Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Russian 9/11, Bush's debacles, and calling Vladimir Putin's bluff in Eastern Europe

Growing up, I entertained the idea of visiting the Baltic States as they seemed so exotic to me, entrenched behind the Iron Curtain.  I had studied Russian and German even though none of my ancestors hail from either country.  I thought they would be useful languages in traveling around Eastern Europe.  I was never fluent, but I could get by accompanied by my trusty dictionary.

I took a vacation in late August and early September 2001.  One stop was Tallinn in Estonia.  During the Cold War, Estonia was the most informed of the Soviet republics because of its location, just 90 miles away from the West in the manifestation of Finland.  Radio and television broadcasts could be received, so the lies of the Soviets were apparent.

I took a tour to orient myself.  The tour guide, a woman, told us that the very first bananas she had ever seen were during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the ones that Jimmy Carter foolishly prevented U.S. athletes from attending.  The bananas disappeared immediately after the Olympics ended and were only present in an attempt to show the world that the Soviet Union was equal to the West.

Tallinn's old town was filled with restaurants of every description filled with scrumptious food.  A number of beers were available, but a local one, Saku Original, was the most appetizing.

Riga in Latvia and Vilnius in Lithuania were similar.  Vilnius had restaurants filled with food as tasty as found in restaurants in the Lithuanian suburbs of Chicago.  I readily found tasty local beer in both capitals.  In Riga I signed up for a tour to see Rundāle Palace, a Baroque and Rococo masterpiece designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli who designed some of the Russian tzars' palaces.

Next up was Moscow.  I remember my Russian textbook had a photo of people lined up for blocks waiting to see the preserved corpse of Lenin.  I found my way to Red Square via the metro and noticed that there was no line at all to see the Lenin mausoleum.  A woman approached me and asked me if I wanted to see Lenin.  She was clearly an experienced tour guide and spoke very good English.  The rules stated that no cameras could be brought in to the building, but she was crafty enough to place my camera inside her bag which the security guard did not check.  Lenin looked exactly like the photos found in books, with one hand clenched and the other straightened.

At the end of a long day touring the city, I stopped in a store with a matrix of televisions showing a daylight New York view with smoke rising from the base of one of the buildings, or so it appeared.  The camera was probably situated in New Jersey, as we could see a large part of Manhattan.  I was unfamiliar with the New York skyline and did not realize any buildings were missing.  I could have pointed out the Sears Tower or John Hancock Center in Chicago, but the World Trade Center was not known to me.  I stayed there for ten minutes, but the scene never changed.  I assumed it was another truck bomb in the basement of a building similar to what happened in February 1993.  The sound coming from the televisions was in Russian and too fast for me to understand.  I did not realize then that many of the younger people would have spoken English and I hesitated to ask one of them what had happened.  So I left.

I walked down Old Arbat Street as that was the way to my hotel.  A busker with a British accent mentioned something along the lines of, "It's okay, it wasn't our country that was attacked."  So much for that special relationship.

In my hotel room in a Russian hotel, i.e. one where non-Russians generally do not stay, there was only Russian television.  One station kept showing the same scene over and over, a 40-ish story building collapsing in a heap.  I assumed that a truck bomb had caused it to collapse, but since the footage was taken at night it had probably been evacuated.  Interspersed with the images of the collapse was an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  I tried my best, but I could only glean phrases here and there.  It seemed to me that Putin was sympathetic with the tragedy that had occurred to the U.S., but perhaps I was leaning too heavily upon my inadequate knowledge of Russian.  The other stations were useless for news.

The next morning I left my room to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  On my door was an obviously custom printed note along the lines of, "The hotel management would like to take this opportunity to express its deepest condolences."  I had a really bad feeling about what I had seen the previous night.

I asked at the front desk for the location of an Internet cafe.  I walked there and paid the fee.  The young woman working there asked me a question in Russian and I replied in my pathetic Russian.  She switched to English and when I replied in English, she realized I was an American and blurted out something along the lines of, "I'm so sorry for what happened to your country."

I sat down and started reading CNN and other news web sites.  I was possibly the very last American to learn of the four airliner attack by Islamists and subsequent collapse of WTC 1 and 2.

I bought some flowers and found my way to the U.S. embassy, which in those days was not a fortress.  I was not the first one to bring flowers as there were too many to count.  One man appeared to be reflecting upon the tragic events.

I had read what happened in St. Petersburg shortly after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.  Americans were not terribly welcome then because Serbs and Russians are very close.  A few ugly Americans had food thrown at them in McDonald's and other places.  In contrast, on this trip not a single Russian was anything less than nice to me after they realized I was an American.  There was a genuine outpouring of support for a country which had been attacked by savages.

I was scheduled to leave Moscow on Saturday via Swissair, which was really lucky for me because all flights out of Russia via U.S. carriers had been canceled, a perfect example of the U.S. government missing the forest for the trees.  I flew out of Zurich on Sunday, which was only the second day flights were allowed within the U.S.  The security line that morning was the longest I have ever seen, but there were a few attractive Swiss women working the lines so it was not all bad.

On the flight to Atlanta, my seat mate was a Delta pilot.  He predicted that there would never be another hijacking in the U.S. again.  If he was flying, he would simply get on the intercom and announce that he was going to land the plane at the nearest airport -- and the passengers should just beat the hijacker senseless any way they could.  His prediction came true when the shoe and underwear bombers tried to blow up their planes.

When we flew over New York, I looked down below as the smoke rose from the remains of the WTC, along with my seat mate and other people .  It became very quiet for about ten minutes.

When we arrived in Atlanta, immediately after passport control there was a line of Delta Airlines employees with signs reading "Welcome home!"  It wasn't until I overheard some conversations that I learned that most people in the airport had been forced to stay in Canada for the past few days.  They were weary and just wanted to get home.  My flight from Atlanta to Denver was almost empty, with the flight attendants telling us to sit anywhere we liked.

* * * * *

Bush famously looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes and "saw his soul'' just three months before 9/11.  After 9/11, Bush announced his Texan policy -- "You are either with us or against us" -- and turned his back on the world.

When I first heard George W. Bush's declaration that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea constituted the "Axis of Evil" in January 2002, I had a feeling that something was wrong.  Iraq and Iran had fought a war in the 1980s, with the U.S. supporting Iraq because of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80.  Iraq and Iran were still deadly enemies so how could they constitute any kind of axis?

Bush and Dick Cheney tried very hard to derail the 9/11 Commission's investigations.  At first Bush named Henry Kissinger to lead the commission, with him being world-class at keeping secrets, but luckily his nomination fell through.  Bush refused to fund the commission for a time, tried to influence the commission's findings, and denied access to many White House officials.  And worst of all, Cheney and others played the patriotism card to paint those who wanted to investigate 9/11 as traitors.

The wicked witch of the right, Ann Coulter, said regarding women who lost husbands on 9/11, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."  She said this because, in her role as a Republican groupie, she was defending Bush And Cheney's incompetence.  New York Republican Governor George Pataki said regarding Coulter's odious cheap-shot, "I was really stunned and I don't think it's at all fair or accurate."

In February 2003, Colin Powell made his infamous speech at the U.N.  I was watching live because I was taking a sick day.  As soon as he mentioned that the now-famous aluminum tubes were anodized, I knew the Bush administration was lying to the world.  The analyst on CNN explained this, revealing that anodizing is actually not suitable for centrifuges.  And since removing it is non-trivial, these tubes were definitely not going to be used for centrifuges.

Damn the facts, full speed ahead!

The school massacre in Beslan in early September 2004 may have been the turning point for relations between the U.S. and Russia.  Beslan was the perfect opportunity for Bush to declare that the U.S. and Russia were fighting a common enemy, Islamists who kill for pleasure.  However, he didn't travel to Beslan to show solidarity with Russia in its 9/11 moment.

Both the U.S. and Russia suffered further Islamist murders after 9/11 besides Beslan, including but not limited to:

Beslan was not a shining example of Russian military prowess.  There was evidence that the bloodbath was triggered by a Russian incendiary grenade and that Russian security forces fired inappropriate weapons into the school where 334 children, parents, and teachers died.  Russian tactics are brutal and often grossly incompetent, e.g. almost all of the hostages who died during the Moscow theater siege did so because they were gassed, laid on their backs, and drowned in their own vomit.

