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Michael Ubaldi, March 16, 2004.
 

People of Iran, we hear you.

 
 
 
 
Michael Ubaldi, March 14, 2004.
 

Democracy in Iran: brought to you by the Iranian people.

I've expressed my doubts about internal democratic revolution against a modern dictatorship. But if homegrown is possible, let it be!

And another thing: where does the left stand on this? Do they encourage the largely student-populated revolution to resist the mullahs? Would they intervene to ensure democratization? Or do they simply hate George W. Bush?

 
 
 
 
Michael Ubaldi, March 11, 2004.
 

Bill Federer:

On February 11, 1861, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln delivered a Farewell Speech in Springfield, Illinois, as he left for Washington, D.C. Lincoln stated:
"I now leave, not knowing when or whether...I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well."


Harry Truman was right, I contend, when he said "I've always believed that religion is something to live by and not talk about." But of course I'm happy to make a few exceptions.

 
 
 
 
Michael Ubaldi, March 10, 2004.
 

  • Japanese troops are in Iraq, and their presence is a sign of Japan's coming of age in world affairs. But that doesn't mean the politicians and public who sent them there aren't skittish:

    Japan will launch a media campaign in Iraq this month in support of its humanitarian effort in the southeastern part of the country, the Defense Agency said Wednesday. ...The mission, involving about 1,000 troops in Japan's biggest military operation overseas since World War II, has been dogged by concerns at home about the safety of the force.

    The advertisements aim to help the Self-Defense Forces to carry out their humanitarian mission smoothly by informing the Iraqi public of the troops' activities in detail," a Defense Agency spokesman said.


    I'm hoping, for the sake of manhood, that the SDF avoids running commercials like this. Who am I to argue, though, if that's what will keep the average Japanese voter confident of their country's changing - and maturing - foreign policy?


  • In other news, Japan is choosing to shift the arterial flow of monetary loans, the Official Development Assistance, from China to India. According to the Asia Times, it's a decision made partly out of self-interest, with Tokyo's budget woes demanding some fiscal austerity and partly out of economic opportunism as - however muscular the Chinese Reds may be - India's place as the fifth largest economy is well worth Japanese attention (and investment). In the face of this loss of stature, China still enjoys a remarkably extensive economic relationship with its island neighbor; the Times describes a curious array of bilateral agreements on the regional and local level:

    More than just in the area of economic linkages, subnational governments of Japan and China are forging strong ties in educational, cultural and scientific fields through sister-city agreements, whose numbers are increasing by the year.


    We can only hope our friends in Tokyo are passing on the ideals of democracy. But totalitarian or not, China's commerce makes the Pacific go 'round. And Japan's turn to India seems unlikely to change that.

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    Michael Ubaldi, March 3, 2004.
     

    This is a curious development:

    Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and visiting French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin agreed Tuesday that the two countries should cooperate on reconstructing Iraq. They emphasized the importance of consorted international efforts as well as the involvement of the United Nations in the Iraq effort, Japanese officials said.

    Later Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and de Villepin agreed that Tokyo and Paris will cooperate in providing aid to Iraq in cultural, medical, sports and other fields. Aid projects include rebuilding Iraq's national museum, supporting Iraqi athletes hoping to compete in international meets and training Iraqi doctors in Egypt.


    Especially as it comes on the heels of this Parisian endorsement, one day before:

    France supports Japan's desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said here Monday, also urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.

    "For France, Japan is naturally cut out to become a member of the Security Council...," de Villepin said on his first visit to Japan since he took up the post of foreign minister in 2002. This would be a "reflection of the weight, the influence and responsibilities" that Japan holds internationally, he said.

    Japan wants to join the elite Security Council, which groups China, the United States, France, Britain and Russia, arguing its hefty UN dues have earned it the right.


