Tuesday, July 27, 2010

America's North Korea Clericy

No GuamDiary is not commenting on either the revival of Buddhism or restablishing a Second Jerusalem of Presbyterianism among Korean from the North or the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea]. We are referring to the priesthood of American specialists and watchers of North Korean affairs. A great majority have benefitted from the largesse of the US government either as bursaries or a career in America's department of state, department of defence, the treasury,or any number of the slots in intelligence, or through US funded NGOs [Non Government Orangisations], so on and on.
Consider the National Committee on North Korea [NCNK] is a good place to start. According to its website inspiration for its creation came about during the Musgrove III Conference--'Mercy Corps'--discussing the future of US DPRK relations in 2004.
Ostensibly a 501(c) tax exempt corporation and with the status as an NGO. Among its goals it sets itself is to 'promote and facilitate engagement between citizens of the DPRK' [and the American people?]; to 'seek the reduction of tensions and promote peace on a [divided] Korean peninsula'; to stress 'concrete actions [by] addressing specific problems'; and to 'address humanitarian needs'; and to build 'sustained partnerships to avoid conflict on the Korean peninsula'.
A perusal of the directory of its members [and we are not sure it is a complete list] reveals former diplomats, military, and spooks. Now as private citizens, they work in all key sectors of American economic and academic life, and each can appeal to a network of contacts when they were in government. Many or all have degrees of fluency in Korean, as well as proficiency in Chinese and Japanese.
GuamDiary cannot and will not comment on NCNK's funding save that it serves as a conduit of government funds which sustain NGOs, be it through the filter of foundations or the 'largesse' of wealthy individuals or special university grants.
But where are the investment bankers or the 'captains of industry' or even to the officers of think tanks of former White House officials? Like anchorites, they work a sphere of their choosing, yet do maintain relations with the extended priesthood.
Nonetheless a group mentality prevails. It is a studied manner of provincialism. Among the clerics there are various and at times contradictory approaches to dealing with the DPRK. Saying this, there is a certain threshold that they dare not cross lest the ban of excommunication is pronounced cutting them off from influence, money, and personal prestige. Overall, this clericy 'runs with the hares but feasts with the hounds'. In brief, they know which side of the bread is the butter!
During the calm season of mildly unsteady US contact with the DPRK, they have been able to forge ahead in establishing positive results. Humanitarian aid comes easily to mind, especially during times of famine and natural disasters or poor agricultural yields. Some lead bankers and businessmen to the DPRK to break the ice and to explore areas and opportunities for cooperation and joint ventures. Others use the prestige of universities to welcome North Koreans for training in information technology in the US. Still others go on study tours or serve as interpreters to other western businessmen taking the lay of the land for future projects, and they do go into the DPRK hinterland which is not unusual. On the cultural level the high point came through arrangements of the Korea Society [two senior officers of which figure among NCNK members.]for the performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Pyongyang in February 2009.
Since then relations have soured and turned into a sea squall. Heightened war tensions aroused war scares on the eve of the 60 anniversary of the Korean War. The sinking of the ROK [South Korea aka South Korea] courvette the 'Cheonan' played a key role. It prompted a media blitz by the Obama administration against the DPRK. The US campaign to pin the blame on the DPRK failed in the UN Security Council. [GuamDiary has commented on the questions surrounding the sunken 'Cheonan'.] US secretary of state Hillary Clinton followed up with yet more sanctions against North Korea and the US department of defense beefed up 'Invincible Spirit' of joint US ROK military exercises safely out of harm's way in the Busan perimetre in the East Sea and nowhere near North Korean waters.
Escaping the international community's Scarlet Letter of blame, the DPRK has twice met at the DMZ [Demilitarised Zone] with US lead and controlled UNC [United Nations Command], to discuss the sunken 'Cheonan'. It also announced its willingness to return to the stalled six party talks in Beijing under certain conditions.
Let's look at the clericy's response to the current state of war of words which raised fears of turning a frozen Korean armistice into a renewed hot war.
This priesthood has a low ceiling of political will. It turns and runs at the least hint of contraversy or backs down into silence of complete approval of Washington's policies. Its ranks rarely admit new blood and easily slips into metaphysical hair splitting during unsettling times. Although some may see more clearly suggesting not to rush into where angels fear to tread, but exhibiting realism shying away from propaganda. Its mindset being what it is, and believing in lowering the life boats of conformity, its fears and discomfort are trumped by the reflex of self preservation.
Let's see how this translates into today's terms. Six of its members [25 per cent] signed onto the CFR [Council of Foreign Relations] special report on 'US policy towards Korea'. For all the accumulated years of experience and wisdom of these clerics, the best they could advise the US government was to 'rollback' the DPRK.
Here we are with the clock setback 60 years to the days of the outbreak of the Korean War, in the fever pitch of the age of containing the advance of communism.
Cut to the chase, the only ones 'rolled back' was the US led UNC by the North Koreans and the Chinese Volunteer Army, to the 38 parallel where the Korean peninsula remains divided to this very day.
GuamDiary among others has to finger worry beads that the 'best and the brightest' of America's North Korea clericy can find no other expression of advice or policy than a return to the past, not only does not speak well for its expertise and experience, but inspires little confidence in the advice US leaders sollicit or rely on.
We are thus treated to the old bugaboos, waffling, and proof of a pronounced ignorance of the DPRK. And this in the face of what the priests who have visited North Korea, talked with its leaders, made on the spot visits here and there in the country, hosted North Korean students and officials in the US...something is rotten in the field of North Korean studies in America!
What we do see in reading the mainstream press online and off, is a high degree of complancy and arrogance. Consider the pronuncimento on Kim Jung un, the alledged chosen successor to his father Kim Jung il, by a former senior US diplomat, ex president of the Korea Society, and now a vice president in an influential Washington think tank: dismissing him as the equivalent of a squirt, he announces that this kid without any experience 'may have his finger on the [nuclear] button'. Well here is a seasoned clerc who should and does know better, but cannot pass up the opportunity to monger fear and go for the cheap shot. And here's a man who at the time of being president of the Korea Society thought the successful and triumphal visit of the Philharmonic to Pyongyang, which alas had not follow up: he thought this cultural breaking of ice was handing Kim Jong il an advantage on a silver platter! A man who knows full well that value of the core leadership to Kim Jong il and whoever succeeds him, in the running of the North Korean state.
This kind of mindless thinking and owing to membership in this North Korea American clericy colours opinions. So like a weather vine spinning in all kinds of weather fair or foul, such priests cut their opinion to the received wisdom of the day.
It is misleading to say the least and dangerous to say the worst.
It is hoped that brighter days are head when the US government and this clericy will abandon the facile urge to propaganda and return to a spirit of realism more receptive to cooler heads and calmer tempers in dealing with North Korea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hillary Clinton fully deploys hawk wings