We will never know if Putin would have stolen two regions of Georgia and invaded Ukraine if Bush had partnered with Putin to kill Islamists.  It's probably naive to think so, but perhaps Putin's KGB instincts and pining for his lost Soviet Union could have been tempered, or at least delayed, even though he told Bush at the 2008 NATO summit, "You have to understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a country.  Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us."  He was referring to the fact that Ukraine's borders were moved to the west after WWII in an attempt to quell Stalin's paranoia.  Poland is another country which had its borders moved to the west, with Polish-Russian relations often being strained.  Putin may have felt that Bush would be sympathetic to misadventures in Ukraine after Bush's ones in Iraq.  Putin may have seen a kindred spirit in Bush as Kathleen Turner's character saw in William Hurt's character in Body Heat, especially given that Russia today has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, with just 110 Russian citizens now controlling 35% of total household wealth.

Bush threw away a great deal of sympathy from Russia and the world when he invaded Iraq to satisfy his personal agenda and that of the "swivel eyed neo-cons and ultra-nationalists" who yearned to settle old scores.  Funny how we invaded Iraq, the fourth-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran, which was suspected to have WMD, yet we did not invade North Korea when we learned it had developed nuclear weapons a few years after the Iraq invasion.

* * * * *

As Jack Matlock wrote in his book Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union:
When the independence referendum and vote for president were held in Ukraine on December 1, 1991, it was no surprise that a majority voted for independence and for Leonid Kravchuk.  The proportions and distributions of the vote, however, astonished observers.  Eighty-four percent of eligible voters went to the polls, and more than 90 percent of those voted for independence.  Even in the oblasts in east Ukraine and in the [sic] Crimea and Odessa, which had large Russian populations, comfortable majorities voted for independence.

Matlock continued five pages later referring to the agreement between Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus on December 8 to create a Commonwealth of Independent States, the Belavezha Accords, as crafted by Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich:
A commitment to "recognize and respect one another's territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders within the Commonwealth" was also important, because as recently as August and September, some Russian spokesmen had talked of the need to revise borders to bring areas with a large Russian-speaking population into Russia.  The eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine and northern Kazakhstan were most vulnerable in this respect, and this provision was the price the Russian leadership paid the other republics for their adherence to the Commonwealth.  Though it would remain controversial in Russia for years to come, it was potentially of historic significance, since it represented a renunciation of territory that Russia had claimed for centuries.

The Supreme Soviets (parliaments) of the three countries quickly ratified the agreement.  On December 21, the three original countries, along with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, signed the Alma-Ata Protocol which added them to the CIS.  Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his post on December 25, effectively ending the Soviet Union.

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was signed three years almost to the day after the creation of the CIS.  Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from their territory and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  These three countries kept their promise.  Russia and the Western signatory countries promised to forever respect Ukraine's territorial integrity.  Russia did not keep its promise.

In early 2013, it was announced that the original Belavezha Accords document is missing.

* * * * *

Russia has been very busy attempting to intimidate its neighbors this year, with Barack Obama's "leading from behind" philosophy presenting not even a speed bump.

In April, Russian naval vessels, while in Lithuania's special economic zone in the Baltic Sea, ordered civilian ships to clear the way for a Russian missile test.

In August, Finnish airspace was violated three times in six days.

In September, Russia kidnapped an Estonian official on Estonian soil, jamming Estonian radio communications and using smoke grenades in the process.  Russia refuses to allow Estonian officials to see him.

Also in September, Russia announced that Russia intends to prosecute Lithuanians who refused to serve in the Soviet military during the time period between Lithuania's declaration of independence in March 1990 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in late 1991.  Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare independence.

Also in September, a Lithuanian fishing boat, the Juros Vilkas, was seized along with its crew of 30 in international waters.  The ship and crew await a court ruling in the Russian port of Murmansk.

Also in September, Russian military aircraft violated both U.S. and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zones near Alaska.  Sweden announced a similar incursion, with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt saying that the incident was "a major violation."  He added that it was the worst he had seen since he became foreign minister in 2006.

Not to mention never having taken responsibility for killing 298 people on MH17 while taking Crimea.

The current peace treaty has been broken many times by Russian separatists.  The latest incident is the attack on the airport of Donetsk.  This was not a case of a few men firing automatic rifles at an outpost.  Separatists are using drones and Grad rockets to hammer Ukrainian positions.  The Donetsk airport and the one in Luhansk are essential for the transport of weapons, supplies, and soldiers directly into the cauldron.  Russia understands this and is willing to break the ceasefire to do so.

The attacks during the cease-fire remind us of the attacks on Lithuanian border posts in 1991 by Soviet OMON troops, with the worst incident being a slaughter of seven Lithuanian border guards.  Another incident was the brutal takeover of the Vilnius radio and television center in January 1991, where OMON tank troops mowed down bystanders, crushing them with tank treads, killing 13 and injuring 140.  These incidents occurred during the death rattles of the Soviet Union when Russian nationalists attempted to maintain their empire by any means available.

The Polish foreign minister is not the only one to suspect that Putin's end game is to establish a land bridge to Crimea, in other words, he wants to usurp southeast Ukrainian territory so that Russian military vehicles and tourists can drive unimpeded from Russian territory to Crimea.  Putin knows only too well that Kaliningrad, the territory it seized from Germany, formerly called Königsberg, at the end of WWII, has no land access from Russia proper.  During the Cold War, this presented no problem, as travel via Lithuania-Latvia or Lithuania-Belarus was within the Soviet Union.  But now that Lithuania and Latvia are EU and NATO countries, access to Kaliningrad is only via the Baltic Sea or air.  The same is true of Crimea which is currently only accessible via ferries from Russia or air.

An extension of the land bridge could also connect Russia to Transdniester, a sliver of Moldova which broke away in 1992 and is being administered by Russia.  Before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which divided Eastern Europe between the Nazis and the Soviets, Moldova was called Bessarabia and was territory Stalin demanded.

And just to introduce an element of Slavic farce into the proceedings, Russia's Constitutional Court head Valery Zorkin announced that that the abolition of serfdom exacerbated "social tensions" between the tzar and the peasantry by eliminating the "main shock absorber" between them: the nobility.  "This became one of the basic reasons for the growth of 'rebellions' and then organized revolutionary processes in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," wrote Zorkin.

Some things never change.  Today the nobility in Russia is well-represented by the oligarchs.  Literary critic Vissarion Belinsky wrote to Nikolai Gogol in 1847 that Russia is "a country where there are not only no guarantees for individuality, honor, and property, but even no police order, and where there is nothing but vast corporations of official thieves and robbers of various descriptions."  That could describe the U.S. today with its convergence of corporate and government interests as manifested in Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United.

The majority of cyber-thefts for money are committed by Russians, though China is the world leader at stealing intellectual property.  Whether the Russian government directly plays a part in this is unknown, but it is clear that Russian nationalists are involved.  The Russian government always refuses to extradite its cyber-thieves, but ethnic Russians are usually extradited from Eastern European countries, e.g. Estonia.  Credit card data stolen from Home Depot is being sold on Russian underground forums in categories labeled "American Sanctions" and "European Sanctions."

Putin has boasted that Russian forces could take Warsaw or Baltic state capitals within days.  NATO has publicly dismissed such talk as bravado, but it is well within the realm of possibilities.  One strategy would be to warn Putin that all submarines at sea will be immediately sunk if NATO countries are invaded, with U.S. submarines being the ones to implement such a policy.

The surge in Iraq failed not because of a shortcoming on the part of the U.S. military, but because the responsibility was then handed over to Iraqi soldiers who ran away like little girls when Islamic State attacked.  Not to mention the fact that Islamists are relentless, cruel, brutal, and eager to rape, torture, slaughter, enslave, and behead non-Muslims.  As usual, Obama was slow to react when Yazidi girls were treated as spoils of war, with many of them being kept as sex slaves or given away as gifts to Islamic State commanders.

A surge in Ukraine would be very different.  It would consist of a pincer movement to reclaim the Ukrainian border to prevent any more soldiers, small arms, ammunition, Grads, tanks, and Buks from entering the country.  Retaking any airports in the region would prevent Russia from bypassing the border.  When Russia was no longer able to resupply the separatists, they would slowly run out of food, supplies, and weapons, forcing them to surrender.  The Ukrainian military could afford to wait patiently until that happened.

