Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kim Jong il's funeral Magnified foreign commentary, over the top rumours

As North Korea conducts a two day elaborate ceremony before entombing Kim Jong il, the uninvited foreign press continues to magnify over the top coverage and perpetuate rumours that may or may not have any ties to reality.
Since the announcement of the 'Dear Leaders' death, the western media and South Korea's have mutilated his corpse and his country as though they had lopped, scrapped, and tied the operation by a blunt knife.
The media coverage has been incomplete: it has dropped many stitches in a loose fitting garment that barely clothes the body of North Korea's history.
Consider the zeroing in on the misery and starvation of North Koreans. Barely mentioned is the ill luck global warming has visited on the DPRK: sudden flooding wiping out the rice harvest, or the unwelcome affliction of unexpected frost. Furthermore, there is the willful sanctions by the US, the European Union, Australia, and South Korea cutting off food aid and fertilisers, especially since 2008 when Obama and the revanchist Lee Myung bak came into office.
Now these countries, lecture North Korea verbosely and windily on the virtues of democracy and reform that from their bully pulpit they enact policies which not only contradict the high moral tone they have adopted but expose to the world the heartlessness and truly lack of concern for the very people of North Korea they are wanting to rescue from starvation and general misery.
This sleight of hand is cloaked in the false language of promoting human welfare and philanthropy. At the bottom of all this claptrap is a paramount political aim of 'rolling back' North Korea to the point of collapse, internal revolt; in plainer terms: regime change.
As GuamDiary has commented, intelligence agencies in the US and South Korea have a sorry record when it comes to North Korea. Like a Diogenes with a candle burning down to its end, they search in the dark for any hint of what's really going on in the DPRK.
It is a guessing game, and this is no more evident than in resurrecting of the old game of poring over photographs as to who is standing a Kim Jong eun's side or who is absent. We are 'rolled back' to the days of primitive of Kremlinology. And still, the kernel of truth is elusive and even if it is there, you can bloody well count on the US and South Korea to either miss or misinterpret it.
An easier way out of their predicament is to open talks with North Korea. One thing you can say about Kim Jong il is that he never tired in making overtures for talks without preconditions with the US. And each time he made them, the US rebuffed him and heaped on 'preconditions', which when examined were really terms of surrender of national sovereignty, something Kim Jong il would never accept for his country. Not only are the US and ROK insistence on their talking points but they are so framed that the North could not in all good conscience accept them.
As GuamDiary has already pointed out, the US and ROK have a garbled understanding of North Korean history going back 80 years to the day Kim Il Sung began his guerrilla war against the Japanese colonisers. These two countries and allies who have rigorously coordinated their policies towards the DPRK have deliberately pushed the envelop to the extremes: they have revived the Korean War in Cold War techniques in the hope that North Korea will collapse on its own fragility and weight. Wrong!
The pendulum does swing back, and in the end, the US and the ROK, especially the ROK after the 2012 presidential elections, will have to revive in some form or the other the 'Sunshine Policy' which the revanchist Lee Myung bak scuppered within the first few hours he occupied the Blue House. It is not for nothing that the 'unofficial delegation from the South' to pay respect to Kim Jong il had Kim Dae Jung's widow as well as the widow Hyun of the man who founded Hyundai and funded projects in North Korea.
The US still has the chance to release us$900m in food aid and begin thinking of calling a conference on a peace treaty ending the Korean War, a conference which will result in mutual diplomatic recognition as well as modalities to denuclearise the divided Korean peninsula. Is the Obama administration savvy to do this or will it remain prisoner to the Korean War already in its seventh decade?

Occupy Wall Street: the New York Times rewrites history

As is it wont at year's end, 'The New York Times' its 'Sunday Review' featured a photo essay on the major events of 2011. In featuring 'Occupy Wall Street', the reader's eye got a jolt at the way not only of the way 'the Grey Old Lady' fudged the historical record but chose to rewrite history.

Here's how the 'NYT' saw the end of OWS' occupation of Liberty Plaza [Zuccotti Park]: when the cold weather came, the tents folded, and like caravans of old, moved on. Now, at that a kick in the head?

The newspaper of note in a few words repudiated its own stories and photographs of what was happening on the ground; it simply massaged the record by spinning out a Disney cartoon.

The editors simply came down on the side of the 'one percent', which is not surprising since the 'NYT', a multimillion corporation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange backed up the plutocracy of Wall Street that saw in OWS a direct challenge to its crimes of precipitating the global economic recession of 2008, the widening of economic inequality, and the spread of the sybartic and decadent life style of the coupon clippers, the buying of elections, and ultimately the subversion of American democracy by the rise of a police state at the beckon and call of the corporatisation of the economy and the decadent rule of finance capital.

As every school child know, OWS was uprooted violently by an early morning assault by New York Police at the orders of the billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg who acted on behalf of his class. The tents were uprooted and trashed by the Sanitation department; heads broken by police batons or the raw fists of a police with little respect for the law it is supposed to obey and respect. There were arrests, occupiers roused from sleep in tents, so reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers, the trashing of a 5000 volume lending library, destruction of a medical unit, so on. In sum, the mayor and his thugs acted as though they were in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, and saw in the peaceful OWS as 'terrorists' cut from the same wood as the Taliban or the Vietcong.

And what happened in New York in November 2011 has happened again and again at Occupy protests through out the land smashed by the steel fist of a militarised police force.

Realty has a way of unmasking the 'NYT's' big! lie [shades of Josef Goebbel]. Did Corporate 'NYT' think that it could through sand in the historical eye? Apparently, yes!

GuamDiary cannot leave it at that. It is time to protest and demand that the 'NYT' admit its fudging of history and offer an apology for its primative, crude sleight of hand of 'correcting history' [an old totalitarian trick!]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

US North Korea Policy: reckless and ill discipled!

