Use candidate time wisely; recognize that nothing makes up for quality candidate appearances and events. Kerry must get to know those voters and what they care about in the so-called battleground states. The local events should highlight KerryÂ’s national message and tailored to the markets heÂ’s trying to carry on Election Day.
Don't approach these crucial presidential debates like they are a Harvard-Yale Society debate. This will serve as KerryÂ’s chance to show voters who he is as a person. They will want to be comfortable with him. Kerry must come across like a next-door neighbor who is respected on the block. Smile. Lots of smiles and absolutely no narrowing of the eyes, sighs or glancing at his watch.
The bottom line is Kerry should feel, look and act like a winner. Voters respond to confidence, just look at Bush and why the race is still narrowly tied. All the traditional political indicators continue to point to a Kerry win in November—the percentage of registered voters who say they will re-elect the president is still low, the right track-wrong track number favors Kerry. And there is one simple truth no one will dispute: Democrats fiercely want to send George W. Bush back to Crawford, Texas.
Donna Brazile, a senior political strategist and former campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000, is the author of "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics" [Simon & Schuster]
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > Across Asia, Beijing's Star Is in Ascendance

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > Across Asia, Beijing's Star Is in Ascendance: "August 28, 2004
Across Asia, Beijing's Star Is in Ascendance

NEWMAN, Australia - Chris Dunbar watched as a front-end loader carved into a 60-foot wall of iron ore glinting in the red dirt of a vast open mine in the big sky country of northwestern Australia. 'This is as good as it gets,' said a satisfied Mr. Dunbar, 47, a manager with more than 20 years of experience.
He was boasting about the richness of the blue-black ore at the Mount Whaleback mine, but he might as well have been bragging about the boom that has propelled economies across the Asia-Pacific region. These days, Australian engineers - like executives, merchants and manufacturers elsewhere in the region - cannot seem to work fast enough to satisfy the hunger of their biggest new customer: China.
Not long ago Australia and China regarded each other with suspicion. But through newfound diplomatic finesse and the seemingly irresistible lure of its long economic expansion, Beijing has skillfully turned around relations with Australia, America's staunchest ally in the region.
The turnabout is just one sign of the broad new influence Beijing has accumulated across the Asian Pacific with American friends and foes alike. From the mines of Newman - an outpost of 3,000 in a corner of the outback - to theforests of Myanmar, the former Burma, China's rapid growth is sucking up resources and pulling the region's varied economies in its wake. The effect is unlike anything since the rise of Japanese economic power after World War II.
For now, China's presence mostly translates into money, and the doors it opens. But more and more, China is leveraging its economic clout to support its political preferences.

Beijing is pushing for regional political and economic groupings it can dominate, like a proposed East Asia Community that would cut out the United States and create a global bloc to rival the European Union. It is dispersing aid and, in ways not seen before, pressing countries to fall in line on its top foreign policy priority: its claim over Taiwan.

China's higher profile is all the more striking, analysts, executives and diplomats say, as Washington's preoccupation with Iraq and terrorism has left it seemingly disengaged from the region, which in turn has found the United States more off-putting and harder to penetrate after Sept. 11.

American military supremacy remains unquestioned, regional officials say. But the United States appears to be on the losing side of trade patterns. China is now South Korea's biggest trade partner, and two years ago Japan's imports from China surpassed those from the United States. Current trends show China is likely to top American trade with Southeast Asia in just a few years.

China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, as much as threw down the gauntlet last year, saying he believed that China's trade with Southeast Asia would reach $100 billion by 2005, just shy of the $120 billion in trade the United States does with the region.

Mr. Wen's claim was no idle boast. Almost no country has escaped the pull of China's enormous craving for trade and, above all, energy and other natural resources to fuel its still galloping expansion and growing consumer demand. Though the Chinese government's growth target for 2004 is 7 percent, compared with 9.1 percent for 2003, few are worried about a slowdown soon.

In Thailand, where the United States maintains its second largest embassy, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is of ethnic Chinese descent, is considering building a pipeline across the southern Isthmus of Kra that would give China quicker access to Middle East oil.

In Malaysia, where exports of gas, palm oil and midrange electronics to China have soared, the new prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, chose to make China his first major overseas visit. He was accompanied by 800 business executives.

Chinese executives and diplomats, sensing the advantage that comes with one of the world's fastest-growing economies, have extended their reach to the point that China is increasingly seen as the go-to neighbor, diplomats and other analysts say.

Many here already contend the future belongs to China. A new generation of political and business leaders is placing its bets now on what is nearly universally seen as China's rise - and hedging against a possible waning of American influence.

Even as America's position erodes, its policies - on Iraq, North Korea, weapons proliferation - have tended to push China and its neighbors together. Not least among the shared interests is a "mutual concern about the unilateralism" of current American policy, said Muhammad Noordin Sopiee, chairman of Malaysia's Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

"They need regional friendship, we need regional friendship," he said of the Chinese. "They need time to develop their economy, so do we. They need protection from the United States and so do we.''

"Sometimes you see the glint of steel," he added of the Chinese approach, "But they hide it. They want to be friends."

An Embrace for Myanmar

China's rapid gain in influence in the Asia Pacific region ranges so broadly that it can be measured at the extremes, in countries as divergent as rich and distant Australia and impoverished but strategically important Myanmar.

The military government of Myanmar is no favorite of Washington. The Bush administration has tried since last year to use trade sanctions to coerce Myanmar's generals to share power and release the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest. But the logic of the sanctions did not impress even a local Burmese restaurant owner on the road from Mandalay to China.

With ceiling fans powered by scarce electricity whirring gently, he drew a rough map of Myanmar on a bare wood table top for a recent visitor. India, Thailand, Laos, China, he said pointing to the neighbors.

"As long as China remains friendly nothing will change," said the man, who did not want to be named for fear of Myanmar's ruthless military intelligence service. "China can provide everything the country needs from a needle to a nuclear bomb."

China has in fact capsized Washington's policy with its own trade deals, which far outweigh the value of the American penalties. The State Department estimates that Myanmar lost about $200 million in the first year of the ban on imports to the United States. At the same time, it said, trade between China and Myanmar amounted to about $1 billion in 2003.

Here is where economic leverage translates into political preference. For China, Myanmar provides is too important as a gateway to energy and other natural resources to be thrown overboard. Not only has China offset the American sanctions and kept Myanmar afloat with easy credit and trade, but it has taken Myanmar's military leaders under its wing.

On a visit this spring to Myanmar's capital, Yangon, formerly Rangoon, China's deputy prime minister, Wu Yi, pledged to expand trade to $1.5 billion in 2005. In July, Myanmar's new prime minister, Khin Nyunt, paid an eight-day visit to China, where he was treated like an old friend.

He returned with a raft of accords on railways, a fertilizer factory and mine exploration, as well as $150 million loan for telecommunications and a $94 million rescheduling of debts - relatively small amounts that show how easy it has become for China to serve as Myanmar's patron.

Chinese officials have also been willing to finance vital hydroelectric dam projects in the absence of lenders from anywhere else. And they recently proposed that a pipeline be built from Myanmar's west coast port of Sittwe to Kunming, the capital of China's southwestern Yunnan Province, allowing China more direct access to Middle East oil.

Closer to the border, the trade is in smuggled teak, a wood prized for its beauty and durability by China's surging furniture manufacturers. The teak trade is as illustrative as any of the symbiotic relationship between the Chinese and Burmese authorities.

"China needs Burma's natural resources to fuel development on the border and in Yunnan Province as a whole," Simon Phillips, the author of a report on the trade published last year for Global Witness, a British nongovernmental organization, said in an interview.

After China banned logging on its side of the border in 1998, Chinese companies moved their workers - tens of thousands of them - into Myanmar, he said. With the backing of political patrons in the Myanmar military, and in separatist militias, the loggers carried on their work with impunity.

The benefits flow both ways. The provincial government in Kunming depends on the companies for revenue. On Myanmar's side, aside from the money lavished on local Burmese political patrons, there was the added advantage that the Chinese built roads.

One of the most important highways that China has helped improve is the main artery from the border to Mandalay, the old royal capital. These days, the traffic is varied. Huge trucks, many of them 40-year-old hulks with exposed engines, still haul outsized teak logs to China. Smaller vans, piled with crates of live crabs from Myanmar's Indian Ocean ports, ply a profitable 48-hour journey delivering delicacies for Chinese epicures.

From China, a vast assortment of cheap consumer goods for local markets comes down the road, particularly to Lashio. On a recent day, the city market was packed with Chinese electronics, clothes and food.

But local people, like the restaurant owner, who have watched the traffic flows, say they mostly go one way - into China.

"Myanmar is the resource pit of China," the restaurant owner lamented. "We send our best wood to them, our best gems, our best fruit. What do we get? Their worst fruit and their cheapest products."

A Good Year for Australia

For executives at BHP Billiton, the Australian giant that is the world's largest mining company and the operator of the Mount Whaleback mine, it has been a very good year. They will be the first to say that China has made all the difference.

Profits were up nearly 80 percent, the company reported in August, much of the growth riding on new orders from the Chinese steel mills casting girders for the skyscrapers that dot China's urban expansion.

