Category: South Korea

Egypt: Preview of America in 2015

Egypt: Preview of America in 2015

The rioting and looting taking place in Egypt is primarily a result of massive food inflation and shows what all major cities in the United States will likely look like come year 2015 due to the Federal Reserve’s zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing to infinity. On December 16th, 2009, NIA named Time Magazine’s 2009 ‘Person of the Year’ Ben Bernanke our ‘Villain of the Year’, saying he created “unprecedented amounts of inflation in unprecedented ways” and “When it costs $20 for a gallon of milk in a few years, Americans will have nobody to thank more than Bernanke.”

What started out a few weeks ago as protests in Algeria with citizens chanting “Bring Us Sugar!” and five citizens being killed, quickly spread to civil unrest in Tunisia which saw 14 more civilian deaths, and has now spread to riots in Egypt where 300 Egyptian citizens have been killed. Food inflation in Egypt has reached 20% and citizens in the nation already spend about 40% of their monthly expenditures on food. Americans for decades have been blessed with cheap food, spending only 13% of their expenditures on food, but this is about to change.

NIA was the first to predict the recent explosion in agricultural commodity prices in our October 30th, 2009, article entitled, “U.S. Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture”, which said we have a “perfect storm for an explosion in agriculture prices”. A couple of months later in ‘NIA’s Top 10 Predictions for 2010’ we predicted “Major Food Shortages” and said, “Inventories of agricultural products are the lowest they have been in decades yet the prices of many agricultural commodities are down 70% to 80% from their all time highs adjusted for real inflation”. Over the past year, agricultural commodities as a whole have outperformed almost every other type of asset, with silver being one of only a few other assets keeping pace with agriculture. (On December 11th, 2009, NIA declared silver the best investment for the next decade at $17.40 per ounce and it has so far risen 64% to its current price of $28.39 per ounce).

The world is at the beginning stages of an all out inflationary panic. Wheat, which NIA previously called on ‘NIAnswers’ its favorite investment besides gold and silver, is now up to a new 30-month high of $8.63 per bushel and has doubled in price since June of last year. Algeria bought 800,000 tonnes of wheat this past week, bringing their total purchases for the month of January up to 1.8 million tonnes, which was quadruple expectations. Saudi Arabia is also beginning to stockpile their inventories of wheat. Rice futures have gained 8% during the past few days with Bangladesh and Indonesia placing extraordinary large orders. Indonesia’s latest rice order was quadruple its normal allotment and Bangladesh plans to double rice purchases this year. Meanwhile, the U.S., which is the world’s third largest exporter of rice, is expected to cut production by 25% in 2011.

NIA considers rice to be one of the world’s most undervalued agricultural commodities at its current price of $15.96 per 100 pounds and forecasts a move back to its 2008 high of $24 per 100 pounds as soon as the end of 2011. NIA believes cotton, at its current price of $1.80 per pound, may have gotten a bit ahead of itself in the short-term. In NIA’s first ever article about agriculture on February 17th, 2009, we said that cotton’s “upside potential is astronomical” at its then price of $0.44 per pound. NIA pointed to increasing sales to textile companies in China and the fact that cotton was down 70% from its all time high as reasons to be very bullish on cotton at $0.44 per pound. Early NIA members could have made 309% on cotton, but today we see much bigger potential in rice. The recent spike in cotton reminds us of the 2008 spike in oil. Although we believe cotton will ultimately rise above $3 per pound later this decade, we could see a dip to below $1.40 per pound first.

Many people in the mainstream media have criticized NIA’s recent food inflation report, claiming that agricultural commodity prices have very little to do with prices of food in the supermarket. CNBC’s Steve Liesman, in particular, claims that “rising commodity prices won’t cause inflation”. Liesman has it backwards. NIA has never claimed that rising commodity prices cause inflation. Soaring budget deficits that the U.S. government can’t possibly pay for through taxation causes inflation when the Fed is forced to monetize the debt by printing money.

Rising commodity prices are only a symptom of inflation. The reason NIA was so bullish on agricultural commodities going back two years ago when we produced our first documentary ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, is because while gold is the best gauge of inflation and is often the best tool for predicting future money printing, agriculture is where the majority of the monetary inflation ends up going after the Fed’s newly printed money trickles down to the middle-class and poor. With gold prices already surging two years ago when we produced ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, NIA said in the documentary “food prices have the potential to surge most during hyperinflation”.
One thing NIA is almost 100% sure of is that come year 2015, middle-class Americans will be spending at least 30% to 40% of their income on food, similar to Egyptians today. As NIA warned in its latest documentary ‘End of Liberty’, if you don’t have enough money to accumulate physical gold and silver, it is important to begin establishing your own food storage, and store enough food to feed you and your family for at least six months during hyperinflation. Many store shelves in Egypt are now empty after recent panic buying, with shortages of nearly all major staple items throughout the country.

The U.S. Treasury is getting ready to sell $72 billion in new long-term bonds next week, as the U.S. rapidly approaches its $14.29 trillion debt limit. The debt limit is now expected to be reached by April 5th and Treasury Secretary Geithner warned the U.S. will see “catastrophic damage” if it isn’t raised. With the Federal Reserve now surpassing China and Japan as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, the real “catastrophic damage” ahead will be hyperinflation as a result of the U.S. government doing absolutely nothing to dramatically cut spending. It is an absolute joke that Obama during his State of the Union address announced $400 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but then the very next day, the Congressional Budget Office increased its 2011 budget deficit projection by $400 billion to $1.48 trillion.

Not raising the debt limit would be a good thing, as it would force Washington to live within its means. Sure, the stock market would collapse and the U.S. economy would enter into its next Great Depression, but at least it would save the U.S. dollar from losing all of its purchasing power. In fact, the standard of living for middle class Americans might actually improve if the government allowed the free market to put our economy into a depression, because goods and services would get cheaper.

The U.S. economy has become a drug addict that is dependent on cheap and easy money from the Federal Reserve. While Wall Street bankers took home a record $135 billion in total compensation in 2010, up 5.7% from $128 billion in 2009, this money was stolen from middle-class and poor Americans through inflation. The more monetary inflation (heroin) the Federal Reserve creates to satisfy the (in the words of Gerald Celente) “money junkies” on Wall Street, the more middle-class and poor Americans become dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps just to survive. Millions of American students are graduating college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt but no jobs. Luckily for them (but not holders of U.S. dollars), NIA is hearing reports from both unemployed and underemployed college graduates with student loans that the government is reducing their required monthly payments by sometimes 90% or more based on their current incomes.

China and Japan recently saw their credit ratings downgraded, while the U.S. credit rating remains at “AAA”. NIA believes it would make far more sense for the world’s largest debtor nation to be downgraded instead of the world’s two largest creditor nations. The Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing has yet to even reach the halfway point and the Fed already holds about $1.11 trillion in U.S. treasuries. By the time QE2 is over at the end of June, the Fed will own $1.6 trillion in U.S. treasuries, about what China and Japan own combined. Shockingly, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig is already dropping hints about QE3. According to Hoenig, the Fed may consider extending treasury purchases beyond June 30th, 2010, (the scheduled completion date for QE2) if U.S. economic data looks disappointing.

With the Fed taking over as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, China is beginning to rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar and into gold. In just the first 10 months of 2010, China imported 209 metric tons of gold compared to 45 metric tons in all of 2009, a stunning five-fold increase. While the western world is downplaying the threat of inflation as much as possible, Asian countries understand that hyperinflation is the most devastating thing that can possibly happen to any economy. The demand for gold in Asia now is the most intense it has ever been, as they look to tackle rising inflation before it becomes hyperinflation.

The Chinese are so smart that families are now giving each other gold bullion as gifts instead of traditional red envelopes filled with cash. China is now on track to soon surpass India as the world’s largest consumer of gold. The China Securities Regulatory Commission recently gave Beijing-based Lion Fund Management Co. approval to create a fund that will invest into foreign gold ETFs.

U.S. stock mutual funds saw $6.7 billion in net inflows during the past two weeks, the most in any two week period since May of 2009. The rioting, looting, and civil unrest in Egypt is now making the U.S. look like the safe haven of the world, even though it should be considered the riskiest place to invest. From the Dow’s low in August until now, about $38 billion was actually removed from U.S. stock mutual funds, despite the stock market rising 20%. The Dow Jones has risen from September until now solely due to the Federal Reserve printing around $350 billion out of thin air. When central banks print money, stock markets often act as a relief valve due to there being too much inflation going into the hands of financial institutions.

The U.S. M2 money supply surged by $46.6 billion during the week ending January 17th to a record $8.8623 trillion, following a rise during the previous week of $7.6 billion. The rise in the M2 money supply over the past two weeks of $54.2 billion equals an annualized increase of 16%. The M2 multiplier now stands at 4.218 compared to a long-term average of 10. When QE2 is complete, the Fed’s monetary base will likely stand at $2.59 trillion. A return to the long-term average M2 multiplier of 10 means we are due to see a 192% increase in the M2 money supply and that is not even including a possible QE3 and QE4.

The U.S. economic ponzi scheme could unravel very quickly in the years ahead, with the velocity of money increasing faster than anybody expects. As more Americans learn about NIA and become educated to the truth about the U.S. economy and inflation, a complete loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar could occur very suddenly. It is important for all Americans to prepare as if hyperinflation will be here tomorrow. At least in Egypt, their currency still has purchasing power and their citizens are trying to carry out a regime change before it is too late. By 2015 in America, it will already be too late and the civil unrest here has the potential to be many times worse.