The death of Kim Jong il has shown to the world and to North Korea the superficial nature of America's DPRK policy, a policy founded in the confidence of shop worn cliches and the certainty of platitudes that have the skirt the real nature of dealing with North Korea.
The danger in the US attitude, as it often happens, is its swing to the extreme, and the Obama administration's embrace and reenforcement of the George Bush tack towards Kim Jong il. As a result, Obama & co. have taken no chance by closing hewing to the holy writ of keeping the door slammed shut to dealing with the DPRK.
Before considering two flat footed and tone deaf responses to the demise of Kim Jong il, let's set out once more the policy that the Obama administration, in coordination with the revanchist South Korean Lee Myung bak regime, as it pertains to North Korea. One the message to the people of North Korea as a by your way excuse of condolence and the pounding of the war drums when it comes to the North's 'songun' or military first policy with an odd touch of 'Chicken Little...the sky is falling'.
As Guamdiary long commented on the Council on Foreign Relations' special report on Korea, unanimously adopted by the leading US North Korean clerisy from the government, military, universities, think tanks, and the like. Its conclusions have staked out the narrow limits of US North Korea policy. Briefly, they called for 'rolled back of the DPRK', a Cold War term which failed during the Korean War. Furthermore, if anyone was then 'rolled back', it was the US UN led troops by the North Korean army and the Chinese Volunteers. So, the policy of 'roll back' is an indication of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy among the US elite influencing North Korean policy.
Saying this, let's look at the diplomatic gaffe in the US message of condolence, addressed not to the North Korean government but to the North Korean people. How flat footed can that approach be. Obviously, some wag might have thought that it would bolster internal discontent. Wrong. If anything, the Obama administration has never followed the red thread that has run through North Korean history for the last 80 years: the DPRK is an extremely proud and highly nationalistic people and nation. A slight to its leadership is an insult to the North Korean people, no matter how they feel towards their leaders.
Once again, GuamDiary sees proof of the manner of low esteem it holds North Korea, as though it were not an equal in the comity of nations, but as though it were a child whose complaints and desires you listen to with half an ear. Not only is the US tone deaf, it is immured in its own prison of impossible dreams.
How insulting is the Obama administration's gesture in 'dissing' North Korea's leaders, people, and the new head of state Kim Jong eun? The American president's 'bevue' is of the same order as George W Bush calling Kim Jong il a 'pygmy', a remark hardly worthy of a leader of the so called Free World. And then the 'fearless' Bush had to scramble to eat his words when the very same Kim Jong il's country tested a nuclear device! Which all goes to show how anachronistic is US thinking when it comes to North Korea: like a big power trying to make a satellite of an unwilling, proud people, confident in its culture and destiny, in spite of the US' plans of regime change and forcing North Korea to collapse!
We segue now to the endless rhythmic rapping and riffing on the DPRK's reliance on 'songun' or military first policy, which, from the US perspective, endangers of the stability, serenity, and peace of northeast Asia. Nowhere in this scenario of the Goliath that the US, seconded by South Korea, sees in North Korea, menacing its neighbours and pushing the region towards war, do we get the slightest hint that the US is and has been at war with the DPRK since 1950.
Historical memory has faded on the extent of America's bombing of North Korea which flattened the North to the Stone Age. [In fact, visitors to Pyongyang are constantly shown a single building that survived the aerial assault on the North Korean capital, the fire power of which was greater than the destruction of Rotterdam and Dresden!]
So, it is not unreasonable that the DPRK should have ready a large standing army against a hostile US and revanchist South Korea, the more especially in the light of US policy of provoking Pyongyang to trip the wire of war. We saw that in the joint exercises of the US and South Korea along the Northern Limit Line in November 2010 when South Korean shells fell in North Korea's territorial waters and surprise, surprise, the North riposted.
The reactionary Lee Myung bak regime wanted to push the envelope but the US panicked lest it have a third war in Asia on its hands, and stayed the South from further military adventurism.
'Songun' offers internal stability to a regime that has suffered badly economically and that the US and the ROK have sworn to starve to death to hasten its downfall.
So much for sophisticated US North Korean policy: it is bathed in willful ignorance and malice and is stick in the mire of its own narrow ideology and prejudices which keeps the past out of hearing and 'bonne intelligence' out of the ken of its own rationality

Friday, December 23, 2011

Obama the grinch who at Christmas time is denying North Koreans food aid

There is little to say about president Obama's decision to rethink the long promised us$900m in food aid to starving North Koreans on the heels of the death of Kim Jong il.
The role of a Grinch does not suit the US president, but it seems that he gladly welcomes it at this Christmastide.
For a leader of the 'free' world, who at the drop of the hat, extols the virtues and benefits of democracy, tying food aid to political gains is hardly worthy of the man.
He exhibits more the 'bah, humbug' posturing of Ebernezer Scrooge in Dicken's 'Christmas Carol'.
GuamDiary does not expect a last minute reversal of Grinch Obama's decision to withhold much needed food aid. It won't worry one whit his conscience as he luxuriates in his Christmas holidays on the beaches of Hawaii.
He is in league with the purveyors of want and ignorance at this time of giving. And you can bet it won't disturb his good Christian conscience!
If we remember: the Grinch's heart grows five times touched as it is by Christmas tide; Grinch Obama's, on the contrary, has shriveled five times to the size of hard lump of coal.

Can we really trust US & South Korean intelligence on North Korea?

Both the US and South Korea spend millions on intelligence, especially following North Korea.
In the wake of much breast beating about how the two countries intelligence failure on having the finger on the pulse of what's going on in the DPRK, we truly have to wonder about and put under a laser beam the information put out by the two governments, acolytes in the press, the universities and think tanks, business circles & the like. On a cost benefit analysis, neither country is get a big bang for its dollar or won spent.
Yeh, we know the intelligence community has a job to do: we question its quality and output for the results are often sloppy, of inferior analyses, and wandering into the celestial stars.
The death of Kim Jong il proved that the whole ball of intelligence wax had more to do with lunar green cheese than realty. The media and the White House and Blue House keep banging the drums of fear and instability in northeast Asia, if not implying that an outbreak of war is on the horizon owing to a power struggle within North Korea's senior military leaders.
What GuamDiary sees is that the US and ROK intelligence network is being payed to mouth the hoary propaganda of the governments that pay them. You get what you pay for, the saying goes, and forced timelines and hothouse nuturing of bankrupt ideologies are what the US and South Korean people are being asked to swallow.
If instability is on the horizon, look to Washington and Seoul for military adventurism and kick 'em in the stomach when it comes to North Korea. The Obama administration and the revanchist Lee Myung bak government in Seoul have bet on the collapse of the DPRK with the death of Kim Jong il. And, surprise, surprise, that ain't going to happen. GuamDiary scratches its head and wonders aloud 'haven't the US and ROK spooks have the slightest klew as to the motor which has driven and continues to drive North Korean history and behavior, yea, these past 80 years?'
The only logic answer is that they are obvious to anything but their own fears, projections, and scenarios which Freud would 'wish fulfillment'.
So, in the end, can we truly trust US and South Korean intelligence on North Korea? We do not deny that the end product of their work has a pinch of salt of versimilitude, but on the whole, we have to read more widely and weigh their conjectives with a cold, critical eye. So we have more reason to distruct US and ROK intelligence, in the final analysis.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Does the DPRK deserve US contempt?