Chinese diplomats talk of the natural fit between the two countries: last year China became the biggest importer of iron ore in the world, and Australia is its second biggest producer.

With orders from China surging, BHP Billiton executives say they are opening mines and expanding their overburdened rail and shipping facilities at Port Hedland, on the northwest coast. On a recent day, no fewer than 13 ships waited to berth and load with ore for the 10-day journey to China.

Doug Trotter, a project geologist who works at a new BHP Billiton mine called Area C, 100 miles east of Mount Whaleback, called that kind of demand "job security."

"They originally planned that this plant would produce four million tons of ore next year," he said. "Instead, we expect to produce 20 million in 2005."

Even more of a bonanza is China's demand for natural gas, which Beijing says it will use to start replacing coal.

At Karratha, another port south of Hedland, gas from 100 miles out at sea arrives through underwater pipes to be liquefied in a huge processing plant. Then, for the moment, it is pumped into a fleet of mammoth domed vessels for shipment to buyers like Japan and South Korea. China is the newest customer.

In the richest trade deal in Australian history, sealed after Prime Minister John Howard personally lobbied officials in Beijing, the Chinese agreed to buy a 25-year supply of liquid natural gas from the Australian company Woodside Energy for $25 billion.

The Australians beat Qatar and Indonesia in the bidding, even though their price was higher, because they could better guarantee a secure supply, said Lucio Della Martina, general manager for marketing at Woodside.

Huge as the deal was, negotiations are already under way for a still bigger deal - valued at $30 billion - for gas at a deposit called Gorgon, also off Western Australia.

Whether natural gas or iron ore, Australian sensitivities about foreign ownership of natural resources have been outweighed by the sheer size of the Chinese contracts. Just as compelling is the eagerness among Chinese and Australian diplomats and executives to lock in a mutually beneficial relationship for the distant future.

At BHP Billiton's headquarters in downtown Perth, where recent gifts from Chinese delegations are displayed along side older bearings from Japan and South Korea, Graeme Hunt, president of BHP Billiton's iron ore division, said the company had even invited Chinese mills to take a 40 percent stake in another iron ore mine, at Jimblebar, 30 miles east of Mount Whaleback.

The Chinese mills, he said, want a secure long-term supply and signed on for 25 years for an estimated $9 billion of ore. A slowdown in the Chinese economy was not a worry, Mr. Hunt said.

"We're still very confident," he said. "China is the fourth largest car producer in the world but most people still don't have a car. There's still a long way to go before the average Chinese person has all the material things of life."

U.S. Friends Uneasy

Just how American allies weigh their strategic relationship with America against the economic opportunities offered by China is fast becoming a front-burner issue. America's friends see a difficult balancing act ahead.

Among the most nervous is Singapore. China publicly scolded the new prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, before his inauguration in August, for visiting Taiwan, where Singapore trains its soldiers, even though his father, Lee Kwan Yew, had visited Taiwan many times. China said it would delay trade talks as a punishment.

The gravity of the threat was not lost on Mr. Lee. In his first major speech in August, the new prime minister hastily reaffirmed Singapore's support for a "one China" policy on Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

For his part, Mr. Howard, the conservative Australian prime minister, boasted in August that one of his "great successes" was building a "very close relationship" with China while strengthening ties with Washington. He was proud, he said, that he had given symbolic parity to President Bush and the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, by arranging for them to speak on consecutive days before Parliament last fall, where Mr. Hu was given a warmer reception.

But there is also an underlying apprehension, which surfaced publicly for the first time in August. The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said Australia, which has been a stalwart American ally on Iraq, would have great reservations about joining the United States if a conflict broke out over Taiwan. Mr. Howard had to move quickly to set the record straight, dressing down his foreign minister by saying the remarks were "completely hypothetical."

Some in the Howard government are beginning to worry that Australia may not long be able to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to China and Taiwan.

Most countries in the region, like Thailand, are already on board with China's claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, and some in Australia worry that China is quickly chipping away at the last holdouts.

In his speech to the Australian Parliament, the Chinese president urged Australia to help seek a solution to the Taiwan question - a point interpreted here as pressing the country to choose between China and the United States on the issue.

Such crossroads loom even as the Chinese and Australian economies become increasingly intertwined.

Some high-level American officials warn that the United States is losing its once invulnerable position in Asia. James A. Kelly, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, in unusually blunt testimony before Congress in June, listed Beijing's aggressive diplomatic moves and said they were being used to strengthen China's economic gains.

Even if American officials have trained most of their energies and attention elsewhere after 9/11, China's new generation of diplomats, like its ambassador to Australia, Fu Ying, are keenly attuned to the potential tug of competing allegiances, and seem prepared to plug any gaps.

Mrs. Fu was sent to Canberra to lock in Australia's energy resources. She is succeeding, and noted that even while the economic relationship brings the two countries closer, differences remain.

"When you had this kind of relationship with Japan you were from the same side of the fence," she said in an interview in an influential Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald. "No ideological barriers whatsoever. With China it is different."

"Do you understand China that well?" she asked. "And does China understand Australia that well?"

Those questions remain to be answered.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Yahoo > Swift Boat Accounts Incomplete

Sun Aug 22,11:04 AM ET

By Michael Dobbs, Washington Post Staff Writer

When John F. Kerry rescued Jim Rassmann from the Bay Hap River in the jungles of Vietnam in March 1969, neither man could possibly have imagined that the episode would become a much-disputed focus of an American presidential campaign 35 years later.

For Kerry, then a green and gangly Navy lieutenant junior grade and now the Democratic challenger to a wartime Republican president, that tale of heroism under fire has become integral to his campaign. A centerpiece of public rallies, videos and a new campaign advertisement, it has helped distinguish the candidate from his Democratic primary rivals and from President Bush (news - web sites), who spent the war at home as a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

For the Massachusetts senator's critics, who include three of the five Swift boat skippers who were present that day, the incident demonstrates why Kerry does not deserve to be commander in chief. They accuse him of cowardice, hogging the limelight and lying. Far from displaying coolness under fire, they say, Kerry was never fired upon and fled the scene at the moment of maximum danger.

Establishing the facts is complicated not merely by fading memories and sometimes ambiguous archival evidence, but also by the bitterly partisan nature of the presidential campaign.

An investigation by The Washington Post into what happened that day suggests that both sides have withheld information from the public record and provided an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of what took place. But although Kerry's accusers have succeeded in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar.

Two best-selling books have formed the basis for public discussion of the events of March 13, 1969, as a result of which Kerry won a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. The fullest account of Kerry's experience in Vietnam is "Tour of Duty" by prominent presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. It was written with Kerry's cooperation and with exclusive access to his diaries and other writings about the Vietnam War. "Unfit for Command," by John E. O'Neill, who succeeded Kerry as commander of his Swift boat, and Jerome R. Corsi, lays out a detailed attack on Kerry's record.

The Post's research shows that both accounts contain significant flaws and factual errors. This reconstruction of the climactic day in Kerry's military career is based on more than two dozen interviews with former crewmates and officers who served with him, as well as research in the Naval Historical Center here, where the Swift boat records are preserved. Kerry himself was the only surviving skipper on the river that day who declined a request for an interview.

On the core issue of whether Kerry was wounded under enemy fire, thereby qualifying for a third Purple Heart, the Navy records clearly favor Kerry. Several documents, including the after-action report and the Bronze Star citation for a Swift boat skipper who has accused Kerry of lying, refer to "all units" coming under "automatic and small-weapons fire."

The eyewitness accounts, on the other hand, are conflicting. Kerry's former crew members support his version, as does Rassmann, the Special Forces officer rescued from the river. But many of the other skippers and enlisted men who were on the river that day dispute Kerry's account and have signed up with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a public advocacy group that has aired television advertisements accusing Kerry of lying about his wartime service.

From an outsider's perspective, the flotilla of five 50-foot Swift boats that followed the Bay Hap River that humid March day has spawned two competing bands of brothers. One is fiercely loyal to Kerry and frequently appears with him at campaign events. The other dislikes him intensely and is doing everything it can to block his election.

Many Swift boat veterans opposed to Kerry acknowledge that their disgust with him was fueled by his involvement in the antiwar movement. When they returned from Vietnam, they say, they were dogged by accusations of atrocities. While Kerry went on to make a prominent political career, they got jobs as teachers, accountants, surveyors and oil field workers. When he ran for president, partly on the strength of his war record, their resentment exploded.

At one level, an attempt to establish what happened during a Vietcong ambush on the Bay Hap River 35 years ago is a simple search for facts. At another, it is the story of the divisions that tore the United States, and its armed forces, into two opposing camps at the time of the Vietnam War -- tensions that have resurfaced with a vengeance during the current political campaign.

"The old wounds have been reopened, and they still bleed," said Larry Thurlow, one of Kerry's accusers, who was awarded a Bronze Star for heroism for going to the rescue of a boat that was rocked by a mine explosion that day. He says he got involved with the anti-Kerry campaign organized by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth because Kerry's distortion of the truth about the Vietnam War "makes me madder than hell."

"We decided we aren't going to take it anymore."

