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Friday, April 29, 2005

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: No child should be left behind by listless union

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: No child should be left behind by listless union: No child should be left
behind by listless union

American messes are often the result of laziness and unfair traditions combined with simplemindedness, crudeness and ideological blindness. So it is with the revolutionary No Child Left Behind Act, which suffers from underfunding and attacks by the largest teachers union, the National Education Association, with the intention of cutting its throat.

The underfunding means that important programs such as GEAR UP will not be able to continue providing high quality preparation for the poor students whom No Child Left Behind has targeted. Some see the present underfunding as a signal hypocrisy on the part of the Bush administration, which has fired down some hot rhetoric about raising the quality of public education for our poor children. With proper funding, No Child Left Behind could be the most important education reform in the last 100 years.

Jerry Reynolds of the Civil Rights Commission says, "If we are concerned with raising the black lower class into the arena of market forces where your skills and your intellectual resources trump everything else, then we have to be concerned with higher quality teaching and higher quality performance. What No Child Left Behind proposes is that we will either have a new set of winners and losers, or we will expand the winners to include those at the bottom."

If this is true, why is the NEA so intent on seeing it destroyed? Quite simply, teachers unions have sunk into the obsession that most unions have - keeping their members employed instead of fusing employment and quality performance. No Child Left Behind proposes that there should be an objective standard of performance.

Perhaps most despicable in this arena, though - or at least as despicable as the teachers unions - is the lack of involvement shown by the civil rights establishment, which has sold out to the Democrats and the unions. This is not a party issue; it is not a union issue. It is about the future of public education.

There must be radical change and a refusal to accept indifference. Poverty, color, sex and national region should have less and less to do with whether or not a child is prepared to get in the career ring and rumble. It is a difficult task, but we cannot avoid it. We might as well start stepping up with ever greater force right now.

Originally published on April 25, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Best Man for the U.N.

The New York Times > Opinion > April 27, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Best Man for the U.N.
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

My biggest problem with nominating John Bolton as U.N. ambassador boils down to one simple fact: he's not the best person for the job - not even close. If President George W. Bush wants a die-hard Republican at the U.N., one who has a conservative pedigree he can trust, who is close to the president, who can really build coalitions, who knows the U.N. building and bureaucracy inside out, who can work well with the State Department and who has the respect of America's friends and foes alike, the choice is obvious, and it's not John Bolton.

It's George H. W. Bush, a k a 41. No one would make a better U.N. ambassador for Bush 43 than Bush 41.

Look, John Quincy Adams went back to Congress after he served as president. Why shouldn't George H. W. Bush take another spin around the diplomatic dance floor he loved so much and where he left his biggest mark? He's already demonstrated with his parachute jumps that he has the stamina for the job, and his performance as a tsunami relief ambassador was a great success.

But there is actually an even better reason to prefer 41 over Mr. Bolton. The White House claims it needs the pugnacious Mr. Bolton at the U.N. to whip it into shape and oversee real reform there. I have only one thing to say in response to that pablum: Give me a break. We do not need a U.N. ambassador to "reform" the U.N. That is not what America needs or wants from the U.N. You want to reform the U.N.? You want to analyze its budgets and overhaul its bureaucratic processes, well, then hire McKinsey & Co. - not John Bolton. (Everyone knows he prefers to torch the place.)

"Reforming the U.N." is without question one of the most tired, vacuous conservative mantras ever invented. It is right up there with squeezing "waste, fraud and abuse" out of the Pentagon's budget. If the White House is concerned about waste, fraud and abuse, let's start with Tom DeLay and our own House.

Sorry, but we don't need a management consultant as our U.N. ambassador. What we need is someone who can get the most out of what the U.N. does offer to America. There is no secret about the U.N. - at its worst it is a talking shop, where a lot of people don't speak English and where they occasionally do ridiculous things, like appoint Libya to oversee human rights, and even mendacious things, like declaring Zionism to be racism.

But at its best, the U.N. has been, and still can be, a useful amplifier of American power, helping us to accomplish important global tasks that we deem to be in our own interest.

The U.N. still represents the closest thing we have to a global Good Housekeeping seal of approval for any international action. Whenever the U.S. is able to enlist that U.N. seal on its side, America's actions abroad have more legitimacy, more supporters and more paying partners.

If we had engineered more of a U.N. seal of approval before going into Iraq, we would have had more allies to share the $300 billion price tag, and more legitimacy, which translates into more time and space to accomplish our goals there. It's not a disaster that we went into Iraq without the U.N., but life would probably have been a lot easier (and cheaper) had we been escorted by a real U.N. coalition.

In short, I don't much care how the U.N. works as a bureaucracy; I care about how often it can be enlisted to support, endorse and amplify U.S. power. That is what serves our national interest. And because that is what I want most from the U.N., I want at the U.N. an ambassador who can be a real coalition builder, a superdiplomat who can more often than not persuade the U.N.'s member states to act in support of U.S. interests.

I can't think of anyone better than George H. W. Bush, with his diplomatic Rolodex and instincts, or worse than John Bolton. Mr. Bolton's tenure overseeing U.S. antiproliferation efforts at the State Department is a mixed bag: success with Libya, utter failure with North Korea and Iran. But no one can miss the teacher's note at the bottom of his report card: "Does not play well with others who disagree with him."

I have no problem with Mr. Bolton's being given another job or being somehow retained in the job he already has. He's been a faithful public servant. But why would you appoint him to be ambassador at an institution he has nothing but contempt for to do a job he has no apparent skills for?

President 43 only needs to call home to find the right man for the job in President 41. And if 41 isn't available, well, then maybe he should try his sidekick.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Redefine the church

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Redefine the church: Redefine the church

Agendas for the new Pope

I find the Catholic Church one of the most uplifting organizations to have risen from the human family because of the extraordinary art it has inspired and the majesty it has stylized in its ritual. I will never forget how my brother used to love to go into the neighborhood cathedral because he said that it was so calm and so beautiful and was a refuge from the heat or the cold of the outside world.

