The Plaid Avenger

Plaidcast  |  East Asia-Pacific

World Pissing Match: Russia Pisses Off US; US Pisses Off China & Turkey; Turkey Pisses Off Iraq,

Always better to be pissed off than pissed on!Hello hello hello again plaid party people! Too many good stories to choose from today…so let’s talk about them all! In a first for the Avenger, we will tie together a trifecta of titillating tidbits with the tantalizing tie between then being irritation. Pissed to be exact! It seems today is the day that most major powers on the planet decided to simultaneously piss in each other’s corn flakes! How hilarious! All in a day’s work I suppose, so let’s get to this summary…shall we? 

Russia, Iran harden against West

Bush warns Putin over ‘World War Three’

For starters, one of the planet’s bad asses of all time Vlad ‘the man’ Putin of Russia decided to pay a visit to his homies down in Iran.  Ha! Russia has homies? Not likely! Nonetheless, Putin was visiting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…and he even met with the grand poo-bah of Shia Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei! Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall during that fascinating conversation? Yeah, me neither.  Let’s recreate the dialogue:


Talk about a sweet party! What fun!Putin: Great to meet you, Supreme Leader of Iran…got any vodka to drink?
Ayatollah: Allah be praised, you Russian infidel. We don’t drink alcohol in my country.
Putin: Oh. Well, that’s okay. In my country most Muslims and foreigners in general are discriminated against. Hell, we’ve been blowing up Chechen Muslims for years.
Ayatollah: Hmmm… I see.  Well, we don’t really have anything in common, do we?
Putin: Um…nope. Not really. Oh wait! Would you like me to show you some Judo?
No. That would be gay. And we don’t have any gay people in my country either.
:Oh. Um. Then I guess we don’t have much to talk about…
—Long, uncomfortable silence—
Ayatollah: Well, there is always pissing off the Americans….
Putin: Oh yeah! We are good at that! Let’s work together on that point …what did you have in mind?

Which brings us back to the topic at hand.  Let’s get to the pissed part…After talking with President Ahmadinejad, Putin declared that Russia does not support the American assertion that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. And in fact Russia believes that Iran only wants nuclear technology to produce energy, and Russia is going to help them do it.  In addition, Russia has hinted that they are not going to allow any more stricter UN sanctions on Iran (remember, Russia is a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council—they can stop any further sanctions on the spot), and have outright suggested that the US needs to stop its ‘saber-rattling’ tactics by threatening war. Damn! This is seriously pissing off the US!
On top of that, Russia and Iran just wrapped up a summit of ‘Caspian Sea nations’ in which they all signed a declaration which prohibits any other country on the planet from using their states for This is now the attacks on one another “under any circumstances”.  Caspian summit a triumph for Iran You get that? Read between the lines: In other words, all those countries agree that they will not help the US, the EU, or even the UN launch an attack on Iran. These countries include Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan (see map). Damn! They are outright telling the US and the world to piss off when it comes to any war on Iran! More rage for the US!

So President Bush is so pissed that he is suggesting that this may be a lead up to WW3! Ha! Dude! Chill out! There are a couple of things that someone should suggest to the Americans to calm them down:

1)Under the NPT (the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), developing nuclear technology for power creation is totally acceptable. Iran is a signatory to this treaty, so as long as they are playing by the rules, so should you. I know you don’t like it, but you are going to have to live with it

2)Let’s go ahead and run with the US assumption that Iran really only wants nuke technology to make a bomb. Let’s assume they make a bomb.  Hell, let’s even assume they launch that bomb at Israel, since the Americans are fully convinced that this will happen.  Why would the Iranians do this, since it totally assures that their country will become a smoldering, radioactive wasteland after the US and France and the UK retaliate with overwhelming force? Doesn’t make much sense. Does it?

To be fair to the US, that is an oversimplified analysis, and there other issues to be considered…namely the fear that an Iranian nuke bomb would spark a Middle Eastern arms race.  Fair enough. That is a valid point. If Iran gets a nuke, then Saudi Arabia is going to want a nuke, and Syria will then want a nuke, etc.  So if that is what you US guys truly believe, then why don’t you actually come out and say it? Enough with the ‘Iran is going to kill us all’ bullshit.

Apparently the US is even more pissed because they can’t do much about these Russia-Iranian developments right now.  So the US decided to piss off someone else instead….