Ukraine has asked both the U.S. and NATO for weapons.  This request should be honored immediately.  This is not another Islamic country where today's rebels will emerge as tomorrow's terrorists.  This is a country on the doorstep of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania which are all NATO countries.  The issue of whether Ukraine joins the EU can wait, especially given its high level of corruption, but a peaceful and stable Ukraine would benefit Europe in many ways.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Islam and enslaved #Yazidi girls: #BringBackYazidiGirls #YazidiGenocide

The problem with the Koran is that it contains beautiful parts and downright ugly parts.

U.S. President Barack Obama quoted the Koran in his 2009 Cairo speech: "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth."  This line brought applause from the Muslim crowd.  This type of line is always quoted when someone wants to persuade that Islam is a religion of peace.

But there are parts which justify the enslavement of non-Muslim girls:
And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 1, p. 319, referring to the Koran, Sura 4:24; see also Suras 4:3 and 33:50)

[Most certainly true believers] ... guard their private parts scrupulously, except with regard to their wives and those who are legally in their possession, for in that case they shall not be blameworthy. (Maududi, vol. 3, p. 237, referring to the Koran, Sura 23:5-6)

The parts about "those who have fallen in your hands" and "those who are legally in their possession" refer to female slaves, with sura being a chapter in the Koran.  This is the justification used by Islamists, e.g. the Islamic State, when they rape, enslave, or sell non-Muslim girls as slaves for as little as $25.  Currently 4,500 Yazidi individuals, including about 3,000 women and children, are being held captive by the Islamic State.

One Yazidi woman, Adla was a witness to the enslavement:
At first I was taken to a big house in Mosul. It was full of women ... They locked all the windows and doors and surrounded it with guards ... Every day or two, men would come and make us take off our headscarves so they could choose which of us they wanted.  Women were dragged out of the house by their hair ... One day a lot of men came to take girls and we decided we must run away.  Even if they captured and killed us, we'd prefer to be dead than to stay.

Yet there has been no Twitter campaign by Michelle Obama who famously created the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.  Why doesn't she care about Yazidi girls as much as she cares about Nigerian girls?  Why not a #BringBackYazidiGirls campaign?

Instead of allowing more murderous Islamists into the country, e.g. the Tsarnaevs, open the immigration gates to unlimited Yazidis and Coptic Christians.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fiction reference points

This post can be considered to be the extended footnotes for my fiction.

The Russian President's last day in office is a sardonic, sometimes bawdy take on Vladimir Putin's adventures in Ukraine.  Byez Rubashka translates to "without shirt," paying homage to Putin's practice of posing for photos without wearing a shirt.  The president's floozie is modeled after Putin's rhythmic gymnastics girlfriend, Alina Kabayeva, with Gimnastka translating to "gymnast."  Putin really does have a $1+ billion palace on the Black Sea.  Boobs-R-Us refers to Femen, the feminist organization famous for displaying breasts as a political protest, with "boobs" having two meanings.  The juxtaposition of Rubashka and Boobs-R-Us removing their shirts is intentional.  Femen is originally from Ukraine, but is now based in Paris.  Ubistvo Lyubovnik translates to "murder lover."  Ciao Kakao is Russian, rhyming slang comparable to a 1950's song, "See you later, alligator," and cannot be taken literally.  Kakao is the Russian word for "cocoa," referring to the chocolate factory Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko owns.  Labia Likov's last name is pronounced "lick-off."  Onher Chappedbutt was the best I could do with the name of Anna Chapman, the Russian spy and outstanding sex partner who was deported in 2010.  Sneg translates to "snow" (then add "den").  All other names can be researched via an English dictionary.

Currently there are more than 800,000 Russians from Ukraine who have moved to cities in Russia because their house or neighborhood was bombed.  It is unknown if they will return, especially given the animosity which has developed between Ukrainians and Russian separatists.  And the separatists who have stayed are ridiculing, beating, kidnapping, and imprisoning people with different points of view, as was true in the Soviet Union they idolize.  Whether volunteer mercenaries or Russian regulars, troops with modern weaponry arrive via Russia on a regular basis.  Some separatists fear that that the Ukrainian army will impress them into service, just as Bolsheviks did during the Russian Revolution, but as usual, the separatists have it backwards.  Russian soldiers are being sent to Ukraine to fight, and if they are captured, Russia disavows all knowledge of their orders and declares them to be traitors, similar to what happened after the end of WWII when recently released Russian POWs were sent to the gulag after arrival back home for allegedly consorting with the enemy.

The murder of 333 children, parents, and teachers at Beslan was Russia's 9/11, just like the downing of MH17 was the Netherlands' 9/11, with separatists not concerned that their side was responsible for the murder of 298 children, women, and men.  And just like George W. Bush who attempted to derail the 9/11 Commission because he knew it would accentuate his incompetence, Putin never supported an honest investigation of Beslan.  The mistakes made in Beslan ten years ago are many: ignoring warnings, allowing the savages to bribe their way through checkpoints, possibly allowing the pre-positioning of weapons in the school building, never securing the scene to prevent amateurs from triggering a bloodbath (there are photos on the Internet), and the lack of a coherent plan.  To this day it is unclear exactly what happened.  Another national screw-up was the Moscow Nord-Ost siege where many hostages died because Moscow planners failed to account for the highly toxic gas used to incapacitate the savages, with many hostages drowning in their vomit because no one was told to simply turn them onto their stomachs to allow them to vomit the poison out.  For further insights into the people of the Caucasus, search for "kavkaz" (or "Кавказ") on YouTube to find lots of videos of dancing at weddings, but also some videos (here's one) of wolves, pretty local women, and minarets interspersed with drawings of assault rifles and other military weapons.  Not surprisingly, the Islamic State has now declared the Islamic countries of the Caucasus, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, to be the location of their next Islamic war.

The West must draw a line and not one of Barack Obama's amateur-hour red-lines.  If Putin wants a proxy war, then we must give him one.  Supply Ukraine with missile-firing drones, M270 MLRS, M142 HIMARS, and other relevant weapon systems, and train Ukrainians how to use them effectively.  We can bleed Russia dry by trading drone missiles for battle tanks and armored vehicles, not to mention eliminating the many Grad, Buk, and other rocket/missile systems.  And we'd better have a plan ready in case Putin's green men appear in Estonia and Latvia.

Finland is persuaded to join NATO is my daydream of what a competent politician could do vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin's hints at annexing the portions of Eastern European countries with large Russian populations.  This story is a fictionalized version of The guerrilla solution to Vladimir Putin's threats to invade Finland if it joins NATO and Barack Obama's potential JFK moment, although Obama actually appears to be a deer frozen in the international headlights.  The story starts with a mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 which divided Eastern Europe between two ruthless dictators, Hitler and Stalin, and installed Trojan Horses in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the form of large numbers of ethnic Russians.  Russian soldiers keep getting lost in Ukraine, so it's likely Putin has ideas about Finland too.  Herbert Hoover was given the credit he deserves for his many humanitarian missions around the world, starting during WWI and continuing past WWII.

Press conference regarding the Malvinas reconquest by Argentina is a possible outcome of an obvious gap in the UK's defense strategy.  For a number of years, Britain will not have any carriers capable of carrying fixed-wing aircraft and will only have one helicopter carrier starting at the end of 2014.  The window of opportunity will only last until the first of the new carriers is ready in 2017-18.  Argentina would never get another chance like this.  The time frame of the press conference is February 2015.  I got the idea for this story from the online comments of Brits who believe their country is the British Empire of old, even though Britain today is the land where Muslim men groom, rape, and share Sikh and other non-Muslim girls as young as 11 and police treat the victims as "stupid, naughty" girls.  The UK is the origin for a large number of ISIS killers.  And Birmingham is ground-zero for the Islamist Trojan Horse plot to surreptitiously convert public schools into madrasas.

The demise and resurrection of North Korea is my hopeful vision of an implosion of North Korea.  Originally it was the main narrative of a larger story called The war of immiscible ideas which was presented in multiple chapters (TWOII was deleted).  Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, it is obvious that TWOII was a terrible name, though not nearly as bad as Saucy Mugwump.  I updated the narrative to reflect current events, added a character or two, and improved the writing.  It all started with a BBC News story on South Korean women becoming military officers after the sinking of the Cheonan and other provocations by North Korea.  The concept of historical fiction came from B.R. Myers' book, The Cleanest Race, which noted that North Korea publishes sycophantic historical fiction regarding the life of Kim Il-sung, though I took it in a decidedly different direction.  I continued my research in Could an implosion of North Korea result in WWIII? which speculated on the events which would follow a collapse of the DPRK.

