The Plaid Avenger

Plaidcast  |  East Asia-Pacific

US to ‘Cheesy Chen’: “Sit down and shut the hell up”

Hello again World Watchers! Had to toddle over to Taiwan to check out their totally titillating and 'Cheesy Chinesy' Chen Shui-bianturbulent 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 Chen: 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? 

Here it is: the isle of CheeseFor 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:

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 1972: Nixon mets Mao, and the 'One China Policy' takes effect….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.

Thumbs up for World War 3! Let's get this shit on!!

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.

Chen with grapefruit hat: a veritable mix of fruits and nuts!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!

Junta Jackasses Man-handling Monks? Shit, Someone Please Invade this State!!!

Greetings from Burma my plaid friends! The place was renamed Myanmar byNice place…shitty government. the  military dictator assholes who are currently crushing the country under an iron fist, so in the name of freedom, please always refer to this state as Burma: it’s first, true, and free name! But I get ahead of myself in this story, because quite frankly it pisses me off so much that it gets my panties in a bunch in a hot shit hurry!  I just covertly slid my plaid hydrofoil craft onto the beaches of Burma outside of Rangoon.  Why covertly?  Because the whack leaders of this crazy state have turned this tropical paradise into a full-fledged psychotic hell on earth—and they don’t take kindly to strangers…especially those that are dedicated fighters for freedom! The Plaid Avenger will strike this place with a fury that hell hath not known! But first, some news:

Myanmar junta deploys police at monasteries to contain monk protests

Burma junta snarls at West

Burma cracks down on Students group

Myanmar junta accuses top activists of terrorism

Myanmar troubles Apec

So what you can see from the stories above is that Burma is currently entering a state of crisis for Ready for action! Burmese army trains vigorously to shoot unarmed monks!the government….but know this my plaid friends: it’s not the first crisis those assholes have encountered! Folks are starting to take to the streets to protest the doubling of fuel prices in the country that happened last week.  And the military dictators in charge are responding as usual: by sending the army and police to arrest, or beat the shit out of, or outright kill the student protestors, regular working class folks, and even Buddhist monks! I’m sorry, but any government that kills college students and monks is just a pack of freakin’ shit-hounds in the Avenger’s eyes! Beating up college co-ed hotties? There is no excuse! Assholes! The lot of them! That’s why I refer to them as military ‘dick’-tators. Dammit! I’m fired up!!! But I digress as usual….back to the story:

The protests erupting across the country over fuel are being brutally suppressed, but you should be aware that what is happening right now is a repeat of past events.  This is not new material.  This pack of dick-tators has crushed, maimed, tortured and killed its citizens for over 45 years….especially the ones that have protested about anything, especially any kind of democratic reform. Hmmmm…perhaps we should back up the cart a little for you to understand this one…

Burma used to be part of the ‘British India’ colonial territorial holdings, which also included modern Original Burmese Hero: Aung Sanday India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.  The Brits gave up claim to these territories on in 1947, and thus began the history of the modern states of India and Pakistan…and of course our friends here in Burma.  The transitional government was headed up by a dude named Aung San [this is an important dude: note his name] who was leader of the army and a great national hero who was poised to lead his country into a new democratic age, when he was assassinated by political rivals/soon-to-be-dick-tators in late 1947. The wimpy government that assumed control only lasted about 15 years before an outright dick-tator named General Ne Win chucked them out in 1962, starting a 26-year rule of bullshit.

Original 'dick'-tator of Burma, Ne WinAnd I do mean bullshit. This asshole actually ordered the bombing of his own country’s universities man!  Under Ne Win’s reign, there were many crackdowns in which civilians and college students were terrorized and slaughtered. One of particular note was the ‘U Thant Uprising’ which occurred in 1974.

U Thant was a beloved Burmese academic who became the Secretary General of the UN. The Who the hell are U? , Oh, its U Thant!!!freakin’ UN man! But he was despised by the military junta back home, basically because they were jealous little bitches.  When U died and his body was sent back to Burma to be buried, the dick-tators refused to give him any honors, and were just going to dump his body in an unmarked grave.  A group of students actually stole the damn guys coffin, and set up a make-shift mausoleum on Rangoon University. The generals sent in the army to kill as many students as possible and take back the body.  Riots erupted in the streets at this action, so the dick-tators had to slaughter a bunch more folks to squash the uprisings. What a bunch of dics!

