20140630

ISIS the end of Iraq?

Again, the end of Iraq was sealed in 2003 with the invasion led by the Theocon-Neocon duet Bush-Cheney (as usual, from my 7-year-old "Universal Declaration of Independence From Fundamentalism"):
"For fundamentalists from all religions, George W. Bush turned out to be the best person at the best place at the best moment.

His strategy should look like a total failure to whoever considers the Iraq quagmire, the Palestinian fiasco, or the worldwide surge in terror. But to the contrary, Bush's strategy proved a complete success.
Because George W. Bush didn't act as a President of The United States of America in the interest of his country.
And George W. Bush didn't even act as a Republican in the interest of his party.
George W. Bush acted as a fundamentalist in the interest of fundamentalism.


(...)
Bush did not wage a war on terror but in favor of it : instead of focusing on terrorist networks and reducing their ground (ie by fighting injustice and poverty, promoting peace in the region and especially between Israel and Palestine), he deliberately infuriated the Muslim world and helped fundamentalists recruit new flocks of followers. And he targeted a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 but everything to do with peace in the region.
A new playground for international terrorism, the end of Iraq as a united country, civil war here, the rise of a new form of fundamentalism in Iran when reformers were "threatening" the Khomeini generation, the failure of Fatah and the victory of Hamas... all this was not collateral damage but the very aim of his sick game."
If George W. Bush deliberately set the region on fire, Barack Obama proved a poor fireman. He got Bin Laden and pulled out the troops as promised, but couldn't fix the whole mess. Furthermore, his sincere goodwill was not really rewarded, like that lovely Nowruz speech: it did lead to an Iran Spring, but didn't come with any back-up when the regime crushed it. Spinned by the GOP ahead of the elections, the Benghazi fiasco deprived the POTUS from all hope of convincing the rest of Washington to act in Syria or anywhere else. 

So for now, the new Bin Laden, self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is fearing much less Uncle Sam than Vladimir Putin or - who knows - Xi Jinping. Heck, even Francois Hollande looks scarier. 

All al Baghdadi needs to make it perfect is a GOP victory this November.

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20140526

Francois Hollande vs Extreme Right? Been There, Done Nothing

France's extreme right party Front National claimed almost 25% of the votes at the European election, finishing for the first time as the first party in the country, four points ahead of the UMP. The ruling Socialist Party didn't even reach 14%.


French PM Manuel Valls described the results as an "earthquake". They're even worse than 12 years ago, when Jean-Marie Le Pen finished second at the first round of the Presidential Elections, kicking socialist PM Lionel Jospin out of the race for less than 200,000 ballots. Jacques Chirac went on to win the second round, but a few months later his gaullist, conservative RPR merged into the new center-right UMP. Surprisingly, the humiliated PS refused to reform, and it had something to do with the "leadership" of its First Secretary Francois Hollande, a person who loves to talk about change, but has never done anything to prove it.

When Hollande got elected in 2012, I wrote "France refuses to change" because there was no better way to sum it up. The scariest thing is not the earthquake, but the desperate flatness of French democracy's EEG.

Francois Hollande vs Extreme Right? Been There, Done Nothing
2002 Presidential Elections in France: Le Pen reaches 2nd round
2014 European Elections in France: Front National the 1st political party
Francois Hollande 1998-2008: First Secretary of the French Socialist Party
Francois Hollande 2012-2017: President of the French Republic
2002: Gaullist, conservative RPR merges into new center-right party UMP
2014: UMP evolves into???

When democracy stalls, extremes always win. And the FN didn't even have to modify its DNA to win: Jean-Marie Le Pen claimed one region, his daugther Marine another, and Marine's mate Louis Aliot yet another.

The only good news may be the fact that the UMP is at long last forced to dump Sarkozy's doomed "rightization" strategy. In the weeks and months to come, the party will either evolve towards the center, or implode. 

