HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM?
American Admiralty Books Didn't Invent Swimming Reptiles
Here is a real swimming Komodo Dragon from Contemporary Nomad.com Contemporary Nomad .Com
Editor's note: This is an updated version of a post that we first published June 5, 2012 as we started our Dragon watch. With more and more Dragon news coming daily we thought this concept was worth introducing to our readers who have joined us since June 5, 2012
In the interest of full disclosure we certainly aren't members of the liberal media and we aren't Fox News either. We don't offer our readers "fair and balanced" views, we offer "expert opinion". As often as possible when experts disagree and opposing views are offered to us, we try to offer them to you. However, basically we deal in expert opinion, mostly our own in house variety.
So when we discuss China you should know that we use terms like the "Middle Kingdom" and often invoke a much used symbol of the Middle Kingdom, the dragon, because we don't think of China as a "Communist State". China, after all provides its citizens with less of a social security system than that of the supposedly capitalist United States, and far less than most modern Western nations from Canada to Finland. We think of China as "State Capitalists". Their government owned enterprises, as well as their growing private sector are run for profit,ruthlessly.
Our mental image of the nation, when we allow it a visual element, is usually related to the "Middle Kingdom". When China historically referred to itself as the "Middle Kingdom" it saw itself as the Center of the Universe, not as sort of "middle power". China had a powerful Merchant Marine and sought to draw all of the Pacific Basin onto itself through what we would call today mercantile or "soft" power.
The Dragon was a powerful symbol of China back in the era of the "Middle Kingdom" and is strongly connected with the nation to this day. So when we began to analyze Chinese maritime events we seemed to naturally gravitate to the title "How Far Will The Dragon Swim". The title seemed to just come out of the ether. We decided to do a little research.
We soon discovered that we aren't the first to associate the image of the dragon with China's People's Liberation, Army Navy (PLAN). Way back in 1969 we found a China Brief article that phased the concept a little less certainly by the title of "Can the Dragon Swim?". That was the appropriate question back in 1969 but as time marched on it became obvious that the dragon, indeed can swim. A number of analysts writing in typically obscure political and naval journals began to ask the question in the form of "How Far Will The Dragon Swim". Finally in the Naval Institute's March 1999 PROCEEDINGS, then Lieutenant Commander Wayne R. Hugar writing in Vol. 125-51 on pages 48-51 titled his analytic article on the PLAN, "HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM?"
Our search also revealed that the words "how far will the dragon swim" appear in numerous pet magazines in association with the care (including bathing instructions) of various large lizards, both as part of articles and as article titles. So basically we think reducing the question of what are the intentions of China relative to its obvious continuing naval development; can be articulated with the more colorful expression "How Far will The Dragon Swim?" Since we are fairly confident that the words are in the public domain we will continue to use them as a sort of shorthand to alert our readers that an article is going to discuss PLAN developments, or issues related to rival regional naval powers; and as a short hand reminder that far more expert discussions are available through both the Naval Institute's Proceedings and their book titles, one of which on the PLAN we first described in our May 21, 2012 article and we are continuing to describe in our "Naval Interest Section".
We are happy to acknowledge Lcdr Hugar's 1999 article as the most prominent early use of the term in this context. We hope by our continuing to use the term and linking our readers as we did in our blog of May 21, 2012 to the Naval Institute that we will help the interested reader who is probably not a big consumer of obscure political journals and Department of State white papers to find more ink on the subject by informed naval writers. We can think of three places to find such; The Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS and Books, the Naval Intelligence Professionals QUARTERLY,which often runs related articles under the banner "China Watch" (available on line) and here among the blogs and "Naval Interest" pages of American Admiralty Books.We also invite our readers to join in the discussion by using our "Comments" section at the end of this and every blog.
No we didn't invent the swimming reptile concept, but we think the swimming dragon is worth careful observation.To help our aquatic dragon watchers here again is a hyperlink to the U.S. Naval Institute; and a hyperlink to the Naval Intelligence Professionals (association).
American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies Naval Institute: http://www.usni.org/
Naval Intelligence Professionals: http://www.navintpro.org/