Case for 3-Party Talks

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The North Koreans recently test fired a missile, the Pukguksong-2.

Maybe this is a violation of the UN Security Council resolution, maybe not. Curious, though, that all 5 permanent members of the Security Council have giant arsenals of nuclear missiles, and North Korea gets a lot of grief for testing one rocket without a warhead on it…

But if the test violates the resolution then let the wheels of the international system turn…

Meantime, it is especially easy for me to conclude that the Six Party Talks will always be doomed to failure for two reasons.

First, the Six Party Talks include the US and Japan, and those two countries unfortunately cannot lower the temperature in the pressure cooker of the Korean peninsula. The US has tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea. So on one level, the US is part of the problem (at least for North Korea, and that counts).

The US never should have led a UN intervention into Korea in the first place. Let us assume North Korea would have taken over the entire peninsula in 1950. It would not have evolved as a cornered regime, and instead North Korea would have evolved along a path closer to that of China – a single-party state, but with a flexible, legalistic model, with an underlying market economy, and with largely cooperative relationships with the West.

If the US withdraws its military from South Korea, and if Japan and Russia back away from the issue, then the problem of the Korean peninsula will be solved by China and North and South Korea. Or it will not be solved. But I am guessing it will be solved.

The second reason the Six Party Talks are doomed to failure is because, well, if my father Stephen Bosworth, as Special Envoy to North Korea, could not solve this problem then the problem, as framed, has no solution.

Anyone who knew my father well – including the North Koreans – recognized that he ranked among the best, brightest and most honorable of American career diplomats. And arguably at the top of that pile. He was tested as Ambassador three times in three difficult situations.

In reality, under the Six Party framework, the best that can be hoped for is a tacit acceptance of the status quo. Nothing will change for the better, only for the worse.

It is time to move to a Three Party framework.

Yeah, let the Chinese and Koreans sort it all out. They probably will. Why stand in their way?

 

Fake News?

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NBC started the rumor I believe. That Russia was considering handing Edward Snowden over to the Trump administration to curry favor. This does not seem like a legitimate story.

First I really doubt that the Russian government would consider such a move, which would be condemned within Russia itself.

Second I really doubt that the Trump administration wants to deal with the political fallout at home of a Snowden return. This would split the conservatives and the libertarians. Conservatives are statists when it is convenient for them; and libertarians prioritize freedom of information over national security. Both groups are found among Trump supporters, so there would be infighting.

Is Snowden’s response to the rumor even accurate? Did he really tweet that he would look forward to being extradited back to the US? Or is this just more fake news?

Apparently Snowden – unlike Assange – does not have the full Apocalypse files. If he did he would enjoy a certain amount of immunity – or extra-judicial protection you might say. If he released those files, and if anyone still wanted to go after him, well, those people would be very easy targets.

I’m disappointed that Snowden would really consider a lifetime behind bars or consider facing execution. Whatever his crimes might have been, they pale beside those who have abused power, lied to Congress, and operated outside the bounds of the Constitution of the United States.

For that reason Snowden should be unwilling to ever face “justice” in the United States. If Russia is really toying with the idea of handing Snowden over (which I doubt), he simply needs to go to the airport and find a new country.

This world is like a theme park with many rides. And yet most people choose to take the same ride over and over, all day long (living in one country that is). Snowden should just throw his life to the wind and see where it takes him.

 

 

Going Home

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This story is making the news in China and India.

A Chinese soldier is finally returning home, after living a life in India with an Indian wife and children.

There is a link below the video.

Chinese Soldier Who Crossed Over Border In 1963 To Fly Home

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/chinese-soldier-wang-qi-to-visit-home-after-5-decades-in-india/articleshow/57086264.cms

 

Give the Guy A Break

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Milo Yiannopoulos likes to say outrageous stuff on his lecture tours. Instead of being welcomed, university student groups are increasingly shutting him down. Their protests are making it impossible to hold these events.

It seems that the snowflake generation can’t really stand to listen to views opposed to their own, and they certainly can’t take a joke.

Moreover, snowflakes are doing little to combat a truly pernicious feature of life on American campuses and in the States in general: boredom.