It would take a whole book to tell you about all the horrific shit these assholes have done, but I just want you to know one more reference in order to understand the events that are unfolding today….and that’s the ‘8888 Uprising.’ Yes my brothers and sista’s that’s right: its called the 8888, which makes it awfully easy to remember.  It stands for the events of August 8th, 1988 and it should make you pause to wonder why the West hasn’t invaded this damn country yet….

In a nutshell, by 1988 the mismanagement and political oppression brought to Burma by the dick-tators had taken its toll: Burma was one of the poorest most backwards nations on the planet. General Ne sucked so bad that even he had lost internal support and announced his retirement.  A peaceful pro-democracy movement quickly spread through the country, and people took to the streets to demand a voice in their government.  What they got instead was the living shit kicked out of them…

By 8-8-88, the movement erupted full-scale in Rangoon. Tens of thousands of students were joined by blue-collar workers, and families and even monks in the demonstrations. The Ne Win government fully collapsed, but was quickly replaced by the next dick-tator, General Saw Maung. Like father, like daughter….Gen. ‘Buzz-Saw’ Saw declared martial law and proceeded to cut down thousands and thousands of unarmed men, women and children and even monks in a hail of bullets from the military. What an asshole! [Go rent the movie Beyond Rangoon for a decent depiction of these events.] But enter a new figure: Aung San Suu Kyi.  Recognize the name? You should! She is the daughter of the most admirable Aung San, as mentioned above! And she is a hottie!

Aung San Suu Kyi returns to Burma after living abroad, and is so incensed about the 8888 Uprising, that she starts a campaign to bring democracy to Burma—a mission she is still on to this day! For two years she rallies the masses and organizes the peaceful movement of democratic change, and is extremely successful at it too!

Total freedom-fighting hottie!!What happens next is still a mystery even to me—and I was there man! I was so trying to hook up with Suu Kyi! But I digress… In 1990, the dick-tators for reasons unknown decided to allow an election and promised to allow the country to select the next government.  The elections were held, and SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratic party won in a complete freakin’ landslide!  Who the hell knows what the military dick-tators were thinking…I guess they radically over-estimated the “please we want to remain poor and fucked” voter demographic.

In any case, can you guess what happens next? That’s right: the dick-tators refused to recognize the results, arrested Suu Kyi, and went out and shot a bunch more of their own citizens just for good measure.  And Suu Kyi has pretty much been under military house arrest ever since.  And the country has pretty much been screwed ever since.  For her efforts, Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, and she has resolutely stayed on her mission for reform ever since. What a trooper! She is a serious fighter for truth, justice, and the democratic way! I get all teary-eyed just thinking about her!

Nice medals you ass!In 1992 the government was taken over by General Than Shwe, and that asshole is still in charge to this day. What a joke. Look at all his nice medals on his chest…I wonder if they get a new medal each time they kill another 1000 Burmese? He certainly didn’t win any of those cracker-jack prizes in a real military campaign, because no one in Burma has ever been in one. They have to be the only army in history whose ‘battle’ victories have all been won against unarmed people. Geez what a bunch of ass nuggets…

But to finish up this rant, know this: what comes around goes around.  And it looks like Burma is heading for another round.  As witnessed this week, after the government raised fuel prices, grassroots political protests are starting to get hot…and they are growing fast.  The initial protest may be over fuel, but just as in 8888, protest for real change is lying just under the surface.  And just like in 8888, the government has promised to brutally beat the shit out of its own people to keep them in their place.  But this time everyone is watching!  APEC and ASEAN are two different economic groups which have been putting the heat on the generals to behave, and you Americans should be particularly proud to note that your country has had a trade embargo against this asshole government for years in order to effect some political change.  Too bad the wussy Europeans and indifferent Chinese have not had the same hard -line as the US…which is why the junta has been able to survive and flourish for so long.  But if another 8888 occurs, even the Chinese may start to get antsy about trading with Burma.

So it looks like a Burmese face-off is in place, and ready to explode at any time.  And time may be running out for the dick-tators, especially if they start slaughtering folks again. But I won’t lie to you: they are bad-asses, and have basically promised a bloodbath, and have even bashed international voices that have been condemning them (i.e. the US).

Send in our boys! It should only take about 2 hours to win this one!Damn those Burmese bastards.  Didn’t the US invade Afghanistan and Iraq partly to spread democracy?  Well….what about Burma then?  They actually already had successful elections! Free Aung San Suu Kyi! Come on America! Do what you do best! Invade this country! De-throne these assholes!! Let freedom ring!!!