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is a hawk. As the spokeswoman of America's foreign affairs she now ranks as a leading hard liner.
GuamDiary has called her on her questionable policy of disturbing the peace by opting for military solutions. GuamDiary has long commented on her campaign against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North] in the sunken ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette the 'Cheonan'.
She and the US South Korean client and ally under the leadership of Lee Myung bek display fear and anatognism and self justification characteristic of stagnant and declining authority.
Her grasp of foreign policy betrays no ambiguity or intense groping. She exhibits no confusion.
During her visit to Vietnam where she participated in a regional security meeting, she didn't hesitate to lecture her Vietnamese hosts on the lessons of democracy: freedom of speech and of religion. Ouch! And this from a foreign minister of a country which waged a brutal undeclared war against Vietnam! She went one step further by chastising the Chinese on their territorial claims on the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea which Vietnam also claims sovereignty. Within the waters of these islands are vast, untapped reserves of natural gas. China has occupied some islands and have threatened Vietnam's pretensions to ownership with military action. The issue remains unresolved and a source of tension between the two countries.
China considers the South China Sea as its 'mare nostrum', its own private reserve. The Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia however do not share this opinion, since each state has a claim to its real estate.
Mme. Clinton's remarks at the regional security counselling China and Vietnam to find common ground in settling this territorial dispute amicably through negotiations, caught the Chinese off guard.
And Beijing has subsequently protested her remarks.
Mme. Clinton's sally into what China may consider its internal affairs, is partly an ongoing jab between Washington and Beijing over trade, monetary, and military matters and partly the US' retaliation against China for refusing to follow its lead in condemning the DPRK in the sinking of the 'Cheonan', and for taking US foreign policy up short. [Mme. Clinton may feign innoncence but she was duly informed during a trip to China that it wouldn't go along with more sanctions against nor a condemnation of North Korea.]
Mme. Clinton is tough as old leather. She gives as good as she gets, and give she did in Hanoi.
Of course hard as nails as she is, she cannot escape the burn and temper against America's wars in Iran and Afghanisation; its byzantine dealings with Pakistan; its hypocritical role in the overthrow of the Zalaya government in Hondorus, for example.
Her predecessors John Foster Dulles and Dean Rusk would hardly blush at the way Mme. Clinton is pursuing the aims of US foreign policy.
She sees the world as though the sun was at its high point at noon without shadows and without nuance.
Mme. Clinton's fame precedes her and it allows her to initially get away with a lot of mischief. Everyone or almost everyone is eager to share a photo op with her. As a woman and the wife of a former president and one who cast her hat into the 2008 presidential ring, she is ridding of a crest of her achievements. They cast a fog over the give no quarter policies she pursues as foreign minister, and this obscurity allows her to get easily to offer little or no apologies. Bold as brass, she brooks no resistance in spite of subterrean influences which are challenging American diplomatic initiatives.
Mme. Clinton embodies the spirit of the US symbol of the bald eagle...in her own way as secretary of state she bears a resemblance to a bird of prey.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hillary Clinton cynically plays 'war' at the DMZ

