RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2009

ETHIOPIA under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Ethiopia under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES

 

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia

 

The nation of Ethiopia is blessed with a very rich history and in recent times this nation is being guided by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). However, the EPRDF faces many major problems and this applies to the legacy of the Mengistu regime which collapsed in 1991, ethnic diversity, religious diversity, income disparity, climatic factors, and other major issues. Therefore, since the demise of the Mengistu regime in 1991, the EPRDF have taken over the mantle of power. However, how is this new chapter under the EPRDF?

Before concentrating on Ethiopia itself, it is worth remembering that other nation states have collapsed. Therefore, the demise of communism led to major convulsions in many parts of the world. This notably applies to the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. After all, Ethiopia also shared both an ideological past with these nations, despite respective differences, and a fraught ethnic and religious balance which could spill over into bloodshed at anytime.

Therefore, when Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was asked about the most important achievement under his leadership he responded like a seasoned politician. He stated that “the two most important were successfully managing the transition from the military dictatorship of Mengistu regime to an emerging democracy without collapsing, like many similar countries did, such as Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. That was a major challenge and I think I have done better, with all its pluses and minuses.”

If we analyze this statement then it is clear that Meles Zenawi is making a valid point. Of course you have had major tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea but if you look at the bigger picture, then it is clear that Meles Zenawi does make complete sense. Therefore, it is all too easy to point a negative finger at the EPRDF but the stark reality is very different.

If you look at events in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and the former Soviet Union, then Ethiopia under the EPRDF have done wonders. After all, not only was the nation state weak after the demise of Mengistu, but the legacy of Mengistu was severe. Therefore, the EPRDF was faced with severe problems and the ethnic, religious, and geographic make-up of Ethiopia, made the situation even more delicate.

Despite this, Meles Zenawi and the EPRDF have galvanized Ethiopia and this nation is moving forward. The opposition may reject this and make counter claims, however, the very survival of Ethiopia was at stake in the early 1990s. Not only this, but Ethiopia is a frontline nation in the war against Sunni Islamic radicalism which threatens mass terrorism and turmoil throughout the region.

So the opposition may deem the EPRDF to be negative and bent on maintaining power, however, in truth, the EPRDF is a responsible political party and the elections in 2005 proved that the path of democracy was a reality. After all, the EPRDF is the first party in the history of Ethiopia to develop a proper multi-party system of governance. This can clearly be seen via opposition parties who are represented in the Ethiopian parliament.

So the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), and others, may complain; but it is clear that the EPRDF is focused on modernizing Ethiopia via economic restructuring and democracy. Of course, given the legacy of Ethiopia under Mengistu, and other factors, this road is not easy. Yet despite this, the EPRDF is doing its best to stabilize Ethiopia and to re-energize this nation.

The second major achievement, according to Meles Zenawi, is ” … for this party to rekindle hope through the renaissance of this country; particularly over the past five to six years. There is hope and optimism now that this country will ultimately get out of poverty. I think it [the ruling party] has charted that course of optimism. With its pluses and minuses, again, the dynamic of continued economic stagnation for several decades has been reversed. We have now entered into a trajectory of fast economic growth; and we have now joined very small and elite nations that are fast moving in terms of economic development.”

Overall, I would argue that the opposition, despite lofty ideals, is too naïve and impatient. The EPRDF is steering Ethiopia on the right path and in recent years you have had major economic growth. If you look at the continuing political crisis in the Ukraine, and magnify this with the ethnic, religious, and geographic make-up of Ethiopia, then the EPRDF is clearly a very responsible political party.

Lee Jay Walker
leejayteach@hotmail.com

https://leejaywalker.wordpress.com

 

Tags: , , , ,

PAKISTAN CHRISTIAN CONGRESS seeks refugee status for Christians in Pakistan

Special petition to UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki Moon
Pakistan Christian Congress Seeks Refugee Status for Christians in Pakistan

 

Special Contribution
By Nazir S Bhatti    -  THE SEOUL TIMES

 
Christians in Pakistan

I, Lee Jay Walker, Tokyo correspondent for The Seoul Times, was asked to publish this letter from the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC). I would like to comment that many Christians in Pakistan have suffered deeply, including brutal killings of Christians, women being raped, and other terrible crimes against humanity.

