Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Henry Kissinger is both right and wrong regarding China and North Korea in his book World Order

Joseph A. Bosco's article in The Diplomat, Henry Kissinger and the China-North Korea Reality, pontificated on Henry Kissinger's recent book, World Order, especially with respect to North Korea.

Kissinger was correct when he said that the Korean War symbolized "China’s determination to end its 'century of humiliation' and ‘stand up’ on the world stage."  You can see this manifested in the comments on articles in The Diplomat from Chinese nationals.  Some of them are downright foaming at the mouth against the U.S. for China's treatment over the years, though one would have guessed that Chinese anger would be greatest against the British.

Kissinger is also correct that "China and the United States have taken parallel positions in the UN Security Council demanding that North Korea abandon – not curtail – its nuclear program," because their rationales are entirely different.  The U.S. wants to eliminate a mad dog with ever-growing teeth, while China does not appreciate the DPRK's upsetting the status quo of maintaining North Korea as a buffer zone against the West.

China is somewhat like Russia in this respect.  Russia has become unhinged due to NATO creeping ever closer to its gate, even though there was never any written promise by NATO to refrain from doing so.  That said, China's attempt at controlling the South China Sea is much worse than Russia's attempt at creating Новороссия, (new Russia) using Crimea, southern and eastern Ukraine, and Transdniester, because it is aggression aimed at many countries which never had anything to do with China.

But then Kissinger returned to his usual self with this statement: "In 1979, China changed course and, under Deng Xiaoping, proclaimed a nonideological foreign policy."  In truth, Kissinger and Tricky Dick got snookered by Mao and Deng.  Deng was much craftier and more foresighted than the West knows.  He realized how he could leverage the bluster and unfettered capitalism of the U.S. to make China a great power.  The proof is the vast amount of trade the West has with China, when there was never any significant trade with the USSR.

Bosco opined that the proof for the DPRK's increased aggression is the "sinking of the Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island," but he seems to have forgotten about the 1976 DMZ ax murder incident, the 1987 bombing of KAL 858 which resulted in 115 deaths, and many other provocations which occurred before Kim Jong-un became Kim 3.0.

The police state of North Korea has remained pretty much the same the same since Kim Il-sung first created the DPRK in 1945 with the able assistance of the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tie corporate taxes to the percentage of Americans employed there

The U.S. system of labor is broken.

Apple pays almost no U.S. corporate taxes, yet it is the fifth-largest corporation in the world.  Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have used subcontractors to obtain slave labor with plausible deniability.  During Saint Steve's reign, in 2010, one Apple subcontractor, Foxconn, became infamous for having 14 of its employees commit suicide by jumping off the roof of one of its factories.  Perhaps that's where Walmart obtained its idea for falling prices.  Employees were required to work 12 hours per day, and often even 16 or 18 hours in a day.  Jobs assured fawning Apple devotees at a U.S. conference in June 2010: "Foxconn is not a sweatshop" and "We're all over this."  The only thing which was "all over" was the blood of the 14 workers.  If I had been CEO at the time, I would have flown there the very next day to see for myself what the problem was.  I would have remained there until a fair and safe solution was crafted.  Jobs did not do that.  Also in 2010, 137 workers of Apple supplier Wintek were injured while using n-hexane to clean iPhone screens.  Near the end of Jobs' watch, in 2011, four workers were killed in two different explosions caused by ignited aluminum dust from iPad polishing.

More recently, BBC Panorama filmed workers at a different Apple subcontractor, Pegatron, while they were sleeping at their work stations due to over-work and fatigue.  A BBC reporter masquerading as a worker was required to work 18 12-hour days in a row and experienced shifts as long as 16 hours.  Tim Cook's reaction was somewhat different than his predecessor.  He channeled his inner Kim Jong-un and declared that Apple is "deeply offended" by the BBC investigation.  Like Jobs, he did not soil his hands by personally investigating the matter.

H-1B visas are often touted as job creators, yet the vast majority of them are used for people with only a B.S. degree, usually from India.  Politicians often claim that these visas are only used for highly-skilled people, but that would only apply if they were used for people with M.S. or PhD degrees.  H-1B visas are mostly used to replace American workers with cheaper foreign ones, often after having to train their replacements.  Microsoft's Bill Gates appeared before Congress many times to plead for still more H-1B visas, with Microsoft being world-class in outsourcing jobs to other countries and using H-1B visas in the U.S.  And note that "immigration reform" calls for still higher numbers of H-1B visas to be issued.

The majority of jobs being created in the U.S. are low-paid ones, with many people being forced to work multiple part-time jobs.  The BLS U6 statistic notes that 11.2% of the population remains either unemployed or underemployed, a far cry from the farcical official figure of 5.6%.

President Bill Clinton promised that granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China would "increase U.S. jobs and reduce our trade deficit."  Doug Bandow of the libertarian Cato Institute opined: "It is primarily U.S. exporters who will benefit ... the silliest argument against PNTR is that Chinese imports would overwhelm U.S. industry.  In fact, American workers are far more productive than their Chinese counterparts.  Moreover, Beijing's manufacturing exports to the United States remain small, about half the level of those from Mexico.  PNTR would create far more export opportunities for American than Chinese concerns."