    Japan deserves greater prominence and respect in world affairs; if the United Nations must remain the medium for that ascendance, so be it (for now). But considering France's exclusion from prime contracting for Iraqi reconstruction, Jacques Chirac would have every reason to send his foreign minister around to court whomever would be willing to cut the Gauls a subcontractor's bid or three. The French government also has quite a steep hill to climb in convincing Iraqis of its good intentions - if there are any - so public works projects through the association of a foreign presence already revered by Iraqis may be Chirac's best bet.

     
     
     
     
    Michael Ubaldi, February 26, 2004.
     

    Koorosh Afshar e-mailed me this morning about his latest essay in National Review. The Iranians, he writes, are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore:

    Throughout the day on February 20, I went to different parts of Tehran to observe for myself what was going on at the polling stations. To my great pleasure, there were only few people at any of them. Although the regime had done its best to urge everyone to participate in the elections, brave Iranians were far more determined to tell the world and the regime, again, that they are tired, and are on the verge of achieving their much longed-for change.

    Iranians abstained from the elections not because of the prohibition against Khatamist candidates, but because we almost all of us this time have finally realized that our goal can only be achieved "over" the Islamic republic, not "through" it. The vision of tomorrow's secular Iran will prevail, and soon. With or without the rest of the world's help, we are determined to paralyze and eventually oust the militants of the Islamic regime.

    This weekend showed that our efforts have nearly, after all this time, borne the fruit we have striven for all these years: freedom.


    "Victory is ours, dear Michael!" he wrote. "We will win."

    If Iranians wrest control of their country from the mullahs, the democratic world wins. Revolutionaries like Koorosh believe they can win independence alone. He more than anyone would understand the gravity of the situation, true, but the free world should prepare itself to provide every measure of support to Iran's liberation. They need us as much as we need them.

     
     
     
     
    Michael Ubaldi, February 24, 2004.
     

    Ask and ye shall receive. The Wall Street Journal today:

    So when are President Bush's critics, including those in his own State Department, going to concede that he was right all along to include Iran in the "axis of evil"?

    Now would seem to be an apt moment, after last Friday's sham election in which Tehran's ruling clerics bullied their way to a majority in what passes for a parliament. The mullahs also fessed up over the weekend to yet another instance of deceiving U.N. nuclear inspectors, conveniently ahead of a report this week from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammed el Baradei.

    ...We should have learned by now [that appeasement] is a fool's game, entirely at odds with Mr. Bush's "forward strategy of freedom" in the Middle East. Now is precisely the time for Mr. Bush to show solidarity with the majority of Iranians who want greater freedom, just as Ronald Reagan spoke up for the people of Poland in the early 1980s.


    Caught by Kathryn Lopez of National Review:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 24, 2004

    STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

    I am very disappointed in the recently disputed parliamentary elections in Iran. The disqualification of some 2,400 candidates by the unelected Guardian Council deprived many Iranians of the opportunity to freely choose their representatives. I join many in Iran and around the world in condemning the Iranian regime's efforts to stifle freedom of speech — including the closing of two leading reformist newspapers — in the run-up to the election. Such measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people's desire to freely choose their leaders.

    The United States supports the Iranian people's aspirations to live in freedom, enjoy their God-given rights, and determine their own destiny.


    Excellent, Mr. Bush. Now elaborate and follow through. Tehran deserves to be the capital of a democratic nation.

     
     
     
     
    Michael Ubaldi, February 20, 2004.
     

    Weblogs and news agencies will be closely tracking events in Iran as the mullocracy blatantly shows its contempt for human liberty and dignity by holding sham elections and squelching protest. Amir Taheri writes in the New York Post with some powerful, if ugly, truths:

    For its part, the Bush administration needs to develop a coherent analysis of the Iranian situation. It must decide whether or not Iran is, in the words of the State Department's No. 2, Richard Armitage, a "sort of democracy," or a despotic regime using religion and violence to remain in power.

    Short-term realpolitik may counsel an accommodation with the present regime in Tehran, much as it has determined Washington's China policy. But that would mean the premature death of President Bush's ambitious plan for "a new Middle East." It would also give the Islamic Republic time to assemble an arsenal of nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction, which the Tehran leadership regards as its best insurance policy.