It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation. Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us

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Arirang: The Korean American Journey

The documentary “Arirang: The Korean American Journey” traces the development of Korean Americans as they left Korea in the late 19th century first in search of new opportunities and later to escape Japanese imperialism. The documentary first starts off discussing Korean immigration to Hawaii due to increased demands for cheap labor and because it was also a way for Koreans to escape the turmoil in their country. In these immigrant communities in Hawaii, the Korean immigrants were able to create self-sufficient communities that protected their interests as well as teaching their children Korean ways and giving them a good education. This part of the documentary was interesting since it discussed the significance of Hawaii in shaping Korean American culture and as being another outlet for Koreans to contribute to the independence movement. Moreover, another interesting item the documentary brought up was that when Korean Americans went to visit Chosen for a baseball game, they were shocked that many Koreans were unable to properly speak Korean because of Japanese language policies on Koreans. This was very interesting since it highlights the degree that the Korean American community was able to preserve their customs and language while it was systematically destroyed in Korea.

In the second half of the documentary, the interesting parts concerned the Korean American contributions during the Second World War and in general. First, it was quite interesting that the United States actually classified Koreans as Japanese subjects and how the Korean American community was able to mobilize and lobby the US to recognize them as their own people. In addition, it was also interesting that the US made stamps commemorating Korea even though they knew little about it as seen by attempts by Soon Hyun’s many attempts to convince his White classmates that Korea existed. In addition, it was also interesting that some Korean Americans even had to courage to fight alongside Japanese-Americans in the same Army unit and later make contributions by working in the occupied US military government in Korea. However, the most interesting thing was the role the Methodist churches had in assisting Korean immigrants, creating an environment for Korean patriots to work like Syngman Rhee, and most of all in preserving Korean culture.

The Chosun Dynasty was a period of “confucianization”

The Choson Dynasty is a period of “confucianization” according to Dr. Haboush’s article. Discuss three particular aspects of confucianization by linking it to a film, sections from Korea Old and New, or by contrasting it to the Koryo Dynasty (using Duncan’s article).

After overthrowing the Koryo Dynasty, Yi Songgye and his Neo-Confucian supporters founded the Chosun Dynasty, where a period of “Confucianization” began. The three particular aspects in Korea where confucianization occurred were in the government, in funerary practices, and in women’s rights.

First, the government was heavily influenced by confucianization. Unlike the Koryo Dynasty, which drew its legitimacy from Buddhism, geomancy and marriage, the Chosun dynasty drew their support from Neo-Confucianism. However, the bureaucratic pres-sures exerted on the monarchy during the Koryo Dynasty were strengthened during the Chosun period because all government decisions had to be debated and justified by Con-fucian rhetoric, which led to a rivalry between the throne and the bureaucracy based on who can best realize Confucian ideals. Moreover, the Censorate gained greater influence in the government with its power of investigating corruption and confirming state ap-pointments, which brought accountability to the state while crippling the decision-making process (Eckert, Lee, 110). These struggles between the bureaucracy and the throne led to four literati purges that involved Chosun kings either removing or executing literati who accused the state of corruption or tried to impose Neo-Confucian norms that threat-ened the monarchy (Eckert, Lee, 136-139).

Another area of society that was affected by “Confucianization” affected were funer-ary practices, which were altered to suit Confucian norms. During the Koryo period, Koreans followed Buddhist funerary practices by cremating the dead, as depicted in “Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?” until it was outlawed by the Chosun government in 1474 since it was against Confucian norms. In 1401, the Confucian funeral rites and ancestor worship were codified into law to discourage non-Confucian traditions and proliferated when it was adopted by the yangban. Koreans eventually accepted these rituals because ancestor worship was compatible with the Buddhist belief that ancestors’ souls needed continuous support by its descendants and because it was practiced by elites, which made Confucian funerary practices a status symbol.

A third area influenced by confucianization was women’s rights. According to native Korean tradition, daughters were considered full-fledged heirs, women can remarry and Koryo-era women have equal claim to property. However, under the Kyongguk Taejon, only sons from wives or concubines were considered ritual heirs, the ritual heirs gets one and a half times more property than his siblings, and children of remarried women were denied state positions. Additionally, the state not only created laws that restricted women to the domestic sphere, it glorified women who conformed to Confucian values and pro-moted literature that taught them to be submissive, diligent, frugal, and devoted to their in-laws. One of the most popular Confucian stories is “Chunhyang”, a morality play that was used to indoctrinate women to adhere to Confucian values by glorifying the heroine for upholding Confucian values under adversity and for attacking un-Confucian ideals.

In short, confucianization had significant impact on the state, on funerary practices, and on women’s rights. First, the bureaucracy was strengthened which empowered the literati at the expense of threatening the monarchy. Second, funerary practices had to be changed, which also altered Korean attitudes towards the dead. Last, women’s rights were gradually phased out as Confucianism gained greater prominence in society.

Thank You Amy Tan: Support the Joy Luck Club!

Thank You Amy Tan: Support the Joy Luck Club!
By Captain Livingston

Asian doll. Tight, submissive, exotic, mysterious and sultry. She shrieks at the sight of a mouse. She takes insults as a reminder to improve upon her flawed self. She is the survivor of abuse by Asian men from her past, just as she watched her mother abused by the hands of her father. She endures. She sits quietly alone, waiting for her White knight to sweep her away from generations of misery. Who is she?

She is a fantasy Asian woman created by Amy Tan to get Asian girls into the hands of the White guys like us.

My campaign, or better put, my goal is simple: to promote Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club in the reading lists of high schools and universities across the nation to get more White guys like myself with Asian girls. Right now, the Joy Luck Club (JLC) is currently used by academic institutions in the US and is known by us White guys as a novel that is “Draws Asian girls to [us]”. Through Amy Tan and her novel, the images of self-loathing Asian women and abusive, wicked Asian men have reached the millions across the nation, much to our favor.

In my campaign to promote JLC for schools, I have enlisted the support of Asian-American women’s groups, fraternities, pornographers, the Republican Party, and any Asiaphile group of every feasible nature. I am not looking to wipe out all Asian males nor am I looking to ignore White women. I just want more Asian girls to learn about Amy Tan and her wonderful novel so more White guys like me can enjoy them.

What I love most about her is the way she plays upon all of the Asian stereotypes. Asian women are depicted as lonely miserable characters whose ultimate salvation comes when united in marriage with a White male (us). Furthermore, she mercilessly smears all of the Asian male characters, confining them to the role of the wife-abuser, pervert, weakling or the nit-picking egomaniac, which is partly true from my own observations. This novel really represents the Asian American experiences and it is loved by critics, in addition to being popular with Asian girls and us White guys.

Amy Tan (who in real life was swept away by a white man) said herself that she would never date Asian men because she would not date her father or her brother, and this only helps our cause. I truly respect and believe her as a major figure of the collective voice of Asian-Americans and I really don’t think it’s right to question her thinking because that would be racist.

When chatting with Asian girls of every background online, they all said that the story is a major reason why they only date White guys. I must confess that there were parts to JLC that I could relate to, such as the generational and cultural gap the main characters felt with their parents. Nevertheless, alongside these anecdotes came, what I felt, were interesting generalizations that brought back memories of the abusiveness and arrogance that I faced from Asian nerds and thugs in high school.

So long as JLC and Amy Tan are the only widely recognized products of Asian American literature, Asian girls will date us more. I hope others will enjoy reading Amy Tan because she is both a very engaging writer and gives us a the truth at what Asian women had to suffer from in her pages.

Head of Japanese Air Force (ASDF) sacked for public denial of Japan’s wartime aggression

Earlier this week, the head of the Japanese air force wrote in a prize-wining essay describing Japan as the aggressor during World War II is a “false accusation.”

The government stripped ASDF Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami, 60, of his title after deeming his claim deviated from the government’s official view that Japan’s invasions and colonial rule caused great damage and pain to the peoples of its Asian neighbors.

Tamogami wrote the essay titled, “Was Japan an aggressor nation?” and submitted it for an essay contest organized by the APA Group, a hotel and condominium operator. His essay won the grand prize, and the original Japanese version and an English translation were posted on the company’s Web site on Friday.

In his essay, Tamogami says “Our country was a victim, drawn into the Sino-Japanese War by Chiang Kai-shek.”

He then justifies Japan’s wartime colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and the former Manchuria. “Through the efforts of the Japanese government and Japanese army, the people in these areas were released from the oppression they had been subjected to up until then, and their standard of living markedly improved.”

Below is the English translation of the essay taken directly from APA Group, who sponsored the essay contest and posted his winning essay.  The URL to the Japanese and English version is here

Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?
Tamogami Toshio

Under the terms of the US-Japan Security Treaty, American troops are stationed within Japan. Nobody calls this an American invasion of Japan. That is because it is based on a treaty agreed upon between two nations.

Our country is said to have invaded the Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula in the prewar period, but surprisingly few people are aware that the Japanese army was also stationed in these countries on the basis of treaties. The advance of the Japanese army onto the Korean peninsula and Chinese mainland from the latter half of the 19th century on was not a unilateral advance without the understanding of those nations. The current Chinese government obstinately insists that there was a “Japanese invasion,” but Japan obtained its interests in the Chinese mainland legally under international law through the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and so on, and it placed its troops there based on treaties in order to protect those interests. There are those who say that Japan applied pressure and forced the Chinese to sign the treaty, thus invalidating it, but back then – and even now – there were no treaties signed without some amount of pressure.

The Japanese army was subjected to frequent acts of terrorism by Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT). Large-scale attacks on and murders of Japanese citizens occurred many times. This would be like the Japanese Self-Defense Forces attacking the US troops stationed at the Yokota or Yokosuka military bases, committing acts of violence and murder against the American soldiers and their families – it would be unforgivable. Despite that, the Japanese government patiently tried to bring about peace, but at every turn they were betrayed by Chiang Kai-shek.