In fact, giving China PTNR and allowing it to join the WTO has caused our trade balance to drastically increase (December 2014 data was unavailable so November 2014 data was used in its place in the below graph using Census data).  And Obama's newest free trade treaty allows foreign corporations operating within the U.S. to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal with the power to overrule American law.

We need a more equitable solution.

Congress should repeal all corporate tax law and replace it with one that is inversely proportional to the percentage of American employed by that corporation.  There will be two components, direct and indirect.  Direct refers to actual employees anywhere in the world.  Indirect refers to parts, products, tools, and means of production and sale.  For example, Walmart has a large work force in the U.S., but it has an even larger one overseas manufacturing all of its products.  So Walmart and Apple might pay a 60% corporate tax, while a shop selling nothing but toys made in the USA would pay 0%.

Politicians would ponder over whether all employees should be counted the same or whether those with advanced degrees should count for more than those with only a high school education.  Both approaches have their merits, but all employees should be counted equally for two reasons.  First, it would be more difficult to calculate a mixed work force.  And second, jobs requiring only a high school education are becoming rare, except for retail and restaurant, so this would further motivate companies to move factories back to the U.S. for a tax advantage.

There would be problems, to be sure.  For example, should farms be included in this scheme given that they would pay a near-zero rate?  And what about firms which do nothing but R&D with local materials?  If R&D firms obtained a near-zero rate, politicians would need to close the obvious loophole of firms attempting to paint themselves as R&D to avoid paying taxes.  Tim Cook would be the first one in line for that loophole.

Pessimists would note that after companies brought all production back to the U.S., corporate tax collection would be drastically diminished.  We should be so lucky.  But in reality, this would result in many Americans being hired, with them paying more taxes, so the problem would somewhat even out via the best possible implementation of trickle-down economics.

If we don't repair our labor system, we will soon live in a country where the wealthiest 1% own more than everyone else.  Jack Welch, former GE CEO, was given a going-away present of $417 million, but just imagine how many middle class jobs that amount would have funded.  To paraphrase Carly Fiorina: there is no golden parachute that is American CEOs' God-given right anymore.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A peace treaty to end the Korean War

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, has proposed talks at the highest levels, saying: "Depending on the mood and circumstances, there is no reason not to hold a high-level summit."  He announced that Seoul, Pyongyang, or any other Korean city would be acceptable for the talks.  If he traveled to the ROK, it would make him the first leader of the DPRK to visit South Korea, though a South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung, did travel to Pyongyang for a summit, albeit for a substantial bribe to Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, during the dark days of the Sunshine Policy.

Kim made his announcement after Sony released The Interview, proving that the movie was not a deal-breaker.  Many Americans laughed at the portrayal of Kim in the movie, but perhaps they should have laughed equally loud at Sony, which negligently used a song in it without signing any agreement, not to mention that it would be a violation of federal law for Sony to release a movie depicting the assassination of a sitting U.S. president.

At first glance, this would appear to be a momentous step for the third leader of the DPRK to take.  But then he added a prerequisite familiar to DPRK watchers, saying: "In a tense mood of such war-preparatory exercises, trust-based dialogue can't be possible, and North-South relations can't move forward."  He was referring to the actions of the U.S. military, participating in war games with the ROK and flying B-52 bombers in a not-so subtle hint that the U.S. could easily convert the DPRK into a barren wasteland.

Kim does not appear to understand the current U.S. appetite for cost-cutting.  If a permanent peace treaty were to be signed, the U.S. Tea Party and other groups would quickly demand an end to the 28,500 U.S. troops being stationed on the Korean Peninsula.  In 2012, the U.S. spent $3.1 billion to retain troops there, with South Korea adding $765 million (the 2014 figure for the ROK was $866.86 million), with the U.S. military being in the middle of a $11 billion modernization project.  The U.S. Defense Department is pinching pennies everywhere it can, including proposing to eliminate $1 billion in subsidies to military commissaries, a much-appreciated system for the benefit of military families which has been in existence since 1879.  The DOD has proposed to eliminate the infantryman-loved A-10, saving $3.5 billion over the next five years. And in Europe, the U.S. is closing 15 military bases, projecting to save half a billion dollars each year.

The peace treaty would need to be comprehensive and serious.

Perhaps the most important issue is the massing of 10,000 artillery pieces just north of the DMZ, with these pieces being able to hit Seoul.  They are a mix of traditional artillery pieces, many with chemical munitions, and the Katyusha-style rocket launchers which can quickly send large numbers of warheads.  These weapons would need to be moved completely out of range of Seoul.  And weapons inspectors, ROK and international, would need to be free to inspect the old sites without prior notice to ensure that they do not somehow find their way back home.  Currently these weapons are situated in reinforced bunkers.

A conversation would need to be had on the subject of the DPRK's regressing back into its old habits.  Given its history, it is possible that Kim would interpret the above as weakness and an opening, i.e. as soon as U.S. troops left, the artillery pieces would be moved back into position.  It would need to be made clear to Kim that the reaction of the U.S. would be the elimination of the assets by air interdiction before they were moved back into position.

