The World's Plaidiest News Source
Forget the Fantastic 4, you want to know about the Fabulous 5! Greetings from the New York City my plaid friends! From the United Nations Headquarters to be exact. And there are big things are going on in the Big Apple, not the least of which is the Avenger knocking back a dozen big-ass Manhattans—my mixed drink of choice here in the big city. Hey, the town’s so nice they named it twice, so I have to drink twice as much when I party here! But I digress as usual….While this weekend’s meeting will cover many tipples and topics, I just wanted to give you a quick rant about the UN’s most powerful component: the UN Permanent Security Council. Check out these stories related to this group’s recent activity:
Security Council reps discuss Iranian sanctions
Security Council Reform Resolution Fuels German Hope for Seat
Signs of shift in Iran stand-off
U.N. to revisit Security Council growth
U.N. Security Council has imposed an arms embargo on Sudan
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the main organ of the UN charged with maintaining peace and security among countries. While lots of other committees do lots of other shit, all that shit only amounts to recommendations that are made to countries of the world. However, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the UN Charter—a charter which all members states have agreed to. Starting to get the picture here? If the Security Council passes a resolution, it must be enforced…by force if necessary!
In example: if a country on the Security Council proposes a resolution to bomb Burma, and that resolution passes, then the UN has to act on it, and Burma will be bombed. That is an extreme scenario, but you get the point. In 1950, it was just such a UN resolution that led to the invasion of South Korea by (US-led) UN forces to counter the hostile North Korean takeover that we now call the Korean War.
But let’s look at the mechanics of how this shit actually works. The Security Council is made up of 15 member states, consisting of five permanent seats and ten temporary seats. Ah! Now we finally see the ‘permanent’ part of this group, and the reason for this blog. The permanent five are the US, the UK, China, Russia, and France. The ten temporary seats are held for two-year terms with member states voted in by the UN General Assembly, and broken down roughly on a regional basis (i.e. like 2 from Africa, 2 from Latin America, 2 from Middle East, etc.). So those 10 temporary seats are rotating, usually about half of them rotate out every year.
But the big 5! That is where all the action really is! Why? Because the Permanent Security Council members have this one all important distinction: veto power! Any one of the 5 permanent members can stop any resolution dead in its tracks. Russia or France or China can kill anything the US or Great Britain puts forward, and the US can crush anything the Russians or Chinese want to pass. It’s just that simple. And that’s what creates all the drama!
Why so much drama? Because for the UN to actually send troops or aid to any part of the world requires a resolution from the council. See, the entire Security Council votes on all issues, with each country getting one vote. For any resolution to pass, it must have at least 9 ‘yes’ votes, and zero ‘veto’ votes from any of the permanent 5. And the big permanent 5 don’t always see eye to eye on what the UN should be doing, because they all have different allies and strategic partners and motivations to consider. So to keep our example going, the US would actually love to pass a resolution to send in troops to Burma to straighten that shit government out, but everyone knows the Chinese would veto it in a hot-shit second because the Chinese are big buddies of the Burmese regime.
Need another example? Just think back to the lead-up to the current US invasion of Iraq. That is a US invasion, not a UN invasion, precisely because of the dynamics of the Permanent Security Council. The US was working damn hard to get the Council to pass a resolution to invade Iraq, but the Frenchies outright vetoed it, so the Ruskies didn’t even have to (which would have been likely). Thus, french fries became ‘freedom fries’, but you know that story already…
To keep it even more real, consider the current Iranian situation as referenced in the stories above. The US and the UK have for some time wanted to pass some resolutions to beat down the Iranians, but haven’t really bothered because the Frenchies and Russians would veto it. Now with Nick Sarkozy and the Frenchies coming over to Team USA, the sides are starting to get stacked in their favor….BUT the Russians are big buddies with the Iranians and will still likely veto any resolution that calls for military action against Iran. Can you dig it?
