The Geographers New Map, Part III: Global Terrorism

Catholicgauze concludes his three part summary of a recent speech by Dr. Harm J. de Blij. Part I: Climate Change and Part II: China are also available, as is information about Dr. de Blij’s new book, Why Geography Matters.

This is the last installment of my rundown of by Dr. de Blij. The final part of his speech was spent on global terrorism. The most disappointing thing about his discussion on part three was that he only had a total of five minutes left to communicate his ideas about terrorism.

Terrorism: A main point made by Dr. Blij is that the terrorism of today is unlike the anarchists terrorist of the turn of the last century. Those were unorganized trouble-makers with a penchant for killing heads of state. Terrorists of today are the tip of a well organized effort spanning continents. They rely on failed-states and geographic isolation to thrive.

Pakistan and the former Afghanistan provide a great example of Dr. de Blij’s point. In the tribal areas communication is difficult so local control is a necessity. However, if the locals are crazies (in the words of Bishop Catholicgauze and not Dr. de Blij), it becomes a lot easier for a terrorist group like al Qaeda to set up shop.

A strong state which wishes to grow and connects into globalization would resist a reactionary group like al Qaeda and their ilk. It is then easier to understand why the same group that attacked the World Trade Center (al Qaeda) is actively trying to topple allies of the United States (the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and America itself. They need failed states so they grow like a cancer and then spread to other countries and if strong countries resist and retaliate, the cancer dies.

An example which concerns Dr. de Blij is Ethiopia. Ethiopia borders the troubled , the three Somalias, and Sudan.

three_somalias
Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland

Ethiopia also is a gateway into Kenya and southern Africa with minimal interference from the Sahara Desert. Islamic terrorists have been slowly dragging Ethiopia into turmoil hoping to turn the whole horn of Africa into a giant center for operations. He citied the increase of Caucasian Chechens (who in a variety of reports I have learned are the most fanatical and “crazy” of all Jihadists) in not only Ethiopia, Iraq, and other hot spots but also those caught trying to bomb targets in South Africa. If a strong country like Ethiopia were to fall to the jackals of terrorism, nothing could stop them in the Horn of Africa.

As an aside Dr. Blij talked about the recent pirate raid on a cruise ship 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. He pointed out it would take a organized group with technology and intelligence to try to ambush a lone ship in the open ocean.

To wrap up his speech Dr. Blij stressed the importance of geography in planning. He blamed the current “mess” in Iraq to planners who knew nothing about the cultural geography of the country and pointed out how the position of Geographer has been empty at the State Department for years and has been vacant through many administrations. (Catholicgauze wishes to give a shout-out to anyone in the State Department and he offers nominates himself to the position of Head Geographer!)

Dr. Blij then wrapped up his speech by taking questions on China and Climate Change and went outside to sign books. I had other pressing affairs and had to skip out on the book signing. But I must stress he is correct in the assertion that the United States of America needs more geography education.

In the seven core areas of No Child Left Behind only one receives no geography funding. About half of the US school-attending population cannot locate Texas immediately on a map of the country and about a quarter of school-attending children cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world (source: the latest NGS PSA). If our future leadership generations are more attuned to popular culture and illiterate when it comes to global affairs, apathy and false ideals like fascism or communism can easily led society astray down the tubes. It happened before to the British Empire and it can happen again. We need to stress a true liberal education with math, science, history, geography, and the arts. A well balanced citizenry will be better able to handle the problems that face us in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Great series, Catholicgauze!

One Free Korea Breaks State Department Scandal? Nicholas Burns’ Illegal Diplomacy?

NKHRA Progress Report: Who Is Keyzer Soze?,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 23 November 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/11/nkhra-progress-report-who-is-keyzer.html (from Live from the FDNF).

At the State Department…,” by Mi-Hwa, One Free Korea, 26 November 2005, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/stantonjb/113278554598136125/#133605.

Mi Hwa…,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 27 November 2005, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/stantonjb/113278554598136125/#133611.

Props to Eddie of Live from the FDNF for alerting me to an OFK post that I missed.

Why, some of us want to know, has the North Korean Human Rights Act lodged in the State Department’s windpipe? Why, over a year after the bill was signed into law, does an executive agency that’s nominally answerable to the President of the United States fail to accept North Korean refugees who knock at the embassy gates? I specifically cite Section 303 of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which is now binding law:

The Secretary of State shall undertake to facilitate the submission of applications under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act [meaning, asylum applications] (8 U.S.C. 1157) by citizens of North Korea seeking protection as refugees (as defined in section 101(a)(42) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)).

In plain English, that means that our embassies violate federal law if they fail to “facilitate” asylum applications at our embassies abroad. Yet Tim Peters not only informs me that our embassies are refusing to take these refugees, he’s said the same to Congress under oath, and he has it on film, thanks to CNN. One overseas ambassador, so another source tells me, went so far as to seek legal advice from Foggy Bottom as to how to interpret the law. He was told in no uncertain terms not to ask again.

One Free Korea‘s Joshua Stantaon is a well respected blogger. He recently met with Ambassador John Bolton, and a plaque he designed now hangs prominantly in Bolton’s office. Maybe that’s why a government leaker has chosen OFK to release the news

My source says that Burns doesn’t want our State Department taking any actions that would unduly offend Kim Jong Il, such as taking in refugees, or letting any pesky part-time Special Envoy muck it all up with unpleasant remarks about investigating infanticides, concentration camps, or gas chambers. Hence, we hear relatively little from Lefkowitz, and shouldn’t expect to hear much more of consequence. Just to be sure–according to a different source–State has placed individuals sympathetic to the Burns world view in Lefkowitz’s office . . . to better keep him inside the range of his electronic ankle bracelet.


Nicholas Burns: Rogue Diplomat?

Of course, this is only a leak — it may not be true. Conceivable it could be part of a power play by a secret cabal – a conspiracy – to embarrass a pesky enemy. But given the State Department’s history of rogue policy, the news is all too believable.

On the story’s discussion thread,” Mi-Hwa wonders if Dr. Barnett’s old enemy, the Department of , is behind the trouble:

At the State Department, the buck stops at Condi Rice. She obviously does not welcome North Korean refugees. Homeland security is probably the reason — they don’t want North Korean spies or terrorists.

The news even has Joshua, a firm Republican, questioning Secretary Rice‘s leadership

Mi-Hwa, Other than your speculation about Homeland Security being the culprit (one doesn’t need one if my source is right about State), I’m actually forced to admit that I agree with you.

Condi Rice is responsible for what her subordinates and our ambassadors are doing, or failing to do. She has sworn to uphold our nation’s laws. She must be accountable if she fails to do this.

Unless we kill Kim, we break North Korea through connectivity — not guarding the gates of Pyongyang’s prisons for them.