A major sticking point would be North Korea's nuclear weapons program.  The DPRK's propaganda holds that nuclear weapons are essential to maintaining an independent country, but the world would not accept an ongoing nuclear program.  North Koreans have been told on a regular basis how it was the South which invaded in 1950, when in fact it was the reverse, and that "the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet warmongers ... are challenging the DPRK's measures," with the U.S. and the ROK's "despicable reptile media" misinterpreting the DPRK's position.  The world would require unannounced visits to all nuclear facilities by international weapons inspectors and an end to nuclear weapons production and testing.

Both sides would need to accept military observers from the other side who would be embedded in important military functions.  This would serve two purposes.  First, it would make it difficult for any hostile actions to be initiated.  And second, it would insidiously change the attitude of northerners who would see with their own eyes the successful South.  If the ROK's leaders are smart, they would propose that police officers from both sides work alongside their counterparts for a day or two at a time.

Another sticking point would involve its labor camps, which in many respects resemble Nazi slave labor camps, where as many as 200,000 people are being held in sadistic conditions.  Kim would first need to acknowledge that the camps exist, something which the DPRK has always denied, with the massive amount of evidence, including satellite photos, providing the proof.  All political prisoners would need to be released and sent home.  It would be necessary for a team of North Korean and South Korean judges to review the charges against the prisoners to ensure that all political prisoners were set free.

Kim would need to agree to stop imprisoning or executing North Koreans who attempt to escape, policies which only repressive countries such Cuba and China have implemented, with many of these people traveling via an underground railroad, often to Thailand.  This policy best exemplifies the DPRK's attitude toward its people, that they are mere chattel.  Both Koreas would need to have a chat regarding the disposition of people the DPRK deemed undesirable, with the best outcome being deportation to the ROK.

One area which would need to be handled by the UN or NGOs concerns orphans.  The DPRK abandons them like yesterday's fish, but the ROK gathers them up in orphanages with southerners rarely adopting them.  Given that orphans often die of starvation and exposure on the streets, the two Koreas would need to agree that the ROK could rescue them, perhaps via NGOs, simply by driving buses to all cities and searching for them.

There would be some side benefits of a permanent peace treaty.  The U.S. would finally be able to completely eliminate its stores of land mines, as the Obama administration decided to get rid of all of them bar the ones used in the DMZ, where over one million currently reside in deterrence to over 4000 North Korean tanks and a plethora of special forces troops which would stream across the DMZ in case of war.

After the DMZ is cleared of mines and Korean War casualties removed, it can be transformed into a nature preserve, something unique in Asia, though the mine clearing would need to be done slowly and as quietly as possible to avoid having the wildlife run away.  The nonprofit DMZ Forum notes that the DMZ and the contiguous Civilian Control Zone contain Asiatic black bear, leopard, lynx, Siberian musk deer, hundreds of bird species, and white-naped and red-crowned cranes, many of which are endangered, as well as five rivers.  It might help to mention to Kim that he would be fondly remembered for the creation of one of the world's premier nature preserves, similar to the European Green Belt which was built along the route of the former Iron Curtain.

Business interests in South Korea are planning to build-out the DMZ after a peace treaty is signed.  They have already announced their desire to build in one of the river deltas.  This would need to be stopped cold because once building started, it would continue until the DMZ looked like downtown Seoul with the addition of a small fountain named Crane Park.  The Potemkin village of Kijong-dong should be eliminated and Daeseong-dong and Panmunjom prevented from growing.  All future roads and railways would be built in tunnels under the DMZ and when existing ones require major reconstruction, they would be razed and moved underground.  Luckily a number of tunnels already exist (a little North Korean humor there).

Perhaps Kim would agree to the creation of a coast-to-coast hiking trail in the DMZ where Koreans can peer out over wildlife and nature and where rangers, teams of northerners and southerners, prevent poaching.  The DMZ kept Koreans apart for over 60 years, but now it would bring them together.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cuba and U.S. kiss and make up; Marco Rubio and Rand Paul dance; Apple's Tim Cook channels his inner North Korea, kisses off Asian workers

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro separately announced that the U.S. and Cuba will reestablish diplomatic relations.  Cuba is demanding that the U.S. respect its form of government, with Castro saying: "In the same way that we have never demanded that the United States change its political system, we will demand respect for ours."

The U.S. had a fixation on the first leader of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro, since the revolution which nationalized everything, including casinos and hotels owned by U.S. capitalists.  JFK's CIA director, Allen Dulles, gave the okay to a plot to assassinate Castro.  But then he grew old and sick and his younger brother, Raul, took over.  The younger brother immediately started making changes, with the reestablishment of diplomatic relations being an important one.  Chants of "Viva Raul!" by supporters prove that the younger Castro's changes are welcomed by Cubans.  Perhaps they are tempted to also chant "More, please!"  It is likely that the next leader of Cuba will take it even further, just as each Soviet leader further relaxed the environment of terror that Lenin and Stalin created.