U.S. honor for Dalai Lama angers China

Bush dismisses Chinese criticism over Dalai Lama

In honoring the Dalai Lama, the US is seriously pissing off China.  Don’t know why that is? Check out an earlier Plaid Avenger insight into China‘s fear of the Lama at Dalai Lama at Oktoberfest? Let’s Get Enlit!  Now China is pissed at the US because anytime anybody even so much as meets with the Lama (much less give him a damn medal!), the Chinese interpret that as giving the Dalai too much ‘street cred’…and China’s ultimate fear is that if everyone in the world thinks the Dalai Lama is legit, then he will have the power to demand an independent Tibet. All I can say to the Chinese is: bullshit! That is never going to happen dudes, so lighten up on the monk! But China remains pissed for today either way….but they are not alone…

Turkey is also pissed at the US because of that proposed ‘recognition of the Armenian Genocide’ Turkish troops feeling left out of all the fun….and are now ready to invade Iraq with the other kids!bill that made its way through a House committee last week.  See Turkey is Steamed and Ready; but this ain’t no Thanksgiving for US  I reported on that shit a few days back from the Turk-Iraq border, and the shit is heating up even more! While I was there, about 50,000-60,000 Turkish troops with a butt load of tanks and guns were amassing.  They are about ready to get the party started. What party? The invasion of Iraq to track down some Kurdish terrorists. 

Turks’ vote backs right to use force inside Iraq

Turkey votes to send troops into northen Iraq

And Turkey is still so pissed about that US committee vote, that they Turkish parliament went ahead and voted 507 to 19 to allow the armed forces to launch a cross-border assault against Kurdish insurgents based in northern Iraq. The 19 that voted ‘no’ were probably taken out back for a ass-whoopin’ shortly after the proceedings. Ordinarily, the US and Turkey are such strong allies that the US probably would have been able to talk them out of any aggressive actions in Iraq.  But the Turks are simply pissed! Too pissed to listen to the Americans now…

And it goes without saying that the Iraqis are pissed about these Turkish developments…

Angry Iraqi Kurds say Turkish move would destabilise region

Iraq Kurds warn Turkey against ‘illegal’ incursion vote

Kurds ‘will fight Turkish raids’

Although Iraq is pretty much a basket case, and barely a functioning government, they have voiced their serious pissed-off-ness about the idea that Turkey may invade their ‘sovereign’ state.  Sovereign? Ha! How hilarious is that? Isn’t there like troops from 20 different countries in Iraq? And the whole place is on the brink of civil war…if not fully already in one?

Despite the current Iraqi predicament, the idea of yet another country sending in troops is seriously Kurdish areas in multiple states…northern Iraq in particularpissing them off…particularly since the northern part of Iraq (where the Turks plan to invade to route out the PKK terrorists) is one of the only stable parts of the country right now! And northern Iraq is composed mostly of ethnic Kurds, and the Turks are coming in to hunt down a group of radical Kurds.  If the Turks do come in, and accidentally kill a bunch of innocent Kurds while trying to kill the ‘bad’ PKK Kurds….OMG there will be hell to pay! That would spark a shit storm of open warfare in the region! The place may quickly get as nasty as the Bagdad region!

The party is already raging across southern Iraq…why not get it hot up north?And the prospect of that seriously pisses off the US!  The US has its hands full already trying to calm down the rest of the Iraq, where most of the conflict centers on sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shia Muslims…fueled by local Sunni extremist, outside terrorist forces like Al-Qaeda, and even next-door-neighbor Iran which funnels in ammo and aid to the Shias. Damn! The US would be pissed about the Turks getting the northern region as hot as the south already is!

Simply pissed!

And now we have come full circle in our pissing match for the day.  Those world leaders certainly have been busy boys today, infuriating each other like its going out of style!

And they are pissed!

Japan Unearths Fukuda Fossil, Promotes it to Prime Minister

Prime Minister Fukuda: the newest, oldest Japanese leader

Holy shit! Sorry for the absence my Plaid Friends….but somehow I just woke up in a Toyko back alley, ringside at an illegal sumo competition in which competitors wrestle to the death while simultaneously engaged in an all-you-can-eat sushi showdown.  And the fish wraps and fat rolls are flying! Dudes, you do not want to get in-between a sumo and his sushi.  What an event!  Unfortunately, the last thing I remember was going head to head with Vladimir Putin doing caviar-vodka bombs outside Moscow…but that was about four days ago I think….My, how time flies.  However, this is a fortuitous touch down in Toyko, because I have been meaning to introduce you to the newest world leader of note…our main Japanese squeeze, Prime Minister Fukuda:

Japan PM sets out policy agenda

Japan May Cut Support of Afghan Mission

DIAM says new Prime Minister Fukuda positive for Japan

Fukuda Is More Pragmatic Than Former PM

Japan PM Fukuda likely to build on Abe’s Asia policy

Where's the Viagra I was promised?Fukuda? Sounds like a Japanese curse word.  I love it man!  But I’ve heard that you folks are prepping for a mid-term exam, so I’ll keep this rant brief. Yasuo Fukuda is this ancient-ass dude (he’s 71 years old) who just replaced Shinzo Abe as the Prime Minister of Japan.  Back up the sake cart for a second.  What happened to Abe? You remember me ranting about Abe in the past, yes? 

