Why the desire to pull the troops out of Iraq in the first place?


*posted first on Friday Feb. 10, here*

In the Australian today:

NO sooner did President Barack Obama welcome home American troops from Iraq and laud that country’s stability and democracy than an unprecedented wave of violence across Baghdad and elsewhere revealed the severity of Iraq’s political crisis.

Unfortunate, yet hardly surprising, even to the most casual of observers.

And whilst I can understand (yet not agree with) the Left’s position not to send troops into Iraq in the first place – an argument, largely moot, for another day – what I don’t understand is their fervish desire to pull the troops out.

It always smacked of idealism, ideology, rather than hard-nosed practicality.

After all, what was so bad with having a US troop presence there to help maintain Iraq’s fragile democratic stability?

One could argue that I am biased because a) I am centre-right politically and b) because I live in South Korea, a nation that has had a US troop presence – some 37,000  28,000 or so currently – since the armistice between North and South Korea and have seen what a permanent US troop presence looks like.

I am happy to accept those labels and can gladly tell you that such a presence ain’t that bad.

By and large,  US bases in Korea – and Japan for that matter – haven’t been a problem.

Sure, issues pop up from time to time, but if one looks at the big picture, then a strong US presence here can only be seen as a good thing, a safe option, a pretty darn good insurance policy against North Korea trying anything major on.

Almost 60 years we’ve had US troops over here without any major problems. In fact, many major problems (a full-scale Nork attack comes to mind) have arguably been averted thanks to this presence.

So, why the rush to leave Iraq essentially free of any US military  before even a decade is up and before, as is clear now, the job is done?

OK, so perhaps it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. US troops in Korea, aside from those stationed at the DMZ, aren’t on active duty as they were in Iraq.

However, it’s not a completely dissimilar situation. Perhaps a good analogy would be to compare mandarins and oranges.

US troops not only provided safety and stability in the fledgling democracy that is Iraq – a country still steeped with sectarian and tribal rivalries – but surely they also provided a deterrence to anybody or any groups who want to destabilise the nation.

What takes years to build can take mere seconds to destroy, and I fear a lot of hard work is being undone on the whim of a flawed, feel-good, ideology.

So why?

The only practical reason that I can see for Obama pulling his troops out of Iraq is that with an Iranian confrontation looming which includes action needed in Syria, Iraq frankly isn’t important enough any more or at best, an impractical option for a potentially over-stretched military.

Of course, Obama – a man of the progressive Left – can’t actually come out and say that but it is reasonably well-known to those who don’t just get their news from the MSM that Obama is actually more of a war-time president than Bush was, having committed more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a longer period of time.

So whilst the MSM might play along with the “bringing the troops home” narrative, the evidence indicates this simply isn’t the case.

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor. It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian* and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.
Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz. This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

(*BTW, I don’t recall Aussie PM Gillard highlighting that one.)

And this:

As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile’s military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.

Add into this mix reports that China will reportedly help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb, and that both China and India have started paying Iran for its oil in gold thus helping thwart current US/UN sanctions (more of which were recently thwarted by Russia and China), then we see a stage set for a showdown and we see the reality that rhetoric aside, Obama won’t be bringing many troops home at all.

To someone who doesn’t know any better, it’s as if Russia, India, and China – all wannabe first chickens to the trough – are ganging up on America.**

PS Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall listening in to what the US is really saying about China? Their ever-expanding use of soft power is in many ways, stuffing it all up for America. China must surely be becoming an ever-increasing pain in the neck.

This leaves Australia in an interesting position. Our main export partner is China. Our main ally is the US. We send China our goodies to help them get rich and rival America. We practice shooting our guns with America to help keep America on top.

And yet China and America are also so deep in each other’s pockets. America buys China’s goods. China buys America’s debt.

Fun times.

** I highly recommend reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. Part of the book talks about the pecking order of nations.

Kim Jong Il’s greatest musical hits


Kim Jong Il wishes he had air conditioning

Kim Jong Il : musical genius.

We all know and love North Korea’s Kim Jong Il’s classic :

Now, through the power of scientific socialism and the DPRK’s Juche we have :

Paging BingBing


Dude, what’s the mood in Korea? Freaking out? Taking it in stride?

UPDATE [bing]

Taking in our stride. The local media and pollies on both sides are calling for the president to have done more and to do more.

As for the rest of us, it was a little tense/exciting yesterday and Tuesday but today was pretty much business as usual.

Folks were a bit tired on Wednesday.

But yeah, nothing else has happened so everyone’s just gone back to their daily lives.

I can’t read people’s minds, but I think people were geared up for more, and almost disappointed in an odd way that it’s just all fizzed.

Not that we really want to deal with a war (the economy!), but Tuesday was a big reminder of how much of a conundrum the Nork issue is and that it’ll all have to end one day… somehow.

You might be able to ascertain my mood at least here and here.

I don’t think I’m the only one who’s gone through a range of emotions and still haven’t really settled on the right one.

North Korea set to make succession official


Going, going…

It really looks like North Korean “Dear Leader”, Kim Jong-il, is on the way out.

North Korea has summoned a Chosun Workers’ Party delegates conference in early September, the first such event in 44 years.

This is most likely to make it official that his third son, Kim Jong-eun will take the reigns.