Boats Thrown Into Fight

When Kerry signed up to command a Swift boat in the summer of 1968, he was inspired by the example of his hero, John F. Kennedy, who had commanded the PT-109 patrol boat in the Pacific in World War II. But Kerry had little expectation of seeing serious action. At the time the Swift boats -- or PCFs (patrol craft fast), in Navy jargon -- were largely restricted to coastal patrols. "I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry wrote in a book of war reminiscences published in 1986.

The role of the Swift boats changed dramatically toward the end of 1968, when Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., commander of U.S. naval forces in South Vietnam, decided to use them to block Vietcong supply routes through the Mekong Delta. Hundreds of young men such as Kerry, with little combat experience, suddenly found themselves face to face with the enemy.

Taking a 50-foot aluminum boat up a river or canal was replete with danger, ranging from ambushes to booby traps to mines. Kerry and his comrades would experience all these risks on March 13, 1969. The purpose of the mission was twofold: to insert pro-government forces upriver in a group of Vietcong-controlled villages; and more generally to show the flag, keeping the waterways free for commerce.

In some ways, it was a day like any other. The previous day, Kerry had taken part in a Swift boat expedition that had come under fire, and several windows of Kerry's boat were blown out. A friend, Lt. j.g. William B. Rood, almost lost an eye in the ambush. [Now an editor with the Chicago Tribune, Rood yesterday broke three decades of public silence to support Kerry's version of how he won the Silver Star on Feb. 28. Rood has no firsthand knowledge of the Bronze Star incident.]

In other respects, March 13 would mark the culmination of Kerry's Vietnam War career. With three Purple Hearts, he became eligible for reassignment. Within three weeks, he was out of Vietnam and headed home after a truncated four-month combat tour.

As commander of PCF-94, Kerry was responsible for ferrying a group of Chinese Vietnamese mercenaries, known as Nung, eight miles up the Bay Hap River, and then five miles up the winding Dong Cung Canal to suspected Vietcong villages. His passengers included Rassmann, the Special Forces officer, who had run into Kerry at a party a couple of weeks before and remembered him as "a tall, skinny guy with this humongous jaw."

The expedition began to go wrong soon after they inserted the Nung troops into a deserted village off the Dong Cung Canal. As the mercenaries searched from house to house, Rassmann recalled, one reached for a cloth bag at the base of a coconut tree and was blown to pieces. It was a booby trap. Kerry, who arrived on the scene soon after, helped wrap the body in a poncho and drag it back to the boat, diving into a ditch when he thought he was under fire.

"I never want to see anything like it again," Kerry wrote later. "What was left was human, and yet it wasn't -- a person had been there only a few moments earlier and . . . now it was a horrible mass of torn flesh and broken bones."

In "Tour of Duty," these thoughts are attributed to a "diary" kept by Kerry. But the endnotes to Brinkley's book say that Kerry "did not keep diaries in these weeks in February and March 1969 when the fighting was most intense." In the acknowledgments to his book, Brinkley suggests that he took at least some of the passages from an unfinished book proposal Kerry prepared sometime after November 1971, more than two years after he had returned home from Vietnam.

In his book, Brinkley writes that a skipper who remains friendly to Kerry, Skip Barker, took part in the March 13 raid. But there is no documentary evidence of Barker's participation. Barker could not be reached for comment.

Brinkley, who is director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans, did not reply to messages left with his office, publisher and cell phone. The Kerry campaign has refused to make available Kerry's journals and other writings to The Post, saying the senator remains bound by an exclusivity agreement with Brinkley. A Kerry spokesman, Michael Meehan, said he did not know when Kerry wrote down his reminiscences.

As they were heading back to the boat, Kerry and Rassmann decided to blow up a five-ton rice bin to deny food to the Vietcong. In an interview last week, Rassmann recalled that they climbed on top of the huge pile and dug a hole in the rice. On the count of three, they tossed their grenades into the hole and ran.

Evidently, Kerry did not run fast enough. "He got some frags and pieces of rice in his rear end," Rassmann said with a laugh. "It was more embarrassing than painful." At the time, the incident did not seem significant, and Kerry did not mention it to anyone when he got back on the boat. An unsigned "personnel casualty report," however, erroneously implies that Kerry suffered "shrapnel wounds in his left buttocks" later in the day, following the mine explosion incident, when he also received "contusions to his right forearm."

Anti-Kerry veterans have accused Kerry of conflating the two injuries to strengthen his case for a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Kerry's Bronze Star citation, however, refers only to his arm injury.

At 2:45 p.m., according to Navy records, Kerry was joined by four other Swift boats for the Bay Hap trip. Kerry led the way on the right-hand side of the river, in PCF-94, followed 15 yards behind by one of his best friends in Vietnam, Don Droz, in PCF-43. A procession of three boats on the left side of the river was led by Richard Pees on PCF-3, followed by Jack Chenoweth on PCF-23 and Thurlow on PCF-51.

Ahead of them was a fishing weir, a series of wooden posts across the river. That morning, the Swiftees had noticed Vietnamese children in sampans attaching nets to the posts and had thought little of it. To get through the weir, their boats had to pass to the left or to the right of the fishing nets.

Just as the Kerry and Pees boats reached the weir, there was a devastating explosion, lifting Pees's boat, PCF-3, three feet out of the water.

Witness Accounts Diverge
"My God, I've never seen anything like it," Chenoweth wrote in what he says is a diary recorded soon after the events. "There was a fantastic flash, a boom, then the 3 boat disappeared in a fountain of water and debris. I was only 30 yards behind." Assuming that they had run into a Vietcong ambush, Chenoweth wrote, "we unleashed everything into the banks."

A later intelligence report established that the mine was probably detonated by a Vietcong sympathizer in a foxhole who hit a plunger as the Swift boats passed through the fishing weir.

Aboard the 3 boat, Pees remembered in an interview being "thrown up in the air" into the windscreen of his pilothouse and landing "kind of dazed," his legs numb, lap covered with blood. When it was over, Pees and three members of his crew would be medevaced to a Coast Guard cutter offshore with serious head and back injuries.

"When the mine went off, we were still going full speed," recalled Michael Medeiros, one of Kerry's crew members. Kerry's boat raced off down the river, away from the ambush zone.

It is at this point that the eyewitness accounts begin to diverge sharply. Everybody agrees that a mine exploded under the 3 boat. There is no argument that Rassmann fell into the river and that Kerry fished him out. Nor is there any dispute that Kerry was hurt in the arm, although the anti-Kerry camp claims he exaggerated the nature of his injury. Much else is hotly contested.

When the first explosion occurred, Rassmann was seated next to the pilothouse on the starboard, or right, side of Kerry's boat, munching a chocolate chip cookie that he recalls having "ripped off from someone's Care package." He saw the 3 boat lift out of the water. Almost simultaneously, Kerry's forward gunner, Tommy Belodeau, began screaming for a replacement for his machine gun, which had jammed. Rassmann grabbed an M-16 and worked his way sideways along the deck, which was only seven inches wide in places.

At this point, Kerry crew members say their boat was hit by a second explosion. Although Kerry's injury report speaks of a mine that "detonated close aboard PCF-94," helmsman Del Sandusky believes it was more likely a rocket or rocket-propelled grenade, as a mine would have inflicted more damage. Whatever it was, the explosion rammed Kerry into the wall of his pilothouse, injuring his right forearm.

The second explosion "blew me right off the boat," Rassmann recalled. Frightened that he might be struck by the propellers of one of the boats, he dived to the bottom of the river, where he dumped his weapons and rucksack. When he surfaced, he said, bullets were "snapping overhead," as well as hitting the water around him.

At first, nobody noticed what had happened to Rassmann. But then Medeiros, who was standing at the stern, saw him bobbing up and down in the water and shouted, "Man overboard." Around this time, crew members said, Kerry decided to go back to help the crippled 3 boat. It is unclear how far down the river Kerry's boat was when he turned around. It could have been anywhere from a few hundred yards to a mile.

O'Neill claims that Kerry "fled the scene" despite the absence of hostile fire. Kerry, in a purported journal entry cited in Brinkley's "Tour of Duty," maintains that he wanted to get his troops ashore "on the outskirts of the ambush."

The Kerry/Rassmann version of what happened next has been retold many times, in TV advertisements and campaign appearances: Rassmann struggling to climb up a scramble net, Kerry leaning over the bow of the boat and pulling him up with his injured arm. As Kerry later recalled, in notes cited by Brinkley, "Somehow we got him on board and I didn't get the bullet in the head that I expected, and we managed to move down near the 3 boat that was still crawling a snail-like zig-zag through the river."

Rassmann remembers several boats coming back up the river toward him. But Chenoweth believes that the rescue must have taken place fairly close to the other boats, which had been drifting slowly downriver. In his diary, he said, he wrote that "we spotted a man overboard, started to pick him up, but 94 [Kerry's boat] got there first."

While Kerry was rescuing Rassmann, the other Swift boats had gone to the assistance of Pees and the 3 boat. Thurlow, in particular, distinguished himself by leaping onto the 3 boat and administering first aid, according to his Bronze Star citation. At one point, he, too, was knocked overboard when the boat hit a sandbar, but he was rescued by crewmates.

The Kerry and anti-Kerry camps differ sharply on whether the flotilla came under enemy fire after the explosion that crippled the 3 boat. Everybody aboard Kerry's boat, including Rassmann, says there was fire from both riverbanks, and the official after-action report speaks of all boats receiving "heavy a/w [automatic weapons] and s/a [small arms] from both banks." The Bronze Star citations for Kerry and Thurlow also speak of prolonged enemy fire.

