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[Re Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, Dec 6, '13] The passing of Nelson Mandela marks the end of an era where self sacrifice in the name of a greater good was not an unknown virtue.
Predictably, Wonderlanders are falling over themselves to sing praise and hosannas for the icon of anti-apartheid struggle. But one has to be amused to see the likes of Ted Cruz, yet another brain-dead redneck in the Texas Republican mold, lauding Mandela as a beacon of liberty, when his party did everything it could to marginalize, ignore and vilify the black South Africans' struggle during Reagan's reign of error. In fact, while Mandela did not stand on a rooftop and shout it out to the world, he was very critical and skeptical about the Empire's so-called affection for freedom and democracy.
Indeed, his best buddy from our hemisphere was none other than Fidel Castro, whose support for Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) was unwavering from the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. And Fidel didn't just talk the support talk; he walked the support walk by sending Cuban soldiers to Angola and Namibia to sight the apartheid Afrikaaners, training ANC fighters, and providing intelligence, logistics and weapons to liberation movements throughout southern Africa.
That friendship was not based on the ideology of communism, though Mandela's ANC worked closely with the Communist Party of South Africa, but rather the ideology of national liberation from imperial capitalism, Anglo-Saxon hegemony and the oppression of the Third World by the Euro-Amerikans. Mandela accepted the assistance from the Soviet bloc and China because he was fighting for his people's freedom, whereas Reagan's anti-commie goons couldn't wait to put Mandela on their terrorist list.
They were in love with apartheid as the best way to keep the blacks from going Red and the white racist regime was in keeping with the neoconmen's love affair with brutal dictatorships that vomited liberty-loving rhetoric while torturing freedom fighters and murdering its civilians. The simple fact is Amerika and its naked imperialism was Mandela's enemy, foe and adversary. He represented all those victimized by the Empire and its relentless quest for racist hegemony. That the Empire is embracing him for representing all the virtues we babble about insincerely is not an irony, it is an insult.
Texas (Dec 10, '13)
[Re: The dead's envy for the livingNov 27, '13] It appears that Spengler is still following the Lyndon LaRouche mode of scholarship: make up a bunch of nonsense, defend it with more nonsense. There is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, let alone a Holocaust of the Jews. After all, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East.
[Re South Korea's free speech problem, Dec 5, '13] Geoffrey Fattig has a point that South Korean society is too litigious, however many societies have similar speech and libel codes like Britain. Asian societies are very concerned about face, so this might explain these laws. Fattig's claims about the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) are disingenuous at best and do not tell the whole story about the UPP. Lee Seok-ki, one of the leaders of the UPP, is currently on trial for treason against South Korea. Lee was secretly taped at a meeting of 130 leftists in Seoul calling for violence against the government; his defense is he was taped illegally and it all was a big joke.
Lee headed a revolutionary organization aimed at using violence to aid North Korea in a time of war. About twenty percent of South Korean society have pro-North Korean feeling. The South Korean Assembly has never been able to pass a bill in favor of North Korean human rights. The South Korean military recently said they believe the North will start a war in the next three years. This might seem crazy; however, every year the North grows weaker and the South gets stronger and more information about the outside world floods into North Korea, which weakens the North even more.
USA (Dec 9, '13)
[Re South Korea's free speech problem, Dec 5, '13] The Park Chung-hee apple hasn't fallen from the Yushin tree. His daughter, now president of the Republic of Korea, has taken a leaf out of her father's authoritarian book. As such, as Geoffrey Fattig notes the trend of President Park Geun-hye's government is to pursue a policy of blind obedience to anti-democratic tendencies. Any boast by her ministers that South Korea is a vibrant democracy ring hollow.
Guam (Dec 6, '13)
[Re Forwarding the American way, Dec 4, '13]
Dear Colonel Manners,
It's been over 220 days now since Ed Snowden dropped the Prism bomb on the world stirring waves of outrage and indignation, but few actually barked up the right tree. But kudos, you alone seem to understand the NSA's real strategy, to quote: "that there's surveillance gold just beyond the horizon". You understand that it is not practical (fiscally impossible) to hire hundreds of millions of elves listening in on phone calls or watching screens of emails just so to catch a terrorist or two.
The obvious modus operandi is to store each and all such info-bits, then pick out target persona to spy on. In that mode, a mere few thousand agents can harvest innumerable kings' ransoms. What is the gold to look for? Dirty laundries of these targets to blackmail or destroy them with, much as the way Berlusconi and Strauss-Kahn were done in. Who knows, the NSA might already has had plenty of goodies on Merkel and Dousseff, judging from the intensity of their anger. Such gold mining might also have already resulted in dirty laundry currencies used in driving protesters and traitors into streets around the world, to stir chaos and destructions against their own countries. You know, regime changes! What a weapon of choice.
USA (Dec 6, '13)
There are two documents held sacred here in Wonderland, and both for identical reasons. Both embody the values and virtues, in theory at least, of what it means to be an Amerikan. Both are considered to be rooted firmly in divine will, though the more ancient one is considered the non-secular progenitor of its more recent secular version. Both are considered to be written by inspired men who now reside in the pantheon of heroes, saints and patriots. Perhaps most significant is the fact that the words in each are considered immutable, infallible and not subject to human tampering by modern man.
Both the Christian Bible and the US constitution are regularly cited by pundits, politicians and the public as justifications for this or that incident, act, law or war. Chapter and verse are routinely quoted verbatim to make unilateral unprovoked war seem like patriotism, capital punishment an act of Old Testament justice, persecuting the disenfranchised the fulfillment of New Testament prophecy and the right of the insane to own weapons an unassailable defense of civil liberty. Of course, such tortured manipulations of the written word used the same documents to defend slavery, the denial of suffrage to women and the white man's genocide of the red man, events either since corrected or simply not spoken of in civilized company.
But what I find fascinating is how these words written by men on paper made by men and bound together by men somehow acquire the status of the insuperable and the immortal. The words themselves cannot be questioned, though their interpretations will vary, depending on how godly and 'merikan one is.
In the case of the Bible, the common though misguided conviction among WonderKristians is that the "Bible" is the unalterable Word of God Himself, handed down through the actions of the Holy Spirit to holy men who somehow wrote down words that survived intact and unchanged through centuries of translations of wildly varying competence, poor inscription, verbal transmissions, personal opinions, cultural disconnects, dogmatic disputes, ecclesiastic power plays and political shenanigans.
Of course, there are several problems with this totally bogus assumption, not the least of which are the myriad bibles that abound worldwide and that differ significantly from church to church, not only in wording but even in the recognized canon texts contained therein. So who decides which version is the "right" one?
In truth, there is no such thing as the inerrant Word of God preserved in the human-touched form of a "Bible", never has been and never will be. Every bible is, however, an imperfect instrument created by sincere men intended to preserve and promote a sincere truth. What that truth is will depend on the reader and their relationship with God, and no one else on earth is involved in that process, least of all pulpit pounding neocons.
In similar fashion, the constitution was created by Englishmen who rose in rebellion against a sovereign who treated them unfairly. Whatever their motivations, they inscribed on paper fundamental rights they believed were drawn directly from the "Bible's" implicit message that justice and freedom from inequity belonged to those who worshipped God.
In the spirit of the then prevailing Enlightenment, a cultural and intellectual milieu whose origins specifically eschewed religious affiliations, the new founding document secularized and winnowed the essentials of this biblical message into a form that could apply uniformly to all faiths and men. That was the theory at least. Alas, just like the lofty ideals in the Bible, the execution of such essentials exposed the weaknesses and hypocrisies of man, most especially white, land- and slave-owning WASPs. The literal words of the Constitution meant something different to each special interest group in the nascent republic, and the struggle over how these words conflicted with the words in the Bible would lead inevitably to bloody civil war.
This struggle continues to this day, though the relative import of the Bible in an increasingly secular world has somewhat faded. Still, fights over abortion, gay rights, same sex marriages and the ongoing culture wars have their roots in how both documents are used to negotiate the dynamic cultural space that is Wonderland. Sadly, predetermined agendas on both sides of the ideological fence make the actual words themselves irrelevant, but perhaps they always were. Words will always be used to mean what people what them to mean.
Texas (Dec 5, '13)
[Re: Kim Jong-eun's powerful uncle 'sacked', Dec 4] Even if the young marshal's uncle has gotten the ax, analysts are engaging in speculation. This rush to judgment based on rarefied air comes up with stock predictions that the DPRK is on the edge of instability before slipping into extinction.
As usual, such predictions remain wish fulfillment.
A more troubling bit of news is found below the 38 parallel in South Korea. Not only is the Park government seething with a constitutional crisis owing to Mme. Park's recent election, but now her government is preparing to all the Chinese telecommunication giant built military installations. Ironic as this may seem, the potential sway of China on the entire Korean peninsula seemingly restores the old Imperial Chinese vassal states.
Guam (Dec 5, '13)
[Re Has Abe overreached on China's ADIZ?, Dec 3, '13] Why blame Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for overreacting when all indications point to Chinese president Xi Jinping's determination to impose China's version of "Mare Nostrum" in the East China Sea?
[Re Simon Abbott's Letter Dec 2, '13] Simon, I have been an avid reader of ATol for over a decade now, also a sometime contributor to these columns. Curiously, I have never been a devotee of David Goldman's work, in fact I can't ever recollect any writer ever defending David's work here. Possibly this is because of those very reasons you have already outlined. However, I do know David Goldman has become institutionalized on ATol, much like the newsreader you grew up with - who has always been here since the beginning of time. All I know for sure is David's column isn't compulsory reading, it isn't my cup of tea, so I don't read his columns. They certainly don't detract from this fine, informative publication though, nothing is ever perfect.
Ian C Purdie
Sydney Australia (Dec 4, '13)
[Re: US diplomatic iceberg spotted near China, Nov 29, 2013] Big-power geopolitics at play at the East China Sea - nothing more, nothing less. The US Asia pivot is aimed at containing China has emboldened countries like Japan, whose heightened aggression has in turn given cause for Chinese assertiveness.
Though only time will tell who emerges victorious from this chess game, I suspect in 10 to 15 years America will wish it hadn't initiated the pivot and had instead endeavored to maintain the status quo. But then again, we may all have been turned into nuclear ash already, rendering inconsequential this little geopolitical drama.
USA (Dec 3, '13)
[Re The dead's envy for the living, Nov 27, '13] By and large the coverage quality of your editorial content is of a high standard. Your contributors, for the most part, represent an important and generally well-informed foil to the superficial Western-centric rubbish pedaled by the majority of what we now call Mainstream Media. But there are exceptions.
Notably the Spengler column. The idea of adding weight and credibility to one's editorial output by purporting (albeit with tongue in cheek) to channel a distinguished dead academic is distinctly "dodgy" at the best of times. But regardless of one's attitude to this kind of literary conceit, it is difficult to consider David Goldman's work anything other than self-serving highly-questionable propaganda for the most part, and at times nothing much more than downright racial supremacy. (One only has to look at the comments to his work over the months. Though I am loathe quote comment columns - full, as they often are, of the most awful rubbish and often the haunt of nasty-minded "trolls" - the general level of reaction to this column is consistently and effectively calling into question most of what he writes without resorting to vile calumny. )
I understand that you have a publication to fill. I understand you wish to keep the broad coverage and open-door policy as regards the expression of opinions and welcome a wide range of contributors. Perfectly right and proper. But I urge you to consider carefully whether or not continuing to publish stuff of this nature actually contributes much to the quality and reputation of your organ! Especially considering the pride of place it seems to get on the website.
Personally, I consider your publishing of journalistic hogwash of this standard seriously damages the whole gravitas of your publication. And this opinion is consistently echoed in the comment columns.
Simon Abbott (Dec 2, '13)
[Re US diplomatic iceberg spotted near China, Nov 27, '13] Get over it; power politics is a reality. I've been to and lived all over China and Southeast Asia. The way the Chinese "mock" the citizens of Southeast Asia and anyone else they consider beneath them is atrocious.
I see it everywhere I go in the world and where there are Chinese people with their newly found arrogance. Unless the Chinese people understand and accept the truth about what has been done to their own people, they will always try to find a scapegoat for anything that is not pleasant in their "middle kingdom" of arrogance and isolation.
What did you expect the US to do? You play you win, you play you lose, what you risk is what you value. I wish China would understand what is at stake here. Too many actors would rather blow it up than give it up - the world that is.
Joseph Giramma (Dec 2, '13)
[Re The dead's envy for the living, Nov 27, '13] Spengler likes to rewrite history. In this case he portrays Jews as lily-white in their treatment of others, and Iranians as deepest black. The truth is that of course every ethnic group has been treated badly and in turn has treated others badly.
As to the birth-rate, Israeli publications often worry about the low birth rate among Israelis as contrasted to the high birth rate among Palestinians. Furthermore, it is not surprising that a nation, such as Iran, being strangled by economic sanctions would have a dropping birth rate.
Oh Spengler, Spengler, you betray such stupidity in your anger.
USA (Dec 2, '13)
[Re Imran Khan blocks NATO supply lines, Nov 25, '13] Cricketer Imran Khan has found a political bone to chew on since his loosely confederated political party failed at recent elections to win power.
His attempt to block NATO supply lines to Afghanistan lacks traction other than a means to steal the thunder from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which is unlikely to succeed.
What counts is what is he willing to give to promise domestic Taliban for internal peace. Khan belongs to the feudal elite; has a lifestyle the Taliban find abhorrent; and his style of government is anything but "democratic".
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Nov 26, '13)
[Re B-H Levy and the destruction of Libya, Nov 20, '13] He is a scion of wealth and privilege. Perhaps that fact gives Bernard-Henri Levy purchase to shine the light of his intelligence onto bringing change in Arab lands. This only goes to show that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Nov 22, '13)
[Re Kerry, Karzai agree pact before jirga
Nov 21, '13] Secretary of Fate John Kerry is taking great pains to assure the WonderPublic that our just concluded deal with our stooges in Afghanistan contains no "apologies" from the Empire for the rapes, murders, thefts and crimes against that ravaged country's citizens.
To do so would be admitting what everyone outside Wonderland knows, that the Empire is a criminal state dedicated to spreading misery, hate and oppression around the globe. But Wonderlanders themselves have to believe that killing brown babies, maiming civilian men, women and children for life, wrecking economies and in general making life a living hell are small prices to pay for spreading "democracy" and "freedom".
The corollary motto for this philosophy would be along the lines of making omelettes (democracy) by having to break eggs (nations), and who's going to apologize to those eggs if such a tasty product results? The fact is that the omelette thus created is bitter, sour and rancid, but who cares if all those eggs are made overseas in some brown country we can't pronounce or find on a map?
Apologizing for being a bad cook is out of the question, it's the thought that counts, not the thousand of lives squandered. But if it gives the Afghan people any comfort, the cook is paying a price also. The cook's employees are returning home broken shells themselves, suicidal, homicidal, neurotic, psychotic, addicted, delusional, dysfunctional.
The cooking skills they learned in the cauldron of the Graveyard of Empire don't translate very well over here, and adjustment to an environment where wanton violations of people are routine is tough, real tough. And the head chef himself is embattled on all fronts, with his kitchen in hock to his Chinese lenders and hordes of GOP critics about the mousy menu he offers in the way of health care.
He should offer plenty of apologies to his own citizens for his unending string of lies, disinformation and frauds but don't hold your breath for those either. Saying "sorry" is not the Amerikan way, because we're always convinced God's on our side, and He never apologizes. Well, except maybe for George W Bush. God, what was he thinking?
Texas (Nov 22, '13)
The current rift between the Empire and Iran is full of ironies, inconsistencies and untruths, ranging from the cooperation shown between the two over a myriad of issues like Iran-Contra, stability in Afghanistan and Iraq and the suppression of al-Qaeda. But Iran continues to portray to its citizenry Uncle Sam as the Great Satan and the focus of all evil in the world, while the US persists in characterizing Iran's leadership as evildoers and malignant terrorists.
To a certain extent both are playing to their masses for political benefits, but at the same time we should not make such depictions to be mere exercises in lumpenproletariat PR. What is ironic in this mutual cartoonization is that the concept of a Devil/Satan/Lucifer that both relish in portraying the other as was born in ancient Persia, the forerunners of modern Iran.
Zoroastrianism was that empire's religion, and departed from other mid eastern paganisms in that it allotted the universe to just two deities, a supreme good and a supreme bad. When Judah, the birthplace of modern Judaism, was sent into exile by the conquering Babylonians, its citizens became exposed to a cornucopia of polytheistic religions, but Zoroastrianism, the faith and national creed of the Persians that liberated the Judaeans from their Babylonian captivity, had syncretistic influences on the returnees. Gradually the idea of the monotheistic Yahweh of Judah and extinct Israel having an adversary in the fashion of Zoroastrianism took hold, but in an undefined and ambiguous way, lest such an opponent's powers interfere with the non-negotiable omnipotence of the Lord God.
It was not until Christianity arrogated to itself the inheritance of Judaism that the personification of evil in the form of an individual spirit called Satan took firm root, despite the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures the early Christians swore to be their guidance had no such supremely evil entity identified.
Inevitably, church doctrine, apocryphal commentary and cultural myth-making sculpted the pitchfork-and-horns caricature that now so grips not only the Christian zeitgeist but also that of Islam, a faith that considered itself the perfecting of its cruder and more primitive antecedents, Judaism and Christianity. That the Christian "New" Testament did not provide much justification for this imagery mattered not a whit, since much of what developed as Christianity, such as Christmas celebrated on a pagan holiday, had little support in the new scriptures either.
So we have the present situation today that both Iran and the US cling to this fictitious portrayal of evil as a product of a syncretistic process begun in ancient Persia, continued in resurrected Judea and polished to a hone by the Christians and Muslims that followed.
The fact that a Satan cannot exist in a universe controlled by an omnipotent God does not deter his believers in clinging to a convenient bogeyman that can symbolize everything both sides hate and reject. Iran needs a Devil it can blame for all its economic woes, while Wonderland's Satan hides behind every Third Worlder who we imagine "hates us for our freedoms", thus making our subsequent crimes against them morally justified.
Texas (Nov 21, '13)
The recent gaffes, bloopers and embarrassments of the O'Blame-inator's doofus maladministration should be taken as manifestations of just how impotent the US presidency really is. It appears that Obama is clueless, blind, deaf, in the dark and out of the loop, but by now and on this the 50th anniversary of JFK's removal from office, the real clue to the WonderPublic should be that this is exactly what the president is supposed to be.
In order to assess why this is and how it came about, consider president Dwight D Eisenhower's somewhat cryptic departing message he made when he left the White House in 1961.
His warning about the hidden dangers to the republic of the vast and growing military-industrial complex was more than the departing musings of an elder statesman. Indeed, in light of what happened to his immediate successor, it may well have been the clarion call for righting a tilting ship, that unless the democracy resisted the corrupting influences of local pork-jobs and chasing red ghosts in faraway jungles, real lasting damage would occur.
JFK's assassination, followed by the interconnected disasters of Vietnam and Watergate, signaled real shifts in the political power base with few understanding that that was happening. Traumatic events were very distracting pea-under-shell games designed to deflect the attention of the confused and scared public from what was really happening during the turbulent 60s and 70s.
Intimidated by the culture wars, civil rights, women's lib, dead soldiers, resigning presidents, costly oil, financial scandals, nuclear Armageddon, drug "wars" and commie advances from Afghanistan to Yemen. the US Sheep failed to see how venal politicians were becoming and how worthless the entire charade of democracy had become. Or maybe by that point none of that mattered, only the "security" and "prosperity" offered by the consummate front man for the Empire, Ronnie Reagan, who understood exactly what his role was supposed to be. Subsequent presidents, by now forewarned by JFK's and Nixon's fates about bucking the real power base in the Empire and seeing how well Ronnie was rewarded for his compliant bootlicking, meekly acquiesced to their current roles of cheerleaders, White House renters and figureheads.
The machinery of Empire doesn't need them except to act as scapegoats or lightning rods, jobs that could just as easily be handled by farm animals or pieces of metal, so let's not be surprised when Obama says he wasn't told about ObamaCare's failures or what really happened at Benghazi or why Wall Street ignores him completely. The president of the United States has become as irrelevant as the country he distracts.
Texas (Nov 20, '13)
[Re Centrist sinkholes, Nov 15, '13] Chan Akya concludes that "There are no centrists anywhere." Except in China, Brazil, Indonesia, and maybe India.
Most of the world, including most of North America and Europe, says, "Thank god for the rational, cautious centrists in China." China is the one big sea anchor keeping the global ship somewhat stable in our stormy times.
Floyd (Nov 18, '13)
'Tis the season to watch folly, tra la la la ... With the 50th anniversary of the JFK murder looming next week, the WonderSphere is all atwitter with documentaries, docudramas, forensic analyses, flashbacks, talking heads and a plethora of wistful "what if" reminisces.
The hagiography attendant with such nonsense very much resembles the selective cherry-picking of information used to whitewash the entire assassination cover-up. In Wonderland, it's not that information to refute the official myths isn't available, it's just not talked about, debated or pounded down the public's throat, very much in keeping with the philosophy here that if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hype it up into a major ecological catastrophe, does that tree ever exist in the first place?
So the boomers prattle on and on about what "hope" and "vision" Kennedy offered, without mentioning his sleeping with Stasi agents, mob molls and prostitutes. They poo pooh his responsibility for the Bay of Pigs, gloss over his indifference to civil rights, inflate casual remarks about leaving Vietnam into done-deal factual history, neglect his murderous vendetta against Castro, ignore his double dealing over Laos, don't dare talk about his involvement in Diem's murder just weeks before his own, and turn his histrionic overreaction to Soviet missiles in Cuba into some bizarre demonstration of macho courage.
Did I mention how his father rigged the election for his son's election in the first place, or the media's collusion in keeping JFK's bigamy a secret, or how he wanted to nuke the Chinese? In parallel with this very blinkered perspective on a man who by all standards was reckless, irresponsible and fickle is the media's distortion of all the evidence that points to a conspiracy that killed him. Recently I watched a program that took great pains to show that from a forensics standpoint, the "Magic Bullet" theory is very plausible, thus showing that Oswald killed JFK.
All they did was show that someone killed JFK, but by no means did they link Oswald to that act. In fact, I find it interesting that things that tend to refute or question this whole Oswald-as-the-Lone-Gunmen idea is discretely ignored, like the footage that had a reporter ask the Dallas police about reports Oswald had talked with the FBI just a week before the assassination. Indeed, we now know that J Edgar Hoover had already assured his boss Robert Kennedy immediately afterwards that only one man was involved and that he had been apprehended, a remarkably instantaneous act of investigation, accusation and indictment if ever I heard one. It seems Hoover neglected to mention Oswald's visit to the Dallas FBI headquarters. But messy details like these are rarely emphasized or mentioned, lost as they are in all the frenzied efforts to solidify the Official Lie.
Contrast all this hooh hah with the deafening silence over the 9-11 Conspiracy that the media has actively participated in for the last 12 years. Despite the overwhelming evidence that contradicts or at least challenges the Official Lie about that massive fraud, the Amerikan Sheep have blindly decided that one major coup d'etat in their lifetime is enough. It helps, of course, that the subject of that regime change was a good looking plutocrat whose charm and charisma literally let him get away with murder before his past caught up with him.
Hardy Campbell (Nov 18, '13)
[Re US digs a security black hole, If today's featured piece by Tom Engelhardt on the NSA global spying operation is even minimally true, why would Asia Times Online stick with Facebook (a tool of the NSA) as the only means to post a comment?
Yigal Joseph (Nov 14, '13)
[Editor's note: the writer does not propose a valid alternative.]
Recently CNN's top medical reporter, an MD himself, has made a stark reversal of his previous hardline stance against legalizing marijuana and all the mythic ills associated with this plant. (Reader's alert: I am not now or ever have been a pot smoker.)
He realizes that he was a victim of the Empire's propaganda, cherrypicking of data and just plain lies about cannabis' effects on people. So what else does is new? That Mary Jane has been demonized for decades by the government for its own ends is a given; the criminalization of a benign drug while malignant alcohol and nicotine are ages-old tax earners should be a scandal in its own right. That it is not and that we continue to legalize the use of two substances that kill thousands each year (contrasted to Ganja, which has never killed anyone) says all one needs to know about capitalism and its treatment of human beings.
But arresting minority people who puff on joints fills jails up faster than carjackings or homicides, and Lord knows the politicians love building penitentiaries to show how tough they are on manufactured "crime". Indeed, the scandal gets even worse when one considers the medical benefits of pot, which are just now being revealed in more enlightened societies. Everything from cancer to seizures have been shown as susceptible to treatment by the magic plant, and the legalization of pot for medicinal purposes is increasing apace, with some countries like Uruguay on the verge of across-the-board legalization.
Such developments scare those with vested interests in profiting from criminalization, like police departments, the DEA, border patrols, etc. Not to mention organized crime groups like the CIA would feel a minor pinch in their illegal contraband profits, though heroin and cocaine will continue to be their major drug earners.
Rest assured that the day will come when pot does become fully and universally legal here, but we will be the very last nation where that will happen, and only because economics forces us to, not because people could be helped by it or because Amerika finally decides to live up to its mendacious promise of "freedom" and the pursuing of happiness.
Texas (Nov 14, '13)
Although the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979-1981 "officially"' ended the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as Imperial President, in many ways the USA is still hostage to the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).
Humiliated by a Third World country that we had been accustomed of thinking as Amerika's reliable friend, ally, proxy and ex pat playground in the hostile Middle East, the Empire, irreconcilably opposed to any true form of sovereign independence from its hegemonic diktats, has thrown the CIA Book of Dirty Tricks at the IRI for the last 34 years. Notwithstanding this increasingly futile effort, six presidents have suffered varying degrees of political heartburn because of our failure to effect IRI regime change or regime behavior.
One, Carter, lost his political life because of that indigestion and his successor, Reagan, should by all reasonable standards have suffered a similar fate by impeachment because he swallowed the Iran-Contra enchilada whole. Bushes 1 and 2, simpletons that they both were, wisely shied away from biting that habanero-pepper stuffed ambush, perhaps because us real as well as fake Texans know the dangers of consuming such tempting explosives. It is worth noting that, for all his bluff and bluster about the IRI, terrorism and the Axis of Evil, even with his armies sandwiching Iran from both sides, Bush 2 carefully refrained from exacerbating tensions with the ayatollahs. Even touching a hot chili can leave nasty burns.
Despite the latest post-Carter Dumbocrat president's rhetoric about the IRI and on-off bravado about nuclear red lines, in a world where Amerikan hegemony is becoming quaint nostalgia, our erstwhile "allies" and not-so-allies have been quietly negotiating non-dollar transactions, nuke technology transfers, sanctions busting smuggling and intelligence sharing with Iran to circumvent, weaken and ultimately to destroy the Empire's deteriorating grip. Washington has been continuously frustrated by its inability to change its imprisonment to old ideas about our hegemonic status, ideas that, prior to 1979, was taken a given by all Wonderlanders.
