Bush, Author of Korean Good News

China Asks N. Korea to Admit Uranium Program,” by Jung Gwon-hyeon, Digital Chosunilbo, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200501/200501240020.html, 24 January 2005.

Opposition Pushes for NK Rights Act,” by Reuben Staines, The Korea Times, http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200501/kt2005012517072410220.htm, 25 January 2005.

Good news from Korea, via One Free Korea.

The Chinese are stepping up pressure on Pyongyang to tell the truth

The paper, quoting multiple officials connected with the six-party talks about North Korea’s nuclear issue, said the change in the Chinese position was the result of the U.S. presenting Beijing with persuasive evidence of the uranium program. China is asking the U.S. for energy assistance to North Korea conditional on Pyongyang admitting to and abandoning its nuclear programs.

With the second Bush administration signaling that it wants to tackle the nuclear issue through dialogue, Beijing has been keen to restart the six-party talks, the Nihon Keizai reported. China mediated the U.S.-North Korea contacts in New York last November and December.

While in South Korea, the Grand National Party (South Korea’s center-right party) is getting on the human rights bandwagon

The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) is pushing ahead with a South Korean version of the controversial North Korean Human Rights Act enacted by the United States late last year.

The bill, which calls for Seoul to take a leading role in assisting North Korean defectors, was put forward by Rep. Hwang Woo-yea and is cosponsored by all 120 lawmakers from the conservative GNP, party officials said Tuesday.

Hwang said the party will seek to pass the legislation by the end of the year, but it will need first to win the backing of at least 30 other lawmakers in the 299-seat National Assembly.

A GNP policy analyst said the legislation is designed to complement the U.S. human rights act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October.

“The bill starts from a premise that our country has the most interest in North Korean issues,” a GNP policy advisor said. “Some elements overlap with certain provisions of the U.S. law, but our country should have enacted the law first,” the policy expert said.

The legislation would make it easier for North Koreans who have fled their homeland to seek asylum and safe passage to South Korea, other GNP officials said

If enacted, it would allow defectors to apply for refugee status by contacting officials at any South Korean diplomatic missions worldwide, they said.

Under the bill, the South Korean government would issue passports to defectors upon request, the party officials said, arguing that this is in line with the Constitution which recognizes North Koreans as citizens of the South.

Japanese lawmakers are also reportedly moving to introduce legislation targeting Pyongyang’s human rights. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has begun drafting a bill in the same mold as the U.S. act that would ban aid to the North until it improves its human rights record, including the dispute over Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents during the Cold War.

What’s the thread in these two stories, besides the good news? That both rely on U.S. diploamcy. In the debates Senator Kerry advocated unilateral talks with the North. Fortunately, President Bush’s wise multilateralism is laying the groundwork for an Asian NATO.

President Bush is a master at great-power diplomacy. I doubt that our country has ever had relations as good with India, China, Japan, and Russia as we do now. This, at least as much as Bush’s “unilateralism” in the Iraq War, is the cause of Old Europe’s hostility.

Bush works with great powers — the world capitals that shape the future. Any future worth creating begins in Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Washington. Cities like Paris and Berlin, while having something to contribute, are not world powers (if even regional powers for long). Paris and Berlin are in the same category as Warsaw, not Washington

Zarqawi Does Know Better

Well, in response to that quibble,” by Mark, Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/sure-sounds-like-they-hate-our-freedom.html, 24 January 2005.

‘What fuels this difference?’,” by Praktike, Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/sure-sounds-like-they-hate-our-freedom.html, 24 January 2005.

Earlier I argued that Zarqawi’s last message gives us hope. That is true. Praktike on Zen Pundit goes one step farther, wondering if he is insane

Indoctrination, time spent in prison, experiences in Afghanistan … I dunno. Zarqawi seems like the craziest mofo of them all. What tipped him into violence where another adherent of salafism might merely advocate separation from the West? If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t be just another blogger.