    Taheri calls this the "death of illusion." We can only hope that for Washington and President Bush's diplomatic agents, this is the death of complacency. Instapundit has more, and will likely add several links as the day passes.

     
     
     
     
    Michael Ubaldi, February 9, 2004.
     

    Japan keeps the smart unilateralism coming:

    A bill opening the way for Japan to unilaterally impose economic sanctions on North Korea was passed into law Monday.

    The bill to amend the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law cleared a plenary session of the House of Councillors Monday night.

    Two ruling coalition parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito -- as well as the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted for the bill. The opposition Social Democratic Party, which supported the bill in the House of Representatives, abstained from voting in the Upper House on the grounds that they should see the results of six-nation consultations on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

    The revised law enables the government to increase its pressure on Pyongyang to solve disputes over the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea.


    A bill sponsored not only by the LDP, Japan's de facto ruling political party, but by the DPJ, the strongest minority party and one that opposed military deployment to Iraq, is law with nearly all of Japan behind it. In the Houses of Representatives and Councillors, votes passed with overwhelming support. This is yet another sign, I'm happy to report, of a Japan steadily gaining confidence under Junichiro Koizumi's leadership. As the Japanese continue to take matters into their own hands, they will inevitably depend less on international busybodies - including the United Nations - and more on their own moral compass, national pride, military strength and genuine allies. In the short term, this strengthening of Japanese resolve may allow the United States to circumvent China more and more when dealing with North Korea. But most importantly, Japan's confidence can only impress other democracies to act swiftly, decisively and apologetically against threatening despots. Bravo.

     
     
     
     
    Michael Ubaldi, February 3, 2004.
     

    Close observers of Iran probably suspected that this would come eventually:

    More than one-third of Iran's Parliament resigned Sunday to protest a sweeping ban on candidates running in the parliamentary election later this month. The defiant move threatened to plunge Iran's political system into chaos.

    One by one, angry lawmakers who have held a three-week sit-in at the huge Parliament building, marched up to the podium and handed their resignations to the speaker. In an emotional statement read aloud during the session of Parliament on Sunday and broadcast live across the nation on Iranian radio, the members who resigned accused powerful conservatives of seeking to impose a religious dictatorship like that of the Taliban, who were overthrown by American-led forces in Afghanistan.

    "We cannot continue to be present in a Parliament that is not capable of defending the rights of the people and that is unable to prevent elections in which the people cannot choose their representatives," the statement said.


    Jason of Maroonblog worries that the mass resignation could be the catalyst for civil war - goodness knows that the Iranian people have been desperately struggling against their theocratic government for years. But can Tehran's terrorist-grooming mullahs possibly be expected to peacefully facilitate their own extraction from power? Read Michael Ledeen, and the mere suggestion of negotiation with Iran's terror apparatus is both dangerous and ahistorically foolish. According to a report, student protests - even peaceful demonstrations - have already been banned by the regime.

    I increasingly doubt that Iran can be brought to democracy peacefully; when last year's July 9th protests were violently and brutally dispersed, the mullahs proved their disregard for the sanctity of life - let alone rational dialogue. But those who fear for Iran's democrats in the event of sustained, armed conflict should know that the President of the United States has pledged, in so many words, support for Iranian self-government. His sentiments are still reflected by policy. If it is civil war to which this turmoil leads, the man who marked Iran's Islamofascists as part of an Axis of Evil won't leave the country to the same fate as 1956 Hungary.

    PARSING MY LAST LINE: One motivation for Bush's likely action is philanthropic. The other is strategic, as Iran's mullahs are contributing to terrorism and political unrest in Iraq. As Michael Ledeen puts it, "We will never get a firm grip on Iraq until the regime is changed in Tehran." He's right. Democracy is our greatest weapon against terror and oppression.