But after the Revolution, and in its immediate wake the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq War, the world turned its back on those unchallenged days, unleashing new forces of liberation from the old Anglo-Saxon model of imperial domination. The faked attacks on the US on 9-11 were designed specifically to reverse that trend under the rubric of national security, but alas, those who tries to stop the Big Wheel of History from turning, usually wind getting their derrieres handed to them, as the twin debacles in the Middle East confirm. So we remain hostages to the IRI; the US, sitting in the dark, hands bound, blindfolded, waiting for the ayatollahs' next move.
Texas (Nov 14, '13)
[Re Intelligence scandals, Seoul-style
The ascension of Park Geun-hye to the South Korean presidency has fostered a climate marked by her father's dictatorial "Yushin" spirit.
It is worthwhile to look at her inner circle - people who cut their teeth in the shadow of US intelligence agencies when they lived, studied, and worked in the US. An opening to Pyongyang is the last thing the current government wants, and woe to the parties and public sentiment hungering for a detente.
Guam (Nov 13, '13)
[Re Glow of talks flattens nuclear reality, Nov 8, '13] I wonder how commentators like Victor Kotsev can claim that one of, if not the "thorniest and most explosive issues in the Middle East" is some alleged nuclear ambitions attributed to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-signee Iran (a known target of Western oil-lust since before World War 1, a victim of a US/UK anti-democratic coup in 1953, aggressed upon continuously by the US since 1979, but with an history of non-aggression in the last 200 years or so).
The actual known, obvious but deliberately ignored "thorniest and most explosive issue in the Middle East" is land theft by force including mass-murder, perpetrated by aggressive, invading, now illegally squatting Zionists.
Proof #1; Ben-Gurion(1936-39): "We ... are the attackers and the Arabs are those defending ... [they] own the land ..."
Proof #2: "Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them... to be illegitimate," US Vice President John Kerry after discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Perhaps some better sense of proportion is required.
A final quote from Dr Kevin Barrett: "And the whole truth - that the entire Zionist occupation of Palestine is illegitimate - will never pass the lips of American leaders."
People who cannot acknowledge the truth make themselves liars.
Switzerland (Nov 12, '13)
[Re Shared goals draw India and Russia closer, Nov 6, '13] Former ambassador and ATol contributor MK Bhadrakumar would most likely concur with this author that Indian (foreign) policies are handicapped/blinded by an over-obsession with China. At the end of the day, the one question that India needs to figure out is whether the country wishes to be an independently powerful nation.
USA (Nov 8, '13)
[Re Tiananmen crash linked to Xinjiang raid, Nov 7, '13] It should come as no surprise to Chinese authorities that repression of a subject people's national aspiration brings highly publicized acts of desperation. The Turkmens (Uyghur) choice of Tiananmen sparked memories globally of China's own brutal suppression of Han desire for a more open, more democratic society.
American readers might have forgotten that the iron fist of rule of a colonial people found an outlet more than 60 years ago when five Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire in the well of congress. Admittedly, the car crash in Tiananmen was an act of desperation, but it is also an omen of more violence to come.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Nov 8, '13)
2013 is the anniversary of many historic events, but perhaps none has had the impact on Wonderland as the one that occurred on December 23, 1913. The centennial of this event fast approaches, and I wonder with what fanfare the Federal Reserve will celebrate its founding. The rationale for creating this consortium of banks was ostensibly to stabilize and economy roiled by successive panics, most notably the one in 1907.
But the reality was much more sinister; by centralizing monetary policy with a global network of international financiers, most who had no interest in Yankee flag waving, the US made itself a convenient half way house for European money that would soon need refuge an ocean away from its soon-to-be-war torn shores. Six months and five days after the Fed's birth, the assassination of an Austrian archduke provided the real justification for the Fed's existence, as Amerika soon found itself profiting from panicky industrialists, aristocrats and bankers in the Old Country.
The resultant boom carried over into peace, and with all that money lying around the suckers went fat and happy to their slaughter in 1929. The "Peace Bubble" that burst was just the first of many that the Fed would actively promote in the years to come, as it grew farther and farther away from its original mandate of minimizing intervention and being the agency of last resort. Instead, it became increasingly aggressive in inflating bubbles as the best (and soon to be only) way of invigorating an increasingly moribund economy that saw real wage increases stagnate and then flatline.
In parallel with this activity, the US government found that sinking deeper into debt was the only way to keep the twitching corpse of an economy from flatlining itself. The marriage of the two, Fed bubbling and US debt, created a monstrous hybrid with debt itself as a bubble that had everyone convinced mainlining cyanide was just the cure for hemlock poisoning. And the Fed is back at it again post-mortgage-bust, pouring billions in funny money into an economy that refuses to defy death any longer. One hundred years of the Fed, one hundred and one years from the Panic of 1907 to the Implosion of 2008, and how is the US better off with the Fed? Not a whit, of course, but plutocrats around the globe will toast the Fed with champagne.
Texas (Nov 7, '13)
Among the cornucopia of myths that have enabled the Empire to delude itself for lo these many years are the ones about the poor, class, race, welfare and dependency. The wealthiest country on earth has the largest income gaps, does the least to lift people out of poverty of any industrialized nation, practices class warfare with the vitriolic fervor of jihad, and creates mainstream propaganda that demonizes, ostracizes and humiliates the poor.
All this is the result of generations of so-called Protestant work ethics that have made the reaping of the fruits of one's labor synonymous with lifting-by-bootstraps independence, risk taking entrepreneurship and Darwinian wheat-and-chaff winnowing by good ol' 'merikan competition. Amerika supposedly grew rich by instilling such virtues in its citizenry. And like all WonderMyths, most of that is just poppycock, moonshine and freshly deposited unicorn stool.
What the mythmakers don't ever mention is the real history of how Amerika transferred wealth created by the British to the native-born landed gentry who preposterously called themselves "revolutionaries" but who were actually just glorified welfare recipients of French and Spanish largesse.
As for the "sweat of the brow" myth that Wonderlanders like to praise as the surest way to prosperity, little is said of how much of that early Amerikan wealth was created by enslaving Africans, engendering a reverse welfare mentality whereby the only ones sweating at the the brow were horsewhipped blacks while the lily white plantation owners sat on verandas sipping mint juleps and whistling "Dixie".
That romantic nostalgia for rich whites depending on poor blacks for their wealth has now infected not only the Deep South but the entire Republican party, who now represent a white supremacy movement thinly coated with the patina of capitalism and democracy.
Their repeated denunciations of government welfare as creating a "dependence mentality" is just code for their extracting revenge for the Civil War defeat, Jim Crow being marginalized by minority civil rights and a 21st century "black" president. They actually have nothing against dependency on the taxpayer doling out free goodies, since they regularly give tax breaks, rigged contracts and protective legislation for big corporations, special interests and the military.
The code phrases used to disguise this kind of welfare typically include "free enterprise", "national security", "protecting the farmer" and "making Amerika competitive again" to rationalize their welfare agendas. The difference is that the rich are entitled to get richer because they are in a superior class, which is a result of divine ordination, good genes and a savvy politician in your back pocket (translation: I'm white and you're not). The irony of all this is that the majority of poor in the Empire are white, who consistently vote for the same GOPers who pound into their white trash brains that they can't really be poor welfare cheats because only blacks and Hispanics qualify for that description.
As the Empire swirls around the flushed toilet bowl of history, some myths will be clung to more fervently than others, since these constitute the essence of Wonderism. Among the last will be the conviction that Amerika is a rich country because we "earned" that wealth. But that lie is so big it might just clog that historic plumbing.
H Campbell (Nov 6, '13)
[Re No quick fix for China's mistress culture, Oct 29, '13] Why are people so often surprised when human beings act like the other primates?
China (Nov 4, '13)
The good news for the National Security Agency is that it can spy on everyone anytime. The bad news for the NSA is that it can spy on everyone anytime. The temptation to do so is so overwhelming that not to do so would imply that the US is not in control of its destiny, which of course it isn't. Its doom has been preordained and already in the history books of the future. The sobering fact is that even if they had a billion monkeys locked away in front of a billion screens sifting through the billions of bytes of information illegally gathered, the country's fate would not be altered in the slightest.
History should be a wake up call to this effect, with the Stasi and East Germany the poster children of mass spying providing nothing but the illusion of state preservation. Despite and because of a vast infrastructure of snooping, surveillance and eavesdropping, the GDR grew fat and lazy with the self-created image of security which made their collapse appear so sudden and unpredictable to outsiders. In point of fact, we here in the Empire had become so accustomed to granting the East Germans this status because our own security was based on similar societal controls. The Dirty Little Secret of Amerika is that it has had pervasive media, communications and domestic spying activities since J Edgar Hoover anointed himself defender of WonderValues and the CIA's priorities shifted from battling commies to creating criminal empires.
The cautionary tale of the Stasi is lost, of course, on those convinced that 9-11 could have been prevented "If only" and that our current freedom from subsequent al Qaeda "attacks" is solely due to the NSA's watchdogginess. That group evidently contains a majority of Amerikans who have decided that Big Brother will always respect your own dirty little secrets as long as you keep that turbaned phantom out of your house. It didn't work that way with the East Germans, and it won't work for us either.
As for the government, they will continue to lie and deceive its citizens and allies about its spying because, frankly, they can. But the real lesson the German communists should be teaching the NSA and its masters is that you may see every leaf in the forest but precisely because of that you will not see the tree trunks crashing down on you.
Texas (Nov 4, '13)
[Re No quick fix for China's mistress culture,Oct 29, '13] "The Chinese tradition of maintaining mistresses is based on what good Christians would refer to as adultery - a sin; yet in China it is mere custom - a habit".
Every human being sees betraying their wife as a sin, not only you highly civilized Christians, so do we Chinese. I do admit some of us, especially rich people, maintain mistresses. But how can that be our habit? Can you deny that no Christian men do this?
I'm just a very ordinary Chinese and can't speak English well, but every time I see articles from foreign media,
they are all negative. If something is the truth - we admit it. We dump our poor quality merchandize all over the world, our food is not safe, our air is not clean. But why make up things to humiliate our people? Why do you hate us?
Someone saw a Chinese eat a dog, then all the media spreads the word: Chinese don't keep dogs as pets, they take
them as food. We are not that democratic and most of us don't read English, so most of us don't connect with people from the rest of the world on the Internet very often. But when they do, I bet they feel as I do.
China (Oct 31, '13)
In Drones row turns out to be Kubuki theater [Oct 25] the author write, "Pakistan's prime minister again publicly demanded an end to controversial US drone strikes ... secret documents reveal long-time collusion with the CIA-led targeted assassination program."
Secretly, President Obama is wise enough to know that such "demands" are for Pakistani domestic consumption for political expediency. The people of the US should demand an end to CIA assassinations without any trial in any court of law, because this goes against the principles of justice for which we are, allegedly, fighting.
Often, targets for assassination are not terrorists, but falsely labeled so by local opponents of these persons, so that US drones may be used to eliminate their opposition. Often, this has resulted in the murder of innocent men, women and children. This is, in-effect, state-sponsored terrorism by the US. It is not acceptable for US power to be used for this purpose in this cowardly way!
Daniel N Russell
USA (Oct 28, '13)
A recent study concluded Amerikans aren't very well ejeekcated. We rank near the bottom in all the significant categories used to measure a nation's potential to handle the challenges of the future, such as reading, writing, problem solving and even rudimentary math. This is only news to those still waiting on the Kaiser to surrender any day now. But juxtaposed with this regurgitation of past surveys comes the news of yet more school murders within a span of two days and separated by a thousand miles, both perpetrated by teens against popular teachers. This too is becoming so old hat that Wonderland high school homicide will soon rank up there with the cesium atom as reliable ways to set your clocks by. The two situations, abysmal education and an ever-threatening school environment, sums up the deteriorating state of Empire to a T.
Way back when, when the first news of US students looking up at the likes of India and Poland in the global scholastic rankings appeared in the US press, the pundits pens' were a'scratchin' all sorts of explanatory, rationalizing drivel, among the most popular the logic that immigrants from those smarter countries would wind up here anyway so we would always be ahead of the brain drain curve. That, of course, presupposed all sorts of things, among them the relative safety and stability of Wonderland that would attract Third Worlders to our benign shores.
Now, with the First Economic Crisis in our rear view mirrors and the Second looming at the edge of the cliff ahead of us, coupled with the ongoing and relentless brutality that these "new" Americans are throwing their children into, the prospects of that hopeful logic continuing grows dimmer with each shooting and government shutdown. With the rest of the world's better educated children taking the few jobs left to non-machines, Wonderlanders will be reduced to yet more squabbling , scapegoating and minority bashing as we ramble off the precipice.
The prospect of illiterate rednecks having to sneak into countries like China and Indonesia seeking menial work can only seem fitting to the Olympian gods who value hubris, arrogance and the conviction of divine ordination above all other human failings.
Texas, USA (Oct 28, '13)
Poor Obama. No one to bomb. ObamaCare all screwed up. He'd like to add the government shutdown ending as a triumph but he knows he just kicked that can down the road. And to add to his woes he gets lectured in his own house about his war criminal activities as a dromemeister, and by a teenager no less, the charming Malala Yousafszai. All that may pale by comparison to the announcement by Riyadh that it is undergoing a "fundamental" change in its relationship with Washington.
The Saudis, furious at Obama for his mangling of the Syrian crisis, have decided to ignore the writings on the wall no longer. The decades old tacit agreement between the theocratic regime and the Amerikans has rested on the premise that the US would guarantee that Middle East oil supplies were reliable and secure, while the ruling bin Saud family could repress its people, spread its radical Islamist agenda around the world and ignore Wonderlanders' stern lectures to everyone else on the planet that democracy and free speech were the only way to go. But with the US poised to become a major oil producer again, and with Iran and Amerika making cooing noises to each other, the Saudis are seeing the fundamentals of that previously ironclad arrangement eroding as Washington finds itself lurching from political paralysis to economic coma.
It took the Arabs awhile but they are now waking up and smelling the sweet fragrance of multipolarism in all its emerging glory. The tottering of an Amerikan hegemony founded on fading economic prowess and ineffective military supremacy has opened the way for a whole host of mini-powers to emerge, with money and crafty diplomacy as their segue to influence rather than bluff, bluster and brute force. The Saudis see no reason why they shouldn't enter the same game as the Iranians, who have had a 30 year head start, or the Chinese, who are now barely disguising their intention to supplant the Ameirkans once and for all.
Of course, the Saudis have long had the backing of Tel Aviv, who likewise share Riyadh's vision of a post-Amerikan universe. Now both are taking more active measures to compete with Iran for prestige, political pull and as a model for the future of the Middle East. Significantly, all those mentioned besides the Saudis either have or are trying diligently to acquire nuclear weapons as the easiest way to punch their ticket on the Respectability Express.
It remains to be seen if Riyadh will rely exclusively on its billfold or will seek to join the increasingly crowded club of nuke states. Though I'm not a betting man, I wouldn't decline to wager on the Saudis funding some vacations for North Korean and Pakistani physicists in the near future.
Texas (Oct 25, '13)
"Recent revelations about the lack of preparedness, poor motivation and slovenly work habits of those men and women manning Amerika's nuclear missile silos" [letter, October 21, Hardy Campbell]. This is actually good news for ordinary Americans! The rest of humanity, too! Hopefully, such people fill the National Security Agency, Homeland Security, all the other organs of state security. Imagine how bad life would be if the spies and torturers actually worked hard and effectively! As Arnold Toynbee once wrote, "only inefficiency, incompetence and corruption made the Roman Empire tolerable". The same is becoming true of the US.
China (Oct 23, '13)
Trust is an abstract notion that cannot be quantified or measured in concrete terms. It is more of an emotion, a feeling and desire to place some measure of one’s destiny in another’s hands. One’s trustworthiness is a reflection of character, personality and integrity, all similarly nebulous concepts that nevertheless are essential ingredients to defining humanity. This is true of nations as well as individual people. Trust between nations is, in theory at least, independent of things like culture, religion, language and ideology.
It bases self-interest on the mutual recognition that benefits accrue to both sides when each trusts the other to carry out obligations founded on treaties, international law and respect for human rights. Since our founding, the USA has prided itself on the notion that we are a trustworthy country that keeps its word and respects the rights of others. Of course, by believing that you could not be further from the truth if you were sitting on Pluto sipping daiquiris in your long johns.
The unpleasant truth is that Amerika has consistently lied, betrayed and reneged on almost all its international obligations since its inception.
From our documented Founding Father pledge to consider all men equal, which excluded all those not white, male and landed, to our treaties with native Americans, which invariably were violated by the white man, to our abandonment of South Vietnam and our mutual assistance guarantee, to our multiple infringements of agreed biochemical weapons prohibitions (yes, Virginia, despite Obomber’s hypocrisy, we have plenty), to the current pooh-poohing of the very UN laws prohibiting unilateral war that the US itself created, Wonderland has shown itself feckless, self-centered and two faced whenever trust-based relationships interfered with conquering a country, enslaving an economy or slaughtering a people.
The point Putin made in the NY Times about international law being the only thing restraining the likes of Iran from guaranteeing their security with nukes highlights the petard the US has hoisted itself upon. It wants the world to obey ITS version of international law even when that defies the consensus will of the planet and expects the world to “trust” us to do the right thing, when time after time we have demonstrated that we are incapable of doing anything like the right thing. Iran's charade of "negotiation" is based on their intrinsic knowledge that the Empire will break whatever treaty it signs at the drop of a turban. Trust is the one thing no self-respecting country should ever grant the USA, because we only understand how to use that as a weapon of mass deception.
Texas (Oct 23, '13)
Recent revelations about the lack of preparedness, poor motivation and slovenly work habits of those men and women manning Amerika's nuclear missile silos will doubtless pass quietly and quickly beneath a WonderRadar more attuned to financial fiscal showdowns, celebrity shenanigans or titillating political scandal.
Naturally, the Pentagon was quick to assure those who were awake that everything was fine and hunky dory with those deliverers of Armageddon rotting away in their underground holes. "Just a few bad apples" would probably be the quick and easy way to brush off any systemwide criticism of a defense posture that froze the Cold War in stasis for decades. And if it were just a relatively small group of so-called elite personnel that needed re-training or discharge and replacement with real conscientious crackerjacks, that would be one thing, even though we are talking here about people with their fingers literally on buttons that would end humanity.
In an effort to placate the congressional fuddie duddies concerned about an Accidental Armageddon, heads have rolled in the Pentagon's unique way of rearranging incompetence. and denying accountability.
But unfortunately for Wonderland, all the chickens have come home to hatch, the product of 50 years of appalling educational standards, a deteriorating economy, fissiparous families, an instant self-gratification generation, and a get-rich-quick-with-no-effort mentality born of Wall Street's brazen larceny, the US government's craven capitulation to predatory Amerikan Kapitalism and plain ol' Amerikan Greed.
So the truth is that these nuke warriors and their incompetence are repeated throughout the WonderScape, in virtually every aspect of education, society, politics, science, industry and government. And the synergy that connects these falling dominoes ultimately affects our civil and industrial infrastructure, our ability to manufacture, to innovate, to trade and to prosper. Of course, if the personnel standards of the "nuketeers" erode much more we may not have to worry about any of that.
Texas, USA (Oct 21, '13)
[Ref: Turkey counters US' Middle East strategy, Oct 16, '13] Contrary to the article's view, Turkey is actually in the most precarious period of its modern history, after the establishment of the Republic by Kemal Ataturk in 1924. The gist of this article is a possible Turkey-Kurdish alliance which could harm US influence or strategy in the region. There is one premise of the argument hanging in the air: the alliance with the Kurds. What does this alliance consist of? It consists of a definitive solution of the Turkish Kurdish problem. In what effective way Turkey can make this happen? The only one is if Turkey is ready to acknowledge a Kurdish identity separate from the Turkish one.
If the analyst believes that can be accomplished, then we may have a loose confederation between the two entities where Islam and a common past may create a lasting state partnership. Is this possible? Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan's initiative this is not on the agenda. Any other possible solution is a palliative which can only push the can down the road. The sequel of this effort is to create a grand coalition with the Iraqi Kurdistan and following that an understanding with the Syrian Kurds.
We must keep in mind that the Syrian conundrum is not resolved yet and the Syrian Kurds will have to reach out for their future with the new Syrian reality after Bashar Al-Assad or with Assad's heirs under certain circumstances. It is more than obvious under the conditions on the ground in Syria that the Salafists, jihadist and the rest of the al-Qaeda
affiliates are totally opposed to a Kurdish entity and identity as all aspirants for a Caliphate adamantly believe.
In addition there is an internationally recognized Kurdish state entity and identity in Northern Iraq. How can this be reconciled with the extremist views of total denial of a Kurdish identity? Furthermore, a Turkish agreement with Northern Iraqi Kurdistan is already a de facto recognition of this separate ethnic identity which must be incorporated into any agreement with the Kurds of Turkey.
But even if all these questions are answered there is a second lacuna to be filled in. In what way will this grand coalition Between Turkey and the Kurds harm US influence? The Kurds of north Iraq owe their semi-independence to the US and they cannot in any way trust Turkey more than the US. It is purely a fantasy to think that they will turn their back to their liberators and entrust their future to their historic enemy.
Even more, if and when such a grand alliance takes place Turkey as a multinational entity must be very careful about its dealing with the states of the region and must keep a very visible profile for the international community. If that happens, then Turkey will be established as a democratic and cohesive state with meaningful clout in the region. It would have transformed the whole concept of state building in a region beset by artificially built state entities. This is not harmful for US interests but rather a helping hand to its strategic interests, to stabilize the region. The region though is too volatile and under various threats which are just unfolding but with an already clear pattern: ethnic and sectarian divides and states under threat for failure. Even the Gulf Monarchies and Saudi Arabia are in a transition period which cannot last for too long.
Last but not least Turkey itself is on the brink of becoming the target of extremist who are thriving in Syria. Lately a number of well-known Turkish analysts have taken up this threat which is endogenous for an Islamic state and government as the one ruling Turkey. The Syrian and Iraqi al-Qaeda are fighting in the north of Syria the Kurds and are threatening Turkey for its intention to cut access for aid to them. Most of the fighting brigades there have renounced the SNF and are following their own agenda, to establish the Caliphate of the Levant from Iraq to Lebanon, an agenda which Turkey, as a Sunni country, has to endorse or reject with the ensuing repercussions for itself.
The future of Turkey and its efforts to become a regional power is open to the vagaries of the Muslim world and the outcome is as yet unknown. As far as US influence goes there are no powers or emerging superpowers around with a better historical record to substitute the" bad" West with the "good" X, Y or Z.
Nicholas A Biniaris
Hellas (Oct 18, '13)
As a daily observer of Wonderland, I am in a bit of a conundrum: is Amerika clinically psychotic or just plain stupid? Arguments can be made for either position, of course, and there is often a fine line between the two mental states. The lunacy side of the debate has many merits; the classic definition of insanity being repeating the same behavior repeatedly and expecting differing results seems like it should be part of our national anthem in fact. ("Oh say can you see, that we're doing exactly what he we did before, with no prospect for success, unless we are dreaming ... ") But stupidity shares many of the same qualities as lunacy, and may be defined as the mis-ability to apply knowledge in a fashion that damages the knowledge recipient.
The recent cascade of political events in Washington would embarrass the citizens of the fictional Wonderland, to be sure, but they would certainly appreciate the addled logic of the GOP to indulge in an exercise of spitefulness even though they knew they had no chance of success. Point to stupidity. The abysmally low poll numbers of Congress would seem to indicate that the Amerikan people want the fools fired for incompetence, but the public's knowledge of that demonstrated incompetence is never reflected in tossing incompetent incumbents' out of office. Point to insanity. The battle between the two swings back and forth; after innumerable examples of government lying about everything from WMDs to spying on citizens, is the public's willingness to believe the next set of obvious lies just mule-faced dumb or babbling crazy? Is it stupid or nuts that the official fairy tale of 9-11 has gone virtually unchallenged by the media despite the reams of contradictory evidence? Was O'Bomber daft or an imbecile for considering yet another Empire-deflating Middle East adventure?
The 2003 documentary The Corporation posited that companies behave just like sociopathic people, with their application of ruthless capitalism making social destruction a necessary and natural byproduct of their psychosis. Since the US is intrinsically a capitalist state that puts profit above all other human considerations and has repeatedly shown its willingness to impoverish vast swathes of its citizenry in favor of enriching the ultrawealthy, its similar categorization as a clinically psychotic state seems fully merited. Then again, you might call it just plain stupid that we're allowing the Fed to inflate another massive financial bubble with every new "QE X" that we all know will blow up in our faces sooner rather than later.
It's a tossup really. And whoever does the autopsy on Uncle Sam will find little support one way or another when his brain is plopped into a pickle jar. But the fact he ran off a cliff buck naked while frothing at the mouth about "Freedom" and "Democracy" might be a clue.
Texas (Oct 17, '13)
If there's one thing you can count on here in Wonderland, it's the guarantee from "experts" or wannanbes that "blank" as we know it will cease to exist if "blank" happens. The blanks can be filled in with any number of situations. Take the VCR when it became commercially available in the 70s; Hollywood was terrified that the recording device would wreck the movie industry beyond repair; in fact, quite the opposite happened.
Or Vietnam, which the Cold Warriors of the 60s insisted had to be defended at all costs lest all of Asia go Red; when we abandoned that wretched place, the commies couldn't wait to start fighting each other. If ObamaCare isn't stopped, dogs and cats will start co-habitating. And we needn't mention the Marxist-Muslim-Terrorist scenarios the Right fashioned out of whole cloth when the O'Bomber was elected. Hmm ... maybe the jury's still out on that one.
But the fact is that hyperbole, bombastic rhetoric and overblown exaggerated apocalyptic propaganda are as Amerikan as fruit filled pastries lauded as the most magnificent divine food baked by God Himself. Perhaps it's because we're a capitalist society that sells products using these same instruments, seducing customers with siren songs that promise everything from easy sex to instant weight loss. Maybe it's because we subscribe to a religion that promises eternal life and endless bliss. Or maybe it's due to our inherent belief that the very act of saying something must necessarily make it so. Whatever the case may be, Wonderlanders have a habit of crying Wolf and shouting how the sky is falling down with very little provocation.
So it is with Iran and its impending acquisition of nukes; every neocon nutjob this side of the FOX Network works overtime proclaiming how civilization will end the day Iran gets The Bomb. In cahoots with these miscreants, Tel Aviv's pimps dole out political "donations" while sounding the clarion about mushroom clouds, terrorism, mad ayatollahs and "red lines." But the fact remains that we have tolerated nuclear North Korea and nuclear Pakistan for a long time now, and both nations harbor and actively support anti-Amerikan terrorists with arguably less rational actors than Tehran has. The difference, of course, is that neither south and far east Asian country challenges Israel's quest for Zionist Utopia, which an unintimidateable Iran certainly would.