He is echoing an opinion by Mark

Well, in response to that quibble that I would say that while a Salafist or Hanbali scholar might hold the same opinion of Democracy as a form of government as Zarqawi does – he probably lacks the desire to go out and kill fellow Muslims who differ or believes that would be an appropriate response. What fuels this difference ? ;o)

Critical thinking and will fuels the difference. Zarqawi is an evil villian who must be killed. But that doesn’t change that fact that he does know better. He is not insane. He is acting rationally and deliberately to build a future he believes his worth creating. The odds are against him, and he realizes this. While he may be ignorant and not realize the depravity of his Ba’athi brothers-in-arms, he is not stupid. Unlike idle scholars who share his views but not his courage, he knows that he has to /work/ to build a future worth creating.

Zarqawi views the present as a nightmare not worth living. It is clear that the Arab and Muslim worlds are backward, disunited, and corrupt. The governments of the region are naturally weak, and are part of a globalized system of (to him) dubious morality.

His diagnosis of this is apostasy. The fall of the Caliph was a symptom of this, but not a cause. So long as Muslims turn their back on God and worship false idols (socialism, nationalism, capitalism, democracy) they will be weak. In his view, the Muslim world is in a vicious cycle. Corrupt governments promote weakness promote dependency on foreign infidel powers promote corruption. He sees globalization as possibly the final blow. Not only are Muslims to live under corrupt, weak, and depdendent governments, but these governments themselves are losing power to outside forces. I doubt he has heard of Friedman’s thesis of a “global herd,” but he feels the trampling stampede.

Compounding this is that these forces work to destroy freedom (as he sees it). A truly free man is infinitely free to walk in the path of the Prophets, in the shade of the Koran, and personally know God. But “freedom of religion” means that a man will be tempted to walk a differen path. What Zarqawi wants is not “freedom of religion” as much as “freedrom from wrong religions,” not “freedom of speech” so much as “freedom from wrong speech.” He knows that the people chose “freedom of speech” over “freedom from wrong speech” every chance they get, so the will of the people is just another force to be destroyed, not reasoned with.

Zarqawi wants to move the world away from this confusion back to its right place. But in this vicious cycle every force is forever corrupting Muslims. Therefore he has to destroy every power. He has to destroy the status quo. Doing nothing guarantees failure. Shaking up the world at least gives a chance for success.

Zarqawi sees his limitations. He has no conventional army or air force. He has no money, and does not have the charisma of Osama bin Laden. He doesn’t even have popularity. But he has the will to violence.

He will continue to use his will to violence to destroy the powers that be until he has a chance of winning in peace. This is a far way away, but remember that if his violence stops know, he knows he loses.

He will rationally work with the Ba’athis to destroy the government, because he knows under the government he would lose. If the Ba’athis win and seize the government, he will try to destroy them with violence. If the Iranians invade, he will try to destroy them. If al Qaeda (an organization he admires, which is why he rechristed “Monotheism and Jihad” as “al Qaeda in Iraq”) can attack New York, Washington, Madrid, surely someone it can attack Teheran and Qom. If mujahideen can assassinate people in the Netherlands, surely they could get to the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Eventually, his movement might prevail. Communism sure did. The Czar was overthrown. The Last Emperor of China was reeducated to be a gardener. It might take a century, but his preferred future is creatable. And he does not need an army. He does not need charisma. He only needs small cadres, and the will to violence.

(Though having faith in God and a promise of an eternal reward sure helps!)

Zarqawi is not crazy. He is only the salafist who does know better.

The Saddest Country

Japan’s free spirits,” BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3701748.stm, 24 January 2005.

When I was reading these articles (hat tip No Left Turns) I was going to tie some points together with my earlier discussion of aikokushin. In particular, I wanted to expound on how Tony Williams’ point

The meritocratic class has clearly gone the way of birth control and severely limiting family sizes for the most part. Their drive for later marriages or never marrying and when they do two incomes and devoting larger resources to fewer children indicates that the professional classes will not be at the vanguard of any population explosion. Actually, I’m surprised that the prediction for U.S. growth is so high with current trends in thinking and action.

plays into the banishment of patriotism of Japan’s school curriculum. And how Japan’s tilt leftwards during the Occupation is still hurting that land.

