January 17, 2003

No Title

Sorry for the light blogging of late. This week has been something of a roundhouse punch for me, and I'm only now getting up off the mat. I'll probably explain this at some future date, but for now let's just say that I've had other things to worry about than countering the lies and spins of the usual suspects. Normal blogging will probably resume sometime next week, can't say when.

It's been a big week, and I've pretty much missed it all--chemical weapons in Iraq, bombs found in a Paris basilica, more machinations in North Korea, Gov. Bob Ehrlich takes the helm in Maryland--all stuff I'd usually tackle. But I just haven't been able to stoke up the fires. Soon.

But I'll leave you with something amusing, at least to me. Apparently subscribing to Democrats.com's email newsletter has had unintended consequences. They've put me on some kind of anti-war spam list, and now I'm getting email notices about tomorrow's anti-war rally in DC. In a normal frame of mind I'd probably go, just to witness the weirdness and relay it to you. But I won't be going. Anyway, the email included press contacts for reaching one Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbin, a Labour member of the House of Commons, and an anti-war activist. The anti-war types are offering him up for interviews, and I'm tempted to take him on. In case any of you bloggers are interested in grilling him, I've reproduced the email below. Note the links that they were kind enough to include--at least one is an openly Socialist/Communist organization.

Rt. Hon. JEREMY CORBYN, distinguished member of the British Parliament
(Labour - London), is available for interviews in Washington, DC area,
January 17-20.

TOPICS INCLUDE: War with Iraq, British and Labour Party Opposition to the
war, and his impressions of the US peace movement.

Mr. Corbyn is a leading international opponent of War with Iraq. He has
been invited to the United States to address the massive rally in
Washington, DC on Saturday, Jan. 18 and participate in a national student
peace conference on Friday, Jan. 17. He will meet leading US peace
activists and give his assessment of the US peace movement during a BBC
interview this weekend.

PRESS CONTACT - Charles Jenks, President, Traprock Peace Center,
cell - 413-522-2128; chasjenks@msn.com; Messages for interviews in DC can be
left from Friday, January 17 - Monday, Jan. 20 at 202-483-2000.
After Monday January 20, please call 413-773-1633; charles@mtdata.com
Check the website at http://traprockpeace.org

WHERE: Mr. Corbyn will be available interviews in the Washington, DC area.
On January 17 he will participate in a press conference at the George
Washington University Amphitheater located on The George Washington
University campus in the Marvin Center (800 21St Street NW) 3rd Floor. On
January 18 he will be speaking and will be available through the Traprock
booth, south of the Gallery of Art. Look for many large gold banners on
banning Depleted Uranium.

WHEN: Friday, January, 17 - Monday, January, 20.

MORE ON MR. CORBYN: Please see his summary vitae below. His Labour Party
website is http://www.northislington.freeserve.co.uk/corbyn/body.htm

Some internet sources:
Posted by B. Preston at 09:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2003


Henry Hanks is all over Sen. Robert Byrd's efforts to spin his way out of his shameful past. Now, he's saying he wasn't a racist when he joined the KKK...(insert laugh here)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:11 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


US Customs seems to have uncovered a plot to strike a JFK terminal, along with two other targets in the area. Customs doubts its source and therefore deems the threat "low credibility." Still, it's something worth remembering--while we bicker, terrorists plot.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


When an American pundit or politician criticizes President Bush for being a hypocrite or a bully because he’s using diplomacy with North Korea and the threat of war with Iraq, it tells us one of two things.

Either the critic is hopelessly ignorant about geopolitical and diplomatic realities … or the critic knows that President Bush cannot respond to his criticism, and therefore the critic can make political profit at the expense of American foreign policy.

In other words, those who make this particular accusation against the president are either squirrels or snakes: either chattering stupidly or poisonously biting the president while he’s trying to protect us and our friends from a serious danger.

I prefer to think that these critics simply haven’t thought things through. And I’m happy to point out that few of those who have made this particular accusation are responsible officeholders.

You don’t throw rocks at the guy who’s trying to tame the tiger.

Pretty much sums up my view. Card adds more, about China's role, and it's good.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


In many ways, the die is already cast with respect to North Korea. Since 1994, Kim Jong-Il has had the formula for cracking open America's vast stores of treasure, and has found a way to make sure some of that treasure flows his way: nuclear blackmail. That is what occurred when the United States agreed to provide North Korea aid in return for promises that it would no longer develop nuclear weapons in secret. Since that time, North Korea has played the reformed rogue state by day, while maintaining its nefarious nuclear weapons program under cover of secrecy, and has availed itself of our largesse. In essence we are propping up a mad regime, or at least we were until last fall, when North Korea admitted its cheating habits.