Australia fires starter pistol on Uranium Race! Nuclear Energy is blowing up!

Hopefully, there will be no pun intended in that headline, but I figured it might grab your attention.  Dammit! Ouch! Stop reading this blog so loudly! I’ve got a wicked APEC hangover, and I’ve had enough Foster’s Lager and kangaroo steaks to last a lifetime…but let’s press on to business…

Greetings again my plaid friends…I’m still down here, down and out, in ‘Down Under’ for one last report as a follow up to the big Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit which finished up yesterday.  I’m getting the Plaid Hydrofoil all fueled up, and the mini-bar stocked up, for my next mission which is taking me across the water to I'm shitting uranium folks! Come on down and make me an offer!Burma.  But in the fleeting moments of what I remember from the APEC festivities this weekend, I feel that I must tell you about a big global issue that is going down, and a lot of private meetings here in Sydney attest to these events….What am I referring to? Why, uranium of course! Now I’ve heard about rings around Uranus, but this is more about Uranium around the Rim….specifically, the Pacific Rim.  Dig this:

China wants a slice of the uranium cake

China signs deal for Australian uranium

Australian Uranium: The Indian Exception

Russia joins rush for Australian uranium

Japan joins the fray with push to secure uranium supply

Japan and Australia outline defense pact

Why would I suggest that these stories are big news?  Because the Plaid Avenger is here to tell you that all of these stories in combination are part of a new trend: the race to shift to nuclear energy has begun!  And this race is freakin’ ON my friends! Here’s the deal:

The world needs energy. Actually, people in the world and the world’s economies need energy to live, breath, survive and grow.  In today’s world, no energy: no nada! Most of the energy in today’s world is provided by fossil fuels…you know: oil, coal, and natural gas. But several factors are coming together to make fossil fuels less desirable: higher prices, global instability of supply (a lot of fossil fuels come from the Middle East; shit, can you get more unstable?), as well as new-found environmental concerns that burning fossil fuels is too polluting (wow! Really?) and contributes to global warming (what? Really?—no shit!). Given these big negatives, lots of folks are increasingly looking to nuclear power to fill the great energy demands of the 21st century globe.  But what the hell has that got to do with Australia? Or APEC? Or global warming?  Just this:

Australia: a uranium wonderland!1)Australia has 40% of the world’s uranium.  Damn! That’s almost half! They’ve got shit tons of uranium! And what do we use uranium for? To generate nuclear power of course….with a by-product being plutonium which is the main ingredient for nuclear bombs.  In a strange twist of fate, Australia is one of the few rich countries on the planet which does not generate any nuclear power whatsoever! How bizarre!

2)Australia has been very busy here lately selling uranium to all sorts of folks:

In a landmark deal that went down last month, Australia decided to make India an exception to the rule that it would not sell uranium to any country that had not signed the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). That treaty was created in 1968 for the intent of limiting nuclear weapon technologies—basically everyone who signs it promises not to develop nuke weapons, or disseminate nuke information. There are only 4 countries in the whole plaid planet that are not in it. Can you guess which ones? A: India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. Granted, five countries who signed the treaty already had nukes. Can you guess them too? A: US, UK, Russia, China, France. Altogether, these countries constitute what I call the NUKE NINE: all these guys have nukes, have tested nukes, or have developed something close to a nuke whether they admit it or not [Israel has never admitted; North Korea may have something close; all others are declared nuke holders]. But back to our Australian story…

Hell, we'll sell uranium to India!Australia, with urging from the US, has decided to go ahead and hook up India with the uranium goods. Why? India has a fast-growing economy which is going to demand much more energy…more energy every year, year after year, in perpetuity. Kind of like China.  And India is a democracy, which means the US wants to be their buddy.  In fact, the US, Australia, India and Japan are now forming up an Asian democracy club in order to have a strategic alliance to counter the growth of China. How sweet! The Axis of Asia!  But there is one last reason why the US/Australia team wants to sell more uranium to India…which brings us full circle back to our Australian story of what went down at APEC, and our 3#

3) Australia and the US are suddenly pushing hard for countries to start using more nuclear energy because it’s a cleaner fuel, and limits the effects of global warming. [Peaceful use of nuke energy is also the third pillar of the NPT.]  What? Those two damn countries refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which was an anti-CO2 emissions pact that has been out for years! What gives? I’m glad you asked.