Americans steadfastly opposed to rapprochement tend to be older Cuban-Americans or Cold Warriors living in the past, with a good example being Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio.  Rubio recently engaged in a Twitter war with his fellow senator, Rand Paul.  In a Fox News interview, Rubio declared that Paul is "clueless" vis-à-vis Cuba and editorialized that the U.S. should stay the course with respect to isolating Cuba.  "Like many people that have been opining, he has no idea what he’s talking about," asserted Rubio.

Paul is known as a loose cannon in Washington.  He is a true believer in unfettered capitalism, a/k/a libertarianism.  He admires corporations that evade corporate taxes, e.g. Caterpillar, the largest manufacturer of earth moving equipment, backup generators, and other industrial products.  He said in a Senate hearing regarding its avoidance of corporate taxes: "It is a requirement that you try to minimize your costs.  So rather than chastising Caterpillar we should be complimenting them."

Someone needs to take Paul aside and explain to him that highways, sewer and water pipes, and other city infrastructure are not free, and that if a corporation evades taxes, local residents will be forced to subsidize the corporation.

But similar to how a broken, analog clock indicates the correct time twice each day, even a loose cannon occasionally hits its target.

In his Twitter war with Rubio, Paul tweeted: "The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?"

Rubio has been consistent in his attitude toward the country which sits just 93 miles south of the U.S., unconcerned that the U.N. General Assembly has voted for 23 years in a row to condemn the various U.S. embargoes against Cuba.  In October 2012, Rubio said on Face the Nation:
They have these things called people-to-people trips to Cuba, which ostensibly is for Americans to be able to travel to Cuba, be in contact with everyday Cubans.  That's not what they are.  They're really tourism trips.  I mean, people go over there for salsa dancing and cigar-rolling lessons.  And all it is is a source of hard currency for the Castro regime.  You talk about Fidel Castro being near death.  I don't know that to be true, but I can tell you what's been dead for over 50 years in Cuba, and that's democracy.  There are no political freedoms in Cuba.  And I think that, sadly, over the last four years, the cause of freedom in Cuba has been -- has been hurt by this additional trips to Cuba and remittances that are providing hard currency for that regime.

A perfect example of American celebrity tourism to Cuba was the visit by Jay-Z and Beyoncé which was, as Rubio astutely noted, "fully licensed by the Treasury Department."  Just as with Dennis Rodman's farcical trip to the DPRK where he implied that political prisoner Kenneth Bae deserved his fate, the two musicians did not meet with any political prisoners or accomplish anything politically meaningful, but the Cuban government was able to trumpet the presence of the two musicians for propaganda purposes.

Cuban-Americans who are not famous celebrities have some things in common with South Koreans or Korean expatriates who have relatives in North Korea.  For all of them, the continuing animosity between the U.S. and their homeland prevents them from attending family gatherings.  Many young Cuban-Americans have split with their parents and grandparents and want the animosity to end. 52% of Cubans younger than 65 support normalization and 67% older than 65 are opposed.

It is true that Cuba has been less than fair on the subject of human rights.  For example, the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), are a group of wives and female relatives of dissidents who march to protest the treatment of their loved ones.  They are often arrested or otherwise harassed in doing so, e.g. they were arrested in July 2014 while remembering the sinking of a refugee boat which resulted in the drowning deaths of 37 people.

However, China is hardly a shining example of human rights.  Li Biyun, a Chinese dissident, was held in prison for more than one year on "public order charges."  She was eventually released and dumped on a roadside without any notice to her lawyer or family.  "They had put a motorcycle helmet on her and thrown her there," her sister, Li Caiyun, said.  "She can't walk now; she says she has broken a rib."

China is also the home of Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was convicted of the crime of calling for an end to one-party rule and given an 11-year sentence.  China, of course, has been controlled by one party since Mao and the communists bested the Nationalists, forcing them to move to Taiwan.

Cuba killed a large number of dissidents under Fidel Castro, but Mao killed 45 million in just four years during the Great Leap Forward and millions more during the Cultural Revolution.  China may or may not be closing its labor camps, but 160,000 people were held in 350 labor camps throughout the country in 2008 alone.

The top-five countries for imprisoning journalists are China (446), Eritrea (242), Iran (216), Cuba (177), and Turkey (150).  Cuba is worse with respect to its substantially smaller population, but China remains the clear leader overall.

The U.S. sends China hundreds of billions of dollars each year in a lopsided trade exchange.  In 2013, in terms of trade, the U.S. sent $122 billion to China, while China sent $440 billion to the U.S.  There is no trade between the U.S. and Cuba.  Americans who admire Cuba are often termed un-American or un-patriotic, while Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg urged his employees to savor a book of speeches written by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

To put it into Rubio-speak, democracy has been dead in China since 1949, but corporate tourism is encouraged by the U.S. government.

Paul no doubt admires Apple because it pays almost no corporate taxes, yet it is the fifth-largest corporation in the world.  He might also admire Apple for the Dickensian way it treats its Asian employees.

In 2010, Foxconn, an Apple contractor, was the location of 14 employee suicides, all from jumping off the roof of its factory in Shenzhen, China.  The grievances of the employees were many, but working many 12+-hour days in a row was probably the most important.