GuamDiary, observing the US North Korean clerisy's response to the death of Kim Jong il, holds its nose at the noxious odour of scorn that the demise of the North Korean leader has set off.
More to the point, the US & co.'s attitude considers the DPRK not only a failed state, but an inferior nation worthy of its contempt.
It is then little wonder that American scholars, diplomats, intelligence, lawmakers, journalists & the like's haughtiness put them at a disadvantage. Seeing only the tree, they miss the dense growth of trees, plants, and underbrush that make North Korea the country that it is.
As GuamDiary observed, the US and its allies feel threatened by North Korea more out of self styled fear than on actuality. They quake at the thought of having been outmanoeuved in negotiations or hoodwinked by a 'Wizard of Oz', who has humiliated them time after time, which may not be the case.
The incessant tattoo, America's North Korean clerisy beat that 'the DPRK should not be rewarded for bad behaviour' has more to do with their own ideological shortsightedness, if not blindness. They whittle their opinions to a prevailing code of ideas which has not changed much in the last 65 years.
Such intellectual rigidity is its own worst enemy. To these clerics on whom so much money has been wasted in educating them for service to the US government, the return on the US dollar invested is quite meagre.
If you regard North Korea as a wayward child who only understand punishment, to correct its way, well, you've only yourself to blame. Furthermore, the DPRK is not an infant; its leaders do not suggest, by far, a lack of maturity, but rational and calculated thought.
In dealing, say, with the US, it weighs America's undue confidence and smugness, which North Koreans have learnt to exploit to their own advantage, sanctions and saber rattling notwithstanding. It is not for nothing that the US and the present revanchist government of Lee Myung bak in Seoul quiver and quake in formulating policy to North Korea. Their offensive self righteousness lulls them into positions so that they are blind to the danger of failure.
And fail they must for the plain and simple truth they do not view North Korea as a worthy equal in the comity of nations. As such, the DPRK uses the arms of the despised and the wretched of the earth in America's eye, to not only to elude, frustrate, thwart, and ultimately outsmart the US' high handed and the ghetto of diplomatic inaction, to its own advantage.
Consider North Korea's explosion of a nuclear device: in dealing with, for the lack of a better description, the inarticulate and blustery Bush administration, Kim Jong il had put forth a reasonable set of ideas to deal with the North's nuclear programme. But the Bush administration had other ideas: it sought to humiliate North Korea and blew Kim & co. away by dissing them. Well, the next thing you knew, North Korea had the bomb, and that sent Bush's emissaries scurrying back to paper over the damages. And like all the kings men, the couldn't put the Humpty Dumpty of the 'status quo ante' back together again.
And thus it was and thus it is under the Obama administration, which like Bush's before it, with a gaggle of experts and intelligence know next to nothing about North Korea. Is it a lack of trying? Maybe. More likely, the US is led by its nose by its own arrogance, pious belief in the sanctity that it is God's gift to the universe, and dubious moralism.
In other words, the fault lay not in the stars and even less with North Korea, but in the exhibition of contempt it has for the DPRK and its leadership.

US analyses on North Korea: the pits!

You have to wonder where the arrogant, cock of the walk, shameless claims of US intelligence on the DPRK is going. GuamDiary already commented on the banner headlines that America's wide network of technical gadgets and reliance on inhouse and out analysts, scholars, journalists, and debriefing almost anyone who has gone to North Korea, including friendly foreign diplomats, has compounded the feeling that North Korea is the US' greatest intelligence failure.
Don't take our word for it: listen to what Donald Gregg--senior CIA officer, national security advisor, former ambassador to Seoul, and past president and CEO of the New York based Korea Society--has been saying for the last 15 years or perhaps more. In any number of the KS' public gathering, he never shied away from saying the wide net of US intelligence has come up with next to nothing on what's going on in the DPRK.
And in spite of Gregg's step by step approach of building 'confidence measures' to the North, his work is more or less scraped by the Society, yet he labours on through a programme at Cornell's Maxwell School in keeping a toe in the almost closed door of US DPRK 'private' contacts.
Gregg, however, is the exception. A more cautious approach to intelligence failure got some relief on the PBS News Hour: Margaret Warner interviewed former CIA analyst Robert Carlin, now of Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute. No stranger to North Korea--30 visits, Warner mentioned, he, let's say, was more modest in answering her 'vanilla' questions on why the US knows next to nothing about the DPRK. 'I don't know' or 'I cannot say'.
Carlin thought technically speaking in the field of spookery, the US is quite on top, but it suffers from a poverty of good analyses, even when what's going on in the DPRK, at times, is as plain as the nose on your face. An example, Carlin along with Siegfried Hecker, eminent nuclear scientist, visited North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex in 2010. To the US visitors surprise, they found an up to date, state of art reactors in an advanced state.
Hecker's findings has to give one to pause since, surely, wot, a panoply of spy satellites, drones with cameras, & the like, the US should have detected fieverish activity at Yongbyon. Maybe they did bring home the bacon, maybe they didn't. Still, you cannot hide behind national security, to tar and feather the DPRK without proof.
Let's now consider the very below level of analyses, beginning with Victor Cha's opinion piece in the 'New York Times' [20 December 2011], 'China's newest province?' The Georgetown scholar and former Bush White House advisor on Asian Affairs postulates, and repeats the buzz that has been making the rounds in the black rooms of northeast and southeast intelligence, that by the next Lunar or Chinese New York, that is, within the fortnight of the auspicious year of the Dragon [23 January to 6 February 2012] that high ranking, senior DPRK cadre will dump Kim Jong eun, institue a trioka of leadership, and turn to China for support and guidance.
Cha's 'analysis' contradicts what's happening in North Korea: Kim Jong il laboured long and hard to assure his succession by his youngest son, Kim Jong eun; he knitted together a consensus of the military, the core cadre, and the party faithful to this end, long before his death. The matter of succession and from the ground up education of Kim Jong eun had been assured. Notwithstanding, Cha and his ilk's disbelief in anything North Korea says, report after report from Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, etc. outline the modality of succession and the regency of the young Kim, about whom little is known.
As for China, strategically speaking, it always supported North Korea, and no better proof of this is the sending in of Chinese volunteer fighters to struggle alongside North Korea troops to 'rollback' the US UN led troops to the 38 parallel during the Korean War, which, technically never ended, found a 'pis aller' solution in an armistice agreement which is entering its 60 year.
Even China, who patiently and at times grows stays moments of short temper with its neigbour and ally, even China was kept in the darkness of Kim Jong il's death until it was annouced on DPRK television. So, to say, as Cha asserts, Cha has great influence over North Korea, is an exaggeration; China has influence for sure but not as wide and as deep as Cha and other Pyongyangologists like to think.
As to why China backs up North Korea, GuamDiary suggest a reading of Alan Whiting's 1960 Rand Corporation study, 'China crosses the Yalu'. Whiting's analysis is spot on, and in spite of China's improved relations with the US and South Korea, it solidly remains cogent and meaningful today. Russia, too, has revised its assessment of North Korea, and argues for the West's accomodation with Pyongyang, to little success.
You have to wonder, too, how the US and South Korea can shake in their boots at the death of Kim Jong il. Is their fear real? or feigned? It is more or less predicated on self fulfilling claims that North Korea is irrational, and what's more armed with advanced rocketry and primative nuclear devices will set the region on fire and reignite war in the divided Korean peninsula. Hence the endless flow of ink by the US North Korean clerisy's setting off bells and whistles of warming. Give us a break! The image intelligence analyses comes up with, based on the heavily subsidised industry of scholars, spooks, journalists, so on, is one of what the former US senator William Fulbright labelled, 'the US as a cripple giant'.
The fear may be real but unfounded. And any good Freudian would simply say it 'projection' of what the US and the ROK would like to do to North Korea. And there is truth in that: the riposte of North Korea in November 2010 to live fire, joint US South Korea military exercises along the Northern Limit Line within spitting distance of the DPRK's territorial water. Despite a stern warning from Pyongyang that it would answer any violation of its sovereignty, Washington and Seoul dismissed the claim without a by your leave. And what happened: the North replied in kind shelling the military outpost on Yeongpyong island. And quickly did the US stay South Korea's aggressive hand, lest a war broke out.
And therein lies a tale. So distrustful are the US and its ally South Korea, they are unwilling to take, say, Kim Jong il at his word. Like his father, Kim Il Sung, before him, he pushed for negotiations with the US without preconditions, only to be rebuffed. Moreover, North Korea with a hand of low cards, is better at playing poker on the 'tapis vert' of the bargaining table. So unsure is the US of its abilities to negotiate skilfully, they prefer to threaten to the point of opening hostilites with the North.
And this attitude is no more better reflected in the opinion and editorial pages of the right wing 'Wall Street Journal'. They brought out two heavy hitters: Melanie Kirkpatrick, former deputy editor of Murdock's WSJ and now senior fellow at the very conservative Hudson Institute, and John Bolton, whom Newt Gingrich would nominate as his secretary of state were he elected president. These two dance on the grave of Kim Jong il. Doomsday scenario play in their minds, as they descend into belittling a man they disliked if not hated. The language borders on the cartoonish, and does little else but not advance a policy other than fire and brimstone.
Kirkpatrick and Bolton are not so extreme as you might think, they simply say what others do in milder language, but the message remains the same: throw brickbats and vituperate in the comfort of policies that do not and cannot work, or change. And taking a new tack is out of the question for now.
Then there's Lee Sung yoon, research fellow of the National Asia Program, at Princeton and Sue Terry, a senior research scholar at Columbia's Weather East Asian Institute, calling for 'containing the young Kim'. Hidding behind the ready excuse of 'not rewarding North Korea for bad behaviour', you wonder how more successful they in their reading of the innards of US metaphysics of North Korea, could be than in those who long trod this hoary road of failure when they faced Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong il.
You don't reward North Korea. The death of Kim Jong il allows the Obama administration to deny food aid to relieve starvation in North Korea. Why? It's a new ballgame. Is it really?
Or the tin marshal approach of George W. Bush which resulted in allowing the DPRK to test a nuclear devise, solely on the pig headed analyses and mule headed insistance that only the terms the US poses are acceptable, to put it crudely.
Where is the understanding of North Korean history? or the fiercely, proud ulta nationalism that keeps the country alive and behind the Kims & co.?
And what do American taxpayers get for the billions squandered on intelligence services when it comes to North Korea? A mess of potage coloured to a cul de sac ideology. And ain't that the pits?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kim Jong il