So for all the arbitrary deadlines and mythic threats, Iran possessing nukes would actually make the region safer, more predictable and less susceptible to the kind of destabilizing fiascoes the Zionist and Anglo-Saxon Empires have made their foreign policy hobbies. Believe me, a Nuclear Iran would shut up that dark hued imbecile in the White House from making silly hollow bluffs, would make the Jews less brazen in their criminal activities and would make the Empire think twice about its next misbegotten imperialist adventure. Come to think of it, if we were smart we'd just give 'em some of our nukes right now.
Texas (Oct 16, '13)
[Re: Homeland Security set for next Wall Street collapse, Oct 11, '13] A widely-circulating conspiracy theory has it that major current global events are the design by some nefarious cabal aiming for world domination, both financial and political. Let's hope that's just all rumor, since any such scheme is doomed to failure, attended by unimaginable consequences. As the Bard would caution, "'tis the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard." Or as my less-celebrated but all-knowing parakeet likes to say, "'Tis possible to be too smart."
USA (Oct 15, '13)
[Re Old game, new enemy: China by John Pilger, Oct 11, '13] If there is any obsession is not Obama’s but the author’s - his obsession with the military perspective. The military consideration is superficial and psychological while economics will be the real determinant. Diplomatically considered, China has not committed any act that results in the concerted condemnation of the international community, certainly not at the UN; therefore, China has no no reason to react with military force. Salient to China is that it is an immense country, still poor, but has grown faster than most other countries by wide margins for more than 30 years. China absolutely has no incentive to use force to upset this extremely favorable circumstance for its comprehensive national development; after it is much more developed, most of its objectives will be achieved by gestures without execution.
The greatest trump card over Japan will be the Chinese consumers' animosity against Japan, per se. The winning of any hypothetical war will never be needed. China will easily roil up such animosity to the extent where vandalism against Japanese products in China will prevail over selfish consumer behavior. Japan is extremely vulnerable in the long run. Trade erosion will hurt Japan far more than China due to the difference in size, thus extent of dependency, and because Japanese goods are far more branded, conspicuous, and targetable. As long as Chinese (and Korean) animosity against Japan does not abate, Abenomics will be a mirage; and when augmented at will, losses will be greater than Abenomics. How long will Japan endure before it negotiates?
Social advancement in the US, in the amelioration of racism, has tremendous impact on US foreign policy. The US will no longer be willing to revert back to virulent racism - the only means to contain China. A defeated China will be either a festering wound or a bankrupting obligation to the US, and there is already a festering wound in the Middle East called Islam. If the two festering wounds were to combine, the havoc that they will cause will completely dwarf any rock in the East China Sea, or the consequence of allowing China to have them. There are only certain real lines that China will have to cross, to send matters to the visceral dimension, for conflict with the US to occur.
The world is not a chessboard with pieces. Two pieces are so immense that they will buckle the board.
USA (Oct 15, '13)
The thing about superpowerdom is that, when it's over, nobody has the cojones to tell the aged, decrepit and toothless remnants of Empire that it's time to head to the elephant's graveyard, lie down on the piles of bones and just fall asleep forever. Instead, the spectacle everyone has to endure is the skeletal cadaver's pathetic gestures that once terrified the planet now generating stifled yawns. It's been that way for some time now for Amerika AKA (quoting one Cold War wag's description of the Soviet Union) "Upper Volta with missiles." OK, maybe that needs to be updated to be "Burkina Faso with drones" but you get the picture.
Of all the reasons for imperial decline that future history books will cite, perhaps the most counterproductive and self-defeating will be the use of embargoes, trade restrictions and licensing denials in order to punish adversaries, prevent dual use military/civilian technology transfers and maintain the illusion of Amerikan techno-hegemony. In almost every case of application, the persistent and stubborn policies have ended in defeat. The embargoes against Cuba and Iran, far from overturning the regimes we aimed to change, solidified the legitimacy of those anti-imperialist regimes and bolstered the development of indigenous medical, financial, industrial and nuclear industries.
The almost obsessive draconian controls mandated by US technology export rules that intend to deny "sensitive" dual use technologies to the rest of the planet has managed to erode Amerikan industrial market share while creating foreign competition that didn't exist previously, all the while failing utterly to provide an iota of added security to the Empire. Consequently, previous Amerikan monopolies in computer hardware, communication equipment, space technology, etc., have been shattered into gigabytes, never to return to profit the Empire. The logic of trying to stuff genies back into bottles in the era of the internet, instant knowledge transfer and a thriving industrial espionage business (that the CIA and NSA are fully engaged in for their own profit) seems so addle-headed that it could only have been created in the bowels of Wonderland.
Of course, if you're an arrogant full-of-yourself Wonderlander, convinced you're God's gift and that the rest of the world is merely leasing the land they reside on from us, it's easy to understand why you would think you could get away with it. You would believe in your heart of hearts that anything created or devised by 'merikans is simply too complex and too uniquely 'merikan to ever wind up in the hands of heathen Europeans, Chinese or worse. The stark reality that the rest of the globe is finding that it can get along very well without the wheezing, possessive Uncle Sam, thank you very much. They are willing to give us directions to the pachyderm cemetery though, doubtless using their own GPS satellites.
Texas (Oct 11, '13)
Of all the canards the Empire has used to justify its aggressive imperialism, the myth and propaganda concerning its space program has been the most transparently false. In the wake of the Soviet launch of Sputnik, a frightened WonderPublic demanded that the US prevent space from turning Red and having commie bombs rain down on our capitalist heads. While the Pentagon furiously mounted a frustrating attempt to match Soviet space accomplishments, president John F Kennedy initiated a PR campaign to make Amerika's space program seem like the modern equivalent of Columbus' voyages to the New World, an act of bold exploration intended to expand human horizons with only the most benign of intentions.
This was intended to mask the real intent of the "Race to the Moon" which was to develop dual use space technologies that would be useful in a future conflict with the USSR. The militarization of space was always the driving force behind any and all US investment in manned flight, and once we reached the moon and the Russians showed complete indifference to emulating our expensive TV adventure, the Apollo program withered away while the Pentagon quietly went about its business populating earth's orbit with battlefield communications and reconnaissance satellites, satellite-killing weapons, orbiting weapon platforms, navigation devices and a plethora of equipment designed to achieve the "Full Spectrum Dominance" so cherished by the late 20th century neo-conmen.
To this day the US public is treated to the visual extravaganzas provided by Mars walkers and interplanetary probes while hearing nothing of the Pentagon's preparations for D-Day with Beijing. The PRC, however, is plugging along with its determination to deny the world's last imperialist nation with the hyperatmospheric hegemony it seeks at lower altitudes. China's space accomplishments receive little fanfare or attention here, perhaps because it is unnerving to think that the world's largest communist country is matching us satellite by manned space walk in a domain we once thought exclusively white, Anglo-Saxon and 'merikan. Significantly, even the Europeans, ostensibly on "our" side, have grown wary and weary of US unilateralism and have drifted farther away from complete reliance on Amerikan space techno-monopolies.
With the Empire's decay and inevitable collapse on the nearing horizon, it will be interesting to see to what extent the Empire uses space weaponry to intimidate its Chinese rivals from competing for complete space dominance. And make no mistake about it; for the pentagonuts space is a zero-sum game where "sharing" and "cooperation" are non-starters. Whoever wins the heavens wins the earth, and the last card in the WonderDeck will be the one labeled "War in Space." It is fitting that JFK used space as an analogy with the oceans traversed by the early explorers, who in their "peaceful" wake brought war, conquest and death.
Texas (Oct 9, '13)
[Re The dangers of North Korea fatigue, Oct 8, '13] Joseph R DeTrani seeks to put the blame on North Korea. He appeals to the past - the days off the Bill Clinton administration - but seems to forget how the Bush and Obama administrations pushed Pyongyang to test nuclear devices and advanced rocketry, let alone the US's aggressive joint military exercises with South Korea and the long list of sanctions.
It is little wonder that North Korea responds in unexpected ways. And when it expresses a willingness to return to the six-party talks, it is accused of bad faith.
DeTrani's piece is a restatement of Washington's demands; there is little latitude for a meeting the basic needs of diplomacy. Saying this, on North Korea Washington is in diplomatic ghetto it has enclosed itself within with no exit.
Guam (Oct 9, '13)
[Re Netanyahu pours scorn on Rouhani, Israel, Oct 2, '13] Israel is trying very hard to move the focus of the world on Iran and Syria so that it's land-grabbing activities in Palestine can continue unabated. The UN should turn it's attention to the nuclear stockpiles of Israel by sending in an International Atomic Energy Agency team and forcing it to sign on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
United States (Oct 4, '13)
[Re Korean democracy at a crossroads, Oct 3, '13
At a recent gathering at the Korea Society, South Korean Ambassador for International Security, Chung Min-lee, waxed lyrically on the Korean peninsula and strategic risk. The ambassador as his title suggests advises President Park Geun-hye on security affairs.
Asked about the internal witch hunt, as Geoffrey Fertig outlines, Lee took offense. Not only that, he responded with undiplomatic vehemence that one could only conclude that the question touched a raw nerve of truth.
To South Korean hands, it has become obvious that Park is more hardline than the man she replaced at the Blue House. Old habits die hard it seems, and the ones she learnt during the Yushin years have still left traces.
Guam (Oct 4, '13)
[Re Netanyahu pours scorn on Rouhani, Oct 2, '13] You have to feel sorry for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US President Barack Obama's brief telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has put Israel's Iran strategy "on the ropes".
More to the point, Netanyahu has been saying that Iran will produce a nuclear bomb within moments since the early 1990s, and the world is still waiting for the prediction to become true. Not only that, just before flying off to New York to speak at the UN, the Israeli secret services discovered an Iranian spy in its midst. How convenient!
Netanyahu's meeting with Obama at the White House make for good photos, but he left empty handed. Suddenly, US interests veer off from Israel's. And Israel has few choices short of war.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Oct 3, '13)
As the 21st century Prussia, the Amerikan Empire is rightly identified with war, but not just the wars of violent explosions and videogame pyrotechnics against nation states. The best known of these non- state wars are still being fought against Poverty, Cancer, Drugs and the latest, Terrorism. In each case, trillions of dollars have been expended over decades, with a concurrent expansion of the medical industry, insurance companies, government agencies, security organs and last but definitely not least, the military.
In every case, the "enemy" has not only not been defeated but has grown ever stronger and affected ever more people, with a corresponding increase in the financial and political powers of those entities created to wage war against them. This snake-chasing-its-tail synergy guarantees tax payer dollars being recycled from the pockets of Joe Main Street to the numbered Swiss bank accounts of Reginald Wall Street. And what's to show for it? Lots actually, and all of it bad.
Cancer rates have exploded, especially among the young whose bodies are ill equipped to deal with pervasive pollution, toxic foods and immunity compromising medicines handed out like candy by quack doctors. The ranks of the impoverished have likewise exponentially expanded with a deteriorating bubble economy and a vanishing middle class. The War on Drugs may be the most farcical of all, with the US government mouthing platitudes about "Just Say No" abstinence while the CIA actively supports the narcotics and cocaine industries and politicians and Wall Street banks get fat on laundered drug money. Did anyone noticed that heroin production increased after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 just like cocaine production in South America multiplied after the laughable "Plan Colombia" was launched by Clinton?
So for the newest fraud war, against phantom "terrorists," it should come as no surprise that the plutocratic class has once again lined its wallets with more recycled loot, much of it generated by the collusion of drug kingpins, their CIA/Pentagon protectors, banks, arms smugglers, embargo busting corporations, and security and defense contractors. All the while the "enemy's" ranks of enraged brown people whose families and lives have been destroyed swell anew every day all around the globe.
The bottom line is that Wonderland never had any intention to "win" any of these wars, only mouthing the rhetoric that its duped citizens want to hear. Perpetuating war in all its forms is the only card left in the imperial deck, the only justification for its continued existence. More cancer victims, more poor, more drugs and more terrorists is the gameplan of Empire.
Texas (Oct 3, '13)
The word "exceptional" has been bandied about quite a lot lately. The OBomber used it to justify his illegal aggression against Syria. Vladimir Putin used it to rebut the O'Bombingator's rationale. Of course, the mirage of Amerikan exceptionalism making us unique on the planet and thus inherently superior in our value system to anyone else on earth has long been considered a bedrock of our collective ideology, justifying innumerable interventions, wars, embargoes and subversions in the name of "democracy," "human rights" and "freedom".
It is worthwhile, however, to consider that another race has long harbored such pretensions to exclusiveness and exemption from the rules of civilized intercourse. The Jewish people have long prescribed to the idea of their being a "Chosen People", a race selected and favored by God Almighty before all others. This firm belief has enabled them to weather multiple storms of persecution, mass slaughter and discrimination wherever they have immigrated and settled, convinced that someday they would be delivered by a vengeful messiah who would restore them to their deserved status.
The formation of the state of Israel in 1948 and its subsequent Zionist expansion has persuaded many, including evangelical neocon WonderChristians who have decided that Amerika's fate is inextricably bound with the artificial state, that such a day is nigh. There are two ironies at work here, the first being that a Christian's belief is founded on a Jew's death and resurrection that the Jews themselves deny as heresy and blasphemy. The second is that the very name "Israel" is false and deliberately intends to mislead the vast majority of ignorant pseudo-Christians living in Wonderland into believing there is a connection with the modern Middle Eastern state and the ancient Israel of the Jewish and Old Testament scriptures.
This is important to many Anglo-Saxon "Zionist Christians" who are convinced that Amerikan exceptionalism is a direct and divinely ordained result of our national white race's descent from the exiled Ten Lost Tribes of that ancient Israel. The intent to obfuscate and deceive only becomes apparent when one understands that the Jews living in modern Israel today are NOT descendants of that ancient state. Instead, the majority are descended from the ancient sister state of Judah, which consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the rootstock of modern Judaism.
But even if US Christians recognized that deception, they would probably be OK with that, convinced as they are that the real state of Israel exists on the North Amerikan continent anyway and that they are soul brothers of their misguided Judah cohorts in the false state of Israel, who will "see the light" when the real one and true Christian Messiah returns.
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, their religious ideology compels them to seek an Armageddon that will accompany such a return and that will cleanse earth in preparation of the Dual Chosen People's final and just rewards. What neither group appreciates as they jointly rape and pillage the planet with their exceptionalist, imperialist pretentions and noble sounding justifications towards this apocalyptic end is that both ancient states they pretend to emulate perished for the same reasons, their defiance of God's will. Both modern successors of Israel and Judah are pursuing a repetition of their ancient predecessor states' doomed fates, and in this they will surely succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
Promised Land of Texas (Oct 2, '13)
In the recent post by Dieter Neumann, Libya: Still Gaddafi's fault? [September 28, 2013], he made the argument that a few minutes on a web search reveals interesting facts about the signatories to a recently published letter to [US Secretary of State] John Kerry. Had Dieter Neumann however spend a bit more time than a few minutes on his web search he would hopefully have realized that JMW Consulting is not the same company as JMW Consultants. His attack on our company's client list is therefore based on incorrect information.
You can read more about our company and client list on www.jmwconsulting.dk
JMW Consulting (Oct 1, '13)
The so-called “War on Terror” has defined the Amerikan Empire for the foreseeable future. To most Wonderlanders with the memory span of a potted petunia, that conflict began in 2001 with the artfully crafted false flag fraud of 9-11 and the alleged "jihad" of militant Islam.
The potted flower crowd conveniently forgets the greatest act of terror perpetrated on Amerikan soil prior to 9-11, however. On closer examination, the amnesia and subsequent muted response may be easy to explain. Timothy McVeigh's brutal car bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 killed 168 people and wounded 600 others. Though there were frantic attempts by many white Anglo-Saxons to pin the blame on Iraqis seeking revenge for Desert Storm in 1991, eventually the FBI "found their man" in the conveniently solitary frame of the ex-Gulf War veteran McVeigh, whose rationale for the mass murderings was supposedly his seeking revenge for the FBI's mass killings in Waco in 1993.
The case was made that he represented the classic "Lone Gunman" vital to the anti-conspiracy theory conspiracists, a fall guy unconnected to anyone else in keeping with an Amerikan death history rife with stand-alone patsies, from Leon Czolgosz to Lee Harvey Oswald to Sirhan Sirhan. Though one other man was implicated in assisting McVeigh in his heinous crime, the FBI successfully defused any concerns of a nationwide anti-government or white supremacist movement to afflict the Empire with an orchestrated campaign of mass terror. This in spite of the widespread reports of vigilante anti-federal government groups stockpiling weapons and training for domestic Armageddon, many financed by wealthy right wingers vehemently opposed to the Clinton presidency. Consequently, there was no subsequent formation of a Department of Homeland Security, no airport fondlings or silly multi-colored terror alerts; the FBI confidently leaned back and said, once again, no worries, just a nutjob "Lone Gunmen" responsible and it won't happen again.
When it did, on a vaster and more visible scale on a crisp September day 6 years later (and precisely 3 months to the day after McVeigh's execution), the reaction was altogether different. "Lone Gunmen" culpabilities wouldn't do the trick anymore, not if your goal was global domination. FBI "business as usual" would no longer suffice. No, in order to create the perpetual police state that could justify attacking anyone anyplace and anytime in the planet, a much more ambitious bunch of fall guys were needed, this time using a government-created fake conspiracy theory concocted to cover-up the real conspiracy of 9-11. Sure, there were holes so large in this flimsily contrived theory about Al Qaeda and bin Laden and 19 hijackers that you could have flown three jetliners through them, but the shocked and eager to be secured public was all too willing to swallow fabrications about cave dwelling madmen conducting the most audacious raid in history. I dare say if Bush and cronies had sworn the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Sasquatch was at the controls of those planes, anyone questioning such accusations would have been tarred-and-feathered as traitors.
In similar though less adept fashion, the O'Bomber has tried to create his own puny conspiracy theory about Assad using chemical weapons, but with no burning buildings as a backdrop, the less convincing-by-the-day prez has met a stonewall of indifference and skepticism. Despite his best efforts to pull at the heartstrings of human rights loving 'merikans, our dusky, athletic dictator has failed to hurdle the increasingly high bar raised by the WonderPublic to swallow government lies. Maybe what he needed was a photo of a gassed Easter Bunny.
Houston TX (Sep 30, '13)
[Re Dangers in North Korean dual-track strategy, Sep 27, '13] Niklas Swanstrom's analysis, like most "critical judgments" about North Korea, lacks any historical filter to put matters in place.
North Korea is willing to talk to the US, but the Obama administration is deaf to Pyongyang's openness. Perhaps, Washington could learn something from its "diplomatic breakthrough" with Iran after 34 years, in changing its tone.
Guam (Sep 30, '13)
[Re: Obama: A hapless and wandering minstrel, Sep 26, '13] One of the primary reasons for the Obama administration's inability to execute its Syria plan rested on one factor: the poor state of the US economy. In poll after poll, the American people gave overwhelming precedence to domestic economic issues over yet another military adventure abroad. By the same token, one can rather safely conclude that the three most important determinants of President Obama's legacy will be: the economy, the economy, the economy.
USA (Sep 30, '13)
[Re The real North Korean threat, Sep 26, '13] Emanuel Pastreich's analysis would have been strengthened if he had placed creeping desertification in an historical context.
Where is the reference to draconian sanctions which could and would help North Korea to arrest the threatening spread of deserts? Where is the reference to denying North Koreans food aid that in times of famine and bad weather would have stopped the need for them to strip trees of bark for food?
Guam (Sep 27, '13)
The all too predictable vilification of Bashar al-Assad in the inept crawl up to Obomber's planned attack on Syria included, of course, comparison, if not equation, of the embattled leader to Adolf Hitler, history's favorite embodiment of evil.
This all too common equivalence is used namby pamby here in Wonderland in political campaigns, an easy sell in a country whose depth and grasp of history seldom extends beyond the cartoon images Hollywood or the pathetic history channels on cable provide. But if we examine such accusations of Hitlerian behavior, one must question just which of the two leaders resembles the Austrian corporal the most. Hitler's claim to infamy was cemented by his unprovoked aggression against Poland which initiated the Second World War. So between Obama and Assad, who was threatening war against who?
Defenders of the Tanned Hawaiian-Kenyan will claim humanitarian justification of protecting Syrian civilians for explaining Obama's threats, which is fine as long as we acknowledge that Hitler used the same humanitarian rationale for war as the protection of ethnic Germans in Danzig from Polish "persecution." That Hitler's excuse was bogus should not prevent an objective observer admitting that no there is no "smoking gun" evidence that Assad was responsible for the alleged chemical attacks, thus making Obama's excuse potentially just as bogus. Indeed, based on the puny circumstantial evidence provided to date, in an Amerikan court of law Assad would walk out a free man.
Unfortunately for the planet, Obama has arrogated to himself the same all pervasive powers to render judgment and execution that Hitler himself implemented in his drive for world conquest. Indeed, Obama had the Hitlerian gall to speak for the whole world when he baldly claimed that "the world" had set a red line, not himself. Maybe that's what the voices in OBomber's head told him.
While Assad battles a CIA funded insurgency (itself an illegal act of war), and civilians naturally are victims of the chaotic violence engulfing Syria, Obama is himself cold bloodedly murdering Afghan and Pakistani civilians willy nilly with his "collaterally damaging" drones, cruise missile strikes and black op death squads. So if we are comparing which hands are redder with Muslim blood, well, I daresay that it's a draw, but at least Assad is fighting a civil war. Obama's murders are just plain rotten imperialism. And while the dictator Assad undoubtedly has his horrid prisoner camps and the monster Hitler had his mass extermination camps, the "peace loving democrat" Obama is still the caretaker and defender of Gitmo and countless secret prisons around the globe where illegal detentions, torture and death are routine. Pretty even steven there too.
In another sense Obama definitely resembles Hitler more than Assad. Hitler was ultimately one-upped by his mortal enemy, Russia's leader Stalin. Obama's already two down to Russia's Putin. In the end, though, it will be history that judges which criminal tyrant Obama most closely resembles.
Texas (Sep 26, '13)
Every time I think Amerikans cannot bring the image of their nation down any further, well, dadgum, I’m proven wrong yet again. The most recent evidence concerned three GOP, uh, let’s call them dunderheads (the precise Texas word I want to use actually describes the stick used to measure the level of ordure in latrines).
The trio of evolutionary failures, Congress-creatures Bachmann from Minnesota, Gohmert from Texas and King from Iowa, took a tour of Egypt in order to demonstrate just how ignorant, venal and stupid Wonderlanders can be. In the case of Bachmann, a woman who never ran across a preposterously insane idea she didn’t want to adopt as her first born, her lunacy and wide–eyed psychosis should have prohibited her from ever leaving the safe confines of a stateside mental institution.
Instead, there she was, grandstanding in front of Egyptian media, lauding the overthrow of Egyptian democracy by a brutal US approved coup while at the same time urging her Arab listeners to pursue hallowed Amerikan ideals and principles. Of course, if they had, those present at the press conference would have tarred and feathered the idiot then and there and then run her out of Cairo on a mangey camel.
Gohmert, a hayseed redneck and congenital imbecile that makes Bachmann look like Steven Hawking, drones on and on about founding fathers and Amerikan values that Egyptians need to mimic, while King ostentatiously pulls out a copy of the constitution he says he carries around with all the time, not mentioning he does that in order to wipe his derriere when he needs to defecate more Republican lies.
This laughably pathetic incident, occurring on the heels of O’Bomber’s Syrian bravado and humiliating stepdown, must affirm, as if there was any doubt, that the Empire is on its last legs. The combination of outrageously arrogant yet sublimely clueless leaders, the pretense of superpowerdom with nothing but guns and missiles to show for it, the steady deterioration of its national economy and the timidity and cowardice shown in the face of true stalwart leaders like Putin, all mark the road to imperial decline, failure and ultimate collapse.
The patient Egyptians, who have seen the likes of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Ramses the Second and Napoleon Bonaparte come and go like the desert dust, have seen it all before and recognize the signs of imperial decay all too well. They know their pyramids will remain, but what will be left of the Empire except the image of these mentally challenged congress people and their frothing mouths?
Texas (Sep 25, '13)
[Re Soviet lessons for China in Xinjiang, Sep 23, '13] It is possible that the Soviet experience in Central Asia might prove useful to the Chinese. Yet, differences in history, culture and experience remain extreme.
The Soviets never tried to overwhelm through massive implantations of Russians. China does, to the point of overwhelming the Uyghurs so much that they feel that they feel strangers in their own land. China is pursuing the same policy it has in Tibet. It will brook no autonomous entity in a land once ruled by warlords.
China would do better to look at how Chiang Kai-shek made efforts to include east Turkmen into a more comfortable cultural sphere in pre-communist China.
So, it buys off the elite and suppresses Turkmen aspirations for the majority of the population who suffer under forced Sinization.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Sep 24, '13)
Wow. That senile old fraud John McCain really knows how to stick it to Putin! His tit-for-tat op ed posted on a Russian website rebutting Vladimir's piece in the NY Times accused him of cozying up to bloodthirsty tyrants. That's showin' 'im, Johnny Boy! And you can legitimately use your deteriorating, Alzheimer's riddled and thoroughly rotted brain as an excuse for forgetting all the bloodthirsty tyrants your Empire has coddled, propped up and pampered over the last 70 years or so. Or maybe the list is too depressing for you to memorize?
Lemme give you a taste of "our" repressive dictators so you can start writing your apology op ed; Trujillo, Diem, Batista, Pinochet, Somoza, Duvalier, SADDAM HUSSEIN!, POL POT!, Marcos, Suharto, Mobutu, Ceausescu, all the right wing military junta caudillos that ran Latin America in the 80s, Mubarak, Shah Reza Pahlavi, the leaders of the apartheid regime of South Africa up to our present day support for that Zionist madman Benjamin Nutjobyahoo of Israel. I mean, sheesh, guy, your senility must give you massive cojones to point a finger at anyone in that department.
But Johnny Boy's hypocrisy didn't stop there, no sirree. He then pillories Russia for being a "resource only"-economy that will eventually go belly up, this coming from a "man" who was instrumental in wrecking our financial-voodoo-only economy with his coddling of Wall Street deregulations. And then, in an act of supreme ingratitude or amnesia, he derides Russia's standing in the world. What, in comparison with a kowboy Wonderland that shoots first then shoots again in defiance of morality and international opinion? You mean, that kind of standing? No wonder the Russians want no part of an Amerikan concept of international prestige, the kind the Empire equates with bombs, terror and wanton slaughter. Instead of thanking Putin for yanking our collective national nutsack out of the glowing embers of the Middle East, he attacks a Russian leader who stands by the principles of international security and law that once we actually believed (more or less.) The old saw about keeping your mouth shut and letting people suspect you're a decrepit doddering old fool instead of opening your mangy mouth and removing all doubt reverberates loudly here. But McCain would need assistance in hearing even that sound.
Texas (Sep 23, '13)
[Re Syria diplomacy helps shuffle global order, Sep 20, '13] President Obama hasn't quite lost his mojo. He seized another life line from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. A serious misstep in Syria is suddenly rearranging the patterns in the Middle East. Although no meeting is scheduled for these two presidents to meet at the UN General Assembly, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has requested a meeting with Rouhani at the UN. So, away from the public's eye this opening might provide the cover for a meeting. So in the end, Obama's place in history is being given another chance by two adversaries. Such are the vagaries of history!