In 2010, 137 workers of Apple supplier Wintek were injured while using n-hexane to clean iPhone screens.  In 2011, four workers were killed in two different explosions caused by aluminum dust from iPad polishing being ignited.  Dust explosions are a known and preventable hazard in manufacturing, with the workers having previously complained that "the ventilation of the department is poor."

GlobalPost's expose, Silicon Sweatshops: Shattered Dreams, published in November 2009 just before the suicides, noted that factories in the Philippines, Taiwan, and China used by high-tech companies did not crack down on excessive placement fees for foreign workers, allowed brokers to retain passports of foreign workers, and looked the other way when brokers misappropriated a significant percentage of worker salaries, essentially transforming them into indentured servants.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs assured fawning Apple devotees at a U.S. conference in June 2010: "Foxconn is not a sweatshop" and "We're all over this."  He could have required Apple contractors to improve working conditions.  However, Foxconn only installed fences and netting on the top floors of its factories and hired some counselors.  No member of management flew to China to research the tragedy as one would expect from a company with a slogan of "Every detail matters."

BBC Panorama revisited the issue this month (view program here).  It found that, in terms of working hours, nothing has changed.  Panorama included video of employees so tired they fell asleep at their work stations.  A BBC reporter masquerading as a worker was required to work 18 12-hour days in a row and experienced shifts as long as 16 hours.

The current Apple CEO, Tim Cook, channeled his inner Kim Jong-un and declared that Apple is "deeply offended" by the BBC investigation.  He did not announce a joint probe similar to the one which North Korea has proposed to investigate the breach of Sony, even though the DPRK is not serious.  He did not address the video which clearly depicts workers who require and deserve more sleep.  He did not address the scenes showing children as young as 12-years-old mining for the tin used in the manufacture of iPhones and iPads.  He did not announce a visit to see things for himself.

At least Cook did not refer to BBC Panorama journalists as "human scum," the term North Korea used for the refugees who testified against the DPRK in the creation of the U.N. report which revealed that North Koreans have suffered "unspeakable atrocities" including systematic extermination, torture, rape, forced abortions, and starvation.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fiction reference points

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

Operation Yazidi Forget-me-not is my daydream of what should happen to the Yazidi girls and women who have been kidnapped by Islamic State (a/k/a Daesh) to be used as sexual slaves.  We should have rescued them as soon as they were taken, especially since they are now being sold in Islamic slave markets.  There are many online articles regarding the kidnapped Yazidi females, but readers can peruse some of the best ones here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

This was not the first time that Islamists targeted Yazidis.  In August 2007, al-Qaeda detonated four simultaneous car bombs, killing 796 and injuring 1562.  It was the second-worst terrorist act in history, with only the 9/11 attacks surpassing it.  The Yazidis did not release casualty breakdowns, but this was probably the largest death toll of children in the history of terrorism, exceeding even that of Beslan.

Barack Obama announced support for Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF), the former of which was the same group with whom John McCain posed for photos, but they are not rebels in the Western point of view.  The SRF allied itself with al-Nusra in the past because both have the goal of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, but al-Nusra is a franchise of al-Qaeda.  Both groups applauded U.S bombing of Daesh, yet they decried bombing of al-Nusra.  Air strikes against Daesh were denounced by al-Nusra as "a war against Islam."  This is why many people are opposed to arming any Syrian groups because it is likely that their arms will end up in the hands of Daesh just like it was able to acquire stockpiles of weapons from the Iraqi army.

There is a growing movement to kick Turkey out of NATO for its explicit support of Daesh (view France 24 video of Daesh recruits crossing the Turkey-Syria border).  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his predecessors have fought with Kurdish groups for many years even though Kurds and Turkey are both Sunni.  Erdogan dislikes Syria's Assad because Erdogan is an Islamist Sunni and Assad is Alawite, a version of Shia, with Assad having the audacity to crack-down on Sunni "rebels" who threaten his hold on power.  Erdogan supports Daesh even though it has buried alive some of its victims, including women and children, as well as sexually enslaving hundreds of women and girls.  He has refused to allow the U.S. to use Incirlik air base to fight Daesh, even though it is by far the closest base.  Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the vehicle used in the latest car bombing came from Turkish territory.

Erdogan has not forgotten to pamper himself, having just unveiled his new presidential palace with 1,000 rooms, costing in excess of $615 million and built in a national forest, similar to how Russian President Vladimir Putin built a personal palace on the Black Sea.  Erdogan gave us a window into his soul when he ludicrously proclaimed that "Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus."  He gave us another with his misogynist comment: "You cannot put women and men on an equal footing.  It is against nature."  He referred to a female journalist as a "shameless woman," telling her, "Know Your Place!"  He pines for the return of the Ottoman Empire, just as Putin pines for the return of the Soviet Union, with Assad stating that "he [Erdogan] personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottomans and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella.  In his heart he thinks he is a caliph."  There's a lot of that going around today.

Erdogan's war against Kurds is typical of his hypocrisy.  He declared in front of a Turkish audience in 2008 in Cologne, Germany: "I understand very well that you are against assimilation.  One cannot expect you to assimilate.  Assimilation is a crime against humanity."  Yet Turkish leaders have insisted for years that Kurds are not actually a separate people, called them instead "mountain Turks," prevented them from speaking Kurdish, and forced them to assimilate into Turkish society.