Don't expect a critical appraisal of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong il. In the global and US media, he has been pilloried and made fun to the point of caricature.
And yet, the very same punditry and chattering classes and extensive networks of intelligence agencies, in the end, have admitted they fail to understand the DPRK. Understandably so, since they are motived and blinded by ideology.
Kim Jong il was no saint, but he was true to the defence of his country and his people who valued freedom and independence than subservience to foreign powers.
North Korea is a country on war standing as it should be: it is at war with the US led UN coalition and South Korea which waged battle against it 61 years ago during the Korean War. A 1953 Armistice Agreement froze the lines of combat that North Korean troops and Chinese volunteers managed to roll back the US to the 38 parallel. And the US and South Korea [who refused to sign the armistice] have not been in the mood to sign a peace treaty since then.
Kim Jong il took over the reins of power after the sudden death of his father Kim Il Sung; he assumed leadership at a time when his Soviets ally disappeared, leaving North Korea short of foreign aid; this linked with natural disasters resulted in widespread starvation which took a heavy tool on North Korea.
Still, he managed to bell the US cat which threatened nuclear war and enter into talks with the Clinton administration which had a rocky history. Washington expected Kim to fail and North Korea to implode. How wrong they were and even now the punditry is wide off the mark mainly out of self imposed ignorance on what's happening in the DPRK.
Yet, Kim never ceased to call for direct negotiations with the US. The Bush and Obama administration have stubbornly proved deaf to his appeals, betting that through denial of food aid, fertilizers, and sanctions, they could bring North Korea to its knees. Wrong again.
The foolish Bush bet on the wrong strategy: the DPRK joined the nuclear club owing to his stupidity and inflexibility, and the US and the revanchist South Korea under the presidency of Lee Myung bak have to live with that!
Up until his death, Kim pushed for ending the Korean War and better relations with Washington. He was not a boy scout in any sense as George W. Bush is not by his war in Iraq, but one thing he was not: he wasn't a clown nor the monster the editorial pages, say, of the 'Wall Street Journal' or the endless babble of the US North Korean clerisy make him out to be.
And yet, there is a body of commentary that try to rationally appraise Kim Jong il, but they are frozen out of the discourse because they would unmask the 'Wizard of Oz' sleight of hand of those who tirelessly work to 'roll back' North Korea.
And that policy has proven and is manifestly bankrupt.

America's 'democratic capitalism' sets a new low

The US preaches to the world at large that it is the future in everything from soup to nuts.
Well, world take notice: every third American under the age of 23 will end up spending time in prison! In fact, the US has the largest percentage of its population incarcerated in publicly and privately run prisons, mainly the poor, blacks, and browns.
More, as the elites push to cut back on social programmes, in the midst of economic hardship and high unemployment [officially pegged at 8.9 percent, unofficially at 24 percent], popular movements of protest like 'Occupy Wall Street' have tapped into the growing restlessness of the masses, resulting in the unleashing of the police to stifle protest by the use of methods used by US troops and mercenaries in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, yes, Vietnam. New laws are on the books that aim not so much at the already aimed at minorities or the poor but white middle class, young and old, who are more or less better educated and well able to articulate more clearly democratic aims and aspirations guaranteed by the Constitution and common law, which the power elite is trying hard to cripple, restrict, or simply gut. Now, protesters can and will be labelled 'terrorists', and without a by your leave will be put under lock and key without redress. Think Dickens' 'Tale of two cities' and the Bourbon kings recourse to 'lettres de cachet'.
On the other hand, protest movements like the Tea Party underwrite and reinforce the use of draconian laws to preserve, superficially, a way of life [baby boomers] that is fast crumbling before their eyes as they sink into the economic swamp which favours the plutocracy. Religion, for these people, play a role of safe harbour in a tsunami they cannot control.
The plutocracy that buy and sell politicians have succeeded partially in turning back the clock to the days of the age of Robber Barons. They live for privilege and interests that serve their class of bloodsuckers, coupon clippers, and the morally and criminally corrupt who get away with nothing more than writing a cheque and a slap on the wrist, allowing them to continue dancing around the barn fire that ultimately will consume their class...and the rest of us, alas.
Americans are unaware that the ruling class is pursuing a policy of 'gleichschlatung' [bringing into line] laws and controls that best serve the interests of Corporate American and finance capitalism. In a way, the country is going through its own version of Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and Huxley's 'Brave New World'.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hillary Clinton's empty words