Therefore, please read this important petition by the Pakistan Christian Congress. Also, please visit http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com for further information. The petition below was issued by the Pakistan Christian Congress and signed at the bottom by Nazir S. Bhatti.
———————————————————————-
PCC files petition with UNO for Refugee Status of Pakistani Christians: Copy of Letter to UNO for publication in Seoul Times

Mr. Ban Ki Moon,
Secretary General,
United Nation Office,
New York

Appeal to award Refugee Status to Pakistani Christians on constitutional genocide and persecution by Muslims in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

His Excelleny,

I, the undersigned , Nazir S Bhatti, Chief of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC, on behalf of 20 million Christian in Islamic Republic of Pakistan wish to draw your kind attention on enforced migration and displacement of thousands of Christians from Swat valley, Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera and FATA after threats to convert to Islam or die by Islamist elements. These families are staying with their relatives in Punjab and Sindh provinces facing immense miseries and hardships after denial by government of Pakistan to provide any assistance or security. The hundreds of Christians families of victims of blasphemy are living in hiding for safety of life weather accused are acquitted or in jails. Thousands of Christian families keep on shifting residence in different parts of Pakistan on threats by influential Muslims or in fear of implication in fabricated cases by police. The mass migration of poor oppressed Christian is never brought on record by government of Pakistan nor any human right organization have urged for their settlement where they may live peaceful life.

It will be very important to note in 21st century that Christian are treated as untouchable by Muslim majority on basis of religion and cannot dine at any roadside vendor, restaurant and hotel which is worst type of hate on globe towards Christian in Pakistan. If any Christian on journey or away from home is hungry and attempts to eat in any Muslim owned dinner, he is beaten and tortured by Muslims and forced to pay for plates and glass in which he eats or any thing he have touched. The Pakistan Christian Congress PCC presented many memorandums to government from 1985-1998 to legislate against curse of un-touchable to ensure social justice in society but such demands were neglected. The curse of un-touchable have prevented Christians to take part in profitable catering industry because Pakistani Muslim terms Christians as infidel under Islamic decree which prohibit to eat any food prepared by them.

His Excellency,

The churches are being attacked, pastors are being threatened, social activists are charged under blasphemy, teenage girls are gang-raped by Muslims and Christian women are enforcedly converted to marry by Muslims in Pakistan. There are innocent Christians accused of blasphemy behind bars and hundreds facing trials under fabricated false cases; The Churches in Bahawalpur, Islamabad, Chianwali, Sangla Hill, Toba Tek, Sukkur, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and in many villages have been attacked by militant Muslim extremists groups killing hundreds of Christian worshipers but non of killer is arrested and brought to justice from 1998-2009. The government also failed to protect Christian institution of Murree School, Taxila Hospital, Bible Society and Justice and Peace Organization at Karachi, from attacks of extremist Muslim groups who massacred Christian social activists.

The Muslim militants Martyred Bishop John Joseph, a first and only Punjabi bishop of Catholic Church of Pakistan, dioceses of Faisalabad, but establishment forced Christian clergy tools to declare his martyrdom to be a suicide. The Pakistani Christian Congress PCC demanded to constitute an independent Tribunal to investigate killing of Bishop John Joseph but conspiracy was hatched to close his murder case. Many other pastors and evangelists have been gunned down in broad day light but killers are never arrested and brought to justice in Pakistan.

The Christian youth has been denied opportunities of professional and higher education in Pakistan which has created socio-economic disaster among poor families. The government have closed doors of employment for Christian youth in armed and civil services to force them to become laborers and accept low grade jobs of sanitary workers.

There is no Christian General in Armed Forces, no Christian Secretary in Civil services, no Christian Chairman in any of government Corporation, no Christian Inspector General of Police IG, DIG, SSP, SP, DSP and SHO in four provinces, no Christian High Commissioner, Ambassador and Counsel General in any Foreign Mission of Pakistan, no Christian Justice in any High Courts or Supreme Court of Pakistan and no Christian Director or Deputy Director in any Directorate of Pakistani government which is total denial of due share in power and resources of state to millions of Christians.

The census is never conducted fair and transparent and Christian data is manipulated to decrease representation of Christian in democratic institutions. It will be interesting to note that Christians had four seats in legislative assembly of Pakistan when house comprised of 48 legislators in 1947. There were six seats reserved for Christians in national assembly of Pakistan in constitution of 1973 of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which were reduced to four in national general elections of 1985, when house was of 232 members. In national general elections of 2002, the total house consisted of 365 but Christian seats remained four. How amazing it makes mockery of Census Division of Pakistan that population of Muslims keep on increasing but population of Christians decreasing?