A report on "battle damage" to Thurlow's boat mentions "three 30 cal bullet holes about super structure." According to Thurlow, at least one of the bullet holes was the result of action the previous day, when he ran into another Vietcong ambush.

Thurlow, Chenoweth, Pees and several of their crew members who belong to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth say neither they nor Kerry came under fire. "If there was fire, I would have made some notation in my journal," Chenoweth said. "But it didn't happen that way. There wasn't any fire." Although he read his diary entry to a reporter over the phone, he declined to supply a copy.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Rassmann said, "are not just questioning Kerry's account, they are questioning my account. I take that very personally. No one can tell me that we were not under fire. I saw it, I heard the splashes, and I was scared to death. For them to come back 35 years after the fact to tarnish not only Kerry's record, but my veracity, is unconscionable."

Until now, eyewitness evidence supporting Kerry's version had come only from his own crewmen. But yesterday, The Post independently contacted a participant who has not spoken out so far in favor of either camp who remembers coming under enemy fire. "There was a lot of firing going on, and it came from both sides of the river," said Wayne D. Langhofer, who manned a machine gun aboard PCF-43, the boat that was directly behind Kerry's.

Langhofer said he distinctly remembered the "clack, clack, clack" of enemy AK-47s, as well as muzzle flashes from the riverbanks. Langhofer, who now works at a Kansas gunpowder plant, said he was approached several months ago by leaders of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth but declined their requests to speak out against Kerry.

Who Initialed Navy Report?
Much of the debate over who is telling the truth boils down to whether the two-page after-action report and other Navy records are accurate or whether they have been embellished by Kerry or someone else. In "Unfit for Command," O'Neill describes the after-action report as "Kerry's report." He contends that language in Thurlow's Bronze Star citation referring to "enemy bullets flying about him" must also have come from "Kerry's after-action report."

O'Neill has said that the initials "KJW" on the bottom of the report "identified" it as having been written by Kerry. It is unclear why this should be so, as Kerry's initials are JFK. A review of other Swift boat after-action reports at the Naval Historical Center here reveals several that include the initials "KJW" but describe incidents at which Kerry was not present.

Other Swift boat veterans, including Thurlow and Chenoweth, have said they believe that Kerry wrote the March 13 report. "I didn't like to write reports," said Thurlow, who was the senior officer in the five-boat flotilla. "John would write the thing up in longhand, and it would then be typed up and sent up the line."

Even if Kerry did write the March 13 after-action report, it seems unlikely that he would have been the source of the information about "enemy bullets" flying around Thurlow. The official witness to those events, according to Thurlow's medal recommendation form, was his own leading petty officer, Robert Lambert, who himself won a Bronze Star for "courage under fire" in going to Thurlow's rescue after he fell into the river. Lambert, who lives in California, declined to comment.

In a telephone interview, the head of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, retired Adm. Roy Hoffmann, who commanded all Swift boats in Vietnam, said he believed that Kerry wrote the March 13 after-action report on the basis of numerical identifiers at the top of the form. He later acknowledged that the numbers referred to the Swift boat unit, and not to Kerry personally. "It's not cast-iron," he said.

Some of the mystery surrounding exactly what happened on the Bay Hap River in March 1969 could be resolved by the full release of all relevant records and personal diaries. Much information is available from the Web sites of the Kerry campaign and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the Navy archives. But both the Kerry and anti-Kerry camps continue to deny or ignore requests for other relevant documents, including Kerry's personal reminiscences (shared only with biographer Brinkley), the boat log of PCF-94 compiled by Medeiros (shared only with Brinkley) and the Chenoweth diary.

Although Kerry campaign officials insist that they have published Kerry's full military records on their Web site (with the exception of medical records shown briefly to reporters earlier this year), they have not permitted independent access to his original Navy records. A Freedom of Information Act request by The Post for Kerry's records produced six pages of information. A spokesman for the Navy Personnel Command, Mike McClellan, said he was not authorized to release the full file, which consists of at least a hundred pages.

Some Felt Betrayed
Kerry's reunion with Rassmann in January this year, nearly 35 years after he pulled the former Green Beret from the river, was a defining moment of his presidential campaign. Many political observers believed that the images of the two men embracing helped Kerry win the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The "No Man Left Behind" theme has become a recurring image of pro-Kerry advertising.

But many of the men Kerry served with in Vietnam feel betrayed and left behind by him. Soon after Kerry returned to the United States, he began organizing antiwar rallies. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971, he appeared to endorse accusations that U.S. troops in Vietnam had committed war crimes "with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

The anti-Kerry veterans began mobilizing earlier this year, following publication of the Brinkley biography and the nationwide publicity given to Kerry's emotional reunion with Rassmann. Many of the veterans were contacted personally by Hoffmann, a gung-ho naval officer compared unflatteringly in "Tour of Duty" to the out-of-control lieutenant colonel in the movie "Apocalypse Now" who talked about how he loved "the smell of napalm in the morning."

Hoffmann, who was already angry with Kerry for his antiwar activities on his return from Vietnam, said in an interview that he was "appalled" to find out from reading "Tour of Duty" that Kerry was "considered to be a Navy hero." "I thought there was a tremendous amount of gross exaggeration in the book and, in some places, downright lies. So I started contacting some of my former shipmates," he said.

One of the men Hoffmann contacted was O'Neill, a longtime Kerry critic who debated Kerry on television in 1971. O'Neill put Hoffmann in touch with some wealthy Republican Party contributors. One of O'Neill's contacts was Texas millionaire Bob Perry, who has contributed $200,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Perry has also contributed to the Bush campaign.

"I'd met him three or four times and represented people he knew," said O'Neill, who has practiced law in Houston for nearly 30 years.

In addition to helping to organize the anti-Kerry campaign, O'Neill wrote his own book about the senator's wartime record, which soared to the top of the best-seller list before its publication earlier this month.

With the exception of a sailor named Stephen Gardner, who served with Kerry in late 1968 on PCF-44, Kerry's own crew members have remained loyal to him. "If it wasn't for some of his decisions, we would probably be some of the names in that wall," said Gene Thorson, the engineman on PCF-94, referring to the Vietnam War Memorial. "I respect him very much."

Others who served on boats that operated alongside Kerry on that fateful day in March 1969 say they cannot stand the man who is now challenging George W. Bush for the presidency.

"I think that Kerry's behavior was abominable," said Pees, the commander of the boat that hit the mine. "His actions after the war were particularly disgusting. He distorted the truth when he talked about atrocities. We went out of our way to protect civilians. To suggest otherwise is a grotesque lie. As far as I am concerned, he did not speak the truth about how we conducted operations in Vietnam."

"A lot of people just can't forgive and forget," countered Kerry crew member Medeiros. "He was a great commander. I would have no trouble following him anywhere."

Staff writer Linton Weeks contributed to this report.

Sunday Mirror.Co UK > DON'T MEDAL Blair snubs Bush's war honour invite

Aug 22 2004

Exclusive by Paul Gilfeather Political Editor

TONY Blair has snubbed George Bush's pleas to fly to the US and pick up his "war medal" ahead of the Presidential elections.

The US President knows the PM, who is massively popular in the States, would provide his flagging re-election campaign with a much-needed boost.

And he is putting huge pressure on Mr Blair to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded by America for his unswerving support in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Mr Blair's closest aides have warned him to resist the plan, insisting that a meeting with President Bush would torpedo Democrat rival John Kerry's bid for the White House.

A senior Government source said: "There has been a lot of telephone traffic between the White House and Downing Street over the medal in recent weeks. George Bush wants the Prime Minister to come to Washington and pick up the medal, which is the highest honour America can bestow on a foreigner.

"But he has refused for more than a year now and for good reason. He cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq War when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there.

"The Democrats are watching the situation very carefully and there would be uproar if Tony travelled to Washington to meet Bush so close to the Presidential elections.

"But Bush isn't letting up. The White House has already let it be known that they feel slighted because of this and believe they can use this to put pressure on Blair to get him out there."

Number 10 is desperate to finally end Mr Blair's Iraq nightmare - which saw his personal poll rating plunge to all-time low.

Labour also suffered heavily at the ballot box over the conflict taking massive hits in the local and European elections.

One attempt to turn the crisis round was inviting the new Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi to be the keynote speaker at this year's Labour conference. But that appeared to fall through this week amid massive protests.

Mark Seddon, a member of the party's ruling National Executive Committee, said there would be a walk-out if Mr Allawi was invited to speak. He added: "A lot of us said at our last meeting we wanted John Kerry to win the Presidential election. We should be inviting the Democrats to our conference, not Allawi."

Mr Blair has deliberately kept out of the Presidential race to the fury of Labour backbenchers. They are desperate to get a Democrat back in the White House. Democrats, Labour's political bedfellows across the Atlantic, are also bewildered at Mr Blair's attitude.

Bush and Kerry are currently neck-and-neck in the US Presidential race. Mr Blair has been dodging the Congressional Medal since it was awarded a year ago.