In fact, Chiang Kai-shek was being manipulated by Comintern. As a result of the Second United Front of 1936, large numbers of guerillas from the Communist Party of Comintern puppet Mao Zedong infiltrated the KMT. The objective of Comintern was to pit the Japanese army and the KMT against each other to exhaust them both and, in the end, to have Mao Zedong’s Communist Party control mainland China. Finally, our country could no longer put up with the repeated provocations of the KMT, and on August 15, 1937, the Konoe Fumimaro Cabinet declared that “now we must take determined measures to punish the violent and unreasonable actions of the Chinese army and encourage the Nanking Government to reconsider.” Our country was a victim, drawn into the Sino-Japanese War by Chiang Kai-shek.

The bombing of Zhang Zuolin’s train in 1928 was for a long time said to have been the work of the Kwantung Army, but in recent years, Soviet intelligence documents have been discovered that at the very least cast doubt on the Kwantung Army’s role. According to such books as Mao: The Mao Zedong Nobody Knew by Jung Chang (Kodansha) 「マオ(誰も知らなかった毛沢東)(ユン・チアン、講談社)」, Ko Bunyu Looks Positively at the Greater East Asian War by Ko Bunyu (WAC Co.) 「黄文雄の大東亜戦争肯定論(黄文雄、ワック出版)」, and Refine Your Historical Power, Japan edited by Sakurai Yoshiko (Bungei Shunju) 「日本よ、「歴史力」を磨け(櫻井よしこ編、文藝春秋)」, the theory that it was actually the work of Comintern has gained a great deal of prominence recently.

Similarly, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937, immediately prior to the start of the Sino-Japanese War, had been considered as a kind of proof of Japan’s invasion of China.

However, we now know that during the Tokyo War Trials, Liu Shaoqi of the Chinese Communist Party told Western reporters at a press conference, “The instigator of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident was the Chinese Communist Party, and the officer in charge was me.” If you say that Japan was the aggressor nation, then I would like to ask what country among the great powers of that time was not an aggressor. That is not to say that because other countries were doing so it was all right for Japan to do so well, but rather that there is no reason to single out Japan as an aggressor nation.

Japan tried to develop Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, and Taiwan in the same way it was developing the Japanese mainland. Among the major powers at that time, Japan was the only nation that tried to incorporate its colonies within the nation itself. In comparison to other countries, Japan’s colonial rule was very moderate. When Imperial Manchuria was established in January 1932, the population was thirty million. That population increased each year by more than 1 million people, reaching fifty million by the end of the war in 1945.

Why was there such a population explosion in Manchuria? It was because Manchuria was a prosperous and safe region. People would not be flocking to a place that was being invaded. The plains of Manchuria, where there was almost no industry other than agriculture, was reborn as a vital industrial nation in just fifteen years thanks to the Japanese government. On the Korean Peninsula as well, during the thirty-five years of Japanese rule the population roughly doubled from thirteen million to twenty-five million people. That is proof that Korea under Japanese rule was also prosperous and safe. In postwar Japan, people say that the Japanese army destroyed the peaceful existence in Manchuria and on the Korean Peninsula. But in fact, through the efforts of the Japanese government and Japanese army, the people in these areas were released from the oppression they had been subjected to up until then, and their standard of living markedly improved.

Our country built many schools in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, and Taiwan, and emphasized education for the native people. We left behind significant improvements to the infrastructure that affects everyday life – roads, power plants, water supply, etc. And we established Keijo Imperial University in Korea in 1924 as well as the Taipei Imperial University in 1928 in Taiwan.

Following the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government established nine imperial universities. Keijo Imperial University was the sixth and Taipei Imperial University was the seventh to be built. The subsequent order was that Osaka Imperial University was eighth (1931) and Nagoya Imperial University was ninth (1939). The Japanese government actually built imperial universities in Korea and Taiwan even before Osaka and Nagoya.

The Japanese government also permitted the enrollment of Chinese and Japanese citizens into the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. At the Manila military tribunal following the war, there was a lieutenant general in the Japanese army named Hong Sa-ik, a native Korean who was sentenced to death. Hong graduated in the 26th class at the Army Academy, where he was a classmate of Lt. General Kuribayashi Tadamichi, who gained fame at Iwo Jima.

Hong was a person who rose to lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army while retaining his Korean name. One class behind him at the academy was Col. Kim Suk-won, who served as a major in China at the time of the Sino-Japanese War. Leading a force of roughly 1,000 Japanese troops, he trampled the army from China, the former suzerain state that had been bullying Korea for hundreds of years. He was decorated by the emperor for his meritorious war service. Of course, he did not change his name. In China, Chiang Kai-shek also graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and received training while attached to a regiment in Takada, in Niigata.

One year below Kim Suk-won at the academy was the man who would be Chiang’s staff officer, He Yingqin. The last crown prince of the Yi dynasty, Crown Prince Yi Eun also attended the Army Academy, graduating in the 29th class. Crown Prince Yi Eun was brought to Japan as a sort of hostage at the age of ten. However, the Japanese government treated him respectfully as a member of the royal family, and after receiving his education at Gakushuin, he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. In the army, he was promoted and served as a lieutenant general. Crown Prince Yi Eun was married to Japan’s Princess Nashimotonomiya Masako. She was a woman of nobility who previously had been considered as a potential bride for the Showa Emperor. If the Japanese government had intended to smash the Yi dynasty, they surely would not have permitted the marriage of a woman of this stature to Crown Prince Yi Eun.

Incidentally, in 1930, the Imperial Household Agency built a new residence for the couple. It is now the Akasaka Prince Hotel Annex. Also, Prince Pujie, the younger brother of Puyi – the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, who was also the emperor of Manchuria – was married to Lady Saga Hiro of the noble Saga house.

When you compare this with the countries that were considered to be major powers at the time, you realize that Japan’s posture toward Manchuria, Korea, and Taiwan was completely different from the colonial rule of the major powers. England occupied India, but it did not provide education for the Indian people. Indians were not permitted to attend the British military academy. Of course, they would never have considered a marriage between a member of the British royal family and an Indian. This holds true for Holland, France, America, and other countries as well.

By contrast, from before the start of World War II, Japan had been calling for harmony between the five tribes, laying out a vision for the tribes – the Yamato (Japanese), Koreans, Chinese, Manchurians, and Mongols – to intermix and live peacefully together. At a time when racial discrimination was considered natural, this was a groundbreaking proposal. At the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I, when Japan urged that the abolition of racial discrimination be included in the treaty, England and America laughed it off. But if you look at the world today, it has become the kind of world that Japan was urging at the time.

Going back in time to 1901, in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion, the Qing Empire signed the Boxer Protocol in 1901 with eleven countries including Japan. As a result, our country gained the right to station troops in Qing China, and began by dispatching 2,600 troops there. Also, in 1915, following four months of negotiations with the government of Yuan Shikai, and incorporating China’s points as well, agreement was reached on Japan’s so-called 21 Demands toward China. Some people say that this was the start of Japan’s invasion of China, but if you compare these demands to the general international norms of colonial administration by the great powers at the time, there was nothing terribly unusual about it. China too accepted the demands at one point and ratified them.

However, four years later, in 1919, when China was allowed to attend the Paris Peace Conference, it began complaining about the 21 Demands with America’s backing. Even then, England and France supported Japan’s position. Moreover, Japan never advanced its army without the agreement of Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT.

The Japanese army in Beijing, which was stationed there from 1901, still comprised just 5,600 troops at the time of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident thirty-six years later. At that time, tens of thousands of KMT troops were spread out in the area surrounding Beijing, and even in terms of appearances it was a far cry from being an invasion. As symbolized by Foreign Minister Shidehara Kijuro, our country’s basic policy at the time was one of reconciliation with China, and that has not changed even today.

There are some who say that it was because Japan invaded the Chinese mainland and the Korean Peninsula that it ended up entering the war with the United States, where it lost three million people and met with defeat; it committed an irrevocable error. However, it has also been confirmed now that Japan was ensnared in a trap that was very carefully laid by the United States in order to draw Japan into a war.

In fact, America was also being manipulated by Comintern. There are official documents called the Venona Files, which are available on the National Security Agency (NSA) website. It is a massive set of documents, but in the May 2006 edition of “Monthly Just Arguments” 「 月刊正論」, (then) Assistant Professor Fukui of Aoyama Gakuin University offered a summary introduction.

The Venona Files are a collection of transmissions between Comintern and agents in the United States, which the United States was monitoring for eight years, from 1940 to 1948. At the time, the Soviets were changing their codes after each message, so the United States could not decipher them. From 1943, right in the middle of the war with Japan, the United States began its decryption work. Surprisingly, it took thirty-seven years to finish the work; it was completed just before the start of the Reagan administration in 1980. However, since it was the middle of the Cold War, the Americans kept these documents classified.

In 1995, following the end of the Cold War, they were declassified and made open to the public. According to those files, there were three hundred Comintern spies working in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took office in 1933. Among them, one who rose to the top was the number two official at the Treasury, Assistant Secretary Harry White. Harry White is said to have been the perpetrator who wrote the Hull note, America’s final notice to Japan before the war began. Through President Roosevelt’s good friend, Treasury Secretary Morgenthau, he was able to manipulate President Roosevelt and draw our country into a war with the United States.

At the time, Roosevelt was not aware of the terrible nature of communism. Through Harry White, he was on the receiving end of Comintern’s maneuvering, and he was covertly offering strong support to Chiang Kai-shek, who was battling Japan at the time, sending the Flying Tigers squadron comprised of one hundred fighter planes. Starting one and a half months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States began covert air attacks against Japan on the Chinese mainland.

Roosevelt had become president on his public pledge not to go to war, so in order to start a war between the United States and Japan it had to appear that Japan took the first shot. Japan was caught in Roosevelt’s trap and carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Could the war have been avoided? If Japan had accepted the conditions lain out by the United States in the Hull note, perhaps the war could have been temporarily avoided. But even if the war had been avoided temporarily, when you consider the survival of the fittest mentality that dominated international relations at the time, you can easily imagine that the United States would have issued a second and a third set of demands. As a result, those of us living today could very well have been living in a Japan that was a white nation’s colony.