His Excellency,

The Islamic laws of blasphemy, Hadood Ordinance, Article 203, law of Evidence and Compensation have been implemented on Christians which have created feelings of security and safety of life by the hands of militant or by government agencies which is clear count of constitutional genocide since 1985.

The Pakistan Peoples Party PPP government have been also failed to award equal basic democratic rights to millions of Christians like previous military regimes. The PPP led government have imposed one Christian tool as Federal Minister for Minorities and declared him head of “Minority Commission.” It is on record that government of Pakistan entered into an internationally recognized pact with Indian government in 1950, known as Liaquat-Nehru Pact to further safeguard the minority’s rights in the neighboring states. The facts to enter in this pact were that problem of religious minorities aggravated a lot during late 1949 and early 1950. At this critical moment of the history of South Asia, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan issued statement and emphasized on the solution of the problem of minorities in the two countries. He also proposed a meeting with his Indian counter part to determine how to end the persecution. The two Prime Ministers met in Delhi on April 2, 1950 and discussed the matter in detail for six long days. On April 8, the two leaders signed an agreement, which was later given the name; “Liaquat-Nehru Pact.”

This pact provided a bill of rights for the minorities of India and Pakistan. According to the agreement, the government of India and Pakistan solemnly agreed that each shall ensure, to the minorities throughout its territories, complete equality of citizenship, irrespective of religion; a full sense of security in respect of life, culture, property and personal honor. It also guaranteed the fundamental human rights to the minorities, such as freedom of movement, speech, occupation and worship. The pact also provided for the minorities to Participate in the public life of the country, to hold political or other office and to serve in their countries civil and armed forces. Liaquat-Nehru Pact provided for the mechanism to deal with the oppressive elements with iron hand. Both the governments decided to set up “Minority Commission” headed by acting Justice of higher court in their country with the aim to observe and report on the implementation of the pact.

Sir,

The government of India constituted “The Minority Commission” headed by Justice of Supreme Court of India, according to the referred pact and legislated according to presentations of the Muslim leaders to their personal laws and election systems but the government of Pakistan failed to constitute such effective “Minority Commission” headed by acting Supreme Court justice for recommendations or the presentations of the Christian leaders in Pakistan. The Indian religious minorities are enjoying due share in power and Indian Muslim have their independent Law Board to protect their personnel law while in Pakistan, the Muslim judges are issuing decrees under Islamic laws on Christian divorce and marriages. The Present PPP government following the foot steps of previous regimes have also nominated one Federal Minister for Minorities to be head of “Minority Commission” instead of any Justice of Supreme Court violating Liaquat-Nehro Pact.

His Excellency,

Islamic Republic of Pakistan being a member of United Nation and one of signatory member state of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights announced in UN Charter have always neglected the respect of fundamental right of the creed or language, according to Articles 9-29 of Islamic republic of Pakistan constitution of 1973. In the elections of 1971, for first time after independence, the Joint Election system was endorsed in the legal framework. During legislation of Joint Electorate system in the 1973 constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, no Christian presence was in the house while Muslim members of parliament created selection instead of election. We wish to submit that Christians never demanded Joint Election system nor were any recommendations of Minority Commission according to Liaquat Nehru Pact, as such commission never existed in Pakistan since 1950. The founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared in his Fourteen Point doctrine, the Separate Election system for minorities in Pakistan, keeping in view his meetings and discussion with the minority leaders during the Pakistan movement. The minorities enjoyed the separate election system from 1947 to 1956 by electing their own representatives for democratic institutions in Pakistan to raise their voice.

In Joint Election system, Christian vote in their respective constituencies to Muslim candidates while Muslim members of parliament select Christians tools of Muslim feudal lords and business tycoons on reserved seats which can not be termed democratic. On other hand the Dual Voting system for the Kashmiri Muslims is in operation where they vote within territory of Pakistan to elect their legislators for the legislative assembly of Azad Kashmir and also vote for national assembly of Pakistan in their respective constituencies. The Christians have demanded Dual Voting rights which have been denied and Joint Electorate has been imposed on them.

His Excellency,

In my letter to UNO offices on August, 2002, I appealed to press upon government of Pakistan not to impose Joint Election system on Christians but to constitute “Minority Commission” headed by Supreme Court Justice to provide an opportunity of presentations to Christian registered political parties, civil society leaders and clergy on election system of their choice. I also invited your kind attention on miseries and hardships of Christians youth, women and seniors in Pakistan who have been treated as second class citizen and deprived of their basic democratic rights.