The death of Kim Jong il caught the US flat footed. So much for the billions the US spends on its intelligence network, which, today, is becoming more focussed on spying on its own people.
Hillary Clinton, grandly, cynically, and falsely, proclaimed that Kim's death has suddenly left northeast Asia strategically problematic. Translation: the Obama administration has a klew how to interpret the rise of the 'Dear Leader's' chosen successor, Kim Jong eun. Plainly put, it knows less about him than you can fill a thimble full of water.
Now, Mme. Clinton knits her broad brow: Kim Jong il's death has put the US, its right wing ally Lee Myung bak in Seoul's Blue House in a bind. Regional stability is threatened, she opines. Wrong. Kim Jong il did not challenge regional stability; Clinton is shoeing the wrong horse. She would do better to look towards Washington and Seoul whose clearly defined and stated policy is and has been 'rolling back North Korea' to the point of its internal collapse, starvation, or making a false step by heating up the frozen Korean War.
Don't take GuamDiary's word for it. Check out the facts: the seemingly endless joint military manoeuvres along the Northern Limit Line with live ammo. In November 2010, in spite of the North's warning that it would respond were the South's live shells falls into its territorial waters, the DPRK forces lived up to its threats. Suddenly the arrogant teeth in the White and Blue Houses were set a chattering, lest war really did start anew in the divided Korean peninsula. And Obama's hand stayed mad Lee Myung bak's hand from responding.
Consider the tying of food aid which Obama and Lee to an over the top political agenda to which the North would never agree. The US and ROK were not in the least concerned with the immiseration and near starvation conditions in the DPRK, brought about by global warming. They held famished North Korea hostage, egging it on to rise up and overthrow Kim Jong il & co.
Clocking her words in deep concern for the physically weakened North Koreans subsisting on a subnormal diet, Clinton captiously thrust out her chest by saying the us$900m in food aid that the US was considering grandly showering the DPRK, owing to the current situation, calls us to reconsider our options. What hypocrisy!
GuamDiary wonders what in God's world does the US spend its money on in funding a gaggle of US North Korean clerics who haven't the least hint of what drives North Korean history. What about the war in Korea where the US led UN troops carpet bombed the North back to the year zero? What about a DPRK, under Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong il and soon Kim Jong eun, motivated by a fierce pride in its independence after fighting Japanese colonialism and visiting a stinging defeat on US designs to wipe out the DPRK during the Korean war?
GuamDiary suggests a look into the very recent past: Clinton scurrying off to Myanmar, not so much to encourage 'democracy' but to cut ties of friendship of Myanmar and North Korea, which she failed to do. The US is keeping to its agenda for regime change in North Korea, do not forget.
You'd think with the death of Kim Jong il, who stubbornly tried to open negotiations with the US with no preconditions, the Obama administration would seize the opportunity for a thaw in the Cold War it unrelentingly pursues against the North. Forget about it!
In the end, Clinton's words ring hollow and false. Yet the winds of change will knock out the rabid anti North Lee Myung bak in 2012 and it looks as though a rewarmed version of the 'Sunshine Policy' will breathe new life. The war in Afghanistan will consume America's energies more than they are worth and the US economy will sink lower and lower on the horizon.
'Jaw, jaw, jaw rather than war, war, war', it is useful to recall Churchill's words. But the US, right now, is a warfare state and remains blind to rewards of negotiation and true regional stability in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia.

Empty headed thoughts of two North Korean watchers

The sudden death of Kim Jong il has provided us with an orgy of mindless commentary.
The PBS nightly news hour on Monday 19 December 2011, which boasts that it is the best American news hour in the US, invited two of the 'best and the brightest' of the US North Korean clerisy: Jennifer Lind, professor of government at Dartmouth with ties to the department of defence and CIA-linked Rand Corporation, and the old war horse Dr. Victor Cha.
Lind is a 'Barbie Doll', who wound up will spout the same old tired, hoary speech that Americans have heard about North Korea for a half century or more. She's pretty, smiles, and pouts occasionally but the best that she who dwells on national security matters could come up with was a not so smooth rehash of the what the 'New York Times' lead stories on the demise of Kim Jong il and the scant noise the press could cull on his heir apparent and youngest son Kim Jong un. Her incite on the 'little general', I hear he likes American style basketball...a line straight out of a press release.
Victor Cha has gone to North Korea any number of times and often as part of official White House delegations. Fluent in Korean, you would think that he would know the lay of the land better. Wrong! He let flow the usual psychobabble on the army crushing the young Kim [Wait till after the burial!] when indications in the foreign press point to a settlement on Kim Jong un as his father's successor! So much for a Johnny on the spot observations. Why then should Cha extend himself? His reputation and livelihood are tied to the apron strings of the US government and conservative interests that fund him.
As for the PBS News Hour, they are hardly adventurous: they continue to draw from a list of hired hands who won't depart from the script.
Which leads GuamDiary to conclude with a lead headline on the 'NYT' online paper: 'In Kim's Death, an Extensive Intelligence Failure'. And that bout sums it up for the millions of taxpayer dollars that go into sustaining, maintaining, and training a vacuous class of US North Korean clerisy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

BBC coverage of the death of Kim Jong il

Moral judgment notwithstanding, Dan Damon's coverage of the death of Kim Jong il is an exercise in negative reporting. Interviewing a photographer who travelled widely in the DPRK, Damon accused him of being 'besotted' by what he saw as the poor man, who had a more critical appreciation of his time in the DPRK, attempted to give a more nuanced view.
Speaking to a prominent Russian Orientalist from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Damon cut him off when the scholar offered a different interpretation of the US ROK strategy of regime change in North Korea. A curt thank you very much, and on to the cartoonish view from Seoul or the US on the axis of evil state in Pyongyang.
In other words, Kim Jong il, bad, South Korea and the US good!
Although the BBC marshaled a small army of analysts, writers, talking heads, diplomats, and the like, the major key was to highlight the ignorance of what the West and its extensive network of spies do not know of what's really going on in the DPRK. Listeners are treated to the hoary scenarios of nuclear destruction, threat of advanced rocketry raining down on the innocent and unsuspected neighours of North Korea. The script echoes the B Films Hollywood churns out endlessly with an end of the world denouement. And that is not from today: consider that gem of Cold War cinema 'the Manchurian Candidate', not the remake but the original with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Angela Lansbury, for a quick study in the perfidious nature of North Koreans.
Kim Jong il was a more complex leader and he did not wear the mantle of leadership lightly. He worked diligently for his people who had suffered the crushing burdens of rolling back US UN led forces during the Korean War; are living under an US led embargo for the last 61 years of a war which has to end yet by the signing of a peace treaty; and are the object of a vindictive US and ROK seeking nothing short of regime change in North Korea and the regime complete destruction.
It is to his credit that he was able, despite bad weather which destroyed crops and deaf appeals to agriculturally rich countries for food aid to feed starving North Koreans, to 'outwit' his 'enemies'. Were it not for the utter idiocy of George W. Bush, the DPRK would not have been forced to explode a nuclear device. Were it not for the unfulfilled promises of the Clinton administration to help build light water nuclear reactors to modernise North Korea's power grid so that economic modernisation as the North Koreans see it to progress, the DPRK would not be forced into a corner as its opponents see it.
Kim Jong il had always held his hand out for negotiations without preconditions. But the US, say, did everything it could not to talk to him directly; instead US administrations hid behind the veil of collective discussions in Beijing that from the get go proved that they would lead to nothing but stalemate.
As for the reaction of the man on the street, the BBC chose to broadcast two voices in Seoul: both saying the same thing and fueling the doomsday book of Armageddon that the DPRK would visit on the 'weaker' ROK. Ain't that a kick in the head?
Damon is a writer in residence at the BBC, so it is not impossible that he wrote much of the misleading info during his time slot on BBC radio.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Episcopal Church Real Estate Mammon and Occupy Wall Street

