CHESTER HAS MOVED!: The Last Iron Curtain Is Crumbling

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Last Iron Curtain Is Crumbling

This is a great story from the Korean press. The communications revolution is reaching North Korea. How quickly will the regime lose control? Will it be slow or will it be fast? Interesting that the regime is using freq-monitoring technology to track conversations . . . who wants to bet that the watchers are just as fascinated and hungry for info as the watched? Keep putting those cell towers up! You can't stop the info flow! I had a conversation with a colleague once in which we decided (at the time) that to pacify Afghanistan, the only real thing needed was to airdrop Britney Spears and a good metal band in and have them do free concerts around the country. Like it or not, nothing can stop the power of US pop-culture. We invented the convertible, jazz, jeans, cowboys, "greed is good" and on and on and on. ----------- Another topic from the Korean press: Is the history of Japan's militarism being revised? Analysts have been saying for years that Japan would begin to flex its muscles. And they never get the story right in their own history textbooks. The average Japanese person's perspective of World War II goes something like this: "There was some sort of conflict, I don't really know much about it, and then the American nuked us." This article focuses on comfort women, which were Korean women forced to work in brothels, serving Japanese military units throughout East Asia. Quite a sore subject for the Koreans. US diplomacy and security relationships are the only things that keep these nations from being at each other's throats. Without us, there would be a crazy arms race like never before witnessed. Nukes too.


Blogger USMC_Vet said...

Let's not forget the fondness with which the Chinese regard Japan.

Remember the medical 'experiments' conducted on Chinese prisoners during the the Japanese occupation of China during the WWII years.

You are too right. Left unchecked, this would get ugly in a hurry.

December 2, 2004 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger usually mellow said...

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo, 'Histoire d'un crime,' 1852
French dramatist, novelist, & poet (1802 - 1885)

December 2, 2004 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Vampiel said...

Dont forget about satellite phones which are becoming increasingly cheaper and more widely available.

December 3, 2004 at 1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're more than a bit off on this one, Chester. That Korean op-ed has all the selective background and generalization of a Nation piece decrying the resurrection of monarchical imperialism in Britain simply because Tony Blair is following George W. Bush's lead in the war on terror. Or fringe-left Canadians worrying that Washington's nukes are just one wrong side of the bed away. There may be some issues that rankle Seoul and Tokyo, but it doesn't reach the realm of an arms race against one another — that's ridiculous. The only country Japan is progressively stiffening against is North Korea.

The Japanese have been culturally and politically pacifistic from almost immediately after their defeat in 1945. War-renouncing Article 9's origins are unclear, with MacArthur and his early Tokyo counterparts having given one another credit; mutual or native, it was certainly not forced once the militarists were out of the way. The nationalistic Yasakuni Shrine has traditionally been a sticky issue for Japanese politicians, caught between homage and modern political concerns; it's by no means a popular portal to the old ways. Culpability has been accepted; in the first couple of decades after defeat, Japanese travelers in Asia were very mindful of what they'd done. No democratic society can be expected to indefinitely flog itself for the crimes of its former despot days; nor should rightists play a double-standard by admonishing Europe's reticence while acting as if Tokyo were one step away from an imperial return.

Japan has, since the Occupation and the San Francisco System, operated as a junior member of the free world — capable in every aspect of sovereignty but the right to defend itself through the assertion of arms. In post-Cold War reality, Japan simply cannot function as an American ward. Nor the country that was shackled sixty years ago no longer exists. It's a — how do you say — capitalist democracy? Constitutional amendment to enable a fully functional military and nonconventional armaments has as much to do with Japanese maturation as it does with the United States encouraging its allies to be of some autonomous usefulness. Both Powell and Armitage stressed in their day that Japan, as a UNSC member, cannot best fill that position with its present military configuration. Public sentiment is evenly split, likely to be encouraged by success of Japan's unprecendented troop contributions in Iraq. Even so, the movement to revisit Article 9 is a slow, deliberate one; the LDP's opposition parties generally oppose it, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi himself recently rowed back a bit. The Diet will begin earnest debate some time next year, but that is no guarantee of swift resolution.

Japan's industriousness can be channeled into American-style global philanthropy more easily than some believe; all that's necessary is encouragement and respect.

December 3, 2004 at 6:53 AM  

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