But once again, Japan got the better of me.

The pajamahideen-in-waiting

Bartender Shinichi Yoshimoto used to do a 16-hour day at a loan-sharking company. “I took the first train to the company, and I took the final train home,” he said.

But he gave it all up to become a “furita” – a term used to describe those who do part-time or short-term work.

Shinichi, who has travelled to nearly 40 countries, said his time abroad opened his eyes.

“I realised that life is very short, so I don’t have any time. Life is only for joy… I like losers like me.”

The farcicle

But not everyone is keen on Japan’s “losers”, who over the last decade have become an increasingly visible section of the population.

Hideaki Omura, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said 4 million furita out of a working population of 65 million was “very serious”.

We should enforce a policy to make young people get a proper job,” he said.

He stressed that furita do not pay income tax or make pension contributions.

“They work only when they want to, so… they are not the regular workforce that the country can rely on.

“They are young people, very lively with good skills and potential, but they don’t contribute their skills.”

The sad

Kei said some of Japan’s unskilled work was being outsourced to countries like China or Vietnam, and that corporate Japan was hiring fewer new recruits instead of cutting established staff.

“They (Neet [Not in Education — dropouts in a nation with no truancy laws]) cannot step into society again because they’re afraid of people and lack confidence. They don’t need to get into society again because of their parents,” Kei said.

What exacerbates their problem, says Yuji Genda, the author of a book on Neet, is their dislocation from a broad social spectrum.

“I have never met a Neet who doesn’t want to work. My impression is that they want to work too much. They think about what is the goal or concept of work too much. They are very serious.”

He said Neet had no real understanding of the world, for which he blamed shrinking social networks.

“There are lots of kids who have never talked to adults, apart from parents and teachers.”

The most heart-rending letter from the Dark Ages speaks of the growing old of the world. Japan has avoided most of the idiocy of Europe, and overseers a gentler society than America, and yet it is growing old.

Saniacs

The Rise of the DLC,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/1/24/16457/4867, 24 January 2005.

Personal connections often trump politics and ideology in South Dakota. Republican Governor Bill Janklow is close friends with Democratic former Senator Tom Daschle, for example. And the state is so one-party internally, that ideology has little meaning. Plus, its next door to Iowa. What this all leads to is that I was peripherally involved with Dean’s campaign in Iowa. Nonetheless, I was delighted (for the country) when he went down in flames and the “Deaniacs”/maniacs/insaniacs were replaced by “Saniacs.”

Perhaps no wing of the Democratic Party better promotes saniacs and sane policies than the Democratic Leadership Council. MyDD excepts a fascinating article on the DLC’s rise

Privately funded and operating as an extraparty organization without official Democratic sanction, and calling themselves “New Democrats,” the DLC sought nothing less than the miraculous: the transubstantiation of America’s oldest political party. Though the DLC painted itself using the palette of the liberal left–as “an effort to revive the Democratic Party’s progressive tradition,” with New Democrats being the “trustees of the real tradition of the Democratic Party”–its mission was far more confrontational. With few resources, and taking heavy flak from the big guns of the Democratic left, the DLC proclaimed its intention, Mighty Mouse-style, to rescue the Democratic Party from the influence of 1960s-era activists and the AFL-CIO, to ease its identification with hot-button social issues, and, perhaps most centrally, to reinvent the party as one pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a probusiness, pro-free market outlook.

Though it is undergoing turmoil now, I hope the DLC can gain control of the DNC and give President Bush real competition. I believe America already has one party worth voting for. We need two.

NCO v. 4GW

The Pentagon’s Debate Over What Iraq Means,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Command Post, http://www.command-post.org/oped/2_archives/018611.html, 24 January 2005.