But in a time as vulgar as ours, when we have trouble finding things to believe in that are beyond our bodies or beyond goods and services, it is easy to take a cheap shot at something as large and as important to Western history as the church.

As Pope Benedict XVI considers what the future holds, he must remember that the Catholic Church and its Popes have stood strong through every imaginable crisis, but in so doing have submitted to monarchies and given aid and comfort to colonizers bent on destroying any society not part of Christendom.

Of course, we all know it looked the other way when Adolf Hitler and his murderous, jack-booted buffoons strode this bitter Earth. And we know that the church has held high the Virgin Mary while keeping women in a secondary position - as minor voices in the executive branches of its order - and has maintained a basically dismissive attitude toward what many consider contemporary women's issues.

In our own land, the church has tried to hide its sex scandals behind the skirts of its cardinals and bishops.

A fissure in the faith emerged as one young man after another gave testimony. They were far from hysterical and bespoke the depths of pain one feels when used and kept from plain sight by an administration surely corrupted by its own embarrassment.

The Pope must carefully guide the church as it is forced to stand up to the complex difficulties that arrive on the planes of sex, poverty and color. The Pope's greatest challenge will be to strengthen the voice that will speak to counter this time of apathy, an age bereft of any sort of serious thinking about religion, partially because it is crudely used to push political agendas and partially because the pain and cruelty of life do not seem to be assuaged by anybody's code of God and His dictates.

This is the age of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases and massive sexual exploitation in the Third World. It is an age that will continually be redefined by the sciences.

But one's church is one's church, and we suffer through it and from it just as one does with one's parents and one's siblings. It is always a familial thing and what has been bred into the blood of the believer in Christianity is founded in forgiveness, which seems a much larger word than we commonly think once we realize that it means setting aside the harsh emotions that come with looking evil in the face.

Now is as good a time as any for the Catholic Church to redefine itself in terms that speak with depths of feeling, perception and faith in this difficult, vulgar and demanding moment in which so many fine things have fallen.

Originally published on April 20, 2005

Monday, April 18, 2005

Philstar.com - The Filipino Global Community > Taiwan is not part of China! — VP Lu

Philstar.com - The Filipino Global Community: Taiwan is not part of China! — VP Lu
BY THE WAY By Max V. Soliven
The Philippine Star 04/17/2005

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s outspoken and articulate Vice President Ms. Lu Hsiu-lien, better known abroad as Annette Lu, meeting with this writer in the President’s Office in downtown Taipei, deplored what she called the "myth" of the "One China" policy and said it is unjust to attempt "to force Taiwan into the arms of the People’s Republic of China."

"Taiwan is not a part of China," she stated, "but has been sovereign for many years." Looking chic in a two piece beige suit, Vice-President Lu reiterated her stand, one which has outraged Beijing for the past five years, that human society should "not be governed by the rules of the jungle, where the strong prey upon the weak to survive. In the cross-strait relationship, the PRC (China) is like a lion and Taiwan a little kitty cat. Throwing the kitty cat to the lion would no doubt result in a bloody end for the kitty cat and a small meal for the lion."

She pointed out that "if the world is to exist in peace, the large and ferocious beasts (obviously referring to China) must be kept in their cages, living their own lives while the tame and cute animals are allowed to play freely, with the birds in the sky, with the bunnies and kitty cats playing together. The sleeping lion has awakened, and the international community must help tame it to ensure peace and stability in Asia."

"Let Taiwan be Taiwan!" Lu told me. "We don’t belong to China!"

Beijing’s constant insistence is that Taiwan is "a breakaway province of China" (I remember that when I interviewed him in Beijing’s "Great Hall of the People" in October 1964, Premier Zhou En-lai had told me that he had deliberately chosen the "Fujian" (Fookien)
room as the site of our meeting, "to remind you that Taiwan is a sub-province of Fujian!"

This was repeated in 1986 when I talked with the late Chairman Deng Xiaopeng in the same Fujian Room of the Great Hall. Deng, chain-smoking as always, asked out loud why Taiwan was not willing to accept "my formula" which had already been adopted by Hong Kong of "one country, two systems," meaning that he had offered Taiwan a guaranteed fifty additional years of continuing its capitalist way of life when it "returns to China".

Much of the Taipei government’s perception problem derives from its own semantics. Owing to its previous leadership, particularly that of the post-Japanese hegemony’s "founding father," the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan continues to refer to itself and issue passports under the label Republic of China, or ROC.

After a brief war over the islands, the Qing (Ching) dynasty of China had ceded Taiwan to Japan in the Treaty of Simonoseki in 1985. The Japanese had set up building infrastructure and modernizing Taiwan compelling Taiwanese to become Japanese subjects, adopt Japanese names, drafting tens of thousands into the Imperial Japanese Army.

Indeed, a brother of Taiwan’s former President, Lee Teng-hui had been killed fighting as a Japanese officer in the Philippines. The bombing of Manila and Clark Field and the invasion of December 1941 in fact were mounted from Taiwan. After Japan’s surrender n World War II, it was "agreed" with the United States, Britain and other Allied countries that Nationalist Chinese leader, Chiang Kai-shek take over Taiwan as "restored to China" on October 25, 1945.

With Taiwan’s population than 6.7 million, most of the 285,000 Japanese civilians and 158,000 Japanese military personnel were evicted and sent "back" to Japan, while 12,000 Nationalist Chinese military and 200 officials arrived to assume control. The resentful native Taiwanese protested against and resisted the heavy handed methods and "plunder" of their new mainland rules, but were suppressed with a violence that ended up with the killing of about 28,000 people and the arrest of thousands.