He was due to receive it in Washington but following intense negotiations the ceremony was scrapped. He is now not expected to pick up the award until he leaves Downing Street.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

New York Times > Bearhug Politics: Careful Steps to a New Bush-McCain Alliance

August 21, 2004
WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 - It was one of the odder embraces in American politics since Sammy Davis Jr. hugged Richard M. Nixon at the Republican Convention 32 years ago this summer: George W. Bush and John McCain's back-wrapping bearhug and side-head-smooch on the campaign trail last week.
For most of the past four years, Mr. McCain and the man who beat him for the Republican nomination in a bitter campaign in 2000 have treated each other like a pair of reversed magnets, members of the same metallurgical family held apart by reciprocal repulsion. Now their locked arms are raising eyebrows.
"Don't make people who hate you hug you," Bill Maher joked on the HBO program "Real Time." "Whatever the Bush administration is blackmailing John McCain with, stop!"
The newfound friendship may be good for late-night laughs, but it is deadly serious political business for both men, the result of a deliberate, months-long effort by the White House to woo the Arizona senator - the most popular national political figure in the country - and of Mr. McCain's self-interested susceptibility to same. The turnabout could not be more striking, and for both men the stakes could be nothing less than the presidency itself.
Four years ago, relations were so strained that Mr. McCain left the Republican convention in Philadelphia two days early, returning for the final night only after a last-minute request by the Bush team. This year, he will have a prime-time speaking slot on the convention's first night in New York City, play host to the network anchors at a private dinner the day before, campaign with the president in several states the day after, speak to 10 or 15 state delegations and preside over a celebrity party with the comedian Darrell Hammond on the eve of Mr. Bush's re-nomination.
So what's up? Pure political physics, friends of both men say.
Mr. Bush is locked in a tight race with Mr. McCain's old Senate friend John Kerry and needs all the belated help he can get with the moderate, Democratic and independent voters who like Mr. McCain. And Mr. McCain, who has spent months earning the ire of his party by saying nice things about Mr. Kerry and nasty ones about some Bush policies, is eager to show, like Dr. Seuss's punctilious pachyderm, that he may have meant what he said and said what he meant, but "an elephant's faithful 100 percent."
Whether Mr. Bush wins or loses, the Republican race for the White House will be wide open in 2008, and while Mr. McCain has often suggested he would not run again, politicians never really mean never. As he learned in 2000, Mr. McCain could not win the nomination without broader backing from the party establishment than his independence sometimes allows.
"John is so sharp," said former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming. "I think he knows that whatever his future is, it can never go anywhere unless he's seen as supportive of the party and supportive of the president, and anything else will abort whatever he may have in mind."
And what can Mr. McCain do for the president?
"A lot," Mr. Simpson said, "because he knows the power of John McCain, he's felt the sting of that before himself, and I think he's gratified and genuinely pleased and very happy that John will do this. We need all the horses in the corral for this one, I'll tell you."
The thaw began last spring, just around the time that Mr. McCain allowed the fantasy of his becoming Mr. Kerry's running mate to flourish for a news cycle or two, and the Kerry camp did its best to keep the idea alive for weeks. All the excitement about national unity was not lost on Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, who offered an olive branch to John Weaver, one of Mr. McCain's closest advisers. Mr. Rove and Mr. Weaver were compatriots turned sworn enemies dating to their days in Republican politics in Texas.
At Mr. Rove's invitation, he and Mr. Weaver met at a Caribou Coffee shop across from the White House, hashed out some differences, and "you can see where we are today," as one longtime McCain confidant put it on condition of anonymity. Mr. McCain's first joint appearance with Mr. Bush came on a Western swing in mid-June, where Mr. Bush first surprised him with an enveloping hug and a whisper in the ear, McCain aides said.
But by the time of their embrace in Pensacola, Fla., last week, Mr. McCain seemed entirely complicit, reaching out his own arms toward the president, who pecked him on the temple.
"I wouldn't characterize either man as a hug victim," said Mr. Weaver, who now works mostly for Democrats but was conducting a pre-convention walk-through of Madison Square Garden with the Bush team this week. "I think they were mutual hugs, and mutual looking forward."
Mr. Bush's campaign spokeswoman, Nicolle Devenish, said, "I don't think either man is capable of pretense."
In fact, the logic of the love-fest is simple enough on both sides. No national politician can touch Mr. McCain's lopsided favorable ratings of 39 percent to 9 percent unfavorable in the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll. And Mr. McCain, for all his maverick qualities, remains a Republican at heart, one who has steadfastly supported Mr. Bush's broad national security policy since Sept. 11, 2001, even while dissenting over some of the administration's execution and vigorously critiquing domestic policies like taxes and limits on stem-cell research.
"I'm proud to be traveling with John McCain," Mr. Bush said in Panama City, Fla., last week. "What a fantastic American he is." In Pensacola, Mr. McCain returned the favor, saying Mr. Bush had "led with moral clarity and firm resolve."
Mr. McCain was traveling in Ukraine and unavailable for comment, his office said, but another of his longtime advisers, Rick Davis, insisted that the alliance was not so hard to understand. "I think what they've found is McCain doesn't upset their conservative base, because he's a conservative," he said. "He's both a religious conservative, he's pro-life - you couldn't run a thread between his position on abortion and Bush's - and yet at the same time he speaks to a much broader audience politically. So why not hang around with that guy?"
Another longtime McCain adviser suggested, on condition of anonymity in a sign that the new alliance had not completely ended all one-upmanship, that Mr. Bush's embrace had effectively empowered Mr. McCain to keep speaking out. "It's almost liberating," the adviser said, "because they also need him to continue to be independent."
From that challenge, Mr. McCain has not shrunk. Since joining the president on the trail, he has attacked Mr. Bush's proposal to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage as "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." He has called on the president to denounce commercials by some supporters questioning Mr. Kerry's Vietnam service, describing the advertisement as "the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," in 2000 by Bush supporters.
Mr. Bush has so far ignored Mr. McCain's demand to condemn the advertisements, and Mr. McCain has declined to discuss whatever he may have privately urged the president to do. All that has left some Democrats skeptical about the whole arrangement, and may create some risk that Mr. McCain will alienate the very swing voters who so admire him.
"Bush is so desperate to ride Senator McCain's wave that he's taking the idea of kiss and makeup a little too far," said Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter. "Maybe now he'll take McCain's advice and denounce the dishonest and dishonorable ads attacking Kerry's military record."
Stuart Starky, an eighth-grade teacher in South Phoenix who is the Arizona Democrats' long-shot challenger to Mr. McCain's own re-election this fall, has his own theory. "I truly believe he's going to run for president again," Mr. Starky said in a telephone interview. "It's an open seat for the Republicans either way, and this is his way of saying, 'Win or lose, I'm with the team.' "