Hell, we'll sell uranium to the Chinese….The US and Australia never signed Kyoto because they argued that they shouldn’t have to reduce CO2 emissions since China and India were exempt from reductions.  Why was that? Because the framers of Kyoto didn’t want to destroy the Asian giants’ economies by immediately forcing CO2 reductions. That was supposed to be worked in at a later date.  The US argued that the whole process was a joke since China and India would soon be the largest polluters on the planet…of course the top polluter spot is still claimed by the US itself!

Fast forward to APEC last week: the US and Australia have jointly unveiled a new plan to counter CO2 emissions, and guess what it is?  That’s right!!! Use more nuclear energy! How perfect! It does a whole bunch of stuff simultaneously: Provides energy for all the growing countries; provides cleaner energy, thus reducing CO2 and global warming; decreases reliance on the volatile Middle Eastern energy resources; and sells a shit-ton of Australian uranium, thus making them money! OMG I think John Howard just had an orgasm thinking about it.

Hell, we'll sell uranium to the Ruskies…Result: the US giving the green light for Australia to sell uranium to Russia for energy production, to its ally Japan for energy production, and even to India—in fact the US has already agreed to transfer all sorts of nuclear technologies to their ally India as well.  And here’s a real trick to the equation too: if a lot more countries start using nuclear power, that will decrease the demand on fossil fuels, which will ultimately mean the prices will go down…so people in the US can still keep driving their Hummers that get 2 MPG! It’s a freakin’ win-win-win for everybody man!

…or at least that’s the theory. We shall see how it turns out.  The Plaid Avenger just wants you to know this for now: the uranium race is officially on, and we are officially starting the nuclear energy age.  Like it or not, its coming!  By the time you are all grandparents, nuclear energy may be what fuels half the world. The race is on! Invest in nuke stocks my friends!

The race is on! But hopefully not to this….But hmmmmm…..what to do with all that leftover plutonium??? I’m sure somebody, somewhere will put it to use…..

On to the hydrofoil!…

APEC: a Peck of Pickled Pacific Presidents

4 Adjectives in Search of a NounHa! Say that shit seven times swiftly in Sydney! It’s the Plaid Avenger coming at you again from ‘Down Under’ reporting live at the APEC meeting to bring all my plaid friends up to speed on what the hell is going on n the world.  The meeting is still hot, and the booze is flowing as fast as fabricated vocabulary from George Bush’s lips…and I have to tell you, that guy can still do a serious inverted keg hit! Somebody told him that we were in the Southern Hemisphere, so he thought we all had to drink upside-down in order to get hammered! Dudes! This guy can party outside of the beltway!

But I digress as usual when I start getting buzzed with the Bushes… Today’s rant will be a quickie—I just want you to know what the hell APEC is, so dig this:

Fences, foes and farces: world view of APEC

APEC Nations Wrestle With Climate Change

Climate Change, Nuclear Power Central to APEC Meeting

APEC? OPEC? Thanks Austria!

There’s more to APEC than USA

APEC 2007 Homepage

APEC stands for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation—famously referred to as 4 adjectives in search of a noun. Ha! Too hilarious! And many think the grouping is just 21 countries in search of a mission.  And this year’s meeting in Sydney, Australia doesn’t seem to be helping clarify what this group is all about.  But let’s see if the Avenger can sort out some of the details for you….

The HOT 21st Century Ocean!

APEC consists of most…but not all…of the countries that border the vast Pacific Ocean.  Hmmmm….let’s see, we’ve got Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (which is China), Taiwan (which is China), Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United States, and Viet Nam.  These entities are referred to as “Member Economies” which stresses their main motivation to be in this club—its all about the money! Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!

So how they make mo’ money at an APEC meeting? APEC is like many other economic unions across the plaid planet—like the WTO, NAFTA, the EU, and ASEAN just to name a few—whose primary goal is to get countries to sit down at the table once a year and figure out how to better increase economic trade amongst them. And how do they do that? By lowering trade barriers like tariffs (a fancy word for taxes), lowering barriers to international investment, and facilitating each other as much as possible in order to move goods, services, and money…we here in the real world refer to this as cooperation. So you have countries cutting deals and trying to work together in order for shit to move more freely economically….so like Thailand will tell Mexico, ” Hey, we won’t put any import taxes on your tequila if you promise to not put any import taxes on our pineapples,” and Mexico would be like, “Que? Si senor, that sheeet sounds sweet!”