Again, I wish to bring to your kind notice that present regime of PPP is making false promises with Christians and not sincere to solve their problems to ensure justice. The PPP government announced to reserve seats for Christians in Senate of Pakistan in elections of February 2009, but failed to fulfill promise and again there is no Christian representation in Senate of Pakistan. The Prime Minster declared 5% quota of jobs for Christians in government employment but never issued any official notification in this regard. The incidents of arrests under blasphemy, gang-rape of teen age Christian girls, forcibly conversion of Christian women and their kidnaps, desecration of Churches and victimization by police are at peak now which have forced Christians to not trust government any more when government have no respect for international treaties like Liaquat-Nehro Pact and Universal Human Rights Declaration of UNO being a signatory.

Prayer:

PCC appeal United Nations to appoint special envoy to visit Pakistan to verify persecution, victimization and genocide of Christians by hands of Muslims, Muslim militants and establishment by direct meeting with migrant Christians and victims of oppression, rape and torture instead of meeting with clergy and their umbrella civil society organizations or commissions which are continuously misleading international forums on directives of government. We also appeal your honor to award refugee status to families of victim of rape, blasphemy laws, wrongfully confined by administration, displaced Christians and Christians in general for settlement where they may enjoy peaceful life at liberty.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,

Nazir S Bhatti, Chief of Pakistan Christian Congress

 

 

Tags: , ,

EUROPE is facing a real economic and social crisis

Europe Is Facing a Real Economic and Social Crisis

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent  – THE SEOUL TIMES

 
Europe is facing a real economic and social crisis.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain was meant to see the triumph of democracy and capitalism. However, the current global economic downturn threatens to unleash both political uncertainty and major self-doubt. The mantra of market forces is over in the short-term and some nations like Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, and the Ukraine, and others, are in free fall. So what will become of the “new Europe?”

For now the main engines of Europe are grinding to a halt and this applies to Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. At the same time the Russian Federation, which is the main energy based nation and major European military power, is also beset by major internal economic problems. Therefore, the engines of Europe are not only running low, but for nations like the United Kingdom, they are barely running at all and negative economic growth is predicted.

Meanwhile, for nations which dreamed about joining the democratic and economic club, after long years of communist control, are now faced with a new and harsh reality. After all, Latvia is predicted to contract by around 12% this year and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was asked to bail out this nation. Other nations, like the Ukraine, need major financial support in order to remain afloat and the list of nations in crisis is rising steadily.

At the same time, unemployment is nearing 10% in Ireland and it is even worse in Spain. Therefore, major social tensions will erupt and the initial mildness of demonstrations will grow in anger. Also, the very foundation stone of European Union identity will be tested because some nations will seek to implement certain forms of protectionism in various different sectors. Therefore, the social fabric of Europe will be challenged deeply and recent demonstrations in Ireland and Iceland will continue and other nations will face similar problems.

Clearly, for some political parties, and this applies to both the far-right and far-left, then this could be a time of growing political clout. After all, far-right political parties have been aghast by globalization, mass immigration, and the loss of national identity. While the far-left was alarmed by rampant capitalism, the free market, decreasing influence of trade unions, and flexible market conditions which led to temporary employment and limited working contracts. Therefore, if the current economic crisis continues it is clear that political tensions will also grow and the same applies to social tensions.

The nations of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, typify the current crisis. For once these nations witnessed a major boom and their respective futures looked bright. However, all these nations now face a “hard landing” and the Polish zloty, the Hungarian forint, and the Czech koruna, have all declined heavily against the Euro.

Given this reality, “There’s a domino effect,” stated Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund and a professor at the highly acclaimed Harvard. He further added that the “International credit markets are linked, and so a snowballing credit crisis in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries could cause New York municipal bonds to fall.”

So 2009 is clearly going to test the banking sector, the feasibility of market forces after deregulation, and buzz words like globalization appear to be a nightmare. At the same time political tensions will increase and waves of unemployment will unleash other negative side effects. Also, the European Union will be threatened by new forces and the single union may be threatened by protectionism or by major political and economic disagreements.

However, one thing is for sure, and that is the first bout of the economic downturn was all about the banking sector and inefficient companies which needed fresh capital. Yet now the situation is getting worse and political tensions will unleash either major chaos or create tensions which threaten national governments. The Iron Curtain appears to be like a distant memory but the victorious forces of democracy and free market forces are in a retreat.