Losing the mainland to the attacking Communists, led by Mao Zedong, Chiang himself was forced to flee to Taiwan with his Nationalist government and his remaining troops in 1949. There he ruled with an iron first, with his Kuomintang (KMT) ruling the island until his death in 1975. The KMT fully expected to be able to regroup and return in force to "liberate" the mainland from the Communists. Some of the former mainlanders I met there in 1959 still kept the keys of their apartments in Shanghai, or their homes in Beijing and other cities in their pockets – as a token, I suppose, that they would be able to re-invade the mainland soon and "recover" their lost homes and properties. This dream faded as the years went by.

Even today in Taiwan, the subtle "divide" between native Taiwanese and former mainlanders (who dominated the government for half a century!) remains. Some 85 percent of the people believe themselves native Taiwanese, calling themselves benshengren or "province people", and, along with Putonghua (mandarin), the official language, still use the Taiwanese dialect. The two million former mainlanders who came with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, and their descendants are still referred to as daluren or "mainlanders." The aborigines belonging to eleven recognized tribes, of course, are the yuanjhumin, or "originals", but comprise a tiny 1.5 percent.

Vice-President Lu, a true native Taiwanese born on June 6, 1944, in the northern city of Taoyuan, came from a hardluck family. Her hardworking parents had twice considered giving her up for adoption, but could not bear to part with their daughter, particularly a child who made them proud by excelling in her studies. Her mother, Lu recalls traveled tirelessly around Taiwan to help her father in the family business. She asserts today: "There is not a single woman in our family who is not doing the work of men."

She rejects what she calls the myth of "maintaining the status quo" with mainland China. The real status quo the Vice-President declares is that "Taiwan is a de facto independent nation, whether or not it is recognized and despite the confusion of its official title."

She condemned the anti-secession law passed by China’s parliament unanimously in March, recalling that more than a million Taiwanese had demonstrated to protest and decry it in Taipei a few weeks ago. When Japan surrendered "unconditionally," she insists, Taiwan did not automatically go back to China, "we had been ceded by China in 1895." In the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, nothing was said, she noted, about Taiwan going to China after Japan surrendered control of the islands.

The second myth Ms. Lu rejects is the PRC’s claim that the United Nations Resolution 2758, passed in 1971, had already resolved the cross-strait issue. "This is a blatant lie. The resolution only recognized "that the representatives of the Government of the People’s Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations" and the resolution simply resolved to expel "the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations, i.e. as representative of China."

Clearly, Vice-President Lu reminded me, the plain text of Resolution 1750 did not mention Taiwan in any way or support any claim Taiwan is part of China "or that the PRC shall have claim to Taiwan." Unfortunately, she complained, the world has been deluded by these false claims for decades "without delving deeper for the truth."

Needless to say, Lu is reviled in Beijing for her candor and fearless pugnacity. She told this writer: "There is no need for Taiwan to declare independence as Beijing keeps on warning against. Taiwan has been independent and sovereign for many years already!"

This is something for China’s President Hu Jintao to comment on when he comes to Manila on a state visit after the scheduled Bandung conference in Indonesia, which is supposed to take place on April 22. However, the volcano near the conference site has been acting up in the past few days. Will that Asian-African summit be held as calendared?

In any event, Annette Lu has already proven more than once that she is a very tough lady.

If you’ll recall, after 55 years in power, the Kuomintang (KMT)lost the Presidency in 2000 to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party headed by Chen Shui-bian with his Vice-Presidential running mate being Ms. Lu. Both Chen and Lu were reelected to a second four-year term as President and Vice-President last year after surviving an assassination attempt. Both Chen and Lu were wounded in an attack on them by a gunman (or gunmen) but not seriously hurt.

Chen, himself was prominently featured in the special issue of TIME Magazine (April 18) just off the press, entitled The TIME 100 and subheaded: "The lives and ideas of the world’s 100 most influential people." In fact, Chen was played up on page 46 with the headline: "Taking it to the brink," while China’s Hu Jin-tao came on page 52, with a piece entitled "China’s Puzzle of a President."

Ms. Lu herself spent years in prison, arrested by the then ruling KMT government.

In what is now famous as "The Kaosiung Incident," in December 1979, she was one of the top organizers of a rally inspired by the editors of MEILIDAO (Beautiful Magazine), a liberal publication, known for being critical of the government. The demonstration was designed to celebrate Human Rights Day – but it alarmed the police and the authorities. The day before the event, two of the organizes were seized while handing out handbills and leaflets announcing the rally and badly mauled. On the day itself, policemen barricade the routes and fenced off the park forcing thousands of would-be protesters to fume in frustration on the surrounding streets. Scuffles between demonstrators and cops turned violent, and after the ensuing melee eight of the organizers were nabbed and put in jail. In the trial which followed, one of the defending lawyers was Chen Shui-ban. The "leaders" were handed down stiff prison terms of up to 12 years.

Already under "surveillance" before the incident, Annette Lu had persisted in delivering a 20-minute speech at the blocked-off rally scene, and was carted off to prison. Sentenced to 12 years for sedition and deprived of her civil rights (she was 36 at the time) she continued to read and write while in prison. After five years and four months of imprisonment, she was released owing to the stubborn efforts of her friends and Amnesty International – for medical reasons "for treatment of thyroid carcinoma." (Reminds you of Ninoy Aquino’s "release" for a heart-bypass in Texas by the Marcos dictatorship).

In any event, while her friends were saddened to see how prison life had "aged her," Lu regained her formidable energy. For five years between March 1985 when she was released in 1990 she traveled through the US and Europe speaking out boldly on the plight of Taiwan. She also spent three years in Harvard on scholarships, earning two Masters’ degrees – her English is both fluent and brilliant.

Becoming the woman to serve as Vice-President (on May 20, 2000) she has become an even more dynamic international figure. On March 20, 2004, in their reelection bid, she and President Chen got 6.47 million votes.

Since Chen, after two terms, won’t be running for reelection – who knows?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

LittleSpeck.Com > Japan's Rising nationalism Result: Unfriendly China, Korea and no Security Council seat.

Untitled Document: "
Japan's Rising nationalism, Result: Unfriendly China, Korea and no Security Council seat. By Erich Marquardt. Asia Times Apr 17, 2005

Anti-Japanese protests that spread through China over the weekend are the latest manifestation of Japan's growing nationalism.