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Sep 23, '13)
[Re US needs cultural weapons for North Korea and UN finds 'unspeakable atrocities', Sep 19, '13] Brian Min has a point. The US has little interest in culturally opening to North Korea. Might it be too much to look at Dennis Rodman for a lesson in cultural diplomacy? The former NBA star is now trying to arrange an NBA All Stars game in North Korea in 2014. Should he pull that off, how could the Obama administration wipe the egg off its face?
Joshua Lipes rosary of North Korea's human-rights awfulness is an exercise in moral high dudgeon orchestrated by the US with assistance by South Korea. The immediate effect was Pyongyang's rescinding at the last minute the invitation to a US envoy seeking the release of the imprisoned Kenneth Bae.
So much for Kenneth Bae's human rights? And so much for the Obama administration's ukase of our way or the highway. It is not interested in talking to the DPRK.
Consequently, Rodman's "basketball diplomacy" is a way to engage Pyongyang and possibly to soften its hardline on human rights.
Guam (Sep 20, '13)
[Re: US plays Monopoly; Russia plays chess,Sep 16, '13] American geopolitical planners may suffer from blinding hubris and over-ambition, but they're not dumb. That said, world domination via the use of hard power has been tried before, and never realized. To be sure, there is a Grand Canyon-size gap between wisdom and intelligence (as in the everyday perception of human IQ), and the US has been repeating the mistakes of past empires. The way things seem to be heading, it may be time to start thinking about joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Silk Road caravan.
USA (Sep 18, '13)
September 11 has come and gone again, with all the requisite memorials, lamentations and teeth gnashings that we Wonderlanders have made part of our national mythology and ritual. Of course, that date is preserved in world lore as commemorating the so-called "al-Qaeda" attacks of 2001, but for another country, 9/11 is memorialized for altogether different reasons.
That nation, Chile, recalls the events of September 11, 1973, when a CIA orchestrated military coup overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, who died in the takeover rather than be captured and tortured by the brutal Amerikan assisted thugs of the new right wing and fanatically anti-communist Pinochet regime.
Perhaps it is with some irony that this, the 40th anniversary of said tragedy, also marks the frustration of the O'Bomber administration's latest attempts at orchestrating its own overthrow of a foreign government, this time under the transparently false rubric of humanitarian concern over chemical weapons against poor wide-eyed and very photogenic Syrian children.
Maybe if the that tall traitor sitting in the Oval Office had brushed up on his Regime Change 101 primer, he would have taken a few pages out of another interventionist's playbook, that of Richard Nixon, who used a combination of economic subversion, false propaganda, Latin American military pressure and selective bribery to orchestrate Allende's downfall with the Empire's involvement discrete and in the shadows.
Nixon, the master of dirty tricks, was already at that time feeling the first soon-to-be-hot breezes of Watergate on his conniving neck, but when his end came (ironically enough due to Nixon's own act of auto-regime-change), scarcely anyone made his involvement in destroying Chilean democracy a reason for impeaching him, so artfully had he concealed his paw prints.
O'Bomber, on the other hand, showed all the deft manipulative skills of a double-arm amputee juggling hand grenades in Times Square at high noon. Such is the sad state of Amerikan incompetence in virtually everything these days that the only thing we're capable of is playing the Bomb First and Don't Think Ever of Consequences foreign policy. When a superpower has nothing left in its arsenal of persuasion but weapons, the headstone on that Empire is already ready for planting in the Cemetery of HasBeens.
Texas (Sep 18, '13)
[Re Philippines under the neo-colonial boot, Sep 13, '13] Much has been written about the imbalance and self-interest motives of the US in the Philippines and as a Filipino by birth and an American citizen by choice, I feel a certain obligation to voice my views, if nothing more but to inject another perspective in the debate.
Given the emotions enveloped in that subject it is almost counter intuitive to disapprove expressions of patriotism, particularly when such condemnations are directed against a former colonizer that the US once was but unfortunately for me, therein lies my argument.
To view the actions of the latter solely from the experience of the past would be to ignore the realities of the present that confront the Philippines, which overall, makes certain arguments of those who condemn the US unsubstantial and weak.
The fact is, the Philippines even today is hardly independent and debatably a republic with the majority of its populace still focused on daily survival, despite almost 70 years of so-called independence.
Consider that from the very early age, children are taught the country is rich yet all they see and experience is a life of deprivation, poverty and hardship; which begs the simplest of questions, why that is?
Since being given its independence, it has consistently shown an unwillingness - maybe an incapacity - to rationally govern itself by its near-total submission to another colonizer (the Roman Catholic Church) which provokes equally substantial questions but more significantly, diminishes criticism about American intent.
But to be clear: what exactly is the disagreement? That the US is more attentive on serving its own interests than those of the Philippines? Forgive the hubris, but shouldn’t a government be only loyal to its own citizen’s interest? For any citizen of any country to expect more from that principle is to expect what never was and never will be.
In addition, the US could only serve its own national interests as it expects all other governments to do likewise; if only because that is what equal sovereigns do.
Given that context, I have difficulty understanding how the Arroyo administration, for instance, was able to purposely give away 90% of the country’s share to two corporations in the oil exploitation called the Malampaya Project - absent some personal quid pro quo, how else could one makes sense of that unequal share?
Stealth seems to typify the Philippine government's modus operandi when it comes to doling its natural resources and vital interest, almost always to the detriment of its citizens.
In fact that agreement alone should have rang bells and been seen as a traitorous if not a criminal act for the massive harm it inflicted upon the country and its people, both in image and reality.
Yet no one associated in that arrangement, as far as has been reported, has been held to account, as if nothing of any consequence had occurred - which makes one wonder: where are the educated minds particularly from those so-called elite institutions of learning? How about those patriots who are always ready to pounce on the US for not serving the Philippines interests more diligently?
And then there’s the Catholic Church and its priests who alone could legitimize and give merit to any public demonstration of outcry or support.
The same church as in the days of colonial Spain still determines the quality of life for the country and makes definitive dictates as to the meaning of truth. More consequentially for the country, its definition must be imposed on everyone.
Despite this inordinate influence, no one seems troubled enough to challenge its far-reaching impact on the country’s development and the impeding effect on citizens' lives.
And if one can visualize the image that condition elicits and everything else that defines the character and nature of Filipino life, one inevitably head-butts existential questions; What am I doing here? Why am I staying in the country?
The fact that the government sees nothing immoral about finding jobs for its citizens overseas instead of creating jobs at home to keep families united, should awaken even a sleeping mind. But considering the millennium of immersion in the righteousness of suffering as a will from the heavens, and a sanctifying grace to be saved, what poor soul would dare complain?
Moreover, when elections for public office are seen as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement and promotion of personal interests rather than shared common interesst; where public service is about comfort and privileges , the inexorable question becomes: Is there still a republic?
It is unquestionable that weakness invites aggression. In a society that believes in kneeling as a position of strength and in hope as a plan, the complexity of the problem becomes overwhelming to the point of discouragement.
Given that reality, it seems almost inevitable that developed countries, the US included, would try to do in the Philippines what its own government is decidedly doing to its people.
Connecticut, USA (Sep 17, '13)
An open letter to President Barack “Yes We Can” Obama
Dear President Obama,
1) Tsar Vladimir Putin (then a Prime Minister of Russia) invaded the Republic of Georgia in August 2008, after Shikashvili's thugs in Georgia murdered less than 2000 South Ossetians and destroyed a few homes and buildings. Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, without any UN Security Council resolution and without bothering to even ask for the approval of the Russian Duma. He dismembered Georgia and did not give a damn about the world's public opinion. Yet absurdly Putin now demands UNSC resolutions to punish the Nazi regime of Bashar al-Assad, and so are the participants of the 13th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)!
2) You have let the long-suffering people of Syria down by not bombing the forces of the fascist sectarian mafia of Assad so far, even after the mass murder of over 120,000 Syrians, largely by the Assad Nazi regime using all categories of mass murder weapons. Instead, your reluctance made Putin and others in the League of Backers of Mass Murder in Syria, who provide weapons for the mass murderers and all political and propaganda covers, look very gutsy and smart.
3) Geneva II is only a victory for Putin, Iran, China , and Hezbollah, not for peace and certainly not for the wellbeing of the Syrian people, especially when for more than two years so far you have refused to offer the Syrian rebels effective weapons to fight, and you prevent others from doing so.
4) You no longer have any credibility in Egypt, in Syria, in Palestine, in Turkey, or among millions of Arabs who counted on your help in these countries (Egypt, Syria, Palestine).
5) You seem to be doing only what is good for settlers-colonial New Khazaria in Palestine (aka Israel), ignoring that fact that it has a huge nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals that endanger not only all peoples of the Middle East, but also Europe as well. You do not even dare to bring that subject up. What a tragedy indeed!
Your AIPAC-charted actions in Palestine, in Syria, in Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East totally discredit your policy and you personally and create serious dangers and instabilities in Turkey, in Jordan, in Egypt, and eventually in your milking cows yards – the petrodollar fiefdoms of the GCC.
You are making Putin, Assad, Ayatollahs’ Iran, China, and Hezbollah look better and better to so many millions in the Near East!
You can do much more than just appease and please AIPAC, Netanyahu, colonial New Khazaria in Palestine and its fifth column in the US.
Under your Zionist-charted, reluctant, and intimidated tactics and actions, the US is losing all credibility and leverage among the overwhelming majority of Arabs, Turks, and 1.4 billion Sunni Muslims everywhere.
What is wrong with you sir, and with your incompetent advisers?
Zack A Jalamani
California, USA (Sep 17, '13)
[Re Cheers and jeers greet Obama's bear hug, September 12, 2013] Despite all the noise coming from opponents and proponents of President Obama's Syrian policy, certain inconvenient facts are indisputable. Fact one: before the bombs start falling, diplomacy must be the way forward not an afterthought.
The US response to Syria, besides international control of its chemical weapons must go further. Creative diplomacy akin to the diplomacy that ended the several-decades long Lebanese civil war should be undertaken. The Russians can bring President Bashar Al-Assad to the table and the US can bring the rebels to the table. Fact two: you have the tale of two presidents. The last time chemical weapons were used in the Middle East was in the 1980s by Iraq's Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and Iranians causing thousands of casualties. President Reagan, a supporter of Saddam, aided and abetted Saddam's efforts to use chemical weapons, as recent declassified documents indicate. Furthermore, Reagan prevented the UN from acting.
In reversal of such grotesque policy, President Obama, unlike his predecessor, wisely decided on calling on the congress and the international community to take action to prevent the use of such weapons outlawed by international agreements. And, he must be commended for his prudent and resolute handling of this very complicated problem. Fact three: calling on the Congress for authorization to act is in the furtherance of the Administration's belief, especially his vice president Joe Biden, who has enunciated often that for any military action to be successful it must have the backing of the American people. Lastly, diplomacy must be given a chance to work for no one should want to risk the unintended consequences of the alternative.
Fariborz S Fatemi
USA (Sep 16, '13)
[Re Cheers and jeers greet Obama's bear hug, September 12, 2013] Oh my what an uproar Vladimir Putin created here in the Empire. His op-ed piece in the NY Times criticizing Amerikan bellicosity and first-resort to violence has sparked the predictable knee jerk reaction from a country that thinks itself immune to international criticism, especially from a former KGB officer running Russia like his personal fiefdom.
But again, as with the Benard Manning and Edward Snowden affairs, Wonderlanders are quick to string up the messenger rather than pay attention to the message. It's just far easier to pillory the purveyor of unpleasant tidings than to fix the inherent deficiencies that made the message necessary in the first place. But the fact remains that Putin pretty much nailed it on the proverbial head, which made the article all the more stinging for the neocons, who are so accustomed to being the ones wagging fingers and acting morally superior.
He accused the O'Bomber of undermining international law with his fictitious and arbitrary "red lines" and then questioned the whole premise of the tanned Bush-clone's foreign policy, which basically consists of us "exceptional" Amerikans deciding unilaterally what is moral and humane and just and right and not giving a tinker's damn about any other country's opinions.
What is more telling than all of the details in Putin's piece is the fact he wrote it in the first place, in the still frothing wake of the chemical weapons diplomacy he instigated and the Snowden fiasco preceding that. It's really like rubbing the Empire's and the Obombingnator's face in the fresh diplo-dung we've just soiled ourselves with.
Naturally, Amerikans would have preferred Putin demurely slinking into the background after he pulled our chestnuts out of the fire, and accepting our strained begrudging gratitude gracefully and in silence. But Putin and Russia have had quite enough of that "silent partner" cow caca and listening to the Empire's sanctimonious and hypocritical two-faced lecturing about freedom and human rights, when we are so quick to throw brown human lives away for some arbitrarily decided "red lines" and manufactured crises.
The New Russia will flex its muscles carefully and astutely, preserving the balance of power through the support of the very same international norms of civilized behavior the US itself promulgated and endorsed when it was Top Dog so many years ago. Putin will also avoid the Bull-in-the-China-Shop diplomacy of the bumbling stumbling O'Bomber-Kerry Keystone Kop duo. Wonderlanders truly interested in avoiding such humbling debacles in the future had well heed the Russian's cautionary words, but a betting man will profit handsomely if he put all his money on the "Next Bogus Middle East Crisis" square.
USA (Sep 16, '13)
It is too early to tell just where Obama will rank in the list of Worst Presidents Ever, but every day he inches closer to the top spot. This will inevitably happen despite all the accolades and historic precedents that his election generated, including his preposterous Peace Prize (which the Swedes will be blushing red about for quite some time), his lofty Kingesque rhetoric and the fervent desire of the blinded Left to show up the neocons with their earthly savior. The ongoing and as yet unresolved fiasco over Syria may well be the cherry that tops his Failure as Prez Pie, though I suspect that in his remaining three years he has screw-ups, scandals, coverups and a financial Megameltdown still ahead of him.
But imagine a president who manages to make Vladamir Putin (!) look like a paladin for peace, alienates even his core constituents with tardy, convoluted and illogical rationale for intervention, follows up the Edward Snowden revelations about his hypocritical lying with yet more bald faced lies about "slam dunk" evidence that Bashar Al-Assad ordered the gas attacks, dismisses the UN with a level of contempt that only Dumbya Bush (his soul brother) would admire, and seemingly is ready to defy the overwhelming will of the Amerikan people, most of the planet as well as the usually divided Congress.
It would appear to be workings of a madman at first blush, until one considers where Obama's paymasters reside. That Tel Aviv and its black ops in the Mossad stand to benefit from a US intervention into yet another quagmire is beyond doubt. What is less certain is the implementation of said miscreants in carrying out the chemical attacks in cahoots with contracted mercenaries posing as Assad's henchmen.
It would not be the first "false flag" operation conducted by the Zionists, as anyone who has not drunk the WonderAid about 9-11 can attest. Once the US commits to a "limited" air war (just like LBJ did in 1965, remember?), it will be a piece of cake for the Mossad to manufacture a Gulf-of-Tonkinish incident with Iran that Obama will use as justification for full scale war with the anti-imperialists in Tehran.
Of course, at that point articles of impeachment will already be in front of an increasingly irate Congress, with effigies of the Obamanable Stooge lighting up lampposts from New York to San Diego, but Obama's Jewish bosses will have their conflagration, which suits their bank accounts and their fantasies about a ThirdTemple just fine.
I never thought I would see a worse president than that village idiot Bush but evidently genetic research is capable nowadays of splicing together the genes of a pathological liar, a soulless serial killer and a smooth-talking politician; I give you Barack Insane Obama.
Texas (Sep 11, '13)
[Re Cambodia: Social media fuels new politics, Aug 6, '13] Recent alarming election results have highlighted some deep-seated popular
discontent towards the performance of the Cambodian government and the way it may have failed to
address pressing fundamental economic, social and governance issues that have negatively
impacted on the daily life of the people.
Known for its disciplined organization, the Cambodian People's Party is now faced with unprecedented
and daunting challenges to effectively respond, adapt and move ahead to swiftly reform
itself and the government to regain the needed credibility and confidence of the people.
The depth, breadth and pace of reforms need to be assessed within the time binding
constraints of the next five years and way beyond. This requires a strong political will to
tackle and promote a mindset of change within the party and the government.
As severe as this set back can be for the CPP, it also provides an unprecedented historical opportunity to rise to the challenge and lay out a new economic, cultural and social foundation that will make Cambodia become an economic
powerhouse, relevant to the region and to the world, where our Angkorian forefathers and the generations to come will be proud of.
Mindset change is hard but possible if it is well designed and can touch the hearts and minds of the people. Lee Kuan Yew had done it very successfully for Singapore and Emperor Meiji for Japan. Both had created unprecedented sustainable prosperity for their nations and could be viewed as the equivalent of the 20th century Jayavarman VII.
The main challenge, however, remains within ourselves, as the famed scientist
Albert Einstein rightly said: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we
used when we created them". Neither should we also fall into the temptation of “change
to remain unchanged” as cosmetic change is not change but just a way to perpetuate our
usual habits, values and mindset, which have proven to be rather ineffective in addressing
the toughest economic and societal issues.
Well-intended policies were conceived, unfortunately they fell short due to the
absence of urgency, weak implementation and coordination, weak accountability as
political correctness has been rewarded more than results, which has resulted in
widespread ineptitude in many line ministries.
Cambodia today mainly leans towards a donor-influenced mindset, whose
agenda is just to maintain Cambodia’s Third World status. In comparison, let us look back
in perspective to the Sangkum Reas Niyum era of (as he was then) Prince Norodom Sihanouk who
displayed real leadership, wisdom and transformed the country into an economic
powerhouse in the 1960s within Southeast Asia as well as project its soft power onto the
global political arena by being a founder member of the NAM (Non Aligned Movement) and
sat as equal among the great statesmen of those times the like of Nasser, Nehru and
Whoever holds the reins of power in the next decade could use a bolder vision to set a new path of development for the country. Is there a leader cut out for such
David Vichet Van
A Simple Khmer Citizen (Sep 9, '13)
Killing Syrian civilians to punish Bashar Al-Assad for killing Syrian civilians is madness pure and simple.Why is this not the central meme?
Australia (Sep 9, '13)
The murder of a young Aussie here in DeathLand by three bored WonderTeens has predictably stirred the momentary ire and horror that such an act fully merits. But in a country where the recent butchery of toddlers registered similar outcries for reform and gun control and the like, only to dissipate in the usual cascade of liberal hand wringing and congressional GOP stonewalling, our inherent love of violence will kick in, almost like clockwork, to relativize the tragedy, focus on some new similar horror, then slide into the river of Denial, Amnesia and Thank-God-It-Wasn’t-My-Child relief.
And usually we’ll be starting anew war in Non-Amerika to get us concentrating on the real priorities, killing brown children “over there.” The fate of the three sociopaths remains unknown at this time, but they’ll doubtless be grateful that they haven’t been branded “terrorists” like the Chechens of Boston Marathon infamy, simply because they don’t have funny sounding names or heathen religions.
What won’t help their case is the blithe statement one made that the motivation for the killing was sheer boredom and the desire to see that relieved by shooting the young man in the back. That is a definite no-no in a country that typically rationalizes our murderous warmongering ways with some convoluted expression of absurdist righteousness, such as justifying the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis by saying we fought Saddam for the protection and safety of the Iraqi people, or the self-defense ploy used recently in Florida to acquit a man who shot an unarmed black teenager. By making the case of Us vs Them, Good vs Perceived Imaginary Threat, Wonderlanders can nod approvingly and quickly process the surreal rape of logic and sanity into something fungible, pliable and completely sensible.
Worse for the miscreants, though, such a confession makes the nihilism that resides in every Amerikan bosom spasm and twitch with envy. The desire to slaughter and destroy resides so snugly inside DeathLanders that it should be little wonder that every week a new TV show or movie comes out concerning the end of the world with all its attendant death and destruction. Similarly unsurprising should be the non-revelation that the most popular book in the Holy Gospel is the one where the progenitor inspiration for all such nihilist entertainment originated, the Apocalypse of St, John the Divine, where carnage, retribution and violent punishment are meted out in bucketloads of blood. Are we surprised that we sit on the largest collection of planet killing nukes and biological weapons?
By making us see ourselves in them, the three alleged murderers have condemned themselves a hundredfold. Amerikans don’t like to be reminded that we are not the most violent, murderous, terroristic, warmongering nation in the history of the globe for nothing.
Texas (Sep 9, '13)
Saudi rulers must feel in a real pickle these days.
On the international side, their military allies in Egypt are bracing for incipient civil war, their rebel allies in Syria are being gassed with impunity, little neighbor Qatar and its Al Jazeera TV network is making a real pest of itself in resisting Saudi bids for regional influence, the US fracking boom threatens to erode their control of Amerika’s addiction to oil, Iran’s nuclear program continues apace, Yemen to the south teeters on the precipice, their army of occupation and repression in Bahrain continue to aggravate Sunni-Shi'ite tensions and the Al Qaeda movement they and the CIA created has gone rogue, splintering into a thousand hydra’s heads, each with their own definition of Islamic purity with some proliferating in Riyadh's backyard.
Domestically, the situation may be even more dire. Disgruntled Saudi youth who connected to the cyberuniverse are easily circumventing all the old style regime organs of suppressing dissent, "immorality" and calls for pluralism. With the old example of the Shah and the new examples of the Arab spring as historical wake up calls for those who refuse to smell the coffee, the aging Wahhabists in Riyadh are undoubtedly hunkering down to weather what they hope is a passing storm.
Alas, for them, what will be passing is their geriatric derrieres as the old guard pushes up cacti one by one, leaving a whole host of unresolved questions to their younger successors, including a suffocating morality state, rigidly controlled gender relations, mounting debt, depleted oil reserves, the increasing radicalization of homegrown Islamists, the deteriorating health of Saudi youth reared on Western cholesterol, persistent unemployment in an oil industry still dominated by expats and most ominous of all, the tottering and impending collapse of their foremost Anglo-Saxon ally, the Empire.
Wonderland, always eager to point fingers at repressive regimes worldwide that don't meet our standards of human rights and civil liberties, have naturally always and hypocritically turned a blind eye to the theo-Stalinist regime in Riyadh, even ignoring all the blatant and transparent ties of the royal family to al-Qaeda, the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the Sudanese government and every hatred-spewing madrasa from Albania to Zanzibar.
The good news for the Saudis is that the one state with the most to lose if the conservative, US-tied regime falls is Israel, which has supplied the Saudi state with surreptitious intelligence, training and assistance for 30 years or so and relies on Riyadh to keep the lid on the simmering Palestinian pot. But even the Chosen People cannot stop the big wheel of history turning.
Texas (Sep 6, '13)
[Re Bo breaks from script, but sticks to role, Sep 3, '13] "Western-style democracy with all its trappings might be a goal" -Francisco Sisci
Present-day politics in the US is not a good advertisement for "Western-style democracy." Congress is the most despised institution in the US, less popular than cockroaches or warts, and for many good reasons. Any day now, congress and the president are likely to give us another war, kill a vast number of Syrian civilians, against the wishes of most Americans. They have been doing this since at least 1950. In that time, no change for the better has come from electoral politics. The biggest change in US society in my lifetime was the Civil Rights movement. It did not grow out of electoral politics.
China (Sep 6, '13)
General Martin Dempsey's refusal of US Secretary of State John Kerry's invitation to participate in Kerry's dissimulation that an attack against Syria is not an act of war requiring congressional authorization is priceless.
US Senator Rand Paul claims such an attack must be approved by congress with a decision that is binding on President Barack Obama and wants Obama to indicate as much before any vote. Dempsey's "no thanks" in such a context during testimony before congress intended by Obama should have a devastating effect on Obama's ability to get congressional approval if enough people take note of it.
I did not think that anyone would be able to outdo Representative Zoe Lofgren's recent retort in an interview that if such an attack against Washington, DC would be viewed as an act of war, then such an attack against Syria should also be viewed as an act of war.
I was hoping that Paul would express the foregoing thought if Kerry allowed Paul to reply. Instead of the rapacious and insatiable Kerry allowing Paul to reply, Kerry turned to Dempsey and invited to him to fall into a trap. Dempsey, a man in the mold of Calvin Coolidge whom Dempsey resembles slightly, let Kerry and Obama both fall into a pit from which no one should be able to emerge, assuming there is a shred of decency, rationality and humanity left in the US.
Dempsey would not be where he is were he not approved by the US' Israeli masters, and his refusal to participate in Kerry's deception is most probably going to cost him quite a bit at the hands of this country's Zionist and Israeli puppet masters. I am taking public note of this in the hopes of protecting and liberating him from his and this country's Israeli overseers in the hope we can get him to become the first US president who is free from Zionist or Israeli control in over 80 years.
USA (Sep 6, '13)
[Re Pet projects put Kim on a slippery slope, Sep 3, '13] Kim Jong-eun can do nothing right, according to Joon-ho Kim. Even though South Korea has its ear to the ground, like the US, it is wandering in the dark when it comes to North Korea.
Building a water park for the people, is not an occasion for ironic comment. Had Kim looked at the days of Evita and Juan Peron, Evita built amusement parks for the Argentines. Evita also instituted a program of distributing milk to the people, too. Alas, the US, South Korea and others sneer at any projects undertaken in the North and cynically, they are denying the import of milk and milk products to the people of North Korea.
Standing on the high horse of false morality is rather distasteful, don't you think?
Guam (Sep 4, '13)
[Re Life loses value in the Middle East, Aug 29, '13] Ramzy Baroud provided inaccurate statistics about the number of Palestinians civilians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. Baroud stated: "According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 1,417 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli 2008-09 war on Gaza, out of which 926 were civilians, including 313 children. The Israeli rights group B'Tselem puts the number at 1,385, with 318 minors killed"
According to Israel Defense Forces sources, over 1,000 Palestinian casualties were Hamas fighters. While Baroud did mention casualties by both sides in Egypt, he failed to provide statistics for Israeli casualties and the trauma to Israel's children resulting from the thousand of rockets launched at Israeli towns by Hamas from Gaza. The anti-Israeli narrative in Baroud's essay is propaganda.
California, USA (Sep 4, '13)
It is reassuring that some in the Syrian opposition and many Syrians interviewed in the street by Arab TV media are opposed to a US or Western attack against Syria, even though their opposition may be due to considerations other than the need to act in accordance with international law which would prohibit such an attack.
US President Obama's legal justification for attacking Syria is based on the illegitimate, widely discredited and unacceptable preventive war doctrine and is the same legal justification Israel (whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clamoring for an attack) used to justify the 1967 war in which Syria lost control of the Golan Heights, the Palestinians lost control of Gaza and the West Bank, Egypt lost control of the Sinai and many other illegal acts since then and the (Zionist-controlled) US has used to justify attacking Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Given the foregoing, is it not surprising that Free Syrian Army Chief-of-Staff Salim Idrees and Free Syrian Army Strategic Advisor and Spokesman Luay al-Miqdadi and others of their ilk are confident that the US Congress will support Obama.