To the surprise of many, the Episcopal diocese of New York owns a lot of real estate going back to land grants given by the Stuarts more than 300 years ago. Since then its property portfolio has grown fatted like the biblical calf.
During the two months Occupy Wall Street squatted at Liberty or Zucotti Park within a stone's throw from Trinity Church on Wall Street, the Episcopal church allowed occupiers bathroom privileges and bestowed upon them the mansuetude of its Christian calling.
Once OWS was chased out of Zuccotti park by Herr Bloomberg's storm troopers in November 2011, occupiers have been looking for a spot to regroup, gird battle scarred wounds from New York police, and a piece of land to carry out its campaign to stigmatise and bring the one percent of the US population who feast royally on the body of the 99 percent. In plain English, make the rich and the superrich who own in wealth as much as 140 million Americans pay their fair share and end feeding off the middle and working classes and the poor.
OWS found such a haven at Duarte Park on the edge of sprawling Chinatown and the rim of the posh Tribeca, on the junction of Canal Street and the Avenue of the Americas, also known as Sixth Avenue. The land is owned by the Episcopal diocese of New York; it is prettified with shrubbery and some benches. To OWS petition to use this minuscule pinch of land of one of New York City's largest landowners, the Church came down on the side of Mammon and refused permission that was backed up by New York's police ever itching to crack OWS heads.
Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu as well as other bishops and Episcopal clergy sided with OWS, but the Church firmly held to its firm refusal. And thus, opened marches, civil disobedience, and unwanted publicity on the Church's vast real estate holdings in New York City.
On one hand, had the Church authorities negotiated with OWS on the dos and don'ts if it allowed protesters to squat at Duarte Square, confrontation and bad publicity could have been avoided. On the other, for the Church thinking in dollars and cents and not Christian charity and as Christmas tide approaches in the message of its founder Jesus Christ, it put out a sign 'No room at the inn'. More practically speaking, such things as lawsuits, assurance, legal responsibilities and the like do come into play, yet good lawyers on both sides could have come to a reasonable understanding. The Episcopal diocese thought otherwise, placing its chips on the side of the true string pullers and power elite of New York--the real estate mafia and the banks who got away with plummeting the world in 2008 in a global recession that has not ended yet.
OWS does recognise that Duarte Park could never replicate Zuccotti Park but at least it would have a presence and a visibility the plutocracy and Herr Bloomberg and his storm troopers headed by Raymond Kelly want to deny it. The powers that be think 'out of sight, out of mind' would do quick work of OWS. How wrong they are!
As for the Episcopal church, money means more than the Christian message of charity. How easily is it for these good, fat cat clergy to forget: 'though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal...and without
charity I am nothing'. To OWS, at Christmas time, the Church has answered resoundingly with a 'bah, humbug!'

Customer service

Ah, customer service. It is a service to cater to customers, seemingly.
The plain two cents truth of the matter is that the service you pay for buys you cold comfort no matter how good and loyal customer you are.
The companies do not care, simply put. Complain, threaten, gather steam in stress and headaches, the service you get on the other end of the telephone is: suck up and get over it. Read: the companies that sop up your money, fees & the like, do give a bloody damn!
The push a pie in the face attitude of poor service comes down to the companies you rely on for service do not care one whit whether you like it or lump it.
And recourse is limited, so they think. You need us more than we need you, they say with insouciance. Is that true? Our diminishing buying power translates into a slimmer bottom line, higher bonuses of senior manager notwithstanding.
Well, tickle me Elmo! If you're not satisfied with the service you're've a choice. And if you can live without it, simply cancel your subscription or put your money on another horse.
In a society which relies heavily on the consumer, the consumer is king. It's is high time for customers to form a 'union' of their own and vote with feet and purses. If that doesn't improve service, well, the company is the loser and down the tube will it go.

Friday, December 16, 2011

More on Zionist fundamentalism

Egypt's Salifists have nothing over Jewish fundamentalists living illegally on occupied Palestinian West Bank in trashing a religion they hate. In Egypt, the Copts are the target; in occupied Palestine, its the Arabs Muslims or Christians.
Lately the Jewish extremists trashed and defaced a mosque in Ramallah. 'Bibi' Netenyahu's government could only come up with 'crazy' to explain what had happened.
The explanation is not good enough: it is owing to the Zionist state core beliefs that foster and encourage Jewish extremism in the hopes of driving Arabs off their land so that a 'greater Isreal' will come into being from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. No rocket science here.
Like it or not, Zionism takes a leaf out imperialist expansion of the 19 century; it is root and branch founded in racialism which the Jews found themselves victims in Hitler's plans of 'lebensraum'. Today, Israel is carrying out its own 'lebensraum' [living space], to clear occupied Palestine of its inhabitants for Jewish settlement.
There is an element of truth in equating Zionism with racism. Netenyahu & co. have much to answer for. Ultimately the spread of Zionist fundamentalism is eroding the very foundations of Zionism in favour of a theocracy based more on politics than religion.
No, the defacing of the mosque in Ramallah is not 'crazy', it is part and parcel of Zionism itself.
One only has to think of the Brooklyn born Baruch Goldstein who with his Uzi to kill and wound the faithful inside the Ibrahim Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994.
Goldstein was a follower of Brooklyn born Meir Kahane who elaborated a philosophy which can only best be described as a page out of Nazi ideology. That poison has infected Zionist could it not, the more especially since its wood is cut from the same tree.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Almost 50 percent of Americans are poor or low income

Three cheers for the much abused 'Occupy Wall Street' movement that shone light on the growing inequality in the US.
And now, the latest US Census data not only confirm that assertion but indicate that soon more than half the US population will fall into poverty or diminish income brackets which mean the same thing.
Listening to the dim and delusional Republican candidates jostling for the nod to the Elephant's party's nomination for president in 2012, the poor only have themselves to blame.
Listen to Newt: abolish child labour laws; let the young learn what it means to work! as he feeds high on the hog on lavish government handouts and falls all over himself to please his much young, third wife in bathing in holy water and sucking up to the reactionary Catholic hierarchy.
And then there's Mitt who has experience in running a company: go tell that to the Marines. You bought and sold companies and whistled all the way to the bank with millions whilst you destroyed companies and threw thousands out of work with little to fall back on.
The US is watching the last gasp of the baby boomers who with age have turned to religion and hold tenaciously to privileges they're unwilling to pass on to the next generations. Children of parents who suffered through the Great Depression, they, too, are victims to the balm of the one percent or one tenth of one percent who own a good 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product. And they willing become the plutocrats' cat's paw as they are assailed by an economy that takes no victims unless they are from the ruling class.
Yes. Virginia there is a Santa Claus for the rich but not the poor.