The protests erupted after formal approval by Japan's Ministry of Education to print a school textbook that glosses over Japanese war atrocities during its early 20th century history.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Chinese demonstrators marched to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, throwing stones at the facility; additionally, on April 10, an estimated 20,000 demonstrators marched in two cities in southern Guangdong province, with protestors attacking a Japanese department store in Shenzhen.

The protests are considered the largest anti-Japanese demonstrations in China since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.

They are also the largest protests in the country since the US destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 during the conflict in Kosovo.

Smaller protests in South Korea also sprang up over the weekend due to the same issues; both countries were victimized by Japan's expansion in the first half of the 20th century.

The decision by Japan's Ministry of Education follows a series of nationalistic actions taken by Tokyo that have enflamed emotions in the region.

For instance, Tokyo is: -

* engaged in an island dispute with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands;

* claimed that the South Korean-controlled Dokdo (or Tokdo) islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, are part of its territory; and

* Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, continue to visit the Yasukuni Shrine which, while honouring Japanese war dead, also honours more than 1000 World War II war criminals, among them 14 Class A war criminals;

* the Japanese military has been increasing its power potential, building up its military and projecting its forces to locations as far as Iraq; and

* Tokyo has declared a more assertive foreign policy, best seen through its declaration that it will join the US in defending Taiwan against an invasion from mainland China.

Japan's nationalism

Japan's growing nationalism derives from its desire to develop a more independent foreign policy and to increase its military power; much of the country's political elite want to see a return of a powerful Japan. Fomenting nationalism among the Japanese population is a necessary development to increase support for a stronger military.

While in the past such levels of nationalism would be restrained due to the country's recognition of its violent expansion throughout East Asia in the first half of the 20th century, in recent years Japan's society has changed; the memory of Japan's actions before and during World War II are fading, China is dramatically increasing its power, and the difficulties encountered by the US in Iraq have eroded the certainty that Washington will intervene completely in defense of Japan upon a conflict with China.

This explains why a growing segment of the Japanese political elite has been stoking Japanese nationalism to create the societal conditions conducive to military growth.

Tokyo has laid claim to a series of island chains, such as the Dokdo (Tokdo)Takeshima islands, which are presently held and occupied by South Korea, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are held by Japan but are contested by China and Taiwan.

Additionally, Tokyo has resisted international pressure to include much of its militant World War II-era past in its history books.

For instance, in one of its latest approved school textbooks, Japan's Ministry of Education permitted the use of a history book that omits Japan's forced seizure of some 100,000 to 200,000 "comfort women" who were used as prostitutes and sex slaves for Japanese troops; its use of forced labor; and its failure to mention the details of the Japanese military's actions in Nanjing, China, where tens of thousands of Chinese civilians and prisoners of war were killed by Japanese soldiers in 1937.

The organisation that authored the controversial textbooks, the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, consists of nationalist academics who are "deeply concerned by the very serious state of history education in Japan."

Nobukatsu Fujioka, the vice chairman of the organisation, explains that Japan is currently "educating our children using unsubstantiated, wartime, enemy propaganda. You can easily imagine how children come to believe that their ancestors were murderous monsters. In actuality, there is no evidence proving that Japanese war crimes were any worse than war crimes committed by other nations."

When discussing the "comfort women," Fujioka stated, "Prostitution in itself is a tragedy, but there is no evidence to indicate that the women were forced into it by the Japanese military. If this had been the case, I am sure the proud Koreans would have been so outraged that they would have stood up to kill all Japanese, no matter what the consequences."

In light of how sensitive Japan's neighbours are to the country's history, Tokyo's endorsement of the preceding statements are bound to spark anti-Japanese nationalism in those countries that were affected by Japan's early 20th century expansion, a development we now see today.

The demand by neighbouring countries - led by China and South Korea - to have Tokyo include such information in its textbooks is being played off by the Japanese political elite as being anti-Japanese rhetoric, which then ignites Japanese nationalism, moving the population more toward supporting rearmament and a nationalist foreign policy.

As argued by Fujioka, "More and more people share our opposition to instilling self-hatred in our children."

Indeed, Japan's political elite has argued that anti-Japanese rhetoric is a tool of foreign governments to conceal their failure to provide for and satisfy their populations.

Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, commented on this, stating, "Japan is an outlet to vent that anger."

Abe further argued, "Because of the anti-Japanese education [in China], it's easy to light the fire of these demonstrations and, because of the Internet, it's easy to assemble a lot of people."

Statements such as these convince segments of Japan's population to give more power to the country's nationalists.

Indeed, following the protests, the Japanese government asked Beijing to apologise for the demonstrations.

Beijing, wary of its population's own nationalism that is driving its regional power ambitions, refused, with Chinese government spokesman Qin Gang declaring that "the Japanese side must earnestly and properly treat major issues that relate to Chinese people's feelings such as the history of invasion against China."

Qin continued, "It should do more to enhance mutual trust and safeguard the overall interests of China-Japan relations, instead of doing the contraries."

Tokyo endangering its interests

Japanese actions have hurt its relations with South Korea and China. While there has always been nationalist tension between Japan and China, its relations with South Korea have been stable, since both rely on Washington's military umbrella.

Both countries were supported and protected by the US during the long Cold War with the Soviet Union, a time when China was in the communist orbit and when the US fought on the side of South Korea against the invading North.

It is important for Tokyo to keep its relations with Seoul strong. By alienating South Korea, Japan is driving Seoul closer to Beijing - this development is welcomed by Beijing but it should not be welcomed by Tokyo.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun already warned on March 23, "Now, the South Korean government has no choice but to sternly deal with Japan's attempt to justify its history of aggression and colonialism and revive regional hegemony."

Roh cautioned, "there could be a hard diplomatic war ... that may reduce exchanges in various sectors and cause economic difficulty. But we do not have to worry much about it ... we are determined to take the hardship on our shoulders if we really have to."