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton toured the DMZ on the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] side of the 38 parallel dividing the Korean peninsula. In the wisdom of her vast experience she announced that she had witnessed the terribleness of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] through a heavily wooded and mined area through a telescope!
Later upon her return to the ROK capitol Seoul she announced new and tighter sanctions against the DPRK--sanctions she had hoped that the UN Security Council would have imposed but preferred to reject and replaced by a resolution which deplored the sinking of the ROK corvette the 'Cheonan' without blaming North Korea.
Following the Security Council refusal to lockstep in following the Obama administration down the primrose path of accusation which had left many strings untied.
Following the Council's vote, the DPRK proposed a meeting at Panmunjan [the DMZ] with the UNC counterpart to discuss the sinking of the 'Cheonan'. A joint meeting was held with UN Command participation [UNC] [read the US which has carte blanche as to the Command's actions], and by all accounts, a 'friendly atmosphere' prevailed.
Additionally, Pyongyang announced a desire to return to the stalled six party talks in Beijing to deal with the nuclear issue.
Mme. Clinton acknowledged none of these moves preferring to martially stamp her imperial metal of measure by more sanctions 'designed to eradicate money making ventures used to fund the DPRK's nuclear programme'; to stop the sale or procurement of arms and luxury of upmarket items; and of course the tried and true course of donning 'some businesses and individuals from travelling abroad' [intentionally left vague].
More to the point the US secretary of state contempuously and without a blush of shame said, these sanctions 'are directed at destablising, illicit, and provocative polices' by North Korea. Writ large in these words is the pursuance of an already overly sanctioned DPRK of a punitative policy of regime change; of bringing the Kim Jong il government to its knees and ultimately its collapse unless it accepts America's and its ally the ROK's terms.
To back up the US determination to deploy this economic weapon of mass destruction, Mme. Clinton spoke of the forthcoming joint US ROK 'Invicible Spirit' war exercises--yes they are called War Exercises with a capital W and a capital E to make the point--in the West Sea around the Busan perimetre far from the HLL near DPRK territorial waters.
Thus, the mighty US is rattling its sabres in safe waters to spike up the tensions that it and South Korea's president Lee Myung bek favour and encourage and feed to the point of playing chicken.
But China has issued a protest against these War Exercises which are too close to its own waters for Beijing's confort.
Mme. Clinton through her announcement of even more harsh sanction is displaying a vindictiveness which in a way makes George W. Bush's policy towards what he dubbed 'an axis of evil state' [North Korea] by putting a North Korean population on the verge of starvation on a bread and water diet.
Mme. Clinton's 'visite eclaire' to the DMZ and South Korea plays to the stalls or the galleries. She got her photo ops and pounded figuratively her fist and wagged her accusing finger at North Korea, not for the first time, with the solemn pledge that if it doesn't behave, it can expects.... Ouch! Expect war?
The US has been counting on China to rein in the DPRK, acknowledging an influence which it may very well not have. Besides, Beijing is not like the US willing to rush in where angels fear to tread.
Washington did not get its way with China this time. China and let's not forget Russia did not go along with its charade at the UN Security on a resolution on the 'Cheonan'. The DPRK wasn't named the culprit, but for the US and ROK, it remains on their most wanted list!
China's vigorous protest against the forthcoming military exercises "Invisible Spirit" has taken a lot of the winds out of its sails. So the big bully and its little henchman in Seoul will have to tread water more softly.
And just to show you the muscular posturing of a weakened US giant, another meeting of the military commission with North Korea and the UNC is going ahead as scheduled. And more likely than naught, it will engender the same friendly ambiance as the first get together.
It does not take much to unmask the game the US and the ROK are playing. GuamDiary calls it 'eyewash'. Yet the mainstream media is content to look at what is happening on the Korean peninsula with the grains of sand Washington and Seoul have thrown into their eyes!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let a hundred 'bojagi's' flap in the wind: Korean Americans march on Washington calling for a peace treaty to end the 60 year old Korean War