Originally, Bling Ka-ching was meant to be a rip-off of Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-un's uncle, but I made him a minor character, the mayor of Pyongyang, after he was executed.  Jang's real-life wife was Kim Kyong-hui who became Kim Alco-hol in the story.  She is reputed to be an alcoholic and in poor health.  Yoo Tok-ki (whose name was created using the Korean word for rabbit) was the woman seen in a surreptitiously filmed North Korean video, with her frail body just about to give out.  The scenes involving orphans originated from stories in Radio Free Asia, the Telegraph, and PBS Frontline.  I obtained a point of view of China from a dissident, Bao Tong, via his Under House Arrest column.  Christian Talvela is, of course, my Jack Ryan, albeit with absolutely no explanation of his background.  This story just might be the longest blog post on the Internet.

The take-down of the labor camps was intentionally sparse because, for me, the immediate aftermath is the most interesting portion.  Also, I do not believe I could do justice to the dynamics of a raid along the lines of the one at Son Tay.  That said, it is fairly well accepted that prisoners in the labor camps would be executed during an implosion.  A UN report stated that guards "received orders to kill all prisoners in case of an armed conflict or revolution so as to destroy the primary evidence of the camps' existence."  The report "also explained that specific plans exist on how to implement the order and that drills were held on how to kill large numbers of prisoners in a short period of time."  Kim Il-sung was the creator of that strategy, as well as for Songbun, the DPRK's caste system, and the scheme where one's relatives suffer the same punishment as the accused.

From a project management point of view, the removal of Kim is critically essential.  He would need to be killed or at the very least, arrested and jailed, but Kim Jong-un has personal bodyguards in the Guard Command.  Soldiers from the 43rd Infantry Brigade recently fired on a vehicle carrying soldiers from the Guard Command, killing one of them.  As RFA noted, Kim "came unglued" and replaced the entire leadership of the Brigade.  It is likely that the Guards are pampered and therefore loyal to Kim, in contrast to the Brigade which is a special forces unit.  To eliminate Kim, one would need to penetrate the Guards.  Given the problems with the Brigade -- "Gunfights within the army show how lack of discipline has become a serious problem," said a source -- perhaps there is great resentment within the regular army for the special treatment of the Guard.  Or perhaps this was merely an incident of soldiers choosing to shoot rather than risk subsequent dereliction of duty charges if the vehicle had contained a lesser class of North Korean, similar to what happened in 2008 to when a South Korean female tourist walked over a forbidden line at the Mount Kumgang tourist resort.

China would not readily relinquish control of North Korea.  As I first mentioned in North Korea is China's useful idiot, China uses North Korea as a buffer zone against the West.  North Korea's rare earths deposits are essential to keeping China's industry humming.  China has done whatever it took to maintain the status quo in the DPRK, including deporting North Korean refugees back to almost certain death, as my posts In memory of nine North Korean orphans and China is murdering North Korean refugees noted.  And both China and Russia covet North Korea's ice-free port of Rajin.  A likely scenario, in a Chinese remake of Sherman's March to the Sea, is that Chinese armored forces blaze a trail east, with the people trapped north of Chinese forces possibly doomed to die of starvation while the armies danced.  U.S. and ROK forces intervening to prevent mass starvation could easily trigger a five-way war, including Russia trying to safeguard its railway to Rajin, given that China would not negotiate any line of demarcation and would demand that interlopers leave immediately.

The Japanese Prime Minister's last day in office is a possible outcome of the current Japanese government's dalliances with organized crime (the yakuza) in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant clean-up, Japan's head-in-the-sand attitude with respect to its actions in WWII, and Japan's conflict with China over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands.  Japanese Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo, has proven to be agenda-driven.  His constant visits to the Yasukuni Shrine where Class A war criminals are enshrined play well to his base, but they are alienating his neighbors, especially South Korea with respect to the "comfort women."  He is starting to work with India's navy and is giving Vietnam six used ships, but one would think he would realize that Japan would need friends in the neighborhood if a war with China were to occur.

The National Archives' Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group understands better than anyone that the atrocities of the Nazis and 1934-45 Japan are comparable.  The West knows of "The Angel of Death," Josef Mengele, but is not generally aware that worse crimes occurred in Imperial Japan under Ishii Shiro.  Japanese apologists refer to Ishii's Unit 731 by its original, innocuous name, the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army.  General Douglas MacArthur allowed many of the monsters from Unit 731 to go free to allow their "research" to be used in the U.S. and Britain's Cold War fight against communism -- their vivisections on conscious patients without anesthesia were truly world-class atrocities -- though MacArthur's decisions were approved at the very top levels of government.  Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his fellow fascists often visit the Yasukuni Shrine where many of the monsters, including 14 Class A war criminals, are enshrined, yet Emperor Akihito has never visited it.

The National Archives offers two starting points for those who wish to research Japan's wartime atrocities, Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays and Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare 1934-2006.  The authors noted that much of the material has never been used in published books, even thought the list of horrors is long and appalling.  One wonders if that is because the subject matter does not lend itself to being read by an audience which idolizes celebrity airheads or whether there are politically-correct considerations at play here.  Japanese apologists who often claim that the dropping of two atomic bombs was unnecessary because Japan was ready and willing to surrender should read the timeline of the first half of 1945: "The sharp increase in Japanese attacks using free balloons was seen initially as a potential [biological warfare] weapon threatening crops, if not people."  The reason why Unit 731 is not well-known today can be expressed in a sentence from the timeline of the second half of 1946: "Secretary of War and Joint Research & Development Board recommended that all information about the biological warfare program be held at the TOP SECRET level."  Apologists should also note that 70% of relevant documents were destroyed by Japanese authorities, unlike in Germany where most were retrieved.

The U.S. versus the accelerated dragon requires some knowledge of chess history on the part of the reader to be fully appreciated.  All character names were taken from famous chess players and the "accelerated dragon" from the title is a playing strategy.  The insects mentioned in the story actually exist and appear to be cousins of bed bugs.  Demand CS will kill them, but applying it properly and safely is crucial.

Bao Tong's commentaries, 'Mao And Deng Were The Same, And We Should Ditch Them' and Deng Xiaoping 'Opened The Floodgates' For Corruption, explained how China migrated from crazed communists to corrupt capitalists.  Another RFA editorial, The Only Thing Left For China Now is Revolution, by Wei Jingsheng, someone who served 18 years in Chinese prisons for "counterrevolutionary" activities, noted that China is essentially controlled by "26 hereditary family groups," in other words, China is no different than other oligarchies.  Last but not least is 'Everyone is Responsible For This Evil' which pointed out the evils of Mao's Red Guards who were instrumental in the millions murdered in the Cultural Revolution.  The photo on this last commentary is worth a thousand words, as it depicts a Chinese bride and groom dressed as Red Guards, suggesting that Red Guards are to China what Elvis is to the U.S.

The British Prime Minister's last day in office is fairly long and meanders through many current events and potential outcomes thereof.  It was triggered by comments from some of the survivors of the Utøya Island massacre in 2011 that they were planning to increase immigration for and give special rights to Muslims, heedless of what is happening in Britain with respect to local jihadists, in protest against the mass murder of the right-wing, neo-Nazi fruitcake, Anders Behring Breivik (Beavis, from Beavis and Butthead, in the story).  The names of the prime minister and other politicians were satirically designed, with the names of the two journalists borrowed from British and American literature.  Sweden, where headscarf fiction becomes reality was a follow-up post.  I would not write it again in its present form as it deals with too many issues.  Many people misunderstood my main point that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not a recommended practice.

Religious sex dolls is a one-off, disparaging religions and pretentious celebrities via bawdy humor.  It's more of an extended dirty joke.  Only people who pay attention to the American national soap opera will fully appreciate the humor.

Monday, September 1, 2014

FICTION: The Russian President's last day in office

"It's okay, Byezoolichka, it happens to all guys," purred Gimnastka Slutskaya.

