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[Re Snaking the Scotch, May 6, '13] Spengler writes, "Fortunately, the Church of Scotland document represents an increasingly marginalized view in the Christian world … the covenant between God and the Jewish people was never abolished. It is not surprising that the authors of the Church of Scotland occupy a fringe position in the Christian world."
There are two issues here of note:
1. So what? Fortunate for whom? "Fortunately" implies approval. and what about the 600+ Gods of India? Do they approve? Why is it fortunate that His God is on His side and happens to share his political convictions? Is it hubris or perhaps it's an example of religious bigotry to imply one's own God is so important and "true" that other Gods are "marginalized".
2. The Christian world contains a substantial number of non-Christians so they may well not respect this "covenant" thus falsifying Spengler's claim of such a view being marginal for example though a minority, the Muslim God does not agree with this covenant and Europe (with its millions of Muslims) is part of the Christian world. If Spengler meant to say "Christian Churches" or "Christianity" rather than "Christian world" I am sure he is capable of such precision so we can take his words at face value - factually and morally unsound - rather than an example of verbal duplicity, trying to pretend that his view is the only "proper" one without actually saying so.
Australia (May 21, '13)
[Re: Catfight - and it's US vs EU, May 17] Well most Australians are still awaiting the promised, munificent benefits accruing from the much vaunted Australia/USA free trade treaty concluded in 2004.
The only thing I can discern, from Australian Senate inquiries, is that Australian businesses continue to still be royally screwed on prices of many products from Adobe, Microsoft and others, as just one single instance. Many business leaders claim it is vastly cheaper to send an employee armed only with a credit card to the US, buy up whatever is necessary, and then return on the very next available flight. Software can be downloaded very cheaply online, but not to Australia, which is either blocked or has a drastic price differential from the US. Free trade?
Canadian friends warned me long before the agreement was concluded, and based upon their own personal experience, that such agreements invariably prove to be one sided, always in favor of the US. Quelle surprise?
Ian C Purdie
Australia (May 21, '13)
[Re Chinese opinion jars with policy on Korea, May 17, '13]A single swallow does not a spring make, it this is good to remember when we are talking of China-DPRK relations.
As Niklas Swanstrom and Kelly Chen surely know, Chinese analysts and leaders have many opinions. Yet, when policy matters, democratic centralism applies.
Beijing may make a swipe at Pyongyang for not listening to the suggestions of an older brother, but from there to a change in policy direction is an entirely different matter.
MIT/Harvard's John Park who religiously tracks China/DPRK relations shows on the contrary China is building firmer and firmer party relations with the North Korean Workers Party.
Western analysts seem to discount that China may say one thing to lure, say, the US into the forest, while maintaining its decades old policy to support the DPRK as it did when it intervened in the Korean War.
Guam (May 21, '13)
Oh how much one must rejoice in the Irony of Vunderland USA. Now the Reptileicans are denouncing Obama for being "like Bush and Cheney" in his duplicity, disinformation and deception over the myriad scandals raining down on the White House.
The Party of Frankenstein apparently now sees the two-headed Bush-Cheney monster that they created in an entirely different and less favorable light, now that it is single-headed and a clone is spinning much the same fantasies. Payback, as the saying goes, is a canine lady.
But they should be viewing Obama's imitation of his predecessor as the ultimate compliment. The Bush-Cheney dictatorship managed to squeeze dozens of big and small scandals into their eight-year Reign of Error, earning the contempt of their liberal enemies but the generous gratitude of bankers, corporations and neocon tycoons. So Obama replicating this formula of personal profit should surprise no one except those Wonderlanders still smoking the funny weed of Amerikan democracy.
So while the bite of canine ladies can sting, that pain is nothing compared to the hoisting of petards of your own making and design.
Texas (May 17, '13)
[Re: Electronic blindness, May 13] "Incentivizing speculation is a prominent flaw in current (inflationist) central bank doctrine." Brings to mind a sagacious advice once offered by Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain and one of the finest individuals ever produced by this country: "There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate - when he can't afford it, and when he can." Interestingly, with the dollar being the global reserve currency and with the American economy suffering severe structural imbalances (not to mention a monumental amount of debt), the US uniquely fulfills both conditions simultaneously.
USA (May 17, '13)
[Re Course correction costs Korea dearly, An Austrian deal for North Korea and In Tehran, all eyes are on North Korea May 15, '13] It doesn't occur to Joseph R DeTrani that it is time for the US to also change course and seek meaningful dialogue with the DPRK.
Although he may find comfort in the occasional Chinese commentary "scalding" North Korea, the plain fact is that Beijing is not going to abandon support for Kim Jong-eun.
From another angle, suddenly the Japanese are renewing contact with North Korea. And South Korea is trying to come to some understanding with Pyongyang.
So, it looks as though Kim Jong-eun's "course chance", his martial threats, have borne some fruit.
Ronnie Blewer's thoughts on a neutralized North Korea are interesting but a-historical. Is he suggesting that South Korea should embrace neutrality, as well? Oddly enough, his suggestion reminds one of the Soviet Union's gambit of turning a divided Germany into a united Germany on the Austrian model.
Finally, Giorgio Cafiero and Shawn VL take a more measured and thoughtful approach on North Korea. Ultimately as in dealing with Pyongyang, as they say, only a sustained diplomatic approach with Tehran can bear good fruit.
Guam (May 16, '13)
"Glasnost by stealth in North Korea", [May 13, '13] on one hand, is an exercise in wishful thinking. See, North Koreans are becoming like us! To me, it recalls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu predicting that Iran's nuclear bomb is just around the corner. And he's been saying this since the early 1990s!
North Korea is changing. Yet, the need to earn hard cash abroad has more to do with onerous US and UN sanctions than imitating Soviet glasnost. It was not that long ago, everyone saw the DPRK's collapse. If anything, Pyongyang has turned Western market "magic" on its head for its own purposes.
Abraham Bin Jiyu
Messina, Italy (May 14, '13)
[Re US criticism stirs China's military pride, May 10, '13]Given the military history of the last 60 years, China has more reason to fear a US attack than vice versa.
China (May 14, '13)
[Re US hoist by its own pivot petard, May 10, '13] The Obama doctrine has as its objective the protection of clients in East and southeast Asia. As China challenges America's long standing hegemony, it has found ways to turn the tables on Washington. Beijing's whimsical attempt to stoke the fires of Okinawan nationalism, is a case in point.
Of course China, too, is vulnerable in this games of bluster: were Japan on its toes, it could bang the drums for Tibet's independence as well as bolster the demands of the oppressed Uyghur in Xinjiang province.
Guam (May 13, '13)
[Re US criticism stirs China's military pride, May 10, '13] Most US complaints about China that I hear or read seem to grow out of the perception that China is not as poor or weak or compliant is it ought to be. Given the military history of the last 60 years, China has more reason to fear a US attack than vice versa.
China (May 13, '13)
[Re: Decade after Iraq, hawks reunite over Syria and And then there was one, May 8, '13] Sadly, most of the current major global events are driven by greed and racial/religious hatred - tribalism and the survival instinct allowed to run amuck. Humanity may very well be getting "smarter", but unfortunately, not any wiser. Today the guns are in our hands pointed at our "enemies"; tomorrow our "enemies" vengefully hold the guns at our children. And humans are supposedly the most intelligent life form.
USA (May 10, '13)
[Reply to the Rev Foster's letter, May 8)] Replying to my May 6 essay (Snaking the Scots), the Reverend Sally Foster Fulton notes that the Church of Scotland's "Inheritance of Abraham" report "is not the considered opinion of the Church of Scotland and will only become so if it is ratified by the General Assembly." It is to be hoped that the General Assembly will exercise better judgment than the authors of the report.
Contrary to Reverend Fulton's representations, the report does in fact call into question the legitimacy of the State of Israel as well as the Jewish religion itself. It supports, for example, the so-called "right of return," namely the demand that Israel admit the nearly 5 million descendants of the 700,000 or so Arabs who fled the Jewish sector during the 1948 War of Independence. Never before or since have descendants of refugees acquired refugee status. The report does not mention the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries after Israel's Independence, in one of many population exchanges after World War, a tendentious omission, to say the least. Palestinian Arab leaders reject the Israeli formation-"two states for two peoples"-and demand "right of return" because they do not accept the idea of a Jewish state.
In rejecting the biblical relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, the Church of Scotland report goes as far to assert that the Bible itself is a falsification, for example: "Munib Younan has pointed to the widely accepted view of scholars that the idealized biblical conquest narratives were put into their present form only centuries later, with the writers 'intent on justifying their own status in the land on the basis of nationalistic perspectives.'"
The report adds, "Jesus offered a radical critique of Jewish specialness and exclusivism. …The promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people." Well might one ask: If the Bible is falsified, as the Church of Scotland report alleges, what promise to Abraham did Jesus fulfill? The fact that the report is self-contradictory, to be sure, makes it no less offensive.
Fortunately, the Church of Scotland document represents an increasingly marginalized view in the Christian world. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, for example, emphasized that the covenant between God and the Jewish people was never abolished. It is not surprising that the authors of the Church of Scotland occupy a fringe position in the Christian world.
Spengler (David P Goldman) (May 10, '13)
[Re Snaking the Scotch, May 6, '13]
I write with concern about coverage regarding the report "The Inheritance of Abraham", which is being presented to the General Assembly of the Church for Scotland later this month. It is not the considered opinion of the Church of Scotland and will only become so if it is ratified by the General Assembly.
Nowhere in the report does it state, as suggested by several media reports, that the Church denies the right of Israel to exist. The report is a theological reflection that explores the idea that biblical authority can be used to give a people, any people, divine right to a land. We concluded after careful study of scripture that this is not the case.
The Church of Scotland would never and is not now attacking Judaism and the intent of the report must not be misinterpreted as such. Nor is the report denying Israel's right to exist, but any group's divine right to land. To reach that conclusion is not the same as denigrating the Jewish people or denying the right of Israel as a state to exist.
A good friend speaks the truth in love, and the truth is there can be no peace without justice. The current policies of the state of Israel, including the continued occupation and the extension of the settlements mean that justice is still to come.
The Church of Scotland is called to speak out against injustice. Whether people are being exploited by pay-day loan companies, through low wages and poor conditions, because of benefit changes here in Britain or because of the actions of the powerful in places across the world, the Church of Scotland seeks to support just and peaceful solutions.
With this in mind, The Church of Scotland will continue to work for freedom and justice for all who live in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This report is a sincere contribution to the on-going search for a way forward that brings love-informed justice to a land that is sacred to so many.
Rev Sally Foster Fulton
Church and Society Council
Church of Scotland (May 8, '13)
[Re Irrational rhetoric fuels illegal wars, May 2, 2013] The neo-con talking heads in the congress, media and think tanks, time and time again, continue to show that when it comes to foreign policy - this time Syria - they seldom know what they don't know.
Yet that has never prevented them from shooting off their mouths. Just a few examples: "Red line against chemical weapons cannot be a dotted line," (Rogers R-MI); "US should be arming the rebels using air strikes," (McCain, R-AZ); "Syria is going to become a failed state by the end of the year unless the US intervenes," (Graham, R-SC). Is there no shame? No end to hypocrisy? Has nothing been learned from the wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan supported by the same people who want a repeat in Syria? It seems, there has been a massive and collective amnesia. As if, the last 10 years did not happen.
As if their US$3 trillion wars with their agonizing death and destruction that drove the United States to the verge of bankruptcy, did not happen. And as if Vietnam did not happen. It all starts with a clamor "to do something." And then, to supply weapons and advisers and trainers for the use of same, etc. And then before long, the body bags start coming home. Where were the "red lines" in the 1980s when Saddam supported by the neo-con hero, President Reagan, was gassing the Kurds in Iraq?
And, using chemical warfare against Iran. Killing thousands and causing horrifying injuries to thousands more. What happened to the condemnation by the UN and the international community? And, what happened to the condemnation for the role of the Germans, the French and the English in enabling Saddam to wage his chemical warfare?
It should be abundantly clear that Syria cannot be resolved by US intervention nor by more arms that will only cause more bloodshed, more refugees and more chaos with many unintended consequences. The Syrian tragedy has turned into a vicious civil war with many outside actors carrying out their own deadly agendas. Only aggressive diplomacy bringing together all factions involved, internal and external, is the answer. The best example to follow is the late 1980s agreement that ended the Lebanese civil war of many decades.
All parties in that conflict, internal and external, agreed to a power sharing solution. By no means perfect, but it brought peace. Syria badly needs the same political solution. Despite the noise coming from the naysayers, the president's deliberative policy, by not rushing to judgment and allowing diplomacy to work, is the right course. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
Fariborz S Fatemi
USA (May 6, '13)
[Re: A post-history strip-tease, April 26 2012]. Escobar is a master of the complex as well as of minute detail. He can overwhelm you by both aspects of his trade. His latest article is a masterpiece of both. Unfortunately it is more of an exercise in confusion rather than a description or a prophesy.
Or perhaps it is a structure of that which he tries to discuss: a post-modern historical convolution through which billions of emotionally and intellectually pre-modern people try to conduct their lives. It is more than obvious that what we understand and what Escobar tells us about the world is incongruent with our ability to analyze reality. Intellectuals of any color or persuasion have taken over the task of informing us about the world in a manner which is either esoteric or too technical for the man in the street. Globalization, neo-liberalism, socialization and the Asian or Chinese Consensus versus the corrupt and imperialistic Washingtonian one, are terms which carry foreboding meanings but are actually too opaque to point to the direction of a satisfactory explanation for the sorry state of affairs of our environment and our lives.
History is neither linear nor benevolent. It is neither progressive nor regressive; it is an outcome of too many factors some of which are beyond our explanatory powers, at least for now. If the world to come is a Mad Max world, a Hobbesian all against all or of religious fundamentalism we can just accept that these nightmares are not open to analytical interpretation but perhaps to psychoanalysis.
Man is a creature of habit as well as an agent of the Least Action. The power of inertia rules the physical world as well as the human condition. For the last three centuries we have exceeded the measure of change and self- transformation. What has happened was a "progressivistic" avalanche which is going on with an ever increasing impetus. We can adapt but are we able to withstand the pressure of a man-made contraction of time as a conscious act for defining our self-identity?
Unfortunately, as Thucydides observed about the Athenian democracy, those who are convinced that change and "progress" are humanity's call are also the ones who create the greatest catastrophes, as in the Athenian expedition to Syracuse. The ancient world believed in a physical order which should be respected as an ethical measure. We believe that man is the measure of all things, as Anaxagoras taught. The issue is an epistemological one but it can be observed in the policies and practices of governments and individuals.
In both cases we are doomed to venture to the unknown. The past is history but the term has not kept its original meaning which in Hellenic is knowledge. This dichotomy between the past and knowledge is crucial for the measure, if there is any, of our lives and our future.
What Escobar is trying to say is more or less that the bad and the ugly are destroying the environment, our lives and our security. They destroy all the good, as the welfare state and have initiated a post-man culture. Even if this is true, and it isn't, what we are doing is nothing more than what we have done over the last 5,000 years. The stark difference is just one: suicide, the suicide of the species. This is what must frighten us. If it doesn't, than we are a self-conscious species preparing subconsciously our extinction.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (May 2, '13)
[Re Breaking out the Bush Korea playbook, Apr 26, '13] The Boston Marathon bombings have pushed the crisis on the Korean peninsula off the front pages.
However in the back pages, the Obama administration is trying to set the Chinese monkey up to snag the North Korean tiger. The New York Times alerted us to the presence of a senior Chinese North Korean analyst in Washington for "discussions". And General Martin E Dempsey was in Beijing to bring the Chinese around to the US standpoint.
As Conn Hallinan suggests neither China nor North Korea is really taken in by America's ultimate object of regime change in Pyongyang.
In fact, in a podcast of Dr John Park's remarks at the Korea Society, the Harvard/MIT DPRK/China watcher gave strong evidence that China is helping to strengthen party to party ties with North Korea, as a countermeasure to US designs.
President Obama wants no discussions with Kim Jung-eun that will end in US concessions. As such, like George W Bush, Obama has painted himself into a corner.
Guam (Apr 29, '13)
Two explosions are in the WonderNews these days. One caused three deaths with hundreds injured, and relatively little property damage, while the other caused hundreds of deaths and injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.
Guess which one is garnering the most attention and generating the most angst and conservative furor? If you guessed the former, give yourself a pat on the back for knowing the Amerikan schizospsyche well.
The murder of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon using homemade explosives by two disaffected Chechen-Americans has captivated a people who have long since been inured to mass murders by disaffected Anglo-Saxon boys toting second amendment supporting AR-15s, but when the perpetrators are hard-to-pronounce Muslims from a foreign land, well, all that inurement goes out the window, subsumed by good ol' 'merikan xenophobia, Islamophobia and terrorophobia.
The hue and cry denouncing all things sounding like Chechnya (including calumny heaped upon the poor Czech Republic) and the inevitable national security hand wringing among the neocons contrasts with the excuse making, rationalization and relative silence from the media whores concerning the far greater tragedy in the town of West, Texas.
The massive explosion at its recklessly overstocked fertilizer plant exposed tons of legal loopholes and fox-watching-the-hen-house "safeguards" that needlessly and callously exposed its citizens to peril, but good ol' Rick Perry, our Republican governor who can't count to three but has plenty of corporate campaign contributors, has already defended his administration's lax oversight as being in the "best interests" of Texans (who one stock in the company, no doubt.)
Once again the capitalist priority of profit over human health, safety and welfare triumphs with nary a whimper of protest from the long victimized prols, while the relatively puny casualty count of Boston consumes the WonderPsyche with exaggerated terror and fear. What Amerikans should fear is the economic system that counts their lives as mere statistics to be sacrificed at the whim of our corporate plantation owners.
Texas (Apr 29, '13)
[Re Israel, Palestine indicate peace bid, Apr 25, '13] An indication is like the will of the wisp. If the US can pull a three-way meeting, more power to the Obama administration.
Remember Madrid and the Oslo Peace Accords? These unraveled as soon as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu took office. If Israel and Turkey have trouble reaching a rapprochement of sorts, how likely is it that the proposed Israel-Palestine confab will fall apart even before it begins.
Look at the six-party talks in Beijing. They have been moribund since 2007. So what makes Viktor Kotsev think the US has a steel spine to broker a peace deal and a viable two state solution along 19667 borders?
Guam (Apr 25, '13)
[Re: Orwell does America, Apr 23, '13] Let's hope the theory put forth by Pepe Escobar is not true, because if it is, then those in power are naively deluding themselves if they think sowing chaos and strife will somehow make the world safer for future generations. Wittingly or unwittingly, major current global events/trends are pointing to a day of infamy when humans will once again bring war and carnage upon themselves - "brother to brother, blood to blood, self against self". All, one might ask, for what?
USA (Apr 25, '13)
[Re: How Bowie mania buries Thatcherism, April 17] Did Margaret Thatcher cackle from the grave when she heard President Barack Obama say that her death meant the loss "of one of the world's great champions of freedom and liberty"?
Few working girls break the glass ceiling as they move up to professonal pimp marketing inequality and injustice in equal measure as she did. She became a city girl (City of London), loved on foreign streets (Wall St)and all as a result of forcefully attacking the working class and subordinating citizens into a lower form of wage slavery or no job at all.
Just as the Codrington Library of all Souls College was built from slave labor on Caribbean plantations, so perhaps a room for fixing LIBOR can be named after her: Maggie's Money Market Fiddling Fund Salon. It's no surprise that her home town, Grantham, overwhelmingly voted down a statue of her there. It would be like placing a statue of "General" George Armstrong Custer on Sand Creek where many women, and children and old men were massacred under his leadership.
Does The Lost Souls Choir sing Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land on her behalf? The Iron Lady was no iron chancellor forging a nation out of lost principalities, small kingdoms and forced amputations of other countries using blood and steel. However, to give the lady her due, she was an iron maiden. Her passing on reminds me of Burns' line, "We're bought and sold for English gold - Such a parcel of rogues in a nation." (from Robert Burns' Fareweel to a'Our Scottish Fame)
USA (Apr 21, '13)
Despite all the white noise and cynicism concerning peace between the Palestinians/Israel and Iran controversy, there is hope. See Israel watches the show beyond Almaty April 9, 2013. When the President of the United States traveled to Israel recently, the prime minister of that country, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke of "historic compromises in relation to the Palestinians."
And on April 9, in a meeting with the US Secretary of State, the prime minister spoke of his determination "not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all," But when the prime minister first came to office several years ago, he showed his disdain for a two-state solution by ignoring all advice in favor of a two state solution, including his top national security advisers (current and former) by carrying out a furious settlement expansion.
And, then showing his disdain for facts, the prime minister continued his hysterical claims of threats from Iran, again not supported by his national security advisers nor average Israelis. During his visit to America, the prime minister had the temerity with arrogance and hubris, to hector the president of the United States, cheered on by his acolytes in the media, think tanks and Congress.
So what changed? Perhaps, an election that was to be a coronation but turned out to be almost the prime minister's defeat. Or, perhaps it finally dawned on the prime minister the devastating effect of future demographics on his desire for a "Jewish state".
Or perhaps, the prime minister finally figured out that he wasted several valuable years by ignoring peace with the Palestinians - a quest that he could have continued by building on the works of former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. Or perhaps, the prime minister saw the error of ignoring the trauma caused by expanding settlements on lands that Palestinians hoped to build their state. Or, perhaps the prime minister wants a legacy - that of a peacemaker.
There are many who are skeptical about his conversion. But the prime minister should be given every benefit to help him turn his words into action and redeem his previous years in office. There is no doubt that an overwhelming number of Israeli citizens want peace with their Palestinian brethren. Elections have consequences and those who ignore the wishes of the voters, as the prime minister found out, and as in the United States, his supporters found out, will be doing so at their own peril.
Fariborz S Fatemi
McLean, VA (Apr 19, '13)
[Re Obama-Park summit a critical opportunity, Apr 18, '13] Overall the US and South Korea are on the same page. Scott Harold's suggestions for firming up the US-ROK partnership during the Obama-Park summit run counter to the Obama administration and Park's government for toning down the rhetoric towards North Korea.
Harold, on the other hand, looks towards overly firming up a military posture when Washington, if we believe secretary of state Kerry, is to revive the six-party talks.
Guam (Apr 19, '13)
In After Iraq, the moral abyss still gapes [Apr 5, '13] We are given Adil Shamoo's take on the US invasion of Iraq, where he plays very fast and loose with the facts and the truth, for a man of science to be so cavalier with facts is a disgrace.
To set the record straight getting rid of Saddam Hussein is not something the US need apologize for as the man was responsible for over a million deaths and would not be out of place on a list of the most murderous rulers in recent history along with Hitler, Stalin and Mao.
Several years ago on the US news show 60 Minutes, Uday Hussein's body double was interviewed and he told a story of how Uday raped and murdered a bride on her wedding day. The sad part is that if you were to make a list of the 1,000 worst crimes of the Hussein family her murder might not make the list.
The Iraqi people had over 30 years to rid themselves and the world of Saddam and could not find the courage or will to end their own suffering. The true crime of the Bush administration in Iraq was their extreme incompetence in trying to govern Iraq.
On the list of who to blame that Shamoo sites he includes Dan Senor and Kenneth Pollack, who wouldn't be on my top 100 list of people to blame for Iraq. He makes no mention of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Tommy Franks who I would assign at least 80% of the blame for the failure in Iraq.
He also could have included Paul Bremer, Richard Perle, Paul Wofowitz and General John Abizaid but he names David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal who are not to blame for getting us into Iraq or the insane policies that led to failure. Shamoo claims that Iraqi losses from the war were "more than a million deaths and millions more wounded", that would mean more that one in six Iraqis.
Iraq Body Count has the dead at between 104-113 thousand, with probably 80% or more killed by their fellow Iraqis. He also blames the US for a "brain drain that has left the country illiterate, however Wikipedia has Iraq's literacy rate at 84% for males and 64% for females probably better than most of their Arab neighbors. The US failure in Iraq was because of the incredible stupidity of US policies.
The US allowed the looting of Iraq to go on for months leading to massive damage to Iraq's infrastructure. The US failed to secure Iraq borders allowing thousand of jihadists and Iranian agents to enter Iraq to spread murder and destruction. The US also failed to secure Ammo depots which allowed easy access to weapons and materials for IEDs.
The destruction and disbanding of the Iraq Army and de-Ba'athication of Iraq were policies that insured that civil war would break out in Iraq. You could fill several books with the insane plans the US followed in Iraq, and the planners have never been made to explain their failures.
If the Bush administration had tried to destroy Iraq they could not have done a better job than the plan they followed to fix Iraq. If the plan was to make hundreds of billions for the Military-Industrial Complex the plan was an ingenious success.
All that being said Shamoo has not a single word of criticism for the Iraq people, the vast majority of killing in Iraq have been by their fellow citizens. The northern area of Iraq under the Kurds escaped this insanity, it is mainly Arab Iraq's Sunni and Shiites killing each other, which they have continued to do, even now that the US is no longer a player.
USA (Apr 18, '13)
[Re A Chinese nuke umbrella for North Korea?, Apr 15, '13]Professor Tan Qingshan offers an interesting approach to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff.
Immediately two problems come to mind: in the current war of words North Korea has an ace in the hole as a nuclear nation, albeit unrecognized by the US as such. Two, the Obama administration is pursuing a hard line policy of firmness and no concessions. In other words, there is a standoff. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent trip to Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo is nothing more than a toned down version of sanctions and punishments for Pyongyang.
Were the Obama administration serious about pursuit of "dialogue" with North Korea, Kerry should have gone to Pyongyang instead.
Guam (Apr 16, '13)
If we ever want to change the name of the Empire from the currently staid "United States of America", alas, "Wonderland" would be trademarked property of Lewis Carroll's descendants. But as an available alternative, I would advocate changing it to "More-of- the-Same-istan''. That's because the American solution to everything these days is, well, more of the same, that is to say a continuation if not intensification of the same failed policies, agendas and action plans that have been futilely pursued to date.
Take the so-called "War on Drugs'', which if it were indeed a real war we would have long ago cravenly capitulated and handed over California, Texas and the Statue of Liberty without a whimper. The standard political "solution" to illegal drugs has been tougher sentences, more prisons and ever more draconian punishments meted out to the non-violent minorities typically persecuted and incarcerated in the Empire. This has merely created a whole slew of cottage industries, ever eager to contribute to political campaigns, led by those with vested interests in maintaining the deteriorating status quo, with a larger %age of our citizens in jail than any other nation on the globe, the price and availability of drugs as prevalent as ever, the legal, judicial and police systems thoroughly corrupted, ever more tax dollars being sucked out of productive use to maintain jailed drug offenders for longer prison terms, and the recycling of inmates and their offspring in and out of the perpetual machine of drug use and social "justice''.
But that's only the tip of the More-of-the-Same-istani mentality. Republicans insist on their economy-stimulating fantasy of more tax cutting and entitlement cuts, which will not only force more poor minorities (and increasingly lower class unemployed whites) to find capitalist relief by selling illegal drugs and other criminal enterprises (which logically should make them entrepreneurial Republicans), but will also accelerate the coming class war that Marx so accurately predicted would mark the end stage of capitalism. The status quo maintenance program is observed everywhere; in Afghanistan, where all the mistakes of the Soviets have been copied religiously, the inflation of yet another ready-to-burst financial bubble, courtesy of the quantitative easing blowing machine, the insistence that the collapsed health care industry is fine without Obama's socialist meddling, the continuation of tax incentives for companies to relocate jobs overseas, the resistance to sex education in a country with exploding teen pregnancies, the fervent evangelical belief that creationist education will reverse Amerika's widening educational gulf between it and Third World nations eager to eat our industrial lunch, etc etc ad imperium extinctum.
As the sun waves "Bye Bye" to the More-of-the-Same-istan Empire, we can rest assured that all the self-inflicted wounds will continue, each bleeding slice hailed as a tribute to Amerikan liberties, democracy and free enterprise.
Texas (Apr 16, '13)
[Re North Korea: why the
world needs a ghoul, Apr 11, '13] The US finds it advantageous to portray the young North Korean leader as an evil man and make him seem treacherous and cruel - characteristics the West expect and admire in its enemies.
There is nothing ghoulish about the young Kim Jung-eun. He is holding his own and now the G-8 have woken up and is taking him seriously.
The fundamental problem is the big powers and their clients are wanting North Korea to roll over and die.
As the record shows, it won't, and Pyongyang is waiting for them to return to a good degree of normality in coming to terms with the DPRK.
Until such time, North Korea's leader will be tarred and feather with condescension.
Guam (Apr 15, '13)
[Re Shale can drive wedge between Russia and China, Apr 9, '13] Whether the so-called shale energy revolution will ultimately gather much net benefit to the US seems far from certain at this point.
Sure, all that gas can no doubt translate into a financial bonanza, but much as yet remains unknown about fracking and its potential side effects.
Separately, an abundance of available domestic energy may well engender a substantial remora to America's geopolitical ambition/willpower, proving the seminal event that causes the ceding of US global dominance to a competitor.
