China’s Aircraft Carrier in Perspective

Beijing’s “Starter Carrier” and Future Steps: Alternatives and Implications – Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins

via U.S. Naval War College | 2012 – Winter.

In this excellent review essay the Naval War College’s excellent team of China Watchers give offer a balanced view of the significance of China’s new aircraft carrier and, more important, what it portends.

An excellent list for someone looking to build core knowledge about what is happening in Africa.

U.S. Africa Command Blog

"Things Fall Apart" coverMaintaining up-to-date information and deep knowledge about Africa is critical to the team at the U.S. Africa Command. To that end, a reading list was compiled to provide suggestions. Here are some top picks. Check the blog next week for the full list.

Thanks to the AFRICOM Research Library for providing us with this list. Look for an upcoming story on the library, new to Kelley Barracks.

1.  “The Fate of Africa or The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence,” Martin Meredith (2005).  A narrative history of Africa over the last fifty years, with a focus on people and key events.  This is a great start point for those becoming acquainted with the African continent.

2. “Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe (1958).  An African literary classic that captures the cultural intrusions represented by colonialism.  This book is one of the most well-known African novels, and as…

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The Misty Poets: An introduction

Read this superb introduction to one of the first literary movements to emerge in China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution.

Seeing Red in China

This great guest post comes from a friend. Over the next few days she’ll be introducing her research on the Misty Poets. If you are a grad student working on a China related topic please contact Tom about the possibility of introducing here.

“Misty”is the title conferred upon a group of poets known during the Democracy Movement (1976-1980)for their unique style. Some, such as Ai Qing, Ai Weiwei’s father, called their work “obscure” (古怪), even poisonous.[1] At the very least, it was certainly daring.

So daring, in fact, that three of the leading Misty poets were exiled for inspiring the Tiananmen youth. Misty poet Bei Dao was not even in China when the demonstrations occurred, but he was nonetheless not allowed back for twenty years, since his poems appeared on banners at Tiananmen Square. Other well-known poets include Gu Cheng, Mang Ke, Shu Ting, and Duo Duo, all of whom…

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Who will Win? India, or China?

see Images name

Image via Wikipedia

Forecasting the future is a tricky business, but it is not an altogether unrewarding one. Get it right, and you can remind people forever. Get it wrong, and most people will forget. Less fraught, however, is the habit of making business and policy decisions based on such prognoses: bet the farm on somebody else’s forecast, and your posterior is on the chopping block, not theirs.

It was with that slightly cynical thought in mind that we undertook to review China and India, 2025: A Comparative Assessment. Comparisons between China and India and their prospects are almost as common as all other forms of future gazing. At the very least, we are told, these will be two of the powers who will determine the course of the 21st century. The only question is which country has the economic model and political resilience necessary to take and hold the lead.

But the authors of this particular study place little stock in such predictions of global dominance. They recognize that there are too many uncertainties to make a prediction either way: what they are interested in discovering is which of these countries seems most likely to beat the other?

Spoiler alert: they are betting on India.

Since I’ve let that little tidbit out of the bag, I will not explain why, because that’s the fun of reading this report: understanding not just the rhetoric but the math behind their reasoning that makes India such a good bet over the next 15 years.

There are a ton of qualifications along the way, and the authors all but tell the reader “hey, don’t make any bets based on this conclusion, because, you know, anything could happen.” All of which sort of undermines the point of reading through it. But push these disclaimers out of your head and follow along with the reasoning, because the framework they use to analyze the two countries is worth considering at length.

Daily Post 02/22/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Air Power and the Fight for Khe Sanh

We are probably some time away from being able to assess fully any battle of the Vietnam War. Indeed, we are still learning more about major engagements of World War Two some sixty years after the fact.

The urgency around learning (or relearning) the lessons of Vietnam, though, is enough to reopen the books on many engagements that have gone ignored, forgotten, or unreviewed for some time. Near the top of that list must be the Battle for and the Siege of the U.S. Marine Corps firebase at Khe Sanh.

Khe Sanh LAPES C-130

Image via Wikipedia

While nothing approaches Michael Herr’s Dispatches for an account of the battle from inside the wire at

Khe Sanh, Herr offers a memoir rather than history. And while he told with wit and empathy the stories of the men on the ground, the effort in the air to stave off a massive force of North Vietnamese regulars begs for review.

Here, in the words of the U.S. Air Force, is that story. While certainly told from the service’s point of view, no other source gives quite the same appreciation of the scope and magnitude of the critical role that air support, resupply by air, aeromedical evacuation, and airmobility played in keeping Khe Sanh from turning into a replay of the French debacle at Dien Bien Phu thirteen years before.

If nothing else, this account is a critical starting point for any examination of air power and the ground war in Vietnam.

Also available from Amazon here.

Air Power and the Airlift Evacuation of Kham Duc

This book offers a brief but gripping account celebrating the role air power played in the successful evacuation of 1,500 U.S. and Vietnamese servicemen from a trap laid by the North Vietnamese Army in Vietnam in 1968.

While crediting the personal heroism of U.S. aviators in the effort, historian Alan Gropman (a Tufts Ph.D. and Air Force colonel) does not whitewash the “severe” losses suffered in crews and aircraft the Air Force suffered, and calls commanders for task for poor coordination and control of the effort.

George Bush’s Last Economic Report

Despite the temptation to condemn the veracity of this publication because it originated from the Bush White House, in Dubya’s defense, I have a hard time trusting any economic work coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania regardless of who is sitting in the Big Chair. There are other arms of government, such as the Congressional Budget Office, that tend to do more rigorous, less politically tainted analysis.

Nonetheless, this document is of historic interest because it describes a perspective that can be retroactively balanced against the facts. Just how much did the Bush Administration understand – or admit to understanding – about the nature of the economy in the wake of the financial crisis?

A quick read.

ASEAN-China Documents Series, 1991-2005

This PDF book compiles some important primary sources on the evolution of the relationship between China and ASEAN over the past two decades. China has attempted to interpose itself into ASEAN, and the effectiveness of that ongoing effort, will determine whether Southeast Asia becomes a regional power in its own right, or whether it simply becomes another sphere of influence wherein China, India, Europe, Japan, and the U.S. play an updated version of The Great Game.