November 20th, 2010

Godzilla, default

On the American Empire:

Before certain people in this community object to use of the term, I do use the term Soviet Empire to refer to the political system ruled by the USSR from 1946-1991.

The American Empire, as I term it, is the phenomenon of the present day where the United States is the pre-eminent military and for the time being still pre-eminent economic power in the world today. I do not believe this is a desirable thing for the United States. Global interaction is one thing. The spirit of empire, which the USA gained via the Cold War, however, is a different and inevitably evil thing. Empire at its core is the ideology and practice of rule by one party over another. The US version has the insidious element in that like the Romans what is in all truth domination is disguised as liberation, bringing democracy. Whether or not Reza Shah Pahlavi or Pinochet or the Contras or Saddam Hussein in 1980-8 can be said to be free in any sense of the term is not a question. Evil is evil.

I find it telling that the United States' role in the world today is essentially an artifact of having been the only Great Power of 1939 that went into WWII better than it came out of it. The war triggered the reform movements of the 1950s and 1960s, it triggered also the rise of a standing army and a mess of other ills injected into the US body politic, like open advocacy of mass violence directed at people advocating for their constitutional and legal rights. This explains US commitments to countries like say, Israel, that made sense when the Soviet Union was bordering the Middle East and our only other regional allies there were Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The USSR's been gone for 20 years and Israel is increasingly an albatross around the neck of the United States.

The US Empire is a big one, and is in a phase of indirect rule. The USA has created an which as military bases imply logistical ability to supply them and the power to project through them. The USA maintains 860+ military bases, some relics of the Cold War when there were *two* superpowers armed to the teeth. These days the Russian Federation, even if it wanted to, could not muster the military power of Nicholas II's Russia, let alone that of Josef Stalin's. It's long past time that the USA withdrew from Western and Eastern Europe. Russia remains fixated on hard power to the expense of soft power, and its use of economic warfare has much more elements of the former than of the latter.

The war in Iraq is 100% a classic imperial war, an attempt to go beyond things like,,  and to try outright imperial rule by a country with much less experience than the British, who had virtually nothing gained by their Empire. The war in Afghanistan if limited to the goals of 2001 and withdrawn thereafter might well have led to a Realpolitik-style rapprochement with Iran but nowadays is just the same stupid shit the USSR spent an entire decade trying to do with perfect censorship (no Wikileaks in Brehnzev's USSR and that went well beyond Glastnost/Perestroika's limits) and genocidal tactics. The United States cannot win the war there, and it certainly is not going to try to win any hearts and minds. It's content to give Afghan cultures martial qualities they in truth possess no more than modern Norwegians are bloodthirsty town-sacking rapelootpillage scumbags like the Vikings in Western Europe of yesteryear were.

The Empire the USA in runs is an atavism and IMHO is nothing but an evil for the United States. The spirit of Empire irrevocably damages the center. It also, of course, damages where it touches. It is my fervent belief that for the United States nothing good can come of the Empire and it's long been time the USA accepted that leadership in the world does not *require* imperialism, and that if the USA insists stupidly on taking moralism as its theme then either it accepts moralism or the Empire. It cannot do both at once.

Cancer Survivors are now Sekret Terrorist Agents

TSA has reached a new low (If there ever was):

On the War on Terror not only are cancer survivors a threat to America, but they actually got cancer so they could replace their body parts with prosthesis so they could undermine our security on the war on terror. Clearly TSA believes that if they didnt wish to be humiliated, next time they shouldnt get cancer and replace their body with suspicious materials that can easily be mistaken for a bomb. After all it is a well known fact that fake boobs are a threat to our security.

The government supports the humiliation and groping of cancer survivors for giving the false impression of being Al-Qaeda agents. In our never-ending quest for safety maybe one day TSA agents will decide to grope and sexually molest our pets to see if they are terror pets, after all they have no problem in groping our children.

(no subject)

This is a pretty interesting article on the rise in jingoism in Japan following China's climb to the #2 world economy. In short, Japanese hardliners are freaking the *&% out with some of them talking about Japan building nuclear weapons and kicking out long term Chinese residents. Granted, there are Japan's own right-wing nuts who have a lot of bark but little bite. What they do have is Makoto Sakurai, a man so hateful and narrow-minded he makes Glen Beck seem nice and reasonable. He's got some choice comments in this article.

But the radicals aside, this article does highlight two very important points. The first being that Japan's conservative media is stoking the anti-Chinese fires at a time when cooperation between Asia's two biggest players is more important than ever. Second, more and more politicians in Japan are finally owning up to the fact that the old ideas aren't working anymore and that Japan can't escape making some very radical changes in the way they do things if they don't want things to get worse.

Now I lived in Japan for about three years so I've seen these radicals in action and observed some of the other problems this article talks about. While there is no magic bullet, IMO, what Japan really needs to do is honestly open itself to immigration and internationalization. Currently Japan loves dress up shows of internationalization but they're just fluff. Behind the scenes the machine is in motion to keep foreigners out unless they're tourists who will be gone in two weeks.

The educational system gives students six years of English but the numbers of Japanese who can speak even basic English in shockingly small. The number of foreign students who come to study in Japan is minimal. And speaking as a foreigner who did study at a Japanese college, I can tell you that college there is a joke. 

Now do I think any real change is going to happen soon? No. It's going to take something big and radical to spur the Japanese government to make any real change. Sadly, whatever form this flashpoint will take will likely not be kind to Japan.