Poor Abe.  He had a rough year to say the least.  After riding into the Prime Minister position on the coat-tails of his extremely popular predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, ‘Honest’ Abe just kept getting the shit kicked out of him from the word go.  His administration was beset by multiple scandals (most of which started before Abe even took office); he took a public pounding for downplaying Japanese war atrocities during WWII (specifically, the use of Korean ‘comfort women’ aka indentured sex slaves); and then his political party got smacked down in the 2007 elections (in which they essentially lost control of the upper house of the Diet—which is the Japanese ‘Congress’).


But the final straw came about a month ago when it became clear that the Diet was not going to pass Abe’s request to continue to use Japanese naval vessels to support the US‘s campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan. And Abe just had enough.  He threw down the gauntlet and proclaimed that if the Japanese support for the US (a major component of Abe’s foreign policy) was going to be voted down, then he might as well quit, since not shit else was likely to get passed.  And that is exactly what he did.  Abe bailed. And then he immediately checked into a hospital because he was so stressed out that he was physically falling apart. Damn! Hold it together Abe!

Following Abe’s resignation in September 2007, our new boy Fukuda announced that he would run in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership election, which would also Fukuda: LDP head, Head of State, and seriously large state of forehead!determine the prime minister, given the LDP’s majority in the House of Representatives. Just so you know: the LDP would be the equivalent of the Republican Party in the US: a socially and fiscally conservative, center-right political party.  And the LDP has been large and in charge of Japanese politics for most of the post-WWII period.  Like almost all of it.  Almost every Prime Minister has been LDP, and LDP has held the majority seats in the Diet for 50 years too. They have been very popular…which is why their big electoral loss under Shinzo Abe was such a big deal!

So Fukuda won the LDP party leadership, and then instantaneously was formally elected as Japan‘s 91st prime minister on September 25.  Fukuda and his cabinet were formally sworn in by Emperor Akihito on September 26.  Okay, well that’s the basics about how it went down…but who the hell is this dude and what is he likely to be up to in the next year?

Fukuda sez: Abe was a wuss! I'll take over from here….

Prime Minister Fukuda has inherited the split Congress situation from Abe, but is known to be a dude who can quietly get folks working together—a unifier.  He is already distanced from all of Abe’s troubles, so he stands a better chance of getting the government to work with him, and stands a much better chance of getting some of the LDP’s legislation through.  But make no bones about it: the Diet is split, so he will have to work hard to get things passed, and many folks in the opposing political party are already promising to make his life suck, just like they did to Abe.

Specifically referenced in a story above, the issue of continued Japanese naval support for the US in Afghanistan still seems destined to fail. Remember: this is the issue that Abe resigned over! And if Fukuda can’t get it passed, then he will have egg on his face too! Why?

Because Japan is a huge US ally, and the LDP leadership in particular are big fans of the Bush Supporter of US foreign policy. And you could land a small aircraft of his forehead.administration (both political parties are conservative, right-center). And sending those Japanese troops to help the US in the first place was not only a big sign of support for US foreign policy, but was a huge freakin’ deal in Asia because it was the first time that Japanese troops had been used anywhere outside Japan since WWII! It was a very big deal! To pull back support for the US at this critical stage in those campaigns will be a big loss of face for the US and the Japanese leadership. 

FYI: Most Japanese folks did not support the use of their troops abroad, as they interpreted this as counter-intuitive to their pacifist constitution which bans the use of an active military for anything other than self-defense of the island nation itself. The Japanese leadership was compelled to do it anyway as a sign of support for its #1 ally, the US.

On a more positive front, Fukuda will likely continue the work of his predecessor Abe in mending ties with Asia countries, specifically China and the Koreas.  There has been bad blood between Japan and all other Asian countries ever since Japan‘s imperial takeover started prior to WWII. Japan pretty much owned/controlled Korea and large parts of China and SouthEast Asia, and Japanese war atrocities are still very much remembered in these places.  Prime Minister Fukuda will be working hard to remedy this situation.

Is this the bus to China? I want to mend ties….no, I mean diplomatic ties, not stylish neckwear!

Plaid Avenger tip: watch for Fukuda to take numerous trips to neighboring Asian countries in an effort to better diplomatic relations—and I’ll bet he does way more Asian partying than any Prime Minister before him. Especially if his domestic agenda gets smacked down by the Diet. When a leader gets stymied at home, the best ones simply go abroad and work on their foreign policy…and he may be old, but Fukuda ain’t no fool.

To finish this rant, allow me to point out a specific policy which demonstrates Fukuda’s much more open policy to dialogue with Asia.  One of his most noted policy goals is to end prime ministerial visits to Yasukuni Shrine. [Find out more: Japanese whacko gives Abe the finger…LITERALLY!] In June 2006, Fukuda joined 134 other lawmakers in proposing a secular alternative to the shrine. Why? Because visiting that particular shrine always pisses off Japan‘s neighbors, and Fukuda is openly saying: “Hey, we don’t want to piss you guys off! We want to be better friends!”

So know you know a little about this Fukuda dude.  And you need to know this guy! He does lead the second largest economy on earth, is a huge US ally, and is trying to quietly change Japan‘s role in an Asian situation that continues to grow in global importance every day! And from the looks of him, can party all nite and is a chick-magnet. Look at that sweet forehead man! How can the ladies resist that party animal?

Fukuda: He’s old, but not dead yet. And I hear that Viagra also sharpens your political skills…..hmmmmm….I’ve got to party with this dude.

The State Can Take It or Leave It: Nationalization v. Privatization

Putin holds cards on Russian oil…but he's not aloneWhat is happening my plaid party people?  The Avenger decided to stay on here in Russia for another day to work off my wicked Putin-induced vodka martini hangover…and to investigate the nationalization of Russian oil; a process that has also been going down in Kazakhstan, in Bolivia, and in Venezuela too.  And man, the US and other western countries get pissed about nationalization—they only want to hear about privatization!  What’s that? You don’t recognize these terms? Well, you’ve got to know about this shit to understand the world my affable and affluent amigos! Start learning the ins and outs of economic control with these stories:

How Russia is Nationalized: The Oil Sector

Zimbabwe Votes to Take Control of Foreign-Owned Mines

Exxon pursues arbitration against Venezuela over seizure of oil assets

Chavez threatens to nationalize Venezuelan private schools

Bolivian President Seizes Gas Industry

…and the opposite side of the coin:

Japan begins privatization of its mammoth postal system

Activists Oppose Egyptian Healthcare Privatization

Iran to Privatize Airline, Banks

India’s Privatization Plan Is On Track

So what’s the deal with these two terms? They are polar opposites my friends, and folks around the planet have passionate views about the good or evil effects that nationalization or privatization can produce. People get downright hot and bothered about these terms!  And in some circumstances, initiating these actions has caused political dissent, diplomatic friction, or outright violent hostilities between peoples, companies, and even countries! Damn! Why so much heat? First…what are they?

Nationalization is a process whereby a government takes control of an economic activity that was owned by and/or run by private individuals/companies hands. It could be transportation, corn, water, uranium, or even bananas…but usually it happens to high-dollar commodities.  For example: Exxon acquires rights thru a government contract to pump shit tons of oil out of selected oil fields in Venezuela.  Exxon Hugo takin' over the bubblin' crude…and Exxon is pissed!goes there and sets up shop, building infrastructure like the oil wells and pipelines, and starts pumping and exporting oil. But then Hugo Chavez gets elected President of Venezuela and decides that Exxon is making too much money on that oil, and since the oil is actually in his country, he decides to take it back. All of it. So Hugo would nationalize the field, along with all the infrastructure that’s now on it, and send Exxon packing. Can you dig that?

But it never really works that simply.  Even in this Venezuela/Exxon example (which actually happened) Hugo didn’t simply just kick Exxon out and take their shit; he offered to buy back their shares and their investments at a fair market value.  Sometimes the parties have to go to court to negotiate these settlements (see Exxon story above). Nationalization of an industry often involves the government simply re-writing all prior contracts with the companies in such a way that the state owns more than 50% of the action.  But make no bones about it: if the companies refuse to co-operate or sell back their shares, then the state will just take the shit from them!

And OMG nationalization so completely pisses off ‘the West’…especially the US!  Why? Well, where do you think all the big multinational corporations are from? That’s right! Most of those companies doing business abroad (and that get their shit nationalized) are from the US/Europe. So those countries feel obliged to stick up for the rich dudes who lost their shit. Sometimes they fell so obliged that they might invade the country, or even assassinate the leader who oversaw the nationalization. Or in the case of Chavez…threaten to.  Sound crazy? Yeah, it is.

So why would a state do this nationalization gig? Sometimes its done to protect a critical industry in times of war or emergency (some countries have nationalized steel during wartimes); sometimes its done because the industry is a matter of national security (Israel runs its airline industry); sometimes its done to an industry that is floundering and about to crash on its own (perhaps the US/health care issue).  But more often than not, a state will reclaim rights on an industry that it feels it’s getting ripped off in.  Stick with the oil example: when Exxon or Shell or anybody else is pumping oil out of Venezuela or Nigeria, the corporation is making the lion’s share of the profits. The Avenger will just make up some numbers to help you get the point:

Let’s say a barrel of crude sells for $50 on the international market; Exxon may pay $5 toWhat's a few billion barrels between friends? Venezuela for every barrel pumped out, thus leaving $45 for their own pockets.  But people in Venezuela may say: “WTF?” “It’s oil from out country….but we only get 1/10 of the sale?  That is a shitty deal!” And if enough folks in the government think that way, then they may make moves to nationalize the oil industry and rework the system to get more of the cash. Does that make sense? Venezuela did it. Russia did it. Bolivia did it.  Kazakhstan is thinking about it. 

Oh, by the way, did you see President Evo Morales of Bolivia on the Daily Show with John Stewart last Evo sez: week? Totally hilarious! And Evo referenced why he decided to nationalize his countries oil and natural gas: “On the issue of nationalization of oil and gas,” Morales said, “in 2005, before I came president, the Bolivian state received only 300 million dollars from its oil and gas exports. And now since they’ve been nationalized, the Bolivian state receives more than two billion dollars. Therefore, we followed through on what we promised.”

Are you starting to realize why this is happening at this particular juncture in history, particularly in the energy sectors?  If you answered: ‘because the price of oil is freakin’ high, and expected to get even higher’ than you win the prize! Oil producing states see the future sales going nowhere but up, and want to have a bigger slice of the pie for themselves.  Oil is one of those special commodities that kind of defies free market capitalism–in that lots of states control their industry as opposed to letting private individuals run the show. See map below for a few countries of note… And while die-hard capitalist countries claim that governments cannot run industries as well as private corporations, those states that are controlling their oil do seem to be making a holy shit load of cash right now…despite the fact that the private industry isn’t in charge.  And speaking of private….

nationalized countries of note…

Privatization is precisely the opposite of nationalization: it’s when a state sells off an industry or I'm not even sure what the hell this means…but I like it!!!business that it controls to a private entity, most often a company/corporation.  Look to the above story from Japan for your best example of that right now: Japan sold its postal system to a private company. Wow!  The whole damn post office! Why would countries sell an asset like the post office or the telecom industry? Because most free-market capitalist societies believe that private individuals and businesses simply run things better. That’s the bottom line.

The theory goes like this: because private entities are motivated to maximize profits, they will do a better job making an industry like a post office more efficient, or they will work harder to find more oil, and are more flexible to invent new technologies and try new approaches which make the business run the best. Remember: one of the golden rules of capitalism is that competition will weed out the least efficient, and the better mousetrap will win every time. Folks of this opinion believe that governments are clunky, inefficient—and because they don’t have to compete with anybody—are uncompetitive! No shit? Lack of competition makes you become uncompetitive? Yeah, I can dig that!

Places like India and China have just figured this stuff out in the last couple of decades, and are Ha! I wonder why India wanted to privatize the train system? …And who would be dumb enough to buy it???privatizing like mad right now. India has recently privatized its transportation system, its telecommunications system, and anything else it can get its hands on to sell! China too has increasingly let out the reigns on its prior control of everything economic (during its botched attempt at communism) and that place is a venerable wild west of capitalism! Even Iran is in the privatization game…and they usually despise all ideas that are western in origin. There must be something to it!

And its not like the governments simply privatize the industry and then just walk away poorer for the experience. Capitalist theory would suggest that not only does the state make money on the initial sale of the industry, but in the long run will make way more in profits by simply taking a cut of the profits and/or taxing the service/product. Since private business will do it better, there will be more oil or more uranium or more corn or more stamped letters to tax…therefore the state makes more money! And without having to actually spend money running the damn show! You dig?

Does it sound like I’m picking sides on this nationalize/privatize debate? Don’t be fooled. The Plaid Avenger is here to tell you this: this is complicated shit, and there is no wrong or right side here.  It really goes on a case by case basis in my book. Does private industry typically do shit better than government-run shit? Absolutely! Are some countries getting totally reamed by some private corporations? Absolutely! Are some states unfairly grabbing shit from corporations whose time and investments made the industry profitable in the first place? Absolutely! Are some multinational corporations total scumbags who use their money and power to corrupt and control industries within a state? Ab-so-fucking-lutely!