On 25-27 July 2010 Korean Americans and other like minded Americans will march on Washington calling for a treaty to end the 60 year Korean War and indirectly for establishing diplomatic relations with the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea]as well as normalising relations with the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea], reuniting families separated by the war, and above all the right of the Korean people to exercise the right of self determination in the country's reunification.
The moment seems right for the demonstration. [The organisers have chosen the 'bojagi' as its symbol. Unfortunately the non Korean has to google 'bojagi' to understand what it is and its time immemorial symbol of this colourful piece of cloth in the folklore of Korea. Consider the cloth the Dalai Lama exchanges with the faithful and guests, to gain an idea of the 'bojagi's' Buddhist origin, and its practical use even in today's Korea North or South. So one can read in the 'bojagi' a thread which unifies a divided Korea as well as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.]
Yes the organiser have chosen a good moment to call for a peace treaty. Tensions have never been more strained between the US and the DPRK and the ROK and DPRK. The sunken 'Cheonan' has poisoned the waters and the joint US ROK military exercise in the East Sea wisely around the Busan perimetre and not near the NLL, has the sulfurous odour of sabre rattling.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton on her way back from Afghanistan plans to visit the DMZ. Her in your face gesture, fresh on the US defeat in the UN Security Council to blame North Korea for the torpedoing of the ROK corvette 'the Cheonan', is provocative and recalls that famous picture of John Foster Dulles' visit to the 38parallel days before the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950.
The US and ROK are playing chicken with the DPRK and little wonder war fever is in the air.
The 'End the war in Korea' [EWK] organisation is rallying Korean Americans and as an after thought other Americans who share its concerns. So no one should expect a massive turnout. EWK is trying to mobilise Americans of Korean descent, plain and simple. Its call urges flooding Congress and the White House with petitions, letters, and visits to elected representatives in order to push for an end to the war and a long sought peace treaty. Fair enough!
The organising committee of the march was prescribing the meat and drink fare in the American scheme of things for citizens to effect change. For sure those who heard its call and come to Washington would flood the houses of Congress, in order to make their concerns heard and urge the ending of the long Korean War, the more especially since the urgency of the moment of a hard line US policy towards the DPRK calls for it.
Although the goal seems daunting, it is worth the candle since the ROK and the US have dug heels into an intractable strategy of sanctions, cutting off food supplies and denying fertilisers to a North Korea on the edge of starvation, as well as beating a tattoo on the drums of war by beefing up military materiel and staging joint military exercises albeit at a safe distance from the DMZ and DPRK territorial waters.
The call to action however has a strange touch of unreality. This is not a reproach but an observation: how can a call primarily to Korean Americans in a community where regional and divisions of loyalty to the ROK or the DPRK, representing a very narrow per centage of demographics in the US, pressure the White House or Congress or the majority of non Korean citizens to induce a 'radical' departure from a frozen US stance towards the DPRK? It seems as though the organisers are living in a world of their own, making little or no effort to share its vision with the broader American community. A community which either has little or know knowledge of the 'forgotten war' in Korea or is heavily bombarded with questionable information about the hand of North Korea in the sinking of the 'Cheonan', thereby re enforcing and re burnishing highly negative if not prejudicial image of the DPRK. Hence the disconnect with main street America.
For here we see the weakness to fashion and common language and a common point of view for a larger appeal to the American people instead of a self reverential approach leading to isolation.
And then there is the matter of the peace treaty. Although the Korean War looks as though it were taking on the cast of a hundred year's war, there is an Armistice Agreement freezing the pursuit of a hot war in its tracks in 1953. Three signatories are at the bottom of the armistice: the DPRK, China [representing the Chinese Volunteer Army], and the UN Command [UNC] represented by the US which has full power to act in the UNC's name. Of course the US could unilaterally sign a peace treaty with the DPRK but that seems most unlikely unless there is a powerful ground swell of US public opinion forcing Washington's reluctant hand.
Still the demo's call has more to do with the politics of winning hearts and minds within the US Korean community than with mobilising a larger swarth of American citizens. So much the pity!
And could it be otherwise? Looking at the organisations, community based groups, business and media entities, and the list of scholars, it is easy to guess the cast of the march's initiators. They are more progressive than liberal, more openly supportive of North Korea than independent.
In a way, it is a gathering of the usual suspects. Saying this, however, should not take away from the thrust of this march on Washington at this time. They are alerting an unconcerned public of the danger and possibility of yet another war which cannot be won in Asia, and the need to silence the rattling sabres and to return to the green carpet of diplomacy to once and for all resolve the Korean War through a peace treaty.
It is time to convene another Geneva like conference to hammer out such a treaty. The young and old, the seasoned political warrior and the novice who will come to Washington on 25 to 27 July deserve our support despite reservations. They have the courage to call for sanity in an insane campaign against North Korea by the US and ROK which may trip a war wire on the Korean peninsula.
It is time, too, for Washington and Seoul to put stop playing tin soldiers and put on adult garments to negotiate an end to the 60 year old war in Korea.
The organisation to end the war in Korea has been prescient in raising the issue during a time of mounting tension. They deserve our thanks. The present times do call for the unfurling of a hundred 'bojagi' as a gesture of peace.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