But that is all, as they say, water under the bridge now. We have in Pyongyang a regime bent on doing what it pleases until we resume aid, and it wants the addtional benefits of a binding non-aggression pact with the US (binding only on the US, naturally-North Korea has lied to us before, in case you missed it) and at some point full diplomatic recognition. It is also motivated by pain: Nearly starved, backward and worried about action it sees looming in the Middle East, this standoff may represent North Korea's last desperate gasp for survival. America is of couse under no obligation to provide a scintilla of what the North wants, but may find itself with few viable alternatives.

The players in this drama, apart from the US and North Korea, are obviously South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. Of these players, the one with the most to lose is South Korea, as the North is not only its kin but also has 11,000 artillery tubes within range of Seoul and a 1.5 million man army close by (equipped with aging gear, but formidable in the short term nonetheless), and probably one or two nuclear weapons. The South has everything to lose and little to gain in a war--the best it could hope for would be a quick victory which would lead to reunification, which would in turn probably lead to an economic depression as its economy absorbed that of its destitute neighbor. South Korea's worst case scenario is a true horror--levelled cities, nuclear fallout, a real apocalypse. North Korea's other close neighbors, Russia and China, likewise have little to gain from a recalcitrant North Korea and much to lose. Both could expect to see a nuclear and conventional arms race if the present situation is left to fester, as both South Korea and Japan will re-arm and likely develop nuclear weapons of their own. Russia simply cannot afford an arms race on its frontier, unless it becomes the supplier of one of the other players, and that player will need money to attract Russian interest. It has long had a relationship with North Korea, but its post-Communist outlook may help shift its alliance around to prosperous South Korea (since World War II hostilities between Russia and Japan haven't technically ceased due to a dispute over an island chain north of Japan, an alliance between the two is highly unlikely). Russia could also see in recent US-South Korean tensions an opportunity to move in. China has the strongest relationship with North Korea, and could for all intents and purposes strangle its weak economy nearly overnight by simply cutting off trade, yet China has thus far been relunctant to defuse the situation, and has in fact aggravated it. But China has a great deal to lose as well, and its best and worst case scenarios may help motivate it to help bring Kim Jong-Il to heel. The best case for China is essentially the status quo ante with a twist--a non-nuclear North Korea, still divided from the South, but one whose economy is improving to the point that it is viable. This would keep the Korean Peninsula from falling entirely into pro-Western hands, and would keep up a long-standing trade relationship that benefits China and keeps an ally close by. China's worst case scenario likely involves a horrific war followed by the dissolution of North Korea, with streams of refugees crossing into China, a united Korea that's friendly to the US, and a militarily strong, confident Japan across the sea. With Russia's occassional pro-US stance, China may feel itself encircled by the hegemon it fears most, and will want to do what it can to prevent this. Japan, for its part, sits across a narrow sea (across which you can see from one side to the other on a clear day in some areas), and eyes the situation in North Korea warily. Japan is already taking steps to re-arm, or to put it more correctly, to upgrade its military to a true fighting force. Japan already has the world's second largest military budget after the US, and is in many ways a very modern, though purely defensive, force. As someone who has ridden on a Japanese destroyer in the Pacific, and watched Japanese diesel-powered submarines dolphin-swimming alongside while Japanese aircraft flew past, I can attest to Japan's ability to quickly re-assert itself as a military power. It can, and if the North Koreans are allowed to keep their nuclear weapons while getting US and probably South Korean aid unmolested, it will.

So the trump card with respect to the high-stakes poker game taking place in East Asian is in Chinese hands, and apart from the two Koreas, China also has the most anted up to lose. A united Korea that's in the American camp, a Russia that sees things our way and is also allied to Korea, and a re-armed Japan that remains friendly to the US would leave China feeling surrounded. An economically viable North Korea, still hostile to the South and Japan and not entirely out of Russia's sphere of influence, is its best hope. And here lies the one card the US can play: China must be made to see the situation for what it is, a disaster in the making, for China, if things progess along their present course. China's leadership must be made aware that its enabling of Pyongyang's defiance will facilitate some of its own worst nightmares. This isn't a matter of playing the Japan card, as Charles Krauthammer put it, but of playing the hegemon card. China must be made to see that it will be, to some extent, encircled if North Korea remains out of its control. Helping this idea along, the US should not only work with the players already mentioned, but should strengthen ties with both India and Pakistan as well. If China feels the noose of US-led hegemony slipping around its neck, it may become a more willing partner.