With a diverse array of players/variables/unknowns involved, only time will tell if the much-ballyhooed shale golconda will eventually turn out to be a boon or a bane to this country.
USA (Apr 15, '13)
[Re Towards a new Korean war?, Apr 9, '13]
In spite of the Obama administration's resort to Orwellian speech, it is taking North Korea's "bluster" seriously.
The proof: the canceling of the launch of an ICBM from California. What the Western media failed to report but the Iranian, Chinese and Russian press did was that when the US sent B-2 bombers over South Korea, the Chinese sent troops to its border with North Korea. The Chinese like the North Koreans have not forgotten the lessons of the Korean War and would intervene again if the DPRK were threatened.
President Obama's take-no-prisoner policy ironically turns the 28,000 American troops stationed in South Korea into virtual hostages and victims should war break out.
By closing down the Kaesong industrial complex, Pyongyang is inflicting greater pain on South Korean chaebols than on its own people given the current economic picture in North Korea.
Yes, America has blinked as it should. It doesn't play the game of chicken well.
Nakamura Junzo (Apr 15, '13)
[Re After Iraq, the moral abyss still gapes, Apr 5, '13] Adil E Shamoo might well believe: "Thanks to these lies, Americans, including our soldiers and civilians serving in Iraq, were convinced Saddam Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks and had weapons of mass destruction".
Fortunately, yet futilely, we in the Sydney Peace Movement believed none of these lies. Of course our demonstrations, protest marches achieved absolutely nothing. A very courageous senior Intelligence Analyst resigned his position in protest, and to be able to publicly voice his concerns over the lies being disseminated by Australian, British and US governments. Lt Colonel Wilkie is currently an Independent MP in our Australian parliament. Certain opinion pieces in mainstream media still refer to his intelligence analysis days as, being a "minor cipher clerk".
Ten years on and the lies are still propagated and being sanitized, while the general public simply yawn and could care even less. Moral decay indeed.
Ian C Purdie
Sydney, Australia (Apr 15, '13)
This is in response to John in KS's letter to the editors of Asia Times on the article Passing the Buck on North Korea [Mar 27, '13].
"No one will never respect the Kim regime until it shows respect for the norms of the modern world. At some point they will recognize that nuclear weapons are not a source of power but of weakness."
Coming from an American who has obviously forgotten the crimes against humanity committed by the United States in Asia. The multiple use of nuclear weapons on human beings, civilian residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The only country to have ever done so, and then did it twice to prove to Stalin that they could do it again. The USA is currently the top nuclear armed super power in the world. The United States is in the process of changing out the detonators on their nuclear weapons stockpile. the US is only trying to reduce other countries nuclear stockpiles not it's own.
Nuclear Proliferation Treaty violations by the USA are well known. From the movement of Plutonium from the US reserves in new Jersey to Israel back in the 1960's, to the continued transfer of nuclear technology to Israel whom is not an NPT signer, illegal under the law. John of KS your views are so archaic from the 20th century, and do not seem to account for the realities that exist in the 21st century world. of today.
"President Obama will never accept a nuclear North Korea, either as a starting or ending point. So if that is the precondition, then any such talks will go nowhere, as in the past, especially because North Korea has a long history of breaking agreements on this issue."
North Korea is already a nuclear power, regardless of the lying US president. John of KS you are either a liar or very very naive.
Bob Van den Broeck
North America (Apr 15, '13)
[Re The South also rises, Apr 5, '13] The marvelous review by Pepe Escobar of Vijay Prashad's The Poorer Nations underscores the fact that the BRICS (in tandem, the Global South and emerging nations) are fashioning solutions and alternatives to Western neoliberal hegemony but are doing so in a neoliberal manner. As Escobar put it: "And they are not the embryo of a revolutionary shift in the world order."
I believe there will come a new "paradigm" (Escobar's "revolutionary shift") but while BRICS have the advantage now of building upon the old while side-stepping its pitfalls, the "new" will emerge from a part of the world that can advance its already advanced global position (though a very negative one today). In order to advance itself, it will by necessity be forced into a "revolutionary shift" which won't be desired and will be vehemently (if not violently) resisted. The "shift" won't be engineered by competing world powers, geo-strategists, military generals, think-tanks, industrial moguls, billionaires or, quite frankly, anyone. It will be brought about by defeat and a subsequent traumatic realization of failure (what "went around" did "come around"). From such dark devastation often arises vision, and "vision" takes us into the next paradigm.
I believe, in less than half a generation, there will be a "new" America, a better America. At that time, she will no longer be a financial or military hegemon. But she will bring to the world a higher plane because she will ascend from being the most materialistic nation in history to one that will usher in the next "evolutionary leap", one that will not and cannot be measured in materialistic terms!
But, as the world watches and maneuvers, she first must go through the fires.
Michael T Bucci (Apr 8, '13)
[Re Buddhism turns violent in Myanmar, Apr 2] Surely it was premature of Western parliamentarians to eulogize democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, given Myanmar's unresolved sectarian and ethnic problems. This is the lady who when asked about the the treatment of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar authorities rhetorically replied, "are they Burmese?"
Aung San Suu Kyi's pandering to Myanmar's Buddhist majority demeans her democratization campaign. Her house arrest, long lasting though it was, pales into insignificance compared with the plight of many of her many fellow countrymen who have been rendered homeless by the continuing violence.
Fetishizing democracy is folly. All too often, democracies have resorted to rendition, torture, cyber warfare, assassination, terrorism and war. We've got to start practicing what we preach.
Dorset, UK (Apr 4, '13)
[Korean cloud obscures Almaty, April 2, 2013] Despite the dissimilarities between the issues, North Korea may indirectly take the pressure off Iran in the current round of talks in Almaty. Even though the Obama administration sees more bluster than action in the escalating rhetoric coming from Pyongyang, its own military games with its South Korea ally has heightened the danger of a false step that might lead to war. The sudden appearance of two B-2 bombers over the skies of South Korea strikes one as something out of Andre Gide's Caves of the Vatican - a gratuitous act with the sole purpose of eliciting a knee-jerk reaction.
Washington is indeed taking North Korea seriously, although it says it isn't. So, the crisis in the divided Korean Peninsula might lead to a more flexible approach to Iran and a recognition that its pursuit of nuclear power is for peaceful uses only.
Junzo Nakamura (Apr 3, '13)
[Re Bilderberg strikes again, May 10, 2005] This article by Pepe. Look at the date?
Spot on and an outstanding piece of work.
Back to today. March 2013 and what have we seen? Libya gone, Afghanistan a mess and Syria on the brink of collapsing. Iran in the line up for a false flag invasion of Western imperialism.
This view comes from from an Englishman who lost his Uncle on board the HMS Prince of Wales in 1941 when he was just 18-years-old.
My uncle and his shipmates who were part of Force Z died for a lie. The lie that brought America into the war by an offering of Pearl Harbor.
Control by the few who now control us all. The days of sovereign countries are coming to an end. The rape of Cyprus by the IMF and the European central bank shows us what are the new weapons of mass destruction.
These weapons will soon be deployed to the arsenal of all central banks and the people will not have a clue until they have been hit by them.
We have in our midst, a power more evil and more destructive than any tyrant the world has ever know. This evil has by stealth entered the highest level of Governments and commerce and most NGOs.
Like thieves in the night they have crept into the media and taken control. Propaganda tells us why terrorism has to be smashed whilst pulling the terrorists strings.
Why so called rogue states need to be removed for the good of the world. The line so blurred that we have become the bad guys.
Pepe got it right.
I wish you all well.
Please, educate your people to the truth before its too late.
Billy Ashton (Apr 2, '13)
In "Passing the Buck on North Korea" [March 28, 13] the authors basically argue that some kind of negotiations with the US are the ultimate goal of North Korea. China, they argue, is a weakened partner. "The North Koreans do not want security assurances, diplomatic recognition and trade normalization from the Chinese but from the Americans."
Even more critical of US actions are the ever-idiotic opinions of Junzo Nakamura [letter, Mar 29], this time saying that "At the present time, the US is pushing the war envelope hard."
As an American who follows affairs in Asia very closely, I really wonder if any of these people have the ability to deal with reality. Things are pretty simple. The goals of the USA have nothing to do with war-mongering in the Korean peninsula or a take-over of North Korea. The primary goal is simply peaceful relationships among neighboring Asian countries. The other related goal is the reduction of nuclear weaponry in the world, including in the US (where President Obama is making some headway). President Obama will never accept a nuclear North Korea, either as a starting or ending point. So if that is the precondition, then any such talks will go nowhere, as in the past, especially because North Korea has a long history of breaking agreements on this issue.
On the other hand, North Korea does not need to resort to militant posturing if all it wants is direct negotiations with the US on issues of security, trade, etc. All it needs to do as behave in a grown-up manner, knock off the bellicose talk, and simply say what it wants, in calm and peaceful tones.
The world has never respected the Kim regime. Since the founder Kim Il-sung's era, the Kim rulers have lived in a bubble of self-importance, stoked up lately by its nuclear capabilities. In the 1970s the "Collected Writings" of the founder were paraded around the world to national libraries of many countries, where they were accepted with a kind smile but then buried out of sight in a back-room shelf along with the "collected writings" of other dangerous egomaniacs like Stalin.
No one will never respect the Kim regime until it shows respect for the norms of the modern world. At some point they will recognize that nuclear weapons are not a source of power but of weakness.
John in KS (Apr 2, '13)
[Re: BRICS go over the wall, Mar 26, 13]While the BRIC nations' developmental paths will no doubt be checkered, with its collective population exceeding 40% of the world total, a statistic that connotes immense manufacturing and consuming prowess, the economic (and perhaps one day geopolitical) bloc's best days yet lie ahead. (Yes, other newfangled groupings will come into existence, but they, too, will experience growing pains.) To be sure, there'll come a day when the raison d'etre of the BRIC Brobdingnagian turns obsolete, but that scenario won't likely come to pass for at least 30 years, when certain global geopolitical conditions have been achieved. In the meantime, BRIC can actually be strengthened with the inclusion of several up-and-comers along the way, further accentuating and expanding Jim O'Neill's fateful acronym.
USA (Mar 28, '13)
[Re China can defuse North Korea time-bomb, Mar 25, '13] Joseph DeTrani is under the illusion that China will pull America's North Korean chestnuts out of the fire. Beijing will not do the Obama administration's dirty work, the record tells us.
Washington has two choices: war or peace. At the present time, the US is pushing the war envelope hard. America has a bad track record in dealing with small countries. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. It no longer controls the North Korean narrative. When will it return to negotiations?
Junzo Nakamura (Mar 27, '13)
[Re Surrender the best option for Tibet, March 18, 2013] Francesco Sisci, in this piece], sees the situation in Tibet today as similar to that of the American Indians. According to Sisci, Tibetans have only two choices: (1) Fight back and hope for a civil war in China or; (2) surrender and become obedient Chinese citizens and loyal Party members. I see the situation in Tibet differently.
In the 19th century, American Indians were overwhelmed by millions of invading whites who stole their lands. Some fought back, like the Sioux, Apache, Seminole and Comanche. Some surrendered and attempted to assimilate into American society or at least carve out a deal where they got some land and tried to preserve their traditions as best as possible. Few people remember the names of tribes and Indian chiefs who surrendered. Some of those tribes have disappeared. But we do remember the Indians who fought back like Geronimo, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Of course, even those Indians who fought against the white invaders eventually lost, but at least they fought nobly and bravely against overwhelming odds. However, the different Indian tribes were never united against the USA and sometimes fought against each other as much as they fought against white settlers and the US Cavalry.
Tibet is different. Tibet was not an unorganized group of different tribes. Tibet was a sovereign nation prior to 1951. Tibet was poor and its population was small, but it had its own government, legal system, military, police force, taxation system, and even foreign affairs bureau. Tibetans were and are still united at least regarding their belief in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And while not all Tibetans historically viewed the government in Lhasa as their sovereign, they had a shared sense of cultural and religious identity. Today we see evidence that Tibetans also have a shared sense of political identity as Tibetans who should be united as one people and one land. China's occupation of Tibet has actually helped drive Tibetans towards this shared national identity and a sense of unity.
In that respect, the Tibetan struggle is different from the American Indian struggle, although there are also similarities. (For example, both fought for their identity as a distinct people against foreign invaders). The Tibetan struggle for freedom is actually an anti-colonial, nationalist struggle. It is no different than the Indian, Algerian, Irish, Latin American, African, and Vietnamese struggles for independence and an end to colonial rule. At the time, these peoples fought against some of the most powerful empires of the world: Britain, Spain, France, Germany and even Italy. It took a long time, but eventually they won against colonialism. The important thing is they never gave up and they never surrendered.
In 19th century Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi was a leader in two Italian wars of independence against the Austrians and the French. The first war was unsuccessful but the second war lead to an independent and unified Italy. Would Sisci have advised Garibaldi to just surrender and accept foreign rule over Italy?
From about 1912-1945, Libya was an Italian colony. 150,000 Italians settled in Libya and became about 20% of the population. From 1925-1931, Omar Mukhtar, a teacher, fought a guerrilla war against Mussolini's Fascist Italy. The Italians killed tens of thousands of Libyans through repression. Although Omar Mukhtar was eventually defeated in battle and executed, the Libyan people never gave up their quest for freedom from colonialism. Perhaps Sisci would have advised the Libyan people to stop fighting and just accept Italian rule as inevitable and permanent. Libya became an independent nation in 1951.
Sisci argues that since Tibetans cannot win against the might of China and since a Chinese civil war is very unlikely, Tibetans should surrender to preserve what little they can or else we'll be wiped out. Throughout history there were people who thought it was better to collaborate with the invaders rather than fight back, for example the Vichy Government in France or Wang Jingwei who collaborated with the Japanese during World War 2. I think history shows collaboration doesn't guarantee salvation.
Sisci also claims Tibetans inside Tibet are moving closer to China, but we have seen the opposite in recent years. After 2008, many Tibetans who once supported the Party's policies in Tibet and who were praised by Beijing realized China's claims of equality and liberation were false. When these Tibetans questioned the Party, they were persecuted by the Chinese authorities. When the Party began blaming HH the Dalai Lama for all the problems in Tibet and denying the legitimate grievances of ordinary Tibetans, many Tibetans realized that the Party treats Tibetans differently from Chinese and in fact, treats Tibetans as second-class citizens.
Tibetans from all classes and social groups are expressing their dissatisfaction with the Chinese rule and openly challenging the Party.
Colonialism can last for a long time. It can last decades and even centuries. Eventually colonialism is unsustainable. Chinese rule in Tibet is no different than French colonialism in Vietnam and Algeria, British colonialism in India and Ireland, Spanish colonialism in Latin America, or Italian colonialism in Africa. It can be devastating to the local population, but in the end the colonizers will be forced to leave.