Indeed, Seoul has said that it would campaign against Japan's attempt to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Japan's campaign to join the Security Council is part of the country's desire to increase its regional power; it is supported by the US and Australia in its UN bid.

In the words of South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Sam-hoon, "There are difficulties for a country that does not have the trust of its neighbouring countries because of the lack of reflection on the past to play the role of a world leader."

China has joined South Korea in opposition to Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.

On April 12, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said this of Japan, "Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for history and wins over the trust of peoples in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibilities in the international community."

While Japan enjoys the strategic support of the US and Australia, two countries that currently utilise Japan to retain the present balance of power in East Asia, these countries are distant, making it important for Japan to build a coalition of strategic allies among its immediate neighbours, with South Korea being the most obvious choice due to its history of being on the West's side in the Cold War and also being a strong economic power in East Asia.

Therefore, the souring of relations with South Korea will have a negative impact on Japanese interests by further isolating Tokyo in the region.

Conclusion

Japan's nationalism is a response to what it perceives as a changing balance of power in East Asia. The growth of China as a power has caused Japan to rethink its foreign policy strategy.

It recognises that despite its excellent trade relations with Beijing - trade between the two countries grew by 17% in 2004 - China is a threat to Japan's power and influence in East Asia since its current path will supplant Japan's role as the most powerful regional state.

To prepare for this future, Tokyo is increasing its military power while indirectly declaring that it supports the containment of China, evidenced by its statement that it would join the US in defending Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.

While its relationship with the US is critical if it wishes to keep its regional power, it needs to also work with other Asian powers so it does not find itself isolated on the fringe of East Asia, facing a Chinese-dominated bloc spanning its entire western coast.
Asia Times


LittleSpeck.Com > Japan's Rising nationalism Result: Unfriendly China, Korea and no Security Council seat.

Untitled Document: "
Japan's Rising nationalism, Result: Unfriendly China, Korea and no Security Council seat. By Erich Marquardt. Asia Times Apr 17, 2005

Anti-Japanese protests that spread through China over the weekend are the latest manifestation of Japan's growing nationalism.

The protests erupted after formal approval by Japan's Ministry of Education to print a school textbook that glosses over Japanese war atrocities during its early 20th century history.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Chinese demonstrators marched to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, throwing stones at the facility; additionally, on April 10, an estimated 20,000 demonstrators marched in two cities in southern Guangdong province, with protestors attacking a Japanese department store in Shenzhen.

The protests are considered the largest anti-Japanese demonstrations in China since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.

They are also the largest protests in the country since the US destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 during the conflict in Kosovo.

Smaller protests in South Korea also sprang up over the weekend due to the same issues; both countries were victimized by Japan's expansion in the first half of the 20th century.

The decision by Japan's Ministry of Education follows a series of nationalistic actions taken by Tokyo that have enflamed emotions in the region.

For instance, Tokyo is: -

* engaged in an island dispute with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands;

* claimed that the South Korean-controlled Dokdo (or Tokdo) islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, are part of its territory; and

* Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, continue to visit the Yasukuni Shrine which, while honouring Japanese war dead, also honours more than 1000 World War II war criminals, among them 14 Class A war criminals;

* the Japanese military has been increasing its power potential, building up its military and projecting its forces to locations as far as Iraq; and

* Tokyo has declared a more assertive foreign policy, best seen through its declaration that it will join the US in defending Taiwan against an invasion from mainland China.

Japan's nationalism

Japan's growing nationalism derives from its desire to develop a more independent foreign policy and to increase its military power; much of the country's political elite want to see a return of a powerful Japan. Fomenting nationalism among the Japanese population is a necessary development to increase support for a stronger military.

While in the past such levels of nationalism would be restrained due to the country's recognition of its violent expansion throughout East Asia in the first half of the 20th century, in recent years Japan's society has changed; the memory of Japan's actions before and during World War II are fading, China is dramatically increasing its power, and the difficulties encountered by the US in Iraq have eroded the certainty that Washington will intervene completely in defense of Japan upon a conflict with China.

This explains why a growing segment of the Japanese political elite has been stoking Japanese nationalism to create the societal conditions conducive to military growth.

Tokyo has laid claim to a series of island chains, such as the Dokdo (Tokdo)Takeshima islands, which are presently held and occupied by South Korea, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are held by Japan but are contested by China and Taiwan.

Additionally, Tokyo has resisted international pressure to include much of its militant World War II-era past in its history books.

For instance, in one of its latest approved school textbooks, Japan's Ministry of Education permitted the use of a history book that omits Japan's forced seizure of some 100,000 to 200,000 "comfort women" who were used as prostitutes and sex slaves for Japanese troops; its use of forced labor; and its failure to mention the details of the Japanese military's actions in Nanjing, China, where tens of thousands of Chinese civilians and prisoners of war were killed by Japanese soldiers in 1937.

The organisation that authored the controversial textbooks, the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, consists of nationalist academics who are "deeply concerned by the very serious state of history education in Japan."

Nobukatsu Fujioka, the vice chairman of the organisation, explains that Japan is currently "educating our children using unsubstantiated, wartime, enemy propaganda. You can easily imagine how children come to believe that their ancestors were murderous monsters. In actuality, there is no evidence proving that Japanese war crimes were any worse than war crimes committed by other nations."

When discussing the "comfort women," Fujioka stated, "Prostitution in itself is a tragedy, but there is no evidence to indicate that the women were forced into it by the Japanese military. If this had been the case, I am sure the proud Koreans would have been so outraged that they would have stood up to kill all Japanese, no matter what the consequences."

In light of how sensitive Japan's neighbours are to the country's history, Tokyo's endorsement of the preceding statements are bound to spark anti-Japanese nationalism in those countries that were affected by Japan's early 20th century expansion, a development we now see today.