ROK defence vice minister lays an egg at the New York Korea Society

Weeks after the New York Korean Society held an invitation only meeting on the sinking of the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] navette 'The Cheonan', its president former ambassador Mark Minton welcomed ROK vice defence minister Chang Soo Man.
Mr. Minton delivered an off the cuff introduction of Vice defence minister Chang on 15 July 2010. The Society's new president rarely addresses public sessions, and he has yet to gain his sea legs.
The ROK vice defence minister spoke on 'stability and security on the Korean peninsula'.
The audience had in its hands a glossy, slick pamphlet 'Investigation Report on the sinking of [the] ROK ship "Cheonan"', issued by the South Korean ministry of defence on 20 May 2010. The attendees and the wire services--AP and Reuters--looked forward to Mr. Chang's expose on the post Cheonan political and military implications on the Korean peninsula.
A word or two of introduction for the vice defence minister: Chang Soo Man is a technocrat and stalwart of the ruling Grand National Party [GNP]. A technocrat with degrees from Brown and Korea University, he has expertise in matters financial and procurement. A commissioner of the Busan Jinhae Free Economic Zone Authority, Mr. Chang knows had to keep the administrative house efficient in whatever he undertakes, it is said.
Vice minister Chang chose to speak in English, although he had an interpreter on hand for any language difficulties.
Mr. Chang is using his trip to the US, partly, as a dog and pony show to present South Korea's views on the sunken 'Cheonan'. His slide show is well done and makes Mr. Chang's points simply and directly be it on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] or US South Korea military cooperation, etc.
However his talk dwelt to a large part on the torpedoing of the 'Cheonan' allegedly by North Korea.
The vice minister's presentation took 30 or so minutes. And then the floor was opened to questions.
Overall, Mr. Chang was in friendly territory. And yet, the questions he had to answer had barbed hooks.
Before looking at some of the questions and the vice minister's answers, Mr. Chang seemed unprepared to answer quickly on his feet in English, and stubbornly refused to use the skills of his interpretor. Had he not learnt from long service in government to use Korean, albeit fluency in English, in order to use time to answer questions he might find like quick sand or to parry others which he did not wish to answer publicly? Instead Mr. Chang used English and it showed how 'unprepared' and at times confused.
The vice minister spoke with an evangelical fervour to Society members who are sympathetic to the ROK. Still it may have come as a surprise that although preaching to the choir, he encountered some traction and more than a handful of doubt.
From sympathetic Korea experts either in academia or think tanks, he was at a loss to explain convincingly why after the 'Cheonan' incident the Lee Myung bek government failed to immediately inform the US military or the American ambassador. It was unclear of how long it took the ROK took to contact US political and military authorities in South Korea so that they could instruct the Obama White House, US department of state, and the Pentagon. The lack of clarity or of finesse in answering the question thickened the cloud of doubt about the sunken ROK corvette.
Vice minister Chang was asked to comment on the ongoing investigation of 25 naval officers who 'fudged' evidence and information as to the torpedoing of the 'Cheonan', as well as the looking into the state of drunkeness of some of the officers. It was brought to his attention that in a July issue of 'Japan Focus' two Korean American university professors--a physicist and a political scientist, published 'Rush to judgment: inconsistencies in the South Korean 'Cheonan' report' which raised doubts about the way the report and its conclusions.
At first, Mr. Chang intimated that he had not seen the article, yet he had no problem with the names. He took offense that the naval officers were drunk, but in his valiant attempt to explain the role of the DPRK in sinking the ship, supported by a team of Korean and foreign experts, he made some interesting admissions. Yes, we learn some officers were two sheets to the wind; yes, there was questions about the handling of the information; and strikingly that the Swedish experts refused to sign the ROK 'Cheonan' Report, thereby raising expert scepticism about the nature of the case against the DPRK.
Asked as to why the full 150 page ROK report was not made immediately available to the public by South Korea, but only to selected authorities and governments--China and Russia, he owned up to the fact that South Korea would 'soon' made the complete report public.
Mr. Chang was spared the sharp observation that South Korea did not get its desired condemnation of North Korea at the UN Security Council.
Asked about the apparently friendly meeting of the DRPK and ROK military at Panmunjan after the Security Council didn't blame North Korea in the sinking of the 'Cheonan', vice defence minister Chang did not even know that the meeting had taken place. This sorry admission just added to his confusion even though at times his interpreter to snatch him from the humiliation of his ill preparedness came to his rescue in Korean.
Afterwards Mr. Chang fielded more vanilla questions on a peace treaty, relations with the North, and why the Lee Myung bek government chose not to honour treaty agreements signed by former president Roh during a visit to Pyongyang.
More likely time had a hand in limiting broader questions, the more especially since the vice minister dwelt long on trying to bell the Pyongyang cat with the sinking of the 'Cheonan'.
A feisty speaker, it is easy to imagine how he would answer questions about the Lee Myung bek government's single minded policy to humble if not push the DPRK to the point of collapse. Consider the punishing moves to cut off fertilisers to the North; limit drastically food supplies to relieve Koreans in the North who are living on the edge of starvation; the limit on medicines to treat the spread of TB or other diseases. Instead, his listeners were graced with a Potemkin Village description of happy Koreans loving each other whatever side of the DMZ they lived.
One had to pity the vice minister. He tried hard but in a snit of egoism, and the spirit of the fanatic, he did not do himself a favour by going off script, taking all comers on in English when answering in his mother tongue would have given him time to sculpt an answer which would parry thrusts of difficult questions and so on.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fidel Castro debunks the ROK allegations of the sinking of the 'Cheonan'