The Socialist Party imploded a long time ago, but managed to win an election here and there, when its rivals played it even dumber than dumb. France cannot afford two zombies any longer.



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20140501

On Obama's visit to Korea - in Asia Pacific Bulletin

The East West Center, an education and research center established by the US Congress in 1960, just published my piece "Obama’s Visit to Korea: An Unwavering US-ROK Alliance Amidst Regional Tensions" in its Asia Pacific Bulletin No 260:


EastWestCenter.org/publications/obama%E2%80%99s-visit-korea-unwavering-us-rok-alliance-amidst-regional-tensions

Also on EWC's Asia Matters for America's website*:  
AsiaMattersForAmerica.org/korea/obamas-visit-to-korea-an-unwavering-us-rok-alliance-amidst-regional-tensions

*

Also on Obama's visit to Korea, with a greater focus on the Imperial Japan sexual slavery issue (also known under the euphemism 'Comfort Women'), I wrote two posts in a less diplomatic vein on Seoul Village:


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* on this EWC initiative, see "KORUS chorus" on Seoul Village

20140409

The First (Nation) Captain America

I grew up with Marvel comics, and always found Captain America one of their most boring characters, a Wartime Superman only good at kicking foreign ass. Frankly, this poster won't help me change my mind:



Now if Marvel went back to the drawing board today, they could come up with something more sustainable, like, who knows, this genuine Captain America:



Meet the first Captain America, complete with the shield. Okay, it might not sell well in the Bible Belt, where they fancy blond, blue-eyed versions of Jesus (BTW not the most likely combo for a Palestinian Jew around 0 B.C.).

Marvel did create an Apache superhero / war hero, but Thunderbird got quickly MIA for the X-Men.

Adding insult to injury (and death): the fact that Thunderbird was killed soon after having been created also means that he got stuck in this 1975 wardrobe




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20140331

Three-Quarter-Term Elections

Obama's back from Europe, where he managed to score rare photo ops: with Pope Francis in Rome, and with the Shinzo Ehud Abe - Park Yasser Geun-hye duet in The Hague (see "The Tripartite Summitulacra").



Historic handshake between war criminal grandson and dictator daughter - Nobel Prize winner observing (twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/448630575683751937 20140326)
The POTUS went out of his way (literally only) back to the States to say goodbye to Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud (90), who just nominated the successor of his successor Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (79): don't expect stupendous reforms from this young Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (69), the former head of the local intelligence agency...

So Barack Obama lets John Kerry cope with Putin's adventure in Ukraine, Park and Abe sort things out directly together, and the Saud clan stew in their own juice (now that the US of A have their own shale gas to dirty themselves with...).

Back home, the President keeps his eye on the ball: neither climate change, nor gun control, but Obamacare, The Reform That Must Work Before The November Elections, save the Senate majority, and end the House stalemate.

I bet Hillary Clinton is also praying for the success of this landmark healthcare reform. 

OFA's last call


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20140220

Don't skip a beat

As you may have noticed, I've been posting fewer blogules since I joined Twitter, and I'm only using @blogules for alerts about new posts. If you want to stay tuned, follow my two main accounts,  @stephanemot and @theseoulvillage:





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20140117

A Bridge To You Know Where

On damage mode ever since the George Washington Bridge scandal derailed his 2016 campaign, Chris Christie must prove that he's not totally out of the game.


Chris Christie's 2016 bid now a bridge to nowhere. Time for some traffic problems at the GOP.
twitter.com/stephanemot/status/422171645852143616 (20140112).
.
Can the New Jersey Governor finesse his way out of this mess? The concept drawing to mind the image of the hippo dance in Fantasia, it could at least be fun watching his efforts in a tutu and ballerina shoes:


'Chris Christie finessing his way away from the George Washington Bridge scandal in front of fellow GOP hopefuls ('White House Fantasy', Walt Dismay Pictures)

Robert Gates didn't wait for the crash to submit his own resume, attn potential candidates looking for a running mate able to work for BOTH George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In his memoir, "Duty", the former Secretary of Defense even added some Veep Debate credentials for 2016 by slamming Joe Biden's inconsistent foreign policy record. As if serving Dubya and Obama were consistent... His successor Chuck Hagel looks weaker, but he stands his ground.