If you leave people alone, someday someone will create the conveniences of civilization, such as cars, washing machines, and computers. But in the history of mankind, the relationship between the rulers and the ruled is only determined by war. It is impossible for those who are powerful to grant concessions on their own. Those who do not fight must resign themselves to being ruled by others.

After the Greater East Asia War, many countries in Asia and Africa were released from the control of white nations. A world of racial equality arrived and problems between nations were to be decided through discussion. That was a result of Japan’s strength in fighting the Russo-Japanese War and Greater East Asia War. If Japan had not fought the Greater East War at that time, it may have taken another one hundred or two hundred years before we could have experienced the world of racial equality that we have today. In that sense, we must be grateful to our ancestors who fought for Japan and to the spirits of those who gave their precious lives for their country. It is thanks to them that we are able to enjoy the peaceful and plentiful lifestyle we have today.

On the other hand, there are those who call the Greater East Asia War “that stupid war.” They probably believe that even without fighting a war we could have achieved today’s peaceful and plentiful society. It is as if they think that all of our country’s leaders at that time were stupid. We undertook a needless war and many Japanese citizens lost their lives. They seem to be saying that all those who perished actually died in vain.

However, when you look back at the history of mankind, you understand that nothing is as simple as that. Even today, once a decision is made about an international relationship it is extremely difficult to overturn that. Based on the US-Japan Security Treaty, America possesses bases even in Japan’s capital region of Tokyo. Even if Japan said they wanted those bases back, they would not be easily returned. In terms of our relationship with Russia as well, the Northern Islands remain illegally occupied even after more than sixty years. And Takeshima remains under the effective control of South Korea.

The Tokyo Trials tried to push all the responsibility for the war onto Japan. And that mind control is still misleading the Japanese people sixty-three years after the war. The belief is that if the Japanese army becomes stronger, it will certainly go on a rampage and invade other countries, so we need to make it as difficult as possible for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to act. The SDF cannot even defend its own territory, it cannot practice collective self-defense, there are many limitations on its use of weapons, and the possession of offensive weaponry is forbidden. Compared to the militaries of other countries, the SDF is bound hand and foot and immobilized.

Unless our country is released from this mind control, it will never have a system for protecting itself through its own power. We have no choice but to be protected by America. If we are protected by America, then the Americanization of Japan will be accelerated. Japan’s economy, its finances, its business practices, its employment system, its judicial system will all converge with the American system. Our country’s traditional culture will be destroyed by the parade of reforms. Japan is undergoing a cultural revolution, is it not? But are the citizens of Japan living in greater ease now or twenty years ago? Is Japan becoming a better country?

I am not repudiating the US-Japan alliance. Good relations between Japan and the United States are essential to the stability of the Asian region. However, what is most desirable in the US-Japan relationship is something like a good relationship between parent and child, where they come to each other’s aid when needed, as opposed to the kind of relationship where the child remains permanently dependant on the parent.

Creating a structure where we can protect our country ourselves allows us to preemptively prevent an attack on Japan, and at the same time serves to bolster our position in diplomatic negotiations. This is understood in many countries to be perfectly normal, but that concept has not gotten through to our citizens.

Even now, there are many people who think that our country’s aggression caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War. But we need to realize that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War. In Thailand, Burma, India, Singapore, and Indonesia, the Japan that fought the Greater East Asia War is held in high esteem. We also have to realize that while many of the people who had direct contact with the Japanese army viewed them positively, it is often those who never directly saw the Japanese military who are spreading rumors about the army’s acts of brutality. Many foreigners have testified to the strict military discipline of the Japanese troops as compared to those of other countries. It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation.

Japan is a wonderful country that has a long history and exceptional traditions. We, as Japanese people, must take pride in our country’s history. Unless they are influenced by some particular ideology, people will naturally love the hometown and the country where they were born. But in Japan’s case, if you look assiduously at the historical facts, you will understand that what this country has done is wonderful. There is absolutely no need for lies and fabrications. If you look at individual events, there were probably some that would be called misdeeds. That is the same as saying that there is violence and murder occurring today even in advanced nations.

We must take back the glorious history of Japan. A nation that denies its own history is destined to pursue a path of decline.

The last sentence of his essay is ironic given that Japan has been in economic and social decline since the late 1980s, which happens to be around the same period when fringe ideologies were becoming part of the mainstream political and historical discourse in Japan.

Korean nationalists and the Olympic Torch relay

Recently I learned Koreans made a very big deal of minor scuffles at the Seoul torch relay. According to the BBC, several pro-Tibetan or anti-Chinese protesters had tried to jump the Olympic torchrunners at various points in Seoul. At the same time, dozens of ethnic Chinese or international students followed the torch as it made its way around Seoul.

Eventually there were some scuffles between the Chinese students and the pro-Tibetan and anti-Chinese protesters. For some reason, the Seoul riot police were not able to contain them and were overpowered according to Korean youtube videos. Furthermore, the Korean bloggers claim the Chinese embassy in Seoul encouraged Chinese people to gather around the torch relay and to defend the torch.

I really like how Korean nationalists often make things up just for the sake of trying to win an argument or undeserved sympathy. Sure I felt bad for those pro-Tibet protesters who got roughed up by the Chinese protesters, yet I am shocked how the Seoul riot police, which has much experience in putting down riots that numbered in the tens of thousands, can’t put down a group of Chinese kids that numbered at 6,500 (if the Korean nationalists are correct).

At the same time, it’s also great how they jump to conclusions and generalise all Chinese people as backward barbarians or violence-prone. It’s ironic because these are the same arguments used by Japanophiles and Japanese nationalists to bash Koreans. Besides, people are people and this means Koreans are no more special than Americans, Chinese, Mexicans or even Japanese (GASP!).

So anyway, I recently got into an argument over a Korean nationalist’s superficial conclusions on the Seoul relay. First I said Sinophobia will become quite popular after the Beijing Olympics based on my observations to which she replies should be encouraged. After I pointed out Sinophobia is a fancy word for anti-Chinese sentiment, she backtracked and ranted about how Chinese people need to apologise for their savagery in the Seoul torch relay.

Later the argument involved technicalities. She claims I still supported the Chinese protesters despite condemning violence in general and supporting the Seoul police’s right to arrest them for breaking local laws. For some reason, she claimed that Koreans are all well-behaved and nice people until I pointed out how they trashed the Swiss embassy when they eliminated the ROK in the 2006 World Cup. She countered with technicalities in that they only trashed a building while Chinese people beat up Koreans.

Anyway, she took pride in how she cut of all of her Chinese friends because they disagreed with her on this Seoul torch scuffle, which is just petty and sad. At the end of the argument, she repeatedly made ad hominem attacks and petty remarks that give me the impression that she and other Korean nationalists actually believe they are a chosen people. As such they act with a false sense of entitlement whenever something bad happens to Koreans regardless of the insignificance of such events in the short and long-term.

It’s no wonder why Asianphiles would eventually develop negative attitudes towards Koreans and create such sites like www.occidentalism.org…Korean nationalists promote negative Korean stereotypes and fuel anti-Korean sentiment around the world.

I actually appreciate the research done by the two actors for their Korean History Channel sketch even more after that discussion with that Korean nationalist

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony

The New York Times Magazine | January 27, 2008By PARAG KHANNA

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Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen. But the distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.

It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.

Why? Weren’t we supposed to reconnect with the United Nations and reaffirm to the world that America can, and should, lead it to collective security and prosperity? Indeed, improvements to America’s image may or may not occur, but either way, they mean little. Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either. Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.

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The Geopolitical Marketplace

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will see the planetary stakes of the new global game. Previous eras of balance of power have been among European powers sharing a common culture. The cold war, too, was not truly an “East-West” struggle; it remained essentially a contest over Europe. What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.

In Europe’s capital, Brussels, technocrats, strategists and legislators increasingly see their role as being the global balancer between America and China. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German member of the European Parliament, calls it “European patriotism.” The Europeans play both sides, and if they do it well, they profit handsomely. It’s a trend that will outlast both President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the self-described “friend of America,” and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, regardless of her visiting the Crawford ranch. It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one. Europeans use intelligence and the police to apprehend radical Islamists, social policy to try to integrate restive Muslim populations and economic strength to incorporate the former Soviet Union and gradually subdue Russia. Each year European investment in Turkey grows as well, binding it closer to the E.U. even if it never becomes a member. And each year a new pipeline route opens transporting oil and gas from Libya, Algeria or Azerbaijan to Europe. What other superpower grows by an average of one country per year, with others waiting in line and begging to join?

Robert Kagan famously said that America hails from Mars and Europe from Venus, but in reality, Europe is more like Mercury — carrying a big wallet. The E.U.’s market is the world’s largest, European technologies more and more set the global standard and European countries give the most development assistance. And if America and China fight, the world’s money will be safely invested in European banks. Many Americans scoffed at the introduction of the euro, claiming it was an overreach that would bring the collapse of the European project. Yet today, Persian Gulf oil exporters are diversifying their currency holdings into euros, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has proposed that OPEC no longer price its oil in “worthless” dollars. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela went on to suggest euros. It doesn’t help that Congress revealed its true protectionist colors by essentially blocking the Dubai ports deal in 2006. With London taking over (again) as the world’s financial capital for stock listing, it’s no surprise that China’s new state investment fund intends to locate its main Western offices there instead of New York. Meanwhile, America’s share of global exchange reserves has dropped to 65 percent. Gisele Bündchen demands to be paid in euros, while Jay-Z drowns in 500 euro notes in a recent video. American soft power seems on the wane even at home.

