Archive | April, 2007

New Globalization Blog

30 Apr

(although he picked TP-yuck!)

Can we expect a Drezner vs. Rodrik match on soon?

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Coming Up Short

30 Apr

, but uninvited guests are crying. .

On the American side, the Bush administration for all its bluster has demonstrated its prodigious talents at inter-departmental infighting, in this case, State vs. . Whatever else is said, what state could take the Bush administration seriously?

But, this is all prologue to what is really the big news about the solid Japan-US front against Pyongyang. The pale next to Tokyo’s quiet resolution of the comfort women and other compensation claims, Abe’s apology, and Abe’s resolution to end the post-WW2 period. According to :

It has long been a tradition in Japanese politics for the ruling party to form governments headed by specific prime ministers and assign them a particular task or tasks. This practice dates back to the days before Pearl Harbor. At that time, however, Cabinets tended to be short-lived—they disbanded once they completed their narrowly focused mission. Prime Ministers weren’t chosen because of their popularity with the public.

I would hazard a guess that the same principle is, at least in part, still functioning in the case of the Abe Cabinet. The LDP has certain tasks it wishes to accomplish, and it chose Mr. Abe as the man to fulfill that mission—and one reason is that he is the man who spurred the party into acting on those tasks to begin with. These include amending the Constitution, upgrading the Defense Agency to a Cabinet-level ministry (mission already accomplished), and closing the book on the Second World War. They realize this agenda will take several years to complete.

Meanwhile, , and is not too concerned about the missed April 13 deadline:

Moscow had put its efforts into economic and energy initiatives that would give it a more pivotal position regarding the overall settlement of the six-party accords, particularly on the issue of providing North Korea with energy. Recently Moscow has tried to present itself globally as a willing and avid provider of nuclear power to counties that want or need it. Thus Konstantin Pulikovsky, Putin’s former viceroy for the Far East and a man with excellent connections to Kim Jong-Il and North Korea and now the co-chairman of the Russo-North Korean Economic Cooperation Commission and head of the Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Nuclear Monitoring, has publicly stated that the only alternative source for ensuring energy supplies to all of the DPRK is nuclear energy (Interfax, April 18). Presumably the energy in question is intended to come from Russia as part of the six-party accords and would have to be paid for by the other four members besides North Korea. However, Pulikovsky also carefully evaded commenting on the question of whether Russia would enrich uranium for North Korea’s future peaceful nuclear energy program (Interfax, April 18).

Russia is also contemplating the issue of forgiving North Korea’s $8.8 billion debt to Russia, largely incurred during the Cold War. Certainly Pyongyang is hoping that Moscow will forgive that debt and has publicly expressed the hope that it will do so (Xinhua, RIA-Novosti, April 18). However, any movement on that debt will have to be a top-level political decision, and no answer has yet been forthcoming from Moscow regarding the North Korean request for debt forgiveness.

Finally, Gazprom has completed a transaction giving it a controlling stake in Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the Sakhalin-2 project. This transaction, Russia says, should give a major impetus to completing the project and allow it to provide liquefied natural gas to Japan, Korea, and even the West Coast of the United States (Russia and CIS Business and Financial Daily, April 19). Russia evidently hopes that if North Korea enters the international oil and gas market, Moscow could take advantage of that development and exploit it for its own benefit.

Here as elsewhere, Russia is trying to leverage energy as its principal instrument for enhancing its overall international position, as well as its standing in key regions like Northeast Asia. Moscow also clearly is trying to insist on its interests being defended and advanced while shirking any responsibility for the ultimate settlement and blaming the United States for anything that goes wrong. These have been consistent tactics in Russia’s Korean strategy since the start of the six-party process. But with North Korea’s recent invitation to UN inspectors to verify its nuclear programs, it appears that a new chapter, based on fulfillment of the February 13 accord, is possibly beginning. If that agreement is fulfilled, it presages the transformation of the overall regional security equation in Northeast Asia. Then it will be critical for Russia to adapt an old strategy and tactics to a new and unprecedented situation in a key region of the world.

Between legalistic human-rights activists, Tokyo, and an incompetent Bush administration on one hand, and more generous patrons like Russia, I wonder where North Korea will turn? Hint: it has nothing to do with doing the right thing!

Stupidity

29 Apr

This is what stupidity looks like. Some middle-aged Korean man in my neighborhood started a fire on White Mountain by smoking cigarettes. Many men like to leave the trails and enter the woods to smoke in secret and silence. There are plenty of signs warning against this sort of criminal behavior, and many areas are roped off.

I hope the firefighters catch the guy who did this!

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