Tuesday, August 20, 2019

'Character of the Happy Warrior' by William Wordsworth

Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?

It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright;
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;

Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature's highest dower:
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable—because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

—'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:

—Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;

But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a Lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
Or if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need:

—He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, wheresoe'er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—
'Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—

Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not—
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;

Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
This is the happy Warrior; this is he
That every man in arms should wish to be.

 - William Wordsworth

'Desiderata' by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
And listen to others,
Even to the dull and the ignorant;
They too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
They are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
You may become vain or bitter,
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
For the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
Many persons strive for high ideals,
And everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
Whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
It is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann 1927

Monday, August 5, 2019

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

- Rudyard Kipling

'Don't Quit' by John Greenleaf Whittier

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit...
Rest if you must, but don't you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow...
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out...
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- John Greenleaf Whittier

Saturday, August 3, 2019

'How Did You Die?' by Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there -- that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,
It's how did you fight --  and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

- Edmund Vance Cooke

Friday, August 2, 2019

Standing up to China: Vietnam going ahead with Oil Explorations in Vanguard Bank

Blue are Chinese Controlled and Green are under Vietnamese Control

Vietnam extended the operations of oil rig on Vanguard Bank to September. This is a direct challenge to Chinese position of owning everything within nine-dashed line (almost entire South China Sea). China already deployed a survey ship - Haiyang Dizhi 8(Marine Geology 8), and multiple coast guard ships to the area; apparently to disrupt the operations and force Vietnam to back down from its current stand.

World, especially South China Sea coastal states were (and still are) watching whether Hanoi will back down like in 2018 or go ahead with operations. Last year, Hanoi under tremendous pressure from China cancelled Repsol's contract. Four years before that, Chinese moved their own oil rig to the region, setting of anti-China riots in Vietnam. Later China withdrew that rig. Two years before that, in 2012, China took over Scarborough Shoal. Probably Vietnam learned lessons from past events and realized that, backing down is not going to help its claims in anyway. Interestingly this time, decision to extend the operations came right after US DoD released a statement backing Hanoi.

Vanguard bank is coming inside Chinese nine-dash line. But it is hard for anyone to back Chinese claims other than China. These pieces of uninhibited (mostly submerged) geographic features are energy rich and located around 200 nautical miles off Vietnams coast but more than three times of that distance from China. Nine dashed line runs as far as 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Chinese mainland to within a few hundred kilometers of the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Vanguard Bank

History of Rig in Vanguard Bank

This rig is in a block which is part of 'Nam Con Son' project (developed by BP and ConocoPhillips in early 2000s) to carry gas by pipeline to mainland. Today, natural gas from Block 06-01’s Lan Do field provides approximately 10% of Vietnam’s total energy needs. Rosneft acquired TNK-BP in 2013 and they became block's operator. In May 2018, Rosneft contracted Hakuryu-5 to drill a new production well in 06-01 at a second gas field called Lan Do. Despite possibility of Chinese opposition, Rosneft went ahead with drilling at Lan Do and another field, Phong Lan Dai, in Block 06-01. In May 2019, Rosneft contracted the Hakuryu-5 to drill another well in 06-01.

CCGS Haijing 35111 - Dancing in Malaysian Oil fields

Since 2013, China maintains a near-constant coast guard presence around Luconia Shoals. Most areas of this geographic features are underwater at high tide but still claimed as islands by Beijing and Taipei.

Chinese coast guard ship (CCGS) Haijing 35111 started patrolling waters near Luconia Shoals. This area is near to coast of Malaysia’s Sarawak State. Haijing 35111's patrolling area (May 10 to 27 as per Automatic Identification Data - AIS) includes parts of oil and gas block SK308. This block is currently licensed to Sarawak Shell (subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell). Sapura Drilling recently won the contract for Sapura Esperanza rig to drill a series of new wells at natural gas field F14. This is one of three fields Sarawak Shell is developing in block SK308. As per Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative(AMTI), AIS signals showed that two Malaysian offshore supply vessels (OSV) - Executive Excellence and Executive Courage - apparently servicing the rig by travelling back and forth between the block and Sarawak coast. On May 21, Haijing 35111 circled provocatively close to vessels and came within 80m.