Erdogan and Obama are two peas in a pod.  In his first presidential campaign, the latter promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide in which almost two million Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other non-Muslims were annihilated by the Ottoman Empire starting in 1894 with the Hamidian and Adana Massacres, but then he failed to make good on his promise.  He had another chance with the Armenian Orphan Rug, woven by 400 Armenian orphan girls living in exile in Lebanon.  It was originally given to Calvin Coolidge in 1925, with his family donating it to the U.S. government in 1982.  Since then it has mostly been in storage.  It was scheduled to be displayed at the Smithsonian in 2013, but the Obama administration cancelled it for reasons of their own, but certainly having to do with the fact that Turkey denies that its ancestor, the Ottoman Empire, committed genocide.  The rug is now on display in the White House Visitor's Center, but it is mixed together with other foreign gifts to the White House in a display called "Thank You to the United States: Three Gifts to Presidents in Gratitude for American Generosity Abroad."

After a woman is raped in Islamic countries, she has little chance of marriage, with rape victims viewed as outcasts, even as prostitutes. The many Yazidi girls kidnapped and raped by Islamist savages stand little change of a normal life.  Obama could give these girls and women a second chance by opening the immigration door to non-Muslims, especially Yazidis and Christians (Coptics, Armenians, Assyrians, and others) who have been the victims of Islamists.  He should even things out by closing the door to any more immigrations by Muslims, as we have had too many instances of local jihad as it is.  We would need to rescue the girls sexually enslaved by Daesh, but that appears to only require the will to do something.  "The international community isn't investigating. They don't believe such a large number of women have been kidnapped by IS," said minority expert Khidher Domle, with that number being around 3000.  He has been able to talk to several captive Yazidi females via mobile phones.  He verified that girls as young as nine have been sold as sexual slaves.

The Russian President's last day in office is a sardonic, sometimes bawdy take on 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 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 madrasahs.

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 Tip-ple 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 ideology-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."  One would think he would realize that Japan would need friends in the neighborhood if a war with China were to occur.  And his relentless drive to neuter Japan's righteous "comfort women" apology continues unabated, with the latest chapter being the nation's largest newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun, apologizing for Japan's previous apology.

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 by the neo-Nazi fruitcake, Anders Behring Breivik (named 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.

Europe has a serious problem with out-of-control Muslim men.  One Muslim man struck and killed a 22-year-old woman in Germany (see video here) after she came to the aid of two teenaged girls who were being harassed by a small group of Muslim men in a McDonald's restroom.  Germany has seen a proxy war erupt between Daesh supporters and ethnic Kurds, similar to the real war going on every day in Kobani and other places in the Middle East.  More than 1000 people have left France and possibly more have left the UK to join Daesh.  British Muslims have tried to take over schools in Birmingham and convert them into madrassahs.  Teenaged girls have been groomed for sex by Muslim men in Birmingham, Burton-upon-Trent, Manchester, Oxford, Rotherham, Telford, and many other cities throughout Britain because Muslims do not respect non-Muslim girls.  One British police officer said regarding "rape jihad": "There isn't a town, village or hamlet in which children are not being sexually exploited.  We should start from the assumption that children are being sexually exploited right the way across the country."

In Norway, a Norwegian-Pakistani imam, Fayed Sarased Ali Bukhari, seeks to establish a madrassah for 200 children in Grønland, a Muslim neighborhood in Oslo, and said: "If a person doesn't fast during Ramadan, he is mocking Islam.  And if the person is in a Muslim state, the authorities must behead him."  And an Islamic group demanded that the country cede territory for a sharia mini-state located only a five to ten minute walk from Oslo Central Station or a 9/11-style attack will commence:
We do not want to be a part of Norwegian society.  And we do not consider it necessary either to move away from Norway, because we were born and grew up here.  And Allah's earth belongs to everybody.  But let Grønland become ours.  Bar this city quarter and let us control it the way we wish to do it.  This is the best for both parts.  We do not wish to live together with dirty beasts like you.

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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The rise of Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, confirms that he is firmly in control of the DPRK

The DPRK has announced that Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, is now part of the government.  She is a departmental vice director within the party’s Central Committee, a position more or less equal to a vice Cabinet minister.

This announcement would normally only be interesting to DPRK watchers, except that it confirms something which has been debated since Kim Jong-un took power after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December 2011.

The minority view is that Kim Jong-un is merely a puppet, with the military pulling the strings.  People espousing this point of view hold him to be innocent of all DPRK crimes, blaming the military for executing his uncle, Jang Song-taek.

Another data point of the minority is that the recent visit by the top military leaders proves that they, not Kim Jong-un, are in charge.  The true believers of this theory even claim that these military leaders were accompanied by numerous bodyguards equivalent to what Kim would normally bring.  Of course, this is not that easy to prove.

But there would be no advantage whatsoever for the military in bringing Kim Yo-jong into the government, especially the male-oriented DPRK.  On the contrary, it would offer the possibility of the two Kims colluding to wrest power from the military.