So pay attention to which states are selling, and which states are buying, their industries.  And also pay attention to which industries are up for grabs.  You will hear a lot in the US about the possible nationalization of health care; in India about the privatization of telecoms; in Russia about the Godzilla Hotties? What will the Japanese think of next?nationalization of the oil industry; and in Japan the privatization of the post…and now you know what that shit means, but more importantly, why it is happening…

I just hope I can still get my damn collectable Godzilla stamps in Toyko…even if it is from a private vendor… 

10,000 + 8888 = ‘Ta-Ta’ To Than Shwe?

Holy shit! We got game on again here in Burma, and leave it to a bunch of Buddhist monks top get Ta-Ta Than! I hear that have a spot saved for you…in hell!  Say 'hi' to Stalin for me!this party started! 10,000 monks to be exact. And they are starting to get open support from the masses too…in a situation that is becoming eerily similar to the 8888 Uprising—remember that?  This is a Plaid Avenger update story, since I have just reported from Burma week before last, so if you don’t know 8888 or the background…then check this first:  Junta Jackasses Manhandling Monks?

Even as good as I am, I never would have predicted this crazy whack turn of events.  Monks making my girl Aung San Suu Kyi cry? Wow. Totally insane. General Than Shwe and his band of merry merchants of death are up against the ropes to be sure….and the time may be right for their well-deserved departure.  But don’t count those assholes out just as yet, because they have a long history of crushing their own citizenry.  But first, to the news…

Protests swell against Burma’s military regime

Burma march largest in 20 years

Suu Kyi greets Burma protesters

Regional perspective: UN Security Council: The real battle on Burma

ASEAN leader appeals for restraint amid Myanmar’s growing anti-government protests

Go get'em boys!So what the hell has been going on this weekend, and why might this be the right time for us to say ‘ta-ta’ to Than Shwe? As seen from the stories above and the Plaid Avenger’s previous rant, the Burmese Buddhists have had enough, and have organized and taken to the streets.  This all started as a protest over a hike in fuel process a month ago, but as predicted by the Plaid, has become a general movement across the country to get rid of the ruling military junta jack-asses, and finally implement freedom and democracy for the Burmese people.  Sweet! Go guys go!

In a complete surprise move, they marched past Aung San Suu Kyi’s domicile, where our favorite freedom-fighter-hottie has been held in house-arrest for most of the past 15 years—and Suu Kyi came out to greet them, said nothing, but just wept for joy! Damn! These people are facing certain death and destruction, and they just keep putting themselves out there! How awesome!

So the monks are on the march, and are now saying that they will go on protesting indefinitely until the junta is jettisoned.  A bunch of holy dudes without any weapons at all are preparing to face up against the Generals, who of course control the entire army. And you know what happens when dudes without guns fight dudes with guns….so this could turn nasty at any given second.  So why hasn’t it yet?

Because the Generals don’t want to appear to be the butcher bastards that they actually are.  Buddhist monks, like holy men in most places, are revered in Burma.  The last thing the Generals want transmitted across the airwaves of the world are images of the military massacring monks.  That just usually looks really bad.  On top of that, Hang in there Suu Kyi! The end may be near!a monk massacre may in fact incite the masses to go completely nuts and tear the government to bits.  And make no bones about it: those monks know what they are doing…and they are apparently every bit prepared to face the guns and die for their cause.

So the Generals are in a real tricky spot right now…. They don’t want to appear weak, otherwise the fighters for freedom will be embolden to do more, and at the same time don’t want to get into a monk-mayhem-massacre to establish their authority. So they are doing nothing for now. But do not start the celebrations yet—if those assholes get put up against a wall, they will order the massacre of every man, woman and child in Burma. Yes, they are that cold-blooded and ruthless; their history speaks for itself.  But the Avenger is extremely hopeful that this Burmese uprising may unfold differently than in times past, for reasons I want you to know…

So why might it actually be time for change in Burma? Why might it be time for Than to take a permanent vacation…hopefully to hell?

1) We live in the modern world. Communications are now instantaneous and global. If the junta starts widespread massacres, the entire world will know about it immediately.  And due to global news sources, a lot more people know about the Burmese situation and are following its every move…unlike ever before. They could get away with that shit 20 years ago without anybody knowing about it, but not anymore.