Cuba's ailing former president 'el lider' Fidel Castro appeared for 75 minutes on the Cuban television 'mesa rondanda' [round table] on 13 July 2010. He kept mostly to foreign affairs. He began by debunking the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea]--ably magnified by the US propaganda machinery--claim that the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] sank the South Korean corvette 'Cheonan' in March 2010.
Dr. Castro threw the blame on the US. Well could we expect anything different from the object of more than 50 years of US effort to assassinate, overthrow, boycott, or to reduce Mr. Castro to his knees and shout 'uncle!' to satisfy Washington's vendetta?
A reasonable question, one would think. But wait a minute. China and certainly Russia--two members of the UN Security Council--did not think so. They forced the US to water down a joint ROK American resolution to condemn the DPRK for this cowardly act resulting in the loss of 46 crew. In the end, the Council deplored the sinking of the 'Cheonan' without blaming North Korea, thereby taking the wind out of the sails of South Korea's president Lee Myung bek and the endless drumbeat of US president Barack Obama ratching up day by day the campaign to condemn and sanction North Korea for the sunken corvette.
Dr. Castro may very well be on to something. No American media picked up this item:
Two academics teaching in the US Dr. Lee Seunghun [department of Physics, university of Virginia] and Dr. Suh JJ [SAIS at John Hopkins university] published in a July issue of 'Japan Focus' the following article "Rush to judgment: inconsistencies in South Korea's Cheonan Report', knocking out the pins underneath the ROK's and US' case.
Briefly, Peter Lee in the 16 July 2010 edition of 'Asian Times Online' in his contribution 'China turns netizen anger on Seoul' summarises Drs. Lee and Suh's conclusion thusly:

1. the ROK military botched the investigation.
2. twenty-fvie officers are going to be disciplined for 'shortcomings ranging from drunkenness to falsification of records' as to the sunken 'Cheonan.
3. the military will get a 'revised version' of the report when a thorough investigation of the incident is concluded.
4. more interestingly the big dering do of the smoking gun on the salvaged torpedo bearing 'the magic marker [of] Korean characters scraweld on the dredged fragments--REMARKABLY SURVIVED [emphasis GuamDiary] even when the high temperature paints coating the torpedo were themselves incincerated'.

For more details GuamDiary encourages to google the article. GuamDiary has from the beginning observed that the ROK US case against the DPRK was like a stool with three legs. Reasonable doubt cropped up at every turn in reading the assertions found the media and ROK and US government press releases. Damaging too was the selective release of the 150 page 'Cheonan report', with the advice that its full publication would 'compromise sources'. A red flag if not a red herring as to the nature of such data in spite of approval by a barrel of homegrown and foreign experts who more likely than naught had the full evidence provided to them.

So Dr. Castro may not have been speaking through his hat after all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Did the UN Security Council blink on the sunken 'Cheonan'?

The editorial staff of the NYT ['New York Times', in the 11 July 2010 'News in Review'] thinks that the UN Security Council dropped the ball on not naming the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] as the guilty party in the sunken ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette 'Cheonan'.
Instead the Council did regret the incident with its 46 dead crew without blaming North Korea.
South Korea and its protector the US brought the matter before the UN. Throwing its full weight and prestige to influence a condemnation of Pyongyang, the Obama administration failed.
South Korea brought the 150 page report supported by experts from the US, Australia, and Sweden that the DPRK was responsible for the torpedoing of the corvette.
As GuamDiary has noted, the full report was never made public, only 'selected and selective pages', for Seoul's and Washington's fears that 'unnamed sources' would be compromised. So much for transparency! GuamDiary also observed that the South Korean authorities criticised the methods of gathering the 'smoking gun' evidence proving that the North did the dastardly deed. GuamDiary as well mentioned that the DPRK issued its own dossier on the sinking of the 'Cheonan'; denied any responsibility; and proposed that the South welcome a Northern delegation to review the evidence [request denied].
Mr. Obama wishing to save his ally South Korea's president Lee Myung bek's loss of face by a veto in the Security Council, parliamented long and hard with Russia and especially China who would not go along with sanctions against the DPRK.
Now let's not forget that the ROK and the US provided Moscow and Beijing with the complete 150 page report that South Korea refused to make public. And still Russia and China did not bite the bait.
Hence the NYT editorial staff regret that Washington and Seoul settled for a 'pis aller', a 'lowest common denominator' verdict without pinning the tail of the donkey of blame on Pyongyang.
The US and ROK have mounted the fiery horses of revenge against the DPRK on any number of fronts. And failed in all political jousts.
The DPRK at least had the good sense to suggest that it might return to the six party talks in Beijing which it has boycotted for more than a year.
GuamDiary hopes that Washington and Seoul have learnt something from this exercise of common wrath by taking the path of diplomacy.
The US and ROK have yet to absorb and comprehend Talleyrand's dictum 'surtout pas de zele'. Talleyrand managed to survive each wrenching twist and turn from the Ancient Regime through the Revolution, Napoleon, the reactionary restoration of the Bourbons, and die peacefully in his bed during the reign of the bourgeois king, Louis Phillipe. These two countries would do well to learn from his example of using diplomacy to resolve outstanding issues.
It is good to point out that the NYT editorials on North Korea have always gone for the hard line. They reflect the lingering Cold War mentality and influence in the news room.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Israel tells Libya to behave responably! Proof of the paper tiger Israel fright and weakness!