Complying with precedent, the apparatus of the Workers’ Party and its leading officials are likely to be reshuffled in September, most likely in order to set in place the Kim Jong Eun ruling core. There is also the possibility that Jang Sung Taek, who just became a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission during the last Supreme People’s Assembly session, will be elected to the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

Cheong Seong Chang, a North-South relations researcher at the Sejong Institute explained, “It may be that through this conference Kim Jong Eun’s succession is publicized across the country. This may be done by selecting Kim Jong Eun as a core official on the Central Committee or the Military Committee of the Party.”

The kid is only in his late 20s, so it’s unlikely this succession is being announced just for the heck of it. Most of the Nork leadership is a very old bunch of men and that would indicate that any announcement of Kim Jong-eun’s succession would occur when he’s older… unless, of course, time is not on his father, Kim Jong-il’s, side.


*cross-posted

Socialism’s “logical” conclusion


It’s perfectly demonstrated in the latest actions of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il (who must surely be on death’s door by now).

Considering what the North needs most urgently at the moment is fertilizer, it would have been natural for Kim to visit the nearby Hungnam fertilizer plant. But instead he went to the vinalon plant, a symbol of the failed socialist planned economy. Vinalon, a synthetic fiber North Korea has developed using carbide extracted from anthracite, is a poor-quality and no longer economically viable. At the same cost, more, better-quality fabric can be imported from China, so no other country in the world produces vinalon for clothing. North Korean founder Kim Il-sung spent no less than US$10 billion on a vinalon plant in Pyongyan Province, which turned in the end into scrap metal. That was a decisive incident that led to the economy’s collapse. The February 8 Vinalon Complex was shut down a long time ago.

With the mass rally for its reopening, Kim evidently intended to demonstrate his pathetic determination that nothing will change in North Korea, ever. There will be no reform nor market opening, even if its economy collapses or it is driven into chaos, and although the prime minister apologized for the failed currency reform. It is a clear signal that Kim will go his own way against the current of history and regardless of what outsiders think. Under these circumstances, how likely is it that Kim will make a forward-looking choice in the nuclear issue?


*cross-posted at James Board

Sound extreme yet, eerily, a tad familiar? Socialism is dehumanising, heartbreaking stuff.

Man bites dog


A SOUTH Korean worker defected to North Korea this week after crossing the heavily fortified land border, Pyongyang’s state media said on Tuesday.

As a mate who alerted me to this said, “What an idiot.”

Americans re-united


The two American journalists detained in North Korea since March, stepped foot on U.S. soil Wednesday, the day after they were released from custody.

Dignitaries and journalists flocked to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif., for the arrival of the plane carrying Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, CNN reported.

And, their boss, Al Gore, was there to greet them, too… with green ‘welcome home’ signs. Thanks, Al.

CNN reckons it’s a new channel of diplomacy… even though they stress Obama was not directly involved.

You can check that stuff out on the news yourselves.

The point is this. North Korea will not change. OK, this is only my opinion… someone who has lived in South Korea for five years in total. Koreans are so difficult to deal with, let alone North Koreans.

Whilst this may be a victory for the Left (Clinton, Gore, Obama, journos for Gore’s TV channel), and Obama is right to be cautious and distance himself from this (very short press conference), it really doesn’t help relations with North Korea.

Now sure. I cried watching the reunion.

No. What this has done is strengthen Kim Jong-il’s hardline position as his health declines, as he positions his son, Kim Jong-un to take the reigns of power.

Kim Jong-il is of course prepping his best son. But he had to do the nuke tests, the missile tests, and now the long awaited Clinton visit… 9 years belated.

If he didn’t, the hawkish generals would have taken control of a weakening NK presidency. KJI needed stature, and Clinton returning two pawns was a good move… from a Kim Jing Il perspective… the personality cult must continue. KJI’s stature among ‘his’ people will be ratified. America’s position has been weakened… from a North Korean perspective.

Triple bonus. The political Left can claim success (CNN mentioned it was almost as if eight years had been erased), and Al Gore can get on TV and plug his channel, all whilst, within minutes, the new eco-religion can kick in with green banners and Laura stating she felt the love from all her supporters being channelled to her in NK. Now, mind you, she was granted access to her family during the ordeal. But just how could she have felt the love from everyone else? A Vibe?

In other words, this has weakened the West.

Anyway, NK were never gonna keep them. It has been one big stunt to raise KJI’s stature both internally and abroad and to give the Left a boost… who’da thunk? FFS sake, they kept them fed (not always an easy task in NK) and had them in a guest house.

Obama can call two-track diplomacy as much as he likes but it plainly isn’t. Not with one ex Democrat president (husband of the SOS), one ex Democrat vice president and the current president involved. I don’t care how white you paint the jet. And the West’s position has been yet again weakened.

In one sense, thanks. You freed those journos. But at what cost?

At least someone's happy. Someone else looks like he got PWND.

At least someone's happy. Someone else looks like he got PWND.

So whilst the mum meeting her daughter for the first time in ages brought tears to my eyes, no other part of this stunt did.

I’m angrier at the North Koreans, though. Pardon my French, but they’re cunts.

Still, at least a relative status quo has been maintained. There really is no other ‘solution’ at the moment.

However, this has been an absolute success for North Korea. There’s little doubt they won’t do it again… all the while whilst expanding their nuke program, whilst stalling any six-party talks.

This latest stunt will affect any sanctions, too.

Cue the stories of OMG, this is so wonderful from the MSM.

UPDATE

John Bolton agrees. He’s been to Korea a bit. He’d know. And as for anyone who hasn’t dealt extensively with Korea?

Hmm… well.

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