2) The junta DOES NOT want the bad press. Burma is a UN member, but more importantly, a member of ASEAN—which is a powerful regional trade block. ASEAN has already criticized the junta in the past, and some members already want Burma out of the block.  If they start doing bad shit, the UN, ASEAN and even APEC will not be happy with the regime, which is going to have political and economic ramifications. And finally, the big reason it may be time for change…

3) China may bail.  China has stuck up for the regime for decades under a bullshit umbrella theory that sovereignty trumps all (you know what I’m saying here, right world watchers? we’ve discussed this China sovereignty infatuation in the past).  China also has protected the Burmese regime in order to limit ‘western’/democratic influence in its immediate neighborhood.  But China wants to be considered a legit and noble world power on par with the US. If a massacre begins, China is not going to want to stick up for those assholes, and thus ruin their own reputation.

But maybe you are asking, ‘Why now?’ ‘Why would China change their attitude now?’ Answer: China has only come into its own as a world power in the last decade. And the Burmese junta has been fairly well-behaved in that same decade—mostly because there have been no major uprisings in the last decade. So if a massacre ensues, this will be the first time in the modern era that China will have to decide if they want to protect a pack of monk-killing maniacs. 

The Plaid Avenger instinct is that they will not.  Remember, China’s reputation is already on the ropes from all the shitty products that they have been exporting here lately, and they are hosting the Olympics—so trust me, the Chinese DO NOT want any Than Shwe tarnish on their reputation right now; they are going to bail if killing starts!

And that would be the one big thing that would end this Burmese mess once and for all—for China to stop shielding them.  The US and the UK have wanted to have UN involvement in Burma for decades, but since China is on the Permanent Security Council Burmese monks: Bad-ass holy men.the issue has always been killed before it could come up.  With the Frenchies now on Team US/UK, you can be sure that if a massacre starts in Burma, the US will put forward a resolution condemning the junta and possibly suggesting UN action.  And I’m betting China may go along with it too to save face. Damn! Its amazing how hosting the Olympics changes a country’s behavior! Just think about this: if China were to protect the Burmese junta after a massacre now, it would not surprise me to see a lot of western countries boycott the Olympics! That would cause serious embarrassment for my main man Hu! China don’t want that! And that’s why they will bail from the Burmese bastards!

But speaking of western countries, its time for me to change out of my plaid Buddhist robes and head back west to Germany because Oktoberfest is starting! Hell yes! But wait, maybe I’ll keep my robes on, because there is a famous Buddhist partying in Germany already! Sweet! Time to get my Buddhist/Oktoberfest drink on!

Go get’em monks!

Permanent Possessors of Power: the Fabulous 5!

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 UN Headquarters…and a great place to party with ladies from across the globe!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 What? Get the hell out of there Superman! You ain't one of the 5!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 Flags of the 5: and they are PERMANENT baby!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.

Colin Powell at the Council: 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 Sarkozy: 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 Chinaeveryone 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?


Page 12 of 15 pages ‹ First  < 10 11 12 13 14 >  Last ›

Keep in Touch with Plaid Updates

Get the University Textbook

The Plaid Avenger's World

Are you a college professor teaching World Regions or Global Political classes? Pick up the cutting edge, most entertainly educating textbook currently on the market.


Get the Comic Books

Issue 2: Battle For Burma

Well, the battle for the heart and soul of this country is on, but no one outside Burma seems to be able to do a damn thing about it! Why not?