Ain't that a kick in the head? Israel lecturing Libya on acting responsably.
Here are the words of the hypocritical Israeli ambassador Gabriela Shalev: 'Israel calls upon the international community to exert its influence on the government of Libya to demonstrate responsibility and prevent the ship [al Amal (hope in Arabic)from departing to the Gaza Strip.'
That's 'chutzpath' for you! Israel with its hands still dripping with blood for its piratical assault on the Peace Flotilla heading for Gaza with much needed supplies to feed the Palestinians on a weak tea diet which Israel keeps them on the edge of hunger and precocious starvation; non military building supplies which Israel denies Gazans after the 'Tsahal' [Israel Defence Force] brought death and destruction during its 3 week pre emptive war of collective punishment dubbed 'cast lead', resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths and reducing the Strip's infrastructure to 'l'annee zero'[year zero], calling on the world community to stay Tripoli's humanitarian gesture. And this in the light of bully Israel's murder of 9 Turks on the Flotilla's 'Mavi Marmara'.
Hypocrisy, yes. But it's more: it's Israel's arrogance, on one hand; on the other, the willingness of the Libyan 'Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation's' avowed determination to 'head to Gaza for purely humanitarian reasons'...'without intention to provoke anyone or to seek media attention'.
The Gaddafi charity had chartered a Moldavan ship with a Greek crew to bring in 2000 tonnes of aid in the form of much needed foodstuff and medications, to Gaza thereby testing Israel's right to maintain a blockade not only on land but on sea to the Israeli imposed Warsaw like ghetto in the Gaza Strip.
Imagine the burning of midnight oils in Israel's prime minister office and foreign ministry! Imagine, too, the fear of war should Israel attack a Libyan chartered vessel renamed 'al Amal' [hope, in Arabic], by the son of Libya's leader Col. Gaddifi!
The racist Moldavan born Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman must have been talking pretty fast on the telephone with his counterpart in Chişinău [Kishniev], trying to pressure the country of his birth to not allow 'al Amal' to leave Greek ports. Imagine, too, the sweat and urgency trying to twist Athens' arm to keep 'al Amal' in port. All to no good since the vessel was going to sea.
Although no word is out, GuamDiary is willing to bet a pence, the US was applying strong pressure to avoid a repeat of the 'Mavi Marmara' killings on the Mediterrean which bully Israel, like Mussolini, considers 'mare nostrum' [our sea]. [Let's not lose sight of the Bibi & Barack show a few days ago in Washington at the White House. A kiss & make up photo op, on an unstable balance of a seesaw. Washington couldn't think of a greater disaster than the 'Mavi Marmara' for its client state Israel!]
The lights of chancellaries in Washington, Jerusalem, Athens, Chişinău, Tripoli, Cairo, and the UN and also be out guest to think of London, Berlin, and Paris, to add a bit of zest to this messy soup to thwart the Qaddifi foundation from its appointed round of aid and comfort for the Palestinians imprisoned in Israel's land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In the end, 'al Amal' will dock in al Arish in Egypt. And the cargo will not undergo Israel's self proclaimed right to inspect it and if it meets Israeli imposed standards sent on at a snail's pace to Gazans, assuming they would receive every last item because Israel sees a 'weapon' in any aid.
In the immediate term Israel's sea blockade obtains. Yet challenges are sure to abound in the ensuing months.
In the more longer standpoint, we are seeing Israel for the paper tiger that she is! Israel can attack and kill and main defenceless peaceniks but what to do with vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and chartered and backed by the full prestigious of a state?
Is Israeli willing to go to war against an evenly matched opponent? Will the US stay Israel's hand?
Iran has announced its intention of sending ships with foodstuffs and medications and much needed medical material and construction supplies to rebuild a shattered infrastructure. Will Israel attack Tehran? Something it has been itching to do for years now.
Israel's protector the US should be in a perpetual sweat for its ill conceived and ill chosen support of its client. Will it be willing now to declare war against the Arab and Muslim world to support a vain, mindless Israel?
Let's hope not!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Analysising North Korea in the 'Financial Times of London'

Christian Oliver is the FT's man covering Korea South or North. In the 8 July 2010 edition, he contributed an analysis of what is happening in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] as to dynastic succession among Kim Jong il's offspring and wider family and the core group of elites.
'Drastic Dynastics' muses over the in's and out's of the road to nominating Kim Jong il's youngest and third son Kim Jong un as the next Kim to lead the DPRK.
Oliver treats us to a rehash of assassinations of key officials to smooth the way; the jockeying of once disgraced figures now brought back into favour; 'desperate measures' of North Korea to turn attention from internal economic, political, troubles by turning the attention elsewhere. Translation: the sinking of the ROK [Republic of Korea aka South Korea] corvette 'the Cheonan' in March 2010, the testing of short and medium range missiles, and possibly explosion of more nuclear devices, and North Korea's drive to develop a 'fusion bomb'.
The FT analysis has a gallery of the usual suspects and a comparison under the rubrique 'Brothers in arms' comparing the ROK and DPRK military strengths, sourced by the 'Economist Intelligence Unit'. The figures for the North remain approximative, owing to the 'free world's' blockade and enforced isolation of North Korea.
Will the reader learn anything new? Possibly.
A closer read finds a fabric woven with speculation more tired than fresh; red herrings set to sea by American and South Korean intelligence agencies, and above all, the incomprehensability to make something of what is happening REALLY! in the DPRK.
Of course the general outline is there, but it has been there for a relatively long time now.
You have to go back to Bertil Lintner's 'Dear Leader: Demystifying North Korea under the Kim clan', to get a sense of reality.
Getting a grasp of the DPRK means opening relations with it. An educated scholar and public is the best way of better understanding North Korea.
That is too simple. So with all due respects to Oliver, the US and South Koreans and western media and spooks take the easy road out by dipping into 'suspect' rumours, impossible theories, or turning back the clock to the heady days of the Cold War when spooks were spooks and diplomats thrived among warriors to roll the bloody Commie back to kingdom come.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Netenyahu's shifty eyes