For better or worse, Kim Jong-un, not the military, is in firm control of North Korea.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No one ever gave Russia a guarantee that the Baltic Countries would not join the EU and NATO

One of the justifications Russians offer for the military assistance Russia is giving the Russian separatists in Ukraine is that NATO reneged on its promise to not allow the Baltic Countries to join it and especially not to place military bases there.  In other words, their claim is that NATO broke the compact, not Russia, leaving Russia morally free to coerce Ukraine into joining Vladimir Putin's Eurasian Economic Union.

However, that's just not true.

The Baltic Countries were admitted to the United Nations on September 17, 1991.  Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania participated in the first meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council as founding members on December 20, 1991, making them NATO partner countries five days before the Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25, 1991.  The Baltic Countries wanted a firm line to be drawn between them and the country which had occupied them for over 50 years.

NATO and Russia signed an agreement, the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, in May 1997, but it does not include language restricting NATO from expanding into the Baltic Countries or placing military bases there.  The only mention of the word "Baltic" is in this sentence: "Russia has carried out deep reductions in its armed forces, has withdrawn its forces on an unprecedented scale from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries and withdrawn all its nuclear weapons back to its own national territory."

There are other relevant sentences, with NATO and Russia agreeing to the principles of:
  • refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as well as against any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act;
  • respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples' right of self-determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents.

Both parties agreed that neither one had a veto power: "Provisions of this Act do not provide NATO or Russia, in any way, with a right of veto over the actions of the other nor do they infringe upon or restrict the rights of NATO or Russia to independent decision-making and action. They cannot be used as a means to disadvantage the interests of other states."

Both parties agreed that nuclear weapons were not to be situated in the Baltic Countries, but that's not an issue today: "The member States of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear policy - and do not foresee any future need to do so."

The one sentence that Russians might claim as the smoking gun is: "The member States of NATO and Russia reaffirm that States Parties to the CFE Treaty should maintain only such military capabilities, individually or in conjunction with others, as are commensurate with individual or collective legitimate security needs, taking into account their international obligations, including the CFE Treaty."

No promises were made to Russia at the NATO-Russia Rome Summit in May 2002, with the creation of the NATO-Russia Council.  NATO accession talks were offered to Albania and Croatia at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, with Albania being the second Islamic country after Turkey to be asked to join.

The Baltic Countries only possess a handful of modern fighter aircraft, putting the matter in perspective.  Even now, the number of fighters in the combined Baltic Countries totals to 12.  But from Russia's point of view, the part about "their international obligations" is a loophole large enough for Putin to drive a Lada through, with Russia whining that the territory near its borders should be free of foreign military equipment for a good number of multiples of the distance a BUK missile flies.

The border between Latvia and Russia was not settled until March 2007 because Russia refused to accept that its predecessor, the Soviet Union, had annexed the unwilling Latvia in 1940 via the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The border between Estonia and Russia was not settled until February 2014 because Russia refused to agree on the language and conditions. Not coincidentally, there is a large number of Russians in these countries.

Just as NATO never promised Russia that it would not expand, the Budapest Memorandum did not include a promise that the U.S. or NATO would defend Ukraine.  There were two parts to the Budapest Memorandum.  First, the U.S. wanted to eliminate WMDs.  Senators Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar's Nunn-Lugar Global Cooperation Initiative was a success in this respect.  And second, Russia promised that it would respect Ukraine's sovereignty.

If anyone broke a promise, it was Putin.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kurdistan is the new Israel

The Obama administration refuses to allow the Kurds to sell oil independently of Iraq because it is showing solidarity with the Bush administration who foolishly believed that Iraq would be a stable country.  The Kurds are selling oil to Israel, but the U.S. refused to allow an oil tanker to dock in the U.S. because it would bypass the corrupt and prone-to-infighting Iraq government.  The Obama administration cannot quite grasp the reality that Iraq would only be stable under a dictator like Saddam Hussein and that preventing the Kurds from selling oil is only making the situation worse.

The Obama administration buried its head in Middle Eastern sand by thinking that some of the Islamic groups fighting in Syria were moderate and worthy of our support.  One group is the Free Syrian Army (FSA).  One Facebook posting from FSA admitted the reality of the Syrian civil war: "Tragedy with Muslims is , whenever Muslims start legit fight against barbarism and cruelty, the so called Islamic guardians hijack it and paint it in wahabism.  ISIS is not less dangerous than israel or Makiki govt. or Barbarism of Asad.  World should arm FSA ans consider it as legitimate alternative power after Barbaric Assad."

Not surprisingly, two of the "moderate" groups, Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, ones to which we have given sophisticated weaponry, have now surrendered to Jabhat al-Nusra, the franchise of al-Qaeda in the region, similar to what happened with the Iraqi army, the weapons of which ended up in the hands of Islamic State (IS) which now uses them against Yazidis, Kurds, Christians, and Shia Muslims.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said while participating in a Middle East panel of the Academy of Achievement in Chicago in September 2007: "Turkey is not a country where moderate Islam prevails.  This expression is wrong.  The word Islam is uninflected, it is only Islam.  If you say moderate Islam, then an alternative is created, and that is immoderate Islam.  As a Muslim, I can't accept such a concept.  Islam rejects extreme concepts.  I am not an extreme Muslim.  We are Muslims who have found a middle road."