"It's all because of Ukraine," offered Byez Rubashka.

"I realize that being president of Russia is a big job, but you need to forget about it when you're away from it all," continued Slutskaya.  "Tonight I will set up my vault apparatus in the bedroom.  That always puts you in a good mood."

"Not tonight Gimi," replied Rubashka.  "I have to visit Crimea."

"Are those woman who protest by removing their shirts going to be there?  You know, Boobs-R-Us?" asked Slutskaya.

"I wish they were.  They always brightened my day.  No, they disbanded after what happened to them in Iraq.  They thought they would show ISIS the usual routine -- take their shirts off and display their breasts with political slogans written on them -- but as soon as they did that, they were gang-raped by hundreds of Islamists.  As far as I know, every one of them was raped to death," explained Rubashka.

"Including the ringleader, the stripper who cut down wooden crosses with a chainsaw?" inquired Slutskaya.

"Yes, she was one of them," answered Rubashka.

"This weekend, let's visit your your $1.5 billion Black Sea palace.  That place is really cool.  It reminds me of the palaces of the former tzars," cooed Slutskaya.

"That's the point, my limber one," concluded Rubashka.

* * * * *

"I'll be there in five minutes.  I just want to watch the headlines," said Ukrainian President Ciao Kakao as he walked around his desk and pressed the power button on the television in his office.


"This is INI Headlines with Veracious Tidings," announced the crisp, professional voice.

VERACIOUS TIDINGS: Good evening.  We start with Ukraine.  Let's go live to Hardy Chronicle in Mariupol.

HARDY CHRONICLE: Hi, Vera.  I've learned that the Donetsk area is now completely occupied by Ukrainian forces.  You may remember that the fight for the airport was a tough one a few weeks ago.  Horlivka and Shakhtarsk have also been taken.  Ukrainian forces are relentlessly pushing east to the border region.  Separatists now only control the bulge defined by Luhansk on the north and the 90-degree turn at the border to the south.

The separatists took Novoazovsk not too long ago, but that will probably be a tough nut to crack because Rostov-on-Don, a major Russian city, lies directly to the east, not far at all.  It appears to be a last stand, a separatist Alamo, if you will.

VERACIOUS TIDINGS: Hardy, Russia has been directly supplying separatists with weapons by driving them across the border.  Has the Ukrainian military been able to reduce that flow?

HARDY CHRONICLE: Yes, Vera.  Slowly the Ukrainian army was winning the fight, but as you said, the separatists were being resupplied.  Many of the organizations which deal in satellite imagery -- the U.S. with its spy satellites, Spot, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, etc. -- have been secretly supplying Kiev with almost continuous imagery for some time now.  The U.S. government gave U.S. corporations permission to give Ukraine their highest resolution so convoys could be located.  Kiev has been able to target most Russian convoys entering Ukraine, destroying them with artillery and rockets.  Novoazovsk, on the other hand, is being supplied by both land and sea.

And I sometimes see weapons which appear to be out of place for the Ukrainian military.  I'm beginning to wonder if NATO or other countries are supplying arms on the sly.  I've seen a few drones with attached missiles with Israeli markings.

Oh, and on a slightly different subject, Russian President Byez Rubashka is traveling to Crimea today to give a speech.  It's expected that some Crimeans will give him a rough reception, given that tourism, formally a major contributor to the economy, has fallen from the sky.

VERACIOUS TIDINGS: Thanks, Hardy.  Now let's go to Doughty Communique in Kiev.

DOUGHTY COMMUNIQUE: Hi, Vera.  Ukrainian President Ciao Kakao is flying to Ankara for a meeting with NATO.  This is important for two reasons.  First, he is confident enough in his military's situation to leave the country.  And second, he will be discussing NATO membership which would put an end to Russian adventures in Ukraine.

VERACIOUS TIDINGS: You also have news regarding refugees, right?

DOUGHTY COMMUNIQUE: As you know, more than a million people, many of them children, left Ukraine and traveled to cities in Russia: Tomsk, Ulyanovsk, Yakutsk, Magadan, and others.  Their houses and/or cities were destroyed.  President Kakao announced today that these people will not be allowed back into Ukraine.  He said it is obvious where the loyalties of these people lie.  He expects their husbands and male family members to join them soon, after the two separatist redoubts are finally taken.  He believe that these people would constitute a fifth column in Ukraine.  When asked if his actions were the same as the movement of ethnic minorities that occurred after WWII, he replied: "Perhaps, but given that this war started with Russians in Ukraine attempting to slice a section off for themselves, I believe my decision is justified.  We expect many more Russians to voluntarily move to Russia now that their Soviet dream has been crushed."

Back to you, Vera.


Stay with INI for all the latest news.

* * * * *

"President Rubashka, while we are flying to Crimea, would you like to watch some television?" asked one of his personal servants.

"Turn on Russian Reality.  My favorite newsreader is about to start," replied Rubashka.

"As you wish, my lord," the servant said, as he pressed the power button for the television situated about 1/2 meter from Rubashka.


LABIA LIKOV: This is Russian Reality TV, with all the news you need to know.  Labia Likov here.

The situation is firming up nicely in Eastern Ukraine.  The fascists who executed a coup d'etat are slowly losing their will to fight and the people are reclaiming their birthright.  Even the people of Western Ukraine are beginning to realize that the current government is dangerous to their health.

It's clear to everyone that statehood for Eastern Ukraine is the only solution.  Fascism will never be accepted by the patriots in the east of the country.  Theirs is the natural reaction of people who are defending their rights.  We hope that common sense prevails before any more people are killed.

I also want to make it clear that there is no truth to the rumor that Russia had a prisoner swap with Ukraine.  There are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine and never have been.  Russia merely had pity on the families of Ukrainian soldiers captured in the fascists' war of aggression and decided to do the right thing, as we always do.

Our glorious leader, President Byez Rubashka, is flying to Crimea today to accept the thanks of the people for rescuing them from the grip of the falangists.  He will stay overnight and return to Moscow tomorrow.

Onher Chappedbutt, deported from America in a group of ten alleged spies, has opened another branch of her brothel with a spy theme, The Russia House, this time in Crimea.  To remind you of what she has to offer, we have a graphic showing the services offered with their associated codewords.

Chappedbutt's harlots have created a few terms of their own for use in their work.  We have a graphic showing these terms.

We wish her great success in her newest location.

In other news, we have more details on the scandal involving Italian President Smegma Phallusconi.  You'll remember that he was caught in flagrante delicto with a 16-year-old prostitute.  We just learned that one of the people who burst in on Phallusconi was carrying a state-of-the-art digital camera.  This person snapped a few high resolution photos of Phallusconi's private parts and posted them on his website.  He announced that there is a section of Phallusconi's penis which contains an amazingly lifelike depiction of the Virgin Mary, but only when he has an erection, as the folds otherwise obscure the revelation.  Tens of thousands of Italians have surrounded his house, beseeching him to give them the full Virgin Mary.  We'll let you know what happens.

Finally, in San Diego, California, a Muslim woman dressed in a blue burka was standing next to the main tank when one of the killer whales rose up and knocked her into the tank.  The whales then tossed her into the air and batted her about until trainers could distract them.  Police speculated that because the whales could not see that it was a human in the burka, they thought it was a large, blue, beach toy.  The investigation continues.

We'll be right back.

* * * * *

"Mr. President, the President of the European Council is on the phone," interrupted his assistant.

"Alain, how are you?  I'm flying to Ankara to meet with the NATO ministers.  I suspect they are not predisposed to Ukraine's entry because of the potential cost and risk.  However, Ukraine's entry into the EU is paramount.  We really need that to start the transition away from Russia's influence.  I need to talk to you about ships bringing natural gas to ports in Mariupol and other cities.  Sure, nuclear power might be a solution for the long-term, but I'm worried about the short-term, like this coming winter," began Kakao.

"Yes, I heard that Rubashka called for statehood for Eastern Ukraine.  That's a clear admission that his tactics have failed.  He is grasping at straws now," added Kakao.

"You know, sometimes I think of the children, parents, and teachers who were slaughtered in Beslan ten years ago.  The whole thing went tragically wrong because Rubashka and his cronies were grossly incompetent and corrupt.  The Ingush and Chechen savages bribed their way through police checkpoints.  Russian authorities never secured the area around School Number 1 to prevent the many amateurs from interfering.  We'll never know who fired first, but if commandos had been the only troops present, they could have killed the savages much faster, reducing the death toll of innocents," opined Kakao.