Milo is out of the mainstream of thinking, and it is precisely for this reason that his lectures are thought-provoking and entertaining.

Campuses were once marketplaces for ideas; now they are just Wal-Mart.

 

Food Crisis

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I would say that there is a food crisis going on in the United States.

First, average life expectancy is beginning to edge downward, as diabetes and other related illnesses take their toll. Second, even average male height dopped a bit and became lower than the European average, largely because American food is so nutrient deprived. Much of the food is genetically-modified, sugary, salty, chemical laden, overly processed…

Third, obesity rates are through the roof… Nothing wrong with people having some extra poundage, but American obesity rates are now at world-historic levels.

I was a normal 177 lbs just before going to the US, and now I’m am back at 177 – but not before spiking at 187 for the few weeks that I was in the US. It was unavoidable, and I struggled to eat right.

Long aisles for potato chips. All kinds… How many different kinds of cereal can there be in a single universe? Cooler after cooler for soft drinks. It was difficult to find anything halfway decent. Maybe a yogurt. A tasteless apple.

Eating healthy in the US means shelling out serious cash for at specialty stores like Trader Joes or whatever. The healthier the item, the more expensive it is…

You could ask America’s worst enemies to design its system of food availability, its distribution of fast food chains, and you would end up with something similar to what we have.

 

Orderfollowers

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Few people in the media are making the argument – ethical, legal and political…

Hopefully the courts will make the distinction between right and wrong. I think it might take several court cases to do this.

The executive branch will probably witness confirmation that it can suspend new visa applications from specific countries, but that it must honor all existing visas – tourist, employment, residency, unless it wants to submit each visa holder to due process in a court of law.

That should have been the policy all along, in hindsight. The administration should have simply said “guess what? we are no longer accepting new visa applications from these countries until we establish a better vetting system” or something to that effect.

What ended up  happening was a political mistake as well as a terrible injustice to people who already had a visa. In the process, we got to witness how immigration officials at airports operate without a concience.

For example, at Dulles Airport a 5-year old Iranian tourist was detained in handcuffs at one point… How does something like that even begin to happen?

Did the Trump administration really intend to suspend the visas of ordinary Middle Eastern students and family members as they were in mid flight?

I refuse to believe anyone can be this politically reckless. Somewhere, someone on on the sidelines – the usual puppet masters – gave this order its grotesque form, and then manipulated it into existence. I mean, consider the alternative: that this administration is trying to sabotage itself.

Iranophobia?

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Reasonable people can disagree over Iran’s recent missile tests, and whether or not these violate nuclear treaties.

It is difficult, however, for US Defense Secretary James Mattis to accuse Iran of being a “state sponsor of terrorism” after it has spent so many years fighting terrorism in Syria.

Russia dismissed the US claim that Iran sponsors terrorism, and it knows something about this from being involved in Syria.

There are only two sides in the conflict in Syria. One side represents the only real legitimate force in the country: the government of Syria, with representation in the UN General Assembly. This secular government is allied with Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese party Hezbollah.

The other side of the conflict includes terrorists only. These mostly jihadist organizations seek to illegally overthrow the Syrian government, and they are backed by the European Union, the UK, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (although Turkey seems to have largely switched sides).

The Pentagon, the CIA, etc… are quick to slander Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, which is ironic considering their own backing of Islamic terrorists not only in Syria (where they were unsuccessful) but also in Libya (where they were successful).

At some point, I would like to hear US Defense Secretary James Mattis deny that the US has been sponsoring terrorism in Syria for the past five years. That would be rich.

Perhaps in the same press conference, Mattis might also deny that Iran has been fighting Islamic jihadists in Syria for the past five years. That would really make my day…

In reality Iran is highly integrated into Southwest Asia’s economic and political infrastructure. Iran and China cooperate extensively on all manner of items.

I am not a fan of any religious regime, including Iran’s. But the “terrorism” charge is ludicrous.

Even if recent missile tests did not violate the treaties, it was a bonehead move on Iran’s part. Well, it was designed to keep the game going.

When it comes to the definition of “state sponsor of terrorism” it is important to be accurate.

It’s Complicated

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American military strategy is premised on the small Daioyu islands (Senkaku for Japan) as being a part of Japan, but the situation is a lot more complicated.

In fact, Japan was new to even Okinawa in the 1890s, and this southwestern maritime expansion came rather late in its history. This region was traditionally part of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the islands often paid tribute to Chinese dynasties, which included the islands on their maps after 1534.

Japan annexed the islands after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, but then Japan lost them, China claims, in the Potsdam Declaration that ended WWII, where Japan was only entitled to its main five islands and minor islands as designated.

So it depends on one’s default assumption…

The Daioyu Islands became part of US occupied territory, like Okinawa, and all of this was handed back to Japan in 1972 with the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. But China insists that the islands should have been given back to China right after WWII and were not. Indeed, during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, it would have been unthinkable for the US to hand these islands over to a communist power – but the history of the islands should probably have led to that.

In other words, China has a solid claim on the Daioyu Islands. At the very least, American thinking should be looking for ways around a traditional conflict, perhaps even with a “joint sovereignty” solution, rather than act overly confident that it is on the right side of history with these islands. When it is not.

Snowflakes Don’t Travel

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OK, well, there are a few young Americans traveling around, but I read an article a while back that should still hold true: this snowflake generation is not nearly as geographically mobile as previous generations of Americans.

Maybe they are worried about their data plans or something.

Travel can be domestic as well. When I was in college, life was truly complete with a Spring Break road trip to Florida, or a bus ride down the Pacific Coast, or a trek into the Grand Canyon. Some people went to Alaska.

I’d work for 6 weeks in the summer (driving pea combines in eastern Washington) and then take a month off, taking trains into Mexico with only a vague plan.

The first time I ventured into Mexico it was with a college girlfriend (with whom I would later move to Haiti), and the second time with a college roommate. Others were more intrigued by wandering around Europe with backpacks.

Maybe college tuition is now a prohibiting factor, shackling today’s generation to jobs and routine, not allowing them to spend any cash on travel.

Back then, tuition was so low that it was paid for with a moderate mix of part-time jobs, grants and parents. No one I knew went into significant debt to pay for college.

I got to thinking about this new generation of Americans being so homebound because Chinese youth are beginning to wander the world in serious numbers. I’m on WeChat, a social media platform, with about 700 mostly Chinese contacts, many of them younger Chinese (without the traits of snowflakes).

They are posting selfies of themselves in interesting places this Spring Festival. One young Chinese woman, beaming into the camera, is hanging out of a train in India. Another one is having a meal in a South Africa village. Another is backpacking in northern Thailand.

The Chinese used to travel in larger groups or tours and some still do, but there is an explosion of interest in travel for young couples or individuals (it seems that women more than men travel alone here).

The number of Americans studying abroad is now leveling off, with a slight decline this year for China, including for our program… And I’m just not seeing many young Americans in Mexico or Southeast Asia, looking for new adventures.

Have they been so coddled, and so protected, that anything beyond their immediate comfort zone is now a threat?

Nasty Divorce

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Britain is about to enter into negotiations with the European Union regarding its exit. I predict that these are not going to go well.

The EU is like a bitter soon-to-be ex wife, all lawyered up, in the middle of divorce negotiations. She wants everything.

In this case, the EU is going to demand tens of billions of dollars for the right of Britain to leave. Why? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Also, the EU is expecting that Britain will not enter into any formal trade agreements with any other party during the negotiation. I think even flirting with others is frowned upon. Sounds like the conditions of a celebrity divorce.

The British can be overly polite as we all know. Just stop the car. And kick the bitch out of it.

Meantime, the EU is upset that the Trump administration is not giving it sufficient respect, even though the EU presides over economic stagnation with millions upon millions of unemployed, and an ongoing currency crisis.

The EU participated in the recent warmongering in Libya and Syria, producing the refugee crisis in the first place.

The EU has no real vision of the future, other than micromanaging the lives of Europeans from its grey, bureaucratic hub in Brussels.

The EU is not wild about Trump’s expected choice for EU envoy, Ted Malloch, because he would not kowtow to Europe’s political aristocracy and would instead raise tough questions.

If the EU rejects Malloch, it will only confirm that it cannot take a little criticism, that it does not respect the views of a major partner, and that it is determined to live in its bubble.