And Europe’s influence grows at America’s expense. While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit. Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream. Africa wants a real African Union like the E.U.; we offer no equivalent. Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule. Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn’t educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past. More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want — like the International Monetary Fund — while Europe excels at building new and sophisticated ones modeled on itself. The U.S. has a hard time getting its way even when it dominates summit meetings — consider the ill-fated Free Trade Area of the Americas — let alone when it’s not even invited, as with the new East Asian Community, the region’s answer to America’s Apec.

The East Asian Community is but one example of how China is also too busy restoring its place as the world’s “Middle Kingdom” to be distracted by the Middle Eastern disturbances that so preoccupy the United States. In America’s own hemisphere, from Canada to Cuba to Chávez’s Venezuela, China is cutting massive resource and investment deals. Across the globe, it is deploying tens of thousands of its own engineers, aid workers, dam-builders and covert military personnel. In Africa, China is not only securing energy supplies; it is also making major strategic investments in the financial sector. The whole world is abetting China’s spectacular rise as evidenced by the ballooning share of trade in its gross domestic product — and China is exporting weapons at a rate reminiscent of the Soviet Union during the cold war, pinning America down while filling whatever power vacuums it can find. Every country in the world currently considered a rogue state by the U.S. now enjoys a diplomatic, economic or strategic lifeline from China, Iran being the most prominent example.

Without firing a shot, China is doing on its southern and western peripheries what Europe is achieving to its east and south. Aided by a 35 million-strong ethnic Chinese diaspora well placed around East Asia’s rising economies, a Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere has emerged. Like Europeans, Asians are insulating themselves from America’s economic uncertainties. Under Japanese sponsorship, they plan to launch their own regional monetary fund, while China has slashed tariffs and increased loans to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.

At the same time, a set of Asian security and diplomatic institutions is being built from the inside out, resulting in America’s grip on the Pacific Rim being loosened one finger at a time. From Thailand to Indonesia to Korea, no country — friend of America’s or not — wants political tension to upset economic growth. To the Western eye, it is a bizarre phenomenon: small Asian nation-states should be balancing against the rising China, but increasingly they rally toward it out of Asian cultural pride and an understanding of the historical-cultural reality of Chinese dominance. And in the former Soviet Central Asian countries — the so-called Stans — China is the new heavyweight player, its manifest destiny pushing its Han pioneers westward while pulling defunct microstates like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as oil-rich Kazakhstan, into its orbit. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization gathers these Central Asian strongmen together with China and Russia and may eventually become the “NATO of the East.”

The Big Three are the ultimate “Frenemies.” Twenty-first-century geopolitics will resemble nothing more than Orwell’s 1984, but instead of three world powers (Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia), we have three hemispheric pan-regions, longitudinal zones dominated by America, Europe and China. As the early 20th-century European scholars of geopolitics realized, because a vertically organized region contains all climatic zones year-round, each pan-region can be self-sufficient and build a power base from which to intrude in others’ terrain. But in a globalized and shrinking world, no geography is sacrosanct. So in various ways, both overtly and under the radar, China and Europe will meddle in America’s backyard, America and China will compete for African resources in Europe’s southern periphery and America and Europe will seek to profit from the rapid economic growth of countries within China’s growing sphere of influence. Globalization is the weapon of choice. The main battlefield is what I call “the second world.”

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The Swing States

There are plenty of statistics that will still tell the story of America’s global dominance: our military spending, our share of the global economy and the like. But there are statistics, and there are trends. To really understand how quickly American power is in decline around the world, I’ve spent the past two years traveling in some 40 countries in the five most strategic regions of the planet — the countries of the second world. They are not in the first-world core of the global economy, nor in its third-world periphery. Lying alongside and between the Big Three, second-world countries are the swing states that will determine which of the superpowers has the upper hand for the next generation of geopolitics. From Venezuela to Vietnam and Morocco to Malaysia, the new reality of global affairs is that there is not one way to win allies and influence countries but three: America’s coalition (as in “coalition of the willing”), Europe’s consensus and China’s consultative styles. The geopolitical marketplace will decide which will lead the 21st century.

The key second-world countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are more than just “emerging markets.” If you include China, they hold a majority of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves and savings, and their spending power is making them the global economy’s most important new consumer markets and thus engines of global growth — not replacing the United States but not dependent on it either. I.P.O.’s from the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) alone accounted for 39 percent of the volume raised globally in 2007, just one indicator of second-world countries’ rising importance in corporate finance — even after you subtract China. When Tata of India is vying to buy Jaguar, you know the landscape of power has changed. Second-world countries are also fast becoming hubs for oil and timber, manufacturing and services, airlines and infrastructure — all this in a geopolitical marketplace that puts their loyalty up for grabs to any of the Big Three, and increasingly to all of them at the same time. Second-world states won’t be subdued: in the age of network power, they won’t settle for being mere export markets. Rather, they are the places where the Big Three must invest heavily and to which they must relocate productive assets to maintain influence.

While traveling through the second world, I learned to see countries not as unified wholes but rather as having multiple, often disconnected, parts, some of which were on a path to rise into the first world while other, often larger, parts might remain in the third. I wondered whether globalization would accelerate these nations’ becoming ever more fragmented, or if governments would step up to establish central control. Each second-world country appeared to have a fissured personality under pressures from both internal forces and neighbors. I realized that to make sense of the second world, it was necessary to assess each country from the inside out.

Second-world countries are distinguished from the third world by their potential: the likelihood that they will capitalize on a valuable commodity, a charismatic leader or a generous patron. Each and every second-world country matters in its own right, for its economic, strategic or diplomatic weight, and its decision to tilt toward the United States, the E.U. or China has a strong influence on what others in its region decide to do. Will an American nuclear deal with India push Pakistan even deeper into military dependence on China? Will the next set of Arab monarchs lean East or West? The second world will shape the world’s balance of power as much as the superpowers themselves will.

In exploring just a small sample of the second world, we should start perhaps with the hardest case: Russia. Apparently stabilized and resurgent under the Kremlin-Gazprom oligarchy, why is Russia not a superpower but rather the ultimate second-world swing state? For all its muscle flexing, Russia is also disappearing. Its population decline is a staggering half million citizens per year or more, meaning it will be not much larger than Turkey by 2025 or so — spread across a land so vast that it no longer even makes sense as a country. Travel across Russia today, and you’ll find, as during Soviet times, city after city of crumbling, heatless apartment blocks and neglected elderly citizens whose value to the state diminishes with distance from Moscow. The forced Siberian migrations of the Soviet era are being voluntarily reversed as children move west to more tolerable and modern climes. Filling the vacuum they have left behind are hundreds of thousands of Chinese, literally gobbling up, plundering, outright buying and more or less annexing Russia’s Far East for its timber and other natural resources. Already during the cold war it was joked that there were “no disturbances on the Sino-Finnish border,” a prophecy that seems ever closer to fulfillment.

Russia lost its western satellites almost two decades ago, and Europe, while appearing to be bullied by Russia’s oil-dependent diplomacy, is staging a long-term buyout of Russia, whose economy remains roughly the size of France’s. The more Europe gets its gas from North Africa and oil from Azerbaijan, the less it will rely on Russia, all the while holding the lever of being by far Russia’s largest investor. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provides the kinds of loans that help build an alternative, less corrupt private sector from below, while London and Berlin welcome Russia’s billionaires, allowing the likes of Boris Berezovsky to openly campaign against Putin. The E.U. and U.S. also finance and train a pugnacious second-world block of Baltic and Balkan nations, whose activists agitate from Belarus to Uzbekistan. Privately, some E.U. officials say that annexing Russia is perfectly doable; it’s just a matter of time. In the coming decades, far from restoring its Soviet-era might, Russia will have to decide whether it wishes to exist peacefully as an asset to Europe or the alternative — becoming a petro-vassal of China.

Turkey, too, is a totemic second-world prize advancing through crucial moments of geopolitical truth. During the cold war, NATO was the principal vehicle for relations with Turkey, the West’s listening post on the southwestern Soviet border. But with Turkey’s bending over backward to avoid outright E.U. rejection, its refusal in 2003 to let the U.S. use Turkish territory as a staging point for invading Iraq marked a turning point — away from the U.S. “America always says it lobbies the E.U. on our behalf,” a Turkish strategic analyst in Ankara told me, “but all that does is make the E.U. more stringent. We don’t need that kind of help anymore.”

To be sure, Turkish pride contains elements of an aggressive neo-Ottomanism that is in tension with some E.U. standards, but this could ultimately serve as Europe’s weapon to project stability into Syria, Iraq and Iran — all of which Europe effectively borders through Turkey itself. Roads are the pathways to power, as I learned driving across Turkey in a beat-up Volkswagen a couple of summers ago. Turkey’s master engineers have been boring tunnels, erecting bridges and flattening roads across the country’s massive eastern realm, allowing it to assert itself over the Arab and Persian worlds both militarily and economically as Turkish merchants look as much East as West. Already joint Euro-Turkish projects have led to the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, with a matching rail line and highway planned to buttress European influence all the way to Turkey’s fraternal friend Azerbaijan on the oil-rich Caspian Sea.

It takes only one glance at Istanbul’s shimmering skyline to realize that even if Turkey never becomes an actual E.U. member, it is becoming ever more Europeanized. Turkey receives more than $20 billion in foreign investment and more than 20 million tourists every year, the vast majority of both from E.U. countries. Ninety percent of the Turkish diaspora lives in Western Europe and sends home another $1 billion per year in remittances and investments. This remitted capital is spreading growth and development eastward in the form of new construction ventures, kilim factories and schools. With the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the E.U. a year ago, Turkey now physically borders the E.U. (beyond its narrow frontier with Greece), symbolizing how Turkey is becoming a part of the European superpower.