Now it is the turn of state intervention and nationalization. Therefore, can nations like Iceland, Latvia, the Ukraine, and others, re-invent themselves or will political tensions erupt? For now, it would appear that 2009 will get a lot worse before it gets a lot better. Given this, nations like Spain and Ireland which are suffering from high unemployment, must face up to the challenges ahead. So can Europe maintain its unity or will further cracks engulf the EU and wider Europe?

Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA
leejayteach@hotmail.com
THE SEOUL TIMES

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

USA is deeply concerned about Pakistan and Swat agreement

USA is Deeply Concerned about Pakistan and Swat Agreement

 

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent  -  SEOUL TIMES

 
Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan located 160 km/100 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

The USA is deeply concerned about recent events in Pakistan. This applies to the deal which was reached between pro-Taleban Islamic militants and the central government of Pakistan. This relates to the implementation of Sharia Islamic law in the Swat valley. Also, the USA is worried about the impact of this agreement because it would appear that the Taleban will have a free reign to cause mayhem in Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan. So can America and Pakistan come to terms with each other or will both nations drift apart?

Before focusing on current relations between America and Pakistan, it is important to look at the bigger picture. After all, for regional nations, notably Afghanistan and India, the current agreement between Pakistan and pro-Taleban forces is a disaster. This applies to terrorist training grounds sprouting up throughout north-western Pakistan.

Both Afghanistan and India, and Iran, have witnessed the negative consequences of pro-Taleban forces throughout the region. This applies to rampant narcotics, the persecution of Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, which led to a major influx of Shia Muslims into Iran, terrorism, and the persecution of women blights the region. So America is not alone in fearing the worse.

Therefore, the American special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is very alarmed about the recent agreement. He is very worried that this agreement may become binding and that central forces have surrendered to radical Sunni Islam. Holbrooke stated “It is hard to understand this deal in Swat,” and that “I am concerned, and I know Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton is, and the president is, that this deal, which is portrayed in the press as a truce, does not turn into a surrender. He further added that radical Islamists in Swat “are murderers, thugs and militants and they pose a danger not only to Pakistan but to the US as well.”

NATO is also alarmed by recent events because they fear that Sunni Islamists will make the most of the current signed agreement with the government of Pakistan. Therefore, NATO spokesman, James Appathurai, commented in Brussels that “We should all be concerned by the situation in which extremists would have a save haven. Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremists and we would not want it to get worse.”

Yet clearly NATO members are very worried, however, they don’t want to upset the applecart by rebuking Pakistan too much. For many NATO members believe that Pakistan and NATO need to strengthen their relationship in order to stabilize the region. Given this, NATO wants to build bridges with all regional nations and clearly this organization does not desire to raise tensions with Pakistan.

The United Kingdom also expressed reservations but via a more moderate and diplomatic tone. Therefore, the British High Commission in Islamabad issued a statement with regards to past policies. The British High Commission stated that “Previous peace deals have not provided a comprehensive and long-term solution to Swat’s problems.” This is indeed true because in the past other deals have been made yet in the long-term the same instability remained.

However, to the government of Pakistan, they deem this agreement to be a temporary measure and a vital policy in their fight to create greater stability. Also, the government of Pakistan faces many other internal problems and from the point of view of the government of Pakistan, this policy is both realistic and needed. Therefore, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, claims that the current measure is merely “an interim agreement” and that stability is badly needed.

Also, leaders in Pakistan can point the finger at NATO and American forces in Afghanistan. After all, it is apparent that the Taleban and their allies have a strong military and political base in Afghanistan. So if NATO troops and American forces can not rule Afghanistan and free this nation from radical Islamic forces, then how do you expect Pakistan to rid itself from the same enemy?

Alternatively, regional nations and America now know that the central government of Pakistan is in crisis. For once a nation allows a different legal base to exist on the grounds of being unable to crush this opposing force, then clearly a slippery slope is happening. Also, radical Sunni Islamic militants have closed down female schools and imposed draconian laws in parts of north-western Pakistan. So it would appear that the government of Pakistan is unable to protect the rights of women or to create a law which is binding to all the citizens of Pakistan.

Even worse, from an American perspective, this agreement is likely to further boost radical Sunni Islam because now they know they can have their own “special state within a state.” Therefore, in the future they may branch out into other parts of Pakistan in order to further challenge the central government. Also, Islamists will have freedom to implement not only draconian laws, but more alarmingly Sunni Islamists will abuse the agreement and build even more military training grounds. This inturn will infringe on Afghanistan once more.