The demand by neighbouring countries - led by China and South Korea - to have Tokyo include such information in its textbooks is being played off by the Japanese political elite as being anti-Japanese rhetoric, which then ignites Japanese nationalism, moving the population more toward supporting rearmament and a nationalist foreign policy.

As argued by Fujioka, "More and more people share our opposition to instilling self-hatred in our children."

Indeed, Japan's political elite has argued that anti-Japanese rhetoric is a tool of foreign governments to conceal their failure to provide for and satisfy their populations.

Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, commented on this, stating, "Japan is an outlet to vent that anger."

Abe further argued, "Because of the anti-Japanese education [in China], it's easy to light the fire of these demonstrations and, because of the Internet, it's easy to assemble a lot of people."

Statements such as these convince segments of Japan's population to give more power to the country's nationalists.

Indeed, following the protests, the Japanese government asked Beijing to apologise for the demonstrations.

Beijing, wary of its population's own nationalism that is driving its regional power ambitions, refused, with Chinese government spokesman Qin Gang declaring that "the Japanese side must earnestly and properly treat major issues that relate to Chinese people's feelings such as the history of invasion against China."

Qin continued, "It should do more to enhance mutual trust and safeguard the overall interests of China-Japan relations, instead of doing the contraries."

Tokyo endangering its interests

Japanese actions have hurt its relations with South Korea and China. While there has always been nationalist tension between Japan and China, its relations with South Korea have been stable, since both rely on Washington's military umbrella.

Both countries were supported and protected by the US during the long Cold War with the Soviet Union, a time when China was in the communist orbit and when the US fought on the side of South Korea against the invading North.

It is important for Tokyo to keep its relations with Seoul strong. By alienating South Korea, Japan is driving Seoul closer to Beijing - this development is welcomed by Beijing but it should not be welcomed by Tokyo.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun already warned on March 23, "Now, the South Korean government has no choice but to sternly deal with Japan's attempt to justify its history of aggression and colonialism and revive regional hegemony."

Roh cautioned, "there could be a hard diplomatic war ... that may reduce exchanges in various sectors and cause economic difficulty. But we do not have to worry much about it ... we are determined to take the hardship on our shoulders if we really have to."

Indeed, Seoul has said that it would campaign against Japan's attempt to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Japan's campaign to join the Security Council is part of the country's desire to increase its regional power; it is supported by the US and Australia in its UN bid.

In the words of South Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Sam-hoon, "There are difficulties for a country that does not have the trust of its neighbouring countries because of the lack of reflection on the past to play the role of a world leader."

China has joined South Korea in opposition to Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.

On April 12, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said this of Japan, "Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for history and wins over the trust of peoples in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibilities in the international community."

While Japan enjoys the strategic support of the US and Australia, two countries that currently utilise Japan to retain the present balance of power in East Asia, these countries are distant, making it important for Japan to build a coalition of strategic allies among its immediate neighbours, with South Korea being the most obvious choice due to its history of being on the West's side in the Cold War and also being a strong economic power in East Asia.

Therefore, the souring of relations with South Korea will have a negative impact on Japanese interests by further isolating Tokyo in the region.

Conclusion

Japan's nationalism is a response to what it perceives as a changing balance of power in East Asia. The growth of China as a power has caused Japan to rethink its foreign policy strategy.

It recognises that despite its excellent trade relations with Beijing - trade between the two countries grew by 17% in 2004 - China is a threat to Japan's power and influence in East Asia since its current path will supplant Japan's role as the most powerful regional state.

To prepare for this future, Tokyo is increasing its military power while indirectly declaring that it supports the containment of China, evidenced by its statement that it would join the US in defending Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.

While its relationship with the US is critical if it wishes to keep its regional power, it needs to also work with other Asian powers so it does not find itself isolated on the fringe of East Asia, facing a Chinese-dominated bloc spanning its entire western coast.
Asia Times


Sunday, April 10, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Lust Across the Color Line and the Rise of the Black Elite

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Lust Across the Color Line and the Rise of the Black Elite: "April 10, 2005

EDITORIAL OBSERVER
Lust Across the Color Line and the Rise of the Black Elite
By BRENT STAPLES

The 1998 DNA study that linked Thomas Jefferson to the final child of his lover Sally Hemings has settled one argument and fired up another. Most historians who had argued that Jefferson was too pure of heart to bed a slave have re-evaluated 200 years of evidence and embraced the emerging consensus: that Jefferson had a long relationship with Hemings and probably fathered most, if not all of her children.

Having acknowledged the relationship, these historians are now trying to explain it. This has sent them scrambling back to the 19th-century accounts of life at Monticello by two former slaves: Jefferson's former servant, Israel Jefferson, and the founder's son, Madison Hemings. This represents the rehabilitation of Madison, who was being vilified as a liar even 10 years ago.

Madison's memoir, based partly on family history conveyed to him by his mother, is as close to the voice of Sally Hemings as we will ever come. But neither of these brief accounts, published in an Ohio newspaper in 1873, reveals anything about the intimate texture of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. They tell us a great deal, however, about the circumstances that created the black intelligentsia that sprang to life during Reconstruction and that dominated African-American cultural, intellectual and political life through the first half of the 20th century.

This black intelligentsia did not spring fully formed from the cotton fields. It had its roots in the families of mixed-race slaves like the Hemingses, who served as house servants for generations, often in the homes of white families to whom they were related. Employed in "the big house," these slaves often learned to read, at a time when few slaves were literate. They also absorbed patterns of speech, dress and deportment that served them well after emancipation.

Many of them were set free by their guilt-ridden slave owner fathers long before the official end of slavery. The Hemings children were all free by 1829 - or more than a third of a century before slavery was finally abolished. Not surprisingly, mixed-race offspring who were well educated became teachers, writers, newspaper editors. They formed the bedrock of an emerging black elite and were disproportionately represented in the African-American leadership during Reconstruction and well into the 20th century.