Western diplomats have a long historical familiarity, however dramatic and tumultuous, with Russia and Turkey. But what about the Stans: landlocked but resource-rich countries run by autocrats? Ever since these nations were flung into independence by the Soviet collapse, China has steadily replaced Russia as their new patron. Trade, oil pipelines and military exercises with China under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization make it the new organizing pole for the region, with the U.S. scrambling to maintain modest military bases in the region. (Currently it is forced to rely far too much on Afghanistan after being booted, at China’s and Russia’s behest, from the Karshi Khanabad base in Uzbekistan in 2005.) The challenge of getting ahead in the strategically located and energy-rich Stans is the challenge of a bidding contest in which values seem not to matter. While China buys more Kazakh oil and America bids for defense contracts, Europe offers sustained investment and holds off from giving President Nursultan Nazarbayev the high-status recognition he craves. Kazakhstan considers itself a “strategic partner” of just about everyone, but tell that to the Big Three, who bribe government officials to cancel the others’ contracts and spy on one another through contract workers — all in the name of preventing the others from gaining mastery over the fabled heartland of Eurasian power.

Just one example of the lengths to which foreigners will go to stay on good terms with Nazarbayev is the current negotiation between a consortium of Western energy giants, including ENI and Exxon, and Kazakhstan’s state-run oil company over the development of the Caspian’s massive Kashagan oil field. At present, the consortium is coughing up at least $4 billion as well as a large hand-over of shares to compensate for delayed exploration and production — and Kazakhstan isn’t satisfied yet. The lesson from Kazakhstan, and its equally strategic but far less predictable neighbor Uzbekistan, is how fickle the second world can be, its alignments changing on a whim and causing headaches and ripple effects in all directions. To be distracted elsewhere or to lack sufficient personnel on the ground can make the difference between winning and losing a major round of the new great game.

The Big Three dynamic is not just some distant contest by which America ensures its ability to dictate affairs on the other side of the globe. Globalization has brought the geopolitical marketplace straight to America’s backyard, rapidly eroding the two-centuries-old Monroe Doctrine in the process. In truth, America called the shots in Latin America only when its southern neighbors lacked any vision of their own. Now they have at least two non-American challengers: China and Chávez. It was Simón Bolívar who fought ferociously for South America’s independence from Spanish rule, and today it is the newly renamed Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that has inspired an entire continent to bootstrap its way into the global balance of power on its own terms. Hugo Chávez, the country’s clownish colonel, may last for decades to come or may die by the gun, but either way, he has called America’s bluff and won, changing the rules of North-South relations in the Western hemisphere. He has emboldened and bankrolled leftist leaders across the continent, helped Argentina and others pay back and boot out the I.M.F. and sponsored a continentwide bartering scheme of oil, cattle, wheat and civil servants, reminding even those who despise him that they can stand up to the great Northern power. Chávez stands not only on the ladder of high oil prices. He relies on tacit support from Europe and hardheaded intrusion from China, the former still the country’s largest investor and the latter feverishly repairing Venezuela’s dilapidated oil rigs while building its own refineries.

But Chávez’s challenge to the United States is, in inspiration, ideological, whereas the second-world shift is really structural. Even with Chávez still in power, it is Brazil that is reappearing as South America’s natural leader. Alongside India and South Africa, Brazil has led the charge in global trade negotiations, sticking it to the U.S. on its steel tariffs and to Europe on its agricultural subsidies. Geographically, Brazil is nearly as close to Europe as to America and is as keen to build cars and airplanes for Europe as it is to export soy to the U.S. Furthermore, Brazil, although a loyal American ally in the cold war, wasted little time before declaring a “strategic alliance” with China. Their economies are remarkably complementary, with Brazil shipping iron ore, timber, zinc, beef, milk and soybeans to China and China investing in Brazil’s hydroelectric dams, steel mills and shoe factories. Both China and Brazil’s ambitions may soon alter the very geography of their relations, with Brazil leading an effort to construct a Trans-Oceanic Highway from the Amazon through Peru to the Pacific Coast, facilitating access for Chinese shipping tankers. Latin America has mostly been a geopolitical afterthought over the centuries, but in the 21st century, all resources will be competed for, and none are too far away.

The Middle East — spanning from Morocco to Iran — lies between the hubs of influence of the Big Three and has the largest number of second-world swing states. No doubt the thaw with Libya, brokered by America and Britain after Muammar el-Qaddafi declared he would abandon his country’s nuclear pursuits in 2003, was partly motivated by growing demand for energy from a close Mediterranean neighbor. But Qaddafi is not selling out. He and his advisers have astutely parceled out production sharing agreements to a balanced assortment of American, European, Chinese and other Asian oil giants. Mindful of the history of Western oil companies’ exploitation of Arabia, he — like Chávez in Venezuela and Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan — has also cleverly ratcheted up the pressure on foreigners to share more revenue with the regime by tweaking contracts, rounding numbers liberally and threatening expropriation. What I find in virtually every Arab country is not such nationalism, however, but rather a new Arabism aimed at spreading oil wealth within the Arab world rather than depositing it in the United States as in past oil booms. And as Egypt, Syria and other Arab states receive greater investment from the Persian Gulf and start spending more on their own, they, too, become increasingly important second-world players who can thwart the U.S.

Saudi Arabia, for quite some years to come still the planet’s leading oil producer, is a second-world prize on par with Russia and equally up for grabs. For the past several decades, America’s share of the foreign direct investment into the kingdom decisively shaped the country’s foreign policy, but today the monarchy is far wiser, luring Europe and Asia to bring their investment shares toward a third each. Saudi Arabia has engaged Europe in an evolving Persian Gulf free-trade area, while it has invested close to $1 billion in Chinese oil refineries. Make no mistake: America was never all powerful only because of its military dominance; strategic leverage must have an economic basis. A major common denominator among key second-world countries is the need for each of the Big Three to put its money where its mouth is.

For all its historical antagonism with Saudi Arabia, Iran is playing the same swing-state game. Its diplomacy has not only managed to create discord among the U.S. and E.U. on sanctions; it has also courted China, nurturing a relationship that goes back to the Silk Road. Today Iran represents the final square in China’s hopscotch maneuvering to reach the Persian Gulf overland without relying on the narrow Straits of Malacca. Already China has signed a multibillion-dollar contract for natural gas from Iran’s immense North Pars field, another one for construction of oil terminals on the Caspian Sea and yet another to extend the Tehran metro — and it has boosted shipment of ballistic-missile technology and air-defense radars to Iran. Several years of negotiation culminated in December with Sinopec sealing a deal to develop the Yadavaran oil field, with more investments from China (and others) sure to follow. The longer International Atomic Energy Agency negotiations drag on, the more likely it becomes that Iran will indeed be able to stay afloat without Western investment because of backing from China and from its second-world friends — without giving any ground to the West.

Interestingly, it is precisely Muslim oil-producing states — Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, (mostly Muslim) Kazakhstan, Malaysia — that seem the best at spreading their alignments across some combination of the Big Three simultaneously: getting what they want while fending off encroachment from others. America may seek Muslim allies for its image and the “war on terror,” but these same countries seem also to be part of what Samuel Huntington called the “Confucian-Islamic connection.” What is more, China is pulling off the most difficult of superpower feats: simultaneously maintaining positive ties with the world’s crucial pairs of regional rivals: Venezuela and Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. At this stage, Western diplomats have only mustered the wherewithal to quietly denounce Chinese aid policies and value-neutral alliances, but they are far from being able to do much of anything about them.

This applies most profoundly in China’s own backyard, Southeast Asia. Some of the most dynamic countries in the region Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are playing the superpower suitor game with admirable savvy. Chinese migrants have long pulled the strings in the region’s economies even while governments sealed defense agreements with the U.S. Today, Malaysia and Thailand still perform joint military exercises with America but also buy weapons from, and have defense treaties with, China, including the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation by which Asian nations have pledged nonaggression against one another. (Indonesia, a crucial American ally during the cold war, has also been forming defense ties with China.) As one senior Malaysian diplomat put it to me, without a hint of jest, “Creating a community is easy among the yellow and the brown but not the white.” Tellingly, it is Vietnam, because of its violent histories with the U.S. and China, which is most eager to accept American defense contracts (and a new Intel microchip plant) to maintain its strategic balance. Vietnam, like most of the second world, doesn’t want to fall into any one superpower’s sphere of influence.

27world.1-450.jpg

The Anti-Imperial Belt

The new multicolor map of influence — a Venn diagram of overlapping American, Chinese and European influence — is a very fuzzy read. No more “They’re with us” or “He’s our S.O.B.” Mubarak, Musharraf, Malaysia’s Mahathir and a host of other second-world leaders have set a new standard for manipulative prowess: all tell the U.S. they are its friend while busily courting all sides.

What is more, many second-world countries are confident enough to form anti-imperial belts of their own, building trade, technology and diplomatic axes across the (second) world from Brazil to Libya to Iran to Russia. Indeed, Russia has stealthily moved into position to construct Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor, putting it firmly in the Chinese camp on the Iran issue, while also offering nuclear reactors to Libya and arms to Venezuela and Indonesia. Second-world countries also increasingly use sovereign-wealth funds (often financed by oil) worth trillions of dollars to throw their weight around, even bullying first-world corporations and markets. The United Arab Emirates (particularly as represented by their capital, Abu Dhabi), Saudi Arabia and Russia are rapidly climbing the ranks of foreign-exchange holders and are hardly holding back in trying to buy up large shares of Western banks (which have suddenly become bargains) and oil companies. Singapore’s sovereign-wealth fund has taken a similar path. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia plans an international investment fund that will dwarf Abu Dhabi’s. From Switzerland to Citigroup, a reaction is forming to limit the shares such nontransparent sovereign-wealth funds can control, showing just how quickly the second world is rising in the global power game.

To understand the second world, you have to start to think like a second-world country. What I have seen in these and dozens of other countries is that globalization is not synonymous with Americanization; in fact, nothing has brought about the erosion of American primacy faster than globalization. While European nations redistribute wealth to secure or maintain first-world living standards, on the battlefield of globalization second-world countries’ state-backed firms either outhustle or snap up American companies, leaving their workers to fend for themselves. The second world’s first priority is not to become America but to succeed by any means necessary.

