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  William Vocke    Special to The China Post
“Such a present ... Merry Christmas.”
“To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war,” said Winston Churchill in 1954, supporting the principle of nations negotiating. Government leaders in Europe and the United States clearly agree with the wisdom of Churchill, for trans-Atlantic trade negotiations commenced on schedule on July 8.
This year, U.S. Independence Day, July 4, immediately follows the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. That enormous death struggle in the U.S. Civil War at a small Pennsylvania town occurred from July 1 to July 3 in 1863.
On June 25, insurgents in Afghanistan detonated a car bomb and fought security forces in front of the presidential palace. The area is the most heavily guarded in the country. Penetrating the enormous security apparatus is a major success, but spectacular attacks of various types are nothing new in this long-term insurgency.
The G-8 summit held June 17-18 has reconfirmed strong commitment by member nations to expanded cooperation. The conference also symbolizes the remarkable progress toward stable peace in Northern Ireland, which hosted the gathering.
China, more strikingly than most nations, presents contrasting images to the world. Both are highlighted in recent news. The nation's rapidly expanding strategic military capabilities are ominous. Maritime disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and other nations punctuate such concern.
After three years of delay, the military trial of U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning for stealing and supplying to WikiLeaks masses of classified documents has finally begun. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once boasted his mission was to “crushing bastards,” and that he enjoyed the work.
Current maritime conflicts echo earlier wars, launched over history to control global commerce and territory, while underscoring the durable importance of traditional trade routes. Argentina, Britain, Brunei, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and other nations are involved in recent disputes. Less directly, the United States is also engaged.
The brutal continuing civil war in Syria now includes allegations that there has been use of poison gas by the Assad regime. Gas employed in war presents an especially horrifying specter, which in turn risks raising the stakes for both sides.
Pakistan's National Assembly elections on May 11 provided a significant victory to Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-N. Despite violence, turnout was approximately 60 percent. A peaceful power transition to this opposition party means progress from the nation's history of military coups.
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