110992555183489837

ADVANCE DEMOCRACY ACT

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

The ADVANCE Democracy Act reaffirms that the promotion of democracy, freedom, and fundamental rights constitutes an essential element of U.S. foreign policy; strengthens the ability of the Department of State to promote of democracy, particularly with respect to non-democratic countries; and requires a study of U.S. democracy assistance in order to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

In particular, the Act includes the following key provisions:

  • Declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote freedom and democracy as a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy, to see an end to dictatorial and other non-democratic forms of government, and to strengthen alliances with other democratic countries to better promote and defend shared values and ideals.
  • Establishes in statute the Under Secretary for Global Affairs with a strong mandate to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms; expands the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to specifically include democracy promotion; and enhances the Human Rights and Democracy Fund controlled by that Bureau.
  • Establishes a new Office of Democracy Movements and Transitions and separate Regional Democracy Hubs to be points of contact for democracy movements and to promote democratic transitions and democratic consolidation, and creates a Democracy Promotion Advisory Board to provide outside expertise to the Department of State on democracy promotion and to conduct a study on the efficiency and effectiveness of current U.S. democracy assistance.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to prepare an annual report on democracy that will include a specific action plan, developed in consultation with local organizations, individuals and movements, to promote and achieve transition to democracy in non-democratic countries.
  • Provides for U.S. embassies to be “islands of freedom” and encourages U.S. ambassadors to promote democracy in non-democratic countries, including by meeting with representatives of democracy movements and speaking out on democracy and human rights in such countries, particularly at universities.
  • Provides training for State Department personnel on democracy promotion and links promotion and performance awards to effective advocacy and promotion of democracy, particularly in non-democratic countries.
  • Establishes a Congressional Democracy Award for U.S. government officials who have made an extraordinary effort to promote democracy.
  • Provides for increased efforts to work with other democratic countries to promote democracy including bilaterally, with the UN and related organizations, the Community of Democracies, and the new Democracy Transition Center being established by European counties in Hungary.
  • Requires translation of the annual report on democracy, the country reports on human rights practices, the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, and requires the creation of a democracy and human rights Internet web site collecting these and other materials related to the promotion of democracy and human rights.

My own impressions of the press conference start here.

Continue Reading

What They Said

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Rep. Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants and spoke cogently about the importance of what Natan Sharansky had said in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for the snippy press corp byaatch whose annoying questions seemed aimed at outing me as one of Jeff Gannon‘s boys (private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling and she eventually gave up. It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes vibrant.”too

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Lantos stated that he was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back to Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?“). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao, Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists

Continue Reading

How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

Continue Reading

The ADVANCE Democracy Act–What I Saw at the Press Conference

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Frank Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Frank Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants as he spoke cogently about the importance of the ideas Natan Sharansky had discussed in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for yet another snippy press corp byaatch who started in with some annoying questions–who are you with? are you sure you’re not from the Talon News Service? (take note: private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling stuff and she eventually gave up.

It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera and the Red Chinese, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes too vibrant.”

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Tom Lantos was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back into Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?”). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Think the Yonhap guy put any of this in his story, or much of anything else about the bill? Think again.

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists.

Continue Reading

110992555183489837

ADVANCE DEMOCRACY ACT

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

The ADVANCE Democracy Act reaffirms that the promotion of democracy, freedom, and fundamental rights constitutes an essential element of U.S. foreign policy; strengthens the ability of the Department of State to promote of democracy, particularly with respect to non-democratic countries; and requires a study of U.S. democracy assistance in order to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

In particular, the Act includes the following key provisions:

  • Declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote freedom and democracy as a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy, to see an end to dictatorial and other non-democratic forms of government, and to strengthen alliances with other democratic countries to better promote and defend shared values and ideals.
  • Establishes in statute the Under Secretary for Global Affairs with a strong mandate to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms; expands the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to specifically include democracy promotion; and enhances the Human Rights and Democracy Fund controlled by that Bureau.
  • Establishes a new Office of Democracy Movements and Transitions and separate Regional Democracy Hubs to be points of contact for democracy movements and to promote democratic transitions and democratic consolidation, and creates a Democracy Promotion Advisory Board to provide outside expertise to the Department of State on democracy promotion and to conduct a study on the efficiency and effectiveness of current U.S. democracy assistance.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to prepare an annual report on democracy that will include a specific action plan, developed in consultation with local organizations, individuals and movements, to promote and achieve transition to democracy in non-democratic countries.
  • Provides for U.S. embassies to be “islands of freedom” and encourages U.S. ambassadors to promote democracy in non-democratic countries, including by meeting with representatives of democracy movements and speaking out on democracy and human rights in such countries, particularly at universities.
  • Provides training for State Department personnel on democracy promotion and links promotion and performance awards to effective advocacy and promotion of democracy, particularly in non-democratic countries.
  • Establishes a Congressional Democracy Award for U.S. government officials who have made an extraordinary effort to promote democracy.
  • Provides for increased efforts to work with other democratic countries to promote democracy including bilaterally, with the UN and related organizations, the Community of Democracies, and the new Democracy Transition Center being established by European counties in Hungary.
  • Requires translation of the annual report on democracy, the country reports on human rights practices, the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, and requires the creation of a democracy and human rights Internet web site collecting these and other materials related to the promotion of democracy and human rights.

My own impressions of the press conference start here.

Continue Reading

What They Said

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Rep. Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants and spoke cogently about the importance of what Natan Sharansky had said in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for the snippy press corp byaatch whose annoying questions seemed aimed at outing me as one of Jeff Gannon‘s boys (private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling and she eventually gave up. It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes vibrant.”too

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Lantos stated that he was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back to Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?“). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao, Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists

Continue Reading

How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

Continue Reading

How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

Continue Reading

The ADVANCE Democracy Act–What I Saw at the Press Conference

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Frank Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Frank Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants as he spoke cogently about the importance of the ideas Natan Sharansky had discussed in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for yet another snippy press corp byaatch who started in with some annoying questions–who are you with? are you sure you’re not from the Talon News Service? (take note: private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling stuff and she eventually gave up.

It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera and the Red Chinese, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes too vibrant.”

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Tom Lantos was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back into Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?”). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Think the Yonhap guy put any of this in his story, or much of anything else about the bill? Think again.

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists.

Continue Reading

The ADVANCE Democracy Act–What I Saw at the Press Conference

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Frank Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Frank Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants as he spoke cogently about the importance of the ideas Natan Sharansky had discussed in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for yet another snippy press corp byaatch who started in with some annoying questions–who are you with? are you sure you’re not from the Talon News Service? (take note: private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling stuff and she eventually gave up.