New York Times > Chinese Advocates of Reform Seek Help From Deng's Spirit

August 21, 2004
EIJING, Aug. 20 - In keeping with the gold- and diamond-encrusted watches the Communist Party made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, Deng Xiaoping is being widely hailed as a visionary who freed China from its socialist straitjacket and created new wealth.
Yet influential party elders have used the anniversary, which falls on Sunday, to emphasize the urgency of one great endeavor that Deng never embraced: overhauling the one-party political system.
In party political journals and interviews as the Deng centenary has neared, several retired leaders made unusually direct pleas to allow more media freedom and to introduce at least a measure of democracy, though all described their proposals as a way of improving rather than replacing Communist Party rule.
China's retired elders often are given latitude to explore delicate topics that incumbent leaders shy away from. But these comments by former leaders appear to reflect mounting internal pressure for Hu Jintao, the president and Communist Party chief, to put forward at least modest proposals for fighting corruption, introducing greater accountability and reducing censorship.
"Compared to economic reform, our political system lags far behind," Zhou Ruijin, a former top editor of People's Daily, the Communist Party's leading newspaper, wrote in The Bund, a Shanghai-based weekly.
"Now the calls for political reform from every quarter of society are very loud," he wrote, adding that the country needed a new "intellectual emancipation" that should start with remaking the ruling party.
Similarly, two prominent retired officials who served Deng, Tian Jiyun, a former Politburo member, and Ren Zhongyi, former party secretary of Guandong Province, asserted in essays this month in the political history journal Yanhang Chunqiu that Deng long envisioned, though never carried out, bold political changes. Mr. Ren said the country urgently needed a sounder legal system, fewer controls on the media and real protection of constitutional rights.
"A society ruled by guns and hack writers can never be a democratic one, and it can't enjoy lasting stability," wrote Mr. Ren, who is 90.
Beyond adulatory documentaries, scores of new books, an elaborate renovation of his boyhood home in Sichuan and the memorial watches - for sale to the public at $2,500 apiece - Deng's legacy is being celebrated by officials who would like to see a more open society and want to put pressure on Jiang Zemin, Deng's successor.
Mr. Jiang, who remains military chief even after retiring as president and party leader in 2002, is being urged to follow Deng's example and fully relinquish authority to Mr. Hu, one well-connected party elder said in an interview. Deng voluntarily handed the reins to Mr. Jiang in the late 1980's and early 1990's, though he retained ultimate authority on many matters.
By many accounts, Mr. Hu has little leeway to undertake pressing changes because he must share power with Mr. Jiang, who never tried opening the political system. Some officials say they hope Mr. Jiang will step aside as soon as this fall, though that now seems unlikely.
Deng Lin, Deng's eldest daughter and a painter who rarely discusses politics, used a recent interview on Chinese Central Television to take an implicit swipe at Mr. Jiang's regency.
Referring to her father, she said: "When he handed over his work, he put his trust in his successors and let them mature on the job. He believed they would not make progress if he meddled. So from this perspective he was right."
Deng, who died in 1997, invigorated the Chinese economy by investing heavily in development projects, welcoming foreign investment and keeping ideologues from exerting too much sway. He is remembered for folksy expressions delivered in his thick Sichuanese accent, like his call for pragmatism: "It doesn't matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat. As long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat."
At the peak of his power in the 1980's, he allowed his top underlings to explore ideas like holding democratic elections and creating an independent judiciary. He separated the party from the bureaucracy and from day-to-day economic management.
But after popular protests for democracy culminating in the mass demonstration at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Deng ordered a violent crackdown on dissent. He also purged the most liberal leaders. Serious political reform became taboo. The notion that the Communist Party could increase its popularity by easing its grip on power also fell into disfavor with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Even after giving up all of his politicalposts, Deng kept the party focused on generating high economic growth, which he believed would mitigate demands for political change and prolong Communist rule.
That calculation proved right. Chinese Communists do not face any organized opposition today, a decade and half after their Communist allies in Eastern Europe tumbled.
Yet the price is that China has become something of a kleptocracy, with tens of millions of government and party officials using largely unchecked political powers to enrich themselves. Top leaders have called corruption a cancer that is eating away at the party's legitimacy and posing the greatest challenge since the street protests of 1989.
Mr. Ren, the former party chief of Guangdong Province, wrote that a recent raft of corruption cases was "the tip of the iceberg." He said the party had to focus on the ultimate goal of a "democratic political system" and submit itself to the rule of law.
"Hasn't the central leadership repeatedly stressed governing according to law and protecting human rights?" Mr. Ren wrote, referring to official propaganda. "But if we have laws and don't follow them, there can be no talk of the rule of law."
Nearly all of the recent commentaries on political change praised Mr. Hu as a potential standard-bearer and implicitly blamed Mr. Jiang for stifling change, both during his formal rule and now during his extended reign of influence.
Yet either out of caution or because he does not favor broad changes, Mr. Hu has tightened controls on the news media. He rarely allows discussion of sensitive issues, much less challenges to party policies.
Mr. Hu has indicated that how to improve governance is a matter he wants to address at a national party meeting to be held this fall. That session seems likely to focus narrowly on ways that the 70-million-member ruling party can increase its effectiveness and reduce graft, though some officials have argued for expanding the role of elections within the party as a check on power.
Whether pressure for bolder change will prevail remains an open question. The party has a knee-jerk antipathy to anything that could threaten social stability, and political reform has been tagged as a reckless gamble. But some contend that doing nothing now poses a greater risk than experimenting with popular checks on the party's power.
Mr. Zhou, the former People's Daily editor, said the party needed to take some chances. "Political reform and stability are not at odds," he said.
Chris Buckley contributed reporting for this article.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Korea Herald >[51ST ANNIVERSARY]Where is Korea headed under Roh?

Experts stress national integration needed to make another leap
After a decade of "miraculous" economic growth and dynamic social development, the nation is now facing the challenging question: Is the Republic of Korea sinking?
It is a topic that has attracted a lot of attention as the sagging economy and conflicts in the political and social arenas cloud the government's objectives to double the average national income to $20,000 and become the hub of Northeast Asia.
Some economic experts worry that the nation is slipping into a long-term economic slump similar to the one seen in Japan.

Others say the nation is suffering from melancholia as the bad economic outlook takes its toll on the public's life.
Despite the increasing concerns, ruling and opposition parties are obsessed with engaging in political battles over virtually every issue and have failed to address growing public problems.
The people themselves have been sharply divided, mainly between conservatives and progressives, on major issues concerning the nation.
Against this backdrop, there have been debates over whether the situation is serious enough to be called a crisis.
Optimists say the current negative signs are only temporary because of the international economic environment and the nation's march toward a more liberal society with the changes wrought in political and administrative arenas over the past two years through the presidential election and general elections.
But pessimists say the current situation stems from more fundamental problems as the nation has yet to come up with any concrete and effective development plan after the development model by former President Park Chung-hee, who laid the ground work for the "Miracle of Han River" in the 1960s and 1970s.
Regardless of how one defines the current situation, most political and economic experts agree it is urgent for the nation to restore stability and integration in politics and society for it to take another leap.
In throes of social change
Leaders of pro-democracy movements in the 1980s have emerged as a major political force through the April parliamentary elections. The liberal Uri Party became a majority parliamentary bloc and the Democratic Labor Party entered the National Assembly for the first time.
With these two parties accounting for 161 of the total 299 seats, the liberal politicians have taken a series of measures to change the nation.
Some are attempting to abolish the anti-communist National Security Law and conduct a broad investigation into human rights violations by past governments. On the diplomatic front, they urge more independence from Washington and closer ties with Pyongyang.
"It is the first time that pro-democracy forces became the majority group in parliament by itself. They are shifting the direction of the nation to what they have pursued outside the National Assembly," said Kim Hyung-joon, vice director of the Korean Social Science Data Center.
Pro-democratic figures have been a leading parliamentary group since the 1992 general elections, but to gain more weight they had to form a coalition with so-called industrialization forces who focused more on development than democracy. Thus, many of the items on their wish-lists had to be delayed, Kim said.
But recent attempts for the changes by progressives met big challenges from conservatives.
The main opposition Grand National Party said the Roh Moo-hyun administration and the ruling Uri Party are threatening the nation's identity by taking radical measures.
GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye said it was hard to find a solution to the current economic difficulties due to the government's "leftist policies and people's uneasiness that the policy is going to socialism." Critics of the government have said Roh's policy focused on distribution rather than growth.
The Uri Party refuted this, saying a series of reform measures by the Roh administration has been aimed at establishing "true market economy."
The public is as sharply divided as the politicans.
Gwanghwamun street in the heart of Seoul had been the site of two contradictory demonstrations by citizens whenever crucial national issues emerge - Korea's dispatch of additional troops to Iraq, the realignment of U.S. soldiers in South Korea, and the impeachment of President Roh.
"Currently, Korea is suffering conflicts: conservatives vs. progressives, industrialization forces vs. democratization forces, the over 50s vs. the 20s and 30s," professor Lee Jung-hee at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies said.
"But the conflicts are not all that bad because they remained dormant but now have been expressed," he said.
Lack of effective development model
Others say current difficulties are the result of a systemic and longer-term problem.
"The nation lost 25 years because Korean society and politics have remained in an extremely confrontational structure after the dictatorship of former President Park," said former Health Minister and Hanseo University professor Lee Tae-bok, author of a book titled "Is the Republic of Korea Sinking?"
Lee said the Korean public had used up its energy fighting to democratize the nation after Park's assassination in 1979 and during the militant rule of former President Chun Doo-hwan from 1980 and 1988, and was unable to establish a viable and comprehensive economic development model.
"Korea has failed to set a new strategy to overcome the limitations of Park's development model and economic growth under the dictatorial development model was extended," Lee said.
Former Presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung presented their own plans but the nation saw a continuation of Park's model, which can be summed as mainly government-led economic development, he added.
The Roh administration initiated measures to innovate and upgrade the country. Autonomy, decentralization and a project to make Korea the hub of Northeast Asia are at the center of their grand plan to raise the national income to $20,000 per head.
"We had the dream of industrialization and modernization in the 1960s, and then democratization. Now the dream of the participatory (Roh) government is to emerge as the central force of Northeast Asia, ending the long history of remaining just a frontier," chief presidential policymaker Kim Byong-joon said.
Critics, however, say the vision lacks substance. The government also faces huge obstacles in implementing the plan as opposition forces are strongly against the relocation of the administrative capital from Seoul to South Chungcheong Province, which the government says is the backbone of its hub project.
"President Roh should create a democratic development model, which will transcend the Park model and fits the era of globalization," professor Kim Ho-ki at Yonsei University said.
Clear policy goal
One of the biggest challenges faced by policymakers would be to clarify whether they put top priority on promoting economic growth or distributing social wealth, analysts said.
Since President Roh took office in February 2002, there has been a fruitless debate over the main policy goal of the new administration.
Roh's close aides, including Presidential Policy Planning Committee Chairman Lee Joung-woo, called for a fairer distribution of wealth to reduce increasing income gaps between the haves and the have-nots.
But other key policymakers like Finance Minister Lee Hun-jai said increasing the size of the pie is more important than sharing it for a country like Korea that still has room for high growth.
Such conflict and confusion have led to a delay in deciding and implementing major economic policies, which became a drag on the slowing economy.
One of the reasons people and companies are not spending more is because they feel the future is uncertain. And this is partly because the government has failed to say what kind of economic policy goals it is pursing," said Chung Moon-keun, head of the Economic Trends Department at Samsung Economic Research Institute.
Some critics are even questioning the ideological identity of the Roh administration in pursuing key economic policies.
An influential scholar blamed what he calls an "egalitarian" tendency in the Korean society for its economic malaise, adding a new twist to an ideological debate in political circles.
"Egalitarianism, the political view supporting equalization of outcomes, tends towards economic digression," said Jwa Sung-hee, president of Korea Economic Research Institute, an adjunct to the
Federation of Korean Industries.
Ahn Kook-shin, a professor at Chungang University, also criticized the Roh administration as being trapped in leftist values that are the main source of social, political and economic uncertainties.
"With a warm heart that emphasizes fairness before efficiency and distribution before growth, we cannot improve our national competitiveness and our country will stay in the lower category of the era globalization era that divides the haves and the have-nots by a portion of 15 to 85," he said.
Leadership for national integration
Experts want the Roh administration to provide an environment to become the hub of Northeast Asia first by revitalizing the economy and integrating the nation.
"The important point is not the goal of become the Northeast Asia hub itself, but action plans and political choices for that," former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo said.
Lee said Korea should make an all-out effort to forge creative and competitive economic policies and secure the security of the Korean Peninsula.
"Our strategy can be justified only when we show boldness and concentration to win over both China and Japan," Lee said.
With politicians and the public divided on almost all of major issues, leadership in integrating the nation is urged.
"President Roh should demonstrate leadership of uniting the public rather than that of provoking conflicts as he now does," Lee Tae-bok said.
Roh has stressed he would pursue politics of integration when he returned to office in May following a two-month hiatus due to the opposition's abortive impeachment. But criticism remains that he has still not worked with both supporters and opponents to end national divisions.
"We need to overcome the dichotomic thinking and should embrace the good points of each side to advance the nation," said professor Kwon Young-june at Kyung Hee University.
By Seo Hyun-jin and Sim Sung-tae