Not all of these mixed-race children fared so well, however. Many were sold or passed on as chattel to relatives in their fathers' wills. This was in fact the case with Sally Hemings, one of several children born to a mixed-race slave named Betty Hemings and a white lawyer and businessman named John Wayles - the father of Thomas Jefferson's wife, Martha. When Wayles died, Martha inherited some of her enslaved half siblings, including Sally Hemings.

Sally Hemings was just a child when she accompanied Jefferson and his daughter to France for more than two years. Madison tells us in his memoir that his mother became pregnant by Jefferson in France, where she was considered free. She refused to return to America, he said, until Jefferson agreed to free all of the children born of their relationship.

Madison recalls that he and his siblings were favored at Monticello, and allowed to spend their time in the "great house," where they could be close to their mother. Madison further asserts that they knew of Jefferson's plans to emancipate them. "We were free from the dread of having to be slaves all our lives long, and were measurably happy," he says.

Jefferson's favoritism, however, did not include affection. Jefferson's black children, who seem never to have received so much as an embrace or a peck on the cheek, watched in what must have been painful silence as the great man doted on his white grandchildren. Madison says, "We were the only children of his by a slave woman."

The "great house" at Monticello offered abundant opportunities for encounters with the great minds of the day. Israel Jefferson, for example, recalls being present when Jefferson and Lafayette debated the question of slavery.

Raised in such a context, the Hemings children - and others like them - were probably better prepared for middle-class life than most people, either black or white. Indeed, historians who have followed the Hemings descendants through time have found that the cultural capital acquired by Hemings children at Monticello translated into upward mobility.

Historians who are now searching for ways to understand the Jefferson-Hemings relationship have several models from which to choose. Some masters developed caring, de facto marriages with enslaved women and tried to leave their children money and property in their wills. Other masters were serial rapists or plantation potentates who made harems in their slave quarters and were profoundly indifferent to their offspring.

For the time being, however, the last word on this issue should go to Madison Hemings, who flatly and dispassionately describes the relationship as a bargain, in which his mother consented to share Jefferson's bed in exchange for the emancipation of her children. That she had the courage to articulate this deal - and stand firm on its terms - makes her more than a mere concubine. It makes her the architect of her family's freedom.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Revising the Patriot Act

The New York Times > Opinion > April 10, 2005
EDITORIAL
Revising the Patriot Act

When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is not exactly a renowned civil libertarian, says the Patriot Act may need some adjustments, it clearly has serious problems. The act, which was rushed through Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, gives government too much power to invade the privacy of ordinary Americans and otherwise trample on their rights. Congress, which is now reviewing the act, should rewrite the parts that violate civil liberties. But it is important to realize that most of the worst post-Sept. 11 abuses did not stem from the Patriot Act. If Congress wants to restore the civil liberties Americans have lost in the last three and a half years, it must also look more broadly at the problems that have emerged from the war on terror.

After Sept. 11, Congress was in such a rush to pass the Patriot Act that, disturbingly, many members did not even read it before they voted for it. Fortunately, Congress made some of the most controversial provisions expire by the end of 2005. Last week, it began a series of hearings on the act, focusing on the parts that need to be reauthorized.

The debate over the Patriot Act is too often conducted in bumper stickers, in part because the details are so arcane. Parts of the law are reasonable law enforcement measures that have generated little controversy. But other parts unquestionably go too far, and invite the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the White House to spy on Americans, and suppress political dissent, in unacceptable ways.

Libraries and Medical Records Section 215, often called the "library provision," is one of the most criticized parts of the act, with good reason. It allows the government to demand library, medical, and other records, and makes it a crime for the record holders to reveal that the request was made. Section 215 is written far too broadly. It lets the government seize an entire database - all the medical records of a hospital, all of the files of an immigration group - when it is investigating a single person. It also is far too invasive; it is hard to believe the F.B.I. needs to monitor library book circulation. If the searches are allowed, Section 215 should be tightened to give the government access only to records of a specific person it has legitimate reason to believe is involved in terrorism, not an entire database.

The "gag rule" that makes it illegal for the record holder to talk publicly about the search also is disturbing, because it prevents the public from knowing if the government is abusing these sweeping powers. If the gag rule remains, it should be limited, so record holders can speak about the search after a suitable period of time, or talk about it right away without revealing who the target was.

Secret Searches Section 213, the "sneak and peek" provision, lets the government search a person's home and delay telling him about it. These delayed-notification searches fly in the face of the strong American tradition that the government must announce when it is entering a home. Delayed-notification searches were of questionable legality before the Patriot Act, and Section 213 - which does not expire this year, but is still generating considerable debate - clearly goes too far. At the very least, it should apply only to terrorism cases, and not, as it now does, to all investigations. It should also have clear guidelines for how long notice can be delayed.

Secret searches are an area where focusing only on the Patriot Act misses the larger picture of civil liberties violations. There is another law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that allows a worse kind of secret search - one in which, unlike the delayed notification of Section 213, the subject may never be told about the search at all.

One way for Congress to deal with searches under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - as well as those under Sections 213 and 215 of the Patriot Act - is to monitor them closely, which is not being done now. Congressional staff members with appropriate security clearance should review all requests for warrants or subpoenas, and should follow up on the results of the searches. If the F.B.I., C.I.A. or other units of government are using these tools to spy on Americans without sufficient justification, Congress needs this information to rein them in.

Information Sharing Giving different units of government more power to share information about suspected terrorists is a laudable goal, but the Patriot Act's approach is flawed. It authorizes the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and even the White House sweeping access to confidential information gathered about Americans, including telephone and e-mail intercepts. The access is not limited to officials working on terrorism. And it sweeps in information, like confidential material acquired by grand juries, that has always been closely guarded. There is a real danger that the new regime established by the act could produce a massive database on Americans, freely available to all units of government.

The Patriot Act makes the same mistake the F.B.I. and C.I.A. have long made: favoring information quantity over quality. The universe of data that is shared should be narrowed, to focus on information closely related to suspected terrorism, and rather than being indiscriminately dumped, it should be given only to officials, at whatever agency, engaged in investigating terrorism. In the case of data collected subject to the special powers of a court, such as wiretaps and secret grand jury material, a judge's approval should be required before it is simply dumped into a general database.

