Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cambodia Genocide Trial

Kang Kek Iew, formerly of the Khmer Rouge and and also known as Duch, is now on trial for crimes against humanity. Here is ABC's report. It reports how thousands were killed and fewer than 20 survived. What it didn't report is that he also regularly killed off, 'purged', the guards. And while it reports that the camp, S-21, was formerly a school, it failed to report that he himself was a school teacher. It makes you wonder how such monsters come to be.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's the Military...

A few years ago there seemed to be an excitement over the concept of amnesty, concerning the possible advancement of the reunification of Korea. Having lived in Korea, and considering myself a student of the human condition, I wrote a rough outline of how I thought the North could be opened and reunification brought about. I promoted the idea of sanctuary and a guaranteed political identity. Central to my outline was the demilitarization of Korea.

North Korea has shown complete disregard for the rest of the world. Violating treaties and breaking promises on a regular basis. Speculation over the military's role and who really rules over the North are put forth as explanations. Just as likely it is a ploy by the North to keep its adversaries confused. But what is the military? It is the defender of the State. Called to great sacrifice and indoctrinated in its own self importance and world view. An element of their society to which most of its resources have been directed. Can any agreement, a smooth reunification, be accomplished without a recognition of their identity and position?

Much of what is known as 'the wild west' in American history is attributed to the influence of the Civil War. The mass of soldiers with their corresponding tendencies and problems turning to a rough and tumble, often criminal, lifestyle. Hitler certainly saw himself and his fellow soldiers as being betrayed, and we know what came of that. I'm sure you can find numerous parallels throughout history when those devoting themselves to their nations are discarded when no longer needed.

Sanctuary is different than amnesty and would take many party members and military officials out of the picture over much of the North. By using the structure of the remaining military as the framework for reconstruction gives the current leaders of North Korea a level of comfort, as they surely will feel some ability to control what is going on through the military hierarchy. Yes, I would suggest that all reconstruction, retooling, rebuilding of the North be done by the military. A military that will be demilitarized but whose units and chain of command will be kept intact. In essence, transplanting the units and their commanders into cities, towns and villages to lead the reconstruction process. To oversee and administer the influx of planning and resources from around the world. In Iraq the literal laying off the the Iraqi military has been recognized by many as a grave mistake. Many of its former members turning to militias and the insurgencies and denying the U.S. vital human infrastructure to hold control of the country.

It also implants a social order into a society that will find itself dazed and confused when the iron fist of communist rule is removed. It will be a framework for local political parties to develop. A danger may be predetermining leadership under the new democracy. As the military leaders will be central in all development occurring in the North they will naturally be attractive to voters unfamiliar with democracy. I would argue that many of these will find themselves turning away from communism when faced with freedom and prosperity.

But most important is to give an opportunity for the communist government to make its case. Give its justifications, no matter how weak, for the horrors that will be revealed by the opening of the North. As we see the dismal reality of the North, ideological rebuttal will fall on deaf ears. Without giving people the opportunity to explain themselves they tend not to give in, to change, to repent. By highlighting the sacrifices and devotion of the military and the extreme lengths they went through creates an opening for the North to make its case.

Soon after the birth of the (H)-istory channel it earned the nick name (H)-itler channel, focusing strongly on the Second World War. And were we not all fascinated by the documentaries? What I am suggesting is major media coverage of the North Korean military. Massive, yes massive, documentation of the military from before the war to the present and through its disarming. Stories of heroism and sacrifice, of the reasoning and fears that drove them and their entire economy to create a literal military state with nearly the largest army in the world. A military with approximately 49 active troops per thousand citizens. Stories that I am sure will fascinate the world.

One may argue that more than a communist state, North Korea is a military state and nothing productive will come from an approach that disregards their relevance.

See, there are plenty of more worthy concerns and causes around the world for the resources of this nation to be directed towards. Why do we want to invest in programs that take away our freedoms and economic prosperity?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Too Big To Fail?

President Obama's election is without a doubt a profound historic event. It opens the minds of the people of the world to the true virtue of Americans. That they will elect a black man. That we are not racists and look down on the peoples of the world. It closes the book on a past that tore this nation in two from its inception. President Obama's election is not the change, but the validation of change that has already come to pass. The fan fare over his inauguration was well deserved. (though the coins and plates before he even took office too much)

Yes, for the most part we have closed the book on racism. Racism exists only in the lunatic fringe. In a small part, inherent in the minds of those who grew up in the time of segregation. A generation beginning to pass away. When I was young my earliest memories of racial strife were the riots in the street. But with that, the movement of blacks and whites together fighting for civil rights. It was a time when the black people in Milwaukee all lived in one neighborhood. We would drive through that neighborhood on our way to the recycling plant to turn in our old newspapers. The first black family in our neighborhood moved in across the alley, and we quickly befriended them as the rest of our neighbors continually harassed them. I was very inspired by the fact that President Obama could be elected and at the same time I disagree with his policies. Completely!

In some way still, this is one of the final chapters in bringing this nation together as one, in overcoming its now greatest divide. Though it is related with race, it is the battle over ideology. A Battle between socialism, already in practice in our inner cities which in many areas are mostly black, and a more mainstream America. A mainstream that has socialist elements but is much more strongly conservative than any want to admit. And the rightly named porkulous bill (term attributed to Rush Limbaugh) puts that battle front and center. A bill more divisive and destructive than doing nothing at all. Yes President Obama, destructive.

I do not want you to fail President Obama. Your election is truly too significant. But defeat of your policies is not equivalent to failure. Showing competence and good judgment, taking a stand for what you believe and fighting the good fight will be highly respected no matter what the outcome.

Please President Obama, take a lesson from Bush 43. When President Bush first entered office he spent five months putting together an energy bill. A bill that if passed would have staved off the short lived energy crisis of the last two years. A crisis still hurting people in high heating bills and could quickly return. It was defeated in most part.

End this joke of a bill, the porkulous, even if it requires your veto. Take it over and take the several months required to do the job right. Make it yours. I believe the economy will act with confidence immediately. Then defeated or not, whether you stay true to what looks to me like Marxist tendencies or not, you will inspire confidence. It will be good for this nation and give you the platform to take over the leadership role this nation holds in the world.

It's time to man-up. Please don't take us backwards by being our first affirmative action President.