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Michael Ubaldi, July 27, 2004.
Michael Ubaldi, July 21, 2004.

And you thought we'd forgotten: Saturn probe Cassini-Huygens is still taking pictures of the ringed planet. Meanwhile, Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, working far beyond their anticipated operational cycle, continue to troll about the Red Planet. Opportunity spied some clouds.

Michael Ubaldi, July 10, 2004.

Yesterday I was indeed thinking about Iranians and the fifth anniversary of their pro-democracy uprisings. Though I had nothing to put into words, President Bush did:

There are people inside of Iran who are watching what's happening — young, vibrant, professional people who want to be free. And they're wondering whether or not they'll have the opportunity. ...We see the struggle in Iran, where tired, discredited autocrats are trying to hold back the democratic will of a rising generation.

...The rule of free peoples will come to the Middle East. ...[Americans] will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.

According to Iranian expatriate Pejman Yousefzadeh and Google News, not a word was said about the Iranian struggle by the president's opponent.

Michael Ubaldi, July 2, 2004.

What's the best way to show totalitarian China that the free world means business? Send seven American aircraft carrier strike groups on a little exercise within arm's reach of the mainland. Throw in some joint operations with the Taiwanese. It's a smart move, and a message the Red Dragon won't forget.

Michael Ubaldi, June 27, 2004.

I've watched the rethinking of a pacifist constitution work its way up through Japan, from pols to the public. After several months, the question of the fifty-two-year-old democracy's military defense and assertion has settled at the top:

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Sunday Japan's war-renouncing Constitution should be revised to enable self-defense.

Koizumi said such an amendment is necessary to carry out joint actions by the Self-Defense Forces with the U.S. military, based on Japan-U.S. security arrangements, Kyodo News Service reported Sunday. He also said the SDF's existence as a military force and its role in international activities should be stated in the Constitution.

"It would be strange for SDF troops not to take joint action with U.S. forces at times when the U.S. forces are being attacked. This should be straightened out in the Constitution," Koizumi said.

Koizumi's Japan is on the cusp of an incredible season change; one that, as I've explained in the first two links, leaves the free world richer at no better a time. America has protected and expanded freedom since the end of the Second World War, often single-handedly. Our unique global philosophy aside, it's no wonder the United States has been able to do so — nations that were free before 1945 spent decades recovering in the shadow of the Soviet Union, and nations democratized thereafter have trod the long path to stability and normalcy. But the difficult task of continuing defense against and elimination of authoritarianism is made easier with regionwide help from allies; American Cold War garrisons should be replaced with native troops, continuing the mission but correctly reassigning the burden. While Continental Europe seems to lack interest in its ability to protect regional interests against tyranny, Japan has made concrete steps to become a true regional power. We can only hope this trend continues.

Michael Ubaldi, June 24, 2004.

Let's not forget the horrors we leave behind when just wars are suspended without total victory. For more reality checks on Number Three of the Axis of Evil, North Korea, spend a little bit of time reading, seeing and learning at the Chosun Journal.

Michael Ubaldi, June 24, 2004.

My latest forward from Banafshah Zand-Bonazzi is a flyer advertising peaceful demonstrations for action against Iran's Islamofascist regime to be held in the United States, Canada, Germany, England, Sweden and Denmark. Here are details for the American dates:

Washington, D.C. Place: The Western Side of the Capitol Building Time: Thursday, July 8, 2004 from 11 a.m. Organized by The Committee for Tir 18 Demonstrations

Los Angeles
Place: The Federal Building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd. (Westwood area)
Time: Wednesday, July 7, 2004 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Organized by The Committee for Tir 18 Demonstrations

Place: In Front of Arden Mall
Time: July 4th at 7:00 PM
Organized by Hormoz 916-213-6944

It's a shame that regular protests have become, at least in public perception, the domain of anti-capitalist and crypto-Stalinist groups that scream about peace and justice but through their muddled, contradictory statements, end up supporting — implicitly or explicitly — the designs of tyranny. [A little moral equivalence goes a long way.] Here we find demonstrations run for and by Iranians, inviting their friends and allies to call for "Freedom, Secularism and Democracy." That's a protest. That's the moral authority.

Michael Ubaldi, June 23, 2004.

Find a South Korean willing to place blame for regional insecurity on people who deserve it, and Reuters will makes sure you know he's not just an ordinary South Korean. A conservative, even!

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2004.

Japanese politics might be "the game across the street," but its players could teach ours a thing or two about gumption and color. Here's femme fatale Makiko Tanaka on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi:

"He is like a street performer," she told reporters. "He will do various things like juggling, breathing fire and riding a unicycle, but when things go against him, he just folds up his wrapping cloth and withdraws."

Such talent! Tanaka, as you may recall, switched from the Liberal Democratic Party to the Democratic Party of Japan after falling out with LDP leadership and has no shortage of sour grapes. Koizumi, meanwhile, has presided over Japan's most remarkable progress as a benevolent world power, as well as an economic boom that even the most cautious observers believe is no happy accident:

Japan's economy is "gathering strong momentum" as rising corporate profits generate job growth, the central bank said in its monthly report, adding it was more optimistic about the outlook for the first time since April.

"Rising production and corporate profits are starting to spread to the labour market," Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui said in Tokyo. The bank yesterday dropped the word "gradual" from its description of a recovery for the first time since the nation's asset price bubble burst in 1991.

Prime Minister Koizumi bested a no-confidence vote thrown at him by the DPJ and two other minority parties, and seems likely to continue his slow drive toward bank and market reform. The game goes on.

Michael Ubaldi, June 15, 2004.

I received a forwarded news report from Iranian freedom advocate Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi — and it's troubling. My heart skipped a beat when I first read it. But we've known our enemies since the days right after Saddam's statue fell. Here it is:

Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum.

The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, monitored in Beirut, reports Iran has massed four battalions at the border.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted "reliable Iraqi sources" as saying, "Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory."

Though the Iranian people are our friends and mutual admirers, their rulers seek empowerment, failure of a free Iraq and America's destruction. (To think those of us who suggested using military power last year to keep Iran and Syria, associate architects of Iraq's troubles, in check were accused of being "cavalier.") If you haven't considered this war a war against Near East dictatorships as well, that the freedom offered by a nation speaks conversely to its danger to us — now's the time to wake up.