Beyond the Patriot Act At last week's hearings, Mr. Gonzales conceded that the Patriot Act may need some adjustment, while the Justice Department is largely standing by the law, and the F.B.I. is even seeking to expand it. But a coalition of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, backed by such unlikely allies as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union, is pushing for changes. In the coming weeks, there will be more hearings on how the act can be improved.

These hearings should look beyond the Patriot Act, to the larger picture of civil liberties and the war on terror. After Sept. 11, the government rounded up illegal immigrants, and put hundreds with no ties to terrorism behind bars for months, often in deplorable conditions. The Justice Department's own inspector general found that the government made "little attempt" to distinguish people with ties to terrorism from those without. In conducting this roundup, the Bush administration gave itself far more power than the Patriot Act does. Under the act, aliens are to be held no more than seven days before immigration or criminal charges are brought.

Nor did the Bush administration rely on the Patriot Act for its lawless "enemy combatant" doctrine, the basis for holding American citizens suspected of terrorism indefinitely, without access to family members or lawyers. And the administration now claims that the C.I.A. has the right to secretly transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation. Critics of the process, known as rendition, say it is being used to subject these suspects to torture. The authority for rendition comes not from the Patriot Act, but from a classified directive that President Bush signed shortly after 9/11.

If Congress becomes too bogged down in the minutiae of the Patriot Act in coming weeks, it will be in danger of missing the larger picture. Revising the law should be the start, not the end, of its work.

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: 'Gottis' make gangster rap true to name

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: 'Gottis' make gangster rap true to name:'Gottis' make gangster
rap true to name

The rap phenomenon has long had an attendant component of corruption that took it outside kids' fantasies of being bad boys. From the time the pop style devolved into what became known as gangster rap, an element of thuggishness and violence came in.

While early rappers enjoyed camaraderie and verbal jousts, gangster rappers took joking insults to violence.

The documentary "Welcome to Death Row" tells the story of the record label begun by and financed in its early days by crime money. Rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac Shakur were its stars. The first two left the label on their feet, the third was murdered in Las Vegas in the company of its CEO, Suge Knight.

Not long after, Biggie Smalls was murdered in Hollywood. Smalls had a beef with Shakur, who had accused him, along with Puff Daddy, of setting up an attempt on his life.

There have been brawls at music awards ceremonies. There was an exchange of gunfire between 50 Cent's bodyguards and some unidentified aggressors. A few months ago in Brooklyn there was a gangland-style murder of a record producer once associated with Russell Simmons.

Now we have a case that could tell us even more about the relationship between the worst extremes of rap and the criminal world. Irv and Christopher Lorenzo, who call themselves "Gotti," surrendered to the FBI on money-laundering charges. They were charged with being part of an interstate enterprise that sold heavy drugs and protected its operation with "calculated street assassinations."

The "Gottis" formed the label Murder Inc. in 1997 and sold 20 million records. According to the feds, the "Gottis" partnered with a notorious druglord and may have laundered $1 million.

Ever eloquent, Irv Lorenzo said to the press that he had nothing against the federal authorities. He implied that he could understand their investigating his operation. "I call myself 'Gotti,' I made my label 'Murder Inc.,' I grew up poor, from the street. ..."

But one of the feds asserted what might turn out to be the truest take on the case: "They don't call it gangster rap for nothing," he said.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: Fight for life whenever possible

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: Fight for life whenever possible: Fight for life
whenever possible

Perhaps the most difficult thing to accept in modern life is the presence and the inevitability of death.

In our films we have tried to make fun of it in images of horror and cartoon butchery that we are supposed to be frightened by but not take seriously. Some say that the idea of eternal life as played out in Christianity or even more complexly in the reincarnation beliefs are both inventions to keep the force of death at bay.

In our own time and in our own society we have very complicated difficulties with the Grim Reaper. Most of our troubles are founded in our society's terrible hatred of aging and even of the human body in its natural form, which we see proven out in alterations like cosmetic surgery, implants and liposuction.

All of this was played out in the mounting hysteria and self-righteousness that attended the spectacle of Terri Schiavo's death last week. Much was revealed. Of course, there are those who are opposed to abortion and are also opposed to unplugging life supports but stand behind the death penalty. There are those who support a woman's right to choose but somehow felt that Schiavo's husband should have been able to make the choice of whether she lived or died. Many took all of the wrangling in Congress and the passage of bills as but an attempt on the part of the GOP to placate its fundamentalist voters. There were others who thought that the Democrats kept their mouths shut because they feared angering the very voters who kept their candidate out of the Oval Office.

It seems to me that the argument should not be in religious terms at all. There are too many religions and our nation is not a theocracy. The terms of the argument should be within the realm of civic morality and what that morality means to individuals within the context of our medical and technological capabilities.

We have long heard the complaint that one can live or die based upon how much money one has or does not have. The more fortunate can get better care and the less fortunate have to depend on the durability of their bodies and their good luck.

Now, after thousands of years, we have the technology to save or sustain life, and the question is what do we really believe about the right to life or the right a person has to get the best that the medical profession can provide.

This is not a religious question. It is a question of civic morality. It is made more complex because our hospitals save and sustain the lives of premature babies who would have died in times past. If a crack dealer wanted for multiple murders is brought into the emergency room with a pocket full of dope and a belly full of lead, our doctors do their best to save the life and leave the judgments to the courts.

That is the line on which the Schiavo cases should be decided. Not by the spouse, not by the family, but by the tradition of modern medicine, which is to fight death with everything that it has at every step of the way. In some terrible future of overcrowded countries and diminishing foodstuffs and all of the horrors our science fiction writers have predicted, we might decide to routinely pull the plug. But until then, I say give death as little as you can because the Grim Reaper is going to win the game in every case, no matter what.

Originally published on April 4, 2005