So should Tibetans be like the Vichy and Wang Jingwei, or should we be like Geronimo, Michael Collins, George Washington, Simon Bolivar, Garibaldi, Omar Mukhtar and Gandhi, all of whom fought, in their own way, for their respective peoples and their country's freedom?
Sisci is free to have his opinion, but Tibetans in Tibet must make their own choices and judging by recent events, they have chosen to fight for their nation, their religion, and their freedom.
Board Member of the US Tibet Committee and Tibet Justice Center, and a member of the Steering Committee of the International Tibet Network.
(Mar 26, '13)
[Re Low expectations color Obama's Israel trip, March 19, 2013] Despite a lot of garbage and ambient noise, let us be very clear about the president of the United States in Israel in 2013. About a year ago, you had the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington, sitting in the Oval Office arrogantly and what some said amounting to bullying, lecturing the president.
Then, being cheered on by the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd in the Congress, media and think tanks, the prime minister tried his best to guarantee the election of the president's opponent, Mitt Romney. As far as peace with the Palestinians, and a two-state solution, there was a lot of bobbing and weaving and the prime minister had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to say those words. And settlements continued at a feverish pace. Now, President Obama in Israel basks in a resounding re-election victory, despite the prime minister's efforts to wound him politically.
The prime minister, however, in his hubris, wounded himself politically in his own election expecting to be coronated, instead, barely surviving. Today we have a totally chastened prime minister, changing his tune voluntarily, declaring "historic compromises" in relation to peace with the Palestinians. That is something that must happen, successive Israeli national security advisors have been telling Israeli politicians for years. It remains to be seen if words will translate into real accomplishment. Further, after decades of Israeli leadership (including the prime minister), telling the world that Iran would have a nuclear weapon the next year, now the prime minister states "I think there is a misunderstanding about time. If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon - that is to actually manufacture the weapon - then it will take them about a year." What a difference a year makes in the life of a politician.
Fariborz S Fatemi
Virginia, USA (Mar 25, '13)
[Re Bangladesh protests evoke liberation, Mar 22] The author Naimul Haq's article on the "revolution" in Bangladesh is full of inaccurate accounts of Bangladesh's history and an unsuccessful effort to put weight a so-called movement that has already fizzled due to lack of popular support.
The author accuses President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (who was one of the most decorated freedom fighters during 1971's independence war against Pakistan) of rehabilitating war criminals in 1976. He willfully neglects to mention that first president of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib, pardoned war criminals and their collaborators in 1974 citing the necessity to move on as a nation from 1971's independence war as a reason. This willful ignorance of historical facts shows what the author is really up to: spreading lies to advance the interests of a few.
In recent years, just like her father Sheikh Mujib, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is spearheading the trial of war criminals) also contributed greatly to the rehabilitation of the war criminals.
The question readers might ask here is why Sheikh Hasina is suddenly so sincere about trying war crimes that was committed by people pardoned by Sheikh Hasina's father himself and later embraced by herself. The answer can be found by looking at current political landscape. Sheikh Hasina's government is punishing Jamat e Islami for creating alliance with her opponents. If Sheikh Hasina was sincere about trying war criminals, she would not
1. Appoint a war criminal like Mr Alamgir as home secretary.
2. Conduct the tribunal in a manner that adheres to basic principles of international justice system.
The author also mentioned that about 300,000 people demonstrated at one of these processions and tried to demonstrate how popular the movement is. Readers might be better served to know that Bangladesh has a population of 160 million. More than 12 million people live in Dhaka only. How a gathering of 300,000 people shows that 160 million people behind the movement escapes me. Only the author knows. Not to mention the movement completely fizzled once it became clear that this is nothing but a front of Sheikh Hasina's party to distract people from corruption of her government. The so-called popular movement is struggling to sustain a gathering of 10,000 people in a city of 12 million people. That sure does not sound like an "Arab Spring" to me.
Minnesota, USA (Mar 25, '13)
“Surrender the best option for Tibet” [Mar 19, 13] by Francesco Sisci, makes some obvious sociological observations and is not incisive enough. In making comparison with Native Americans, he obfuscates a most obvious consideration: race, as in body shape, physiognomy, and skin color. Minorities in China who can pass for Hans will assimilate far more readily. While visiting Taiwan, the Dalai Lama was said to have a look-alike.
One only needs to consider two American social phenomena: light-skinned blacks' ''passing for white'' and Natalie Wood being American. When racism was virulent, many light-skinned blacks tried desperately to pass for white. Was there a group of Americans who successfully passed for white, in essence? Yes, the Slavs, Catholic and socially backward with serfdom until the nineteenth century, and the Cold War with the biggest Slavic state. There was once strong anti-Slav sentiment but as long as one is white, one does not have to be Slavic. So Natalie Wood was created from Nikolaevna Zacharenko. When a Natalie Wood can be Russian in the US, a Hu Jia Bao can be Tibetan in China. One has to statistically study genealogy to understand the social situation in China. Who has this fairness and patience?
There will always be those who opt for political considerations of rights per se and will find this realistic social consideration distasteful, but fortunately many are more bent on social consideration as to whether a group of human beings will likely be happy eventually.
One does not have to use the sensational term ''surrender''; rather, one should consider personal choice in lien of responsibility in being a conduit of a culture. The personal choice can be between the religious and the logical, or whether to surrender to love for a spouse outside one’s ethnic domain and committing the most thrilling cultural suicide.
USA (Mar 25, '13)
[Re Xi unmoved by Tibetan self-immolation, Mar 20] Numbers should be revealing, if there is fair effort to seek the sociological truth in China with respect to ethnic minorities. "'China is saying that everyone is happy inside Tibet, but on the other side shows no international behavior. We request fact findings mission to have access on the ground situation to which China denies' ..., say Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa". Such is rhetorical; not every Tibetan now in this generation will be happy, but the truth is also that not every ethnic Tibetan even now is unhappy.
Those sincere in seeking the sociological truth in China should also account for the numbers of ethnic Tibetans who are voluntary officers in the Chinese military, and ethnic Tibetan artists who present their talent with verve to the delight of the welcoming general Chinese audience. Consideration should be accorded to the trust from the majority on its minorities in military matters, and on the majority’s accepting minority individuals for their personal talent. One should not be politically obsessed and socially oblivious. It is illogical to assert that Tibetans who choose to be officers in the Chinese military and Tibetan artists who choose to present their talents with verve, to the delightful and delighted welcoming Chinese audience, are mentally less sound than those fervent enough to burn themselves.
The Tibetan language and religion are allowed in China. No progressive government should be expected to seriously promote clan mentality within its people. Rhetoric to this effect is internal matter; the US had such rhetoric during the Civil Rights movement.
Not all black parents in the USA in the early 1970’s were happy about coercive busing to have their children mixed with white kids. Many resented coercive busing; in fact, 85% chose to send their kids to segregated all-black schools. Even after hundreds of years of slavery and segregation, the instinct to preserve an ethnic identity and the fear of assimilation were very strong. Can a progressive majority accede to such an instinct and forego assimilation? I believe there is inherent absolute virtue in assimilation salubrious to all to come in a country.
Those Tibetans who absolutely dread the loss of the Tibetan ethnic identity have real reason to feel anguish. Their subjective focus will not be the happiness of their offspring through assimilation, but the fate of a cultural identity irrespective of happiness. China has a history of seamless assimilation in the continual formation of the Hans. Assimilation in the USA across the racial divide will not be seamless for a long time to come. Even though their ethnic identity is protected by racism in the USA, in exclusion in courtship and marriage, many Hawaiians still dread the loss of their cultural identity; they lament the US Senate rejection of the Akaka Bill of 2000, citing the American “tradition of assimilation”, that could have granted them cultural autonomy.
Human beings are not hermaphrodites and have free thoughts, we are not vehicles for a culture. Love between a man and a woman and free thoughts are the greatest threats to a culture, and that which is threatened by love and free thoughts should not be designed to be preserved.
USA (Mar 21, '13)
[Re US stuck in deaf dialogue in Korea, Mar 11, '13] The US is in denial. Spurning an opening to take the sting out strained relations with North Korea when Kim Jong-eun announced that he didn't want "to do war", the Obama administration has set the divided Korean peninsula on an unnecessary war footing in.
What is the need to conduct two months of joint South Korea-US military exercises, other than playing a game of chicken in an attempt to force Pyongyang to yield?
Listening to the typical suspects of North Korean specialists trotted out to whip up "war fever", is further proof that like the Bourbon kings, they have learnt nothing and forgotten everything.
Guam (Mar 13, '13)
[Re Karzai gives Hagel a tour d'horizon, Mar 11]
"A prevailing view among Afghans - and in the region - has always been that the US has a hidden agenda not to leave Afghanistan and Central Asia after having established a military presence since 2001." - M K Bhadrakumar
Well, George W Bush told Jacques Chirac that his invasion of Afghanistan aimed to counter Gog and Magog. Perhaps Bush confused the Caucasus (where Alexander the Great supposedly built a fortified gate keeping out Gog and Magog) with the Indian Caucasus, the Greek name for the Hindu Kush. It's not weirder than some things Bush said and believed!
Let us be glad that Afghanistan is never mentioned in the Books of Daniel or Revelation!
[Re: US faces China's 'unrelenting strategy, Mar 7, '13] I wonder if Jenny Lin plays a lot of board games like Risk. She seems to believe that the governments of China, the US, etc, have nothing to do but try and conquer the world. Her evidence: not minutes of military councils, but the I Ching! I'm surprised she has not cited those prophecy preachers who've discovered China in the Book of Revelation!
Lester Ness (Mar 8, '13)
[Re El Comandante has left the building, Mar 6, '13] The death of Hugo Chavez has predictably generated numerous comments and condolences from leftists, progressives and socially responsible humans around the world. Curiously, even some Republicans in the Empire have been brazen enough to praise the departed president of Venezuela for his efforts to help the poor and downtrodden, not just in his own country, but in the US and other nations.
Such compliments for a man fervently opposed to Amerikan imperialism and capitalist exploitation has in turn produced vehement denunciations from brethren neocons, all dedicated to the suppression and expansion of the Empire's own impoverished ranks. Naturally, the imperial media has joined in the descriptions of Chavez as a "dictator," "tyrant" and "despot," terms guaranteed to dampen any sympathy for Venezuela's loss.
But Chavez's death is a loss for more than just one particular Latin American country. His passing deprives all those struggling to resist Wonderland's death throes machinations to hold onto its receding power. His death means that a loud and proud Third Worlder who walked the walk as well as talked the talk of anti-imperialism has been removed from the international arena.
The good news is that his imagery, idealism and iconic status will serve to inspire and produce yet even more Hugos willing to take on the increasingly desperate Empire. Whether Venezuela itself continues down this path remains to be seen (rest assured the CIA is already at work rigging the next elections), but rest assured that the likes of Iran, North Korea, China and Russia will carry on the task of unraveling the Empire until it wages war no more. Some day future historians will place an asterisk by Hugo's name, accrediting his small role in bringing that glorious day to pass.
Texas (Mar 7, '13)
[Re A trillion-dollar concept left undefined and Sequestering American exceptionalism Mar 1, '13] After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, America had the world in its palms, and could/should have enjoyed unchallenged global primacy indefinitely. Instead, a mere couple of decades, two military misadventures, and a spectacular profligacy-induced financial crisis later, one of the hot discussion topics du jour is centered on the American decline. As former secretary of state Henry Kissinger remarked some 15 years ago, the US would continue to be a superpower only if the rest of the world wanted it to remain one. Future historians will one day conclude that the downfall of Pax Americana stemmed primarily from the United States’ failure to provide true leadership, be it geopolitical or financial, on the world stage.
John Chen (Mar 5, '13)
[Re Slam-dunk diplomacy in North Korea, Mar 4, '13] The US department of state can take some pointers from Dennis Rodman. He was able to do something it couldn't: meet Kim Jung eun.
Kim's father prized a basketball signed by Michael Jordan which then secretary of state Madeleine Albright brought to Pyongyang in October 2000.
In fact, when ambassador Bill Richardson was in North Korea with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it was suggested to him that the young Kim would welcome a visit by Jordan. A suggestion ignored.
Rodman brought back a message that Kim didn't want "to do war", and would welcome contact with US President Barack Obama. You can imagine the derision that message received in the halls of Foggy Bottom.
In his interview on ABC, Rodman proved himself steeped in the art of diplomacy by saying Kim was a friend, a remark which rang with heresy. When pressed on the matter of Gulags, Rodman had the finesse to hint that the US had gulags of its own.
It is time the US started behaving as an adult in dealing with North Korea.
Junzo Nakamura (Mar 5, '13)
[Re: China key to BRICS bank, Feb 28, '13] Another global recession will be the catalyst that'll spark/propel the formation/development of a BRICS bank, as emerging countries seek an alternative to having their economic fortunes yoked by the arbitrary whims of the greenback.
John Chen (Mar 1, '13)
[Re: Old claims roil Philippine peace deal", I wonder if the US will defend Philippines against Malaysia? Probably not.
China (Mar 1, '13)
In China should take the lead on North Korea [Feb 26, '13], Joseph DeTrani shares with us his belief that a nuclear deal can be reached with North Korea with China's help.
Two simple facts that anyone that has a passing interest in North Korea know is that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons and China will never help the US to get North Korea to give up its nukes.
What DeTrani fails to realize is that China's interests are completely different from the United States. First China enjoys sticking their finger in America's eye especially since they pay no price for the behavior.
China wants to be the sole superpower of the 21st century and to achieve that they need the US to fall. North Korea serves as a useful distraction to help China achieve its aim, also the US keeps coming to China with hat in hand to get their help.
China does not want the Chinese people to see the collapse of a so-called communist state, as it might give them ideas about the Chinese Communist Party. China has a $300 billion or more surplus of trade with the US, so the US should inform China that unless they disarm North Korea their access to US markets will shrink by $50 to $100 billion every year until they reach that goal.
If China would cut off its aid to North Korea the North Korean state could only survive a matter of months. However, China need not worry because the US will never make it do this. After 20 years of bashing their head against a brick wall trying to get North Korea to denuclearize the geniuses in DC have decided to have another go at the wall, and here's a helpful hint the hollow sound you hear is not the wall about to collapse.
USA (Feb 27, '13)
One of the hottest political topics surrounding the news media in Taiwan nowadays is If Chen Shui-bian, former president of Taiwan, will be given permanent medical leave to go home from his incarcerated state on the grounds of his failing health.