Just as a side note: China typically votes against any resolution which involves military action against any country. They are big fans of sovereignty, and as such think that only some whack-ass extreme behavior by a state would warrant the use of UN force. What wusses. Actually, they are hesitant to violate any other countries sovereignty mostly because they don’t want anyone to invade theirs. They just don’t want to piss anyone off.
And you should know that a country can actually decide not to vote at all—which happens quite a bit with the Chinese. They might not like a resolution, but if everyone else wants it, they will just not vote, thereby saving face. To keep our Iranian example: if the Russians eventually agree to some use of force against Iran, China will not want to stand in the way of a resolution that everyone wants, so they will abstain from the vote….so they won’t piss off the US, UK and France, and at the same time can tell the Iranians “Hey, don’t be pissed at us! We didn’t vote for it! Send your terrorist to their countries, not ours!” See how this shit works?
To finish, you just got to know your Permanent Security Council 5, and how their behavior in large part determines the actions of the entire UN. Many folks want to expand the Permanent Security Council membership and change some of the rules to better represent the world and end the predictable stalemates. Check the stories above for activity on that front…and know this: Germany will likely join soon, as they already are invited to virtually every high-level talk that the Council holds. You will often see news stories reference meetings like this: The Permanent 5 + Germany.
Hmmm….Germany….isn’t it about time for Octoberfest celebrations to begin?
Hello again World Watchers! Had to toddle over to Taiwan to check out their totally titillating and turbulent fifteenth attempt to join the UN: an attempt causing Chinese consternation and American aggravation. The President of Taiwan is Chen Shui-Bian…I call him ‘Cheesy Chen’…and he is a master at pissing off world leaders. What? How can a single little island nation simultaneously snub two of the biggest powers on the planet? I’m glad you asked friends, because this is a tricky tale that has potentially explosive repercussions on the global stage. How explosive? Well, just so you know, this little Cheesy Chen possesses the power to initiate a world war. Sound fanciful? Well, dig this first, and then I’ll explain:
Taiwan in fresh UN membership bid
U.S. steps up pressure on Taiwan to drop U.N. referendum
US should consider Taiwan’s need
Taiwan’s Chen seen likely to defy U.S. pressure
Taiwan Leader Riles China, U.S.
Taiwan loses Costa Rica’s support
President Chen Shui-bian is the current elected leader of Taiwan. He is also from the Taiwanese political party that is very, very pro-independence for Taiwan. Just so you know, Chen and his party barely squeaked through the last election with the win–meaning that they don’t have overwhelming support in the country. Most folks in Taiwan are not pro-independence, and in fact the majority just want to maintain the current nebulous status quo. The masses are not fighting mad for Taiwanese independence. But Chen and his cheesy chinesey crew are…
But wait…Taiwanese independence? Are they not already? Isn’t Taiwan already in the UN? What is the deal? Many of you probably erroneously assume that Taiwan is already a sovereign state with a seat at the UN…and of course many of you would be wrong. Taiwan is not a sovereign state. And that is what the stories above are about; President Cheesy Chen is petitioning the UN for the fifteenth time to allow them into the country club. But it is not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Never. And everybody knows it. So why the hell is Chen still trying? And why does the attempt piss everybody off?
For most of its history, Taiwan was an island territory off the coast of China that was of no great significance. (Sorry my Taiwanese friends! You know its true!) However, Taiwan immediately became a Cold War hotspot when the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang), after losing the Chinese Civil War, retreated to Taiwan and set up a government called the Republic of China (ROC). Meanwhile, Chairman Mao and the Communists controlled mainland China and called themselves the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Acronym reference guide:
- ROC: pro-democracy, pro-capitalist, leaders of Taiwan
- PRC: communist (well, they used to be), leaders of China…yeah, the real China
The leaders of both ‘countries’ have long subscribed to the one-China policy (that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China), each insisting on their own government’s legitimacy. Of course, all this went down during the Cold War, when capitalists and communists weren’t allowed to hang out. So, depending on where you hailed from, you could recognize either the PRC or the ROC as the legitimate Chinese government. Capitalist democracies originally recognized the ROC as the legitimate government of China and communist countries recognized the PRC as the legitimate government of China. So back in the 1950s and 60s, the US, most European countries and even the UN recognized the ROC (Taiwan) as the legit leaders to have diplomatic ties with. Hell, Taiwan held the ‘China’ seat at the UN!