The above explains why Erdogan supports Islamic State, because both support a literal interpretation of the Koran which always leads to brutality.  Joe Biden innocently stated that Turkey has assisted IS killers by allowing them to travel freely through the country as well as giving them aid, but he was forced to retract his words.  Biden previously annoyed the same people when he opined that aiding Islamists opposed to Syrian secular rule inflamed the situation.  In both cases, Biden was correct.

The main Kurdish group in Turkey, the PKK, was designated a terrorist group mainly because Turkey, a NATO member, wanted to eliminate Kurdish culture and have only Turkish culture within its borders.  This explains why the Kurds have been the only people to fight IS to prevent them from killing or enslaving all Kurds and Yazidis.  It also explains why Turkey allows IS to travel freely through Turkey to the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.

* * * * *

In the many photos of female Kurdish fighters (see here, here, here, and here), two things should be noted.  First, the photos look similar to those of Israeli soldiers, i.e. they are just members of a larger group.  And second, the photos rarely depict the women wearing Islamic headscarves which would be highly counterproductive for soldiers needing good peripheral vision.

The Kurds can provide what the Bush administration always dreamed of, a democratic Islamic country.  The Kurds can show the world that an Islamic country can allow its women to walk around free of headscarves, just as women used to do in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Turkey before Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Syria under Bashar al-Assad, though the last will disappear unless the Islamists can be stopped.

Iraq as a single country is doomed to suffer the 1400-year-old Sunni-Shia civil war until another dictator takes control, another legacy of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement.  "Iraq is descending into open civil war.  Gangs of Shi'ite militia, put together to take on the Sunni-led Islamic State, now roam the country looking for battles to win -- often against Sunni civilians," John Lloyd opined.  A year ago, the main business of Baghdad's main forensics lab was paternity tests, but now cleaning up after suicide bombs, the favored weapon of IS, takes up most of the lab's time.

If Kurdistan had been created when it should have been during the Versailles Conference, it would have consisted of the current Kurdish portions of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran (for more on this topic, read "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World" by Margaret MacMillan).

Iran is worried that the creation of Kurdistan might lead to other minorities demanding their independence.  Given that the current government was created via a popular uprising, they might have a selfish point.  However, Iran is worried about IS and its Sunni fanatics, so it could probably be coerced in participating.

Turkey may have accepted the reality of a Kurdistan, with Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for the Justice and Development Party, saying to the Kurdish press: "The Kurds, like any other nation, will have the right to decide their fate ... Turkey has been supporting the Kurdistan region till now and will continue this support."  Then again, Erdogan is possibly too busy creating his palatial estates, e.g. his $615 million palace which is four times the size of the one at Versailles and his $185 million custom Airbus jet.

Syria opposes the creation of Kurdistan, but given the circling of the Syrian wagons against the many Islamist groups, there might be some room for negotiation.  Islamists in Syria have accused the Kurds of collaborating with Syria because they have not mindlessly joined the Islamist cause of death and destruction on an industrial scale.  PYD leader Saleh Muslim Mohammed said of the Islamists, "They want to establish Islamic rule, and for the Kurds this is not acceptable."  Erdogan said Syria's Kurds should not try to set up an autonomous region, warning that "these steps they are taking are wrong and dangerous," contradicting what Celik said regarding a Kurdistan region in Iraq.  Perhaps Erdogan intends to carve up Syria if Assad is overthrown.

The U.S. is opposed to the creation of Kurdistan and not only because it is continuing Bush's wet dream of democracy in Iraq.  Obama promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide during his first campaign, but he immediately forgot about his pledge because Turkey, a NATO member, would have thrown a hissy fit.  Turkey firmly believes that its ancestor, the Ottoman Empire, was not responsible for the almost two million Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other non-Muslims massacred starting in the last two decades of the 1800s and continuing to the end of WWI (for more on this topic, read "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide And America's Response" by Peter Balakian).

It would require bold negotiations, but the Kurdish portion of Iraq should be used to create a permanent homeland for Kurds and Yazidis, where Christians could live without fear of Islamists.  If Iraq's government complains, it should be told to go and pound sand regarding its claim on the territory.  Iran's government should be reassured that no one is intending to slice off the Kurdish section.  The PKK should be told that secessionist movements would not be tolerated because they would jeopardize the new country.  The tricky part would involve negotiations with Syria, but Assad might welcome the prospect of Kurds in the eastern region of his country fighting against Islamists attempting to install sharia, allowing Assad to concentrate on the Islamists closer to home.  All countries would be required to allow Kurds to travel freely within the Kurdish regions which would reduce the inflaming of secessionist emotions.

The U.S. should give heavy weapons to the Kurds and not worry about them being transferred to Islamists because of their good behavior in the past.  And Turkey must be persuaded to close its border to Islamists looking to join the fight in Syria and Iraq.

Peter Galbraith, longtime advocate of the Kurds, stated: "The desire to become independent is part of the consciousness of every Kurd ... They really feel like they are fighting and dying for something."