There are other strategies the US could pursue more directly with North Korea, including some already underway. Offer talks if Pyongyang lives up to its agreements, offer aid to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs for good, with the caveat that it will be monitored around the clock from now on. Any breach means the deal is off, aid is cut from all the partners (which would now include China). Monitor and interdict weapons shipments entering and leaving North Korean ports, and step up satellite reconaissance, and do it in an overt way, to ensure that Kim knows he is always under our eye. Warn North Korea that if any weapons of its design end up in the hands of our enemies, we will not ask questions, but will take the matter straight to the UN Security Council for an up or down vote on military action. Or we may just come in and take care of them ourselves.

Military action in the case of North Korea is fraught with hazards for the reasons mentioned above, but should not be taken off the table. It is the stick that, accompanied by the carrot of increased Chinese assistance and tacit assurances (though no formal treaties) that we will not attack it without cause may keep the Korean Peninsula from going up in a mushroom cloud. In this situation the US has a weak hand, weakened by nearly a decade of appeasement while Pyongyang kept its nuclear program on track, but playing our weak hand against China's strong one shrewdly can keep the peace. It can also strengthen our hand in the years to come.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I just placed the order for JunkYardBlog's new World Headquarters, and it should be here within the week. If you're thinking of getting a new system, now's the time over at Dell--they're offering free shipping. As for my new system, your donations have paid for part of it. Along those lines, this site is now an Amazon Associates site, so if you're thinking of buying a book, DVD, CD, etc from Amazon.com, check my listings over to the left, and if what you're buying is there then kindly buy it through my link and I get a cut. If you don't see what you're looking for, drop me a line and I'll put up a link to it. Well, within reason.

Thanks for your support, but most of all thank you for reading and interacting here at the JunkYardBlog. If the site never pulls in another cent, it'll still be worth it and still be fun. Of course, it will be more worth it and more fun if it does pull in another cent or two...
Posted by B. Preston at 12:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2003


One cynical way to view Iraq is that, while the US and our allies (and apparently Iraq's Arab neighbors) would welcome a palace coup that takes Saddam out of the picture, there are probably 50 people who are just as evil as he is just waiting to take the reins. Well, close. The White House is indeed hoping somebody offs Saddam before our troops have to go in, but is worried about 40 people whose own war crime records are so bad that they would be unacceptable replacements for Saddam. Not too surprisingly, his sons make the list.

So here's a nasty scenario--the war starts, and within an hour or two the Iraqi government announces that such a coup has taken place. Knowing who the "filthy 40" are, they trot out before the cameras someone who didn't make the list. Iraqi TV may even show a corpse, claiming that it's that of their former leader (it'll be suitably burnt up or otherwise difficult to recognize, and could be the body of one of Saddam's doubles, but it will be impossible to rule out that he's really dead). The alliance is thrown into confusion, with the Arab partners calling especially loudly for an immediate cessation. European support, supposing we even have it, wavers. We stand down, only to get counterattacked unexpectedly. Turns out Saddam was alive the whole time, just using the moment to create fissures in the coalition and slam our troops.

Sweet dreams.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Japan is already looking into a military build-up, something I predicted a week or so back:

Japan's Self Defense Forces, hitherto deliberately humbled as a mere agency in the Japanese government hierarchy, is likely to be upgraded to a full-scale ministry, which would mean both a higher profile and seat at the Cabinet table. The Self Defense Agency, as an external arm of the Cabinet office, was represented in Cabinet by the prime minister -- which meant the SDA's budget requests sometimes never even reached the Cabinet for decision. Some observers expected the SDA, which has the world's second-biggest defense budget after the United States, to get ministerial status during the big government reorganization two years ago, when the much smaller Environment Agency was upgraded to a ministry. But the SDA was stopped by the pacifist-minded Social Democrat Party, one of the three parties in the then-governing coalition. But now the secretaries-general and chairmen of policy research councils for all three parties in the new coalition have recommended that the SDA be upgraded. So far, the New Komeito Party has been blocking the change. But having mollified its pacifist supporters by opposing (in vain) Japan's decision to send an Aegis-equipped warship, New Komeito is under strong pressure from its partners to recognize the dramatic change in Japan's security situation brought about the North Korean crisis and let Japan have a full-scale Defense Ministry. (from UPI)

This is a significant move, signalling Tokyo's wish to calibrate its defenses to the reality of a nuclear-armed and highly unstable North Korea just across the sea. China should take note.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


The demagoguery and race-baiting by Dems and their allies against the GOP doesn't seem to be working, and in fact may be backfiring: In Alabama, state Rep. Johnny Ford has switched from the Donks to the Pachs. He's a former mayor of Tuskeegee, a five-year veteran of the state House--and black.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This is how our allies see us? I think it's past time to pull our troops out of Germany and let it fend for itself.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:04 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


"Thirty minutes into the screening, the film got stuck in the projector and caught fire. That was the good part."
--Film Critic Roger Ebert, on The Hot Chick
Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Better stock up on the kitty litter...
Posted by B. Preston at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack