Friday, August 18, 2017

Korea, next week critical

Geoff Miller, former ambassador to South Korea, Director-General Office of National Assessment, etc etc, wrote a piece for John Menadue's blog this morning pointing out that critical moments, determining war or peace on the Korean peninsula, are from Monday 21 August 2017.

I added comment on other sides of the situation, tidying up this version a little from my scrappy writing earlier:

One Response to GEOFF MILLER. Korea: Missiles or exercises or both?

  1. Yes indeed. And while calculated order at the top in Pyongyang, not so in Washington.
    The problem arising is that the asserted objectives of the UN Security Council, others involved with non-proliferation, the US, Australia, the EU, etc… are not going to be achieved. The DPRK is on the threshold of nuclear weapon state status, as much as India, Pakistan and Israel and their certain conviction is that their (regime, family) survival can only be assured by nuclear weapon state status. The NPT has failed in this case, the apparati of non-proliferation now well over 40 years old have failed. The exponents of non-proliferation need now to focus on motivation to nuclear weapon state status, which is an expensive buy for most states. Getting big heads around that will not be easy, harder than getting Australian leaders to read Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty. Viz: “The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
    Ulchi [the very large US-ROK exercise to which Australia is adding something] begins on Monday 21 August. Trump (and many more) will be focused on his going to a divisive rally in Phoenix Tuesday evening (11am Wednesday, Seoul time). Kim knows that, one hopes.
    General Kelly, White House Chief of Staff was reported to have difficulty finding perspective over the weekend of developments at Charlottesville and was then a distraught bystander during the Wednesday rant at Trump Tower.
    There are three generals in conclave on Korea at this moment, Kelly, Defence Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster. McMaster author of a book scathingly critical of civilian ‘interference’ with command decisions at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. Mattis is a marine general and despite his ‘Mad Dog’ labelling reportedly has a history of some ethical concern, presence among soldiers in hard places and relieving of dishonest or less than upright officers. Kelly seems to have been brought into the administration for his unblinking toughness, characteristic of the US Southern Command and perspective towards Latin America. Present at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, Wikipedia records that: “During the initial assault on Baghdad, Kelly was asked by a reporter for The Los Angeles Times if, considering the size of the Iraqi Army and the vast supplies of tanks, artillery and chemical weapons available to Saddam’s forces, he would ever consider defeat. Kelly’s archetypal response was “Hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Baghdad ain’t shit.”
    Timeline and cast.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Korea: our first need is to step back from mass hysteria.

We need to move beyond a rage against Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s folly on Korea, calmly assess the provocations by Trump and Kim, respect the rights of south Korea and understand how destructive US global strategies have become.

A number of commentators have characterised DPRK strategy as pursued by acting, out of necessity, “ferocious, weak and crazy”.

In the 1990s they used their nuclear program as an economic bargaining chip. All that changed after 9/11 when G W Bush lumped the DPRK, Iran, Iraq and Libya together as the Axis of Evil.

North Korean leaders watched the fate of others identified in this axis by Bush. Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, his regime was destroyed... and in the end Iraq more controlled by Iran than anyone else. In Libya Gadaffi submitted, undid his nuclear program and was still chewed up. Iran has done all asked of it and is now subject again to war threats.

Blind Freddy, or a Blind Kim, can see that the only security for the DPRK must therefore be to hasten to achieve a credible nuclear deterrent. They are at that threshold.

North Korea has never threatened first strike with a nuclear weapon. It has however lived with persistent first strike threat for a long time.

China once supported the notion of unification of Korea but now cannot tolerate the prospect of a US dominated South Korea taking command of the North.

In South Korea since May a reforming president who might make a Whitlam envious has been embarked on domestic reform as well as pursuit of sanity in intra Korean affairs. And has had Trump’s agreement that the ROK is to take the lead and there must be no war. Speaking thus also to Trump for an hour in the past week.

It is appalling that an Australian Prime Minister could so misread the ANZUS Treaty as to claim that we are automatically at war with North Korea if the US is at war. This is not 1939; Turnbull is not Menzies. Are we to think all bankers have such naive understanding of the world? Who advises Turnbull?

In 1965 the Menzies Government had the almost-decency to squeeze from the government in Saigon a request for troops we would send to Vietnam at US request. But in the post modern, why is Turnbull (why are so many) blind to the existence and the entitlements of South Korea to its own self-determination: as a country in the region, member of the G20, GDP same as ours, population double ours. Where do our heads live? Solely in a Murdoch-trumpian media world?

There are annually-scheduled major US-ROK exercises, with history of practising decapitation of the DPRK, planned for next week …when now also the DPRK leader may make a demonstration of nuclear status, firing a nuclear capable rocket or rockets targeted at points just outside the territorial waters of Guam. In the past week nuclear-armed US B1-B bomber have once again cruised over the ROK and very close to North Korean airspace. Who is entitled to do demonstrate what?

The ROK is trying to speed up transfer of command over its own troops from the US in wartime, legacy of decades of dictatorship and the unfinished war.

from article at Concept News Central, Philippines
This recent article in a South Korean media outlet shows something of what the ROK president is trying to do in domestic reform. A progressive perspective we cannot imagine in Australia, lifting wages, getting more employees off casual to permanent, challenging commercial conglomerates, focus on human rights including migrants. Etc. Difficult.

Especially difficult with a big essential ally acting so badly and with the example of Venezuela for any challenges to hegemony. We should be alert and sensitive to actualities in a regional country and not acting like the fifth cockatoo on the branch.

The world has been led up a stupid path with fear of North Korea. More credibly the US is bent upon undermining every other nuclear power’s second-strike capability, ending all balance of power. While on the real front, away from unusable nuclear weapons, the US tears up one country after another.


on war and the Australian-American alliance

In September 2003, early in the Iraq war I wrote to an Australian Foreign Minister (who did not reply) that:
".. I have become increasingly of the view... that it is in the nature of modern war that it tends, more than anything else - certainly it does not tend to ‘victory’ - to import into the righteous invading countries the problems you seek to eliminate by invading... Your assertion of effectiveness of violence in international policy drifts down to validate the use of violence by non-states in international affairs, and increasingly by individuals in national and sub-national affairs, and indeed, I suggest, in domestic life. We are dealing not just with a narrow national security issue but a large ethical dimension."
This morning civil unrest and violence spreads in the United States, the right having been unleashed.

Meanwhile an Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has ludicrously suggested that the US goes to war with North Korea than automatically we are at war because of our defence treaty with the US. This, coming from a lawyer, is stupefyingly bizarre, inaccurate and unwise. The treaty states and one might use Art 1 against both Trump and Turnbull:

More, separately, on Korea...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writers group, homework: "Last night in Hampton Court"

I have joined an enjoyable, relaxed and stimulating writers group. Among other things we set a homework task from one week to the next. Arising from discussion last week the assignment for today is to write something beginning "Last night in Hampton Court..."

I had no idea, needed to research. Wikipedia told me that the last king to live at Hampton Court was George II. And one comes to the amazing idea that George II in a small Germanic court of Hannover was schooled first in French, as a baby, then German, then Italian, then English, then come to giant 1.5 million wild London. As ruler to yearn for Hannover where also ruler, in England denied power, in Hannover powerful. Living in this palace where the ghost of Anne Boleyn (perhaps others too) runs nightly from Henry VIII, perhaps a bit of a Trump in his era.

Thus armed I wrote, with some thought also to rhyme and meter and some adoption of the English obsession for centuries with the dismal-simple, brain-suffocating iambic pentameter, an iamb being

da dum

and the penta meaning five times, so a meter of five iambs is an iambic pentameter:

da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum

with the multilingual, castle-trapped George in my text below breaking away from such giddy simple brain-befogging meme into growls and lusty gurgles.

After writing this below I also found somewhere that historians had for a long time regarded George 2 as a mistress-chaser uninterested in affairs of state, but more recent historians deciding he was actually a diplomatic genius. Thus must speak the PhD candidate or the champion new history department chair. There is no new historical truth without, um, novelty: yoiks.

But I, I, have accidentally written the truth in this short yarn. As you will see. Set in 1755, the year before the Seven Years War and the Diplomatic Revolution. Those things, those skipping hypotheses both true, but at the core the truth is found arising midst lusty yearnings.

I didn't know any of this last week.

Here is what I wrote, my homework for today:

Assignment: A piece of writing to begin: “Last night in Hampton Court…”
PREFACE: Hampton Court Palace was built by Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop, in 1517, taken by Henry VIII when he fell out with Wolsey because Wolsey couldn't get his first marriage annulled. And – the Trumpian nightmare – the pope made this chancellor to the king a cardinal, higher ranking than the Archbishop of Canterbury, nice cover story in Time magazine equivalent, a bit like Trump's Bannon. As cardinal the exponent of rigidities of the alt-right of Rome from which Randy Hank, in pursuit of offspring, needs must distance himself. Becoming in the quest the Queen of Tarts, off with their heads.Anne Boleyn’s ghost reportedly haunts Hampton Court, as perhaps others. In the late 1600s extensions added entirely different style. The last monarch to live there was George II. Powerless almost, alongside a newly rowdy parliament, not changed much, compare Corbyn versus May and the creatures of that dark lagoon, the Bullingdon Club. The last king to lead British troops in war.