Meanwhile, the GOP continues to postpone its unavoidable reform*, and to make do with tea partiers, theocons and other anticons.

The NutHouse just picked David Schweikert for the Environment subcommittee of the Science Committee. Since the man signed the "No Climate Tax Pledge", no climate control law shall pass under his watch. Schweikert has a pristine oil-lobby-friendly voting record: against greenhouse gas regulation, in favor of more drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge...

With snafued enemies like these, Hillary Clinton can sleep without a worry until the Primaries.

Unless, of course, the 800-pound gorilla manages to rock the dance floor.

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* see "Grand Old Parting - enter the anticons"

20140115

2013 blogules

Below, a list of blogules spilled over the year 2013.
NB : for the comprehensive lists of blogules (2003 - to date), go to the bottom of this post or to the blogules transfusion center.


2013 Second Half:

. "Happy New Year 2015"
. "I met KIM Jong-un - and lived to tell the tale"
. "Trading cards, then and now"
. "An interview in and about Seoul"
. "The Rising Sun Flag Brought Shame Upon Japan - Ban It"
. "Booz Allen is watching you. Saving Private Snowden or Saving Public Manning? (Outsourcing intel in Patriot Act times - When Big Data meets Small Government)"
. "The main threat against Japan? Its own leader"
. "The Sand Curtain, Two Years Later (or is it 20?)"


2013 First Half:

. "Moving pictures"
. "Dear Japan, Say No To Fascism" . "Iron Lady (Ashes To Ashes, Rust To Rust), Meet Hugo Chavez"
. "Invasion of Iraq: The Bush Legacy in 3 Impostures"
. "Still The Worst President Ever"
. "HGTP (Hypergraphia Transfer Protocol) Turns 10: 03/03/03 - 13/03/03" . "Smile, you're on Candid Democracy"
. "Won by cheating, lied to America and the World"



Previous seasons: 


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20131222

Happy New Year 2015

It's that time of the year, and for the 12th time*, I have no choice but to wish you a happy next year, considering what's going to happen in 2014:

January 2014 - Following the purge of JANG, KIM Jong-un decides to execute all North Korean citizens who don't share his royal Baekdu bloodline, including his own wife. He remarries his aunt KIM Kyong-hui who, even at 67 and after her recent heart treatment and husbandectomy, manages to give him a second son. KIM The Fourth sports a goitre, a Habsburg Jaw, and the most ridiculous hairdo in the whole dynasty.

February 2014 - As he carries the torch for the final relay at the Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin is assassinated by a group of gay Chechnen terrorists, the Dicky Riot. The new President, Dmitry Medvedev, choses Garry Kasparov as his Prime Minister.

March 2014 - Garry Kasparov castles: Vladimir Khodorovsky moves from his tower to the Kremlin, where Medvedev checks his new mate.

April 2014 - The day before the joint canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, Pope Francis discloses their secret ties to a powerful cult. The Ecuador Embassy grants asylum to the author of Curialeaks, and Francis eventually flies to Russia (Kasparov offered him a job as a bishop).

May 2014 - Only 10% of voters participate in the European Elections. Extreme right parties claim 75% of the ballots, extreme left parties 68%, democracy the remainder.

June 2014 - France sends troops to South Africa to contain the civil war that followed the April elections, and doubles its troops in South Sudan. Francois Hollande will consider the demands from Kenya and Nigeria, but only after deciding the size of France's contingents for Egypt and Morocco.