In particular, during the Cold War, the US wanted to help promote the Taiwanese government because they were on our team…you know, Team Democracy/Capitalism! The US made economic and military and strategic ties which helped protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression and also helped make them a fully modern, rich nation. As such, America‘s policy has been, “If China invades Taiwan, we will defend Taiwan, by force if necessary.” And many other countries around the planet supported this endeavor by recognizing the legitimacy of the ROC. But times changed…
Since around 1970, support for ROC as the legit leaders has hugely diminished. Why? Well, because even the US and others had to finally recognize that the communist Chinese were here to stay. They couldn’t go on pretending that the 3rd largest country with the largest population in the world simply didn’t exist. In other words, everyone had to stop being dumb. So in 1971 the UN to shifted its ‘China’ seat from Taiwan to China proper. In 1972 the US initiated their ‘One China Policy’ which states that “the United States acknowledges that Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States does not challenge that position.” In 1979 the US switched their diplomatic recognition to China proper, but still maintained their strategic ‘protection’ alliance with Taiwan. This strategic alliance is underlined by the fact that the US sells Taiwan shit-tons of military hardware; a situation that continues to the present.
Since the 1980’s, as China’s economic clout has grown bigger and bigger, country after country around the globe has switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. The most recent was Costa Rica a few months ago. Taiwan now only has 24 countries which still recognize it as legit, as opposed to China which has 170. It should be noted that those 24 include powerhouses like El Salvador, Kiribati, and Swaziland. Getting the picture here? The number continues to dwindle because China refuses to do business with any state that recognizes Taiwan…and no country can afford to not do business with China anymore.
So what’s all this got to do with current events? Just this: in a strange twist of history, this crazy Cheesy Chen dude is in a position to start a major regional war by his whack-ass UN-seeking antics. How?
A scenario not unlike pre–WWI Europe has evolved:
1. The US has been committed to helping defend Taiwan if China attacks. Some administrations—like the current Bush administration—have sometimes outright declared this to be a fact. In other words, the US will counter the attack if the Chinese invade. Maybe.
2. China passed a law in 2005 that legally binds them to attack Taiwan should Taiwan ever declare independence. They claim there is no decision to make, no choice to contemplate. They will attack.
3. The current president of Taiwan is both a lame-duck president and avowedly pro-independence for Taiwan. He’s got nothing to lose. He might want to play high-stakes poker, where the ante for the game includes his whole damn country. The Plaid Avenger also thinks the guy has a serious screw loose too; Chen was shot a few years ago in what appears to be a ‘staged assassination’ just two days before the presidential election in order to gain a sympathy vote. You let someone shoot you? Dude….you are whack.
See where this could go . . . and fast? One yahoo in office in Taiwan now has the ability to launch two of the biggest world powers against each other. One false move in the middle, and everybody is pulled into the game.
So these completely bullshit attempts at UN recognition are just another big stunt by Cheesy Chen to rile up the world. Of course you now understand why his moves piss off the Chinese, but have you figured out why Chen bugs the US too?
Answer: if you haven’t noticed, the US military is kind of busy right now. Afghanistan, Iraq, possibly Iran, the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, and of course all those military air shows are keeping the US armed forces busier than ever. The US simply does not have enough ass right now to send over to defend Taiwan if a war were to break out.
And increasingly, many in the US aren’t sure they want to fight a war with the Chinese, even if they had nothing better to do. The US and Chinese economies are inextricably linked at this point, and no one would stand to gain from a war of any kind between these two heavyweights. And for what? An island that virtually everyone on the planet agrees is Chinese territory. Man, no one wants to get pulled into a pissing match over Taiwan. And that is why the US response to Chen’s words have been “Please sit down and have a tall glass of shut-the-hell-up’. Can you dig it?