With no comment other than “I need to learn more about this,” I present Dr. Barnett’s latest article:

The current fight between NCO and 4GW, over who “lost” the war in Iraq, is basically a repeat of the Rumsfeld-Shinseki argument. The 4GWers accuse NCOers of blindly stumbling from a 3GW victory over Saddam into a 4GW stalemate with the insurgency. But again, this accusation tends to conflate two very different situations: one the war, the other the subsequently botched peace. But the 4GW crowd’s answer can’t be simply, “Let’s get ready for counter-insurgencies because NCO is powerless to deal with them.”

In short, our choice isn’t between Network-Centric Operations or Fourth Generation Warfare, it’s how we focus each effectively on the logically-defined tasks of effective regime change, a list that covers both war and peace. A Pentagon debate that pits these two visions of war against one another is self-defeating and a waste of time. We must take advantage of the force-structure savings allowed by NCO (e.g., the smaller footprint) to build up our 4GW capabilities and marry those with the larger force requirements entailed in successful SysAdmin work.

Massacre of the Innocents

President Bush’s Second Term,” Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2005-01/15907171.pdf, 18 January 2005 (from The Corner).

Astoundingly great news

The liberal Los Angeles Times ran a poll on abortion. Among all respondents

Q65. Which comes closest to your view on abortion: Abortion should always be legal, or should be legal most of the time, or should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?

The results?

Always Legal: 24%
Legal with Exceptions: 19%
Ilegal Most of the Time: 41%
Always Illegal: 12%

In other words, 53% of Americans believe abortion should be mostly or always illegal, while only 43% of Americans believe it should be mostly or always lawful.

This is terrific news for a number of reasons. More than a generation after Roe v. Wade, proponents have been unable to built a toleration for mass infanticide. Of the extremists, most are proponents, making them easier to marginalize.

With a conservative President and a Republican Congress, we can expect real movement on this issue. Good.

Iraqi Dean?

Al-Yawir on the Chalabi Affair,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/al-yawir-on-chalabi-affair-lbc-arab.html, 24 January 2005.

Remember earlier discussion on the mysterious legal threats against Ahmed Chalabi? It may have been just the Iraqi version of Howard Dean running his mouth

[Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir] said that Hazem Shaalan is an Iraqi patriot, but has a tendency to express sharp opinions in public that do not represent those of the al-Iraqiyyun Party slate, nor even the interim Iraqi government. He pointed out that Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had distanced his government from some of Shaalan’s statements.

A possibly corrupt Iraqi version of Howard Dean, at that

Shaalan directed his threat against Chalabi after the latter revealed that Shaalan had sent $300 million in cash to a Beirut Bank. Shaalan says it was to buy tanks and other weapons for the Iraqi government. The United States is investigating the transfer of funds.

As goes democracy, so goes crazy politicians and corruption scandals. Good.

Guns of Iraq

Agreed,” by Mark Safranski, tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/22/no_longer_jordanian_candidate.html, 22 January 2005.

Mark, the author of Zen Pundit, writes

Allawi seems to have a fair amount of ruthlessness and smarts but without troops who will fight and die for him – something that springs only from true political legitimacy- it is a paper government. Even Ngo Dinh Diem had a greater core of popular support.

The key will be a true Shiite-Kurdish partnership, if they can get it together enough to move to non-zero sum oriented partnership, there’s some real hope for Iraq.

I agree with his thoughts on Allawi. He is also right that a true Shia-Kurdish partnership will mean a very strong an dhappy Iraq. But I believe there are other likely options for Iraq.

I’m not sure that “true political legitimacy” is needed for a real security force, though some sort of organization is. Between the Kurdish peshmerga and the SCIRI Badr Brigade you have an armed and experienced local fighting force. If the Iraqi government is close to failing, I believe that these elements will be relied on.

If the U.S. leaves and then the Iraqi government fails, another possible option is Iranian “peacekeepers.”