July 2014 - Neymar thinks he scores the winning goal for Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, but Aleksandr Kokorin claims a hat trick during injury time. Garry Kasparov instantly makes the coach Fabio Capello Knight of the Whistle.

August 2014 - Bashar al Assad kills only 10,000 Lebanese citizens, his lowest score since January. He asks Russia for more weapons, but Kasparov simply sends second hand spare parts from his pawn shop.

September 2014 - Scotland votes in favor of its independence. The Queen takes a diagonal direction to Moscow.

October 2014 - Red Friday, all Chinese bubbles explode at once. To prevent global panic and a collapse of all world economies, Fed chief Janet Yellen designs an alternate way of measuring wealth, Quantumative Easing.


November 2014 - Catalonia votes in favor of its independence, and for the mid-term elections, at long last, the GOP votes in favor of its independence from theocons and tea partiers.

December 2014 -  Shinzo Abe sends troops to France to contain an uprising ignited by a strike in a Simmons factory, The Mattress Spring.


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UPDATE: see the French version "Bonne Année 2015"
  
* see "Happy New Year 2010" (Jan 2009), "Happy New Year 2011" (Dec 2009), "Happy New Year 2012" (Dec 2010), "Happy New Year 2013" (Dec 2011), "Happy New Year 2014" (Dec 2012)... and in French: "Bonne Année 2009" (Jan 2008), "Bonne Année 2010" (Dec 2008), "Bonne Année 2011" (Dec 2009), "Bonne Année 2012" (Dec 2010), "Bonne Année 2013" (Dec 2011), "Bonne Année 2014" (Dec 2012).

20131212

I met KIM Jong-un - and lived to tell the tale

Earlier this week, I was granted an exclusive interview with North Korean leader KIM Jong-un in one of his luxurious residences. I'll skip the details about how I landed there, but to get the exclusivity, significant money transfers were required. I also had to ship three million Choco Pie packs to the Cayman Islands, along with an undisclosed number of NBA autographs to grease top wheels.

Seoul Village: "Since I'm not coming out alive from this meeting, I might as well cut the ceremonial crap and go for a first-name basis. So thanks for accepting this interview, Jong-un."

Kim Jong-un: "I should make your death even more painful for that but actually, it's a nice break from the bootlickers' routine, so let's keep it informal. Cigar, Coke?"

SV: "No thanks, I don't smoke, and coffee will do. So you're drinking that imperialist brand?"

KJU: "I was not talking drinks - our elites are growing tired of meth, and our labs working on new lines of products (no pun intended). North Korea must target markets with higher margins."

SV: "I see... You're starting to integrate step by step capitalist notions into the system."

KJU: "Exactly: myself, I indulge in free market all the time - I seize, and no one objects."

SV: "Certainly not JANG Sung-taek, now..."

KJU: "No one was taking me seriously, see? I detonated a frigging nuclear bomb, and all I got was a slap on the wrist - as if I were just a brat playing with firecrackers! The other day I asked China if I could visit, and they wouldn't talk to me, even after I threatened to have another nuclear test. So I discarded the old fart, and the next day they asked me if I wanted an unlimited visa."

SV: "Speaking of China, the way you humiliated your uncle in public was not very Confucian".

KJU: "But in the end, he was the one crying uncle! And you want to talk about Confucianism? From the start, this guy was impervious to the "rectification of names" - look how you Westerners CHANG Sung-taeked, JANG Seong-taeked, or JANG Sung-thaeked him depending on where the wind blew from, when you were not Chang Sŏngt'aeking in the pure McMuffin Whatever tradition."

SV: "McCune-Reischauer".

KJU: "Bless you. So I rectified his name alright. He thought he was the big boss, the one granting favors and pulling strings, but I showed them all that no one was above me, that any head could roll anytime. Read that KCNA news flash? Watched that video? Boy we performed a textbook purge to make Uncle Joe proud. I even had my Minister of Photoshop re-read 'Darkness at noon' before airbrushing the old geezer out from all the documents."