It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera and the Red Chinese, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes too vibrant.”

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Tom Lantos was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back into Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?”). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Think the Yonhap guy put any of this in his story, or much of anything else about the bill? Think again.

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists.

Continue Reading

OneFreeKorea Disclaimers & Comment Policy

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone. They are not the views of any other organization, entity, agency, company–in short, of anyone but the author. They are imperfect, flawed, occasionally veer wildly toward complete non-sequiturs. They often border on the seditious.

Perfect solutions to the crises in North Korea have never existed; the good ones left town in 1945, and the less dangerous ones were last seen in 1994. From the few murky facts we know from a handful of dubious sources, the situation is calamitous, breathtakingly dangerous, and getting worse fast. Readers are invited to persuade me that their conflicting views are less imperfect or flawed than those of the authors.

MY BIASES

There is no need to ferret out this blogger’s hidden agenda, because nothing is hidden. I am a proponent of policies that will help the North Korean people overthrow their government. I wish I saw any practicable and peaceful way for conditions in North Korea to change for the better in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t.

More specifically, I’m biased and opinioned toward the following ends:

  • Regime change by the North Korean people
  • Support for refugees and resistance
  • Sanctions against the regime
  • Food & radio drops for the people
  • The ruthless application of soft power in support of a united and democratic Korea
  • Reunification now, healing later
  • Respect and gratitude for those who serve
  • Drastic USFK downsizing
  • South Korean & Japanese self-reliance

And against these:

  • Appeasement, payoffs, or bribes
  • Today’s “realism,” tomorrow’s grievance
  • Unenforceable, illusory arms agreements
  • Trade without sincere reform as an express condition
  • Inflexibly entangling foreign alliances
  • The China Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • A Chinese invasion, a “green light” for one
  • A U.S. invasion
MORE DISCLAIMERS
  • Nothing you read on this blog is learned from or in any way related to my employment, which has nothing to do with human rights in North Korea or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Finally, although I am a lawyer, I’m not YOUR lawyer. I do not form attorney-client relationships on this blog. Any legal analysis or conclusions you read here are for discussion purposes only. Do not act on them without consulting your own attorney.
ACCURACY

I take this very seriously. I invite anyone who suspects I’ve made an inaccurate statement on this blog to correct the record, either in a comment or in a private e-mail:

onefreekorea(at)yahoo.com
COMMENT POLICY

I invite comments because they’re useful for fact-checking, for adding additional facts, and for giving me my much-needed argument fix. Flaming doesn’t do much for that fix, but good argument does make me think and strengthens my own arguments.

  1. Expressions of racial, national, or ethnic hatred, or the gratuitous use (as opposed to the subtle and tasteful use) of profanity will get your comment or you banned.
  2. Have a point. State it immediately. Proceed by stating facts that support it. Insert links for support if you’re on shaky ground or introducing facts that aren’t well known. The following are not reliable sources to support the facts asserted: World Net Daily, Daily Kos, Indymedia, Common Dreams, ZNet, and the like; they may be reliable sources to support the fact that a silly argument was actually made at one of the aforementioned.
  3. You may get a break if you’re funny, but keep reading . . . .
  4. I reserve the right to ban commenters who drag down the quality of the debate by dragging it into the fever swamps, to wit: Bush=Hitler, John Bolton is a fascist, Abu Ghraib is Mauthausen, etc. We do not have time to argue this crap. If you can’t distinguish between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator, your views are unlikely to enlighten us. Of course, that rule will bend in the unlikely event you can actually link to a probable fact that supports your comparison or assertion. The OFK corollary to Godwin’s law is that you may compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis if you can actually cite empirically verifiable facts to support your comparison.
  5. Please be civil; I won’t host flame wars because I tend to get dragged into them and hate myself in the morning. Rules of civility will vary according to the tone of your interlocutor, but be warned that I may cut off debate and leave your interlocutor with the last word.
  6. The most valued commenters of all are those who hold opposing views and argue them intelligently. Those are the views that advance the quality of my own arguments the most, and I’ll treat those views with an extra degree of deference to prevent the “echo chamber” effect and maintain the vibrancy of the debate.
  7. The overall theme? I seek intelligent and civil debate that introduces new facts and exposes weak arguments and factual inaccuracies, especially my own. I seek comments that are well written and funny. I have no use for Korea-bashing, America-bashing, or any other kind of ad hominem attack. I have no use for flame wars; there are millions of battlegrounds for that elsewhere. I seek commmenters who are good writers, who are well informed, who have special insight or knowledge, and who can write clear sentences, advance the debate toward objective truth, and make us laugh.
  8. I will strive to be content neutral in applying these limits, because that’s how one advances good debate.
  9. Remember that blogs (like other media) are oligarchies, but (unlike other media), they are a free service. True love means knowing there’s no refund to ask for.

Continue Reading

OneFreeKorea Disclaimers & Comment Policy

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone. They are not the views of any other organization, entity, agency, company–in short, of anyone but the author. They are imperfect, flawed, occasionally veer wildly toward complete non-sequiturs. They often border on the seditious.

Perfect solutions to the crises in North Korea have never existed; the good ones left town in 1945, and the less dangerous ones were last seen in 1994. From the few murky facts we know from a handful of dubious sources, the situation is calamitous, breathtakingly dangerous, and getting worse fast. Readers are invited to persuade me that their conflicting views are less imperfect or flawed than those of the authors.

MY BIASES

There is no need to ferret out this blogger’s hidden agenda, because nothing is hidden. I am a proponent of policies that will help the North Korean people overthrow their government. I wish I saw any practicable and peaceful way for conditions in North Korea to change for the better in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t.

More specifically, I’m biased and opinioned toward the following ends:

  • Regime change by the North Korean people
  • Support for refugees and resistance
  • Sanctions against the regime
  • Food & radio drops for the people
  • The ruthless application of soft power in support of a united and democratic Korea
  • Reunification now, healing later
  • Respect and gratitude for those who serve
  • Drastic USFK downsizing
  • South Korean & Japanese self-reliance

And against these:

  • Appeasement, payoffs, or bribes
  • Today’s “realism,” tomorrow’s grievance
  • Unenforceable, illusory arms agreements
  • Trade without sincere reform as an express condition
  • Inflexibly entangling foreign alliances
  • The China Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • A Chinese invasion, a “green light” for one
  • A U.S. invasion
MORE DISCLAIMERS
  • Nothing you read on this blog is learned from or in any way related to my employment, which has nothing to do with human rights in North Korea or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Finally, although I am a lawyer, I’m not YOUR lawyer. I do not form attorney-client relationships on this blog. Any legal analysis or conclusions you read here are for discussion purposes only. Do not act on them without consulting your own attorney.
ACCURACY

I take this very seriously. I invite anyone who suspects I’ve made an inaccurate statement on this blog to correct the record, either in a comment or in a private e-mail:

onefreekorea(at)yahoo.com
COMMENT POLICY

I invite comments because they’re useful for fact-checking, for adding additional facts, and for giving me my much-needed argument fix. Flaming doesn’t do much for that fix, but good argument does make me think and strengthens my own arguments.

  1. Expressions of racial, national, or ethnic hatred, or the gratuitous use (as opposed to the subtle and tasteful use) of profanity will get your comment or you banned.
  2. Have a point. State it immediately. Proceed by stating facts that support it. Insert links for support if you’re on shaky ground or introducing facts that aren’t well known. The following are not reliable sources to support the facts asserted: World Net Daily, Daily Kos, Indymedia, Common Dreams, ZNet, and the like; they may be reliable sources to support the fact that a silly argument was actually made at one of the aforementioned.
  3. You may get a break if you’re funny, but keep reading . . . .
  4. I reserve the right to ban commenters who drag down the quality of the debate by dragging it into the fever swamps, to wit: Bush=Hitler, John Bolton is a fascist, Abu Ghraib is Mauthausen, etc. We do not have time to argue this crap. If you can’t distinguish between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator, your views are unlikely to enlighten us. Of course, that rule will bend in the unlikely event you can actually link to a probable fact that supports your comparison or assertion. The OFK corollary to Godwin’s law is that you may compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis if you can actually cite empirically verifiable facts to support your comparison.
  5. Please be civil; I won’t host flame wars because I tend to get dragged into them and hate myself in the morning. Rules of civility will vary according to the tone of your interlocutor, but be warned that I may cut off debate and leave your interlocutor with the last word.
  6. The most valued commenters of all are those who hold opposing views and argue them intelligently. Those are the views that advance the quality of my own arguments the most, and I’ll treat those views with an extra degree of deference to prevent the “echo chamber” effect and maintain the vibrancy of the debate.
  7. The overall theme? I seek intelligent and civil debate that introduces new facts and exposes weak arguments and factual inaccuracies, especially my own. I seek comments that are well written and funny. I have no use for Korea-bashing, America-bashing, or any other kind of ad hominem attack. I have no use for flame wars; there are millions of battlegrounds for that elsewhere. I seek commmenters who are good writers, who are well informed, who have special insight or knowledge, and who can write clear sentences, advance the debate toward objective truth, and make us laugh.
  8. I will strive to be content neutral in applying these limits, because that’s how one advances good debate.
  9. Remember that blogs (like other media) are oligarchies, but (unlike other media), they are a free service. True love means knowing there’s no refund to ask for.

Continue Reading

OneFreeKorea Disclaimers & Comment Policy

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone. They are not the views of any other organization, entity, agency, company–in short, of anyone but the author. They are imperfect, flawed, occasionally veer wildly toward complete non-sequiturs. They often border on the seditious.

Perfect solutions to the crises in North Korea have never existed; the good ones left town in 1945, and the less dangerous ones were last seen in 1994. From the few murky facts we know from a handful of dubious sources, the situation is calamitous, breathtakingly dangerous, and getting worse fast. Readers are invited to persuade me that their conflicting views are less imperfect or flawed than those of the authors.

MY BIASES

There is no need to ferret out this blogger’s hidden agenda, because nothing is hidden. I am a proponent of policies that will help the North Korean people overthrow their government. I wish I saw any practicable and peaceful way for conditions in North Korea to change for the better in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t.

More specifically, I’m biased and opinioned toward the following ends:

  • Regime change by the North Korean people
  • Support for refugees and resistance
  • Sanctions against the regime
  • Food & radio drops for the people
  • The ruthless application of soft power in support of a united and democratic Korea
  • Reunification now, healing later
  • Respect and gratitude for those who serve
  • Drastic USFK downsizing
  • South Korean & Japanese self-reliance

And against these:

  • Appeasement, payoffs, or bribes
  • Today’s “realism,” tomorrow’s grievance
  • Unenforceable, illusory arms agreements
  • Trade without sincere reform as an express condition
  • Inflexibly entangling foreign alliances
  • The China Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • A Chinese invasion, a “green light” for one
  • A U.S. invasion
MORE DISCLAIMERS
  • Nothing you read on this blog is learned from or in any way related to my employment, which has nothing to do with human rights in North Korea or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Finally, although I am a lawyer, I’m not YOUR lawyer. I do not form attorney-client relationships on this blog. Any legal analysis or conclusions you read here are for discussion purposes only. Do not act on them without consulting your own attorney.
ACCURACY

I take this very seriously. I invite anyone who suspects I’ve made an inaccurate statement on this blog to correct the record, either in a comment or in a private e-mail:

onefreekorea(at)yahoo.com
COMMENT POLICY

I invite comments because they’re useful for fact-checking, for adding additional facts, and for giving me my much-needed argument fix. Flaming doesn’t do much for that fix, but good argument does make me think and strengthens my own arguments.

  1. Expressions of racial, national, or ethnic hatred, or the gratuitous use (as opposed to the subtle and tasteful use) of profanity will get your comment or you banned.
  2. Have a point. State it immediately. Proceed by stating facts that support it. Insert links for support if you’re on shaky ground or introducing facts that aren’t well known. The following are not reliable sources to support the facts asserted: World Net Daily, Daily Kos, Indymedia, Common Dreams, ZNet, and the like; they may be reliable sources to support the fact that a silly argument was actually made at one of the aforementioned.
  3. You may get a break if you’re funny, but keep reading . . . .
  4. I reserve the right to ban commenters who drag down the quality of the debate by dragging it into the fever swamps, to wit: Bush=Hitler, John Bolton is a fascist, Abu Ghraib is Mauthausen, etc. We do not have time to argue this crap. If you can’t distinguish between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator, your views are unlikely to enlighten us. Of course, that rule will bend in the unlikely event you can actually link to a probable fact that supports your comparison or assertion. The OFK corollary to Godwin’s law is that you may compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis if you can actually cite empirically verifiable facts to support your comparison.
  5. Please be civil; I won’t host flame wars because I tend to get dragged into them and hate myself in the morning. Rules of civility will vary according to the tone of your interlocutor, but be warned that I may cut off debate and leave your interlocutor with the last word.
  6. The most valued commenters of all are those who hold opposing views and argue them intelligently. Those are the views that advance the quality of my own arguments the most, and I’ll treat those views with an extra degree of deference to prevent the “echo chamber” effect and maintain the vibrancy of the debate.
  7. The overall theme? I seek intelligent and civil debate that introduces new facts and exposes weak arguments and factual inaccuracies, especially my own. I seek comments that are well written and funny. I have no use for Korea-bashing, America-bashing, or any other kind of ad hominem attack. I have no use for flame wars; there are millions of battlegrounds for that elsewhere. I seek commmenters who are good writers, who are well informed, who have special insight or knowledge, and who can write clear sentences, advance the debate toward objective truth, and make us laugh.
  8. I will strive to be content neutral in applying these limits, because that’s how one advances good debate.
  9. Remember that blogs (like other media) are oligarchies, but (unlike other media), they are a free service. True love means knowing there’s no refund to ask for.