The fervor has been accentuated by a short video recently released by a member of the Control Yuan. In the video, we see a man walking with difficulty, handicapped with stuttering and other debilitating motor skills.
We can’t believe this was once a two-term president of Taiwan, who
was willing to say and do things that angered a former president of the
United States, and won himself notoriety as a troublemaker and other
expletives unfit to be published.
The irony about Chen Shui-bian’s legal battle is that it would have
been thrown out of court and ended long ago when Chen was still healthy,
had this had happened in the United States.
Of all the dirty maneuverings, either covert or overt, conducted by
the members of the Special Prosecutorial Unit throughout the trials so
far completed, in their cases against Chen on the ground of corruption
and graft, none is as nefarious as coaching some of the key witnesses to
perjure themselves, in order to secure a conviction.
During one of the trial proceedings, Ma Ying-jeou, the president of
Taiwan, overtly sought to influence the judges in charge by telling them
that rendering a verdict in favor of Chen is in conflict with the expectation
of the public.
This shocking and unabashed disfranchising of the judicial integrity
in Taiwan has totally eroded the people’s confidence in its judicial system.
A rotten to the core judicial infrastructure, which can be manipulated
at will, undoubtedly alarmed a Brit who had recently ruffled the legal
feathers in Taiwan, to find his way out of its legal clutches, even by illegal
Such is the disgraceful state of the judicial system in Taiwan and
there is not much hope for Chen to be granted a permanent medical leave,
when the commander in chief himself, a graduate of Harvard Law School
takes lead in making its law and order a travesty.
Utah, USA (Feb 27, '13)
[Re Vatican and the fight for China's soul, Feb 25, '13] As usual, Spengler's analysis, supposedly of Catholicism and China, is heavy on Arab-hatred, and light on fact. For example, he blames the woes of Middle East Christians on their distaste of being treated bad by Israel and allies. He does not mention the various invasions in the region by supposedly "Christian" Western countries - most recently US president George W Bush's invasion in pursuit of the Rapture, the End of Days, etc.
China (Feb 26, '13)
In Washington debates the pivot to Asia [Feb 21, 2013], Walden Bello writes,
"The Obama administration has executed ... a 'Pivot to Asia' strategy, whereby the United States' global military force posture is being reconfigured to focus on the Asia-Pacific region." The objective is, obviously, to distract us from a collapse of Western capitalist economies in both the US and European Union, and from withdrawal and defeat in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It's clear the US has:
1. Strengthened and armed al-Qaeda in Libya and all of Africa.
2. Allowed al-Qaeda to establish a strong base in Iraq, where there was none before our invasion and occupation.
3. Failed, miserably, to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan, with the Taliban enjoying greater support than ever in the whole region.
In the process we have been irritating our lenders, without whose money-lending the present illusion of economic recovery will collapse into a deep depression. The pivot to Asia strategy is for domestic consumption only, because it sounds intimidating to us. But, China, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. are not fooled, and are no longer intimidated by our posturing.
Alaska, USA (Feb 25, '13)
[Re: Ketchup on the trading floor, Feb 20] Stodgy though it may be, Heinz, with its global brand recognition and a good future potential for international expansion, may offer a surprise growth upside in addition to stability. That said, $23 billion might have been too stiff a price tag with other factors considered. If one believes that the stock-market run-up in the last four years is to a large extent attributable to the Fed’s easy money (as implied by the lowering of the discount, or long-term borrowing, rate in Spengler’s equation), and that a sizable correction will set in at some point when stock prices more accurately reflect the economic reality, then the ketchup company could have been had for considerably less at a later date (I think).
Along the same line of reasoning, although the Fed’s loose monetary policy is helping avert a recession for now, all that money-creation is distorting the economy in pernicious ways, as ATol contributor Doug Noland has argued time and again in his column. What’s going to happen when the piper comes calling is anyone’s guess. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is an intelligent man; I just hope he knows something the rest of us aren’t privy to, because the truism about free lunch in economics always holds true.
(Feb 21, '13)
In North Korean test shows US policy failings [Feb 19], Christine Hong and Hyun Lee treat us to the left's take on US North Korean relations and prove that the left dominates higher education in the Western world. Their take is that, the Obama administration by failing to reach an agreement with North Korea is engaging in a hostile war policy.
They make no mention of the February 29, 2012 agreement where the US agreed to provide 529 million pounds [240 million kilograms] of food aid in return for a missile and nuclear moratorium. North Korea broke the agreement two weeks later. The authors write, "Under Obama, the US has dealt with other quagmires in the Middle East by toppling uncooperative regimes by force", that is a complete lie, what country has Obama overthrown?
None of the leftists that state that the US should sign an agreement with North Korea will ever get specific as to what the US should agree to, because their views are so extreme, basically they would have the US give North Korea everything it wants up to and including the enslavement of the people of South Korea.
Do the authors every consider the people of North Korea, how they have been starved and brutalized for 60 years by the fascist Kim family regime, how whole families are imprisoned without trial and worked to death, I doubt if it ever crosses their minds, besides they are too busy fighting the evil capitalist imperialistic and all around bad guy the United States of America.
USA (Feb 21, '13)
[Re: Catholic Church faces brave new world, Feb 15] It’s interesting that Francesco Sisci constantly harps on the Chinese government to embrace greater openness and transparency when his beloved Vatican has steadfastly remained one of the most secretive/opaque institutions for millennia. Seems the Holy See can use some aggiornamento in more ways than just having a colored Pope in order to be held up as an exemplar of organizational (many also say moral) conduct(s).
USA (Feb 20, '13)
In Time for Chinese culture to strike back [Feb 15] by Thorsten Pattberg , the author insists on the impossible and the unnecessary. “China is not the first nation to rise in modern times, but the only one who doesn't have an alphabet.” This is a reality that has to be accepted and it is beneficial to China if it is accepted. More material is that China is not the first nation, once powerful and prosperous, to resurge, but the first with a fifth of the world’s population to resurge, with the people more coherent than ever, partly but precisely by Westernization.
One of the greatest accomplishments of modern China is the compilation of a Han Chinese dictionary alphabetized from A to Z based on pinyin. Finally, China is willing to Westernize profoundly, admittingly or not. The use of the English alphabets has been quite instrumental in promoting standard spoken Han language in China, and hence to promote the Chinese culture and coherence of the Chinese people. No doubt, many ethnic minorities and non-mandarin speaking Hans learn Mandarin Chinese from the English alphabets. Since it is a fact that everyone on earth now has to learn the English alphabets, acceptance of this fact does China good, with the trappings of the great utility in promoting spoken language uniformity that advances the Chinese civilization.
It has to be enigmatic that a supposedly more Westernized Taiwan has not abandoned the esoteric pronunciation guide, or soon enough, that is devoid of the ubiquitous English alphabets.
China is learning from Japan that Westernization can advance a country and a civilization; this is part and parcel of the reason why China will likely be successful well into the future.
United States (Feb 20, '13)
In the Obamaverse, reality and truth are fungible commodities, whereas myth and disinformation are carved in granite. The myth of Osama bin Laden’s death is perhaps the best example of how our hoops-playing prez dribbles truth around the court of public gullibility, mesmerizing his audience with fancy stories of heroic SEALs, puzzle solving spooks and daring raids before slam dunking with the news of the “death” of Amerika’s alleged arch foe.
Curious, in an age where visual imagery is everything, the reticence of Obama to release photos, videos or other hard evidence that the good guys "got their man". We don't even need to discuss the propriety of murdering a man without a trial, since the imperial presidency long ago assumed God-like powers. Equally curious is the virtually silent, if not apathetic, reaction of the Muslim jihadist world to the news, not even a loud peep about burying the alleged corpse at sea in contravention to Muslim practice. Almost like he didn't exist or no one cared anymore.
In fact the alleged death has changed nothing in the fabricated War on Islam; "al-Qaeda" (I believe that's Arabic for "Fall Guy") continues doing a booming business in Africa, is franchising like mad in Afghanistan and Iraq and shows no sign of missing a beat since it's alleged "mastermind" was supposedly ambushed in his Pakistani domicile. Obama supposedly got a bit of a political bump when he announced the glorious news, but he sure as shootin' didn't convince any of his white neocon enemies that he isn't a secret al-Qaeda operative himself.
Indeed, the whole episode smacks of Obama's latest pathetic attempt to muster sympathy from his visceral adversaries on the right, showing his second amendment bona fides by posing with a rifle at a "skeet shoot". Considering how ineptly that photo-op was done, little wonder Obama decided to cancel the world premiere of "Bringing Justice to Osama." Keen eyes would probably have noticed how amateurish that production of a faked firefight was also.
USA (Feb 14, '13)
Dorothy Ogle should, well, ogle the facts rather than distorting Korean history
as she did in Time to
End the Korean War [Jan 8, '13]. Washington propped up South Korean
dictators? In fact, American president Jimmy Carter and others - consistently
and publicly - scorned Seoul's human-rights abuses.
On March 9, 1977, Carter announced a plan to withdraw US military forces from
South Korea over four years to protest the paucity of democracy under president
Park Chung-hee. He even relieved on May 21 the US commander Major General John
Singlaub, stationed in Seoul, for his opposition. That December 13, 1977, 219
American GI's exited South Korea - with 3,600 troops following.
In his White House Diary, Carter writes [pg 339] that he confronted Park
Chung-hee during his June 29 to July 1, 1979 visit to Seoul through "a frank
discussion about Park's human-rights abuses". On July 20, the president
suspended - without canceling - his withdrawal plan, but only after he received
reports that North Korea was far stronger then previously estimated.
The American Baptist even tried [pg 339] to convert Park, per a request from a
prominent South Korean Baptist pastor: "Billy Kim asked me to talk to Park
about becoming a Christian, and I promised to do so."
"Everywhere we went we pushed human rights, including with with prime minister
Choi [Kyu-ha] and then with president Park and his daughter - the most
important unresolved issue." Carter records that "Only 17% of Americans support
military action to defend Korea, because of unfavorable publicity about human
rights." Park replied [pg 339], "I understand your concern" with democracy "and
I will try to act to alleviate" it.
Park's successor on December 12, 1979 was General Chun Doo-hwan. He arrested
then opposition leader Kim Dae-jung on May 17, 1980 and sentenced Kim to death
on September 17, 1980. Kim assured Washington that he was not pro North Korean
- and beseeched its help.
A determined Carter [pg 455] instructed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
David Jones "to see General Chun...concerning the Kim Dae-jung trial - to make
sure they don't execute Kim". Washington sought his release: "[Or we will]
withdraw some of our troops from Korea...I was determined to put as much
pressure as possible on General Chun."
After Ronald Reagan was elected president on November 4, 1980, Carter [pg 487]
states that on November 20, he referenced "Kim Dae-jung possibly being
executed, and thanked him for the message that [Reagan's transition team] sent"
Next, Carter relates [pg 491] that defense secretary "Harold [Brown] will visit
South Korea and deliver a very strong message." Enter William Gleysteen, the US
ambassador, who on November 21 reported that he had pressed Chun for a "humane"
resolution. President-elect Reagan, in December 1980, deputed his designated
national security advisor Richard Allen to press for a commutation and release.
Then on January 21, 1981, the Reagan White House announced that Chun would
visit on February 2, a quid pro quo in return for Chun terminating the death
sentence. On January 23, Chun made the change. Then on March 20, he declared a
20-year term. Ultimately, Kim was exiled to the US on December 23, 1982.
The most significant entry - in hindsight - comes when Carter asserts [pg 403]
on February 21, 1980 that Senator Lloyd Bentsen had returned from South Korea
and found that Japan is "beating us on business [because] our anti bribery"
restrictions on Americans are "overly severe".
So "pro-American" Japan doled out dirty money to edge out Washington as part of
Tokyo's undeclared trade war? More tellingly - even after America saved his
life - Kim himself bribed North Korea with US$500 million for a meretricious
peace summit in June 2000. It centered on corrupt investment deals delinked
from human rights. Kim gifted the vicious dictatorship a windfall budget to
build rockets that threaten the US and to maintain a system of repression that
spans famine, rape and torture. All are far worse than anything Kim faced.
To learn more, read the book that Donald Kirk - this site's veteran Seoul
correspondent - wrote: Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae-jung and Sunshine.
Ogle lived through these events but has opted for - what? - deception?
Mimicking other pro North Korean propagandists such as American historian Bruce
Cumings, who omits or slights the dramatic facts of Jones's rescue mission?
Let's add hypocrisy. While vexed idealist Carter opposed - minor - dictators in
South Korea who built the nation, Ogle appeases the tyrants in Pyongyang who
Is she a sincere missionary? Then will s. Ogle update the decent minded
Carter's efforts and try to convert Pyongyang dictators - to Christianity?
Toronto (Feb 13, '13)
challenge Azerbaijan strongman, February 1, 2013] This excellent
article plainly explains why Azerbaijan today is a volcano ready to explode. A
beautiful country, nine million people mostly living in its capital of Baku, is
saddled with a police state that Freedom House rates as "not free". Decades
after the demise of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan stills suffers from the ills
of the old Soviet-style bureaucracy, ie, rampant corruption, heavy handedness
in all matters, and stifling inefficiency.
An example: visitors entering the country are faced with inexplicable delays,
visa entrance procedures that verge on pure extortion, people asking for bribes
to expedite your entry and in a secure area, theft of personal belongings is
not uncommon. In its 2011 Corruption Perception Index, Transparency
International ranked Azerbaijan 143 out of 183 nations. Almost half of the
population, as the authors noted, is under the age of 24, educated and most
unemployed or employed in menial jobs. The gap between those with immense
wealth and those with very little is immense.
Multi-nationals have a free hand to bribe, intimidate and carry on with little
regard for laws. In its quest to present an image of modernity, the government
squanders its oil wealth on shiny new buildings in its capital and imports
Western entertainment and lobbyists to polish a very dreary image. Once you
leave the capital Baku, the neglected infrastructure, particularly the
dilapidated roads, becomes very evident.
As a result, Azeris suffer trying to get their agricultural products to market,
especially give the country is rich in pomegranates, a global cash crop. With
such conditions prevailing, there is little doubt that sooner than later, the
present rulers of Azerbaijan will face their "Spring." Fariborz S Fatemi
United States (Feb 8, '13)
By now one would think that the numbing litany of gun murders in Wonderland had
become so routine that the reporting of a new incident would barely muster a
bemused yawn. But the death of Chris Kyle, a fellow Texan and ex-Marine who had
returned from multiple tours in Amerika's criminal enterprises overseas
virtually unscathed, deserves an asterisk for irony and scriptural
Kyle had been a highly successful sniper, tasked with picking off "insurgents"
(in Marine parlance that's any brown biped that breathes), and had returned to
a hero's welcome, basking in the glow of redneck "patriotism" and even writing
a book. His devotion to weapons as the utmost expression of Amerikanness was
such that, when asked by a neighbor to help her PSTD-disabled veteran son , his
response was to take him and a friend to a nearby gun range, a move akin to
solving someone's insobriety by throwing them into a vat of vodka and gin.