Oh by the way, you may have wondered how the Plaid Avenger knows that the Taiwan resolution to the UN won’t pass? Because both China and the US, as members of the UN Permanent Security Council, have veto power over any resolution. And everyone knows that both of them would veto it. That resolution doesn’t have a snow cone’s chance in Sumatra to pass.
What’s that? You don’t know what the Permanent Security Council is? Well game on then! I’ll travel to UN headquarters in New York by tomorrow morning and tell you all about it. Until then…
Party in plaid!
Sweetness! I love a good party….and I love a great party even more! And when the party is the 6-Party Talks, well, I think you know that the Avenger is going to be getting his drink on… times 6! To understand the plaid world in which we all co-habitate in my friends, you really must know what, or who, or where, the 6-Party is. And the party just got it going on over the last weekend, with some very interesting results. In fact, I have been partying in Pyongyang playing power ping-pong while getting my drink on with a Chinese panda named Ling-Long! Ha! Top that on a Labor Day weekend! So what the hell is this Korean party all about? Check it:
US Says North Korea to End Nuclear Program
No Form Date to Take North Korea Off Terror List
North Korea Close to Being Struck from Terror List
One Less on the Axis of Evil?
N Korea Asks to Leave Axis of Evil, Cites “Creative Differences” (this is satire, but its good!)
So who the hell gets the invite to the 6-Party? I’m glad you asked. The sweet 6 are the US, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan. And what’s the party all about? Just as easy to answer: the goal of the party is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by North Korea attempting to build a nuclear program. Nuclear bombs specifically, which of course always worries anybody in the world that doesn’t want to get fucking blown up. And especially the countries that are right next door to North Korea which would be the first to be targeted. And quite frankly, everybody and their Asian brother is worried about North Korea getting anything close to a nuclear warhead, since their country is run by a complete fucking lunatic.
Which lunatic? That would be Kim Jong-il. The freak. Not to be too harsh on the guy, but I generally refer to him as the Michael Jackson of the Korean peninsula. He lives in a palace while his people starve to death, but is surrounded by military whackos and court jesters who tell him he’s a god and that everybody loves him. Shit, the dude is totally clueless about reality….much like Jackson, he is just living in his isolated Neverland Ranch, propped up by admirers that tell him everything is great. Unfortunately, Kim il-Jong’s ‘ranch’ happens to be a country, and he happens to be the head of it. And Michael Jackson’s nose is real. Just like his skin. Yeah right. Fucking freaks the both of them. But I digress as usual…
So the US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and even China are not really keen on this goober or any of his military advisers acquiring nuclear weapons. So much so that all the countries have been working in earnest for years to get this group of freaks to relinquish development of their nuclear program, pull their heads out of their asses, and join the rest of the real world. The US has been so insistent about it that they put North Korea in their famous ‘Axis of Evil’ category along with Iraq and Iran.
Of course Iraq is now off the list since its occupied by the US…. oh, and no weapons were actually found anyway. And now folks around the world are debating about what to do to Iran and their nuclear program. But there really has never been any debate about the North Korea situation: everyone thinks they are nuts and all surrounding countries just want them to knock off with the damn shenanigans! Too bad whacko North Korea! You are on your own! Not even China wants to put their neck out for those freaks.
And apparently that’s why the 6-Party talks are working. Everyone has been putting the heat on the Koreans to dismantle their nuclear program. And it looks like it worked! The stories above reference that just last weekend the North Korean regime has agreed to not only stop production of nuclear materials, but to completely dismantle their program by the end of the year! Damn! That’s big news! But why would they nutty Northerners agree to this at this particular time? Why not earlier? Or why agree at all?
Here’s why: they suck. The North Korean economy is non-existent. The people are starving to death, and winter is fast approaching which will result in many more folks starving to death. North Korea just got the shit kicked out of them by major floods all summer. Their already meager crops are going to suck ass this year. People are trying to literally haul ass out of the country by the thousands—it has gotten so bad in the last year that the Chinese have posted troops all over their border with North Korea to stem the tide of immigrants trying to get the hell out of there. Seriously, the place is a total joke. And everyone in the leadership is starting to realize that they can’t keep this total sham of a country afloat for much longer.