"Of course that occurred to me.  Russia refused to allow Chechnya and the other Caucasian countries to become independent, yet it demands that Ukraine allow Russians in Eastern Ukraine to be set free.  It's always about Russians, with Georgia and South Ossetia being a perfect example," interjected Kakao.

"We are already opening new McDonald's restaurants in the cleared parts of the so-called Novorossiya.  The cuisine is not my favorite, but Ukraine will allow consumers to choose which restaurants exist," finished Kakao.

* * * * *

"Ubistvo, remember what happened the last time you launched an SA-11 Buk missile?  Women and children rained down from the sky.  You killed people from all over the world, ones who had nothing to do with our fight for independence," cautioned Nescient Ovis.

"We've been through this before.  All of those people were already dead," claimed Ubistvo Lyubovnik.  "It was a Western and fascist plot to implicate the motherland."

"Ubistvo, you are the commander of separatist forces in Novoazovsk, but sometimes you remind me of the movie-hero Alexander Nevsky just after a double-dose of meth," answered Ovis.

"That fascist Kakao is flying today from Kiev to Ankara, which takes him over Southern Ukraine, right over our beloved Buk," asserted Lyubovnik.

"Do you really think he would fly over our territory?" queried Ovis.

"He thinks he has already won.  I will show him and his American puppet-masters how to play the game," declared Lyubovnik.  "Okay, button 'A' to arm, button 'R' to release safeties, and button 'L' to launch.  Buk means tree, but in this case, it is the tree of death.  Buk, Buk, Buk, you're the source of all our luck!"

"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when," sang Lyubovnik as he pressed buttons.

The missile ignited and accelerated skyward.

* * * * *

"Absolutely, Onher.  I have visited all of your other bordellos.  I would not miss the opening of another one, if you catch my drift," assured Rubashka.  "Legs, Onher; it was a joke.  Did you build a presidential suite in Crimea?  You know how I hate to mingle with ordinary people."

"I hope you did not invite Teddy Sneg.  He is insufferable, always taking himself so seriously.  I have the impression he believes the world is going to crown him king of the truth-tellers or some other nonsense.  When is he going to realize that we are simply using him?" continued Rubashka.  "Hold on for a second, okay?"

"What's that down below us?  Is that a contrail?  What ..."

Friday, August 29, 2014

FICTION: Finland is persuaded to join NATO



I don't need to tell you that your large, next-door neighbor has been making lots of noise lately.

As you know, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 divided Eastern Europe between the Nazis and Soviets.  Estonia, Latvia, most of Lithuania, most of Poland, Bessarabia, and Finland were promised to the Soviets.

The Soviet Union invaded Finland in November 1939 in the Winter War after first demanding that Finland cede some islands in the Gulf of Finland and part of your beloved Karelia.  You showed the world that a small determined country could hold a bully at bay for a time, but then the spring thaw allowed the Soviets to employ its advantage in armor.  Many Soviet soldiers froze to death because their leadership was incompetent.  You were forced to accept Stalin's terms in March 1940, which included a loss of 11% of your territory.

Of course, that was a mixed blessing, because while Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania retained their territory, they must now deal with large populations of Russians who may soon act as fifth columns.  Poland's borders were dramatically shifted to the West.

The U.S. and many European governments stood by and did nothing, mainly because we had more than our fair share of Bolshevik sympathizers.  Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover organized aid for Finland, continuing the humanitarian work he accomplished in Belgium during WWI, Poland and the Soviet Union post-WWI, and 38 nations in the world famine of 1946-1947.

The Soviet Union shot-down one of your civilian airplanes, the Kaleva, in June 1940, two days before the Soviets annexed the Baltic Countries.  Neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever admitted its guilt or apologized for that crime, but Russia still claims that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania volunteered to be annexed.

Russians have proven themselves to be adept at shooting down airplanes filled with civilians and denying it afterward.

But annexed is such a polite word.  The actual horrors associated with it -- summary executions, confiscation of property, residents being sent to labor camps, freedoms curtailed, rapes -- are glossed over when using that word.

And when the Nazis mostly surrounded Leningrad, squeezing the city into starvation, Finland did not participate in the siege and allowed Soviet food convoys to reach the city via Lake Ladoga.

The enemy is at the gate.  Again.

Russian military aircraft are violating your airspace on a regular basis now.  Russia claims it's an accident.  Let that be a lesson to you: never text and fly.

In a different part of Europe, we heard from captured Russian paratroopers who said they traveled into Ukraine by accident.  Sure, they went to the store for vodka and cigarettes, but ended up in Ukraine.  I hate it when that happens.

Some Russian separatists claim that active-duty Russian soldiers are taking their vacations in Eastern Ukraine, suggesting that armed combat is merely another extreme sport.  A few of those soldiers complained that they were being used as cannon fodder, similar to how their Soviet predecessors were used in Finland.

I realize that Finns cherish their independence, but then again, you joined the European Union and adopted the euro.  There's one more organization you must join.

The colonel standing behind me is holding the signed paperwork for Finland to join.  I say "signed" because all current members have already agreed to allow Finland to join.  The only thing left to do is for the Finnish Parliament to pass the legislation.

As you know, citizen referendums are not binding upon the Parliament.  They are considered to be purely advisory.

That is why your vote tomorrow must be overwhelming.  You must convince them that Finns do not want to repeat history and want to remain in a free Europe.  The Parliament has agreed to hold a vote on the day after yours.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy traveled to West Berlin in June 1963.  The Cold War was in full bloom, with the Berlin Wall having been initially erected on August 1961.  JFK wanted to reassure Berliners that the U.S. was not going to abandon them.

He famously spoke the words, "Ich bin ein Berliner," which actually mean, "I am a jelly doughnut," but that's okay because we knew what he meant.  He was expressing solidarity with people who were at risk of being over-run by the Soviets.

Besides, a jelly doughnut sounds pretty good right now.

So, in conclusion, and channeling my inner JFK, I say to you as a free man: Olen suomalainen!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FICTION: Press conference regarding the Malvinas reconquest by Argentina


MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Sorry to keep you all waiting.  I'll take some questions now.

REPORTER #1: Was the timing of the action accidental or planned?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Very much the latter.  The UK is in the midst of reorganizing its military.  Its second to last helicopter carrier, Illustrious, was retired to a memorial just last December, leaving only the Ocean as an active helicopter carrier.  It retired all of its fixed-wing carriers some time ago, with their replacements not scheduled to start sea trials until next year.  And, of course, this is our summer and their winter, making for nasty weather in the UK and North Atlantic and good weather for us.

REPORTER #2: What was the very first action by the Argentinian government?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: There were many, especially with respect to the planning.  But the first announced action was the establishment of a Maritime Exclusion Zone extending to 200 nautical miles around the Malvinas.  I thought this was especially ironic given that the UK announced the same thing in late April 1982, just before it sunk the General Belgrano outside that zone.

REPORTER #3: When I flew to the Malvinas immediately after Britain retreated, I looked out the window and could have sworn the various fishing vessels were arranged in a spread-out grid pattern.  Were they?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: That is an astute observation.  Yes, we bought a good number of obsolete fishing boats and outfitted them with listening devices and sonar ranging equipment.  This was our on-the-cheap method of creating both an early warning system and a means of determining the position of submarines.  We did not have the time to tie all of the sensors together via a networked computer system, but since we only needed to detect one or two submarines at a time, we could just do it the old-fashioned way, with charts and human intuition based on technical data.

REPORTER #4: Weren't you afraid you would sink your own submarines?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: I think you have the sequence of events confused.  We kept our submarines in port at first.  We wanted to ensure that any initial sightings were of British submarines.

REPORTER #5: Which submarine was sunk first?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Ambush, their newest Astute class boat and an ironic name to say the least, was in the general vicinity, having just visited Australia.  It arrived in our Maritime Exclusion Zone shortly after our announcement.  As we expected, it did not announce its presence at all, but our trawler network picked it up.