The anti-Iraqi forces have been largely successful in their goals so far. They have severly disrupted rebuilding efforts while making Sunni lands increasingly lawless. Nonetheless, they have many enemies, and the future they are creating is not one that they will like. And every possible future is better than Saddam’s regime.

Free Movement of People

I Am Officially Middle-Aged,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001445.html, 24 January 2005.

Once again, Dr. Barnett is right on

As I said on Blitzer: we shouldn’t be worried about an Iraq dominated by Shiites in bed with Iran, Iran should be worried about an Iraq led by Shiites that isn’t a theocracy.

I would go farther than Dr. Barnett. Iranian immigration, pilgrimages, and tourism to Iraq represent a significant victory in the Global War on Terrorism. Authoritarian regimes often limit information flows to their people by preventing free travel. Just today One Free Korea linked to a report of North Korean refugees seeking asylumn in a Japanese school. Meanwhile, Iran is letting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens move to and fro in Iraq.

Iran is not as nightmarish as North Korea, but nor is it harmless. Any regime that constantly refers to the Leader and has anti-Vice authorities is not free. Meanwhile, Iraq offers radically uncensored news and discussion, as well as a bewildering variety of political choices. Iraq also shows how Shia can stand up to murderous religious weirdos.

A free Iraq, and free movement of Iranians into Iraq, is Iran’s best hope for freedom. Let’s give it to them.

They Hate Their Freedom

Sure Sounds Like They Hate Our Freedom,” by “Mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/sure-sounds-like-they-hate-our-freedom.html, 23 January 2005.

The always informative Zen Pundit ways in on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s rant against Shia, democracy, and freedom. Comments his, emphasis mine

The always ghoulish Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a new tape declaring that democratic governance itself was blasphemous and that everyone involved in the Iraqi election, candidates, election officials and voters – all of them – should be killed:

We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it….Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion,” [he said, and that is ]”against the rule of God….Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy … You have to be careful of the enemy’s plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to … give the rejectionists[ Shiites?] the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists … and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise….For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God”

To further accent the point, Zarqawri’s group beheaded a couple of hapless Iraqis.

The more I hear of Zarqawri’s messages in context with his group’s terror tactics the more he seems like a fetishistic serial killer using Islamist mummery as window dressing. All of the voters are enemies of God? Millions of fellow Arab Sunni Muslims ?

Say what you want about Osama bin Laden but he isn’t out to annihilate his own people on a flimsy pretext by beheading them one or two at a time.

Even apart from the Big Lebowski reference, right on. It’s nice to see an enemy finally gave a coherent set of complaints. What’s interesting in the statement?

1. Zarqawi clearly spells out that Shia are the enemy. Good. This means that Secretary-designate Rice’s dual-track political-military plan is working. We have successfully turned part of the insurgency (al Qaeda in Iraq) against both the majority of the population and former insurgents (especially al Sadr’s Mahdi Army).

2. Zarqawi clearly states that democracy and freedom of religion are his enemies. Nice to hear.

3. Zarqawi is talking to Ba’athis. He warns them that they are in danger of being concquered by the Americans and being forcibly converted to Shiism. (Not that his plans are any gentler). I don’t know if he is trying to speak to the Ba’athi leadership or to lower-ranking members. If he is trying to speak to the leadership, and is honestly warning them that if they lose, they will be forced to await the Occupted Mahdi, it is sad. Could Zarqawi truly have such a simplistic view of the world that even secular Ba’athis are at heart good Sunnis like him? Alernatively, he may be trying to speak to the Ba’athi masses. Perhaps they are not truly indoctrinated, and are as malleable as he presumes.

If any of these possibilities are true, its good for us. An enemy deprived of situation awareness is a crippled enemy. And if the masses are nonideological, it opens the door to reconcilliation with the people after the leadership is crushed.

Thanks for the clarification, Abu.

The tDAxp eXPerience