Wednesday, May 25, 2005

PLAYING CHOPSTICKS WITH BONES

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Picture by Yola Monakhov for the NYT
Uzbekistan: when the massacre happened, Culture of Life News compared it to Tiananmin Square. The ruler of Uzbekistan is a neo-Stalinist who is ramming "modernism" down people's throats. Like in America, there is a visible religious backlash. Actually, like much of the Muslim world, the peasants and townspeople, frustrated, cling to old ways, hoping to find some surety in rough seas.

In Afghanistan just last week, American troops fired on unarmed demonstrators. Then blamed Newsweek for everything. For the last two years we have masscred and murdered wontonly in Iraq. Not a peep from our press about all of this. "Bringing freedom and democracy" they crow as the blood flows. The NYT today attacks Uzbekistan and China.
The government of China offered unequivocal support on Tuesday for President Islam A. Karimov of Uzbekistan, who is facing international criticism for the crackdown against a prison break and antigovernment rally in the northeastern city of Andijon earlier this month.The support came amid fresh signs that the scale of violence exceeded what the Uzbek authorities have described, and as residents of Andijon and rights groups warned that roundups had begun inside Uzbekistan in an effort to squelch dissent.

With essential facts about the violence still in dispute, China made clear that it would stand beside the authoritarian government of Mr. Karimov, who was to begin a three-day visit with Chinese leaders on Wednesday.

"We firmly support the crackdown on the three forces of separatism, terrorism and extremism by the Uzbekistan government," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kong Quan, said at a news conference in Beijing, according to news agency reports.

Mr. Kong's statement cemented a stark split between the West on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, over the behavior of the Uzbek authorities, who have been accused of firing indiscriminately into antigovernment crowds on May 13, possibly killing hundreds. Several Western governments, NATO and the European Union have called for an independent investigation.
OK. Quik. Tell me about the investigation into the shooting of demonstrators in either Iraq or Afghanistan? Not a peep. Nor is there an investgation into why American troops are in Uzbekistan, supporting this evil dictator who is "killing his own people". Nor are the troops being pulled out in protest.

America's own ruler loves to talk about freedom and liberty which is why Padillo, accused of no crime, tried by no court, languished in a windowless cell in America. Even as Amnesty International condemns American crimes against prisoners, the NYT gets all huffy about Uzbekistan. Not Israel.

China has no need to pretend to be for liberty while granting none at home. They are the ultimate in Real Politik and thus continue to cement their own borders and this means working with whoever rules whatever. They are not there to change governments. Only cooperation is what they seek.

Sort of like...the USA! Geeze. We really aren't changing much of anything. Obviously, we want a new Saddam to subdue Iraq and we are trying to recast Karzai as a good puppet who can make Afghanistan "go away".

Meanwhile, North and South Korea probe ways of dealing with each other directly. Like the rapproachment between the two Chinas, this artifact of the Cold War is finally melting.
South Korea's top officials and lawmakers are set to rush into North Korea with its nuclear standoff facing a critical juncture.

The officials and lawmakers describe their trips to Pyongyang as a rare chance to improve inter-Korean ties and to persuade North Korea to return to the negotiating table on the nuclear dispute. But critics say the visits may be used by North Korea to trigger a sense of Korean nationalism to jointly cope with the U.S. threats.

Some 20 ruling and opposition lawmakers plan to travel to North Korea on June 14-17 to mark the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, which resulted in a series of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation programs.
In the absence of American influence, the stalemate there is becoming much more dynamic. With the China/Japan dispute heating up, both Koreas are free finally to begin some sort of dialogue.
The North poured out anti-American rhetoric — a tactic it has used in the past before entering negotiations — by claiming that Washington's "hostile policies" led it to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent and warning against any attack to dislodge its leadership.

"The United States should be aware that the choice of a pre-emptive attack is not only theirs," the North's official news agency quoted the state-run newspaper Minju Joson as saying. "To stand against force with force is our unswerving method of response."
The fact that North Korea can say these things even as they basically lay down their arms for the South Koreans is a serious loss of face for America. We shouldn't have gotten ourselves into this box in the first place with the famous Bush "Munich" speech about the "Axis of Evil" garbage.

The Chinese, meanwhile, follows rather rigidly the rules of diplomatic engagement, what with Japan deciding to really get down and dirty. The Chinese picked the Koizumi visits to the shrine because it is easily fixed but the real object is very serious: opening Japan to free trade. America has tried for thirty years, completely in vain, to open Japan to full free trade. We allow them freedom here while they have a million legal and not legal but simple boycotting of foreign goods running in their homeland. This has kept all competitors at bay.

The Chinese want all barriers down, now. The Japanese need some excuse, no matter how flimsy, to keep them up while trading with China.

Unlike the American Presidents who have all been purchased by the Japanese so they pretend to negotiate while not doing a thing, the Chinese leadership are not going to take bribes so fast, the penalty is death if political currents flow the wrong way. They are intent on winning this battle and it is pretty likely they will succeed, in the end. Or Japan will flounder when the Chinese play knives in the dark economics.

And what about Russia? Russia doesn't condemn Uzbekistan's dictator for crushing rebellion. Heck, look at Chechnya!
Multinational corporations and Russian oligarchs should be making bonfires out of their external-relations strategies in Russia over the holiday season.

So many companies and their advisers had based their strategies on blatant defiance and absolute disrespect for the law, sponsoring corruption and funding political opposition, that the new Russia with enforceable laws under President Vladimir Putin seems an alien place they will have to get used to fast. Russian corporate public-relations agencies and executives who took on the role that the electorate deprived the Yeltsin power elite of by voting it out of parliament in 2003 will have to assume lesser roles of being corporate executives with commercial aims only. Anything more - any political games, meddling with sovereign affairs and fuelling anti-Russia fires - will put their businesses at immeasurable risks.
This is the final result of the American take over of Ukraine and Uzbekistan and other gnarly places of "freedom and American troops". As we fill the Soviet vacuum, we talk just like them, condemning only those massacres we don't care about while behaving beastly in our military dominions. Since we are going Soviet, it shouldn't surprise us that the Soviets are doing likewise!

Just remember the pictures of Bush gabbing happily as Putin had grim Soviet troops and flags stream past.
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