President Obama, therefore, faces a very serious problem because he clearly believes that the greater global threat is not Iraq, but is Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan. Yet how can the American government and Pakistan come to terms on this agreement? It would appear that a dangerous situation is arising in Pakistan and either the leader of this nation is “playing cat and mouse” or he firmly believes that he had no alternative choice? Irrespective of which, it is clear that relations with America will continue to fray.

LEE JAY WALKER
leejayteach@hotmail.com

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

USA – Obama is in free fall at the moment

USA — Obama Is in Free Fall at the Moment

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES

 
leejayteach@hotmail.com

LEE JAY WALKER

THE SEOUL TIMES

US President Barack Obama

The newly elected leader of the United States of America promised a fresh start and he talked about a new approach. However, President Barack Obama appears to be in free fall and clearly he needs a major boost in order to provide substance to his lofty ideals. So can President Obama break the current inertia or will he continue to stumble from one crisis to another?

Of course these are still early days and it must be stated that all new administrations have teething problems. So it is too early to say that he will be a shambles or a non-entity. Yet the current signs do not look good because he appears to lack clarity, dynamism, and a vision. He did provide a vision when not in power but since obtaining “real power” he appears to be at a loss.

Only last week Judd Gregg, a Republican Senator, turned down the job of Commerce Secretary. Therefore, in such a short time the Obama administration has already lost four nominees. Not only this, the current American Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who was also hand-picked by Obama, is also under a cloud because of tax evasion issues. So it appears that Obama lacks real political judgment.

In the field of international relations, it does not get much better because we have a mainly deadly silence over the Israeli-Palestine issue. Even more alarming, Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, rebuked the current leadership in Washington. Karzai stated he expected “better judgment” from the current Obama administration and he continued by stating that “Perhaps it’s because the administration has not yet put itself together.” Karzai issued his comments after Obama had stated that the government of Afghanistan was “very detached.”

Meanwhile, all major nations are alarmed by Obama’s “Buy American” provision, which is contained in the economic stimulus package. Is this really needed given the current global meltdown? Surely Obama can not be so vague on issues like this because the market is too fragile and it needs clarity and not economic nationalism. Yet sadly Obama is being very vague because he states that any Buy American provision must not “….trigger a trade war.” So why introduce this clause in the first place?

Obama also talked about “being on the right-side of history” and this was related to democracy. However, the same Obama then gives a speech via Saudi Arabia in order to appeal to the “so-called” Muslim world. So rather than picking a more democratic mainly Muslim nation, like Senegal, he instead decides to reach out via the most despotic nation on this earth. Therefore, once more the charming rhetoric of Obama fell at the first hurdle and this is the problem, he appears to be in a flux about a true and firm policy.

Overall, the first four weeks have been mainly negative and it appears that you have little substance within the Obama administration. Of course the economic crisis is severe and nobody is expecting a miracle. However, it is fair to question is judgment because the demise of four nominees is a shambles. Added to this, is it really wise to clash with the only person of real substance in Afghanistan? Yes Karzai appears to have little influence outside the corridors of Kabul. Yet in truth, given the nature of Afghanistan then clearly Karzai faces an uphill struggle.

Also, the added clause of “Buy American” is really unwarranted and it goes against the grain of past administrations which focused on free trade. If Obama continues in this vein then the omens do not look good. So let us hope that this is just a temporary blip and that several months down the line we will see a new leader emerging.

At the moment Obama is in the “shadow” of what he stated prior to being elected. He built himself up via fine ideals and comments, but now America needs substance and not just a good speaker. So will the real Obama stand-up or is the real Obama already standing-up?

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

Japan Must Not Be Rewarded the 2016 Olympics under Ishihara

Japan Must Not Be Rewarded the 2016 Olympics under Ishihara

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent  –  THE SEOUL TIMES

 
Shintaro Ishihara (1932-Present), governor of Tokyo

The governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, desires to bring the 2016 Olympics to Japan. However, if we focus on the Olympic ideal of “international unity” and all ethnic groups coming together in a show of global unity, then it is essential that Tokyo must not be rewarded the Olympics under Ishihara. Therefore, it is vital that anti-nationalist forces come together in order to prevent this disaster from happening.

After all, Ishihara desires to leave a legacy but the real legacy of Ishihara is being anti-Korean, anti-Chinese, and anti-foreign in general. I am not talking about mild nationalism but an extreme version of anti-Korean and anti-Chinese nationalism which is based on dangerous grounds. This applies to historical revisionism and when this applies to an important political figure like Ishihara, it is clearly dangerous. Therefore external forces must notify others about the consequences of rewarding Tokyo the Olympics under such a blatant revisionist of history.