click to profile Moon Jae-in Moon Jae-in President
click to profile Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Macron President
click to profile António Guterres António Guterres Secretary-General
click to profile Bill English Bill English Prime Minister
click to profile Qamar Bajwa Qamar Bajwa Chief of Army Staff
click to profile Paolo Gentiloni Paolo Gentiloni Prime Minister
click to profile James Mattis James Mattis Secretary of Defense
click to profile Rex Tillerson Rex Tillerson Secretary of State
click to profile Michael Pence Michael Pence Vice President
click to profile Donald Trump Donald Trump President
click to profile Lee Hsien Loong Lee Hsien Loong Prime Minister
click to profile Malcolm Turnbull Malcolm Turnbull Prime Minister
click to profile Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg Secretary General
click to profile Muhammadu Buhari Muhammadu Buhari President
click to profile Tsai Ing-wen Tsai Ing-wen President
click to profile Htin Kyaw Htin Kyaw President
click to profile General Prayut Chan-o-cha General Prayut Chan-o-cha Prime Minister
click to profile Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte President
click to profile Ashraf Ghani Ashraf Ghani President
click to profile Haider al-Abadi Haider al-Abadi Prime Minister
click to profile Alexis Tsipras Alexis Tsipras Prime Minister
click to profile Andrzej Duda Andrzej Duda President
click to profile Petro Poroshenko Petro Poroshenko President
click to profile Mauricio Macri Mauricio Macri President
click to profile Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Pedro Pablo Kuczynski President
click to profile Michel Temer Michel Temer President
click to profile Justin Trudeau Justin Trudeau Prime Minister
click to profile Teresa May Teresa May Prime Minister
click to profile Ashton Carter Ashton Carter Secretary of Defense
click to profile Joko Widodo Joko Widodo President
click to profile Leung Chun-ying Leung Chun-ying Chief Executive
click to profile Sheikh Hasina Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister
click to profile Raheel Sharif Raheel Sharif Chief of Army Staff
click to profile Juan Carlos Varela Juan Carlos Varela President
click to profile Sergei Lavrov Sergei Lavrov Foreign Affairs Minister
click to profile Narendra Modi Narendra Modi Prime Minister
click to profile Matteo Renzi Matteo Renzi Prime Minister
click to profile Nawaz Sharif Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister
click to profile Hassan Rouhani Hassan Rouhani President
click to profile Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Abdel Fattah el-Sisi President
click to profile Nicolás Maduro Nicolás Maduro President
click to profile Janet Yellen Janet Yellen 15th Chair of the Federal Reserve
click to profile Tony Abbott Tony Abbott Prime Minister
click to profile Uhuru Kenyatta Uhuru Kenyatta President
click to profile Chuck Hagel Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense
click to profile John Kerry John Kerry Secretary of State
click to profile Pope Francis Pope Francis Pope
click to profile The Muslim Brotherhood The Muslim Brotherhood ~
click to profile Li Keqiang Li Keqiang Premier
click to profile John Key John Key Prime Minister
click to profile Shinzō Abe Shinzō Abe Prime Minister
click to profile Park Geun-hye Park Geun-hye President
click to profile Enrique Peña Nieto Enrique Peña Nieto President
click to profile Hailemariam Desalegn Hailemariam Desalegn Prime Minister
click to profile Yoweri Museveni Yoweri Museveni President
click to profile Mwai Kibaki Mwai Kibaki Former President
click to profile Paul Kagame Paul Kagame President
click to profile Girma Wolde-Giorgis Girma Wolde-Giorgis President
click to profile Christine Lagarde Christine Lagarde Managing Director
click to profile Jim Yong Kim Jim Yong Kim President
click to profile Mohamed Morsi Mohamed Morsi Former President
click to profile Herman Van Rompuy Herman Van Rompuy President of the European Council
click to profile José Manuel Barroso José Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission
click to profile Tomislav Nikolić Tomislav Nikolić President
click to profile François Hollande François Hollande President
click to profile Thein Sein Thein Sein President
click to profile Mario Monti Mario Monti Prime Minister
click to profile Mariano Rajoy Mariano Rajoy Prime Minister
click to profile Kim Jong-un Kim Jong-un Heir leader
click to profile Yoshihiko Noda Yoshihiko Noda Prime Minister
click to profile Salva Kiir Salva Kiir President
click to profile Bronisław Komorowski Bronisław Komorowski President
click to profile Ollanta Humala Ollanta Humala President
click to profile Leon Panetta Leon Panetta Secretary of Defense
click to profile Ali Abdullah Saleh Ali Abdullah Saleh President
click to profile Abdelaziz Bouteflika Abdelaziz Bouteflika President
click to profile Alexander Lukashenko Alexander Lukashenko President
click to profile Rupert Murdoch Rupert Murdoch Chairman and CEO of News Corporation
click to profile Warren Buffett Warren Buffett CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
click to profile Liang Guanglie Liang Guanglie Minister for National Defense
click to profile Zhou Xiaochuan Zhou Xiaochuan Governor of the People's Bank
click to profile Ashfaq Kayani Ashfaq Kayani Former Chief of Army Staff
click to profile Jeffrey Immelt Jeffrey Immelt CEO
click to profile Li Changchun Li Changchun Propaganda Chief of China
click to profile King Abdullah II King Abdullah II King of Jordon
click to profile Alan Garcia Alan Garcia President
click to profile Ben Bernanke Ben Bernanke 14th Chairman of the Federal Reserve
click to profile Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Secretary of State
click to profile Xi Jinping Xi Jinping President
click to profile Robert Gates Robert Gates Secretary of Defense
click to profile Robert Zoellick Robert Zoellick President
click to profile Steve Jobs Steve Jobs Chairman and CEO, Apple Inc
click to profile Ricardo Martinelli Ricardo Martinelli President
click to profile Dilma Rousseff Dilma Rousseff President
click to profile Goodluck Jonathan Goodluck Jonathan President
click to profile Juan Manuel Santos Juan Manuel Santos President
click to profile Sebastián Piñera Sebastián Piñera President
click to profile Naoto Kan Naoto Kan Prime Minister
click to profile Julia Gillard Julia Gillard Former Prime Minister
click to profile David Cameron David Cameron Prime Minister