However, you need to be aware of this: everything that goes down at an APEC meeting is non-binding.  Huh? What the hell does that mean? That means that none of these countries during any of these talks is actually signing anything resembling a contract. There is no bound charter, or set of rules or regulations, or laws or by-laws.  These 21 countries just meet once a year to rap about things informally and come to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ about how to work together best in the coming year. This is NOT like the WTO, or NATFTA, or even the EU—those clubs all have legit constitutions or binding contracts or laws which all the member states agree to follow when they join.  For instance, the WTO…which stands for the World Trade Organization…has almost all the exact same free-trade goals as APEC, but they also have laws which everyone agrees to follow.  And if Thailand taxes tequila after they promised not to in the WTO, then Mexico can sue them via WTO law.  Not so for APEC, which is non-binding.

APEC partying on the Great Wall

And that leads us to the mystery and mystic of this grouping of countries. Why would these guys get together, when there are already so many other international organizations dealing with trade? Here’s why: this is a hot zone of trade on our planet.  In fact the hottest! The Atlantic used to be the ‘in’ ocean for the last 500 years…what with all the explorers and colonist and trade and movement between Europe and the US.  But the Atlantic heyday is over my friends, and the Pacific is now kicking ass! With the US as a major consumer, and the rise of China as a superpower, along with places like Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand already being industrial mega-producers, the Pacific Ocean is witnessing more international trade than the history of humans has ever known! Damn! Its crazy!

I know you’ve never heard this phrase yet, so let me be the first to spring it on you: we are in the Pacific Century. You heard it here first.  More action will take place across this ocean than anywhere else on the planet in the coming decades.  And that’s why this group was formed. The 21 APEC countries have 2.6 billion people in them, account for 60% of world GDP, and currently do over half of all the world’s trade between them. Damn. That’s a lot a vig. And its growing fast.

We are goobers!APEC was actually invented and in Australia back in 1989, so it has come full circle with them hosting this year’s event. Go figure: Australia can claim credit on two inventions now: APEC and the boomerang.  No wonder they are so rich. NOT. Screw you Russell Crow! I’ll tell you what you can do with that boomerang you asshole! Oops…sorry…that guy really pisses me off. And I’m not the only one getting hot and bothered down here…some countries are starting to get miffed about the events here in Sydney….

Specifically, John Howard (you know who he is know, right?) and George Bush have been using the APEC forum to push their version of an anti-global warming agenda: an agenda which calls for poorer/developing countries like China and India to reduce CO2 emissions just like the rich countries are going to.  I won’t get into right now, but this is really pissing off the Chinese and other developing states.  Also, as part of their program, Howard & Bush are stressing the need to use nuclear power for energy generation, as well as pushing for more pro-democracy stuff within the member states.  Again, pissing of China and Vietnam…and maybe even Russia. 

True love rears its ugly head….The main point I want to make is that many things being talked about this year are not related to economics or trade, and this is blurring the lines a bit.  China and Russia didn’t come to this forum to hear about global fucking warming man! What gives? Who knows my friends, I’m just giving you the straight talk here in Sydney. APEC, at least for this year, has become an avenue for the US (and its little brother Australia) to vent about many other non-money related themes. 

We’ll just have to see how this plays out, and we also get to look forward to the group picture that always concludes the APEC summit.  AS witnessed in the pics above, it is taken in some sort of customary dress of the host country, and usually ends up looking ultra-gay!  I can’t wait to see it! And to give Crow the smack-down….I’ll tell you how that turns out too.  As for now, party in plaid….

Drinking ‘Down Under’: Bush and Bush Lite

The Anheiser Twins: Bush & Bush Lite

Greetings from ‘Down Under’ my plaid friends. Down under the equator, in Australia that is….  Good’ay mates—or whatever sappy shit these goobers say down here!  The Avenger is 20 beers deep, and I’m talkin’ those big ass Foster’s Lager oil cans my friends!  Whew, my bladder is full enough to douse the Greek wildfires all by myself.  But I digress and impress as usual…What the hell would the Avenger be doing down here in Australia, or as I like to call it: ‘Mini-America’? 

Well, my dance card is full this week: I’m first going to go spear a bunch of crocodiles and manta rays in honor of the 1-year anniversary of the Croc Hunter’s death.  Then I’ll be picking up several cases of vegemite and Toohey’s New [look it up—good stuff]. And I’ll probably have to hook up with Cate Blanchett for a bit…and then go smack the shit out of Russell Crowe just for good measure. But mostly I’m down here this week scoping out the big APEC meeting that is going down in Sydney! All the big world leaders around the Pacific Rim are here—but one came a little early to hook up with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. That would be one George W. Bush, Johnnie’s biggest fan.  What? Bush loves Howard? Howard loves Bush? What gives here? Well, that’s what today’s rant is really all about. Dig this:

Bush and Howard in Sydney talks

Howard, Bush to discuss military ties

Howard and Bush present united front on Iraq War

Absence of body bags leaves Howard’s voter approval rating in the black

Howard Loss: Blow to Bush

#1 US ass-kisser, and loving it!