That this sick young man decided to repay this act of ill-conceived therapy
with the shooting murder of Kyle and his friend may shock some, but the real
shock would be why anyone would be shocked. For the last 10 years Amerika's
mercenaries for capitalist profit have been killing themselves and others at a
rate that makes the losses to "terrorists" seem puny.
USA (Feb 7, '13)
[Re Korea: The case for
withdrawal, Feb 5, '13] The case for US troop withdrawal from South
Korea is not new. In fact, a three-day international conference on "A new
direction for US Korea Policy" was held in New York City in April 1977.
Jimmy Carter had called for troop withdrawal from the Republic of Korea before
entering the White House. The conference's organizers - a Nobel prize winner,
university professors and clergy - took Carter at his word in during up the
call to redirect US policy towards the divided Korean peninsula.
Among other planks were the restoration of democracy in South Korea under Park
Chung Hee's Yushin Constitution, the cutting off of US aid, the freeing of
prisoners of conscience like the poet Kim Chi Ha and the end of Korea's
intelligence agencies intimidating Koreans opposed to the Park dictatorship.
We should not forget that the conference was held during Koreagate, a
calculated plan to bribe congress and subvert the US constitution.
Congressional investigators pointed to the hand of General Park through agents
like Tongsun Park.
The committee advertised the conference in a Sunday edition of the New York
Times. The ad met with a wide response of approval on one hand and an explosion
of anger and disbelief on the other.
The pro-democracy Koreans and American and foreign supporters called for
supporting Carter's new policy. The mainstream American press did not cover the
meeting, but the foreign press did. Some Congressmen like Ted Kennedy sent a
letter of encouragement.
Under strong pressure for the Pentagon, State and American private interests,
Carter did not pursue his program. And 46 years later, tensions remain in the
divided peninsula as Park Chung Hee's daughter prepares to enter the Blue House
as president. US troops remain and the American policy towards Korea remains
more hardline than ever.
It's indeed time for a new direction in US Korea policy.
Guam (Feb 7, '13)
[Re Symbolism merges for
Mali and North Korea, Feb 2, 2013] As Americans, we can appreciate the
drive of a company to make money. Baikho Mali Societe (Sarl), a "likely
subsidiary of Pyongyang's Mansudae Overseas Development Group", offers a
product which the government of Mali wanted. We may mock the product of lavish
monuments which glorify "a less than storied military", yet Sarl is in business
to earn hard, cold cash, which US-backed sanctions have long been trying to
deny the government of North Korea.
Other ventures of North Korea in Africa have escaped the mockery of Pyongyang
critics: the training of Robert Mugabe's praetorian guard and the supplying of
Egypt with advanced rocketry, as well as a long-term commercial agreement to
install through North Korea coaxial cable for the Internet.
For many observers North Korea may look like La La Land, but one thing is sure, juche
(self-reliance) or no juche, North Koreans are practical in business and
sharp negotiators, as US diplomats and North Korean scholars won't deny. More,
sanctions impel Pyongyang not to spurn an opportunity to do business. Such
qualities are standard practices taught in America's business schools.
Is it not interesting hardly a month after Google's CEO Eric Schmidt's visit to
Pyongyang, Google Maps posts a good map of Pyongyang? Surely, there is no
mistake. Why do Pyongyang watchers assume that North Korea remain behind the
curve when it comes to technology? Time and time again, these prognosticators
have been short of the mark.
Guam (Feb 6, '13)
I am studying for a history degree at Bath Spa University, England. I am
writing my dissertation on the subject of cricket and national identity in the
former colonies of the British empire, particularly during the period
1959-1983. I am especially interested how events within and surrounding cricket
reflected the end of British influence. I am hoping that your readers would
like to share any memories or accounts of the period; their feelings at the
time, and any recollections of events they consider to be important during the
I would appreciate it if you could pose this question to your readers, and
print my contact details for any thoughts they may wish to share.
Nevill Wadner, email@example.com
Bath, UK (Feb 6, '13)
In Washington's dilemma
on a 'lost' planet [Feb 4, 2013], we are treated to Noam Chomsky's
Stalinist left take on world events.
Chomsky attacks the evil hypocrisy of the capitalist West and I guess by
inference we should long for the benevolent rule of the Kims in North Korea or
maybe the Taliban. Chomsky attacks the Clinton doctrine, which really isn't
even a doctrine and claims it states the US can use force whenever it wants to
gain access to markets or resources.
Most people take the Clinton doctrine to be a defense of humanitarian
interventions without the support of the UN Security Council which can be
blocked by China and Russia. This was in response to Clinton's failure take the
minimum action that could have saved a million people in Rwanda in April of
1994. Clinton's fly-bye apology in Rwanda in March of 1998 lacked all the
sincerity of George W Bush's fly-over apology to Katrina ravaged New Orleans
where he looked out of the window of Air Force One and admired his incompetence
Then he complains that the assassination of Osama bin Laden violated his take
on Magna Carta and took away Osama's right to a trial, the violation of the
rights of the people in the World Trade Center doesn't seem to bother him. If
Osama had been dealing with me rather than Magna Carta he would have had to
deal with Magma Carte Blanche, which is where I could have dangled him over a
volcano for as long as I liked.
Than Chomsky complains about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, but fails
to mention the invasion was caused by the Hezbollah invasion of Israel and the
killing and capturing of its soldiers. Chomsky also states that Israel
destroyed half the country of Lebanon; now I ask if Chomsky had bothered to
read his memo from leftist central command it has been determined that the 2006
war is supposed to be a great victory for Hezbollah, Chomsky better hope his
local commissar doesn't see this article or it could be off to the gulag for
USA (Feb 5, '13)
Another of the myriad ironies that make Wonderland a delight for the future
historians of its demise is the honored status of the Law. Law, we are told by
all the attorneys crammed into our state and federal legislatures, is the
bedrock upon which Amerikan civilization is anchored. Law, it is echoed through
the allowed corridors of political power, is the fundamental difference between
our true "democracy" and the multitudinous wanna be democracies around the
world that have fancy sounding constitutions, corrupt leaders and impotent
Amerikans are bombarded day and night with the iconic imagery of all matters
legal; TV shows that venerate idealistic lawyers fighting scumbag crooks,
movies that show these same dreamers for justice fighting for the little guy
against Big Corporate Amerika, news about law suits for scalding coffee and
tobacco-induced diseases and an infinity of late night infommercials for
ambulance chasers promising to make you rick quick. Amid all this respect for
law, however, we have an unpleasant truism; that Wonderland is an outlaw,
criminal state that routinely and contemptuously violates not only
international law but domestically undermines every aspect of its own private
citizens' legal rights.
But would we have expected anything else from a nation that shouts at the top
of its lungs about its love for human rights while the like of Abu Graib,
Guantanamo and black-hole rendition sites in WonderGulags around the world
suggest otherwise? A country that rushes to the United Nations to support its
imperialist designs but then scoffs at the UN's relevance when it isn't able to
bully and intimidate the civilized world to accept its patently illegal and
brutish foreign policies? A state that suspends habeas corpus, the very essence
of democratic law, at the drop of a turban?
A faux republic that judges, condemns and executes people all the time without
the due process that supposedly defines its legal culture? A country that
gently raps economy-wrecking Wall Street thieves on the knuckles with wads of
tax payer cash while poor marijuana growers get life sentences in jail? A
country whose own Supreme Court, theoretically the unbiased and wise
arbitrators of national justice, illegally appointed a president whose minions
fraudulently rigged the voting process? A union that signs treaties it has no
intention of honoring when inconvenient?
No, none of us are surprised at another day in Wonderland, which finds new ways
to twist, maim and mutilate the "Law" to justify its criminality. But there is
a balance out there, and in it we will be found wanting. I'm just not too sure
about the Medes and the Persians wanting to pick up what's left.
Texas USA (Feb 4, '13)
[Why freedom is a
war-cry in Kashmir, Jan 10, 2013] One obvious solution to the Kashmir
issue is for Pakistan and India to become founding members of a "South Asian
Union" (SAU) along the same lines as the European Union. This would create the
freedom to live and work in either state, making the border seem less
Another possible solution that can be explored is for the six different areas
of Kashmir to vote on joining India or Pakistan independently under the rules
laid down by the United Nations.
This would be much more difficult path since it is guaranteed that there will
be an exchange of territory.
Given the pressures of population and resources, resolving this issue is a
matter of survival for both countries.
Once India and Pakistan take the lead, other countries in South Asia can join
an SAU at their own pace. Similar to the EU, this alliance can lead to
significant rise in standard of living, safety and peace for all member
Vijay Wakhare (Feb 1, '13)
You have to feel sorry for an Empire that promotes democracy, freedom and
capitalism, only to find that when the rest of the world listens to us, they
aren't using a Wonderland-Rest of Planet translating dictionary. If those
furriners did so, those knuckleheads would realize that "Democracy" in
WonderSpeak means "Subservience to the Empire's whims and demands," "Freedom"
is our Amerikaner way of saying "Adoption of the principal WonderValues of
materialism, hypocrisy and moral corruption" and "Capitalism" implies rather
strongly that "Your money, land and resources belongs to us white
It's all very simple, really. If a US president says he wants the Iraq and
Afghan people to be free, dadgum it, he will bomb, shoot and kill as many
heathen brown people he needs to in order to demonstrate the inimitable and
simultaneous benefits of all three Amerikan virtues. If he says he wants
Libyans, Syrians and Egyptians to shake off the chains of tyrannical despotism,
he means turning to our white Christian Anglo-Saxon culture for emulation and
admiration and turning their backs on centuries of their own history. He
certainly does not endorse embracing godless Islam or granting contracts to
non-Amerikan companies, heaven forbid. Where's the profit in that?
When an Amerikan says he wants world peace, duck under a rock 'cuz someone's
gonna get bombed. When a Wonderlander says he wants social equality, he means
"I want a bigger share of the pie than my neighbor." An Amerikan who says he
wants "gun control" means he wants assault rifles limited to 10 per household
with no limit on handguns or single bolt rifles. All this should serve to
explain why we have such a difficult time getting our message across.
WonderSpeak is a language that its citizens have become accustomed to over the
centuries to justify our sins with lofty words and high falootin' ideals. Of
course, the words bear no resemblance to reality and therein lies the paradox.
The rest of the globe listens to our rhetoric and propaganda and smells
cowpaddies, sees cowpaddies and is disgusted by all those mushy cowpaddies. But
we here in Wonderland, we see nothing but rocky mountains of glorious freedom.
Texas (Jan 30, '13)
[Re Resolve the North
Korean issue, Jan 28, 13] Joseph DeTrani's comments reveals why US
policy towards North Korea is a complete washout. Let Washington and Beijing
settle Pyongyang's nuclear question, and that's that. Well, that won't do:
North Korea has something to say about that and moreover, is the captain of its
own ship of state.
DeTrani's standpoint reflects old attitudes when "great powers" could settle
things among themselves without regard to the wishes of smaller states. It
simply won't do. In fact the Bush administration came up with the flawed
six-party talks so that the US wouldn't need to talk directly to North Korea.
The Obama administration has continued that policy with little success other
sanctioning Pyongyang. What DeTrani's commentary does tell us is that the US
has no stomach to deal toe to toe with the young Kim Jong-eun's government.
Does Washington have seasoned negotiators, a team of North Korea specialists,
scholars and the like? Of course it does, but they walk in paths of the Cold
War and dare not put an end to the Korean War of 63 years and counting for any
number of reasons. Newer approaches are marginalized, and as such, the US is
stuck in a mud pie of its own making.
Guam (Jan 29, '13)
In Powder keg in the
Pacific [Jan 25, 13], by Michael T Klare, the author has not assessed
the basic calculus in East Asia correctly. China is highly motivated to avoid
conflict with Japan. The South China Sea dispute will not lead to “imminent”
conflict between China and Japan, despite rhetoric and posturing. Moreover,
assertive rhetoric and posturing are necessary for China so as not to allow
claim by Japan later of Chinese acquiescence, but such posturing will suffice
while China gain predominance over Japan in the decades to come.
The basic calculus in East Asia is that China is 11 times the population of
Japan and growing several times faster than Japan. China by 2040-2050 will
certainly achieve more over the South China Sea dispute by clout, intimidation,
and economics than it can do so by war imminently. If there is no war in the
next several decades, Japan will have to live under a much more economically
and militarily powerful China.
War is not imminent because there will be a clear winner later without war -
China. The resurgence of a country as immense as China is without historical
parallel and this phenomenon continues to be elusive and difficult to accept.
America's role in the South China Sea (except for the blunder of handing
administration of the islands to Japan decades ago) is quite limited. War is
not breaking out mostly because China will eventually achieve enough of its
objectives without war.
Jeff Church (Jan 29, '13)
[Re: When soft power
fails, Jan 24, 13]. It's doubtful that Beijing copied the soft/hard
power approach from Washington since China's understanding and utilization of
this concept dates back at least to the Han Dynasty. History shows that
over-reliance on either type of power yields limited success. The Song Dynasty,
though perhaps the most prosperous ever, was constantly harassed by neighboring
countries; the culturally-backward Mongols, on the other hand, freely dispensed
brute force to expand their empire, which ended up being one of the most
short-lived in history. While many in China feel that the country has looked
weak under the policy of "hiding strength and biding time", global resentment
against America's use/abuse of military might has been mounting. The trick, it
seems, lies in skillful exercise of both soft and hard powers.
USA (Jan 29, '13)
[Re 'Arab Spring'
reduction hits N Africa, Jan 24, 13] The overthrow of Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi unleashed forces that have strengthened al-Qaeda in North
Africa. Did France and the US weigh the consequences of its interference into a
revolt in Libya? Probably not. They rode the elan of the "Arab Spring", without
any historical feel. In other words, opportunistically, they projected a
situation which would .advantage them. Alas, conditions on the ground did not
obey their pipe dreams.
Obviously, the US has learnt nothing from its ill-fated war in Iraq. It remains
an amateur when it comes to the Arab world.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Palermo (Jan 29, '13)
[Re Denial still
is a river in Egypt, Jan 22, '13] Spengler accuses Egypt's President
Mohammed Morsi of Dark Age-style ignorance. But isn't he the man who confused
the Dark Ages with the Roman Empire? Claimed that Classical Arabic was an
invented language? That most of the world's prostitutes are Iranians? His
ignorance over the years has been cosmic. Or perhaps comic. One should read him
only for laughs.