Of course I am not anti-Japanese, on the contrary I reside in Japan and some of the nicest people I have met in my life are Japanese. Yet it baffles me how the people of Tokyo could elect such a firebrand like Ishihara. Therefore, let us focus on some of his comments.

With regards to the colonial period in Korea it is clear that Ishihara does not only want to “gloss over” this tragic and brutal event in history, but he also wants to add “fuel to the fire.” He stated that “The annexation of Korea was made with the agreement of nations worldwide. The Korean people had to choose between Russia, Japan or Shina [a derogatory pre-war term for China].” He continued, “They decided to seek help from the Japanese, who had the same facial colour as their own.”

Note that he neglects to mention the systematic barbarity that took place in Korea. This applies to mass rapes, slavery, forced military conscription, destruction of Korean culture, medical experiments, and the murder of countless numbers of innocents. Yet if you listen to Ishihara, then it is clear that he not only supports revisionism, but he knowingly understands that he is catering towards far-right nationalists. More alarming, for the apolitical masses in Tokyo and Japanese people in general, they deem him to be charismatic.

Therefore his rants become mainstream politics and just like the current Okinawan issue, where Japan wants to gloss over its wartime past, with regards to mass suicides and other serious crimes; it is clear that people are being indoctrinated via complete revisionism. So to reward Ishihara with the Olympics is going against the complete spirit of what the games stand for.

Ishihara also claims that the Rape of Nanjing is a myth. After all, he stated that “They say we made a holocaust there, but that is not true. It is a lie made up by the Chinese.” Yet the Rape of Nanjing did take place and both official documents and other forms of evidence are clearly available.

This also applies to countless numbers of graphic images which are very shocking. Therefore, would the Olympic committee award the games to a German leader who claimed that the Jewish holocaust was a myth? Of course not, therefore why is the Olympic committee considering Tokyo? Also, how can world leaders ignore this nationalist firebrand when it comes to a major global event being awarded to a denier of history?

Some people may argue that the people of Tokyo are innocent with regards to this issue. However, many people in Tokyo keep on electing him. Of course the majority of people in Tokyo are not electing him on the grounds of nationalism. Yet despite this, why is a denier of history being allowed a free reign? Yes, he is being elected via the democratic system in Japan, but the Olympics is a global event and surely the international community must “open their eyes” to the denier of the Rape of Nanjing and the persecution of the Korean people during the colonial period?

If Tokyo is elected the winner, then it will mean a victory for Japanese nationalism and the spirit and the ideals of the Olympics will be tarnished. Therefore, it is up to people who are aghast by Ishihara to work collectively or individually, in order to “open the eyes of the Olympic committee” who do not understand what he stands for. I am not saying that Tokyo in the long-run should not be rewarded the Olympics, but it must not happen under the leadership of Ishihara.

 

 

Tags: , ,

CHINA and RUSSIA rebuke America at World Economic Forum

China and Russia Rebuke America at World Economic Forum

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES

Davos, venue of World Economic Forum, is a municipality in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. Davos is famous as the host to the World Economic Forum (WEF), an annual meeting of global political and business elites, which is often referred to as simply Davos. It is also known as a winter sports area. Davos is the largest ski resort in Switzerland and the highest city in Europe. From Wikipedia

World and business leaders are once more gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Given the current economic climate a show of unity might have been expected. However, many statements are being made against the United States and clearly the new administration of President Obama is not helping. This applies to Tim Geithner, the newly elected Treasury Secretary of America, who took a major swipe at China last week by blaming Beijing for manipulating the currency. The administration of Bush did not want to upset the applecart with China given the importance of this nation to America. However, major political leaders have an axe to grind and Davos just might be the start?

In the recent past America rebuked nations for being too insular and not responding to the new global dynamics of de-regulation, globalization, market forces, and so forth. Other nations were deemed to be inefficient or out of touch with the “new world.” Past American leaders like Bill Clinton ridiculed Japan for being over-protectionist and bailing out the banking sector. In 1993, for example, Mickey Kantor, the U.S. trade representative under Bill Clinton, stated that the Uruguay Round of trade talks could collapse “if Japan continues to behave as if it has little stake in the outcome.” Therefore, in the early 1990s Japan was blamed for America’s huge trade deficit but now China is emerging to be the new menace.