Call in Michael Jackson! Maybe he can lull the North Korean masses into submission by singing ‘Beat It’ a million times! Shit, the whole damn place already looks like a scene from the fucking ‘Thriller’ video. Dude! I would pay serious money to see Kim il-Jong do the moonwalk!
But anyway, North Korea can no longer afford to piss off all its neighbors, especially when all those neighbors [as well as the US] are going to be providing them with all sorts of food aid, fuel aid, and financial aid as incentive to give up the nukes. And the Plaid Avenger has always been convinced that the quest for nukes by the North Koreans has been simply about having a card to play in international politics…in other words a leveraging tool for the world to take the North Koreans seriously. Now that the North Korean position is a total joke and the country is nearing collapse, giving up the nukes appears to be the only face-saving device which allows Kim and his funky bunch to get international assistance while keeping their rule—and the entire country—intact.
You’ll notice from the stories above that as soon as the 6-Party ended on Sunday, the North Koreans ran out to the press and announced that the US was normalizing relations with them, and taking them off the ‘Axis of Evil’/terrorist list. What a bunch of boneheads! The US immediately renounced that claim, and has instead said that they will be working towards patching up relations with the Koreans, and possibly taking them off the ‘terror list’ once the nuclear plants are actually totally dismantled. Shit! Those whack-ass North Koreans can’t even keep the story strait for 5 damn minutes.
BUT! Whatever the story is, it is a promising turn of events for the US, South Korea, Japan, and the entire world. Promising for the North Koreans because they will undoubtedly get shit tons of aid, just when they need it most. Perhaps they will actually give up all efforts to make nukes. Perhaps the US will take them off the terror list. Perhaps the Korean peninsula will start a re-unification process if this goober regime opens up a little. Perhaps Michael Jackson and Kim il-Jong will become fast friends…and then lovers… Who knows what the rosy future holds?
And repercussions outside the Korean peninsula? There are plenty, but only one worth mentioning, and it’s a doozie! And its also in the news on the same day, which compounds its importance! What the smell am I referring to? I’m talking about Iran, and how the 6-Party is going to cause a huge fucking hangover for them, even though they weren’t invited to the crib! Dig this:
Iran Meets Key Target in Nuclear Program
Long story short, just as North Korea is renouncing nukes, Iran is bragging that they are fast developing them. Damn! Its like those guys are absolutely determined to piss off the world! I’ll deal with the Iranian nuke program later, but know this for now: with North Korea out of the picture, the ‘Axis of Evil’ is fast turning into the ‘Axis of One’ aka ‘the Only Evil One Left’. Iran was already getting plenty of attention for its nuclear activities; with North Korea going legit, all eyes of the world will now be sternly focused of what the hell Iran is now going to do. Shit! IS is getting hot in here or what?
So know this my fine American friends: know what the 6-Party is all about; know the Kim-il really is pretty ill—in his head; know that North Korea is going straight and may rejoin the rest of us here on planet earth soon. And know why this is turning up the heat on Iran….
Party in Plaid in Pyongyang!
Greetings world watchers. Just a quick digression for you today on why Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria is actually an important event. Doesn’t matter to me if you are a Democrat who supports her bold political maneuver in defiance of the White House, or if you are a Republican who thinks she is the anti-Christ. Political bullshit is not the Plaid Avenger’s concern. Small moves which may have large impacts in the future are what we deal with in this forum, so here we go…
Pelosi receives warm welcome in Syria
Cheney hits out at Pelosi visit
US Democrat Pelosi in Syria talks
To repeat: I am not expressing any opinion on whether or not Pelosi’s visit to the Middle East is a good thing or a bad thing. That’s just not my thing for now. You readers can do your thing in the comments forum to beat, berate, and bash her, or each other. The Avenger’s interest in this news event has far greater impacts than the current political power stand-off in the US, or even the goofball US foreign policy towards the Middle East. No, I see something much bigger here. I see the potential for a re-working of the whole American government system, specifically in the foreign policy arena. Perhaps just a bit of background to start though…
You already know, or you damn well should know, that since the last election cycle the US Congress has been controlled by the Democrats. The White House is of course still staunchly Republican. Thus: friction. As has been over-reported in the last several months, many Democrats favor US withdrawal from the current Iraq War, while most Republicans—including those in the White House—are sticking to their guns. Pun intended. So what’s this got to do with Nancy?
Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to become the Speaker of the House. Quite frankly, the woman part is of no concern to me, or this story—but I do likes the women! And women in power? Hell yes! What a turn-on! Oops, I digress as usual. Anyway, Speaker of the House is an important position in the US government. A damned important position. Like third in line of power after the President and Vice-President. As part of her political agenda to change US foreign policy, the Speaker went to visit the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well a host of other folks in the Middle East. Since the official US foreign policy from the White House has been a ‘no-talk-to’ Syria since 2005, the administration has been pissed to say the least. Which brings us to this:
Speaker of the House on a foreign policy tour? Ballsy. Ballsy to say the least. And new! No Speaker has done anything like that before! At least not without a nod from the White House. And that’s why it’s a big story to the Plaid Avenger. This turn of events here in our lifetime may mark the start of a new age of American politics. Since American politics eventually affect all world politics, it is an important story for the globe. What the hell am I talking about?
Foreign policy has always been an exclusively executive branch/President thing. It’s one of those powers that only the President of the US wields, on behalf of the rest of the US. This Pelosi tour seriously challenges that notion. This idea that only one dude sitting in the White House calls all the shots on how the US will work with the rest of the entire planet may be getting seriously outdated. Why?
Hell I don’t know why. Perhaps the world is now just too complicated for a single man with a single plan to deal with. Perhaps it’s due to the globalization of communications and news: too many of us now know too much about what’s happening all over the planet…which of course results in lots of different opinions on how the US should be dealing with those happenings. Perhaps it really is time to have a greater democratic political voice in US foreign policy. That’s democratic voice with a small d, not a big D—meaning the people (the demos) should have a bigger voice, not just the Democratic Party. Perhaps it’s time the US considers altering is ‘un-alterable’ system to allow more room for other voices in the foreign policy arena.
Ah, the good old days of foreign policy…before global communications and global news updated second to second, and before the widespread accessibility of all kinds of information…the government of any state could so easily dictate foreign policy on behalf of its citizens, because by and large their citizen were totally clueless about what was happening in the world. I’m sure it made things much easier on the rulers. They didn’t really need to explain their actions to the masses; they could make up any story that they wanted…and hell, some rulers even made up the results of their actions regardless of reality. I’m sure many US Presidents of the last decades have yearned for those good old days. But they are gone. Dead and buried my friends. So what is the future?
That I do not know. But the Speaker in Syria has opened a can of worms that will never be closed again. From now on, look for more and more high-ranking government officials to be very assertive in their US foreign policy moves, even if their actions are not condoned by the White Hose. It will also be used more as a political tool of in-fighting between the political parties from here on out too.
There are many parliamentary democracies around the globe that have a prime minister position—think Tony Blair or Dr. Manmohan Singh. In many of these systems, the President of the country deals with domestic issues, while the Prime Minister is the foreign policy guru that deals with all the international issues. Perhaps its time for a republic like the US to experiment with such a division of labor. Is it really realistic in the 21st century to think one person can do it all? Yeah, yeah, I know the President has his Cabinet, but let’s be honest: those are just a bunch of lackeys towing the line on the President’s policies. They don’t stray too far off the path. (That’s one of the reasons Colin Powell quit a few years ago—he was too assertive.)
Anyway, that’s the rant for now. The Plaid thinks that perhaps we need a Prime.
Prime Minister of Plaid….Hmmmmmm….I wonder if I would get my own jet?
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