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Michael Ubaldi, October 15, 2003.
Christopher Hitchens gets it right again. He recently interviewed the grandson of infamous theocrat Ayatollah Khomeni; the young man is a cleric himself, and an upstart enemy of the extremist religious establishment in Iran - so a natural ally to our cause of liberation. He knows what he wants:
It's not strictly necessary to speak to Hossein Khomeini to appreciate the latter point: Every visitor to Iran confirms it, and a large majority of the Iranians themselves have voted for anti-theocratic candidates. The entrenched and reactionary regime can negate these results up to a certain point; the only question is how long can they do so? Young Khomeini is convinced that the coming upheaval will depend principally on those who once supported his grandfather and have now become disillusioned. I asked him what he would like to see happen, and his reply this time was very terse and did not require any Quranic scriptural authority or explication. The best outcome, he thought, would be a very swift and immediate American invasion of Iran.
The arguments about genocide, terrorism, and WMD—in all of which I believe the Bush administration had (and has) considerable right on its side—are all essentially secondary to the overarching question: Does there exist in the Middle East a real constituency for pluralism and against theocracy and dictatorship. And can the exercise of outside force hope to release and encourage these elements?
Michael Ubaldi, October 15, 2003.
After considering a proposal, the Japanese government has settled on an initial delivery of monetary reconstruction aid for Iraq:
Japan will give 1.5 billion dollars (165 billion yen) to Iraq in 2004 to help rebuild the war-torn country, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda announced Wednesday.
Michael Ubaldi, October 5, 2003.
The Dow Jones isn't the only market to be riding a steady, upward slope:
Asian stocks rose this week, with benchmarks in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Australia having their biggest gains in at least six weeks.
Michael Ubaldi, October 5, 2003.
Just like an ally:
The government is considering a plan to provide around $5 billion, or about 550 billion yen, to help reconstruct Iraq in the four years beginning in fiscal 2004, government sources said Saturday.
Michael Ubaldi, September 24, 2003.
Another speech was made to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 24th:
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi took North Korea to task at the UN General Assembly, calling on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
Japan is also considering loosening military restrictions set in place by the pacifist constitution we wrote for them. More Kawaguchi:
The government should pursue a more flexible interpretation of the Constitution's war-renouncing Article 9 and allow the Self-Defense Forces to make a greater contribution to global peacekeeping efforts, according to Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi. "I think we should continue to place importance on Article 9. But perhaps there are other ways to interpret it," Kawaguchi told journalists shortly after her reappointment Monday.
Michael Ubaldi, September 20, 2003.
Koizumi rides again:
Easily defeating his three challengers in Saturday's election, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was swept to victory for another term at the helm of the Liberal Democratic Party.
As the Wall Street Journal cautiously observed last week, Koizumi will have won enough political capital to do just that - follow through with the reforms he's promised for two years. The international community is likely to readily rise with America's economic incline alone - but their markets could certainly benefit from a sobering Japan. Go to, Mr. Koizumi.
Michael Ubaldi, September 17, 2003.
Getting serious with Pyongyang, on any number of issues, seems to be a shared popular desire:
The Japanese families of people abducted to North Korea on Wednesday marked the first anniversary of the historic visit by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Pyongyang by demanding that the Japanese government take a tougher stance to settle the abduction issue.
UPDATE: And North Korea has made it more than obvious that it's erratic and dishonest at the negotiating table with any party - for a dictatorship, at that. Don't expect any gentlemen's frameworks to be agreed upon in the near future; that goes for Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.
Michael Ubaldi, September 16, 2003.
Steven caught a quiet press report about a possible Chinese military buildup on the North Korean border. And he did write about a possible Chinese occupation of North Korea. I e-mailed him a question a few days ago about China's potential for mischief while America's alliance is occupied with terrorists and host states, and must have missed it. Do the Chinese intend to declare eminent domain on Kim Jong Il and his 120,000 square kilometer prison? I'm certain they'd try if they were confident they could get away with it. Most of the rest of the world, more than happy to qualify China as "not as bad" as North Korea, would accept Chinese occupation, U.N. mandate or not. Depending on the strategic stakes involved, the Bush administration - surprisingly deferential to the Chinese over the past three years - might go along with the idea as well.
But that's been my worry: In a global political climate popularizing security from terrorists and tyrant states (the latter a classification from which China is inexplicably excused), China's oligarchy would step in, smile for cameras about "doing their part," and absorb a neighbor or two. As Michael Ledeen pointed out shortly after September 11th, economic success risks being galvanized into nationalistic, authoritarian ambitions, and much of our "engagement" amounts to feeding a hungry lion in an attempt to tame it:
Mr. Bush has to contend with the present state of affairs, and must evaluate the risks and challenges of contemporary China. Classical fascism was the product of war, and its leaders praised military virtues and embarked upon military expansion. Chinese leaders often proclaim a peaceful intent, yet they are clearly preparing for war, and have been for many years. Optimists insist that China is not expansionist, but optimists pooh-poohed Hitler's imperialist speeches too, and there is a lot of Chinese rhetoric that stresses Beijing's historic role, as if there were an historic entitlement to superpower status.
Having just left political fashion of the Cold War and those years' unfortunate need for some moral equivalence, no elected leader over the past twelve years has bluntly warned the world's dictatorships that they lack the authority and reputation to participate freely in maintaining the security of the world (e.g., they're the sole reason for instability). Exceptions are made for strategic purposes, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but for how long? It's very likely that the most capable despots will seek conquest - internal or external - under the auspices of global justice (for real, not like the lame accusations against Bush by the nihilist left and isolationist right).
However polite and sophisticated, China is a dictatorship and until Beijing's regime finally falls, its purported good intentions should be viewed as suspicious at best. "World responsibility" aside, the country's treatment of its uncooperative citizens and conquered territories speaks volumes. Receiving the blessing of their democratic military and economic superior - the United States - for removing Kim Jong Il and his nuke-tipped histrionics would be a great prize, and would enable the Chinese to move south at their leisure. And remember: in an invasion, they wouldn't bind themselves to the same "economically disadvantageous" humanitarian concerns as South Korea or the United States. So as Steven kids, "so how is your realpolitik?"
Interesting as this development is - assuming we can describe it as that - if a Chinese expansion goes unchallenged, it doesn't bode well for the world ten or twenty years down the road.
UPDATE: John Derbyshire happened to write about China today, and the topic is Tibet's plight. Free China, he says, and you free Tibet. Indeed. A wealth of culture and ingenuity in both places, under the thumb of tyrants - that's a crime.
Michael Ubaldi, September 12, 2003.
Improved business spending and better prospects for exporters prompted the Japanese government to raise its official reading on the economy for the second straight month on Friday, though officials stopped short of saying a full recovery was under way.
Japan is on the verge of a great opportunity. Here's to hoping they make the best of it.
Michael Ubaldi, September 11, 2003.
Koorosh Afshar sent me word of his latest essay in Iran va Jahan:
You might still remember that our youth, the new generation of the Iranians, we, were the only people among the Middle Eastern countries, while opposing the ruling mullahs, poured into the streets and held candle light vigils to show our solidarity with the Americans, quite contrary to the vile policies of our government. At the time this seemed quite sufficient to disclose to others as to how we felt about the 9/11 tragedy.