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Ample - stocks, shares, news, FTSE, online trading

Ample - stocks, shares, news, FTSE, online trading: "AFX UK Focus) 2004-08-15 12:49 GMT:
Taiwan VP Lu blames China for rising cross-strait tension - report

TAIPEI (AFX-ASIA) - Vice President Annette Lu said China should be blamed for rising cross-Strait tension because it was isolating the island in the international community and humiliating its leaders, it was reported.
'It's certainly not our fault at all to create the tension in the Strait. On the contrary, it's all the fault of Chinese leaders who continue to isolate Taiwan internationally, who continue to humiliate leaders of Taiwan and continue to increase military threats over Taiwan,' she said.
She urged world leaders to 'do something to prevent China from taking any irrational act against Taiwan' during an interview with the BBC broadcast yesterday.
'In fact, there is a war going on, psychologically, economically and politically. However, no one would be happy, no one would be benefit by having a war launched by either side,' she said.
Lu said Taipei will never create any trouble in the Taiwan Strait however 'one has every reason to suspect, to worry that they are (Beijing) going to launch a certain kind of threat to create instability in this area.'
She said the world should pay attention to cross-Strait issues because a confrontation in the Taiwan Strait could affect regional and even global stability.
Lu told the BBC planned constitutional reforms by President Chen Shui-bian had nothing to do with independence.
'We have been independent for decades; there's no need for us to make a formal declaration at all; just like persons; there's no need to declare 'I am a person'; that's a fact.'"

Downer to warn China on Taiwan - World -

Downer to warn China on Taiwan - World - "Downer to warn China on Taiwan
By Hamish McDonald, Beijing
Michelle Grattan, Canberra
August 16, 2004

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is expected to warn China about its escalating military preparations for an attack on Taiwan when he meets his Chinese counterpart in Beijing this week.
At least implicitly, he will back recent American warnings that US forces remain capable of defending the island republic, but he is unlikely to go into Australia's possible role as a key US ally in any such conflict.
Australian officials say rising tensions between mainland China and Taiwan mean that the Taiwan issue will get particular attention in the talks Mr Downer will have with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other leaders today and tomorrow, before a short visit to North Korea. 'We want to raise it because it's something we are concerned about,' one official said.
Following the re-election in March of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, China has stepped up preparations for military intervention in the expectation Mr Chen will move to formalise the island's political separation from the mainland."

New York Times > Editorial >Stem Cell Battles

August 15, 2004
Stem Cell Battles

Stem cell research moved to the forefront of the presidential campaign last week. The Democratic candidates said they would ease the Bush administration's restrictions on federal funding and quadruple the money available. Republicans retorted that they were the first to finance embryonic stem cell research and that the Democrats were cruelly inflating expectations for instant cures. Just as the debate was heating up, two developments suggested that the Democrats were right to call for expansion of this important research.

An opinion piece in The New England Journal of Medicine asserted that many opportunities are being missed, or soon will be, for lack of federal grants to pursue promising avenues of research that have just opened up. Meanwhile, British regulators issued their first license allowing scientists to use cloning techniques to produce stem cells, thus opening the way for Britain to surge ahead in the most promising area of stem cell research.

The Democrats clearly think they hold a winning card in stem cell research because of its potential, eventually, to yield treatments for diabetes, heart disease, neurological ailments and a host of other illnesses. Although religious conservatives consider such research immoral because it requires the destruction of very early stage embryos in the laboratory, polls show that most Americans back the research for its medical potential.

The Democrats have exploited the fact that the research is supported by Nancy and Ron Reagan. Mr. Reagan was given prime exposure at the Democratic National Convention to argue that "the theology of a few" should not be allowed "to forestall the health and well-being of the many." That is why the Republicans countered with their own weapon, the first lady, Laura Bush, who emphasized the preliminary nature of the research - particularly in the case of Alzheimer's disease - and deplored any implication that cures were around the corner. In a move to head off the Democratic attacks, she stressed not the restrictions that her husband had imposed but that he is the only president to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, leading to $25 million in federal grants last year. That was technically true but glossed over the Clinton administration's preparation of far more generous funding guidelines, which were blocked by the Bush administration.

Mrs. Bush is surely right that some advocates of stem cell research leave the impression that cures may be just around the corner, whereas virtually all experts agree it will be a long, hard slog, with success by no means guaranteed. Yet there seems little doubt that the slog will be all the harder if the federal government, traditionally the main driving force in basic biomedical research, hangs back from the field. The president's policy limits federal funding to research on some 20 stem cell lines that existed three years ago. That makes it harder for scientists to do research on dozens of other stem cell lines that have since been created with private funds, including new lines that reflect genetic diseases not present in the Bush-approved lines. The Bush policy also rules out research on stem cells that are genetically matched to a patient, the avenue that will now be explored by the British while American researchers' hands are tied.

New York Times > Editorial > About That Iraq Vote

August 15, 2004
About That Iraq Vote

Senator John Kerry's Iraq vote is going to haunt him throughout the presidential campaign, no matter how he explains it. That does not keep us from wishing that Mr. Kerry would do a better job with the issue.

Mr. Kerry, as almost everyone now knows, voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq, in a post-9/11 climate of fear and widespread conviction that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that might be used against the United States or its allies in the near future. Now that we know differently, some senators have said they regret their vote. Not Mr. Kerry. He affirmed once again last week that he believes he did the right thing. It was Mr. Bush who erred, he continued, by misusing the power he had been given.

The president gleefully seized on the remark as evidence that his opponent agrees that he was right "to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power." That is not exactly what Mr. Kerry said. He - and many other Democrats - say that the White House asked for the vote as a way of strengthening Mr. Bush's hand in negotiations with the United Nations, but that they were betrayed when the president went ahead and launched an invasion without broad international support.

We're sure Mr. Kerry is right in claiming that the White House, in its negotiations with the Senate, played down the possibility that the vote would lead to actual conflict. That does not mean the public will be satisfied with an explanation that he authorized an invasion under the presumption it would not happen. After nearly two years of working with the Bush administration, Congress had a very good idea of how Mr. Bush viewed the world, what advisers he listened to, and what he was likely to do with American troops if Congress gave him a broad authorization to go to war. It was for precisely that reason that some senators, led by Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar, struggled unsuccessfully to narrow down the resolution. Senator Biden says Senator Kerry worked with him behind the scenes.

But for the most part Mr. Kerry, who voted against the first Persian Gulf war, tailored his positions on this one to his presidential ambitions. He was more hawkish when the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination seemed to be Richard Gephardt, and more dovish when Howard Dean picked up momentum. At the height of the Dean insurgency, both Mr. Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, decided to oppose spending $87 billion to underwrite the occupation of Iraq that they both voted to authorize.

The Republicans have made much of this record; the Kerry campaign is haunted by replays of the theme song from the old TV show "Flipper." Mr. Bush, however, has a far more dangerous pattern of behavior. On issues from tax cuts to foreign policy, the president tends to stick stubbornly to his original course even when changing events cry out for adaptation. His explanations seem to evolve every day, but his thinking never does.

What we would like to hear from Mr. Kerry is how the events of the last year have changed his own thinking. He consistently describes the failures of Iraq as failures in tactics - from a lack of international support to a lack of adequate body armor for the troops. We're wondering if he really believes better planning or better diplomacy would have made the difference, or whether the whole idea of sending troops was flawed. Arab nations have a painful history of Western colonization, and there is an instinctive resistance to the idea of a Western occupation of Arab soil. How much does Mr. Kerry think the addition of French and German soldiers would have improved things? In retrospect, it seems that even if Arab nations like Saudi Arabia or Egypt had added their support, the outcome would have more likely been trouble for the governments of those countries back home rather than credibility on the streets of Baghdad.