CCGS Haijing 35111 in Vanguard Bank

At the end of May, Haijing 35111 returned Hainan port for a few days before heading south again. Since June 16, it has been patrolling an area 190 nautical miles off the coast of South Eastern Vietnam. Patrols are centered on oil and gas Block 06-01, located northwest of Vanguard Bank on Vietnamese continental shelf.

On July 2, vessels which supplies Hakuryu-5 where leaving the rig when CCGS 35111 maneuvered between them at high speed, passing within 100 meters of each ship and less than half a nautical mile from the rig. After patrolling Block 06-01 for nearly a month, 35111 traveled to the Chinese outpost on Fiery Cross Reef from July 12 to 14, presumably to resupply, before returning to its post near the Hakuryu-5.

China rise stakes with Haiyang Dizhi 8(Marine Geology 8)

On July 3, Haiyang Dizhi 8, a survey vessel owned by China Geological Survey (CGS), began surveying a large area of seabed northeast of standoff at Block 06-01.

Haiyang Dizhi 8 is the one which undertook, oil and gas survey across two blocks - Riji 03 and Riji 27. In 2012 China declared these and seven other blocks off the coast of Vietnam open for foreign bidding. As expected, there were no takers.

This survey vessel is protected by other coast guard vessels. Haijing 37111 and two unidentified CCG ships have accompanied the Haiyang Dizhi 8 since July 3. Vietnam dispatched two Coast Guard Vessels - KN 468 and KN 472 - from Cam Ranh Bay. They are shadowing survey ship since July 4. AIS data shows that the survey ship continues to operate, surrounded by its CCG escort which boxed out Vietnamese vessels attempting to intervene.

Highly Dangerous Situation

Current situation is highly dangerous. What happens when one of the CCG ships, in its dangerous maneuvers, hit either Vietnamese Coast Guard ship or damage the rig itself. It might be an accident, but does any governments across the region will consider it as accident? Already reports of current confrontation is reaching Vietnamese public; this will only rise the anti-China sentiment further. Under such a situation it will be difficult for Hanoi to back down or give any concessions to China in any future discussions.

Dialogue is required

Solution for this perpetual tense situation in South China is constructive dialogues. However, ASEAN nations doesn't stand a chance if dealing with China one on one. As a group they have some power and can lead to meaningful discussions. Unfortunately, that is also not gaining steam. ASEAN is trying to come up with a Code of Conduct at South China sea; but pace is very slow. No one want to take the risk of upsetting China.

Current chair of ASEAN - Thailand - don't want to fast-track the negotiations. Bangkok is pushing the issue to next chair, which is interestingly Vietnam. Currently under ASEAN, it’s the responsibility of Philippines to coordinate dialogue between ASEAN and China. They will be in that role till 2021. China probably want the code of conduct in place when Philippines is still in that position. In this case China might have to stand down from its claim of entire sea and everything under it. A settlement based on UN laws on sea with minor adjustments might be a good idea for trade and bilateral relations. 

Something positive

One major change we can see is, countries are sending their white hulled Coast Guard Ships to support their claims, monitoring waters instead of more aggressive posturing with naval ships. Coast guard is more of a law and order policing agency and this change indicates less aggressiveness from participants side. Probably a sign that, South China sea costal states including China want to deescalate things.


What makes current standoff interesting is, the joint venture company's Russian partner is none other than Russian oil behemoth Rosneft. Will Russia make some adjustments especially after recently concluded joint patrol with China over disputed Korean administrated islands in Sea of japan? It may not happen as it will upset their relations with Vietnam. Moreover, Resneft is just an operator. If Rosneft refuses, then Vietnam might find a replacement. I think Rosneft will be there. 


1. The Diplomat.
2. Foreign Policy
3. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative


1. Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. All oceangoing vessels over 300 tons are required to broadcast this data.
2. Vanguard bank is guarded by three operational rigs in DK1 cluster. DK1 rigs are complex structure of steal on sea, where there are facilities to host small detachment of soldiers.
3. Vanguard Bank
    U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Vanguard Bank
    China: Wan'an Tan, 万安滩
    Taiwan: Wan'an Tan, 萬安灘
    Vietnam: Bãi Tư Chính
    Occupied by: Vietnam
    Legal Status: Submerged
    GPS: 7° 30' 49" N, 109° 39' 58" E