An important read for anyone following escalations on the peninsula.
On the Front Lines of a New Pacific War:
On the small, spectacular island of Jeju, off the southern tip of Korea, indigenous villagers have been putting their bodies in the way of construction of a joint South Korean–US naval base that would be an environmental, cultural and political disaster. If completed, the base would hold more than 7,000 navy personnel, plus twenty warships including US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers carrying the latest Aegis missiles—all aimed at China, only 300 miles away.
Since 2007, when the $970 million project was first announced, the outraged Tamna people of Gangjeong village have exhausted every legal and peaceful means to stop it. They filed lawsuits. They held a referendum in which 94 percent of the electorate voted against construction—a vote the central government ignored. They chained themselves for months to a shipping container parked on the main access road, built blockades of boulders at the construction gate and occupied coral-reef dredging cranes. They have been arrested by the hundreds. Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun, who was jailed for three months, said, “If the villagers have committed any crime, it is the crime of aspiring to pass their beautiful village to their descendants.”
Jeju is just one island in a growing constellation of geostrategic points that are being militarized as part of President Obama’s “Pacific Pivot,” a major initiative announced late in 2011 to counter a rising China. According to separate statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, 60 percent of US military resources are swiftly shifting from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region. (The United States already has 219 bases on foreign soil in the Asia-Pacific; by comparison, China has none.) The Jeju base would augment the Aegis-equipped systems in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and the US colony of Guam. The Pentagon has also positioned Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems in Taiwan, Japan (where the United States has some ninety installations, plus about 47,000 troops on Okinawa) and in South Korea (which hosts more than 100 US facilities).
On the island of Jeju, the consequences of the Pacific Pivot are cataclysmic. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, adjacent to the proposed military port, would be traversed by aircraft carriers and contaminated by other military ships. Base activity would wipe out one of the most spectacular remaining soft-coral forests in the world. It would kill Korea’s last pod of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and contaminate some of the purest, most abundant spring water on the planet. It would also destroy the habitats of thousands of species of plants and animals—many of which, such as the narrow-mouthed frog and the red-footed crab, are gravely endangered already. Indigenous, sustainable livelihoods—including oyster diving and local farming methods that have thrived for thousands of years—would cease to exist, and many fear that traditional village life would be sacrificed to bars, restaurants and brothels for military personnel.
need more information need on this….but OBAMA…i am fucking pissed…America!!! please get out of Korea!!! ASAP!!!
GET THE FUCK OUT. RIGHT NOW.
The soft coral gardens are one of the most rare, magical things on this planet. A wonderland of color, hallucinating shapes, all alive. Every moment there was a sadness of leaving.
The island is tiny. Seven thousand navy personnel and 20 warships would not fit in Rhode Island, much less this fishing community. And we know what happens to the people when US military bases land on them.
(SEOUL, South Korea) — Making his first New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on his country Tuesday to focus on economic improvements with the same urgency that scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month.
Kim, shown speaking on state TV, said raising the standard of living is the new year’s most important task. He also pushed for the development of more advanced weapons, a “revolution” in science and technology and reunification with “compatriots” in South Korea.
The speech was the first televised New Year’s Day message by a North Korean leader in 19 years. North Korea founder Kim Il Sung routinely addressed his people on New Year’s Day, but Kim Jong Il never gave a TV address during his 17-year rule. During his leadership, the New Year’s message was published as a joint editorial in the nation’s three major newspapers.
North Korea also had its first grand New Year’s Eve celebration, including the boom of cannons and fireworks at midnight in Pyongyang.
The speech was a clear acknowledgement that North Koreans want improvement in an economy that has long lagged behind the rest of Northeast Asia. North Korea has little arable land, is prone to natural disasters and struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.
The speech itself was also a signal that Kim will continue with a leadership style more in line with his gregarious grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung, than with his father, Kim Jong Il, who avoided making public speeches.
Kim Jong Un took power after his father’s Dec. 17, 2011, death. Early in his first year, Pyongyang negotiated a deal with Washington for food aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze, but it collapsed after North Korea attempted to shoot a rocket into space in April. The rocket failed shortly after liftoff, but a successful second attempt on Dec. 12 helped Kim gain crucial political and popular support in his country.
North Korea hailed the launch as a big step in peaceful space exploration. Washington and others called the launch a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
Governments are also worried by recent analysis of North Korea’s main nuclear test site that indicates readiness for a possible third atomic explosion. North Korea has tested two atomic devices since 2006, both times weeks after U.N. condemnation of a long-range launch.
The annual New Year’s Day message lays out North Korea’s policy goals for the year. The need for a better economy and improvements in science and technology were major elements.
Kim made no mention of North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the issue that most worries Washington, but he did seek to glorify — and link to the economy — the successful rocket launch.
North Korea’s slogan for the year, Kim said, should be: “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!”
In Pyongyang, residents danced in the snow at midnight Monday to celebrate the end of a big year for North Korea, including the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the first year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership. Fireworks lit up the cold sky, and people stood in fur-lined parkas, taking photos and laughing and dancing with each other in plazas.
Kim Jong Un tried in his speech to tap into North Koreans’ fond memories of Kim Il Sung, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in South Korea.
The rocket launch boosted morale, Koh said. “Now people are expecting him to improve the economy and help them live better economically,” Koh said. “Kim Jong Un knows that and feels the pressure of meeting that demand.”
Kim’s speech avoided harsh criticism of the United States, its wartime enemy. North Korea has used past New Year’s editorials to accuse the U.S. of plotting war.
This should be interesting…
An interesting report despite The Economist’s typically racist, superior tone.
After a long drive up a narrow dirt track through hills east of Pyongyang, a North Korean tour bus dropped the Chinese tourists near a wooded graveyard. In front of it, on a concrete pedestal, stood a bronze bust of Mao Anying, the eldest son of Mao Zedong. This was their holy grail. One by one they laid wreaths and bowed in reverence (see picture). One man kowtowed. Several wept as they delivered speeches in honour of the younger Mao, who died during the Korean war. “We must clean China up and turn it a brilliant red,” said one. Another led the group in chants of “Socialism will be victorious!”
For most members of the group of 15 tourists (except one who was there to report for The Economist) the visit to North Korea was a welcome relief after a grim year. As die-hard Maoists, they believe that China’s leaders are betraying the ideals of the communist country’s founder and leading it to enslavement by the West and perdition. The past few months have seen the purging of their idol, a Mao-quoting member of the Politburo, Bo Xilai, and the closure by the Chinese government of some of their most outspoken websites.
Many of China’s new middle class regard the Maoists as members of a nutty fringe. But to the poor and marginalised, as well as a few idealistic intellectuals, their views are appealing. During their four days in North Korea in October, the Maoists found a country that appeared to be following the right path: one that, in their view, Mao had started down but which his diminutive successor, Deng Xiaoping, had abandoned.
An interesting look at developments in the new power politics of the information age.
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Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
One of the worst things to happen to Islam is the Islamic revolution in Iran.
For all you undecided voters out there...
Take a look at Jill Stein in the Green Party… someone who has truly stood by her...