The Non-American World

Karl Marx and Max Weber both chastised Far Eastern cultures for being despotic, agrarian and feudal, lacking the ingredients for organizational success. Oswald Spengler saw it differently, arguing that mankind both lives and thinks in unique cultural systems, with Western ideals neither transferable nor relevant. Today the Asian landscape still features ancient civilizations but also by far the most people and, by certain measures, the most money of any region in the world. With or without America, Asia is shaping the world’s destiny — and exposing the flaws of the grand narrative of Western civilization in the process.

The rise of China in the East and of the European Union within the West has fundamentally altered a globe that recently appeared to have only an American gravity — pro or anti. As Europe’s and China’s spirits rise with every move into new domains of influence, America’s spirit is weakened. The E.U. may uphold the principles of the United Nations that America once dominated, but how much longer will it do so as its own social standards rise far above this lowest common denominator? And why should China or other Asian countries become “responsible stakeholders,” in former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick’s words, in an American-led international order when they had no seat at the table when the rules were drafted? Even as America stumbles back toward multilateralism, others are walking away from the American game and playing by their own rules.

The self-deluding universalism of the American imperium — that the world inherently needs a single leader and that American liberal ideology must be accepted as the basis of global order — has paradoxically resulted in America quickly becoming an ever-lonelier superpower. Just as there is a geopolitical marketplace, there is a marketplace of models of success for the second world to emulate, not least the Chinese model of economic growth without political liberalization (itself an affront to Western modernization theory). As the historian Arnold Toynbee observed half a century ago, Western imperialism united the globe, but it did not assure that the West would dominate forever — materially or morally. Despite the “mirage of immortality” that afflicts global empires, the only reliable rule of history is its cycles of imperial rise and decline, and as Toynbee also pithily noted, the only direction to go from the apogee of power is down.

The web of globalization now has three spiders. What makes America unique in this seemingly value-free contest is not its liberal democratic ideals — which Europe may now represent better than America does — but rather its geography. America is isolated, while Europe and China occupy two ends of the great Eurasian landmass that is the perennial center of gravity of geopolitics. When America dominated NATO and led a rigid Pacific alliance system with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Thailand, it successfully managed the Herculean task of running the world from one side of it. Now its very presence in Eurasia is tenuous; it has been shunned by the E.U. and Turkey, is unwelcome in much of the Middle East and has lost much of East Asia’s confidence. “Accidental empire” or not, America must quickly accept and adjust to this reality. Maintaining America’s empire can only get costlier in both blood and treasure. It isn’t worth it, and history promises the effort will fail. It already has.

Would the world not be more stable if America could be reaccepted as its organizing principle and leader? It’s very much too late to be asking, because the answer is unfolding before our eyes. Neither China nor the E.U. will replace the U.S. as the world’s sole leader; rather all three will constantly struggle to gain influence on their own and balance one another. Europe will promote its supranational integration model as a path to resolving Mideast disputes and organizing Africa, while China will push a Beijing consensus based on respect for sovereignty and mutual economic benefit. America must make itself irresistible to stay in the game.

I believe that a complex, multicultural landscape filled with transnational challenges from terrorism to global warming is completely unmanageable by a single authority, whether the United States or the United Nations. Globalization resists centralization of almost any kind. Instead, what we see gradually happening in climate-change negotiations (as in Bali in December) — and need to see more of in the areas of preventing nuclear proliferation and rebuilding failed states — is a far greater sense of a division of labor among the Big Three, a concrete burden-sharing among them by which they are judged not by their rhetoric but the responsibilities they fulfill. The arbitrarily composed Security Council is not the place to hash out such a division of labor. Neither are any of the other multilateral bodies bogged down with weighted voting and cacophonously irrelevant voices. The big issues are for the Big Three to sort out among themselves.

Less Can Be More

So let’s play strategy czar. You are a 21st-century Kissinger. Your task is to guide the next American president (and the one after that) from the demise of American hegemony into a world of much more diffuse governance. What do you advise, concretely, to mitigate the effects of the past decade’s policies — those that inspired defiance rather than cooperation — and to set in motion a virtuous circle of policies that lead to global equilibrium rather than a balance of power against the U.S.?

First, channel your inner J.F.K. You are president, not emperor. You are commander in chief and also diplomat in chief. Your grand strategy is a global strategy, yet you must never use the phrase “American national interest.” (It is assumed.) Instead talk about “global interests” and how closely aligned American policies are with those interests. No more “us” versus “them,” only “we.” That means no more talk of advancing “American values” either. What is worth having is universal first and American second. This applies to “democracy” as well, where timing its implementation is as important as the principle itself. Right now, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, the hero of the second world — including its democracies — is Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

We have learned the hard way that what others want for themselves trumps what we want for them — always. Neither America nor the world needs more competing ideologies, and moralizing exhortations are only useful if they point toward goals that are actually attainable. This new attitude must be more than an act: to obey this modest, hands-off principle is what would actually make America the exceptional empire it purports to be. It would also be something every other empire in history has failed to do.

Second, Pentagonize the State Department. Adm. William J. Fallon, head of Central Command (Centcom), not Robert Gates, is the man really in charge of the U.S. military’s primary operations. Diplomacy, too, requires the equivalent of geographic commands — with top-notch assistant secretaries of state to manage relations in each key region without worrying about getting on the daily agenda of the secretary of state for menial approvals. Then we’ll be ready to coordinate within distant areas. In some regions, our ambassadors to neighboring countries meet only once or twice a year; they need to be having weekly secure video-conferences. Regional institutions are thriving in the second world — think Mercosur (the South American common market), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Persian Gulf. We need high-level ambassadors at those organizations too. Taken together, this allows us to move beyond, for example, the current Millennium Challenge Account — which amounts to one-track aid packages to individual countries already going in the right direction — toward encouraging the kind of regional cooperation that can work in curbing both terrorism and poverty. Only if you think regionally can a success story have a demonstration effect. This approach will be crucial to the future of the Pentagon’s new African command. (Until last year, African relations were managed largely by European command, or Eucom, in Germany.) Suspicions of America are running high in Africa, and a country-by-country strategy would make those suspicions worse. Finally, to achieve strategic civilian-military harmonization, we have to first get the maps straight. The State Department puts the Stans in the South and Central Asia bureau, while the Pentagon puts them within the Middle-East-focused Centcom. The Chinese divide up the world the Pentagon’s way; so, too, should our own State Department.

Third, deploy the marchmen. Europe is boosting its common diplomatic corps, while China is deploying retired civil servants, prison laborers and Chinese teachers — all are what the historian Arnold Toynbee called marchmen, the foot-soldiers of empire spreading values and winning loyalty. There are currently more musicians in U.S. military marching bands than there are Foreign Service officers, a fact not helped by Congress’s decision to effectively freeze growth in diplomatic postings. In this context, Condoleezza Rice’s “transformational diplomacy” is a myth: we don’t have enough diplomats for core assignments, let alone solo hardship missions. We need a Peace Corps 10 times its present size, plus student exchanges, English-teaching programs and hands-on job training overseas — with corporate sponsorship.

That’s right. In true American fashion, we must build a diplomatic-industrial complex. Europe and China all but personify business-government collusion, so let State raise money from Wall Street as it puts together regional aid and investment packages. American foreign policy must be substantially more than what the U.S. government directs. After all, the E.U. is already the world’s largest aid donor, and China is rising in the aid arena as well. Plus, each has a larger population than the U.S., meaning deeper benches of recruits, and are not political targets in the present political atmosphere the way Americans abroad are. The secret weapon must be the American citizenry itself. American foundations and charities, not least the Gates and Ford Foundations, dwarf European counterparts in their humanitarian giving; if such private groups independently send more and more American volunteers armed with cash, good will and local knowledge to perform “diplomacy of the deed,” then the public diplomacy will take care of itself.

Fourth, make the global economy work for us. By resurrecting European economies, the Marshall Plan was a down payment on even greater returns in terms of purchasing American goods. For now, however, as the dollar falls, our manufacturing base declines and Americans lose control of assets to wealthier foreign funds, our scientific education, broadband access, health-care, safety and a host of other standards are all slipping down the global rankings. Given our deficits and political gridlock, the only solution is to channel global, particularly Asian, liquidity into our own public infrastructure, creating jobs and technology platforms that can keep American innovation ahead of the pack. Globalization apologizes to no one; we must stay on top of it or become its victim.

Fifth, convene a G-3 of the Big Three. But don’t set the agenda; suggest it. These are the key issues among which to make compromises and trade-offs: climate change, energy security, weapons proliferation and rogue states. Offer more Western clean technology to China in exchange for fewer weapons and lifelines for the Sudanese tyrants and the Burmese junta. And make a joint effort with the Europeans to offer massive, irresistible packages to the people of Iran, Uzbekistan and Venezuela — incentives for eventual regime change rather than fruitless sanctions. A Western change of tone could make China sweat. Superpowers have to learn to behave, too.

Taken together, all these moves could renew American competitiveness in the geopolitical marketplace — and maybe even prove our exceptionalism. We need pragmatic incremental steps like the above to deliver tangible gains to people beyond our shores, repair our reputation, maintain harmony among the Big Three, keep the second world stable and neutral and protect our common planet. Let’s hope whoever is sworn in as the next American president understands this.

Link to Article

America is going to enter a new era as a waning superpower as both Europe and China break out of their shell in the coming decades.  Regardless of whether McCain or Obama takes power, America is going to become a has-been superpower competing with China and Europe for global influence and markets.  I can’t wait for Parag’s book to come out.