It is almost certain that their handlers have manipulated them yet again and gotten them to act against their best interests and the best interests of Syria, Arabs, Muslims and humanity in general. You would think that they would be expressing the hope that Congress would not support Obama.
What Syrian in their right mind would give approval for an attack whose illegitimate "legal" justification is the same as that used by Syria's Israeli enemy to seize the Golan Heights in 1967.
Given that Syrian opposition leaders have tried repeatedly to discredit the Syrian regime's resistance credentials against Israel, you would think that they would be extra careful not to do anything to validate or launder their enemy's criminal actions which they may have a much more difficult time opposing if they continue down this path of cheerleading for an attack with the same foolishness of an innocent person cheering for their own execution, except that much more than one person, or even one country or one people, is at stake.
Were the US Congress to support Obama, it would be doing nothing more than validating or availing itself of a thoroughly illegitimate Israeli alternative reality legal doctrine that past Zionist-controlled US administrations and the Israeli pariah that controls them have invoked.
Given the foregoing characterization and the clarity with which the issue has been presented, I am not sure that Congress will support Obama once international law gets a fair hearing despite Obama's best efforts to keep it out and given that responsibility to protect is not a credibly available avenue for justifying any attack.
The FSA's Idrees said "yes," when he was asked by al-Arabiya whether he would welcome a US or Western attack on Syria. He said "yes" even though the legal justification for the attack is essentially the same as the illegitimate legal justification for the Israeli attacks on Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran and Tunisia.
When Idrees was asked whether he would welcome Israeli entity participation in an attack against the regime, he said "no" because it occupies Syrian territory (not because it is also an enemy of the Arab and Muslim worlds and humanity and occupies Palestine). Does he mean to say that he would welcome an attack were it not occupying Syrian territory and even though it is occupying all of Palestine?
The Syrian opposition and all who desire a just world order should not be validating or availing themselves of illegitimate and discredited Israeli alternative reality legal doctrines or the recently fabricated doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P).
R2P, assuming such a doctrine is needed and is properly formulated, should not be available to those with "unclean hands", especially those who intend to benefit illegitimately from invoking R2P.
Until I started reading Asia Time Online again a few days ago I had not read it since the time a letter from a reader was published claiming that a preventive war act that is unacceptable under international law would become acceptable merely by claiming self-defense. Unfortunately, it appears that the reader doesn't understand that anticipatory self-defense with, among other things, has strict limits on the imminent nature of the threat and proportionality is the self-defense outer limit of international law that makes preventive war unacceptable.
A limited attack as envisioned by Obama is not only disproportionate it is illegal. If the foregoing is hard to fathom, maybe it will help to be reminded that simply saying something was done in self-defense doesn't make it so and that until the Israeli-controlled US started its illegal and widely condemned wars, the international pariah that is Israel was in the entire world.
Virginia, USA (Sep 3, '13)
The year 2013 is the anniversary of many events both large and small. It is also the centenary of the end of a historical epoch. 1913 marked the last year before the Great War broke out. It thus represents the termination point of the pre-modern era to the present "modern" era, an era bookended with a hot world war and the present day increasingly chilly one.
The pre-modern era can reasonably be adjudged to have begun in the year 1453 when the Last Roman Empire in Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks (thereby making 2013 yet another anniversary.) Sadly, it remains a historical fact that it is wars that represent the major turning points in history, not scientific discoveries or religious conversions or great works of art. Wars shape our lives, our deaths and our ideas about life and death; they affirm our humanity by our inhumanity. It is the most human of institutions.
Hard on the heels of the traumatic end of 2000 years of Roman grandeur was a series of events that had the most profound implications for the pre-modern era, the innovation of the printing press by Guttenberg in 1454 and the "discovery" of the New World by Columbus in 1492. The domino effect of these three events brought the world to 1913, a year where the exhausted remnants of the Ottoman Empire lay a smoldering, ready for ignition anew. It was the last year where the ideas of authoritarian dynasties that hearkened back to the dawn of civilization would seem like the natural and divinely inspired order of things, the last year that the idea of glorious, chivalric and pristine wars could be fought, the last year that the awful and awesome promise of technology did not threaten mass extinctions.
Today, 2013 is just another brick in the wall that humanity had built since the world lost its mind in 1914. This year finds the splintered pieces of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East splintering anew, with the potential to ignite another wider conflagration, just as the Austrians counted on limiting their little war with Serbia to the barbarous recesses of the Balkans. Perhaps Obama, like the Emperor Franz Josef, is just hoping to teach Assad a lesson by waging "limited" air war on Syria. He should read his history books about how imperial Russia perceived Austria Hungary's "little war" and pray Putin does not emulate Nicholas II.
Texas (Sep 3, '13)
[Re Obama set for holy Tomahawk war, Aug 27, '13] American history repeats itself over and over again. The supposed atrocity: sinking of the USS Maine to get us to attack Spain. Dirty bird Lyndon B Johnson's attack on our navy to get us to escalate the Vietnam war. The sinking of the RMS Lusitania... and on and on forever.
The actors have different names, even different shades of facial color, but the lies and rotten behavior remain the same.
And enough of the American public will swallow the whole rotten mess to support yet another attack on another country.
USA (Aug 29, '13)
[Re Syrians to be losers - again, Aug 26, '13] As President Barack Obama weighs his military options for "punishing" Syria for the use of Sarin gas, it is
useful to recall a much overlooked UN report on the use of bio-chemical weapons in Syria.
The UN established that both sides in the Syrian conflict have resorted to the use of such weapons.
So, it is not unreasonable to suppose that it was very much in the interests of the Syrians rebels of
all stripes to use them when UN inspectors were coming to investigate areas where the deadly
gas was allegedly used.
The Obama White House has taken it on faith that the Assad government did, even though it admits that it is on faith alone that they have come to this conclusion. We ask the question of "cui bono?" Who benefits? The rebels, of course, the more especially since they think Obama is dragging his feet on aiding them with the weapons he is not furnishing
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Aug 29, '13)
The US is apparently on the verge of another great mischief in the Middle East, 10 years after the "pretextual war" in Iraq via the WMD hoax. Mr Kerry sounds so much like the then Secretary of State Collin Powell who lied to the whole world about the "compelling and irrefutable evidence."
Contrary to Kerry, there is little doubt the Syrian rebels have used gas attack, as confirmed by a member of the UN commission of inquiry, Carlo del Ponte, both in May and now. But, truth is the first casualty of war and America's impending new military gambit with unknown consequences fits the rogue superpower's pattern of warmongering, which has more than once backfired on Washington. Kaveh L Afrasiabi
United States (Aug 29, '13)
Can some clued-in ATol reader tell me why the US and its Western stooges are getting their panties in a wad about chemical weapons in Syria? Several months ago the reincarnation of Dumbya Bush stood in front of cameras and proclaimed the use of such weapons a "red line" that Assad did not want to cross, as if the deaths of thousands of civilians wasn't enough of a "red line" of some new Wonderish definition of decency and "legitimate" war behavior.
This somber proclamation coming from a president, mind you, that has the blood of hundreds if not thousands of innocent victims killed by his drone wars, his continued illegal occupation of Afghanistan and his black op assassination squads.
But those deaths, inflicted by chemical explosions or projectiles propelled by explosive chemicals, are in some way "acceptable" deaths as opposed to those induced by non-explosive chemicals. Evidently chemicals that cause bodies to be disintegrated into a thousand incinerated pieces are preferable to ones that merely asphyxiate or paralyze the nervous system but nonetheless leaves the corpse intact. Maybe Obama has something against leaving enough body parts around for a decent burial (or autopsy). That would explain why we never got to see Osama bin Laden's body, wouldn't it?
All this angst and hand wringing from a country whose chemical weapon Agent Orange still plagues Vietnam and thousands of US veterans and whose effects are to this day disavowed. All this hoohah from a country that poisoned its own troops with chemical weapons demolitions during the First Gulf War. All this anxiety about chemicals from a country where every day hundreds of companies are allowed to pollute air and groundwater with toxic chemicals that generate fat profits and condemn poor people to a lifetime of health problems and premature funerals.
But the fact that the US has some quirky kind of sensitivity about chemical weapons can't be denied, judging from the kind of biased and contrived intelligence used in past so-called "red line" episodes, such as the alleged and subsequently discredited CIA "yellow rain" incidents during the Cold War and the erroneous CIA conclusion in 1998 that Sudan had a chemical weapons plant that we then cruise missile destroyed, only to discover later on that it was just a pharmaceutical drug plant churning out medicine. Oops (the secret CIA motto, by the way.) And don't be surprised after we drop some bombs and kill more innocent brown people that the CIA will 'fess up and admit they got the Syrian chemical attacks wrong too. Double motto.
Perhaps it's the image of Western Front Anglo-Saxons choking in clouds of mustard gas in World War I that's got the spooks in the CIA spooked. Or maybe because anyone else using chemical weapons threatens our monopoly on hideous instruments of lethality. But the image of an indignant Don Obama dripping from head to toe with innocent blood and his befuddled Sancho Panza Joe Biden getting sanctimonious about Syrian chemical weapons surely must set a new standard of hypocrisy even the Anglo-Saxons will have trouble surpassing. But I am confident they will.
Texas (Aug 29, '13)
Hardy Campbell, perhaps you could enlighten us on the history of socialism and how that system has benefited humanity economically/socially? Human systems aren't immutable, my friend; they evolve and adapt over time as demanded by changing circumstances (or they risk being discarded by history). During the height of the Cold War, who could have imagined die-hard socialist countries one day turning capitalistic? Maybe capitalism can mutate as well? As a fellow ATol reader, my advice to you is to get out of Texas and go see what's happening around the world, lest you become the allegorical frog living at the bottom of a well.
USA (Aug 26, '13)
For further debate on this, we direct writers to The Edge - ATol
So Manning gets 35 years and Snowden gets indefinite Russian winters as the Obamanable President's revenge. The irony of the Obaminator's government making people's private lives more transparent through his universal snooping while he cloaks himself in ever more opaque cocoons of secrecy may escape most people. Before the word "terrorist" became an abused member of the WonderLexicon, there was government snooping of organized crime bosses, politicians, communists, civil rights activists, drug lords, tax evaders, religious leaders, Hollywood stars, ie, anyone with a pulse that could someday upset the status quo. And that was in the days when snooping was much more difficult in a no-Facebook, Internetless world. Nowadays, the snoopers are like kids in a cyber-candy store. And like a child who has raided the cookie jar without permission, our NSA Snoop Dogs blithely confess to multiple transgressions of what they sneeringly refer to as "court"-approved surveillance. Amazing they haven't croaked of cyberdiabetes.
The gullible rubes called Amerikans live in a fantasy world where the idea of "privacy" has become a rhetorical sacred bedrock of our so-called democracy, while, in truth, the US government always considered privacy as a theoretical concept, like freedom and civil liberties, that best resides as ink stains on a piece of yellowing paper, to be trotted out in the real world only for special bamboozling occasions, like elections, war rallies and similar mob-quelling rubbish. Watergate exposed some of what had been going on for decades, but the American public gullibly believed that all those subsequent late 70s CIA hearings and institutional "reforms" fixed the problem permanently and we could all return to the Wonderland of Ike-in-the-WH, Tail Finned Cars and juke box dancing at the malt shop.
In truth, the real snooping hadn't even gotten started yet. The rapid evolution of computers and all sorts of electronic gizmos during the 80s made the spying business easier, quicker and less obvious. At the same time, the cycle of financial balloons inflated to mask a deteriorating economy began in earnest, and make no mistake that the scions of Wall Street and the clandestine organs of national security profited enormously from the confluence of these parallel developments, often in collusion.
But every weapon has a two edged blade, and in the case of the cybercrooks in the SEC, NSA, CIA, FBI, DEA, DIA, etc., that dual sharpness sliced important veins when Assange, Manning and Snowden cut through the veil of secrecy with their acts of patriotism and honor. Mind you, nothing like 9/11 exposing arteries were severed, but still, to those accustomed to working at midnight with no accountability, the cuts stung as matter of pride. Someone had to pay, so the trio of political dissidents have been persecuted accordingly. Uncle Joe would be proud of his dusky pupil.
They shouldn't gloat too loudly or too long, however. The trio represents only the tippy tip of a vanguard with their fingers on their keyboards, ready to short out electric grids, financial markets, weapons systems, worldwide webs and data bases at a stroke. Good thing Obama's de-criminalizing smokers of Mary Jane; their place in the overcrowded penal system will rapidly be replaced with the avengers of the Hero Manning.
Texas (Aug 26, '13)
So the CIA has finally decided to "tell all" about Area 51, the long suspected government secret facility in the Nevada desert. Of course, the "revelation" did not include aliens or wrecked spacecraft from the Pleiades, just the oft suspected base for spy plane testing during the Cold War. And that supposedly will put an end to such outrageous speculation that the US government would hide such things from its democratic citizenry. Which is why any sane person knows the CIA is still hiding something out there because the CIA ALWAYS lies, especially when they've been forced to admit a previous lie.
It's just a CIA knee jerk reaction more than anything else, a compulsion to deceive forged over 60 years of clandestine no-accountability criminal endeavors, from smuggling Nazis to training right wing death squads to peddling heroin and cocaine to rigging elections to political smear campaigns to planting false evidence to false flag operations to the routine kidnappings, tortures, assassinations, smuggling, embargo-busting, illegal surveillance, break-ins, cover-ups and theft. But it's also a tried and true CIA strategy also; confess to a smaller lie to coverup a still bigger lie.
So why this sudden need to spill the obvious from these mendacious murderers, especially about a site that has been confined to fringe groups convinced of alien visitations and conspiracies? On the subject of extraterrestrials, I am agnostic; I do not discount the possibility nor does the existing "evidence" convince me. But when the government is seen to be expending propaganda capital about something so innocuous I have to wonder and recall other odd incidences.
Before the filming of the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, the director consulted the military about the script, which included Area 51 as an essential plot device. The brass said they were all or the script and the way it depicted the heroic wing boys of the Air Force but they also insisted that all reference to Area 51 had to be removed. The director naturally refused as the plot would fall apart otherwise, so the Pentagon-types refused support and walked out. Mind you, this occurred when the official government position about Area 51 was that it was pure fiction and the stuff of tin-foil alien abductee fantasies, so why give a fiction mention of it a second thought?
To paraphrase Scripture, "The Truth flees when no fiction pursues." Maybe more to the point, now we understand that it was not the Pentagon but the CIA who were the real masters of Area 51, something which can also be said of many many institutions, corporations and educational systems in Wonderland.
Making the case that the CIA has its tentacles ensnaring virtually every aspect of Amerikan society, politics and economics would not be a stretch by any means. And don't look for shock on my face if it's ever disclosed that the CIA is also peddling weapons and drugs to alien gangsters from the stars.
Texas (Aug 32, '13)
At the risk of indulging in a polemical debate with John Chen [Letter August 20], there are some critical points here that bear further elaboration. I live in a capitalist society and have done so all my life. The national ideology has provided me with a comfortable living and pleasant lifestyle (which includes sweating in the Texas heat whenever I get a chance.) From this selfish perspective capitalism cannot be surpassed. And for a long time I drank the same KoolAid (disguised as an occasional beer) that Chen enjoys, the myth that the engine of capitalism which would profit the innovative go-getter individual personally and society as a whole in the form of jobs, homes and provision for a family (the "Amerikan Dream.")
But after seeing for the last 40 years the deterioration of our wealth creating industries, the slow but inexorable strangulation of the middle class, the corresponding explosion of obscene wealth by the 1%ers, the pervasive expansion of poverty, functional illiteracy, Third World conditions, collapsing health care, illegal wars, corporate crimes, economic Ponzification and political corruption on a scale that would embarrass Zimbabwe, I finally had to take the blinders off that every Wonderlander is fitted with at birth and had to recognize that capitalism is a Darwinian evolutionary process where the genes of capitalism, self-interest and personal profit, eventually must mutate capitalism from the do-gooding social kitten of Pollyannish WonderMythology into a ferocious predator.
On the African savannah, evolution makes the predator's teeth sharper and its jaws stronger, not for the good of the savannah's other animal inhabitants but for the good of the predator's digestive system. Likewise, with the evolution of technology and communication, capitalism's equivalent of better meat-shredding teeth and jaws are such innovations as collateralized derivatives, which have mutated from their benign origins into a ruthless economy-killing machine. But while many may suffer in the "savannah" of the ravaged Amerikan economy, the few predators who have "innovated" prosper mightily. And in an age where the rate of mutation is accelerated a billionfold by technology, these mutated beasts are evolving more rapidly, more ruthlessly and beyond any institutional control.
Chen posits a world where these monsters can be controlled, where the cookie jar can be sealed tight from the predator's claws. The Warrens and Bhararas of the world will supposedly make the savannah prowlers tamer and more "responsible." But responsible to whom? The bankers and financial wizards on Wall Street are primarily responsible to themselves and their shareholders; there is no secret codicil that makes them beholden to "society" or even "government", which they suborn anyway with well-oiled propaganda about democracy, personal freedom, innovation and oodles of campaign "donations." The responsibility of the capitalist is ultimately to themselves and no one else.
Chen is right about one thing, though, capitalism relies on innovation, but not the social-benefiting kind he envisions. No, the kind of innovation the capitalist thrives on is the kind that steals more opaquely, cheats more deceitfully and is easier to disavow when the claws smash open the cookie jar.
Relatively Cool Texas (Aug 22, '13)
An underlying condition in the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) implacable resistance to its ouster
is resentment - resentment on the part of the winners for being ousted in the first place.
And yet, the anti-MB elements do not regret for finding themselves on the side of the
generals for finding themselves in a new-old situation when they thought they had clipped
the wings of military power and now find that it has come back to dominate Egypt
The Brotherhood over played its hand from the word go. Since it cannot entertain the
idea of a separation of mosque and state, and since it thought its victory at the polls
gave it a blank check to reinstate a version of a Caliphate, it has had a rude
Still, the military has eventually to come up with a way to reintegrate the MB into
the political sphere so that it can evolve in a more open way to value opinions
other than its own - opinions that are open to the outside world, the rights of Christians
and women, and an openness to a secular society.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Aug 22, '13)
Appreciate your comment, Hardy Campbell [August 19]; it was an interesting one from an interesting individual. Through the years, I have expressed in my ATol letters an antipathy for unfettered capitalism, as well as my belief that a mix of socialist and capitalist practices would probably produce the best long-term economic outcomes. Interestingly, your entire second paragraph points to a deficiency of proper supervision as a prime underlying cause for the financial/economic fiascos enumerated.
While no one knows how far officials like US Attorney Preet Bharara and Senator Elizabeth Warren can go in helping Wall Street behave more responsibly, their efforts certainly represent a step in the right direction. And for all its myriad flaws, capitalism encourages the expression of creativity and propels economic growth in general; the challenge lies in guiding the system so it doesn't get out of control or way ahead of itself.
By the way, I don't drink the socialist or capitalist Kool-Aid, just an occasional beer here and there…. Cheers, Campbell; don't let the Texas heat get to you, and don't get too hung up on ideology.
USA (Aug 21, '13)
In regards to Nakamura Junzo's letter [August 19] about North Korean defectors, he wonders why the number of defectors is so low if North Korea is so "demonic". The entire country of North Korea is a prison camp, its takes a security pass to travel to the next town in North Korea. China will not grant asylum to North Koreans but will arrest them and deport them back to North Korea where they will face death in a North Korean gulag. North Koreans have to travel the length of China, through Laos and hope to find a path to South Korea in Thailand. Several months ago Laos arrested nine North Koreans and returned them to North Korea to face the gulag hell.
Recent reports have North Korea sending kidnap squads to China to grab defectors. Also China is increasing the barbed wire fencing along the North Korean border. In 2011 there were 2,700 defectors, in 2012 after Kim Jong-eun took power that number fell to 1,500. Anyone who follows events in North Korea knows that Jong-eun is not a reformer - his plan is to increase control over the people in the North. He has greatly increased the security of the North Korean-Chinese border.
He closed the Kaesong Industrial Park throwing 54,000 North Koreans out of work and destroying the economy of the third largest city in the North, however he now realizes he made a mistake and is trying to reopen Kaesong, but it may not work or it could take several years to reemploy all 54,000 workers. I would love to know what Nakamura Junzo admires so much in North Korea, is it the starvation the torture or could it be the complete lack of freedom? I have no idea, however, I am a believer in Karma and a persons beliefs and actions have consequences.
USA (Aug 21, '13)
John Chen's letter [August 16] commenting on how wonderful capitalism is when regulated properly made me snicker. It may be naivete on his part or just plain pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, but the idea of restrained capitalism is akin to the theory of virginal ladies of the evening; sounds tempting and wunderbar until you get down to the practical details. Perhaps Mr Chen does not comprehend how capitalism works or perhaps he's just drank so much of the Kool Aid he figures he should own stock in the company that brews the poison.
I would suggest he watch the movie Wall Street (1987) to start with, then move on to reading about the Great Depression of the 1930s, the S&L scandals of the 80s, Black Monday of '87, the dot com bust, the Asian currency crisis, the LTCM fiasco and if he still needs convincing, the whole sordid mortgage meltdown of 2007-09. In each instance, governments said all the right things about regulation and fair play and all that other rot, but when push came to shove and they saw all those tax dollars flowing in and everyone living the high life chasing one Ponzi scheme after another, they too got caught up in the euphoria of sudden easy wealth and stood to one side, lest they be accused of being wealth-depriving party-poopers. In all cases there was plenty of regulations and regulators, just little will to regulate.
And that is the seductive genius and evil of capitalism that makes the Chens of the world sing its praises by cherrypicking their memories and artfully forgetting unpleasantness to suit their rose colored and surreal Pollyanna worldview The truth is that capitalism will always promise what the Chens want to hear, anything to get at those suckers. "Regulate me and I will spread prosperity throughout," is what the ravenous lion coos to its lion tamer, purring with feline charm how nice and behaved he'll be when his cage is opened in front of an audience of fat, plump spectators. But whereas Chen and his ilk insist that letting the lion out on a leash with an experienced lion tamer is just what the economy needs to prosper, the lion knows otherwise; once the cage is open, he will rip and shred and feast on the lion tamer and all the unsuspecting rubes until he is gorged silly. But the Lion hasn't lied; the prosperity he spread was HIS prosperity in the form of shattered lives and wrecked economies. In Kapitalism, only predators thrive.
"You want to regulate me, Chen?" the Lion of Kapitalism will ask while picking his teeth with bone shards. "Sure, sure, whatever you say. My, you're looking well fed today. Please open my cage again, won't you?"
Texas USA (Aug 19, '13)
[Re Anti-North Korea? No, we're pro, Aug 16, '13] "Though not a large or random sample," says it all. One has to raise the following question - why after all these years does the number of defections from the DPRK remain low if the regime is as draconian and demonic as Pyongyanglists make it out to be?
Attachment to land is a good answer. Even Koreans originally from North Korea living in the US for more than a half century have a fond attachment to the city, town or village in which their ancestors lived and died.
Much change in the DPRK is at a pace that escapes the attention of those who predict regime change.
Guam (Aug 19, '13)
[Re Skeletons in Indonesia's closet, Aug 9, '13]The disturbing new documentary, The Act of Killing, sets a new standard of horror that few works of fiction could ever hope to match.
It describes the making of a film in Indonesia about the ruthless and wholesale massacres of communists, intellectuals and ethnic Chinese in 1965-66, an act that ultimately brought the kleptocrat Suharto into office with the Empire’s blessing. But the part that shakes you to the core is the fact that the “directors” and “actors” in this movie are the some of the worst killers themselves, who have never shied away from publicity about their butcheries and in fact are today still lauded and held in esteem by many, if not most, Indonesians.
In their "movie" they gleefully reenact their tortures, rapes, murders and burning of entire villages with serene and proud impunity, only afterwards reflecting with almost embarrassed circumspection how their victims must have felt and how their film should not make their murders seem "cruel" or 'sadistic." Going into this movie having a general knowledge of events in which one million or more people were killed for trying to acquire socioeconomic justice, I halfway expected that the director had to ferret out the perpetrators hiding away in remote parts of Indonesia, embarrassed and loathe to discuss the holocaust they inflicted on their fellow citizens.
Nothing could be further from the truth; they were feted and applauded as they toured Indonesian radio and TV promoting their movie and their “achievements”. Perhaps most chilling was a young woman TV host who practically high fived the old killers for doing their patriotic duty slaughtering the Red men, women and children. The film ends with the principal perpetrator vomiting when he visits one of the scenes of his murders, which included decapitation and strangling, then slipping away into the night, a sleepless night that would plague him with the ghosts of his 1000 victims.
But maybe one of the other killers framed this best when confronted by the director with what he described as “war crimes.” He asked pointedly, when did the Americans punish those among them that had killed the red Indians in wholesale massacres?
The American director had no response, of course, because he knew the answer. As horrific as this movie was, it also made me admire in a grotesque way the honesty of Indonesian society in not sugar coating or ignoring this episode we in the West would classify as "shameful" or "ignominious", instead deciding to show it in its stark horror and saying "Yes, this happened and we did it for the good of our country and we'll do it again if need be".
Here in an Empire whose history is stuffed with the brutalities and horrors of slavery, Indian extermination, innumerable slaughters of indigenous peoples fighting for their freedom from Imperial rule, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, My Lai, the napalming of Vietnam, and now the twin rapes of Iraq and Afghanistan with their Abu Graibs, Guantanamos and countless other secret torture camps spread throughout the world, incidents that are glossed over or ignored altogether in public education history classes, I doubt we would find such ruthless honesty or forthright admission of guilt. Certainly we would not hear any willingness to repeat these episodes, but if there's one thing the Empire is good at, it's putting old wine in new bottles and calling it "Chateau de Freedom&Democracy, vintage 20XX."
USA (Aug 16, '13)
Now that the US government is starting to crack down on Wall Street’s flagitious conduct/greed that has cast a mephitic pall over the nation’s economy, there may yet be a bright future for the country. Otherwise, no amount of wealth will ever suffice to fill the Wall Street black hole. As US Attorney Preet Bharara, who is spearheading the government effort, keenly observed, “Capitalism works best when its participants do not lie and cheat. Capitalism works best when its biggest beneficiaries play by the same rules as everyone else.” While capitalism is by no means perfect, when properly supervised, it can work wonderfully.
USA (Aug 16, '13)
[Re While officials talk, Israelis build, Aug 15, '13] Pity the poor Palestinians. The US is leaning very hard on them to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage. The Palestine Authority is basically funded by the Americans, truth be told.
Secretary of State John Kerry, rhetoric notwithstanding, is giving Israel an easy pass as the US always does.
If it is not clear by now, Israel's push to build, build and build illegally on land that is Palestinian is fueled by a reactionary political agenda of Zionism.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Aug 16, '13)
The city slicker from New York came to Podunk USA looking to sell some widgets. The first hayseed farmer he met sounded interested in all the promises the salesman made about the wonders of widgets and all the things it could do, but with a twinkle in his eye the old coot pointed to the large wooden statue of an Indian standing on his front porch and said, "Dem widgets o' yores ain't gonna be half iz good as that there wooden Injin".