Israel cracks down on the religious extremists settlers

The chickens have come home to roost in Israel: the Zionist state's policy to remove Palestinians from their own land in favour of illegal land grabs and settler colonies has backfired.
The extremist religious zealots have now attacked the Israeli army which has over 44 years of occupation of the West Bank has done everything to come to their aid and comfort.
Right wing Likud head 'Bibi' Netenyahu has to find it galling to his vision of an Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River that he is viewed by Jewish terrorists who dare attack the iron fist of the Zionist state--the 'Tsahal'.
Now Netenyahu & co. have decreed that the same laws that apply to Palestinians will and shall apply to Jewish extremists. The kid gloves are off, it seems.
Forced into this decision, Israel is weathering a further indication of the decline of the Zionism: is it a bellwether of the implosion of Israel?

US leaves Iraq militarily but leaves a light on

No matter how much spin Barack Obama puts on the 'stupid war' GW Bush & co. visited on Iraq, he cannot escape the fact that it was the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place. In four words it best can be summed up: it was a colossal failure.
It weakened the US militarily, economically, and what's more corrupted its 'democratic' soul. Today's 'New York Times' tells a horror story of the degenerate and dehumanising behaviour of American troops [and hired mercenaries], based on documents which the departing US military threw away for dashing for an early exit.
Accounts of the no holds bared interrogations, torture, and violent death of innocent Iraqi civilians, in the name of a civilising mission which was anything but high minded or refined or morally elevating. They are testimony to rise of a mercenary state, a terrorist state that tarted up in the language of hype and spin and in this year end holiday season of wet dreams of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Obama's welcoming home the troops is an example of 'I am alright Jack!'. A cheer for a job well done and all that jazz.
Yet the US leaves behind an embassy fortified by the presence of 16.000 Hessians motived by private gain and fat salaries the impoverish US man on the street without work and a prayer of ever finding one has to sustain and support. And for what? To tart up a botched failure of a war and to protect access to Iraqi oil and maintain an imperial presence in the Arab world which will further bankrupt America.
Let's face it: America's imperial Rome aspirations and pretensions are unsustainable as the country teetered on the rim of depression. The US' need to dominate is not so surprising mimicking Hitler's policy of 'gleichanshaltung', a policy of imposing a tightly coordinated and no wiggle room totalitarian rule on all aspects of American society. Consider the trampling of the Bill of Rights [which today are 220 years old!], the enacting of the Bourbon kings' 'lettres de cachet' whereby any American can be thrown into the slammer for good and with the key to his cell thrown into the drink.
Such are the dire consequences of the demands of US corporatism!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lee Kwan Yew's bilingualism journey

Launched at the end of November 2012, the aging and ailing power behind the throne of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew's latest musing has appeared in Chinese and English: 'My lifelong challenge Singapore's bilingual journey'.
On one hand raised in a household where English and Malay were spoken, English educated Lee struggled as head of the People's Action Party to learn Chinese--a dialect Hokkien and Mandarin. For him, learning them as an adult, no matter how fluent he became, psychologically it challenged a man of strong ego like him that he never was complete master of his Han ancestors' languages.
On the other hand, in 2009, he openly admitted that he was wrong to impose mastery of English as a common language for the plain and simple truth the Chinese young had become alienated from their language. Before imposing English as a common language which eminently made good common sense since not all Singaporeans are of Chinese origin. To create a new nation and a national identity, the PAP had to consider the Malays and Tamil speaking Indians who also are Singaporeans.
Lee's apology shrouds even more the hidden history of early Singapore. One to break the hold of the Chinese left wing and cultural nationalists, he suppressed the use of dialects in favour of Mandarin as a second language for Chinese. By doing this, he broke with his allies in his own party and adopted the recommendations of the British colonial authorities faced with a growing militancy among the Chinese educated who had funded and supported the Chinese language Nanyang University which Lee as prime minister emasculated and turned it into another university following the paradigm of bilingualism.
Now Singapore is beset by a falling birthrate among its own, reliance on infusions of Chinese from Communist China is a major source of keeping the dominance of the Chinese in Singapore. From here to there, it is not surprising to hear Lee crow eloquent about bilingualism and embrace of Mandarin. It has to be a crushing blow to his ego that as his 10 decade of life looms large, he has to made a volte face on Mandarin and encouraging a better Chinese educated Singapore--a goal he forcefully fought against to attain and maintain PAP dominance of Singapore's power elite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Haddad's 'Palestine'

Alas Tunisian born Hubert Abraham Haddad's poignant novel 'Palestine' is not readily available in an English translation.
Haddad is a Jew living and writing in France. His literary accomplishments are long and varied as truly he is gifted.
'Palestine' has won two prizes: 'Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie [2008] and 'Prix renaudot' [2009].
Haddad dwells on the violence and repression of the Israeli occupation in Hebron as seen through the eyes of an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by a Palestinian terrorist cell. 'Palestine' is one and at the same time, not only a young woman who tends to his wounds but also the embodiment of the suffering and humiliation of 44 years of Israeli occupation.
Cham who becomes Nessim physically resembles Palestine's brother; he is the mirror image of the cancer of oppression that the Zionist state and settlers are visiting in the occupied West Bank, specifically here in Hebron, the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, commonly revered by Jew and Muslim alike.
As Nessim, Cham is psychologically transformed as he witnesses the mindless and deliberate effects of Israel's policy to drive Palestinians off their land and destroy, unsuccessfully, their soul. Empathy takes hold of his heart and soul towards Palestine as he submits to the daily routine of occupation.
The story's denouement is explosive as it conveys the state of Israel's lawlessness and absence of humanity.
If anything Haddad's 'Palestine' is a testament to Palestinians who are not an invented people.
Guamdiary thinks that were Haddad's novel rendered in English, it would take a courageous publish willing to lose money in the current, mad climate of US politics and utterly intellectually and morally ignorant culture. Yet, we feel that is worth the try!

Monday, December 12, 2011

David Cameron's Jimmy Cayne moment in Brussels

Jimmy Cayne is the disgraced banker who brought down Bear Stearns in 2008, a forerunner of the global markets crash. What has David Cameron have in common with the pot smoking Cayne?
Rewind the film of history to 1998, to the crash of the debacle of Long term Capital Management which almost brought down finance capitalism. The big bracket banks, under the pressure of the Clinton administration, met to rescue the markets by shelling out of deep pockets of theirs LTCM. Jimmy Cayne was the sole exception: he is famously heard to say his hands did not reach to his pockets.
The mighty wizards of American financial capitalism never forgot Cayne's arrogance. So in 2008 when Bear Stearns' head was on the block, Hank Paulson & co. let the rough and tumble brokerage die an ignoble death.
Fastforward to the meeting of the 27 European countries in Brussels. David Cameron like Cayne refused to go along to rescue the Euro and stabilise the shaking pillars of finance capitalism. He held out for special privileges for the City in London which played its shameful part in provoking the 2008 global recession, and on which Cameron as prime minister continues to support and rely on, whilst his government's programmes are driving the UK to wreak and ruin.
Continental Europe will not forget Cameron's perfidy. And soon the day will come, as it surely will, when he is going to come hat and hand for a bailout. And then, continental Europe will judge him severely and humiliation. The UK owing to Cameron's petty mindedness will sink to the rank of a fifth class power and feast on salted crow!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Light on the Lotus Hill': an episode in Singapore's forgotten history