It’s funny how this was actually explored in the anime Gundam 00 before Parag finally wrote down his years of observations for the world.  In Gundam, America dominates the Americas, a stronger EU has unified much of Europe with a presence in Africa, while China has banded the non-western world together for mutual security and economic gains.

Arrest made in Seoul landmark fire

Arrest made in Seoul landmark fire

* Story Highlights
  * NEW: “Mr. Chae” was convicted of torching a Korean palace in 2006
* NEW: Chae has confessed to starting the Namdaemun fire, police chief says
* NEW: Easy access, lightly populated area dictated Namdaemun choice, police say
* The more-than-600-year-old Namdaemun was country’s oldest wooden structure

From Sohn Jie-ae
CNN

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — A 69-year-old who was previously convicted of torching a palace has been arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed Namdaemun, South Korea’s oldest wooden structure and a national treasure, authorities said on Tuesday.

Similarities between the Sunday night fire and the 2006 blaze led to the investigation of a man identified only as Mr. Chae, said Kim Young-Su, chief of police of the Namdaemun police station. Chae had served time in prison for the palace fire.

Police searched the home of Chae’s ex-wife and found a can of paint thinner and a pair of leather gloves they believe were used in the fire, Kim said.

Chae confessed to starting the fire, saying he was upset by a land grievance that led him to start the 2006 fire and by the sentence he was handed in that case, Kim said.

Chae was free on a suspended sentence, Kim added.

Chae said he chose Namdaemun because it was easily accessible by public transportation and yet situated in a lightly populated area where the fire was unlikely to hurt people, according to police.

The fire burned for hours, and more than a hundred firefighters tried to save it.

Namdaemun was more than 600 years old and stood at the center of Seoul, having served as a main gate into the capital for centuries. The gate was considered a national symbol to Koreans around the world.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/11/skorea.landmark/index.html

The Chinilpa has struck again.  I am sure this is great new for many Koreanphobes (Japanophiles) and Chinilpa (Korean Japanophiles).  Good thing they can get the Great Southern Gate restored by 2012 in the best case scenario.

Liberals and Neocons hate Ron Paul

I can’t help but notice there has been vocal hostility to Ron Paul from the least likely groups: liberals and neoconservatives. Before I go on, I would like to point out that there are two kinds of left-leaning groups in America: there are the progressive, who often lean on the left and are able to explain their viewpoints, and then there are liberals, who are often are automatically against anything from the right, resort to petty insults, or support an idea just because it sounds good without thorough evaluation. Examples of progressives include Dennis Kucinich, Morgan Spurlock, and Martin Luther King while liberals are best exemplified by Michael Moore, Mike Gravel and Rosie O’Donnell.

On the other end of the spectrum you have a group of right-leaning American who profess to be neoconservatives or Republicans. These people would simply support the Bush administration simply because they are Republicans without examining whether their policies benefit them as individuals and loyal party members, or they support the government because they think it is patriotic to mindlessly support it. Then there are those who decide to identify themselves as neoconservatives or conservatives without understanding the true nature of American neoconservativism or classical American conservatism itself.

These people actually believe that conservatism involves creating a strong state, trading away freedom for security or engaging in unprovoked wars. It does not help that these groups are reluctant to have objective dialogue on the issues but preferring to simply question people’s patriotism or insulting them. Examples of such individuals are Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani, and Ann Coulter.

So let’s be very clear that this post is critical of both the so-called ersatz conservatives and irrational liberals in regards to Ron Paul.

So far, it seems both liberals and conservatives dislike Ron Paul based on the assumption that he is incompetent.

Some examples liberals give are the following:

1. He prefers tax credits for reducing healthcare costs rather than state-controlled health insurance

(counterpoint: Ron Paul would prefer the individual recoups his or her medical costs in the form of a tax deduction that can reduce the cost of income tax. In some cases these deductions can eventually lead to a tax refund check that will return funds to the individual and the amount of tax credit depends on the level of healthcare. He would also deregulate some of the health insurance laws so there would no be any limits of what providers would be available in each state.

Whereas, the government would simply tax everyone the same amount of money regardless whether the person received medical care or not in a state-run health insurance scheme. There would also be little or no alternatives available for socialised heath insurance and a two-tier heathcare system would remain for those who can afford private insurance.)

2. He is supposedly a bitch-ass pussy for wanting to reduce government

(counterpoint: Ron Paul has mentioned that the Federal budget needs to be cut in addition to reducing taxes. America’s current spending is catastrophic due to the rising costs associated with Iraq are increasing, the growing deficit from increased borrowing from China and Japan, the expanded bureaucracy such as Homeland Security, and from federal entitlement programmes. This is happening at a time when the Bush administration reduced taxes without covering for these increased costs and at a time when the dollar is loosing value as the world tries to find alternatives from American financial influence.

I am sure liberals and statists would love to have a bloated bureaucracy, but the reality is that America will become a bankrupt, backward, and excessively bureaucratic society if spending isn’t curbed in our lifetime. Also, Ron Paul will allow individuals to opt out of paying for entitlement programmes without cutting any of them.

This video explains the problem in greater detail, but I doubt many liberals would bother to watch because they may not like what they hear.)

3. He is a bitch-ass pussy because some racists support him

(counterpoint: Yes Ron Paul did receive some open donations from racists such as David Duke and Don Black. He has also received donations from thousands of non-racists, ethnic minorities, Christians, Jews, Muslims, the LGBT community, progressives, libertarians, conservatives, and genuine reformers. For every White Supremacist there are hundreds if not thousands of regular campaign contributors.

Some liberals enjoy making a big deal out of these handful of donors by making blog entries that imply Paul is a klansman, a neo-nazi, a Southern slaveowner, and other labels that imply Ron Paul is a bigot. Ron Paul is not a racist, but a man who supports basic freedom and a defender of minority rights from the “tyranny of the majority” that liberals and neocons would like to see happen if they got their way.

People need to remember that Ron Paul actually participated in the “All-American Presidential Forum” debates on September 27, 2007 to discuss issues that affected the African-American and Hispanic communities while Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and John McCain skipped it. We should remember that Romney admitted to crying when the Mormon (LDS) church leaders decided to allow African-Americans into their religion while Giuliani supported the NYPD officers who shot Amadou Diallo after he was racially profiled as a suspected rapist.)

Now here are some examples neocons give for hating Ron Paul:

1. He is a bitch-ass punk dickhead because he wants to abolish the income tax

(counterpoint: Ron Paul does want to abolish the income tax because it is already a heavy tax burden on those who are already paying taxes in the form of reduced interest rates, payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and telephone taxes. We are already paying just enough taxes and getting rid of the Internal Revenue Service would significantly streamline the functions performed by the Department of Treasury. Most of the income tax in the past was often set aside as a means to pay off the federal deficit, but now most of the income tax is going to pay for foreign aid and the military in Iraq.

The problem with appropriating these funds for defence is that most of the funds are being allocated to companies close to the Bush administration that received no-bid contracts and often overcharge the government for inadequate work in the region. Foreign aid is another problem because it doesn’t necessarily payoff and those funds could have been better spent taking care of America’s deficit and help the taxpayers in the country. Ron Paul is not out to abolish all taxes as people would think, but simply removing the income tax as a way to remove the IRS, and to allow taxpayers to keep more of their disposable income for better use.)

2. He is a bitch-ass nutjob because he wants to reduce America’s global military presence.

(counterpoint: America’s global military presence needs to be reduced because America no longer has the proper resources to maintain such a presence and still have money to finance an ongoing war and reduced federal taxes. Many of these countries do not like American troop presence in their country because they perceive as an interference of their national affairs and it undermines their national sovereignty.

For example, there is growing support among Koreans for the removal of US Forces in South Korea because they feel their presence is a barrier from eventually reunification with the North Koreans, US soldiers often the source of crime against locals, and see it as a another form of foreign imperialism. Japan on the other hand has problems with US troops in Okinawa who have been known to sexually assault the local women, create massive pollution from their bases, and are considered an impediment for Japan’s national sovereignty.

Most of all, nothing good has come out of America’s presence in Iraq. Although, America did oust Saddam Hussein from power, their post-war mismanagement of Iraq has resulted in increased violence, a civil war, and the eventual dismembering of Iraq by the Kurds, Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. Most of all over a quarter million Iraqi civilians and thousands of American soldiers have been killed or horribly maimed from a war they fought without any clear goals or understanding. I hate to say it but America’s domineering military presence in the world has generated more harm than good in most cases.)

3. He is a punk retard who thinks good Americans provoked terrorists

(counterpoint: According to the 9/11 Commission Report and CIA analysts, Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11 as a culmination of America’s presence on holy soil in Saudi Arabia, for support of Israel against the Palestinians, and for enforcing a “No-Fly Zone” and sanctions on Iraq. The concept of blowback is defined as the unintended consequences from covert or military actions taken by the United States. So anyone who actually thinks America was attacked for being the largest economy in the world or being “free” simply does not understand the real purpose for Al-Qaeda’s attacks on US embassies, on the USS Cole, and eventually the attacks on 9/11.

If America was simply attacked for being one of the world’s largest economy, then how come Japan, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Canada haven’t been wiped off the map yet? If America was attacked for its “freedom” then how come countries that are ranked higher in the World press freedom index not completely wiped off the map? There are many countries that are just as free and economically developed as American, yet they were never considered a target by terrorists until they collaborate with America in their War of Terror. Something worth considering for those who actually believe that a crusade against “Islamofascists (who are actually just a radical minority)” through endless war will bring peace.)

I think this is it for tonight. Liberals and self-professed neocons should seriously consider visiting the library, reading the news and form an opinion before taking sides on a particular issue. Taking a side without any research or an unwillingness to have dialogue with others will simply lead to a shouting match and insults based on misguided views that will only make the situation worse. This holds true for most of the liberals and neocons who decide to bash Ron Paul without knowing the facts and doing it purely for emotion.