China (Jan 25, '13)
[Re Victory close
to defeat for Netanyahu, Jan 24] Last November, the voters in the
United States gave the Republican Party and its presidential candidate a
well-deserved spanking. Last Tuesday, the Israeli voters gave their prime
minister and his Likud extreme right coalition a well-deserved spanking which
also was a rebuke to his neo-con cheerleaders in the US.
The Israeli prime minister, sometimes called "messianic" and arrogant, expected
a coronation and was almost handed a defeat. It looks like his coalition
dropped from 42 seats in the Knesset to 31 seats. Time and time again,
misjudging his electorate, and being totally tone deaf, the prime minister
would resoundingly proclaim that he wanted a strong mandate to confront Iran's
nuclear program. But poll after poll, and the most recent,Times of Israel,
showed that only 12% of likely Israeli voters viewed Iran as an urgent issue.
The poll's near majority viewed Israel's economic problems and lack of progress
with the Palestinians as the most important issues.
It is interesting to note that since the early 1990s, the prime minister and
other Israeli leadership would proclaim every year, that the next year, Iran
would have a nuclear weapon. Raising false fears helped the prime minister to
mask his disdain for the two-state solution and to continue settlement building
on Palestinian lands.
The prime minister also wrongly thought that he could hector and lecture the
President of the United States, even going as far as covertly taking sides in
the US presidential elections. It would have been wise for the prime minister
to have understood the polls and heeded his former national security advisers.
One of whom, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, called the prime minister's talk
of attacking Iran, "the stupidest thing he has every heard."
Another Yuval Diskin, former chief of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency
said the prime minister's fixation on Iran's nuclear program is not only
irresponsible, but the prime minister was prioritizing personal concerns over
The Israeli electorate, by their votes, showed they wanted their prime minister
to address their domestic concerns - the economy, the economy, the economy.
And, to start the peace process leading to peace with the Palestinians.
What the voters do not want is a war with Iran. Has the prime minister learned
anything? It remains to be seen.
Fariborz S Fatemi
United States (Jan 25, '13)
[Re Time for a
reckoning on Iran sanctions, Jan 18, '13] A larger view of the US
interference with Iran is to remember that there is a world-wide conflict
taking place between the Sunni and Shi'ite groups of Muslims. The US government
has been siding with the Sunnis when the more sensible role is to remain
neutral in this horrendous religious conflict.
To realize the dangers to the US posed by the Sunni-Shi'ite conflict , think
about the hundred years war in Europe, and how much hatred, destruction, death
and suffering was released as two segments of Christianity battled. Eventually
the fratricide ended. So also will the Muslim fratricide sometime end. Then how
will they view those who mixed into their internal fight?
Lou Vignates (Jan 22, '13)
[Re Faded war wounds
still raw in Asia, Jan 17, '13] Is China war weary? It is too early to
tell. Typically, as in its intervention in the Korean War and its war with
India, China more relies on threats than full-scale action to convince the
other side to cease and desist and rush to the bargaining table.
However, given China's forward posture in the South China Sea and the fight it
has picked with Japan over rocks in the East Sea, China's behavior has to be
watched closely. Today, it is resorting to big power bluster, and the targets
are not impressed. Were it not for the US presence in the region, Beijing would
indeed switch to brief military action to resolve regional spats.
Guam (Jan 18, '13)
In Iran's survival
strategy[ Jan 17, 2013], Abolghasem Bayyenat, a former employee of the
Iranian government, tries to act as a defender of the religious leadership in
Bayyenat has spent the last five years working on a PhD in America and has his
own blog, Irandiplomacywatch.com. I wonder how he feels about the Iranian
bloggers that are in prison for trying to blog in Iran. The Iranian government
gets to determine who can run in elections and also will not allow a free press
in Iran, so Iran certainly can not be called a democracy.
The government in Iran also does not believe in religious freedom as American
pastor Saeed Abedini is now in an Iranian jail and may face the death penalty
because he is a Christian. Also the mullah's in Iran have been engaged in the
brutal suppression of the Bahai faith.
And if Neda Agha-Soltan were alive today she could testify the the Iranian
government is opposed to the right of the people of Iran to peacefully
assemble. Recently the New York Times ran an article about the Iranian
government cracking down on satellite dishes, so it appears the the mullahs
aren't to keen on free speech either.
Perhaps Bayyenat would be kind enough to explain why he admires the present
Iranian government so much and also why he has such hatred for the first
amendment. Also why does he think the Iranian people are unfit to govern
themselves. Iran claims that they are only interested in the peaceful use of
nuclear power, however nuclear power only requires uranium enriched to 3% so
why is Iran enriching to 20%. I doubt that Bayyenat will or can answer any of
these questions, however when the Iranian people are free Bayyenat might have
to defend his past beliefs, so he should start working his defense up. Dennis
United States (Jan 18, '13)
Pity the poor US constitution. It is the seminal document of our tattered
republic, an instrument of legal ambiguity so susceptible to multiple
interpretations that it makes the Bible look like a science textbook. It is
hailed and hosannahed as a sacred and inviolable text, even though amendments
have been made and unmade. It is used to support every position under the sun,
from upholding the property rights of slavers to denouncing the consummate
illegality of the south's "peculiar institution".
Currently, much hubbub over the second amendment and its supposed protection of
the rights of every crackerhead redneck this side of Biloxi to possess
semi-automatic assault rifles is being made, as Obama prepares to "take our
guns away". The fact that the historic context in which the archaic language of
that amendment was first crafted has long since disappeared troubles not these
white trash Neoconderthals. They want guns so that when Obama suspends the
constitution and sends the Army after all those weapons stashed in trailer
parks around the nation, the TeaBagger patriots will be ready for 'em.
The easy solution to all this is to abolish the second amendment or revise it
considerably to reflect modern reality, but this will happen when AR-15s are
used exclusively to shoot pigs out of the stratosphere. The truth is that the
constitution, like everything else in Wonderland, is all talk and no walk. Its
ideals and hoary pronouncements have been routinely ignored when expedient
(when was the last time Congress declared war?) and interpreted which every way
the political, social and cultural winds were blowing. It is so elastic and
fungible that Silly Puddy looks like quenched steel by comparison.
The constitution has justified every sin and crime of these United States, from
slavery to Indian genocide to the suppression of workers, immigrants and
minorities. It is a mirror by which all the hypocrisies of the Empire can be
filtered, purified and exonerated. It is the tool, plaything and template by
which the plutocrats on Wall Street can forge their Machiavellian schemes to
loot Main Street. It will outlast the Empire, of course, like Hammurabi's
stele, but like that Mesopotamian ruler's legal code, it will be a museum piece
reminding the future of what men will say to justify their sins.
Texas (Jan 17, '13)
OK, this is a test. Which Wonder Idea is loonier, crazier and more asinine, the
trillion dollar Get-Out-of-Debt platinum coin or the 850 Quadrillion Dollar
"Death Star?" Deciding between these two is a toughie, I'll grant you. On the
one hand, the trillion dollar coin takes advantage of obscure constitutional
lingo that permits a purely legalistic (ie, devoid of common sense, morality or
practicality) interpretation of the government's obligation to settle debts. By
sticking this miracle specie into the Treasury's subterranean vault, the US
would in one fell swoop bail itself out, at least for a little while. But since
the national debt runs into multiples of a trillion, one wonders why the mental
giants who devised this scheme didn't posit a 10 trillion, or 100 trillion
coin, or, go for broke and make it a bazillion gazillion dollar coin, so we
could buy the entire solar system (except for Neptune, where real estate values
have been frozen for some time now.)
Contrast that with the geniuses who gathered a petition of 30,000 odd (and I do
mean odd) signatures and presented to the White House the sure-fire
golly-gee-whiz brain storm to build an orbiting Death Star that would employ
million of Amerikans for decades and give the crumbling Empire truly Full
Spectrum Dominance for centuries to come. The price tag to this Star Wars
movie-inspired satellite would run into the quadrillions, which I suppose the
idea's Einsteins figured could be paid for by 850,000 of the aforementioned
miracle debt-dissolving platinum coins. But those stick-in-the-muds in the
Obama administration have nixed both epiphanies. For one thing, they declare
that the US has no intention of destroying any planets (no mention of what
would happen if "al-Qaeda" opened up a base on Mars) and besides, what good is
a weapons system that can be defeated by a sure shootin' Jedi teenager flying a
single fighter? As for the platinum coin brainstorm, they gently reminded its
feverish Tea Bagger advocates that the coin would simply represent an expensive
IOU and not a repudiation of the money we owe others.
But it's obvious that more creative thinking is needed to salvage the sinking
ship. I would like to suggest that we tax stupid ideas, but in a progressive
way; dumb ideas would be taxed at lower rates than really ridiculous ideas and
so on, up to any idea coming out of the mouth of a Republican, which should be
taxed to the max as they invariably wind up costing Amerikans the most. Using
this formula, the tax on the two aforementioned ideas would at least polish off
our debts to the British and the Saudi Arabians.
But for the Chinese debt, extra special measures would be required. I recommend
that Obama declare that the US formally annexes the moon, since we are the only
nation to have planted the star-spangled banner in its dusty soil. We would
make it the 51st state, of course, but more importantly, we would impose a tax
on every country on earth that looks up at the moon or uses its gravity to
control their tides or whoever uses a lunar calendar in their religious
ceremonies or all those GOPers who balk at Obama's polices and howl at the moon
like a baying wolf. In no time Wonderland would be out of debt and in the red,
awash in all those loonie bucks.
By the way, I refuse to pay a tax on that idea.
Texas (Jan 15, '13)
[Re Hagel cordial, but
outdated on China, Jan 12, 2013] US President Barack Obama picked
former Republican senator Chuck Hagel as his candiadate for the new secretary
of defense. As secretary, Hagel would carry out Obama's Asia-Pacific Doctrine,
no more, no less. Is Brendan O'Reilly suggesting that the president's
standpoint is less than polite and outdated when it comes to dealing with
Guam (Jan 15, '13)
[Re: The historical
significance of Mao, Jan 11, '13] Thanks to Henry CK Liu for his superb
analysis. While Chairman Mao Zedong was a once-in-a-millennium helmsman, Deng
Xiaoping was no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. (Mao, in fact, once
remarked to Soviet premiere Nikita Khrushchev that Deng might be diminutive in
stature but was highly capable. And despite Deng having on more than one
occasion questioned Mao's ideas, Mao showed admirable magnanimity in repeatedly
rescuing Deng from political purgatory.) I suspect Deng had a decent inkling of
the potential adverse side effects that his "reform and open" policy would
entail. However, he also realized that without opening up the Chinese economy
to foreign investment and competition - providing a jolt, so to speak - there
was a deficiency in the impetus and management skills needed to reform the
economy. It's useful to note that successful identification of a goal does not
at all mean the availability of a straightforward path to that desired outcome.
Economic and social progress, as history has demonstrated, frequently and
necessarily involves trials/errors and bumps along the way.
Under the aegis of "reform and open", China's economy during the reigns of
presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao grew by leaps and bounds even as
unpleasant side effects surfaced and were largely neglected. At the same time,
the Chinese military also made impressive strides. With the country now having
achieved a level of economic and military prowess, president-in-waiting Xi
Jinping will enjoy greater latitude in tackling many of China's social ills in
an effort to rebalance the economy. To be sure, the challenge will be daunting
as special interests are powerful and highly entrenched. But Xi has shown a
clear grasp of the situation and, importantly, has the full backing of Party
doyen Jiang Zemin (a political advantage that Hu never had). Whether the new
president has the courage and the staying power to follow through on his
beliefs will soon become apparent.
With the whole world watching, the success/failure of Xi's upcoming tenure
carries profound implication for not just China, but also humanity at large. As
noble as socialist ideals may sound on paper, socialism in practice tends to
produce "big-pot" (daguofan) economies, in the process suffocating
creativity and innovation. State capitalism, on the other hand, seems able to
make good use of socialist and capitalist ideas while (hopefully) eschewing
each system's inherent flaws. If implemented successfully, state capitalism in
China can no doubt serve as a template for other countries and be historically
transformative for mankind.
USA (Jan 14, '13)
[Re: The historical
significance of Mao] Henry CK Liu's comment that the present day
Chinese Communist Party would do well to try harder to live by the "Serve the
people" mantra is apt given the wealth gap, official corruption, etc. of the
present day. That would be valid if the article had refrained from its
hagiography of Mao.
It is an utterly absurd notion that Mao was a "gift from heaven". The line
belongs in a People's Daily editorial in about 1967. History shows that Mao was
a megalomaniac only ever out for himself, a heartless manipulator indifferent
to the suffering he caused. It stretches credulity to even entertain the
thought that an educated writer could have such gushing praise for this
monster, and write or speak it with a straight face.
Furthermore, saying the Great Leap Forward somehow brrought necessary change is
frankly insulting to the millions who perished as a result. A reading of Yang
Jisheng's Tombstone is certainly in order before repetition of
disinformation and outright untruths is repeated.
Calgary, Canada (Jan 14, '13)
The new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, is a perfect forum by
which race relations in these WonderStates can be measured. In brief, the movie
depicts a black slave named Django who, in cahoots with a white
dentist-cum-bounty hunter, seeks to rescue his wife from a slaver and in the
process kill a whole lotta white folk. The black community here has met this
portrayal of black revenge and empowerment with a mixture of admiration, envy
and resentment. One notable black director have decided to condemn it, sight
unseen, as somehow being "disrespectful" of "his" people. Other critics have
noted that, while the movie shows plenty of whites being killed as well as
blacks, the black suffer crueler, more degrading deaths. Others point out how
it is still a white man, in this case a German dentist, who has to enable
Django in the first place.
The prevalent use of the "N" word in the film, while perfectly in context with
the depicted times of the 1850s, has likewise caused hemming and hawing. That
word is used almost religiously amongst blacks in referring to each other, but
woe unto a white man who dares to breathe it out loud. The word has acquired
the form and function of a trip wire that blacks can now use to intimidate
their former oppressors with equal amounts of shame, guilt and plain fear.
The fact is that Tarantino's principle sin is being white, plain and simple,
and daring to make a starkly realistic film about the inhumanity of slavery
that blacks would probably not be able to make themselves in an-all white
Hollywood that marginalizes anyone with a skin tone darker than vanilla beige.
The irony is that Tarantino's Italian heritage had a discriminated immigrant
history itself, and it took a few generations for those swarthy southern
EuroAmericans to get the grudging respect of the pristine northern
EuroAnglo-Whites, a level of respect that blacks in this country still aspire
to. So the adverse reaction Tarantino is getting needs to be viewed through the
prism of distorted race relations that will probably never be reconciled,
regardless of how fair or sympathetic an artistic portrayal may be. Life in the
US really is black and white.