Okay here we go! You folks got to know who the hell John Howard is, and what he means to the current President of the US.  Since Tony ‘lap dog’ Blair has stepped down as the Prime Minister of the UK, there is no other world leader that can claim to be the #1 ass-kisser to the US except Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.  John Howard is definitely Australia‘s ‘Bush Light’ to America‘s Bush. Ha! What a great beer reference that makes perfect sense in this situation! What the smell I’m I talking about now?  Just this:

Howard is what you Americans would call a conservative. His political party is extremely similar to the Republican Party in the US too. As such, he has been tight with the Bush administration ever since Georgie got into power.  Hmmm….what was that now, about 7 years ago?  John Howard has True love rears its ugly head….been in office for 11 years, and is running for his 5th consecutive term. In point of fact, the two men met on September 10, 2001…and we all know what happened the very next day.  And Bush and Howard have been 100% supportive of each other in pretty much every single way two world leaders can be, short of marriage.  But of course neither of them believe in gay marriage either, so they just keep things on the low-down [see pic to your left—like I could make that shit up?]  Long story short: politically, economically, and philosophically, these two guys are twins. 

But let’s be honest here: the US is definitely the big brother in this situation, with the Australian twin lagging far behind in real military power, economic power, and even in political clout. But they have been as supportive a little brother as they could be! Mini-America has been doing their best!

And what has ‘their best’ consisted of? A few points to consider:

Hahahahaha too awesome. These kids kick ass!1)Absolute, unquestioning, and utter total support of the US war in Iraq. Australia was one of the first to sign up and support the US endeavor, and has had troops there from the start—only about 1500 troops, but it’s the thought that counts! And even though support for the war has been drying up around the world, Howard just announced yesterday that Australian troops are there to stay as long as the US wants them—no doubts, no questions asked. You should know this too: most Australians DON’T support the war as heartily as Howard does, and this is starting to cost him popularity points big time. It is predicted that he will lose the nest election based on this issue alone.  And he may lose BIG.

2)ALMOST absolute, unquestioning, and utter total support of US foreign policy when it comes to Asia.  And I did say ALMOST.  What do I mean? Australia pretty much goes along with all US foreign policy directives in the area.  In fact, many years back, George Bush referred to John Howard as the ‘deputy sheriff’ of Asia…that is, they were the local enforcers of ‘sheriff’ US‘s policies.  Boy, did that one set off a shit storm! While it was intended to be a compliment, it totally served to piss off a whole bunch of Asian countries that considered it demeaning that all the ‘whities’ would think of themselves as in charge of the area. Howard was pretty embarrassed too, but he knows Georgie meant well. How hilarious!

But I did say ALMOST total support for US policies in Asia.  With one big exception: China.  The US is definitely using its strong strategic partnership with Australia and Japan, among others, to serve as a counter against the rise of China‘s power in the region. The US would like to see both Australia and Japan stay firmly and completely in step with US foreign policy when it comes to China‘s rise.  BUT, Howard is no fool.  Because of the massive economic powerhouse China has become, Howard knows he has to kiss some Chinese ass too in order to stay in tight with those guys.  He has been forging all kinds of economic and strategic ties to China, because its making the Australian economy so much stronger. He’s got to do it, and he has been. And finally…

3)Strengthening ties between Australia and US on just about every single damn topic you could dream up.  Such as? Well, both leaders used to dismiss global warming altogether…and now suddenly they both think it’s a big deal and are supporting each other with a grand plan that they have cooked up—one that puts the heat on China to reduce greenhouse gases as much as the US does. Hmmmm….does that sound like a coincidence that these two twins would come out with a plan that pressures China? Yeah, I don’t think so either. 

Damn guys! Get a damn room!Other ties that are currently going down include: increased sharing of military technologies, increased joint military exercise, increased security information sharing, increased nuclear power technologies sharing, increased joint promotion of nuke power and increased long walks on the beach together holding hands….. but that’s another blog that will have to wait for now.

But the love between these two leaders waits for no one…let the APEC love-fest begin! What is APEC you ask? Let’s do that tomorrow!

Party in Plaid


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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?

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