Continue Reading

OneFreeKorea Disclaimers & Comment Policy

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone. They are not the views of any other organization, entity, agency, company–in short, of anyone but the author. They are imperfect, flawed, occasionally veer wildly toward complete non-sequiturs. They often border on the seditious.

Perfect solutions to the crises in North Korea have never existed; the good ones left town in 1945, and the less dangerous ones were last seen in 1994. From the few murky facts we know from a handful of dubious sources, the situation is calamitous, breathtakingly dangerous, and getting worse fast. Readers are invited to persuade me that their conflicting views are less imperfect or flawed than those of the authors.

MY BIASES

There is no need to ferret out this blogger’s hidden agenda, because nothing is hidden. I am a proponent of policies that will help the North Korean people overthrow their government. I wish I saw any practicable and peaceful way for conditions in North Korea to change for the better in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t.

More specifically, I’m biased and opinioned toward the following ends:

  • Regime change by the North Korean people
  • Support for refugees and resistance
  • Sanctions against the regime
  • Food & radio drops for the people
  • The ruthless application of soft power in support of a united and democratic Korea
  • Reunification now, healing later
  • Respect and gratitude for those who serve
  • Drastic USFK downsizing
  • South Korean & Japanese self-reliance

And against these:

  • Appeasement, payoffs, or bribes
  • Today’s “realism,” tomorrow’s grievance
  • Unenforceable, illusory arms agreements
  • Trade without sincere reform as an express condition
  • Inflexibly entangling foreign alliances
  • The China Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • A Chinese invasion, a “green light” for one
  • A U.S. invasion
MORE DISCLAIMERS
  • Nothing you read on this blog is learned from or in any way related to my employment, which has nothing to do with human rights in North Korea or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Finally, although I am a lawyer, I’m not YOUR lawyer. I do not form attorney-client relationships on this blog. Any legal analysis or conclusions you read here are for discussion purposes only. Do not act on them without consulting your own attorney.
ACCURACY

I take this very seriously. I invite anyone who suspects I’ve made an inaccurate statement on this blog to correct the record, either in a comment or in a private e-mail:

onefreekorea(at)yahoo.com
COMMENT POLICY

I invite comments because they’re useful for fact-checking, for adding additional facts, and for giving me my much-needed argument fix. Flaming doesn’t do much for that fix, but good argument does make me think and strengthens my own arguments.

  1. Expressions of racial, national, or ethnic hatred, or the gratuitous use (as opposed to the subtle and tasteful use) of profanity will get your comment or you banned.
  2. Have a point. State it immediately. Proceed by stating facts that support it. Insert links for support if you’re on shaky ground or introducing facts that aren’t well known. The following are not reliable sources to support the facts asserted: World Net Daily, Daily Kos, Indymedia, Common Dreams, ZNet, and the like; they may be reliable sources to support the fact that a silly argument was actually made at one of the aforementioned.
  3. You may get a break if you’re funny, but keep reading . . . .
  4. I reserve the right to ban commenters who drag down the quality of the debate by dragging it into the fever swamps, to wit: Bush=Hitler, John Bolton is a fascist, Abu Ghraib is Mauthausen, etc. We do not have time to argue this crap. If you can’t distinguish between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator, your views are unlikely to enlighten us. Of course, that rule will bend in the unlikely event you can actually link to a probable fact that supports your comparison or assertion. The OFK corollary to Godwin’s law is that you may compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis if you can actually cite empirically verifiable facts to support your comparison.
  5. Please be civil; I won’t host flame wars because I tend to get dragged into them and hate myself in the morning. Rules of civility will vary according to the tone of your interlocutor, but be warned that I may cut off debate and leave your interlocutor with the last word.
  6. The most valued commenters of all are those who hold opposing views and argue them intelligently. Those are the views that advance the quality of my own arguments the most, and I’ll treat those views with an extra degree of deference to prevent the “echo chamber” effect and maintain the vibrancy of the debate.
  7. The overall theme? I seek intelligent and civil debate that introduces new facts and exposes weak arguments and factual inaccuracies, especially my own. I seek comments that are well written and funny. I have no use for Korea-bashing, America-bashing, or any other kind of ad hominem attack. I have no use for flame wars; there are millions of battlegrounds for that elsewhere. I seek commmenters who are good writers, who are well informed, who have special insight or knowledge, and who can write clear sentences, advance the debate toward objective truth, and make us laugh.
  8. I will strive to be content neutral in applying these limits, because that’s how one advances good debate.
  9. Remember that blogs (like other media) are oligarchies, but (unlike other media), they are a free service. True love means knowing there’s no refund to ask for.

Continue Reading

OneFreeKorea Disclaimers & Comment Policy

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors alone. They are not the views of any other organization, entity, agency, company–in short, of anyone but the author. They are imperfect, flawed, occasionally veer wildly toward complete non-sequiturs. They often border on the seditious.

Perfect solutions to the crises in North Korea have never existed; the good ones left town in 1945, and the less dangerous ones were last seen in 1994. From the few murky facts we know from a handful of dubious sources, the situation is calamitous, breathtakingly dangerous, and getting worse fast. Readers are invited to persuade me that their conflicting views are less imperfect or flawed than those of the authors.

MY BIASES

There is no need to ferret out this blogger’s hidden agenda, because nothing is hidden. I am a proponent of policies that will help the North Korean people overthrow their government. I wish I saw any practicable and peaceful way for conditions in North Korea to change for the better in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t.