SV: "You read Koestler?"

KJU: "Nah, my nanny read me the story when I was a kid. Dad wanted me to know the ropes, and a lot of our technology transfer came from people like Uxley, Koestler, or Solzhenitsyn. Myself, I don't read books, and my favorite theoreticians are Al and Bob."

SV: "...?"

KJU: "Pacino's Scarface, de Niro's Capone. Now these guys knew how to make a splash with a purge. Straight to the point, you know, unlike them 'car accidents' - you'd be amazed to learn how much they cost us in spare parts."

What, Me Worry? - JANG Sung-taek

SV: "After the purge, you republished scores of dad-and-son pictures of the 3 generations of KIM to reassert your legitimacy. Now that you've cut a whole branch from the family tree, it's between you and your bros for the 'royal' bloodline. I presume you took care of your aunt as well."

KJU: "No sweat, man. Last year, I had KIM Kyong-hui stuffed by a taxidermist, and her husband never saw the difference. My brothers? Jong-chul's a sissy, and Jong-nam's softer than tofu. And he likes casinos - actually, the thing we wrote about JANG and casinos? I was also sending a message to Mickey Mouse: 'stay put, bro, don't take your chances, or I'll get you'. I'll get him anyway: Beijing's able to use him as a puppet 'Last Emperor', should anything happen to me."

SV: "Do you think Beijing will dump you?"

KJU: "Right now, we're talking the same language. See how hardliners tightened the screws around their last Plenum? New ADIZ, new JDIZ..."

SV: "JDIZ?"

KJU: "Journalist Defense Identification Zone: if foreign journos get too nosy, they're out of the game. Anyway, regarding North Korea, Beijing was more than happy to have one interlocutor instead of one and a half: it's already complicated for them to cope with different currents at home."

SV: "But one of the key factors of success of your dictatorship was the improbable balance of power you've been brutalizing ever since you got the job."

KJU: "Look. Politics and court intrigues have never been my thing, and long talks give me headaches. During my first meeting as the new boss, I kept expecting the five minute break, but it never came and it almost drove me crazy."

SV: "The five minute break?"

KJU: "You know, usually, when big guys meet, like in the NBA or the NFL, they cut every five minutes so you can get some popcorn or go to the johns. Here, I had to pee in my glass and to kill three people to get some attention. No, I really don't care about politics, and I'll outsource in China if needed - actually, the decision to remove uncle ST was taken during their Plenum. Military first, party first, Pyongyang first, entrepreneurs first... my job is not to make other people happy, you know? The way I see things is simpler: I decide, they execute, and sometimes I decide to execute them."

SV: "After all these purges, you're bound to face some HR challenges, and by that I mean Human Resources, not Human Rights. Do you trust your new guys?"

KJU: "I'm sick and tired of posing with a background of old garden gnomes in uniform with overgrown hats. During his first visit, Dennis Rodman didn't even notice that he'd stepped on four of them - he confused the poor guys with the garden stones, with their round hats and all. No, I don't trust my new guys, but at least when I invite them to ski or to ride horses, they don't drop dead after two minutes."

KIM Jong-un the Mirimboro man, showing horse power.


SV: "Masikryong ski resort, Mirim horse riding club, Munsu water park... what next?"

KJU: "We count a lot on tourism to bring cash. Our infrastructures suck, but people are ready to pay a premium for the thrill of visiting a real life dictatorship. Why wait for the end of the regime to cash on dark tourism? Our next project is an extension of Camp 14, and we're considering adding public executions to our Mass Games shows."

SV: "Any plan for reunification?"

KJU: "The question of leadership remains the main issue, but yes, talks are well under way with Bashar al Assad."

SV: "Thank you, Jong-un, for this rare glimpse into your troubled mind."

blogules 2013 - Initially published on SeoulVillage ("Exclusive interview with KIM Jong-un")
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