Contrast this controversy with the universal acclaim for the movie Lincoln,
which deftly skirts around that president's own racism and applauds the moral
courage he showed in passing legislation abolishing slavery once and for all.
That tale is an iconic one that blacks and whites can rally around; a white man
munificently granting black men their freedom in the (Finally) Land of The
But what kind of freedom? Certainly not the kind of freedom shown by Django,
who uses his freedom to kill whites and blacks alike who uphold the brutal
institution of slavery. That kind of freedom was what the defeated southern
whites used to keep their former slaves cowed and submissive after the Civil
War. No, the kind of freedom Django possessed in the fantasy land of Tarantino
is a freedom most neo-con whites want reserved for themselves for protection
from the black copter overflights, UN blue helmet thought police goon squads
and President Barack Obama's black Muslim-Terrorist Red Pioneers. Freedom in
America, like militant patriotism, has been reduced to the simple formula of
owning and using weapons.
Texas (Jan 11, '13)
[Re: Hagel can
reveal the 'real' Obama, Jan 9, '13] President Barack Obama may be the
most powerful person on earth, but he's by no means situated in an entirely
enviable position. As much as his foreign-policy success/failure will play a
significant role in defining his presidency, the state of the US economy will
likely be a more important determinant in shaping his legacy.
Barring a life-changing technological breakthrough or the discovery and
implementation of a new economic paradigm, it is rather difficult to see the
American economy improving substantively during his second term.
Geopolitically, the world is undergoing a tectonic shift in the global power
structure attended by forces well beyond the president's control. Fairly or
unfairly, he will probably be remembered for presiding over the nascent
transition to multi-polarity and a gradual diminution of US dominance. As such,
for all his considerable intellect and political savvy, President Obama will
need a few things to go his way henceforth in order to craft a legacy that will
be viewed with unvarnished approbation by posterity.
USA (Jan 10, '13)
[Re: Dennis O'Connell, letter, Jan 9, '13] "North Korea has a 1.2 million man
army. It does not need nuclear weapons to defend itself. It wants nuclear
weapons to blackmail its neighbors."
It is well-known that the 1.2 million man army is so poorly trained, equipped,
maintained, funded and armed it couldn't stand a chance against South Korea's
military, let alone the United States', and North Korea does not even enjoy the
protection of any nuclear umbrella.
I know that O'Connell has a penchant for entertaining ATOL's readers with his
patriotic propaganda and disrespectfully talking down to anyone he disagrees
with, but the rude nature of his letter (specifically the last paragraph
addressing Dorothy Ogle) was highly inappropriate for what is supposed to be
serious analysis at the platform of a news organisation. I have noted that no
one else's letters to ATOL ever contain such condescension.
Auckland, New Zealand (Jan 10, '13)
[Re Kim points to a
gentler North Korea, Jan 9, '13] Former Korea Society president and CEO
Evans Revere has not changed his spots in dealing with North Korea. And yet, it
was under his presidency that the Korea Society assisted the New York
Philharmonic concert in Pyongyang in 2008 that was televised worldwide. Still,
the former high-ranking State Department diplomat remains a Cold Warrior when
it comes to the North. According to his own public statements, he has
unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Chinese to withhold their support for the
Kim Jong-eun regime. The least you can say about him is that he is consistent
in his pursuit of regime change in North Korea.
Guam (Jan 10, '13)
Dorothy Ogle in Time to
end the Korean War [Jan 8, '13], says she believes that if the US and
South Korea must give in to all the North Korean desires before peace can be
achieved in Korea, I don't think so.
Ogle informs us the the US violated the 1953 Armistice Agreement by deploying
nuclear weapons to South Korea, however the agreement said nothing about
nuclear weapons. The US removed its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991.
On January 20, 1992 North Korea signed the Joint Declaration of South and North
Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula where the North agreed
not to manufacture or test nuclear weapons.
The ink was not dry on the agreement before they began breaking it, but I'm
sure Ogle blames the US somehow. The 1994 agreement failed because North Korea
admitted to the US in private that they were enriching uranium for nuclear
weapons which the US saw as a violation of the agreement. The left said the US
was lying and that North Korea was not enriching uranium until several years
ago when North Korea showed a visiting US delegation its uranium enriching
North Korea has a 1.2 million man army. It does not need nuclear weapons to
defend itself, it wants nuclear weapons to blackmail its neighbors. North Korea
does not want a peace treaty to achieve peace they want to force the US troops
off the Korean peninsula to increase their blackmail power over the South.
The North also wants to end the US nuclear umbrella for South Korea for the
same reason. Ogle has much to say about the evil South Korean military
governments which ended a quarter century ago but nothing but kind words for
the Kim Regime that has killed millions of its own citizens.
Ogle you need to unwrap your arms from around whatever tree you are hugging and
than remove your rose-colored glasses and see the world as it is, North Korea
is an evil fascist regime only interested in the evil elite running it and not
the people of the North or the South. Or perhaps you could click your heels
together several times and say there is no place like peace and see if that
works, but if you try it in North Korea they will steal your ruby shoes and
throw you in a coal mine.
United States (Jan 9, '13)
There is nothing more Wonderish than the fine art of cherrypicking. That is the
predilection to select only those special parts of a greater collection of
parts that serve to promote, support or exaggerate one's own agenda and bias.
Make no mistake, though; this is a fundamental part of human nature that
enables us to deny the unpleasant aspects of something while puffing up the
parts we prefer. Every nation does it, of course, in order to prop up national
myths and identities, but for decades Wonderlanders would have taken the gold
medals in this event if ever there had been an Olympic Games of Delusion.
Amerikan history is so littered with the discarded pits of picked fruits that
one could scarcely realize that beneath them lies actual facts, all of which
fly in the face of the popular beliefs. Therefore we laud a Thomas Jefferson
who droned on and on in his writings about human freedom while he not only was
a slave owner but reneged on an oath that he would free his slaves upon his
death. Lincoln will be made a hero for his emancipation of slaves while
ignoring his ruthless suppression of dissent and intimidation of his opponents.
Our history books will proudly announce how wonderful workers had it here in
freedom loving capitalist Wonderland while remaining silent on the owner
orchestrated and government supported violence that ruthlessly suppressed those
same workers struggling to feed families.
Amerikan history will triumphantly thump its chest with Cold War braggadocio
while ignoring the massive economic support US banking and industrial
capitalists gave to that erstwhile "enemy" the USSR over the 75 years of its
existence. The legend of Camelot's JFK will omit any mention of his East German
spy-lover, his bigamy, involvement in assassinating other countries' leaders or
his connections with the Mafia. Need I even mention that the same history that
exults over our Nazi-smashing victory in World War Two neglects to mention how
Amerikan corporations like Ford and IBM financed Hitler and the Third Reich
before and during the war?
And it goes without saying that today's recounting of 9/11 in Wonderland
breathes nary a word about the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of
Investigation and Defense Intelligence Agency's involvement with the alleged
hijackers before that fateful September, 2001 morning or the countless
incidents, coincidences and outright lies that would demolish the myth of Osama
bin Laden and al-Qaeda in anyplace else in the universe where cherrypickers did
not have Godlike powers.
The cherrypicking occurs as we speak, especially amongst all the supporters of
US President Barack Obama who voted for him based on his promises of "change".
These 'pickers are having can increasingly difficult time picking those
cherries of "change" off the increasingly barren and sickly tree of promise and
hope that bloomed so inspiringly in 2008, as it is apparent to those of us who
can see the whole rotten orchard that Obama was always a Zelig-like fraud who
painted his lemons cherry red. Amazingly, despite the explosion of sour
bitterness in one's mouth that inevitably greets those who bite into the true
fruits of Amerikan history, the deluded among us Wonderlanders insist on
fighting the urge to grimace and instead fake a smile of contented pleasure.
Cherrypickers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the Truth.
USA (Jan 9, '13)
[Re China's short-lived
North Korean shift, Jan 8, '13] In speaking of China's support of North
Korea, we should never lose sight of history: Chinese volunteers entered the
Korean War because it did not want an American-controlled South Korea on its
borders. It still does not, tactical diplomatic moves notwithstanding. US
President Barack Obama's tack towards North Korea, in substance, has not
changed one whit in Washington's policy for regime change these 63 years. In
spite of an armistice, the US labors on in a mine field of its making.
The latest painful chapter is the so called private visit of trouble shooter
former ambassador Richardson with Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt in
tow, along with the usual camp followers of policy wonks, seeking the release
of Kenneth Bae.
The usual blather about control of info on the Internet in the media misses the
point: Kim Jong-eun is a 21st-century leader who is well familiar with digital
technology, and given the state of the art rocketry is proof that when it comes
to computer technology, North Korea is not in the back of the pack.
In fact, a computer technology program at the Maxwell School at Syracuse
University has welcomed North Korean participation for years now. More like
than not, Richardson will bring back Bae, and North Korea will establish
relations with a Google ever so eager to expand in Asian markets.
Guam (Jan 9, '13)
The advent of the remote controlled drone plane to kill Amerika's enemies
appears like a win-win, no-cost WonderSlamDunk. The now commonplace usage of
these sleek sky-assassins seems like the perfect way for the Empire to exercise
Full Spectrum Dominance, the Holy Grail of the Penta-Goners and the zenith of
Amerikan technological accomplishment.
A low paid grunt sitting in a gee-whiz videogame console in Ohio, complete with
radar, satellite imagery and joy stick, can smite our bad guy Muslim foes from
10,000 miles [16,093 kilometers] away and only run the risk of developing a
sore wrist and calloused bottom (I believe several Purple Hearts have been
awarded for such "battlefield wounds.")
But as with all of Amerika's prior technological breakthroughs, our day in the
sun will be very short lived. The reverse engineering of downed drones is well
underway in Iran, China and Russia, all eager to play catch-up with the
Empire's latest toy. Indeed, it is easy to see cheap drone rip-offs being
cranked out by Third World nations and flooding the WonderMarket, to be used
for everything from smuggling drugs and illegal aliens to spying on cheating
spouses to chasing down speeding motorists to even gangland hits. (Daresay I
even mention demolishing buildings?)
Efforts to regulate or ban their domestic use will, of course, be made, but the
likes of the NRA will do their patriotic duty to allow citizens to rain the
same havoc on the innocent here that we now do in brown countries overseas. The
sometimes nasty collateral damage to those foreign heathens who hang out with
the bad guys we mark for death without any semblance of due process does lead
to angry Third Worlders eager for revenge, making our protests of having their
best interest at heart spectacularly unconvincing.
But it won't be the first time we've seen good ol 'Merican know-how boomerang
on us. From the A-bomb to the MIRV, from the transistor radio to the silicon
chip, virtually everything we've pioneered has been copied and then turned
against us, leaving our industries in tatters and strategies in disarray. But
right around the corner would be another sexy technomarvel that would get us
out of one jam and inevitably into another.
The idea of making war antiseptic and clean, devoid of dead WonderBoys and
manufactured casualty figures, was actually more appealing to the White House
than the Pentagon, still addicted to disinformation and wed to the romance of
huge tank armies, Top Gun fighters and blue ocean navies.
Obama, having seen the futility of trying to be more Bush Than Bush, is opting
for the drone solution as an alternative to old style invasions and costly
occupations, but in his Bush-clone heart of hearts, he knows it's a stop gap
measure at best. Worse, he's actually promoting a technology we will soon have
to defend against. Look for the drone defense "gap" being the next hot button
political topic for the Prussian neo-cons.
Texas (Jan 8, '13)
[Re Call the
fiscal cliff bluff, Dec 21, 2012] Whew! Missed the fiscal cliff by…that
much (I’m pressing two fingers together.) By now it should be apparent to all
that the US "government" is applying Zeno's Paradox to the fiscal conundrum we
face here in Wonder-Why-We're-Broke-Land.
For the mathematical incognescenti, Zeno was a dead Greek dude who stated that
if each forward movement towards an object was split in half for the next
movement, then it would be impossible to ever reach that object, since the last
movement would be infinitesimally close to but never able to reach said object.
In this manner, US President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner et al
will come perilously close but, whew, just miss going over that economic
In tried and true Amerikan fashion, always put off today anything that which
can be put off tomorrow, because today will be forgotten and tomorrow will
never arrive. It's a feature of our collective zeitgeist that ignores reality
in favor of wishful thinking, delusion, divine providence and more importantly,
the mendacity of mathematics. In a nation of math illiterates, it requires very
little to bamboozle the public into hearing what they want to hear about debts
in the trillions of dollars, a number so absurd for most to even contemplate
that the continents of Europe and North America have completely different
definitions (the European trillion is 1,000 times greater than an American
Being in the engineering field, I am all too aware how correct Mark Twain was
about the three kinds of lies (lies, damn lies and statistics.) It's not only
that numbers can be diced, sliced, twisted, manipulated and distorted to prove
a point. Here in Wonderland, we bias numbers from the get-go by establishing
totally false premises by which to extract the numbers in the first place.
The unemployment statistic is one of my favorites; it's a number bandied about
by the "government" to show everyone how well we're "recovering" by only
reporting the declining number of unemployment claims, rather than all the
people who have exhausted their benefits and given up looking for work, which,
if included, would probably spike the Kool-Aid by another 25%. So when everyone
is out of work and stopped filing claims, Obama can proudly and justifiably,
according to their skewed logic of accounting, that unemployment is zero, just
like a funeral director can say his cemetery is full of satisfied customers
because, so far, he hasn't heard a peep of complaint.
So count on a recurring, incessant and steady diet of fiscal cliffs, mountains,
trenches, ravines, canyons and sinkholes to plague Wonderland until the Chinese
get tired of the charade and foreclose on the whole rotting carcass of Empire.
Texas (Jan 7, '13)
[Re North Korea a
culture of warriors, Dec 21, '12] Historical amnesia distorts analysis
of North Korea. Nowhere does Tatiana Gabroussenko acknowledge that South Korea
is still at war with North Korea. Seoul, in a snit, refused to sign the 1953
Armistice Agreement that put the Korean War on hold these last 60 years.
Although the US, China, and North Korea signed the Armistice, US policy towards
the North, with rare exceptions, is centered on defeating it by any other means
possible - sanctions, military exercises with South Korea, and the like. So,
"the culture of warriors" has a rational basis and a history which keep getting
lost in dealing with Pyongyang.
A peace treaty would go for a long way to reduce tensions on a divided Korean
peninsula and clear the air for sound and sane diplomacy.
Guam (Jan 4, '12)
July - Dec Letters
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