The baffled Yankee examined the statue, finally asking, "OK, I give up. What does this thing do for you?" The redneck wiped his face with a red kerchief and proudly proclaimed, "Dat Injin dun kept away dem Bengal tigers from my farm fo' da las' fiddy yeers. Ain't lost one dadgum chicken, cow o' pig to a single one o' dose varmints." The salesman laughed but the farmer didn't join in. "Old man, you're in the middle of the Midwest. There are no Bengal tigers in the Midwest. Or anywhere else in America." The farmer finally smiled and let out a little chuckle. "Well, see, dere ya go. Best damn tiger chasin' Injin in da country."
Like that farmer, the WonderKlowns in the Obama maladministration are convinced that their snooping, spying, surveilling activities have kept their equivalent of the Bengal tiger away. No repetitions of 9/11 or the African embassy bombings, no organized attacks by al-Qaeda in the homeland. All due, of course, to their diligence at snuffing out all those wannabe terrorist cells by listening in to all Amerika's private calls.
We take their word for it, naturally, since they have such an enviable track record of telling the truth and being transparent. But not too transparent, lest those malefactors clue in to the ways and means Obama's stooges ferret out the Good Guys and the Bad Guys. Collateral damage, like the constitution, innocent lives and basic civil liberties are just the price we have to pay for our vanished liberties.
But in fact, despite all their assurances, the only thing we really have to go on is blind faith in a mendacious government, their oft-broken and deceitful word and our hope and prayers that those Injins on the porch are doing their job. But if we pulled the head off that wooden statue we'd find a red herring nestled within its bosom, the numbers 9/11 engraved on its scales.
Texas (Aug 15, '13)
[Re Defamation and dissent in South Korea, Aug 13, '13] South Korea like its protector the US is using its National Security Agency and intelligence network to influence national policy. Evidence has turned up in the press that Seoul's spy network has been very active in assuring the election of President Park Chung-hee.
A tilt leftward would have opened wider avenues toward North Korea - something the Obama administration finds abhorrent. As it turns out, Park is as intransigent toward Pyongyang as her predecessor Lee Myung-bak or even more so.
Guam (Aug 14, '13)
I admit I have a soft spot for the year 1953. After all, I was born in it. But aside from that personal poignancy, that singular solar revolution was stuffed with historic events, from the death of Stalin the conquest of Mount Everest to the first revolt in the Soviet bloc. In this, the 60th anniversary of all these large and small histories, we are still witnessing repercussions. Perhaps none was more significant than the CIA/MI6 engineered coup that toppled the populist Mossadeq in Iran, an event still remembered with much bitterness in that revolutionary country. The reinstitution of the puffed up peacock Reza Pahlavi to the Persian royal throne seemingly ensured the West of a if not compliant at least anti-communist leader of the largest country in the Middle East, a leader, I might add, mightily interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.
So while the Shahenshah disappeared, his ambitions to make Iran a dominant regional, if not global, player, did not. More important for the post-Shah government was that, coupled with their anti-imperialist and Islamic worldview and the ill-conceived and totally botched invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the foremost imperialist power, they are now convinced that in order to avoid being "Mossadeqed" a second time nukes provide the only language that old naked imperialist in Stars and Stripes can understand.
Which brings us to the other significant event of 1953, the armistice that terminated hostilities in Korea and guaranteed the fragile viability of the Stalinist North, which was left bitterly frustrated that its erstwhile communist allies China and the USSR had abandoned their goal of unifying the Korean nation.
Its comatose economy supported by its communist Big Brothers for decades, the leaders of North Korea eventually reached a decision that, in order to prepare for the day when such benign charity ended and to continue their struggle for reunification with the South in the face of 30,000 Amerikan troops facing them across the armistice line, the only recourse for their resource-poor and tiny nation was to acquire nukes themselves. Perhaps anticipating their inclusion in the infamous "Axis of Evil", the North knew that nukes provided them with a slew of advantages unique to such possessors, including protection from attack and a powerful bargaining chip for negotiating with its enemies.
Iran, taking a page from that same Surviving the Capitalists manual, decided to not only follow that same path but to ally themselves with the North in order to secure technology and know-how in constructing these weapons and busting Western embargoes. So now 1953 has come full circle; North Korea and Iran, both creatures and rememberers of that fateful year, have a common goal of nuclear-guaranteed independence from the predations of the Anglo-Saxon West. 1953, so dear to me, will always be a likewise bitter reminder to Iran and North Korea of "Never Again."
Texas (Aug 13, '13)
Wonderland is truly a wonderland for rantaholics like me. The Department of Silly Conclusions and Absurd Logic in DC (not to be confused with its 1970s British version which specialized in ambulatory comedy) is churning the dumb stuff out faster than my keyboard can tolerate my frantic pounding. Take the Department of Defense, a term which, in this case, connotes a reaction to mounting criticism on the military's mounting suicide problem among returning vets from the twin abattoirs we call Iraq and GetBleepedistan (325 deaths in 2012).
Consequently, the Penta-gone-nutters funded a psychological study which (stop the presses, if you can still find one!) concluded that the problem is not the soul-gutting horror, paralyzing terror and mind-numbing insanity of war that's driving these young men and women to become alcoholics, abuse their loved ones and commit homicide and suicide at dizzying rates.
No, heavens no! It's the fragile and brittle state of mind of young adult Wonderlanders that makes these veterans come home and off themselves, a state of mind that existed waaaay before they joined the military. Indeed, carrying this study's curious conclusion a step further, the military probably ADDED years to their lives, keeping them focused on killing foreign brown heathens before they could even think of turning their guns on themselves or other Wonderlanders. Don't be surprised to see the Army make advertising hay out of that wisdom ("Join the Army, See the World and Keep that Gun Out of Your Mouth!") It's as if the Pentagunners had concluded that it's not swimming that gets you wet, it's the water.
The study didn't stop there, of course; go for the gold medal of stupidity while you're in that stadium. They also said that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was NOT prevalent among those deceased, as if these psychogurus could divine such details from buried corpses. The driver for such conclusions is the prerequisite that war and war-waging comes out of this pristine and virginal, untouched and unsullied by anything so demeaning as macho warriors turning in multiple tours of duty and then ending their lives when they return home because the military has discarded them like embarrassing trash.
If this all smacks of Big Tobacco funding studies that showed smoking was harmless or Big Coal's whore scientists telling us burning smokestacks did not harm the environment, it's because Amerikans have no peers when it comes to hearing what we want to hear and paying someone handsomely to do so.
The Pentagon's absurd conclusion naturally whitewashes any blame that the illegal wars these young men fight, which involves destroying homes, murdering old people and children, raping women, taking, selling and distributing narcotics, living in constant fear of snipers or IEDs, accidentally killing your comrades, and leaving poverty stricken families behind stateside, is any way be complicit in making men in the prime of their lives so despair of their internal pain that the grave offers a more attractive alternative.
"The wages of sin is Death, " says the Good Book. I'll leave it at that.
Texas (Aug 9, '13)
[Re China and Korea: A change of partners, Aug 7, '13] With so much Chinese capital - human, financial and geopolitical - having been expended on North Korea, it is rather doubtful that China will forsake its old ally in any meaningful way, at least not until such a time when Chinese influence becomes predominant in East Asia (probably not even then).
Meanwhile, strengthening China-South Korea relations do not inherently/necessarily contradict the decades-long Sino-North Korean alliance, an abandonment of which would not likely accrue much overall net benefit to either party.
USA (Aug 9, '13)
[Re China and Korea: A change of partners?, Aug 7, '13] China established diplomatic and consequently trade relations with South Korea in August 1992, ie, 23 years ago. So, it stands to reason that North Korea has learned to live with that fact. North Korean watchers tend to discount that Pyongyang acts rationally; a sad error in judgment, it stands to reason.
On the other hand, China is not "throwing the DPRK to the wolves". Saying this, as good capitalists with a red tinge that the Chinese are, they will trade with Seoul. Nevertheless, trade does not signify that Beijing is going to an ROK Canossa.
Guam (Aug 8, '13)
Peter Van Buren's article in Asia Times Online, "Welcome to the Post-Constitution" [Aug 6, '13], is required reading. To those American writers who have issued warnings, it is further confirmation of their deepest suspicions and fears; to a majority of Americans, however, it will never be disclosed to them or shared by American news editors. If NSA is KGB and Silicon Valley cyber-hegemons are Stasi, mainstream U.S. news media is Pravda - a fully complicit partner.
Having no proof to offer you but only conjecture, I believe that a financial-military coup might have already occurred in America. I'll call it a "soft coup" enabled by all the players, and by a figure-head in the Oval Office who succeeded early in defeating major domestic stumbling blocks to 21st Century American hegemony. President Barack Obama neutralized raging anti-Bush sentiment in 2008 and quickly moved Liberals, Democrats and Progressives to join Republicans in cheering and supporting actions and policies they would find impeachable under former president George W. Bush. President Obama rewarded Wall Street, neocon, and military-intel-industrial complex factions alike - proven winners today against losers, the American people. But cracks are now appearing and some "Obama people" are waking up and catching up (after four years).
Why is there an increased military, paramilitary and militarized police presence across America? Surely, it is not because of oil, minerals or natural gas reserves under mid-town Manhattan or the Chicago Loop. It isn't because Bolsheviks are throwing Molotov's into police wagons or Chinese gangs intend to overthrow city councils. It is because there will be deep seated rage and civil unrest when most of "We the People" finally wake-up to their predicament. As Van Buren pointed out, "the enemy is us".
If a "soft coup" has occurred, it won't be stopped by anyone in political office, and certainly not stopped by law enforcement acting on behalf of Wall Street and the military when so ordered. Nonetheless, it needs to be revealed gradually. I believe it was and is being inculcated through gradual stages and examples found in Mr. Van Buren's article demonstrate this. "Whistle blowers", wittingly or unwittingly, also serve this purpose.
On Friday, April 19 in the Boston area "de facto martial law" was declared and homes were entered and searched without a warrant. It was arguably an extremely disproportionate response which also sent a very strong and unmistakable message to the American people about how combined power of militarized police can wield total control over a population by fiat order. No one blinked or challenged its constitutionality at the time (they cheered instead). Today, however, I find 80% of comments about NSA revelations left by posters at The New York Times and The Guardian mirror right-wing comments by posters at FOX News. "We the People" are finally getting the message that America has become, de facto, a police state.
And where were you? And where was I? And who shall we blame? And what do we do now?
I once asked myself the question: Does America need to experience a period of tyranny, despotism, totalitarianism, even fascism in order to rediscover its lost identity, lost ideals, lost democracy, lost constitution, lost destiny? Too often, we don't appreciate what we have until we lose it. History will show us the answers in due time. For now, America is going through the fires.
Michael T Bucci
USA (Aug 8, '13)
Futureman called, again at a less than propitious time. I was sitting down to supper when he rang. "Dude, our class in Ancient Amerikan History was debating who was the baddest villain 'in your day' when the question popped up; where's a photo of the feared terrorist Albert Kinda? Can you help us?" "Albert Kinda? Who's that? Never heard of him." "No way! Your country was obsessed with him; 9-11, Iraq, Afghanistan, the war with Pakistan, the Kuala Lumpur Incident. You know, Al Kinda!"
"Wait a second. You mean, al-Qaeda? The terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden?"
"Osama bin Who? No, don't know that guy. Our records show that Al Kinda struck fear in the hearts of every Amerikan for 85 years in the 21st century. He made you suspend all your civil liberties, turned you into a police state, made the declaration of martial law in 2019 not only acceptable but demanded by your compatriots. It is kinda curious though."
Futureman hesitated. "It seems our records show that Al was declared dead and buried several times by your media, proclaiming Kinda finished, ineffective, a washed out has-been terrorist. But on multiple occasions he would suddenly become Public Enemy Number one again, the most dangerous threat imaginable, causing massive security alerts around the world, paralyzing the Empire with fear, then just as suddenly, fall of the radar again, accompanied by more 'he's finished, good as dead' stories. What's funny is this dude kept popping up on and off even when he was a really old man. Musta been one bad boy."
I wanted to correct my future friend. I wanted to tell him the story I was told, every day, over and over, about the Arab Osama and the vaguely identifiable group he founded, the viciously executed attacks on the US on 9-11, the way "national security" had been drummed into our heads with the "threat" used as an excuse for everything from airport searches to NSA surveillance to insanely costly wars chasing desert shadows. I wanted to tell him 'the Truth' but then I realized no one in the US had the faintest idea anymore what that would look or sound like. The Truth had accompanied Elvis.
Texas (Aug 8, '13)
[Re Welcome to the post-constitution, Aug 6, '13] The WonderMedia is jumping on Mitt Romney's bandwagon these days. You know, the one he lamely launched during the election when he said in a debate with the Obaminator that Russia was Amerika's biggest foe. The future prez deflected his opponent's observation with a reminder of how dire a threat all those turbaned cave dwelling fanatics of al-Qaeda still were and how antediluvian Romney's Cold War reminisces were. Now that Vlad Putin, in his self designated role as Representative of the Rest-of-the-Fed-Up-with-US-Imperialism Planet, has delivered yet another body blow to what's left of the Empire's prestige by granting asylum to the patriot Edward Snowden, all those who chuckled at Romney are making him out to be the sage but doomed prophet who could find no honor (or votes) in his own country. I can't decide if this is funnier than it is pathetic or vice versa.
Romney said what he said because it was the opposite of what Obama said, not because he had some geopolitical wisdom squirreled away in his Gucci suit. The image of the rich little Mormon boy crying wolf over the big bad Russian bear (excuse the mixed critter metaphors) while the Iranian chicken thief, the North Korean cattle rustler and the Chinese forecloser are lurking in the corn fields makes me wonder if The MittiGator would know a threat if it ran over him with a brand new Mercedes.
Besides, truth be known, the whole world either resents us for our cultural depravity (Europe), is bitter about our long history of exploitation and interventions (Latin America), hates us outright for being Zionist stooges (Middle East) or covets what they think we no longer deserve (Asia, led by Beijing.) That's why Putin is everyone's silent hero outside the US, and also why the US Whore-Media is working overtime to make him out to be a egocentric, petty tyrant, proto-Stalinist and Cold War throwback.
It's the same tried and true treatment every foreign leader gets when he thumbs his nose at the Empire. Chavez; dictator. Ahkmadinejad; loony. Kim Jong-il; megalomaniac. Not so much an Axis of Evil as an Axis that Doesn't Run Through Washington Anymore, a trend that should worry a country long accustomed to being kowtowed to rather than doing the kowtowing. Let's see how deeply bends down before Putin when (or if) they have their "summit".
Texas (Aug 7, '13)
Oh when will the ironies end? Edward Snowden finding asylum in "freedom loving" Russia from the persecution of a snooping, prying Empire. Amerika supplying weapons to Syrian "freedom fighters" with known al-Qaeda ties. NATO parlaying with the Taliban to ensure a graceful exit from the Graveyard of Empires. Washington promoting universal "democracy" and "freedom" in a Middle East where its principal bedrock ally, Saudi Arabia, flogs journalists for blogging about freedom and arrests women for the crime of driving. Perhaps taking the cake, the US wagging its finger at China for espionage! All those kettles calling all those pots sooty messes.
Indeed, "Do as I say, not as I do" should be the national anthem of most countries, who depend on a high-wire act balancing lofty rhetoric with the dirty business of lying, stealing, spying and killing. Being exposed in public as two-faced, duplicitous lying hypocrites is, of course, an occupational hazard for all governments who know that their public demands safety, security and prosperity but also know that same public doesn't want to know the details of all-pervasive surveillance, torture camps, assassination squads, civilian "collateral damage", secret op black budgets, clandestine drug deals, embargo-busting trade, military corruption, political bribery, rigged elections, corporate/political conspiracies, media subversion, deceitful propaganda, cover-ups and alliances with all sorts of strange bedfellows like organized crime, religious fanatics, terrorists and other erstwhile "enemies".
The ugly truth is we all know these things happen even if not exposed for public airing, and we go to bed at night happy not to be confronted with the contradictions society is forced to live with in the name of "national security," "democracy" or "civilization." But when some brave reporter who didn't get the memo about playing it safe with local news pabulum has the cojones to lift the rock of secrecy and shed light on these contradictions, our collective reaction is opprobrium and disgust at such revelations and an airing on talk radio and the internet of our lofty ideals and principles. Once we have vented our ire, we can return to our beds content that the world is a better place for our proclaimed outrage while absolutely nothing changes.
Houston TX USA (Aug 5, '13)
[Re Syrian war reaches explosive stage, Aug 1, '13] How many explosive stages have there been in Syria? The US has too many crises to handle in the Middle East and North Africa. The Obama administration has become gun shy to ramp up its involvement in toppling Bashar al-Assad. In fact, the Syrian president's opponents on the ground are engaging in byzantine warfare among themselves: each proclaiming its own truth and a return to a distant idealized Islamic past.
What is more and more obvious is that Assad will win even if the country is reduced to rubble. And that 'epiphany' may explain Viktor Kotsev growing sense that a final explosive stage is nigh.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Aug 1, '13)
[Re Manning guilty; war criminals on the loose, Jul 31, '13] Clear-thinking people recognize why the US government went after Bradley Manning so strongly. Those who run the government (including the military leaders) know that they have for decades concealed tons of proof of their misbehavior and corruption.
Therefore, these control freaks hate whistleblowers. They know that if the full truth were known by the public, the outrage would rival the greatest hurricane ever known. Manning is a martyr for justice and truth. His prosecutors are evil.
USA (Aug 1, '13)
[Re China's generals play good cop, bad cop, Jul 29, '13] I have just read part of the Andrew Chubb article on China's good cop, bad cop media relations. I would be very suspicious of any kind of interpretation coming out of America as regards China and this article which is from the Jamestown Foundation is more than likely a CIA front.
I don't think your readers' "investors, executives, diplomats" are being well informed in this instance. They are in my opinion being manipulated.
I like Asia Times Online when it isn't been used by the mind-twisting devils of Washington DC.
I prefer to read the news from China's media and make up my own mind. I don't need any interpretation. They speak plainly enough and can be judged through the consistency and coherency and comprehensive nature of what they are saying.
We are adults. We don't someone else's interpretation of what is being said to us. Right or wrong we fall on
our own sword.
Hull, England (Aug 1, '13)
Apologies to Lester Ness [Letter, July 30] if I underestimate China's Great Firewall, but it would normally take a 30-second online search to learn that the US-based Freedom House (an organization that monitors human rights globally) is at the forefront of demands to lift the veil of secrecy from the US National Security Agency's overzealous snooping. Making the leap from idle wondering to actual thinking and researching could resolve many of his questions.
Ness is understandably grief-stricken by the tragic deaths of children in US drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. And no doubt he is just as upset by the deaths of children as a result of the actions of other governments and organizations around the world, regardless of the goodwill one earns in many European and Asian parlors and cafes when one emphasizes American misdeeds, or the double bonus points one earns for tracing the death of a Palestinian child directly to an Israeli armed with an American weapon.
A couple months ago, David J Kramer, president of Freedom House, submitted a letter jointly with a group of
foreign policy experts and former diplomats to President Obama to protest the expansive use of drones in Yemen. Given time, that news may reach those in the shadow of the Great Firewall. But Freedom House is only one organization, and can't do it alone. So I am announcing my founding of Lapdog House, an organization devoted to monitoring the disturbing tendency of some people to hump their foreign host's leg anytime a Westerner criticizes said host.
New Jersey, USA (Aug 1, '13)
The bankruptcy of Detroit,a long anticipated and overdue event, has generated a predictable ripple of resigned shrugs, told-you-so demagoguery and glad-it's-not-my-city relief.
Once the very paragon of Amerikan industry, cultural and economic domination, the Motor City was the first to feel the buffeting winds of globalization, Cold War rivalry and the relentless logic of the Kapitalist. Unable and unwilling to cope and adjust to the new challenges from overseas (ironically enough supported by the US in the name of Free World defense), and even despite getting bailed out on several occasions by Uncle Sam, the auto business that made Detroit supreme found itself heading towards extinction.
But other cities have survived losing dominant industries, so why did Detroit take the thermonuclear option?
Well, to hear the Right Wingers tell it to your face, it was those damned liberal unions (in other words, Democrats) with their fat cat blue collar managers and good-for-nothing assembly line workers making princely sums with high school educations, a perfect example how not letting corporate managers running the show (ie, reduce workers to industrial serfdom) would run a good ol' 'merikan business into the ground. Behind your back and in a midnight whisper, those same rednecks will intimate in Right Wing Code lingo that it was the preponderance of blacks and Hispanics that created a corrupt, welfare mentality that drove the city's finances to ruin. The rest of us,
liberals, apathetics and no-nothings, won't be that inquisitory.
Instead, we'll just tsk tsk, shake our heads briefly, get into our Japanese or German cars, turn on our Chinese radios and listen to the latest gossip about a sexting politician or a philandering philanderer. It's a perfect strategy when you think about it. Otherwise, one would have to ask oneself; If it can happen to the bedrock of Amerikan industrial might, why can't it happen here? Now you understand why the Kardashians are so popular!
Texas (Aug 1, '13)
[Re The jasmine lesson: Reform beats revolution, Jul 31, '13] "Had Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists managed to crack down on the communists and carry out the necessary reforms in the mainland - as they did in Taiwan, where they landed in 1949 - China could have averted a 30-year depression under Mao."
Francesco Sisci is, alas, misinformed; China did not endure "a 30-year depression under Mao". In 1952, the Chinese GDP was 67,900 million yuan, (per capita, 119 yuan); in 1978, the corresponding figures were 364,522 million yuan and 381 yuan, respectively. A growth of 5.4 times in national GDP and 3.3 times in GDP per capita may have been slower than desired (and the road there was very bumpy indeed, with great swings up and down), but these figures hardly add up to "depression".
M Henri Day
Stockholm (Aug 1, '13)
[Re Real change absent in Sino-US relations, Jul 30, '13] Richard Weitz simply restates the obvious: the Obama administration is playing hard ball in Sino-US relations. Thinly veiled in a gossamer fabric of diplomacy, US policy is lacking in cunning - an obvious example is the Obama military doctrine as it applies to the Asia-Pacific rim.
One only has to look at attorney general Holder's letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Edward Snowden. If anything, Holder's argument lacks any resemblance to truth or to law. President Xi Jinping may be willing to avoid confrontation, but it is only a matter of time.
Guam (Jul 31, '13)
[Re Beijing boosts controls on online content, Jul 29, '13] "The "Great Firewall" has been strengthened under China's new leadership to better monitor and restrict what its citizens do online, according to a report by US-based watchdog Freedom House." - Radio Free Asia
I wonder what Freedom House thinks of the National Security Agency spying on everyone in the US and around the world. Then there are Americans "disappearing" into secret prisons. There is torture, and the droning of dissident US citizens, and even their children, to death. The US government says these practices are legal and moral, and Attorney General Eric Holder has even been known to make jokes, after killing the children of dissidents. What does Freedom House think?
Lester Ness (Jul 30, '13)
[Re A brewing storm in the Western Pacific, Jul 24, '13] Walden Bello's article tells a lot about the legitimacy of Philippine's territorial claim, or not!
Bello said that a map of the Republic of China in 1940 showed China's claim to Nansha and Xisha. The self-proclaimed Filipino admiral Tomas Cloma said he "discovered" the Kalayaan island in 1956 and he later sold the island to the infamous Philippine President Marcos in the 1970 for one peso. Can anyone believe that someone can still discover a new island in the 20th century?
Now, legislators like Bello want to bring back US troops to station in Subic Bay and Clark Air Base after the country had a hard time kicking US troops out of these two bases with the help of volcanic ash of Pinatubo. On top of this, Filipino politicians also want to bring another colonialist Japan to its midst. Filipinos do not learn from their past history. The Philippines was a US colony for 40 long years and was another four years under Japanese rule in World War II.
United States (Jul 29, '13)
[Re How Iraq will win the Arab Spring, Jul 25, '13] It is difficult to share Riccardo Dugulin's rosy assessment of what is happening in Iraq.
For sure, the country is in turmoil - a sorry legacy of Bush's war. Dugulin must read the resurrection of al-Qaeda as a sign of "winning the Arab Spring", and the internecine war between Shi'ites and Sunni will not end in the foreseeable future.
Abraham Bi Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jul 26, '13)
[Re A brewing storm in the Western Pacific, Jul 25] "China's aggressive territorial claims, Washington's "pivot" to Asia, and Japan's hawkish bluster are stirring a volatile brew in the Asia-Pacific."
I'm waiting for someone to notice the popular belief among Chinese people that Native Americans are descended from Chinese naval expeditions sent out by Chin Shi Huang, Khubilai Khan, etc. It could inspire chauvinists and xenophobes on either side of the Pacific!
China (Jul 26, '13)
[Re Revisiting the Persian cosmopolis, Jul 19, '13] Richard Eaton takes a shot at Islam through the not-quite-so obvious method of omission! The whole thrust of his argument in the article is how wonderful things were (in his eyes) for Southeastern Asia before the advent of the Islamic Era and how Iraq and her neighbors tried to resurrect "Persia" without religion or God being a factor - which again, is an indirect attack on Islam - as if The Faith had no influence on the invading Mongols or the organization of Turkish leadership and that everything developed through spontaneous combustion. If he had remained neutral, there is no way he could have ignored Islam's contributions to the area in terms of resurrecting and organizing the social bureaucracy and infrastructure.
To infer that "religion and God" had no role in the development of the region prior to or after the invasions by Crusaders or the Colonialists who came later, is an attack on Islam because it is THE "religion" that he wants to avoid mentioning. He apparently wants to avoid any discussion of Islam's definite contributions but maintain the caricature of it as an Old World, intolerant and violent religion.
A supposedly "well-researched" article by a Westerner cannot be considered neutral within the context of today's current relationship between the Eastern and Western worlds. What we are witnessing is the rise of the East and the breaking of the West's shackles upon it and they refuse to go down without a fight; one weapon that's sometimes deployed is "scholarship", or in other words: the manipulation of history.
Pulsar Stargrave (Jul 25, '13)
In response to Dennis O'Connell's letter [Jul 24, '13], first of all, I was not the one making comparisons with North Korea; Geoffrey Sherwood was holding his country up as a supremely humane role model in contrast to North Korea, and I criticized his letter for glossing over his country's own record, but then O'Connell responded with his usual narrative making America synonymous with "civilization" while forgetting that his country is the one who started this war. If he really thinks of his country like that, then he (and Sherwood) should have just as well written the US is allowed to do anything because it is fighting for civilization and I would not have written anything here.