More specifically, I’m biased and opinioned toward the following ends:

  • Regime change by the North Korean people
  • Support for refugees and resistance
  • Sanctions against the regime
  • Food & radio drops for the people
  • The ruthless application of soft power in support of a united and democratic Korea
  • Reunification now, healing later
  • Respect and gratitude for those who serve
  • Drastic USFK downsizing
  • South Korean & Japanese self-reliance

And against these:

  • Appeasement, payoffs, or bribes
  • Today’s “realism,” tomorrow’s grievance
  • Unenforceable, illusory arms agreements
  • Trade without sincere reform as an express condition
  • Inflexibly entangling foreign alliances
  • The China Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • A Chinese invasion, a “green light” for one
  • A U.S. invasion
MORE DISCLAIMERS
  • Nothing you read on this blog is learned from or in any way related to my employment, which has nothing to do with human rights in North Korea or U.S. foreign policy.
  • Finally, although I am a lawyer, I’m not YOUR lawyer. I do not form attorney-client relationships on this blog. Any legal analysis or conclusions you read here are for discussion purposes only. Do not act on them without consulting your own attorney.
ACCURACY

I take this very seriously. I invite anyone who suspects I’ve made an inaccurate statement on this blog to correct the record, either in a comment or in a private e-mail:

onefreekorea(at)yahoo.com
COMMENT POLICY

I invite comments because they’re useful for fact-checking, for adding additional facts, and for giving me my much-needed argument fix. Flaming doesn’t do much for that fix, but good argument does make me think and strengthens my own arguments.

  1. Expressions of racial, national, or ethnic hatred, or the gratuitous use (as opposed to the subtle and tasteful use) of profanity will get your comment or you banned.
  2. Have a point. State it immediately. Proceed by stating facts that support it. Insert links for support if you’re on shaky ground or introducing facts that aren’t well known. The following are not reliable sources to support the facts asserted: World Net Daily, Daily Kos, Indymedia, Common Dreams, ZNet, and the like; they may be reliable sources to support the fact that a silly argument was actually made at one of the aforementioned.
  3. You may get a break if you’re funny, but keep reading . . . .
  4. I reserve the right to ban commenters who drag down the quality of the debate by dragging it into the fever swamps, to wit: Bush=Hitler, John Bolton is a fascist, Abu Ghraib is Mauthausen, etc. We do not have time to argue this crap. If you can’t distinguish between a gas chamber and a fart in a crowded elevator, your views are unlikely to enlighten us. Of course, that rule will bend in the unlikely event you can actually link to a probable fact that supports your comparison or assertion. The OFK corollary to Godwin’s law is that you may compare someone to Hitler or the Nazis if you can actually cite empirically verifiable facts to support your comparison.
  5. Please be civil; I won’t host flame wars because I tend to get dragged into them and hate myself in the morning. Rules of civility will vary according to the tone of your interlocutor, but be warned that I may cut off debate and leave your interlocutor with the last word.
  6. The most valued commenters of all are those who hold opposing views and argue them intelligently. Those are the views that advance the quality of my own arguments the most, and I’ll treat those views with an extra degree of deference to prevent the “echo chamber” effect and maintain the vibrancy of the debate.
  7. The overall theme? I seek intelligent and civil debate that introduces new facts and exposes weak arguments and factual inaccuracies, especially my own. I seek comments that are well written and funny. I have no use for Korea-bashing, America-bashing, or any other kind of ad hominem attack. I have no use for flame wars; there are millions of battlegrounds for that elsewhere. I seek commmenters who are good writers, who are well informed, who have special insight or knowledge, and who can write clear sentences, advance the debate toward objective truth, and make us laugh.
  8. I will strive to be content neutral in applying these limits, because that’s how one advances good debate.
  9. Remember that blogs (like other media) are oligarchies, but (unlike other media), they are a free service. True love means knowing there’s no refund to ask for.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on the Bolton Nomination

First, does anyone suppose John Bolton would have been nominated if things weren’t going at least reasonably well in Iraq? Or abyssimally within the U.N.?

Granted, as Kipling told us, triumph and disaster are two impostors, and the crowing that it’s all over (or a even new 1989) may be a bit premature, even if we hope earnestly that they aren’t. I never considered Iraq a case of guerrilla war, which most military people will define as a resistance movement that hides and shelters among broad-based popular support. If it was that anywhere, it was in the Sunni Triangle, but only until we shrewdly pulled back and let the “insurgents” control part of it for a few months. By November, they’d beheaded their own popular support even in their own base. And by January, the idea that the Michael Moore’s minutemen were carrying out anything more than a politically-motivated crime wave with no political goals was refuted by the empirical evidence of votes.

Today, we also hear the most encouraging news yet about the state of the Taliban’s disintegration. Whatever is left of it, Mullah Omar appears not to control. It must be disspiriting to see the value of his head fall so low. We’ll be more certain in about six weeks, after the fighting season has started.

Yep, plenty can still go wrong. But success seems to have many fathers of late, just as a few of its true fathers seemed ready to deny paternity for the colicky wriggler last May. We have learned that many people across the political spectrum are made of wobbly stuff. No one will ever say that about John Bolton.

* * * * *

Plenty of other alarming things are being said about Bolton, particularly here in the New York Times. For all its shrill hyperbole, the piece is still informative. Of course, if you’re reading this blog, odds are you’ve read the Times enough to spot the familiar tricks, such as the old standard of vicarious editorializing-by-quotation:

“Mr. Bolton is seen as among the most hawkish of President Bush’s advisers, and as among those who are most sympathetic toward unilateral action, and perhaps least sympathetic toward a multilateral approach to things,” said Robert Hathaway, director of Asia studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.

Yeah. You say that like it’s a bad thing. More on Bolton and that tired old “unilateralism” horse later.

“Certainly, many people around the world will see this nomination as raising questions about the president’s sincerity in wanting to work in a cooperative fashion, a multilateral fashion,” he said. Mr. Hathaway predicted the nomination would be seen as “disquieting” and curious.”

You can’t get a lot more condescending than that. You can almost see the brows furrow in Paris and Brussels.

After a period in which the Bush administration has emphasized a desire for international cooperation, underscored by the president’s trip to Europe, the nomination of Mr. Bolton appeared to show that hard-liners on foreign policy still carry clout in a clearly divided administration.

I’d grant that it’s a victory for those the Times calls hard-liners, but “divided?” With the exit of Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and a whole rick of dead wood at the CIA, I’m not sure who stands in opposition to the Bolton faction. We’ve all seen Bush’s Braveheart speech, and nothing I’ve read suggests that Bolton was ever at odds with Condi Rice, who’s far to the right of Powell and Armitage. And as the Times points out, “Mr. Bolton has been championed in the past by Vice President Dick Cheney.” Seems to me that gives Bolton the full trifecta. Mathematically speaking, divided by one is more like it. Now brace yourself for a parade of horribles that should send you scurrying for your beaujolais:

Mr. Bolton is widely quoted as having said at a panel discussion in 1994 that “if the U.N. secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

Granted, that one wouldn’t pass in the post-9/11 world, but of course, Bolton wasn’t suggesting bombing or destruction or loss of life; he was merely pointing out the belief–since confirmed a dozen times over–that the United Nations doesn’t really do anything competently above the level of delivering modest amounts of emergency relief and innoculating kids. Those are good things, of course, but when it comes to making peace or foreign policy or stopping man-made disasters (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Darfur, Somalia, North Korea) the U.N. is worse than useless. Not only does the U.N. generally fail to offer so much as empty words to console the corpses, it tends to interfere with saving the living. Those who believe in expanding the power, prestige, and influence of the U.N. should not be satisfied with this and ought to recognize that doing something about it begins with listening to the uneasy truths that Bolton is telling them, if they’ll listen. And of course, Bolton was not in government in 1994. If Jack Pritchard can open his mouth as a private citizen, then Bolton should have the same rights.

And in 1998 he dismissed a vote at the United Nations as irrelevant, saying, “this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system.” Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who served as the United Nations Ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, said in 2003 that Mr. Bolton “loves to tussle,” adding, “He may do diplomatic jobs for the U.S. government, but John is not a diplomat.”

As I said. And you can’t really call it criticism when it’s coming from Jeanne Kirpatrick. I’d agree with her that not only is Bolton no diplomat, that might not be what’s called for when dealing with people whose language consists of “human scum,” “sea of fire,” “Great Satan,” and “bloodsucker.” Those people are only looking for conciliation in the way that wolves scrutinize deer for limping and shortness of breath. Countries like North Korea and Iran don’t respond positively to diplomacy as they know it in Brussels. They respond to what they deal in themselves: fear. Consider for a moment that Bolton’s dangerous outbursts are more studied that they appear to the Times.

Of course, Bolton probably isn’t the hissing bomb they claim him to be if he’s managed to successfully negotiate such important matters as an arms reduction treaty with Russia and Libya’s disarmament. Yes, I promised you proof of John Bolton’s success at multilateralism. Here’s John O’Sullivan from the National Review:

He devised a practical way of halting the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups and rogue states — namely, the Proliferation Security Initiative — that the international community has now signed onto. The PSI advanced U.S. interests by recruiting those allies who could offer America real help to prevent its enemies obtaining weapons of mass destruction. That was pragmatic multilateralism of a high order.

The Times’s parade continues:

His hard line, and blunt talk, on nuclear negotiations with North Korea – he
has staunchly opposed concessions to Pyongyang unless it first rolls back its
nuclear program – has roiled the Bush administration’s already-difficult
dealings with the government there. In July 2003, as delicate six-party
talks including North Korean were about to start, Mr. called Kim Jong Il, the
North Korean leader, a “tyrannical dictator” of a country where “life is a
hellish nightmare.”


Come here and smell this. No, really–just stop long enough to consider how many supposedly intelligent folks at various editorial boards and think tanks take crap like this seriously when it’s hard to believe that the North Korean leadership itself does. This is landfill for the consumption of the masses in Wonsan (and at Yonsei University, of course; mustn’t forget the true believers).

North Korea responded furiously, saying that “such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks” and that Pyongyang no longer considered Mr. Bolton to represent the administration. The State Department removed him from its delegation.

So what part of that is not true? I see where you’re going here, which is that telling the truth is a bad thing in diplomacy. I differ.

Let’s review the benefits of happy talk with North Korea. Jimmy Carter and Bill Richardson talked happy and we got the Agreed Framework, followed by instantaneous North Korean cheating thereon. Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton offered happy talk, and we got more cheating. Bush eventually chose to recognize the fact of the cheating, which meant that the talk got less pleasant and the minor annoyance of the U.N.-IAEA inspectors was summarily removed. But then for a very long time, to conspicuously include the SOTU and the inauguration speech, Bush held his tongue. And look what that got us.

Frankly, the only parties affected one way or another by what Bolton says are those parties eager to pretent that it actually matters. That would be the South Koreans, whose state of delusion is so far advanced that like a gangrenous limb, it may simply require amputation from the larger body. Democracy means at lot of things, including the freedom to have your capital become Kim Il Sung City.

As for Bolton being taken off the delegation, the State Department officially denied it, but if neither the Times nor National Review is buying it, that satisfies me . . . that the State Department suffers from testicular atrophy.

Mr. Hathaway of the Wilson Center said other parties to the Korean
nuclear talks had at least privately challenged Mr. Bolton’s confrontational
approach. But he also noted that the United Nations, for now, “is not where the
action is on the North Korea question.”

As I’ve said before, Bolton’s appointment was a statement. What it probably means is that Bolton will be locked and loaded to challenge North Korea’s proliferation and human rights records at the U.N., and very likely at the Security Council. I suspect that if you want to know “where the action is,” the bouncing ball you should be following has “Bolton” written all over it.

Mr. Bolton also raised concerns when he was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in early 2003 as saying that the United States, after defeating Iraq, would “deal with” Iran, Syria and North Korea. And in June of that year he told the BBC that in the case of Iran, “all options are on the table.”

Like this one, for example. The horror! (it sounds cooler if you whisper it twice in hushed, Kurtzian madness)

In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Bolton was asked about what seemed to be mixed signals from the Bush administration on North Korea. He grabbed a book from a shelf and laid it on the table. Its title: “The End of North Korea.” “That,” he told the interviewer, “is our policy.”

First, thanks for finding me that quote. And as you’ve probably guessed, those are my sentiments exactly. Now, it’s hard to know whether Bolton was trying to scare North Korea back to the bargaining table, hawk-engagement style, or whether he meant it. If I were the North Korean generals, I’d wager the latter, but since I’m not, count me skeptical.
I will close with a question for those of you who see this as a sign of the Apolcalypse–just what would be so damned bad about calling for democracy and human rights in North Korea just the way we’ve called for these things in Saudi Arabia or Lebanon? Would the harm of a “chaotic” change of regime really be worse than Zarkawi with a dirty bomb or another two million dead North Koreans? The main criticism of Bolton appears to be that he’s the guy who just stand up and say that.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on the Bolton Nomination

First, does anyone suppose John Bolton would have been nominated if things weren’t going at least reasonably well in Iraq? Or abyssimally within the U.N.?

Granted, as Kipling told us, triumph and disaster are two impostors, and the crowing that it’s all over (or a even new 1989) may be a bit premature, even if we hope earnestly that they aren’t. I never considered Iraq a case of guerrilla war, which most military people will define as a resistance movement that hides and shelters among broad-based popular support. If it was that anywhere, it was in the Sunni Triangle, but only until we shrewdly pulled back and let the “insurgents” control part of it for a few months. By November, they’d beheaded their own popular support even in their own base. And by January, the idea that the Michael Moore’s minutemen were carrying out anything more than a politically-motivated crime wave with no political goals was refuted by the empirical evidence of votes.