REPORTER #6: Can you confirm the report that the torpedoes you used were purchased from North Korea?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: No, because that is simply not true.  We purchased a number of them from China.  We inspected them thoroughly.  I am not an expert on torpedoes, but my officers believe they are carbon copies of the U.S. MK 48 Mod 7.  It is such a good copy, such a quiet weapon, that we believe the design was stolen via cyber-attack.

REPORTER #7: Did the helicopter carrier Ocean arrive after the sinking of the Ambush?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: No, that was days later.  And I would not call getting within 200 nautical miles and then turning around and heading for home "arriving."

REPORTER #8: The Falklands are clearly British territory.  How can the Argentinian government justify their takeover?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Your accent is British, so your attitude is expected.  Here's a short history of the Malvinas.  They were first settled by France in 1764.  A short time after that, Britain founded its own settlement.  Then France transferred its settlement to Spain.  Then around the time of the American Revolution, Britain left the islands completely.  In 1833, Britain returned and staked a sole claim on the islands.

This reminds me of China's claim that it owns the entire South China Sea because some bureaucrat long ago drew a map including it in the Chinese Empire.  Argentina never accepted Britain's claim, leading us to recent events.

REPORTER #9: How was the Ambush actually sunk?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: We did not want to risk any surface ships, especially after what happened last time.    After we took possession of the Malvinas, we established an air base at Stanley.  We added external tanks to some helicopters so they could fly long distances over the sea.  When our trawler network told us a submarine was in the Maritime Exclusion Zone, we launched a helicopter carrying a torpedo.  When the helicopter was over our best estimate of its position, the torpedo was released.  The Ambush was the first to be sunk, with the men of the General Belgrano sending their regards!

There is some irony here.  The General Belgrano is the only ship ever to have been sunk by a nuclear-powered submarine and Argentina is the only country to have sunk a nuclear-powered submarine, except for the Russians and Americans who sank a few of their own by accident.

REPORTER #10: Were you surprised that Britain continued to send submarines?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Yes and no.  They had launched their fleet -- if you call a single helicopter carrier, some destroyers, and some frigates a fleet -- but that would not arrive for some days.  Their submarines were better positioned to arrive sooner.  And submarines are not like surface ships which almost always have a chance to send a distress signal.  The General Belgrano was not able to do so!

Obviously the Ambush stopped communicating with the British navy after it imploded and they must have assumed the worst.  Then the Torbay arrived and we sank it too.  After that, I was confident no more submarines would be found.  But then the Astute arrived and we sank it too.  Their two newest submarines were lost as well as one from the Trafalgar class.  The next submarine from the Astute class will not be ready for duty until sometime next year.  And Britain wisely decided not to send any of their four ballistic missile submarines because the nuclear warheads might have contaminated a portion of the sea.

REPORTER #11: Did Britain's lack of locally-based fixed-wing aircraft give Argentina an advantage?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: In the previous conflict, Britain used carrier-based Harriers to devastating advantage against us, shooting down 20 of our aircraft with the loss of only one of theirs.  But now they were forced to decide if they wanted to counter our local fighters with ones launched from Europe and refueled by its recently acquired Airbus A330 MRTT tanker aircraft.  All they have now are Tornadoes, which are technically up to the challenge, but fuel is a major problem especially given that not one South American country gave them permission to overfly or land on their territory.  I'm sure they thought about basing them on their Ascension Island, but that is still a long flight from the Malvinas.  I personally notified the British ambassador that if Tornadoes joined the fight, their tankers would be fair game.  Britain is waiting for F-35s from the U.S., but given the major problems the U.S. has had with them, I'm not really sure they would have made any difference.

REPORTER #12: What happened to the British residents of the Malvinas?

MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: We cannot afford to revisit this when the UK possesses two fixed-wing carriers in a remake of the Sudetenland.  In our invasion, some full-time residents used rifles and other weapons in an attempt to stop us, with some of them being shot, but all 3000 or so residents were rounded up and evacuated to Buenos Aires, where they were put on British Airways planes.  We allowed them to bring personal possessions with them.  They are already screaming that Argentina owes them compensation, but that's Britain's problem now.

Speaking of Britain's problem, a large number of Islamists around the world, especially in the Syria-Iraq arena, are British.  Prime Minister Poltroon Cummerbund needs to deal with his own internal problems, not to mention the epidemic of Muslim men grooming non-Muslim girls as young as 11 for sex, before worrying about far-off claims.

Sorry, but I must leave it there.  I need to get back to work.  We'll have more for you in the next few days and weeks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ideology, North Korean sanctions, naive assumptions, Chinese intransigence, and unintended consequences

For years people have been saying that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse.  They continue to say that because of what happened to the Soviet Union.  It collapsed, so they believe it is only a matter of time before the same thing happens to North Korea.  In truth, the Soviet Union collapsed only because Mikhail Gorbachev was unwilling to employ machine guns against his people, in contrast to his predecessors.  CNN noted back in 1996 that "it's been ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of the food shortages.  North Korea's army and party elite remain largely unaffected."

Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, was in charge during the Great Famine when 5-6 million Russians died.  Lenin was too busy consolidating his power to care.  His successor, Stalin, was in charge during the Ukrainian Genocide when perhaps as many as 10 million people died.  Stalin used food as a blunt instrument to force Ukraine to accept his policies.  Kim Il-sung, who was in power mainly because of Stalin and Mao, was in charge during the beginning of North Korea's famine of 1994-8 when 2-4 million people died.  North Korea's famine was a confluence of many factors: the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 which had been supporting the DPRK, the brutal rule of Kim Il-sung who via his policy of songbun forced everyone into categories of toadies and slaves, and Kim's incompetence and ego shown by his building of the tallest hotel at that time, the Ryugyong Hotel, a/k/a the Hotel of Doom, which is easily the most hideous skyscraper ever built.

Stalin became the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin and ordered the assassination of rival Trotsky in 1940.  Stalin stated in reference to comments of Lenin:
There are instances when the right to self-determination conflicts with another, higher right -- the right of the working class to consolidate its power.  In such cases -- and one must be blunt -- the right of self-determination cannot and must not be an obstacle to the working class in exercising its dictatorship.

Soon after the Nazi invasion on June 22, 1941, Stalin retreated to his dacha after a mental breakdown.  He said in despair, "Lenin founded our state and we've fucked it up."  Nikita Khrushchev described him as a "bag of bones in a grey tunic."  Vyacheslav Molotov (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Lavrenty Beria (NKVD chief), Kliment Voroshilov (People's Commissar for Defense), and Anastas Mikoyan (Minister of Foreign Trade) visited him at his dacha, with Stalin expecting them to arrest him.  But they didn't because they were afraid of him.  Molotov later said in his quasi-memoirs, Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics, that Stalin was "like a lamb" compared to Lenin.

Leonid Brezhnev was in power during the Prague Spring.  His answer to Alexander Dubcek's abolition of censorship was the combating of "anti-socialist forces."  The policy became known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.  He announced in November 1968:
We cannot ignore the assertions, held in some places, that the actions of the five socialist countries run counter to the Marxist-­Leninist principle of sovereignty and the rights of nations to self-determination.  The groundlessness of such reasoning consists primarily in that it is based on an abstract, non-class approach to the question of sovereignty and the rights of nations to self-determination.  The peoples of the socialist countries and communist parties certainly do have and should have freedom for determining the ways of advance of their respective countries.  However, none of their decisions should damage either socialism in their country or the fundamental interests of other socialist countries, and the whole working class movement, which is working for socialism.  This means that each communist party is responsible not only to its own people, but also to all the socialist countries, to the entire communist movement.

In other words, once countries accept Soviet communism, they will not be allowed to leave the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact.

During the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, Yuri Andropov watched Hungarian secret policemen being hung from lamp posts and vowed to never allow it to happen again.  He became the head of the KGB just in time to crush the Prague Spring.  It was during his reign as general secretary that Korean Air flight 007 was shot down and Ronald Reagan coined the phrase "evil empire."  Andropov died in 1984 at age 69, but if his health had been better, he would have remained in power, able to crush the revolutions which started during Gorbachev's time in office.

In the first few months of 1987, Gorbachev ordered that the jamming for BBC News, Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle radio transmissions cease.

Jack Matlock paraphrased Gorbachev circa 1987-8 in his book Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union:
Throughout our history, change has come from above.  And it was always implemented by force. Now, I cannot use force or I will defeat the goal itself.  You cannot impose democracy on people, you can only give them the possibility of exercising it.  What we are trying to do is unprecedented.  We have to turn Russian history upside down.  We have to teach our people to rule themselves, something they have never been permitted to do throughout our history.