There are undoubtedly circumstances that call for military action, but we would like to know whether, as president, John Kerry would insist on a higher threshold than he settled for as an opportunistic senator in 2002.

Taipei Times > Taiwan's isolation must end: academicsCOOPERATION:

At seminars presented as part of the Democratic Pacific Assembly, which started in Taipei yesterday, panelists urged regional bodies to invite Taiwan into the fold
By Huang Tai-lin and Evelyn Shih
Saturday, Aug 14, 2004,Page 3
Foreign and local academics yesterday agreed that Taiwan should be involved in regional cooperation to enhance peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The more regional cooperation bodies we have, the better we can provide venues and opportunities for dialogue on the peaceful resolution of conflict," said Cho Woong-kyu, chairman of the Korea-America Society, citing ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Asian Monetary Fund as examples.
Cho was speaking at a seminar on Regional Security Mechanisms yesterday at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. The seminar was part of the second Democratic Pacific Assembly, which started yesterday.
"But Taiwan, North Korea and Mongolia, which satisfy most of the membership criteria of these regional cooperation bodies, are still excluded from them," Cho said.
"If all the countries in the region are looking forward to having peace and prosperity, there must be extra efforts by the members of the regional organizations to invite these three countries," he said.
In the face of obstruction from China, Taiwan should still seek a breakthrough by cooperating with non-governmental organizations, Cho added.
Panelists at the seminar stressed the importance of establishing multilateral security dialogue and creating confidence-building measures to be able to deal with security issues in the region, such as the drawn-out dispute between China and Taiwan, ideological confrontation between South and North Korea and persistent military competition among the nations in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as non-conventional security issues such as human trafficking, HIV/AIDS and international terrorism.
"Bilateral talks and multilateral forums could serve as a very useful platform for promoting mutual trust, enhancing conflict prevention and eventually achieving the resolution of conflicts," said Vincent Chen (³¯¤å½å), research fellow in the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University.
"Multilateral forums such as the ARF should let Taiwan become a dialogue partner, as well as encouraging dialogue between China and Taiwan to solve their differences," Chen said.
Fadi Essmaeel, homeland security assistant to US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, said the World Health Organization should end its isolation of Taiwan in order to allow transnational cooperation over non-traditional security issues.
At a related seminar entitled "Industrial and Economic Development of the Pacific," panelists emphasized the unexploited potential of small or resource-poor countries.
"Small countries have a lot of opportunities in the Pacific Basin," said Ecuadorian Congressman Luis Fernando Torres.
Torres discussed his own nation's efforts to first take advantage of regional economic prospects and then widen trade relations across the ocean.
He cited Taiwan as a positive model of a small country with a relatively strong economy.
"The initiative of the Taiwanese government [to hold the Democratic Pacific Assembly] should be acknowledged and applauded," he said.
Professor Gerard Mangone of the University of Delaware said Taiwan's efforts to improve its tourism industry were commendable.
He cited Bermuda as an example of a small island nation that has fostered a successful tourism-based economy without the benefit of abundant natural resources such as oil or mineral reserves.
"Modern society has reached a level of affluence that allows a large population the leisure of travel. That opportunity for economic exploitation will continue to grow as it has grown already," Mangone said.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun's Challenge 2008 National Development Project is aimed at increasing the number of tourists visiting the country.
When Yu announced the project in 2002, he put the target at 5 million tourists in 2008. The Tourism Bureau has promoted this year in the international media, including the National Geographic Channel and Time magazine, as "Visit Taiwan Year."
Another way to create economic growth is through security, Mangone said.
Switzerland, another resource-poor nation, has made its way in the world by promoting an image of monetary security and political neutrality. Security is also important in developing tourism industries, and essential in cultivating an investment-friendly environment, he said.
Chou Yan (©PÄY), director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Economic Processing Zone Administration, asked Torres if there were any possibility of forming a free-trade agreement with Ecuador, considering Taiwan's heavy investments in the country's oil industry.
Torres said that he could not officially represent the Ecuadorian government, because his visit to this year's Democratic Pacific Assembly has not been formally endorsed by congress.
Since Ecuador has formal diplomatic ties with China, any treaty with Taiwan, including free-trade agreements, can only be achieved in the long term, he said.
"Ideally, we should work for our mutual benefit, and should not be limited by the selfish demands of a certain nation," he added.

Taiwan News.Com Taiwan seeks to be catalyst in the region,Chen reveals

2004-08-14 / Taiwan News, Staff Reporter / By Wang Chung-ming
By advocating the diplomacy of soft power among its democratic allies in the Pacific Rim, Taiwan hopes to act as a catalyst in the development of an alliance of shared values of security, freedom, democracy and human rights , as well as a security mechanism aimed at preventing conflicts in the region, President Chen Shui-bian (³¯¤ô«ó) said yesterday.
Expressing his wish for the early advent of the Democratic Pacific Union, Chen said, in a written message to the opening of the DPU's second annual assembly, that the DPU will provide a platform for dialogue and a mechanism for cooperation among democracies in the Pacific Rim area.
Chen welcomed the participation of foreign political leaders and dignitaries in the assembly, saying that he will "help strengthen exchanges and interactions among Pacific democratic countries, paving the way for creating a new Pacific civilization in the 21st century."
Citing the "Taiwan Experience, Soft Miracle" concept, Chen said the Action for the Democratic Pacific Union and the DPU's Coordination Office - both brainchildren of Vice President Annette Lu (§f¨q½¬) - have been pushing heavily since 2003 for the establishment of the DPU.
Lu, who is hosting the 2004 Democratic Pacific Assembly, reinforced the idea of soft power, and highlighted areas of common experience and concern among the countries of the Pacific Rim.
The Assembly's agenda lists five themes: "Prospects and Practices of Democracy," "Security and Human Security," "Sustainable Development of the Pacific," "The Industrial, Economic and Technology Development of the Pacific," and "The E-Pacific."
Chen that Taiwan, as a maritime country, crossing the oceans and reaching out to the world have been the prime moving forces behind its democratization and economic expansion.
The president said he is proud to see that Taiwan is today a full-fledged democracy and an economic powerhouse in the Pacific Rim area.
"Today's Taiwan is fully capable of playing a role as an 'integrator' in the Asia-Pacific region whether from the political, economic or strategic points of view," Chen said, adding that it is Taiwan's responsibility to contribute its wisdom, abilities and resources to help build a framework of stability in the region.
It is believed that the DPU will be formally established before long with Taiwan's enthusiasm and determination in participating in activities in the international community, Chen concluded.
Meanwhile, at a welcome party yesterday, Lu said that the Pacific Ocean civilization - which encompasses,humanism, science and technology - should move into a new century, honoring democracy, peace and prosperity.
Mindful of past wars and economic depression, the region by means of soft power should pursue a sustainable way of life that promotes love, peace, cooperation and instead of hatred and war, Lu said.
"Asia has not been capable, in line with the trend of globalization, of opening the door of regional integration because there remains 15 of the 39 Asian countries that are not democratic and there are four Communist regimes - China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia - in this region," Lu said.
"We must establish a cooperative mechanism by uniting all democracies in the Pacific Rim to create a new vision to lead this region into developing a wonderful ocean civilization," she added.
The 2004 Democratic Pacific Assembly, the second of its kind since 2003, is being held from August 13 to 15 at the Grand Hotel in Taipei.
Some 100 political leaders, scholars and dignitaries from 24 countries, including Salvadoran President Antonio Saca, are taking part in the assembly, which began with discussion seminars on the first day.
Benjamin Gilman, former Chairman of U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee, is scheduled, along with Lu, to chair the roundtable discussion on the DPU's development, on Sunday.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A Winding Path to Gay Marriage New York Times > A Winding Path to Gay Marriage

The distress of gay and lesbian couples was understandable in San Francisco when the California Supreme Court voided 4,000 same-sex marriages. But the court's reasoning, in finding that Mayor Gavin Newsom had overstepped his authority, was understandable as well. We agree with its reasoning on this narrow question of mayoral powers. We also sympathize with the affected couples and hope for a happier outcome on the far more substantive challenge, now working its way through the courts, of whether state law is unconstitutional in limiting marriage to a union of a man and a woman.
This week's decision found that a mayor could not be allowed to pick and choose among the array of state laws, deeming some not worthy of enforcement. Nor, the court carefully hypothesized, may a mayor accede to constituents' counterpressures by ignoring the limited domestic-partner protections already on the books to benefit gay couples. Should the state ban on gay marriages be judicially overturned as unconstitutional, same-sex couples would then be free to enter valid marriages, the court emphasized.
The ruling was only an early step in a civil rights tradition: a testing of a questionable law by a public official and citizens. Mayor Newsom had already honored a preliminary injunction against officiating at more gay marriages while the courts took up the challenge. Even as President Bush and other opponents try to make a simplistic campaign issue of opposing gay marriage, the road toward greater fairness is already being mapped in the 50 states.
The San Francisco decision - which somehow drew no new conservative outcries against "activist judges" - should be seen as but a bump on the way to progress. Just as California was the first state to strike down its own laws against interracial marriage, we expect that it will ultimately find a constitutional basis for the human right to same-sex