Yet the American model of open borders, new ways of manipulating the money markets, easy access to international stocks or currencies, modern technology, and a host of other new ways appear to be leading the system in the other direction. Because dynamism did not emerge across the board but greater risks did. This applies to bad lending, hedge funds, short-term gains, over supply of money into developing nations during good times but a major pull out of capital when profits were over-played, and other negative measures. Therefore, many major financial companies, be they banks, investment houses, insurance companies, or other institutions, often diluted their respective safety mechanisms in order to keep up with their rivals.

Also, major economists, like the former Federal Reserve Chairman of the United States, Alan Greenspan, deregulated the market too much because his policies gave the green light for more risky investments. Given this, new ways of “creative accountancy” became the norm and companies could manipulate their balance sheets within the deregulated sector and via manipulating accountancy laws. At the same time the much vaunted elite universities ushered in a new generation but it appeared not to help and parts of the financial system became one “big gamble.” Therefore, many major banks and financial institutions now became “a dice away” from bad credit and for some companies like Northern Rock in the United Kingdom and American companies like Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, it became bail out time. While other financial institutions like Citibank, Merrill Lynch, UBS from Switzerland, and a host of others, lost out big time on the credit markets.

Therefore, the American model is badly tarnished because it led to the current economic crisis and the nation of free trade and market forces is in free fall. Therefore, state intervention is the new reality of modern America with regards to the banking sector and other important sectors. Yet “the American financial house that was built on cards” is also causing major earthquakes in other nations, irrespective if major global players like China, Germany, Japan, France, or the United Kingdom; or if applied to smaller sized economies like Iceland or Hungary. In truth, while the finger can be firmly pointed at America, it is still abundantly clear that other nations can not escape their respective folly.

However, Tim Geithner, the newly elected Treasury Secretary of America, opened up a can of worms by rebuking China last week. This came after President Obama made negative comments about communism. Clearly, many people will support these comments however the timing is not only lousy, but it bodes ill with regards to global unity during such difficult times. Alternatively, many people will have sympathy with China and more important, for people who sit on the fence, then it is clear that America is not in a position to take the “high moral ground.” This not only applies to America’s banking sector which helped to intensify the global economic crisis, but also in other areas, notably distant wars and environmental issues.

Therefore, after recent negative comments made by the Obama administration towards China, the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, hit back during his first appearance at Davos. Wen Jiabao made it clear that the current global economic crisis began in America because of many negative factors. He cited the “inappropriate macro-economic policies of some economies and their unsustainable model of development” and this was a clear reference towards America because of the astonishingly low savings of this nation and the very high consumption rate of the American economy.

Wen Jiabao also pointed the finger at America by stating “the failure of financial supervision and regulation,” and this applies to policies which were introduced under Alan Greenspan. The Premier of China also spoke about how China was implementing policies in order to stabilize the financial sector. He also made it abundantly clear that greed was an important factor with regards to the current economic debacle. Wen Jiabao further added that the “blind pursuit of profit” in the banking sector was central to the current crisis alongside a “lack of self-discipline.”

The Russian Federation also stated similar factors with regards to the current global economic meltdown. Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, also blamed “poor quality regulation” which led to “the collapses of the existing financial system.” He also rebuked the world’s dependence on the American dollar because this “Excessive dependence on what is basically the only reserve currency is dangerous for the world economy.” So it is apparent that Putin wants a more robust competing system rather than over reliance on one single currency.

According to Putin this is “a serious malfunction in the very system of global economic growth” and that “whole regions of the world, including Europe, found themselves at the periphery of global economic processes” and “were outside the framework of the key economic and financial decisions.” Therefore, Putin would like to see a more inclusive economic system rather that the current disjointed system which is not only unfair, but is very dangerous because once the main player is in crisis, then you are faced with a global meltdown. Putin also stated that the period of boom did not distribute economic wealth but instead it merely concentrated power within dominant circles.

Overall, the current talks being held in Davos are still in their infancy but it is clear that major nations are very unhappy with America. Not all the debates and opinions at Davos will be aimed at America, yet it is clear that both China and the Russian Federation desire change. Also, if the Obama administration believes that it can attack any single major nation without a swift rebuke then clearly the new President is wrong. China and the Russian Federation may desire to hold open the hand of friendship towards the new leader of America. However, this friendship is not going to be based on inferiority or inaction. On the contrary, China and the Russian Federation, and many other nations, want to see real change and Davos may just be the start of a more multi-polar world?
LEE JAY WALKER
 

 

 

Tags: , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.