In July 1989 in Strasbourg, Gorbachev proclaimed:
The social and political order in some particular countries did change in the past, and it can change in the future as well.  But this is exclusively a matter for the peoples themselves and of their choice.  Any interference in internal affairs, any attempts to limit the sovereignty of states -- whether of friends and allies or anybody else -- are inadmissible.

Shortly before this speech, in May, Hungary started dismantling its border fence separating it from Austria.  Hungary's government waited for a response from Gorbachev, and when there was no negative reaction, they dismantled it completely.  In August, the residents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania crossed their countries in a human chain called the Baltic Way.  The residents of Plauen started the mass protests in Germany in October.  The DDR planned to employ machine guns against protesters in Leipzig in October, but when that did not happen, the Monday Demonstrations became too large to control.  The Berlin Wall fell shortly thereafter.

Matlock wrote that Gorbachev wished to return to a "true Leninism."  David Remick wrote in his book Lenin's Tomb : The Last Days of the Soviet Empire that Gorbachev strived for "socialism with a human face."  Both understood that Gorbachev was naive and did not fully comprehend that totalitarian countries are only held together by force.  Reagan did not win the Cold War.  Gorbachev allowed it to end peacefully.

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One could compare North Korea's finances with one of the grand old bath houses of Europe.  You can soak in the outside pool and be blissfully unaware of what is going on in the indoor pool.  You might even delude yourself and assume that the same activities are happening inside and that the water temperature is the same, when in truth things may be quite different.

The authors of Don't Engage Kim Jong Un -- Bankrupt Him, Joshua Stanton and Lee Sung-Yoon, made the same assumption.  They assumed that all we have to do is tighten the screws on North Korea via the banking system and the DPRK will disappear with a happy ending.  They were only looking at the outside pool of the bath house.

Stanton and Lee began with comments regarding Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Governor Bill Richardson's excellent adventure in North Korea.  Senator John McCain and the authors believed that the pair were being "useful idiots" to the benefit of the DPRK.  On the contrary, as I wrote before, Schmidt knew exactly what he was doing.  If he was able to convince Kim Jong-un to allow the Google Car to videotape the entire country, the millions of people vicariously visiting North Korea via Google Maps would translate to billions of dollars worth of Google Ads.  Schmidt was gambling that Kim Jong-un and his toadies were not sophisticated enough to understand Google's business model.  Richardson, on the other hand, is a photo-op groupie worthy of Senator McCain's ire.

Stanton and Lee gave a detailed, valid analysis of what has been done in the past and what could be done again.  But their entire justification can be summed up in one sentence that Kim Jong-il allegedly said to Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2006: he was worried that prolonged U.S. financial sanctions on the Stalinist country could lead to the regime’s collapse.

We have been burned by single source stories from North Korea before.  After Kim Jong-un had his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, executed, we started to hear rumors of how he had been fed to a hungry pack of dogs and ripped apart.  It was only later that we heard the truth, that dogs played no part in his death and the story originated in satire from a Chinese microblogging website.

Surprisingly, Stanton and Lee made no mention of tourism to North Korea, even though it is currently holding three Americans in prison, including Kenneth Bae.  Barack Obama could easily impose penalties for U.S. citizens who visit North Korea, similar to how we restrict travel to Cuba.  Dennis Rodman, a professional basketball player in contrast to Obama's amateur status, is allowed to jet back-and-forth between the U.S. and North Korea, making a mockery of the 120,000-200,000 people being held in labor camps.  Pressure can be applied to the many firms which offer tours to and run summer camps in North Korea.

Stanton is a partisan, conservative expatriate, opining on his blog that "Korea's political left … isn't liberal in its values or compassionate toward Korea's most vulnerable -- that is, North Koreans."  However, both the current president, Park Geun-hye (2013-present), and the previous one, Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013), are members of the conservative Grand National Party.  Rainer Eppelmann, the last defense minister of the DDR, said in 2012 after consultations in Seoul: "I've realized that the South Koreans are trying to figure out a way for the North Koreans to remain in the North after unification.  The South Koreans were talking about border controls.  I'll be damned!  They seriously intend to close the border after the wall has fallen!"  This does not prove that Korea's liberals are compassionate, but it does prove that its conservatives do not have a monopoly on the subject.

China has pretended to take the six-party talks seriously, but its actions speak louder than its words.  It needs North Korea as a source of rare earth minerals for its industry.  Chinese investors have massively invested in North Korea, especially in the Rason Special Economic Zone which includes Rajin, the last ice-free port until Murmansk, where, as one guide put it, "You can get everything here except nuclear weapons."

As I wrote before (In memory of nine North Korean orphans and China is murdering North Korean refugees), China refuses to send North Korean refugees to South Korea even though Seoul offers to pay for their transportation.  China considers the lives of the refugees to be mere collateral damage in its policy of steadfast support for the DPRK.  Obama said: "One thing I will say about China, though, is you also have to be pretty firm with them, because they will push as hard as they can until they meet resistance.  They're not sentimental, and they are not interested in abstractions.  And so simple appeals to international norms are insufficient."

It seems fairly likely that China would offer alternatives to Western banks if severe sanctions were again implemented.  Sanctions would only be effective if China was our full partner in establishing bans on all luxury goods to put the squeeze on Kim Jong-un and his note-taking toadies, given that much of these goods arrive via the long border.  To force China to do this, we could use our enormous trade leverage with China.  For example, the president could call Xi Jinping and state that our ports will not accept any more Chinese goods until it fully and verifiably participates in the luxury goods ban.  China's economy would collapse in a matter of months without the U.S. buying its goods, so Xi would pay attention.  China has a veto vote only as long as we allow it, including vis-à-vis its nine-dash line covering the entire South China Sea.

The Yalu River, Paektu Mountain, and the shallow, refugee-favored Tumen River constitute the border between the Korean Peninsula and its two northern neighbors, China and Russia (to paraphrase Robert Frost, good rivers make good neighbors).  North Korea can also evade sanctions via its 12-mile-long border with Russia, especially since Russia is circling its wagons in response to sanctions against it for its role in the downing of MH17.

Should we return to the appeasement-based politics of the Sunshine Policy, where South Korea gave vast amounts in aid in the hope that the DPRK would use the aid wisely?  No, of course not, because we know that it achieved nothing.  But what if Stanton and Lee are correct in their premise that severe sanctions would result in the implosion of the DPRK?  It's likely Kim would continue to play the same game he learned at his father's knee, that of playing the West for a fool and continuing to do so until it was too late to save the country.

As Bruce W. Bennett wrote in Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse and N. Korea Could Fall Faster Than We Think, and I wrote in Could an implosion of North Korea result in WWIII?, an uncontrolled implosion of North Korea would be a catastrophe of the same magnitude as the Korean War.  We know from the UN that labor camp guards have standing orders to execute all prisoners, all 120,000-200,000 of them.  China and Russia would want to safeguard their port facilities in Rajin and railways leading there.  Refugees would attempt to stream across the Chinese, Russian, and South Korean borders to an unknown reception.  A struggle for power between the various military factions would arise, with the care and feeding of civilians being rather low on their list of priorities.  It is entirely possible that some military units would go down with their ship, metaphorically speaking, and launch missiles at South Korea, Japan, or other targets, or send artillery shells laden with chemical weapons across the DMZ.  Civil wars are always ugly and often morph into something completely unexpected, with MH17 being a perfect example.

There are only two ways to prevent the aforementioned carnage.  The best option would be an implosion initiated and controlled by North Korean officers in a coup as I alluded to in The demise and resurrection of North Korea.  The second-best option is one with China as a full partner, with all contingencies planned for, especially concerning raids on the labor camps to rescue the prisoners.  However, the rumors on Chinese contingency plans are that China does not currently intend to rescue either the prisoners or its WMDs -- and does not want to talk about it because it might upset the leadership of the DPRK and Chinese businessmen.

Of course, China's plan-B may be to install Kim Jong-un's older brother, Kim Jong-nam, who appears to be predisposed to Chinese-style reforms.

The status quo, as terrible as it is, might be preferable to an uncontrolled implosion.  We need to put as much pressure on China as we do on the DPRK.