The island city state of Singapore boasts of its first world economy, fine universities, think tanks, and the genius of its peoples--its only resource. Yet, during almost a half century of independence, its universities have produced little in the way noteworthy of its past, other than endless boasting of the PAP.
Unearthing Singapore's forgotten history is seemingly left to amateur history buffs. 'Light on the Lotus Hill' is one notable example. Originally published as a book by Chan Cha Wah, holder of a master's in anthropology from the London School of Economics, in 2009, it follows the life of the Venerable Pu Liang, the eight about of the Shang Lin monastery, who gave aid to and support of Nanyang Volunteers who left Singapore to work on the Burma Road, the only link to the outside world to supply the land locked Chinese resistance to the Japanese armies.
The good abbot was a living example of the virtues of his religious calling and worked closely with the China Relief Fund during the Sino Japanese war that began in 1937. He opened the monastery to fleeing Singaporeans from the Japanese bombing of Singapore in year end 1941, as well as using its large grounds then on Ballestier Road as a school for drivers and mechanics of trucks that they would use in maintaining and services and transporting supplies in American made trucks on the Burma Road.
From 1937 to the entry of Japanese troops in Singapore in 1942, Chinese in Nanyang [Singapore] raised funds, educated the public to advancing imperial Japan's designs on China and beyond, recruited volunteers notably for the Burma Road, through the China Relief Fund.
The Venerable Pu Liang played his part. During the infamous 'Sook Ching', the Japanese occupiers arrested him and two monks; they were executed in Changi beach.
It is to Chan's credited that he not only documented the eight abbot of the Shang Lin monastery's life but also his support of aiding and comforting the victims of Japanese aggression, raising money--donation of the faithfuls' contributions at Vesak day--and opening the monastery grounds as a school and training ground of Nanyang Volunteers for the Burma Road, he has written, produced, and directed a riveting documentary on the life of Pu Liang--the light on the lotus hill.
Chan's documentary is currently entered in the Imperial War Museums competition.
Were it not for the intellectual curiosity of Singaporeans like Chan Cha Wah, the hidden history of Singapore would remain for too many years more under the morass of time.
'Light on the Lotus Hill' reclaims its rightful spot in Singapore's history. It is only hoped that others follow Chan's inclinations. It is a sad commentary that the Merlion island's history is left fallow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

lbion Cameron plays the Perfidious card

It should come as no surprise that UK prime minister David Cameron played the traditional role of 'Perfidious Albion' at the talks in Brussels to save the European Union.
Traditionally, the UK has always stood aloof from continental Europe but for the times when conflict--usually war--challenged its interests.
Consider the Great War: Britain fought the rising Hun that challenged it economically as well as militarily. Once vanquished, thanks to the intervention of the US, London quickly picked up its marbles, withdrawing into the comfort of its own 'Little England'. Continental Europe was left to its own devices thank you very much.
Now, Cameron is playing the same old game with the Euro, which the UK refused to support, unless Germany and France would recognise London's special rights. Germany's Angela Merkel demurred, and France's Nicolas Sarkozy tersely remarked that the British prime minister missed the golden opportunity to keep his mouth shut.
Cameron simply wanted to protect London's parochial designs. By drawing the line in the sand, he has marginalised the UK and is hastening the decline of the UK where the sun never set on its empire, to a fourth rate power. Even his American allies have loosened the ties of their special relations, thereby multiplying the effect of diminishing the UK's role in Europe. Now, thanks to Cameron, London is a backwater, London being a financial centre notwithstanding.
The UK's austerity vise has also contribution to breaking social peace through strikes, riots, and growing impoverishment.
By upholding the banner of 'Perfidious Albion', Cameron is being crushed by his small mindedness and myopic view of Europe.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Littered with books

'Littered with books' is a wonderful, award winning, independent bookshop in Singapore's Duxton Road in the Tanjung Pagar district.
A quiet retreat, it is well stocked and don't be surprised if a cat or two finds its way among your feet.
LWB has the ambiance, say, a Barbara Pym would find congenial.
Anyone going to Singapore should not deny himself a visit to LWB.

Is the PAP the only political party in Singapore?

Anyone reading 'The Straits Times' would come away with the impression that the only game in town is the People's Action Party. Yet in the 2011 General Election Singaporeans sent six opposition candidates to Parliament, causing consternation among the ruling elite.
Still, the 'Times' hardly breathes a word on the Workers' Party which broke PAP's stride, especially in Aljunied where the longtime PAP favourite and minister George Yeo went down to defeat.
WP's significant showing has sent PAP into soul searching, and the 'Times' prints endless articles in the ruling party's intentions of trying harder in order to respond to the changing tastes and aspirations of Singaporeans.
You have to go to social networks to hear the opposition parties for they are steadfastly denied any space in the media which PAP has erected a firewall to keep them out of public view.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mme. Clinton goes to Naypyidaw

Without fanfare, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has come to Myanmar.
Her visit was carefully choregraphed as a result of president Obama's meeting with Burmese authorities in Indonesia during a meeting of Asian Pacific states.
A secretary of state has not visited Myanmar or Burma since John Foster Dulles in 1956.
Clinton met with president Thine Sein at Naypyidaw, the new Burmese capital. According to reports, she handed him a letter from Obama and discussed means to open full relations with a Myanmar where the generals have taken to wearing civilian cloth. As a result, reforms are in the air to widen avenues to a civil society, as well as opening a window to a wider world within, it has to be stressed, from a Birman standpoint.
The US is badly informed about what's happening in Myanmar. It, however, does want to seize an opportunity to twist the Chinese tiger's tail. China has never boycotted Myanmar; it has 'rectified borders' with Burma a half century ago, thereby establishing friendly relations. More recently, Beijing's dynamic economy has moved in swiftly overwhelming Myanmar's industries. And the Chinese have acted arrogantly and crudely prompting Naypyidaw to cancel a dam project which China sorely needs.
Although Thein Sein's motives remain unclear, one thing is certain, he's looking to wiggle out from under China's heavy hand. His desire is welcome by the US that is looking to mate China in the Asia Pacific region. Which brings us back to Clinton's presence in Myanmar. In a way, it's a mutal Christmas gift these exploratory talks.
Another concern of Obama is Myanmar's relations with North Korea. Before flying in to the Birman capitol, Clinton had talks with her South Korean allies in Seoul. Isolating North Korea is top priority for these two countries. It is doubtful that Myanmar will distance itself from the DPRK, the more especially since things on the ground there have evolved without the guiding hand of America's bienfaisance. If the US' track record is any signpost, Washington will soon prove as heavy handed as the Chinese in dealing with Birman sensibilities on the matter of North Korea.
For the moment, prospects look bright, but has US diplomacy improved since Foster Dulles visit in 1956?