Today, we also hear the most encouraging news yet about the state of the Taliban’s disintegration. Whatever is left of it, Mullah Omar appears not to control. It must be disspiriting to see the value of his head fall so low. We’ll be more certain in about six weeks, after the fighting season has started.

Yep, plenty can still go wrong. But success seems to have many fathers of late, just as a few of its true fathers seemed ready to deny paternity for the colicky wriggler last May. We have learned that many people across the political spectrum are made of wobbly stuff. No one will ever say that about John Bolton.

* * * * *

Plenty of other alarming things are being said about Bolton, particularly here in the New York Times. For all its shrill hyperbole, the piece is still informative. Of course, if you’re reading this blog, odds are you’ve read the Times enough to spot the familiar tricks, such as the old standard of vicarious editorializing-by-quotation:

“Mr. Bolton is seen as among the most hawkish of President Bush’s advisers, and as among those who are most sympathetic toward unilateral action, and perhaps least sympathetic toward a multilateral approach to things,” said Robert Hathaway, director of Asia studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.

Yeah. You say that like it’s a bad thing. More on Bolton and that tired old “unilateralism” horse later.

“Certainly, many people around the world will see this nomination as raising questions about the president’s sincerity in wanting to work in a cooperative fashion, a multilateral fashion,” he said. Mr. Hathaway predicted the nomination would be seen as “disquieting” and curious.”

You can’t get a lot more condescending than that. You can almost see the brows furrow in Paris and Brussels.

After a period in which the Bush administration has emphasized a desire for international cooperation, underscored by the president’s trip to Europe, the nomination of Mr. Bolton appeared to show that hard-liners on foreign policy still carry clout in a clearly divided administration.

I’d grant that it’s a victory for those the Times calls hard-liners, but “divided?” With the exit of Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and a whole rick of dead wood at the CIA, I’m not sure who stands in opposition to the Bolton faction. We’ve all seen Bush’s Braveheart speech, and nothing I’ve read suggests that Bolton was ever at odds with Condi Rice, who’s far to the right of Powell and Armitage. And as the Times points out, “Mr. Bolton has been championed in the past by Vice President Dick Cheney.” Seems to me that gives Bolton the full trifecta. Mathematically speaking, divided by one is more like it. Now brace yourself for a parade of horribles that should send you scurrying for your beaujolais:

Mr. Bolton is widely quoted as having said at a panel discussion in 1994 that “if the U.N. secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

Granted, that one wouldn’t pass in the post-9/11 world, but of course, Bolton wasn’t suggesting bombing or destruction or loss of life; he was merely pointing out the belief–since confirmed a dozen times over–that the United Nations doesn’t really do anything competently above the level of delivering modest amounts of emergency relief and innoculating kids. Those are good things, of course, but when it comes to making peace or foreign policy or stopping man-made disasters (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Darfur, Somalia, North Korea) the U.N. is worse than useless. Not only does the U.N. generally fail to offer so much as empty words to console the corpses, it tends to interfere with saving the living. Those who believe in expanding the power, prestige, and influence of the U.N. should not be satisfied with this and ought to recognize that doing something about it begins with listening to the uneasy truths that Bolton is telling them, if they’ll listen. And of course, Bolton was not in government in 1994. If Jack Pritchard can open his mouth as a private citizen, then Bolton should have the same rights.

And in 1998 he dismissed a vote at the United Nations as irrelevant, saying, “this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system.” Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who served as the United Nations Ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, said in 2003 that Mr. Bolton “loves to tussle,” adding, “He may do diplomatic jobs for the U.S. government, but John is not a diplomat.”

As I said. And you can’t really call it criticism when it’s coming from Jeanne Kirpatrick. I’d agree with her that not only is Bolton no diplomat, that might not be what’s called for when dealing with people whose language consists of “human scum,” “sea of fire,” “Great Satan,” and “bloodsucker.” Those people are only looking for conciliation in the way that wolves scrutinize deer for limping and shortness of breath. Countries like North Korea and Iran don’t respond positively to diplomacy as they know it in Brussels. They respond to what they deal in themselves: fear. Consider for a moment that Bolton’s dangerous outbursts are more studied that they appear to the Times.

Of course, Bolton probably isn’t the hissing bomb they claim him to be if he’s managed to successfully negotiate such important matters as an arms reduction treaty with Russia and Libya’s disarmament. Yes, I promised you proof of John Bolton’s success at multilateralism. Here’s John O’Sullivan from the National Review:

He devised a practical way of halting the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups and rogue states — namely, the Proliferation Security Initiative — that the international community has now signed onto. The PSI advanced U.S. interests by recruiting those allies who could offer America real help to prevent its enemies obtaining weapons of mass destruction. That was pragmatic multilateralism of a high order.

The Times’s parade continues:

His hard line, and blunt talk, on nuclear negotiations with North Korea – he
has staunchly opposed concessions to Pyongyang unless it first rolls back its
nuclear program – has roiled the Bush administration’s already-difficult
dealings with the government there. In July 2003, as delicate six-party
talks including North Korean were about to start, Mr. called Kim Jong Il, the
North Korean leader, a “tyrannical dictator” of a country where “life is a
hellish nightmare.”


Come here and smell this. No, really–just stop long enough to consider how many supposedly intelligent folks at various editorial boards and think tanks take crap like this seriously when it’s hard to believe that the North Korean leadership itself does. This is landfill for the consumption of the masses in Wonsan (and at Yonsei University, of course; mustn’t forget the true believers).

North Korea responded furiously, saying that “such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks” and that Pyongyang no longer considered Mr. Bolton to represent the administration. The State Department removed him from its delegation.

So what part of that is not true? I see where you’re going here, which is that telling the truth is a bad thing in diplomacy. I differ.

Let’s review the benefits of happy talk with North Korea. Jimmy Carter and Bill Richardson talked happy and we got the Agreed Framework, followed by instantaneous North Korean cheating thereon. Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton offered happy talk, and we got more cheating. Bush eventually chose to recognize the fact of the cheating, which meant that the talk got less pleasant and the minor annoyance of the U.N.-IAEA inspectors was summarily removed. But then for a very long time, to conspicuously include the SOTU and the inauguration speech, Bush held his tongue. And look what that got us.

Frankly, the only parties affected one way or another by what Bolton says are those parties eager to pretent that it actually matters. That would be the South Koreans, whose state of delusion is so far advanced that like a gangrenous limb, it may simply require amputation from the larger body. Democracy means at lot of things, including the freedom to have your capital become Kim Il Sung City.