O'Connell is being plainly dishonest when he claims the prisoners at Guantanamo are warriors of "Islamic terror" waging a war on "civilization." Naming Khalid Sheikh Muhammad doesn't change the fact that the majority of the so-called "illegal combatants" were picked up from their own homes and villages that had suddenly become battlefields with residents caught up in the cross-fire; they cannot be equated with German soldiers who were enlisted into a formal army and actually fighting against Allied troops in a war that Germany had started. The only "illegal combatants" here were CIA contractors like Blackwater and DynCorps that weren't enlisted in the US Military but were still engaged in a killing spree against defenseless civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for "Islamic terror," O'Connell's country and its allies have been openly backing Islamic terror in Libya and Syria as well as propping up governments like Saudi Arabia's that keep funding and breeding al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists around the world. In Afghanistan the US has routinely paid Islamic terror Taliban not to attack its supply convoys coming into the country with money they have then used to procure American weapons from NATO arms depots with the help of rogue Afghan officials. This has been too regular for over a decade not to indicate US complicity at some level. Moreover, the US State Department recently admitted it collaborated with the Pakistani Taliban to kill one of its renegade leaders named Waliur Rehman in a drone attack, for which Washington rewarded that group with $5 million; this is the same terrorist organization that tried to kill Malala Yousufzai, and its leaders make no secret of being based in Afghanistan's Konar and Nuristan provinces; and meanwhile Washington is going to negotiate with the same foes it declared war on in Afghanistan in 2001. Intentionally or unintentionally, Washington has been committing arson and shouting "Fire! Fire!" at the same time.
Instead of considering any of that, O'Connell chose to give a lecture on civilization, North Korean gulags and Islamic terror. The point I had been making in my last letter remains: Sherwood and O'Connell passed judgment on another country while diverting attention from their own country's track record and gloss over its penchant for holding and torturing people indefinitely without any charge or trial and without allowing them recourse to any law or court. When I pointed that out, O'Connell justified it with convoluted lines of reasoning.
Auckland, New Zealand (Jul 25, '13)
[Re Trent Hawkins' letter, July 22] Nearly 800 men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo - a mix of the guilty and the innocent. That so many innocents were imprisoned is one of the many examples of the criminality of the George W Bush administration and some members of the US military. Over 600 of the 800 have been released. About 170 remain. So I have to ask: How many North Koreans have been released from political prison camps since they opened for business decades ago? How many visits have been paid by the Red Cross? There are an estimated 1,000 times as many political prisoners, including their children and parents, in North Korea's gulag than there are prisoners in Guantanamo. Yet one-thousand times more ink is gushed writing about Guantanamo. Why does the world seem to care more about 170 Guantanamo inmates than 200,000 innocents in North Korea? That disparity speaks volumes about the depravity that moral relativism engenders. I am glad that many of my fellow Americans have shamed the Bush and Obama administrations into releasing so many of the Guantanamo prisoners who never should have been there in the first place. But I don't let injustices in my home country prevent me from speaking out about injustices that happen to occur in other lands. And I don't succumb to the absurd relativism that equates injustices of vastly different characters and motivations.
New Jersey, USA (Jul 25, '13)
[Re: Trent Hawkins, letter, Jul 22] Trent hit the nail right on the head with his observation of "the global network of secret CIA-run concentration camps". What I think is even far worse, our respective societies and our compliant government's, do not raise one voice in protest, thereby making us all equally complicit and culpable in these horrors.
Former president George W Bush was once credited with asking the question "Why do they hate us?". Perhaps those concentration camp policies have now provided at least one answer to that question, the world now having vacated any high moral ground as a civilization. And continuing to occupy that vacuum in so many ways, each and every way, each and every day.
Ian C Purdie
Sydney, Australia (Jul 25, '13)
Editor's note: We direct any further correspondence on this theme to The Edge
The way the English language is manipulated, twisted, distorted, spindled and mutilated here in WonderWordistan is a sound to behold. Take the words "coup d'etat". French words universally recognized in the context of Third World dictocracies (ie, quasi-semi-sorta-kinda democratic governments with authoritarian elected officials) as meaning the coerced change of government leaders by the domestic military, they are pregnant with foreign policy implications for ostensible "allies" of the Empire. In order to discourage such merry-go-round behavior in chronically unstable countries, the US long ago passed laws imposing sanctions for such actions. Usually those sanctions, in the form of pecuniary punishment, was against nations we had little interest in one way or another, like the Myanmars and Togos of the world.
But the recent overthrow of the Mursi government by the Egyptian army has had the Obama State Department scrambling to avoid the dreaded aid-cutting-off word "coup". Much like the flaming-hoop jumps Clinton administration 19 years ago did to avoid the US-committing word "genocide" to describe the Hutu-led massacres in Rwanda, Obama's minions are microanalyzing the dots over Is and the crosses over Ts to torturously extract some helpful synonym from a taxed Webster's dictionary. The US is loathe to alienate the one Arab country Israel needs as a non-enemy, and eager to let a non-Islamist take over the reins of the most populous Arab country in the world. Yes, democracy is being subverted but hey, that never stopped us here in Wonderland, did it? Besides, a blueprint was provided 21 years ago in Algeria when an Islamic government was on the verge of attaining office only to see the election results overturned with the connivance and assistance of our "democracy (on our terms)" loving Empire.
I have no doubt that the White House lawyers will earn their pay and find a way to sweep the whole definition issue under the carpet, and maybe it's a good thing they're getting this practice. Looming on the horizon are word games with Russia (is Snowden a "political refugee" or a "traitor?" ), with China (are Amerika's intelligence activities "normal surveillance" or "spying?"), with Turkey (are Erdogan's opponents "peace loving dissidents" or "proto-terrorist rabble?), with Syria (are the anti-Assad rebels "freedom lovers" or "sectarian Islamists?"), with Iran (are they pursuing "nuclear weapons" or a "substitute for oil?"), the ongoing debate about "enemy noncombatants" and "prisoners of war," and, finally, the poor bamboozled, confused and tongue-tied Amerikan public, who are still groaning under the Fed's "quantitative easing" (or is it a "massive welfare bailout?") Regardless, I have no doubt that Obama will wind up addressing the nation on TV while squatting on a steaming, stinking cow paddy and proudly proclaim it a "gilded porcelain throne" designed and manufactured in the good ol' US of A.
Texas (Jul 24, '13)
[Re Competitive suffering harms Korea debate, Jul 10, '13] In response to Trent Hawkins letter [Jul 23] in which he claims the US in worse than North Korea, please let me disagree. He claims there is a network of CIA-run concentration camps holding thousands of innocent people. The CIA did have black sites that at most held around 200 people in places like Poland until men like like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were transferred to Guantanamo, if Mohammed is your idea of an innocent man you need to buy a new dictionary.
The Red Cross visited Guantanamo in June of 2004 the have never visited any Gulag in North Korea in the sixty years since the end of the Korean War. Guantanamo has held 779 prisoners, it holds 166 today. There are thought to be around 200,000 prisoners in the North Korean Gulags, evidently math is not one of your strong points.
In the Gulags the prisoners are starved, I would like to know what they would think about forced feeding in Guantanamo, however if was up to me I would not force feed them. The men in Guantanamo are illegal combatants taken in a war, when Islamic terror ends we can release them.
We did not give a trial to every German soldier taken prisoner during the war and they were held until the war ended, terrorists today should be treated the same. Men the US released from Guantanamo have rejoined the terrorists in the war against civilization, although Mr Hawkins probably views them as freedom fighters. Also unlike North Korea the US is not holding Mohammed's grandfather and niece, where in North Korea whole families are imprisoned the the alleged crime of one person.
USA (Jul 24, '13)
[Re China debates how to handle North Korea, Jul 23, '13] The matter of North Korea has generated a seemingly endless flow of words in China, says Ren Xiao.
China like Russia does not want to rock the cradle of relations with the US. Nonetheless, differing analyses among Chinese researchers, if they criticize DPRK's latest exercise in brinkmanship with America, may miss the obvious: it is the Obama administration that is pushing a dangerous situation to the limits with Pyongyang, 60 years after an Armistice Agreement that put the Korean War into politico limbo.
Washington is pursuing, a smash 'em in the face policy, to put it bluntly, in the Korean peninsula as it is doing in west and central Asia with very poor results. This said, the US war machine is prime pumped for mischief, it goes without saying.
An atomic devices put a check on US expansionism in a small way, but not enough for the Obama administration to not give up designs for regime change in the DPRK.
Debate over changing China's policy towards China, however, is not persuasive enough: China came to the assistance of North Korea in 1950 for the plain and simple reason of keeping an aggressive US from planting its military along the Yalu. And the end of the Cold War, China's rise as a world power and the like have not changed the strategic geopolitical fundamentals concerning Beijing's support and friendship with Pyongyang, trying as it might be at times.
Guam (Jul 24, '13)
[Re Competitive suffering harms Korea debate, Jul 10, '13] Geoffrey Sherwood [Letter, Jul 18, '13] made a very interesting comparison between America's heavenly prison system and North Korea's living hell run by a foul, evil regime whose prisons he described in very horrific detail. Very sadly, he never mentioned the global network of secret CIA-run concentration camps where thousands of innocent people are indefinitely held (and perpetually tortured even long after they've been cleared for release) on mere suspicion without any charge or trial and far beyond the reach of any law or court, probably because that would have said a few things about his own country's foul, evil regime that presides over this slap on the face of the due process and other niceties that he boasted about while passing judgment on another country.
If only Sherwood's letter had been written at a time when the US was not busy force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners on a hunger strike protesting their inhumane treatment instead of giving them their rights, many of them already driven insane by their conditions, while their families are barred even from having their cases heard in any court. Or are we supposed to believe that a suspected, untried and un-convicted terrorist deserves what exactly what inmates at North Korean prisons are going through?
Auckland, New Zealand (Jul 23, '13)
[Re New reef rift hits China-Philippines ties, Jul 18, '13] The ship that was intentionally run aground in Ren Ai reef since 1999 is not a hospital ship. It was a military ship left there to collect oysters to show that Philippines has possession of the reef. If the Philippines government is sincere, it would have tugged it back to its home port instead of letting it rust over there.
United States (Jul 22, '13)
Maybe the greatest pleasure of living in Wonderland is getting up each morning to hear the latest absurdity being publicized in the real-news-phobic media as if it were really worth wasting two seconds about.
With wars, famines, riots, injustices and disasters swirling around the world on a constant basis, what topic do the corporate shills of the airwaves decide to prattle about like insipid gossipmongers?
Why, the outrage of Dzokhar Tsarnaev appearing on the cover of a magazine, of course! Tsarnaev, the addled wannabe terrorist of recent Boston Marathon bombing infamy, was depicted simply by showing his deadpan face, as publicity for an article where his descent into petty terror was analyzed.
But that simple front cover image was fuel for a firestorm of indignation, with successful demands for pulling said publication off newsstands. The affront evidently taken by my fellow countrymen, whose behavior frequently leaves me questioning somebody’s sanity, is that by putting his picture on the cover of a magazine (a magazine, I might add, noted primarily for reporting news of the entertainment industry) that Tsarnaev was being elevated to the status of a "rock star".
Mind you, this cover photo had no sexy ladies hanging off his body, or glitzy Las Vegas skyline in the background, or a grinning Donald Trump slapping his back, just a picture of the alleged terrorist staring blankly forward.
I should elaborate on my use of the word "alleged." In the eyes of American jurisprudence ( I know, the very definition of oxymoron), until Messieur Tsarnaev is convicted by his peers, in the eyes of the law, he is an innocent man.
Needless to say, in the court of public opinion, his conviction is a done deal, yet another example of Americans not walking their much ballyhooed respect-for-law-and-order walk. What is perhaps most distressing is that all the sturm-und-dranging about a mere photo distracts from the praiseworthy intent of the magazine's article, which attempts to uncover the motivation for a middle class young man to embark on such a reckless and ill conceived adventure into murder and mayhem. Such introspection is, admittedly, positively un-Wonderish, since exposing any ills of society is considered heretical or worse, unpatriotic.
But until Wonderlanders can figure out why their pristine society seems to bring out the violent worst in people, photos on music mag covers will be the very least of our worries.
Texas (Jul 22, '13)
The recent acquittal of an Hispanic in Florida accused of murdering a young hoodied black man sparked concerns among white media hysteria-hypers that "blacks' would riot, a la the Rodney King upheavals of 1992. Of course, aside from isolated sporadic marches and placard-waving, nothing of the sort transpired. That may seem a bit odd, seeing how the King riots ignited because white policemen were acquitted for just beating a black man, not killing him, but, as the saying goes, that was then.
In that 21-year time period, racism has skillfully moved from in-your-face Jim Crow intimidation to far subtler, below-the-media-radar suggestion, so much so that a nominally black man could become president. In Wonderland, perception is not just important, it is everything; with no causus belli of overt discriminatory practices, and with political opportunities for blacks seemingly limitless, the days of rage and racial angst seemed to be over.
Yet, creeping back into black consciousnesses are some nasty realities; the Supreme Court recently ruled that states with long legacies of racism no longer need to have their unique and often blatantly discriminating voting rights rules sanctioned by the federal government.
This ruling almost immediately ignited a flurry of laws intended to marginalize minority voting, my own dear crackerhead state of Texas leading the way. Make no mistake about it, the Republicans fully intend to limit non-whites voting in the next presidential election.
One Supreme Court Justice ( a Southerner who voted for the ruling, I might add) averred that "times have changed." Well, yes, if you mean by that the clock continues to literally advance forward, whereas these redneck Repudiants would dearly like that clock to figuratively move backward, and they fully intend to see that it does.
On a more intimate scale, mostly white jury decisions like the aforementioned one occasionally shock blacks into a realization that a dark hued president who acts like a white Republican may not be the harbinger of better racial times that they had hoped, and that, as the French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." No better demonstration of that is needed than this; the same week the Florida Hispanic man was acquitted for using his gun to defend himself by killing the black man, a black woman in the same state was convicted of firing a gun into the air to fend off her abusive husband. Apparently air molecules are white people in the Sinshine State.
Texas (Jul 19, '13)
[Re Competitive suffering harms Korea debate, Jul 10, '13] John Feffer shouldn't be concerned about the poor fools who think there is any comparison between American and North Korean prison systems. His writings and speeches admirably inform the uneducated, the mis-educated, and the genuinely curious, about the living Hell on earth that is North Korea.
If another dunderhead ever challenges him with the inane question "yeah, but what about the injustices of the American prison system?" he only needs to point out that while the vast majority of American inmates get due process, limited jail time for their crimes, three-square meals per day, access to libraries, exercise equipment, Internet, etc, in North Korea, political prisoners get no due process, are nearly all tortured physically and mentally, and often have three generations of their families incarcerated with them.
How foul, how evil is a regime that intentionally imprisons the children and parents of the men and women accused of political crimes? Feffer mentions the book Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden, a riveting tale of a young man, Shin In Geun, who was born in a North Korean political prison camp, reported his own mother's escape plans to a prison guard, for which he was rewarded with a front-row seat at her execution. Shin eventually accomplished the unthinkable - an escape - 300 miles [483 kilometers] overland to China, and thence to South Korea and America. Shin describes how everyone in the camps lose all semblance of humanity.
They are reduced to their basest animal motives, betraying parents and siblings by reporting their every indiscretion, all for the reward of a few extra morsels of food. In contrast, here in New Jersey, in one of the state prisons, one of the popular activities is debating teams. Every year, kids from public and parochial schools trudge into this prison to debate, and more often than not, lose to, the prisoners.
Is there any debating, singing, acting, or educating going on in a North Korean political prison? And how absurdly idiotic is the comparison of the absolute numbers or the percentage of population in prisons in America versus North Korea? Charles Jenkins, the US Army sergeant who defected to North Korea in 1965 and stayed there 40 years, describes North Korea succinctly as "a giant, demented prison".
If the entire nation of North Korea is not, as Jenkins claims, one enormous hellhole of a prison, then what would you call a place where those who try to flee its insanity are shot or imprisoned if they are unable to offer the border guards a large enough bribe to allow them to cross into China?
New Jersey, USA (Jul 18, '13)
"Dude, you know what time it is?" I muttered into the TimePhone." "Oh sorry, easy to lose track of time when we're debating ancient history. That's why I'm calling," Futureman breathlessly said. "We're having some serious debates about 'The American Dream.' What was it, how was it defined, what it meant to the Empire when it disappeared. Can you help?"
As someone who saw his parents lose their jobs, their home and their love, I naturally had an opinion on that subject. But it was a sensitive topic to be indulging in at 3 am. "Not sure I can give you a scientific definition. I guess most Americans thought it consisted of buying a house, having a steady income, putting your kids through school and being able to retire comfortably."
"Really? Is that all? That's not at all the prevalent view nowadays. Many here swear that the Dream meant America would conquer the world with drone-warriors. Others thought it meant bringing the Gospel to the rest of the galaxy. Frankly, I thought the Dream meant making everyone pay for the right to breathe air and see sunlight. Wouldn't that be a capitalist's dream? After all, your country was the embodiment of capitalism, right?"
As he was wont to do, Futureman was getting annoying. "Drone-whats? Gospel-galaxy? Pay for air? What are you smoking in the future? No, man, Americans grew up thinking we had an inherent right to prosperity, if you worked hard and saved, you should be able to buy property, raise a family, and enjoy America's bounty and wealth. But…"
Futureman realized he had stepped into some historic doodoo.
"Buddy, forgive me if I'm bringing back painful memories. We know you just went through the 2008 Correction, and the 2017 Economic Chernobyl is just around the corner. But we here in the Future are trying to come to grips with understanding how the richest nation on earth could squander its heritage so thoroughly. I guess we had to come up with some pretty bizarre scenarios of the 'Dream' to explain how you overreached so badly. How were we to know it simply meant making your family happy?"
I was wide awake now. I remembered things much clearer now. I could see the day my father lost his assembly line job to a Chinese firm. I could still smell the barbecue cooking when the sheriff came to foreclose our home. I tasted my tears when my parents divorced over hospital bills, credit card charges and empty bank accounts. I saw my friends march off to die in God forsaken countries for God-Only-Knows reasons. What I couldn't recall was the last thing I ever bought that was made in America.
Yeah, that's story wasn't as sexy as alien evangelicals or Terminator patriots, I had to admit, nor as convincing an explanation for the Empire's demise. So who was I to spoil a party?
"Sorry, Futureman. What I just told you was all cow caca. The truth is, Amerika's Dream consisted of creating a mutant race of hybridized lizard-ape-fish-men who we would enslave to do all the manual work, fight all our wars without pity and defecate gold bullion after feeding them nothing but quotations from the Constitution. "
Futureman was ecstatic. "I knew it! Fantastic! Let me write this all down…fish-men…gold urine…defecating on the Constitution. Got it! We'll spend months on this. Thanks again, buddy! Bye for now."
I went back to sleep. I think I dreamt about fish sandwiches.
Texas (Jul 18, '13)
[Re China plots strategic coup in the Pacific, Jul 15, '13] "Unless the US upholds treaty obligations, the region will soon resemble the Chinese system of vassal states under the Ching Dynasty." Actually, the region does resemble the Qing system of vassal kingdoms, but with the US as overlord.
China (Jul 17, '13)
The only system that can be described as similar to the Chinese "once-in-a-decade transition of power" practice is Plato's rotational ruler ideal: "Those who have come through all our practical and intellectual tests with distinction must be brought to their final trial ... and when their turn comes they will, in rotation ... do their duty as Rulers ... when they have brought up successors like themselves to take their place as Guardians, they will depart ...
(<540a-b> in The Republic, translated by Desmond Lee (1974), Penguin Classics, p.354).
A comparison shows that three common features and two pragmatic variations can be found between the Chinese system and Plato's ideal. And this system, if well institutionalized, can achieve an advantage that democracy can produce - regular and peaceful handover of authority.
Before coming to power, Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping and many other Politburo members had gone through certain types of party school training programs and been posted in rotation among several local administrative and/or functional ministerial positions as a sort of on-the-job training. Although the Chinese curriculum is not exactly the same as Plato's mathematics (10 years), dialectic (five years) and the post-dialectic "military or other office" apprenticeship (15 years) (<524d-540a> in Lee (1974) p.331-54), the fundamental principle is the same, namely, that only purposively trained (for statecraft) people can become rulers of the state.
The second common feature is that the rulers lead the state "in rotation" which in modern term means "tenure". In mainland China, as imposed by Deng Xiaoping and subsequently stipulated in the constitution and certain administrative directives, there is a maximum limit of 10 years (two terms of five years each) for an officer to hold a particular position. It has been a national anticipation that when the tenure comes to the end, the rulers in Beijing have to step down and retire. Hu Jintao's complete retirement from both the state presidency and chairmanship of the party's Central Military Commission in 2012 indicates that the practice has been institutionalized.
One of the main duties of the rulers is to bring up, assess and select their successors. Here is the third common feature between the Chinese system and Plato's ideal. The selection of rulers is in no doubt arbitrary but there have been some signs of institutionalization in place: promotion on merit, age limits and good track records in local governments. So far, authority has been handed over to the persons without kinship to their predecessors. It seems meritocracy is working.
The arrangement that potential rulers are openly recruited in mainland China can be deemed as the first pragmatic variation from Plato's ideal. While Plato proposes a caste system for his "Guardian herd" (<459e> in Lee (1974) p240), the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) membership is open to all citizens. It provides socio-political upward mobility opportunity to the general public which is in line with the functional purpose of the two thousand years long Chinese tradition of civil service examination system. The satisfaction of the national aspiration for socio-political mobility through open and fair competition is a key factor for social stability, and even legitimacy.
Nevertheless, the second pragmatic variation from the Platonic model that the Chinese rulers are allowed to hold private property and have family has become the source of rampant corruption. Plato who understands the weakness of human greed explicitly prohibits his ideal rulers from having private property and family (<416d-e> in Lee (1974) p184). Unfortunately, it is impractical and unrealistic. Therefore, it will be a great challenge for Xi Jin-ping to strike a balance between property ownership and declaration of assets so as to put corruption under control.
The present political succession system in Beijing can be viewed as a pragmatic and experimental implementation of Plato's ideal in a large scale that it has been institutionalized as a huge human resources management system for public administration, political training as well as selection of rulers. Through this system, the CCP has not only remolded the state into an open-yet-authoritarian state, but also succeeded in managing mainland China as a gigantic business conglomerate.
This system is far from perfect, nor in good shape, but it has been initiated and working smoothly. While many academics and analysts focus on democratization and choose to ignore this system, it is already an elephant in the room. Researchers need a realistic and thorough understanding of this system so as to ascertain how the "new nomos of the earth" may evolve with such a non-democratic China emerging in the world arena.
Keith K C Hui (Jul 17, '13)
[Re Mali and China's 'Western' foreign policy, Jul 12, '13]" ... If Western foreign policy can be summarized as a combination of a cooperative approach towards global governance through the United Nations and other regional organizations and an adherence and promotion of human rights and freedom of speech ... ".
Yes, indeed, if it were so - but alas, most of us, unlike Pollath, live in the real world, in which "Western foreign policy" definitely cannot be summarized in the manner he does above, but rather by the interminable wars of foreign aggression and coups d'etats that have been so in evidence since 1947.
M Henri Day
Stockholm (Jul 15, '13)
[Re: Dennis O'Connell, letter, Jul 1, 13] While criticizing Maliha Masood for saying "the US is to blame for Pakistan's problems," Dennis O'Connell himself has done exactly the same thing vice versa, along with making false assertions that could not withstand any serious scrutiny. In his letters he shows a chronic inability to rise above petty blame games against other countries, propose actual solutions to the problems he writes on, or accept responsibility for things that are truly the US' own fault, or even afford basic decency and politeness when disagreeing with others.
The whole mess in South and Central Asia is one that the United States made but O'Connell is glossing over that in favor of criticizing countries like Pakistan for reacting to a reality created by his own country.
Paris, France (Jul 15, '13)
[Re Competitive suffering harms Korea debate, Jul 10, '13] John Feffer's sudden epiphany is worth noting. North Korea's prison camps deserves the attention that he and others present.
Yet, there is a truth in comparing them with America's prison industrial complex: the US prides itself as a beacon of democracy and a model of universal export. And yet, it has the largest prison system in the world that houses its poor, its racial minorities and immigrants, while allowing its bankers and industrialists to go free with barely a slap on the wrist for the harm they do to the country's, nay the global, economic system.
America prides itself on civil liberties, yet whistleblowers are prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act. Its citizenry is tracked in a manner that would put East Germany's Stasi to shame. And North Korean experts crow about corruption in the DPRK, the buying and selling of offices and privileges in the US overshadows the malfeasance.
Guam (Jul 11, '13)
[Re Egyptian nightmare for Erdogan, Jul 3, '13] History sometimes has a lesson for us today. 53 years ago, student protests in Turkey - that started small - forced general Adnan Menderes from power.
Viktor Kotsev is right in saying that the danger of a military coup is nary impossible today. Yet, the large demonstrations through Turkey reveal discontent against the erosion of secular Turkey as prime minister Erdogan shows an authoritarian footprint in governing with a Islam cast. Although Erdogan has clipped Turkish military wings, hurt feelings and latent discontent among the soldier caste fester under the surface.
Should Morsi be removed, thanks to popular sentiment encouraging the Egyptian military to intervene on the side of the more than million who want the president's ouster, that would prove provide a powerful jolt to the Turks. Of course, Erdogan will try to mate the popular will repressively, and repression will feed discontent which might destabilize the present government. As a result the Turkish military, albeit chastened, would seize the opportunity to back popular forces to eject Erdogan from power.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jul 8, '13)
In An assault on hope in Pakistan [Jul 1, 13], Maliha Masood seems to blame all of Pakistan's problems on being in the "clutches of US foreign policy." She also claims Pakistan is held hostage by a minority of evil minded anarchists, she should know they are Islamist's not anarchists.
She also equates the US using drones to kill terrorists with the Taliban killing innocent tourists. What most people who blame the US for killing civilians in drone attacks fail to realize is that the civilians are the relatives of the terrorists. So what are the evil clutches of US policy that she hopes Pakistan can escape from, well the US would like a democracy for Afghanistan. What does Pakistan want or should I say the Pakistani ISI want, a Taliban government that will aid them in their war with India.
The problems of Pakistan are with the government and the elites of Pakistan. In Pakistan hardly anyone pays their taxes, so what little money they have they spend on war and nuclear weapons. They can not afford to educate their children so they allow the Saudi wahabists to poison their children's minds before they can learn to think for themselves.
Hatred of the US has been encoded in the Pakistani DNA since the 1960s, as they blame the US for losing their wars to India which they started. A simple lie in 1979 was all it took for a Pakistani mob to burn the US embassy to the ground.
The US has given Pakistan billions of dollars and they respond by aiding our enemies and using our money to kill Americans, and the Washington response is to give them more money in the hopes that they will kill less of us or kill us more slowly.
Masood seems to think the US should end it drone strikes and I guess send jazz musicians to Pakistan. Who are these Islamist terrorists that are backed by the Pakistani ISI, they are the type of men that board a bus and shoot a 15-year-old girl in head for having the audacity to think she is a human being and has a right to an education.
Masood needs to escape the clutches of the communist left that dominate US college campuses and have convinced her the US is to blame for Pakistan's problems. Those men that boarded that bus will not be stopped by jazz even if Lisa Simpson had stood up next to Malala Yousafzai and played a jazz duet. Those men will only be stopped by force and with the Pakastani elite freeing itself from the clutches of evil they have surrendered to.