Dressed up, gazing out, musing in four languages,
fingers counting days till he can escape again to Hannova
on that sick-making ferry to The Hague.
1755 late winter: Thus spake George II unto himself
Last night in Hampton Court I lay awake and rose and paced and thought of Fred my first-born son, dead before me so inappropriately, heir to the throne of this reckless unkind country. I cursed my grandmother Sophie and her protestantism that yanked us from fifty-first in line to top of the maypole in this weird-dancing all-yelling no-manners land.
Why must I sit in this mishmash of architectural horror with ghosts of women running from randy Hank while out there the ruffians who run this place with gunpowder breath speak such a dreadful tongue and give me no heed. I can imagine dirty things they mutter. Would that I had their power to hang, draw and quarter them. Then they would sit straight, ha ha, with or without their guts.
I must go back to Hannover and find a war again. I miss it. Another good fight would ease the pain of loss of Fred. We could rival the other Fred, he the so-called Great in Prussia. Or perhaps together, Fred and I, Hannover and Prussia, we could fulfil dreams of greatness: of real courts, of real culture, of real power— so the children at Versailles who giggle at us would sit up and, well, hey, with a little or a big war, Fred and I could really make them sit up, or perhaps in their very French tradition, drop their heads in a bucket.
Out the window those bloody bleating sheep and those hunchy-humble-honcho workers bald-headed from yanking forelocks as they stoop ridiculously as I ride by.  One said “by George”. I yanked him down but then in their me-stopping indecencies they said it was something the hoi-polloi said instead of god. God. God: why can’t they think me god. In days past I would have been. Fred, no. I miss Fred but the simpering now dead dear lad never controllable, betrayed me to the parle-ia-ment and jumped into the negotiations for his own maybe f-ing marriage to a child of Prussian Fred, who wanted then for me to give my Fred my Hannover. Not bloody likely. And now these parliamenters, Fred dead, will have to cope with Fred’s boy, George. Right named. I can shape him, my willing godlet who will be George III.

Hank, courtesy of wikipedia
Riding stinking in the sheep-wool, sheep-skin things I must wear in winter here. Oh, someone fetch a cow and make decent leather garments. I love the sensation of leather… as much as bed-feathers. So does Freya, but I guess the wool stuff has some virtue as when she rolled off and fell to sleep the night too close to fire and woke with Hannoverian yowl, parboiled inside her sheepskin top. Mercifully she was not alight. And something to see her ripping off wool in morning shades…as did through all these past chilly shiver-giving months. I will take Freya with me when next to Hannover. We will talk about ‘when’ tomorrow. Or tonight. And tomorrow. Ah to be in Hannover with crispy fruit and Freya.

Where is that man who fetches baubles. Crap baubles of the town, but my lovely loves them. Am I, am I? … I am … somehow in Hank’s spell. There are vapours of Hank in my bedchamber.

I discover that 'cephalophoria' was used last year, before my use

Used by Julien A Lacroix for the name of an album of music. Here for your listening, interesting. Apologies to Julie for claiming first use. Homage to the music. Download and embedding is free. Go also to home page.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

journeys into Saturday

We have resolved, my health being up, Helen's work marginally less preoccupying, to use Saturdays well.

Outings with Ralph too.

Last week we did this.

This Saturday Helen wanted to go to the Milton Markets which are supposed to be on the first Saturday of the month ... but evidently were not.

So we sidled down the street and came upon this magical voyage, perhaps a street view of my last brain MRI.

an extraordinary house, extraordinary minds, in a quiet heritage town.

And then we went for the beach, but of course diverted and stumbled upon...

A friendly person passing by said the mosaics and the wall had faded a bit in 15 years, she thought the gal who lived there, who did them, was a kind of environmental gal.

They fade well.

In taking a photo of the friendly person passing by I was of course taking a photo of the dry stone and tile decorations outside another adjacent house Below.

to enlarge all pictures, click on one
We found two beaches, actually of course many more, but went to two. 

I had left my camera at home, these are with android phone. Dialogue between phone and this MacBook is impossible, and impossible so far to get movies that have been gobbled by google spaceship. 

I did succeed in shifting all google stolen photos from google photos to google drive, not too hard, then downloaded to the Mac from Drive and with Drive deleted from both Photos and Drive. But as I write this I have a suspicion my phone is chatting with Google Photos and uploading again. 

That's a long way of saying I can't show you film but here are some photos, of Dolphin Point Beach After a moment of human geometry at the hardware:

Friday, August 4, 2017

The NDIS revolution

cover of report found here
The care of individuals with disability is undergoing revolutionary change in Australia, with a shift of power and entitlement from the organisations of welfare to the individuals in need, an empowerment of those who need. Via a new thing, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS.

I dug out and place a link here to a report by leaders in community care in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven in 2009,  principal author my partner Helen Backhouse.

This is also about empowerment of workers and volunteers in the sector and the general need for governments and commentators and 'experts' to see that the community service sector, in an economy, a political economy, increasingly overall a 'service economy' is a big part of the business of economic development. The OECD and Australian official systems of statistics do not place this sector in any such location.

We speak of economic advantages and the good sense, say, of locating steel mills where there is good access to iron ore, coal and water. Why then not address comparative advantage of providing community services in places where it is most appropriate and brings most cheer and where workers and volunteers to do jobs well. In a place like the Illawarra-Shoalhaven this sector accounts for a high percentage of new jobs too.

It remains that a great body of the population regard support for the disadvantaged with a sneer and a grumble. People presume the right to drive free on new roads, not to be impeded in their right to consume, for government to provide the hoi and polloi with all the panderisations of modernity. But still with a right to snarl at redistribution and fairness.

I digress.

There are good recommendations in that report see pages 3 - 10. Against which changes and achievements might wisely be measured.

I do not think that governments, or politicians, fully understand what they have unleashed. Give the disabled the right to choose who helps them with what and soon their voices might be heard wider on more.