As for Bolton being taken off the delegation, the State Department officially denied it, but if neither the Times nor National Review is buying it, that satisfies me . . . that the State Department suffers from testicular atrophy.

Mr. Hathaway of the Wilson Center said other parties to the Korean
nuclear talks had at least privately challenged Mr. Bolton’s confrontational
approach. But he also noted that the United Nations, for now, “is not where the
action is on the North Korea question.”

As I’ve said before, Bolton’s appointment was a statement. What it probably means is that Bolton will be locked and loaded to challenge North Korea’s proliferation and human rights records at the U.N., and very likely at the Security Council. I suspect that if you want to know “where the action is,” the bouncing ball you should be following has “Bolton” written all over it.

Mr. Bolton also raised concerns when he was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in early 2003 as saying that the United States, after defeating Iraq, would “deal with” Iran, Syria and North Korea. And in June of that year he told the BBC that in the case of Iran, “all options are on the table.”

Like this one, for example. The horror! (it sounds cooler if you whisper it twice in hushed, Kurtzian madness)

In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Bolton was asked about what seemed to be mixed signals from the Bush administration on North Korea. He grabbed a book from a shelf and laid it on the table. Its title: “The End of North Korea.” “That,” he told the interviewer, “is our policy.”

First, thanks for finding me that quote. And as you’ve probably guessed, those are my sentiments exactly. Now, it’s hard to know whether Bolton was trying to scare North Korea back to the bargaining table, hawk-engagement style, or whether he meant it. If I were the North Korean generals, I’d wager the latter, but since I’m not, count me skeptical.
I will close with a question for those of you who see this as a sign of the Apolcalypse–just what would be so damned bad about calling for democracy and human rights in North Korea just the way we’ve called for these things in Saudi Arabia or Lebanon? Would the harm of a “chaotic” change of regime really be worse than Zarkawi with a dirty bomb or another two million dead North Koreans? The main criticism of Bolton appears to be that he’s the guy who just stand up and say that.

Continue Reading

Resolution of the Sixth International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees

Resolution Sixth International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees Seoul, South Korea, February 16, 2005

We have gathered for the 6th International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees from the countries of France, Poland, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, as well as defectors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to affirm to the people of the world, especially to the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, that they are entitled to the same freedoms, democratic values and human rights enjoyed by free people everywhere and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The regime of North Korea is among the worst violators of human rights in our time despite having obligated itself to protect human rights by becoming a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

In addition to these activities we have pledged to undertake during the conference, we call for the following actions:

To the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we call upon the regime to abide by the four human rights treaties it has signed, specifically to abolish the political prison camps and detention centers in North Korea where people are subjected to inhumane and cruel treatment, to end the use of torture, forced abortion and infanticide; to end the use of the testing of weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons experimentation on political prisoners, and to release all returnees, detainees, abducted citizens of Japan and South Korea, prisoners of the Korean War, and any citizens currently being held in North Korea against their will;

To the People’s Republic of China, we call upon the PRC to release all humanitarian workers, including its own citizens and citizens of South Korea and the United States and any nation, it has jailed for helping North Korean refugees.

We furthermore call upon the PRC to abide by the international agreements it has signed, the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and Article III, paragraph 5 of the 1995 agreement on the Upgrading of the UNHCR Mission in the UNHCR Branch office in the PRC, and end the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees and provide unimpeded access to the UNHCR to interview all North Koreans seeking refuge.

To the International Community, We applaud the United States Congress for its recent unanimous passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act and encourage the U.S. administration to implement the provisions of the Act in a timely manner in order to save lives of the North Korean people and we applaud the legislators in the Republic of Korea and Japan who have pledged to adopt similar humanitarian measures, and furthermore, we call for other legislatures around the world to adopt similar humanitarian measures to help the North Korean refugees, to reach out to the North Korean people, to ensure that food aid reaches its intended recipients, and to make human rights a central component of any policy with North Korea.

We call on the citizens of the world to join in the peaceful demonstrations to be held on April 28, 2005, at the embassies and consulate offices of the People’s Republic of China which are aimed at changing the PRC’s policy of forced repatriation of North Korean Refugees and at gaining the release of Chinese citizens and international humanitarian workers who have been incarcerated for providing food, shelter and safety to North Korean refugees.

We especially appeal to those countries in the region to allow safe passage of North Korean refugees, to consider adopting a first asylum policy to protect at-risk North Korean men, women, and children, and to work cooperatively towards a multilateral agreement that provides safe haven.

We call for the adoption by business firms investing in the DPRK, especially South Korean and Japanese firms of a code of fair labor standards, including protecting children, similar to the Sullivan principles which were adopted during the Apartheid era in South Africa.

We also call upon the international trade union movement, especially the labor organizations in South Korea, to defend and protect their brother and sister workers in the DPRK from being exploited as a source of slave labor and subjected to inhuman working conditions.

To the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, we applaud the Commission for its condemnation of the North Korea regime for its human rights abuses, for their appointment of a Special Rapporteur for North Korean human rights and urge that the Commission continue to support his work and use all possible means to see his recommendations are carried out, and furthermore we applaud the Special Rapporteur’s findings defining nationals of the DPRK who cross the Chinese border as “refugees” or “refugees sur place.”

To the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, we ask you to simply do your job, to implement your mission to secure your right to unimpeded access to the North Korean refugees in China and any nation by invoking binding arbitration and call upon the nations in the region to allow safe passage for North Korean refugees.

To the International Olympic Committee, we call upon you to change the venue of the 2008 Olympics from Beijing to another city, unless the People’s Republic of China ends its violent action of repatriation of North Korean refugees who face imprisonment and execution when they are returned to North Korea.

To the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we especially want to affirm to you that we have heard your cries and know your suffering and that we stand with you in solidarity and pledge to work for the day when you may enjoy the same human rights and freedoms as enjoyed by free people throughout the world.

To this 6th International Conference on North Korea Human Rights and
Refugees, we pledge to continue to expand the international network devoted to saving the lives of North Koreans, working with as individuals and with our respective governments to focus the greatest attention on the human rights of the North Korea people until the light of human rights will shine on the entire Korean peninsula.

We express our deep appreciation to the Citizens Alliance for North Korea Human Rights and Refugees and the people of Seoul for hosting this International Conference and look forward to gathering in Norway next year for the 7th International Conference.

Resolutions Committee
Suzanne Scholte, Chairman, USA
Seong-Phil Hong, ROK
Pierre Rigoulot, France
Ann Buwalda, USA
Fumiaki Yamada, Japan

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