Eyes can tell you a lot. At yesterday's [6 July 2010] Barack & Bibi show at the White House, the world media was treated to Israel's prime minister shifty, darting eyes as he assured us the viewers that he and the US president were on the same page.
Yet with his smug, self assured smile of the cat that ate the canary and his 'playful' eyes you knew like a used car sales trying to palm off an 'edsel', he wouldn't nor couldn't be trusted.
Mr. Obama looked glum. He barely cracked his 'winning' smile to the camera. He had by elections to win in November, a restive Congress who wore fealty to Israel on their sleeves, and an uneasy Jewish lobby who usually give big bucks to the Democrats to beat back questions of his breaking faith with his Abrahamic brothers.
The Barack & Bibi show swept differences under the political carpet. And Mr. Obama chewed the bone of discontent.
Bibi Netenyahu agreed to move on the peace agreement but not to face to face talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Barack Obama swallowed his political cud by not insisting on a halt--albeit temporary--to illegal settlements in East Jerusalem or the West Bank. He hardly uttered a peep about Israel's illegal, piratical assault on the Peace Flotilla, which resulted in a shooting attack on the Turkish ship 'Mavi Marmara' ending up with 9 Turks dead, of which one was an American citizen. He did have praise for the 'easing' of the Israeli land, but not sea, blockade of the Gaza Strip.
You would have thought a little more ketsup and sugar and chips would go a long way to satisfy the hungry Palestinians held hostage by the Israeli blockade, was a step forward. Wrong!
The two leaders looked as though they had changed water in wine and they had performed a miracle. Wrong again!
The differences remain and will resurface soon enough. The US is pushing Israel to fess up on owning a nuclear stockpile and to sign the non nuclear treaty which it has refused to do, hidding as it does in neither affirming nor denying it has any, although the world knows different. In fact recently made public a document signed by the 'Nobel peace laureat' Shimon Peres and PW Botha the Apartheid South African president, which stated Israel's willingness to supply racist South Africa with nuclear weapons. Then there is the matter of illegal land grabs in the West Bank and the illegal seizure of houses occupied by Arabs in East Jerusalem for poaching Israeli settlers. And of course, a thorough investigation of the attack and murder of the peaceniks in the Peace Flotilla in May 2010.
Globally Israel is fast becoming a pariah state terrorist. And even more threatening for Bibi & co. is the growing trends, especially among younger American Jews who are tepid to cold in their support of Israel. A recent 'Wall Street Journal' article on the divide in the Walnut section, the Jewish section of Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania, speaks of this growing trend. It closes with a complaint on the part of an older member of the Jewish community who has read the signs on the temple war: only a minority and mostly elderly Jews remain strong in their support of Israel.
What will shifty eyes Netenyahu say to that?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Will Netenyahu fall?

How does it look for a sitting prime minister to conduct foreign policy by keeping his foreign minister in the dark? Well that's what the hard line Israeli prime minister did to his even more right wing foreign minister.
Right wing Israeli prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu sidelined his implacable foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Netenyahu opened back channel talks with Turkey, in order to put damaged relations owing to the Israeli attack on a peace flotilla carrying much needed supplies to Gaza by sea, which challenged Israeli's blockade.
On the high seas, the 'Tsahal' or IDF [Israel Defence Force] targeted the Turkish ship 'Mavi Marmara', leaving 8 Turks and 1 Turkish American dead.
Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned the illegal Israeli assault in no uncertain terms as an example of state terrorism, downgraded 60 year relations with Israel, and called for an international enquiry.
Israel's piracy in international waters was but the latest and most serious 'contretemps' in Turkish Israeli relations.
Netenyahu trying to paper over a serious break in relations with the only Muslim and non Arab nation it has full and open dealings with, kept his ultra nationalist prime minister in the dark.
Avigdor forced an open apology from Netenyahu, but will that calm the roiling waves of discontent in the Israeli government.
Suddenly Netenyahu has awaken to the realisation that it is Lieberman's party is the glue that keeps him in office.
Do not be surprised gentle readers if Lieberman will not try to humble Netenyahu by threatening to withdrew from the current government coalition government.
Here we are seeing the unravelling of internal support to stay in power at a time when Israel's cheer leaders abroad since the killings on the 'Mavi Marmara' are diminishing at a geometrical progression, leaving Netenyahu out in the cold.
As history tells us, when Israel feels 'threatened', it will go to war or commit a warlike aggression.