USA (Jul 3, '13)
Obama pooh-poohed the idea that he would be "scrambling fighters" to pursue a "29-year-old hacker". Indeed, it would more likely be drones.
China (Jul 1, '13)
[Re Xinjiang death toll higher than reported, Jun 28, '13] Regardless of a burial shroud count, anonymous reports and statements from RFA (Radio Free Asia), the current death toll of Han people from the Lukeqing incident stands at eight migrant construction workers. If the death toll rises from among the 21 injured, then chances are there will only be more Uygur deaths.
Photographs circulated from Lukeqing township (Lukqun) clearly show two captured Uygur attackers in T-shirts emblazened with the banner of the Uygur ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), a party "closely affiliated" with the WUC (World Uygur Congress) and listed as a terrorist movement by the governments of China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, the US State Department, the EU and the United Nations.
Any comment from RFA or the WUC as to why the Lukeqing attackers are wearing the ETIM insignia or murdering their own people would be of interest.
Aussie in China
Hami, Xinjiang (Jul 1, '13)
[Re 27 die in fresh Xinjiang violence, Jun 27, 13] Text messages were flowing throughout the region just after the attack and before any official response from the authorities. What happened is pretty much in line with what has so far been reported.
The communication clampdown in the area is in order to stem the rumor mill and decrease the chances of an escalation in violence and not to initiate a cover-up as some might have people believe.
When the dust settles it will be found that the majority of police and civilians murdered on Wednesday in Lukeqing were ethnic Uyghurs as was in the case in April in Bachu county when 11 of the 15 murdered police and community workers were ethnic Uyghurs.
So, what has the WUC [World Uyghur Congress] and RFA [Radio Free Asia] have to say about covering up the fact that Uyghurs are killing Uyghur police and Uyghur civilians and the likely result that some Uyghurs lives here are about to get harder?. Apparently,not much! They might lose their US government funding.
Hami, Xinjiang (Jun 28, '13)
[Re: China’s rise to hegemony, Jun 25, '13] As Chairman Mao was fond of saying, "If no one causes me harm, I harm no one. But if someone harms me, I'll be sure to reciprocate." That precept encapsulates rather nicely the Chinese mindset and the Han Chinese history.
But let's not worry so much about what China may or may not become in a few decades, since the Middle Kingdom still faces a multitude of formidable challenges and much uncertainty ahead. Instead, the discussion should revolve more around ways in which the US, by far the most powerful country now and for the foreseeable future, can more responsibly utilize its leadership position to make the world a better and safer place for everyone, as America's actions will influence greatly not only China's but other nations' development paths going forward.
USA (Jun 27, '13)
[Re Our man in Quito, Jun 24, '13] Poor Obama. His persecution of yet another political dissident, the hero Snowden, is developing into quite the diplomatic embarrassment for our once-Tefloned Commander-in-Thief.
Seems like everybody and their brother is ready to give Uncle Sam the middle finger "You're Number One" salute these days, even piss-ant countries like Ecuador, the unlikely new sanctuary for lovers of transparent government and freedom of expression.
The list of humiliations keeps accumulating for our much pilloried prez. What to make of Obama's deteriorating legacy? Perhaps his recent visit to Europe symbolizes with irony the direction Obama's place in history is headed. Hailed as a deeply tanned tanned JFK by Berliners what seems like a century ago, his latest visit to the Brandenburg Gate, the once famous dividing line between liberal capitalist West Germany and oppressive communist East Germany, was much less of an ego boost for our graying president.
This time around, the modest crowds of Germans, vastly reduced from his adoring coming-out party throng, were much less willing to accommodate protestations of national security needs as justification for illegal wiretaps, surveillance and general snooping.
Indeed, perhaps more than a few of the Berliner crowd saw our beleaguered Obama in terms of another, far less adored national leader, one who once plied his trade just a few blocks away from Obama's speech-making podium not more than 24 years ago.
That man, Erich Honecker, leader of the German Democratic Republic, AKA East Germany, from 1971 to 1989, also used the rubric of "national security" as the palliative excuse to justify his Stasi stooges' use of surveillance, infiltration, co-opting of friends and family as spies and informants and the use of disinformation, lies and planted stories.
Of course, the Stasi walking in the footsteps of the loathsome Gestapo made such behavior seem benign by comparison, and the GDR was quick to point out that such steps were necessary to prevent a return to the bad old days of German fascism, as manifested in their cross border brothers in the FRG.Of course, Honecker's bogeymen weren't turbaned Arabs squirreled away in remote desert caves, rather Gucci-suited capitalists on Wall Street and beer-swilling politicians in Bonn, but for him the threat to his regime's survival was just as dire.
So Honecker went on a massive borrowing spree from those very same Wall Streeters to keep afloat his sinking economy. But failing to see the disappearing forest for all the trees his Stasi were cutting down would finally cost Honecker his precious experiment in German communism. He had ignored all the signs and warnings and kept touting manufactured statistics and delusional predictions of prosperity and socialist paradise until the very end.
The parallels between Honecker and Obama, which would once have been outlandish, now bear noting; persecuting dissidents, snooping on their populace, relying on borrowing from foreigners, putting your trust in Wall Street, believing your own propaganda, sending your security forces around the world to squash dissent, and mouthing meaningless platitudes before ever more skeptical audiences of once fawning but now disappointed fans.
It remains to be seen if Amerikans have the gumption to mount their own Wende, but it seems a safe bet Obama's likeness will appear in a Tussaud's Hall of Infamy some day, nestled between the likes of Honecker, Bush, Somoza and countless other petty tinpot dictators.
Texas (Jun 26, '13)
[Re Is Egypt on the verge of civil war?, Jun 25, '13] Should Egypt slip into civil war, the army is ready to step in "manu military." And there should be no doubt about that!
It is interesting to note that, even though the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys "popularity," its style of governing has brought about disappointment in what it can do in a civil society.
On the verge of a downward spiral in governing, President Mohammed Morsi has twisted and turned to US winds. Ultimately, the army is biding its time when it can once again step into well worn shoes of ruling Egypt.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Ital (Jun 26, '13)
Is it not outrageous that "surprise" was the word most associated with the presidential election just held in Iran. What is really surprising is that after spending $1.3 trillion a year on national security and all the months of commentary about the election, mostly fiction, by the so-called "experts" in the media, think tanks and the Congress of the US, they all still do not know what they do not know.
And, that is why the election of the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, came as a surprise. Further, witness the ignorance, as the aforementioned, and even some in the US administration, tried to create doubts about the legitimacy of the Iranian president's election. The Iranian people proved them wrong by showing up (over 70%) and overwhelmingly voting for change. The lack of knowledge about what goes on in Iran because of lack of relations, is astounding.
President Obama, much to his credit, has tried to open a dialogue but he has been blocked by intransigence from Iran and in the US, by the neocons and the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd in the media, think tank and the Congress. Like President Nixon who overcame the powerful China lobby to create an opening to China, the president must redouble his efforts to overcome the same type of obstruction. President Obama fortunately has a great asset right here in the US, [spokesman for the former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani and once the Iranian ambassador to Germany] Sayed Hossein Mousavian.
He was Iranian president-elect's deputy when Hassan Rouhani was Iran's nuclear negotiator. This is an opportunity that the US must not overlook. It is not in America's national interest to allow this estrangement of over 30 years to go on. Relations which are so important in gaining knowledge are also vital concerning US national security interests in the Middle East, ie, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syrian, energy resources, just to name a few. Real diplomacy must become the core American interest vis-a-vis Iran.
For decades, it has been anything but that. Precisely more punishing sanctions beget more obstinancy and resistance and this terrible cycle continues. Now more than ever, the US must reach out to Iran, accelerate its diplomacy and constructively engage the country. This important moment must not be squandered by both sides, like others before it.
Fariborz S Fatemi
USA (Jun 25, '13)
[Re Koreas roiled by great power shifts, Jun 21, '13] Sukjoon Yoon's analysis rests on South Korea's ability to escape the toehold the US has on Seoul. South Korea President Park Geun-hye's upcoming visit to Beijing might provide a clue in which direction will she steer Seoul's ship of state.
Listening to a podcast of the New York-based Korea Society blue ribbon panel of diplomats and scholar on whether Northeast Asia, former KS president Evans Revere couldn't have bee more fulsome off praise of Park and how she "clicked" with president Obama: he suggested that US-South Korea identity of views will not substantially differ from ex-president Lee Myung-bak's.
On the other hand, North Korea is showing more nuance in approaching the US. It is willing to talk, to return to the six-party talks in Beijing. However, Pyongyang is expressing no mea maxima culpa in its statements. Dialectically, it points out that the coin of contention has two faces: the US has to own up to its determining role in destabilizing the divided Korean peninsula. North Korea's new "face" can only please China, since it is causing discomfort for Obama in the same way the US president's doctrine pinpricks China.
Guam (Jun 25, '13)
Oh what a joyous time to be from Iran. Your football team has just qualified for its first World Cup in 16 years. You have just elected a "moderate" cleric to take over from the Persian George Bush AKA Akhmed I'm-Just-Being-Bad. Your Hezbollah proxies are routing the "liberal" West's Syrian rebel darlings. Oil prices are up. China and Russia are warming to you being the perennial burr under the WonderSaddle. You're building ever greater trade links with an Asia increasingly aware of how old and wrinkled that dude across the Pacific has become. Your supplies to the Afghan Taliban have been just adequate enough to make Tio Sam howl in frustration and prepare to rush for the exits in 2014. Your nuke program makes steady progress.
Amerika's twin wars in your backyard has immensely expanded your influence and power, while simultaneously weakening your principal adversary. Indeed, despite all the huffing and puffing of that tired, old Big Bad Yankee Wolf, your country is humming along so well that Wonderland's fave comic, Jon Stewart, is making a film about your sometimes baffling nation. He may even make being Iranian chic and trendy. It's really the least we can do for you, Tehran.
That the 30-year embargo/sanctions regime of Crying-Uncle Sam is a miserable, even laughable, failure, would make the ghost of Mao opine that the Paper Tiger of his day has degenerated into a modern Soggy Wet Noodle Fetal Kitten. The latest demonstration of the impotence of the failing Empire was the little publicized announcement by the State Department that "several" (like almost all) of our trading partners have been exempted from trade sanctions that would otherwise be imposed on countries actively doing business with the Islamic Republic of Stick-a-Finger-in-the-Great-Satan's-Eyeball-istan.
These exemptions did not even bother to require limits to the amount of trade (mostly in petroleum), since everyone knows the embargo is worthy of a Jon Stewart comedy sketch (if one appears in his movie, you betcha I'll take the credit.) Every week it seems a new improved, tighter sanctions regime is announced, a so-called tightening of the screws that has all the enormous pressure of a marshmallow barrage on down feathers. Frankly, as a Wonderlander myself, it's kind of pathetic to see my country carry this grudge to the point of making itself look like a bitter old man who is willing to take it to the grave.
Alas, Amerika is history's Ultimate Sore Loser; it took 25 years to grudgingly get over the Vietnamese butt whipping and we still have beefs with Cuba and Iran. In the meantime, here's one football fan eagerly anticipating an Iranian-US showdown in Brazil 2014. Let the games begin!
USA (Jun 21, '13)
[Re Obama's Monica moment, Jun 14, 2013] Make no mistake, though there are many variables, one sticks out plain and simple. Further arming the rebels is not about helping them in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. It is about sending a message to Iran by looking tough. Instead of sending weapons, America should be accelerating its diplomacy. Diplomacy is the only way forward. The reality is, the US has been sending weapons through proxies for a number of years, by enabling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to do that job.
What are the results? What will a few more weapons achieve? All the talk about ending the horrible bloodshed is nothing more than crocodile tears for more weapons will only add to the list of dead and dying. It is not enough to keep repeating the mantra of the self appointed "experts" that "Assad must be forced to negotiate and more arms will bring that about." Wrong. It is the rebels who are too weak and too disorganized and refuse to come to negotiate.
The United States, as their godfather, must bring them to the table. Only then through diplomacy can there be hope for stopping the carnage. The best example for doing that is the Lebanese model. After decades of civil war, the warring factions finally agreed to share power.
There, outside powers stopped their meddling, allowing the parties to reach a resolution. The President must listen to his inner angel not the war lovers in the congress, media and think tanks. He must continue to advocate for a pragmatic, common sense, resolution of this civil war.
The people of the United States do not want, and will not tolerate another war in the Middle east. What is next? What if regional powers start sending their volunteers to fight? Every action will bring on a reaction. That will be the future, unless the diplomats are allowed to work for peace.
Fariborz S Fatemi
USA (Jun 18, '13)
[Re Rank row puts full stop to Korean talks, Jun 14, '13] Anyone familiar with the two Koreas knows that rank counts, protocol matters.
When Kim Dae-jung went to the North, Kim Jong-il accompanied him to his guest house. Why? The North Korean Kim deferred to the centuries old custom of paying respect to an "older brother". On the other hand when South Korea president Roh Moo-hyun traveled to Pyongyang to meet Kim, he was not accorded the same honor. Why? For the simple reason he was by age younger than the North Korean leader and so was considered a "younger brother".
Much praise has been heaped on South Korean President Park Geun-hye for her tact, yet such a simple matter of rank torpedoed an important step in the meeting of minds of the two Koreas. Thus, we may wonder if this was not intentional.
Guam (Jun 17, '13)
[Re Obama's Monica moment, Jun 16, 2013] Obama's efforts to divert our attention only emphasize how deceitful he is. This is par for the course for recent US administrations. This is why the distrust of their own government is growing day by day among loyal citizens of the US. This distrust gets a boost from the lack of trust the federal government shows toward its own citizens: eg, the recently revealed massive spying on all citizens of the US. One of the effects of lack of trust is passive resistance.
Lou Vignates (Jun 17, '13)
[Re Obama's Monica moment, Jun 16, 2013] The patriot Snowden and his colleague Manning are the vanguard of a new movement that will ultimately destroy the political Old School of smoke-filled backroom double-dealings and back-stabbings, the kind of education the Obamanable Snowman received an advanced degree in on his way to the presidency. The majority of Amerikan politicians matriculated there, where their secret machinations that screwed their constituencies time and time again were concocted in the dark and with little chance of public exposure.
But in the Age of the Internet and Computer Hacker, true democracy has a chance to fight back, by unmasking the lies, hypocrisies and duplicities that would in the past remained buried and inaccessible to the world. But in this transition between the corrupt Old School and untested but invigorated New School, naturally the reactionary response to change is to invoke shibboleths like "national security" and "endangered American lives" in their defense of the indefensible. Of course, the only security and endangerment issues revolve around the Old Schooler's careers gorging at the public trough.
And that is why the Obamanation was selected by his CIA handlers as the perfect "New" Old Schooler to deal with the upstart New Schoolers; he would be the ideal young front man to protect his shady, cloaked, midnight machinations with bankers, corporate CEOs, Israeli lobbyists, Chinese financiers and Middle East despots. But bless his Kenyan, Muslim, socialist heart, like the little Dutch boy who tried plugging all those leaks, Barack-to-the-Future can't cope with those modern technogeeks who still believe in transparent government, free speech and all those other rudiments of democracy the prez is so keen to liquidate.
Yes, Obama will have his petty little vindictive victories over the Snowdens and Mannings, for the time being. But the day will come when virtually all the lies will be unearthed almost as soon as they are uttered, and there will be so many Snowdens and Mannings that not enough Guantanamos or Polish gulags can be built fast enough. It would be fitting if Obama asked Putin to rent out Siberia to take up the slack. But if he did, it would be all over the Internet before he could shout "First Amendment".
Texas (Jun 17, '13)
[Re Religious divides cost Arabs dearly, Jun 12, '13] While it is of course understandable to hail Arab nationalism in view of the present sorry situation of growing religious sectarianism, it should not be forgotten that Arab nationalism shares one unwelcome trait with all sorts of nationalism - namely the tendency to put down those not belonging to the respective nation.
In parts of the Arab world, especially in the Mashreq, there are various ethnic groups which are not Arab at all. For instance in Syria, the historical home of Arab nationalism, there are Kurds, Turkomen etc. The Arab nationalist Baathi regime has in the past denied them equal cultural rights as for the official use and teaching of their language. This has contributed to their actual position with regards to the rebellion there.
While the Turkomen seem to have taken the sides of the - mostly - Sunni rebels, probably because the Turkish government supports them, the most farsighted Kurdish organization, the PYD [Democratic Union Party], takes an neutral stand because they know that the majority of the rebels are as anti-Kurdish as is, (or at least has been) the government. There are many more examples to be cited (eg the Berbers in Algeria). So it is clear that "Arab nationalism" is a double-edged sword against religious sectarianism.
Dr Anton Holberg
Germany (Jun 14, '13)
[Re: Digital Blackwater rules, Jun 11, '13] Digital Blackwater rules. Kinda brings to mind this quote by founding father James Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1798:"It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."
Then again, perhaps it's also a universal truth that governments in general like to know what their citizens are up to.
USA (Jun 13, '13)
In the new movie Now You See Me, a quartet of magicians, hypnotists and psychics team up to rob a bank and bilk a billionaire. They do this using the standard tricks of the magician's trade; deception, misdirection, and making their audience think they see what they expect to see.
It's a delightful Hollywood escapade and at first blush appears to be just a summer fantasy with no connection to reality. Except the Amerikan public is being shown the same kind of smoke and mirrors, now-you-see-the-prosperity mirage from the talented team of Swami Obama and his Decepticons.
The Swami appeared in a puff of smoke in 2007, dazzled the crowd with his Mask of Change and promises of multiple rabbits out of the hat in the future. The WonderVoters saw what they wanted to see; a tall well groomed black man eager to right wrongs and slay the dragons of injustice, inequality and war.
Indeed, even six years into his presidency, even after witnessing the perpetrators of the greatest heist in history receive a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card from the Swami, even after seeing him renege on almost every campaign promise, even after not only continuing but reinforcing the most draconian of policies of his reviled predecessor, many of his hypnotized audience members walk around in a zombielike trance, parroting all the stale, tired and thoroughly discredited mantras of the deluded left, waiting for his command to wake up and forget all his lies, propaganda and disinformation.
The hypnosis works so well that, despite the creeping Sovietization of the Amerikan body politic, with our own Cuban/European CIA gulags, growing lists of political prisoners, torture hotels, and a muzzled, intimidated and supine media, Amerikans are still willing to send their children to die in desert sands in the name of "defending our freedoms," convinced that the Swami will somehow stick their mangled bodies back together again just like the sawn-in-half girl.
The gullible rubes that are the WonderElectorate continue to swallow the concocted economic statistics, the rose-glassed vision of the future and the relentless dismantling of their constitutional liberties, all the while convinced that milk and honey flow from his very lips.
Not to mention Obama's penchant for slipping out of neocon nooses and mushrooming scandals with the dexterity of a ...(dare I say it?) Houdini. I'd say the Obaminator deserves recognition of his magician skills by Hollywood, perhaps with a film called "Now You Vote for Me."
Texas (Jun 12, '13)
[Re Humble pie for Xi on Sunnylands menu, Jun 6] Even a perfunctory perusal of America's development history suggests that the US really isn't in a position to cast the first stone when it comes to industrial espionage and intellectual property theft.
But in the next seven, eight years, as long as the US and China don't engage in a large-scale trade war, or Russia, China and the US don't come to blows militarily, the world should be able to withstand and get through any kind of crisis. Beyond that, once the Chinese economy re-orients to a more consumption-based one and the overall world energy supply becomes more abundant, a historically unprecedented and multi-decade period of global prosperity will likely ensue, with the key to achieving that outcome being some level of international cooperation, especially among the major powers. And while the world will probably look considerably different then, it should at least be more stable.
USA (Jun 10, '13)
[Re China's Uyghurs have nowhere to turn, Jun 5] China won't take a page out of Chang Kai Shek's (Jiang Jieshi) playbook on treating the Uyghurs as an equal yellow star in the national flag.
For Beijing, Xinxiang is like 19th century America - it wants to clean the homeland of the Uyghurs so that the Han Chinese can settle and exploit it. China's ultimate goal is to enclose the Eastern Turkmen into ghettoes or reservations, a policy it is pursuing in Tibet as well.
Guam (Jun 10, '13)
[Re Petty burglars of the Malacca Strait, Jun 4, '13] The Indian people have been living in dire poverty for several thousand years because most of their leaders and politicians are selfish, stupid, and inhumane. How can human beings enjoy a wealthy life while a half a billion other country fellows live in pre-historic conditions.
Melbourne, Australia (Jun 7, '13)
[Re Crash this year or next? A collapse of the US stock market in late 2014 or in 2015 would likely take at least two years for the economy to get back on its heels, in the process greatly compromising the prospect of a Democrat remaining in the White House beyond 2016. On the other hand, a stock-market crash later this year would allow the economy some time to heal, potentially enabling economic green shoots to appear before the next presidential election, and boosting Democratic Party doyenne/Stakhanovite Hillary Clinton's chances of becoming the first female American president. Needless to say, neither crash scenario would be pleasant; but then again, whoever believes that life is a beach?
USA (Jun 7, '13)
[Re North Korea common ground for US, China, Jun 4, '13] There is also ground to oppose China and the US. Two matters come immediately to mind: computer hacking and the South China Sea. Like a tongue searching a sore tooth, the Obama administration has been going after Beijing incessantly.
Guam (Jun 5, '13)
Already Sunnis are turning away from the cowboy rebels trying to upend the Assad regime. The US, UK and France's footprints are sloshing through the same mud they left in Libya. If anything the Western powers can only the mindless mayhem that is staring them in the face in Iraq and Afghanistan. This time, there will be no Sykes-Picot Agreement on how to divide the spoils among themselves, for there are too many interested parties with the Arabs, Americans and Europeans jockeying for influence.
Consequently, on the ground, the wild West show is losing its audience.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy (Jun 5, '13)
[Re Naming a nameless war, May 29, '13] Professor Andrew J Bacevich makes an excellent point when he points out how the West takes for granted the fact that Islam is one of the Abrahanic religions.
I watched a very telling video the other day of a conservative Muslim student in a calm but deep exchange with the late atheist Christopher Hitchens. The young Muslim student elaborated on how moral absolutes constitute the pillars of harmony, order, and a super natural calling to seek what is unknown to our senses. The student cited some examples of moral depravation to which Hitchens responded with the usual babble about how Christians murdered thousands in the Inquisition or how Muslims behead the unbelievers. Both gross exaggerations out of historical context.
At the end of the day conservative religious people should find in conservative Muslims their greatest allies. And to quote Peter Kreeft: "A Moslem knows exactly where he stands. To a world more and more confused, Islam comes with a sword that cuts through the Gordian Knot of modern malaise in a single stroke." Should not we all aspire to cut through the filth of post-modernism?
Now, this is where I disagree with professor Bacevich: It is inaccurate to say that the United States or Europe is at war with Islam. In fact, even after the September 11, 2001 attacks universally hated president George W Bush separated the faith of Islam from the actions of al-Qaeda. Western media in general is very careful when referring to Islam because of the West's history of racism that gave us slavery, the Holocaust, and other hideous crimes perpetrated against humanity.
We cannot incite the masses against a minority. You have to admit that every time there are isolated events like the events at the Boston Marathon, there is some right-wing paranoia and some segments of American society scream to get a loser, scared young boy tried as an "enemy combatant", cheapening the label enemy combatant and trivializing it. Our courts can do the job. In the US we jail more people than China and execute more people than anywhere else in the world. So just like Bill Maher said, these "terrorists" decided to mess with the "wrong, peace loving Christian people".
This new "war" just shows a sequence of isolated events. I am sure they will find a name for it. Going back to the ancient times, political forces used religion to expand and conquer. Because if you tell me that some of the medieval Christian generals or some of the Muslim conquerors were pious, compassionate people then my goodness, where has compassion gone? Today's forces are tempted to use religion again to "rape and plunder." Follow the politics. It's all political now.
Ysais Martinez (May 30, '13)
[Re Six-party soap opera set to restart, May 28, '13] A soap opera indeed! There maybe stock characters in this on going melodrama, but little sentimentality. The six parties have not met in six years, it is good to point out. Nor should we lose sight of the upcoming visit to the White House of China's President Xi Jinping.
Pressured insistently by the Obama administration to do something with Beijing's "troublesome neighbor" North Korea, Xi can say that he has done his part, even though Washington is turning up the heat on Chinese computer hacking and pretensions to "ownership" of the seas.
Still, no one really believes that Pyongyang's return heralds a new opening.
Guam (May 29, '13)
[Re Chinese premiere Li Keqiang in Islamabad, May 23, '13] Some in the Pakistani media may be reading a little too much into the lengths of visits by the Chinese premier to India and to Pakistan. Assessed in another way, two all-weather friends simply don’t need to spend as much time together to hash things out. While the relationship with India is no doubt extremely important to China (and vice versa), Chinese investment in Pakistan will likely increase drastically once the country attains greater political and economic stability. Incidentally, what does seem a bit curious is the length of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent visit to China (five days).
USA (May 29, '13)
[Re Obama narrows scope of war on terror, May 24, 13] Now Jim Lobe could be right in his suggestion that US President Barack Obama's speech indicated a narrowing of the scope of the war on terror, but I do wonder. Obama's rhetoric is very engaging and enables the listener to hear what he wants to hear. Don't get me wrong. I like Barack Obama, but I was fooled the first time I voted for him, thinking he would stage a progressive swing from the neo-conservative direction of the Bush administration. I was so weary of Bush's propaganda and deception that I fell for Obama's line. Therefore, I am not so sure we will see a dramatic turn in Obama's "terror" policy, just as I'm certain that the American people won't get relief from Wall Street's unethical activities.
USA (May 29, '13)
[Re US moves toward full Iran trade embargo, May 23, '13] Once again, those fools in Washington have put Israel's welfare above the welfare of our United States. Antagonizing Muslim governments is most definitely not in the interests of our beloved US. To do this on behalf of the aggressive, racist Israel is doubly stupid.
USA (May 24, '13)
[Re Tokyo, Seoul hold 'ugly' nuclear option, May 23, '13] Dr Azad has left the US out of his equation. The Obama administration has put the kibosh on South Korea's plans for nuclear weapons.
The US nuclear umbrella protects South Korea and Japan. As for Japan, nuclear arms raises not only a constitutional matter but would reinforce Tokyo's decision to retreat from peaceful use of the atom.
The Abe government prefers to talk to North Korea instead. The Park government and the Obama administration would do well to follow the Japanese prime minister's lead to reduce tensions.
Guam (May 24, '13)
[Re Japan tips its hand via North Korea, May 21, '13] Japan announced a year or two ago that it would re-engage with North Korea as a handslap to South Korea over a territorial dispute on uninhabited islands. Pyongyang's nuclear test shelved that initiative.
Now with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe back in power, reconnecting with the DPRK is on track. In a way, China's ham-handed tack towards Japan has something led to the awakening of a more aggressive Japanese nationalism and firming up of a more independent foreign policy.
Guam (May 21, '13)
[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)
Jan - Mar 2013 Letters
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