Friday, June 24, 2005

SABRE RATTLING IN ASIA

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Ever since Condi's "diplomatic" mission in Asia a mere few weeks ago, the sabre rattling there has been pretty loud and getting louder by the minute. Aside from Koizumi's seemingly daily visits to the war criminal shrine in Japan, contention over fishing rights and uninhabited islands is growing.

From "From the Wilderness.com"
Tokyo's worsening relations with its Asian neighbours suffered a further blow yesterday when Taiwan sent a warship to claim jurisdiction over a group of islands claimed by Japan as well as China.

Tokyo's defence minister Yoshinori Ohno appealed for 'calm' after his Taiwanese counterpart Lee Jye boarded a warship with fifteen senior politicians and sailed for the resource-rich Tiaoyutai Islands in a symbolic show of support for Taiwan's fishermen, who have repeatedly clashed with the Japanese Coast Guard.

The 4,200-ton frigate sailed close to the islands - dubbed Senkaku in Japan -- in the East China Sea before returning to Taiwan, where the government has come under heavy fire for not standing up to what one legislator called Japan's "expansionary policies" in the region.

The makeup of the expedition, which included legislators from the three major Taiwanese parties, indicated the move enjoyed widespread popular support.

Wang Jin-pyng, a politician on board the warship, said the aim was to "safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty and to protect Taiwanese fishermen that have been expelled from the area by the Japan Coast Guard."

Tadashi Ikeda, the de-facto Japanese ambassador to Taipei, called the decision to send the warship to the islands "inappropriate."
You see, if Japan was smart and not stupid, they would be peeling away potential allies of China, not alienating them and driving them to China for an alliance. Taiwan should be easy pickings for Japan but instead, nationalist sentiment on the right is driving Japan into conflict with Taiwan, forcing Taiwan into an alliance with China. The South Koreans have been having riots over the Japanese refusal to return the ashes of dead Koreans kept in the shrine.

Fishing rights, sovereignty issues, trade issues, all have to be resolved via diplomacy. For some reason, no mystery to readers here, Japan has chosen the might makes right route. Obviously, Bush made a secret deal with Japan that we will back them, our major purchaser of our debt, in any conflict with our other trade partners. Normally, this could be useful especially since we seem to be disinclined to pay our own taxes, but this is really acting like a mercenary nation, letting our "allies" use our military for their own reasons, sort of like our relationship with Israel.

The Japanese might get some satisfaction out of the hammering in public ladled out to the Chinese over currency and trade matters but increasingly, Americans are noticing that Japan has been boring away underground, causing as much damage as the others we are bellowing about. A sign of American weakness and loss of patriotic spirit is shown in the craven courting of foreign companies like Toyota to assemble parts in this country so that we don't worry about foreign entities owning companies here even as no American corporate interest dare own any factories in Japan.

This one way flow of profits is another weakness. We may think we are very clever, getting jobs from the Japanese, but every single Japanese assembly facility in America pays no taxes. So we get some inferior paying jobs compared to unionized jobs and we don't get to tax profits that much which leave the country and we get no infrastructure support, this coming only from the lower working class workers who must foot the tax bill for everyone.

American companies have demanded and gotten the no taxes promises, too. This is the result of the race to the bottom Americans waged against each other. States that gave businesses all the breaks got the jobs, not that this lifted our country out of poverty into wealth, it was purely stealing from Paul to pay Peter and then sticking Paul with the tax burden.

The Chinese recently told the Japanese they can't play that game with them. They are intent on competing with the Japanese, not being their servants. The feeling of patriotism is very high in China and rising as they reassemble their former empire. The espirit de corps in America is collapsing as we lose ground on every front. Our lassitude from servitude shows clearly in the increasing refusal to die for American corporate interests in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, American businesses continue to contract. From the BBC:
The US group said 6,500 staff would go over the next year as part of a cost-cutting drive, following 1,800 redundancies earlier this year.

Alcoa said the restructuring would result in costs of $245m to $275m, but would lead to annual savings of $195m. Alcoa added it expected its profits for the second quarter of the year to come in at $219m after tax.

The company has been battling against a downturn in trade from automotive, packaging and European markets, as well as higher costs overall in recent years.
History shows us clearly that when economic opportunity contracts, conflicts become increasingly violent. This is why big depressions create bigger wars. Right now, we are seeing small conflicts bubbling just below the surface but this is a symptom of greater forces at work. The angry rhetoric coming from DC is a symptom, too.

We are at conflict with each other and the world and things are supposedly going just great. We aren't in a depression yet, we are merely feeling the early chill of one. This is why every country including the USA are driving down their currencies and interest rates while simultaneously printing money at a mad rate. They remove money from circulation various ways, drug dealing and wars at the top. Even though America has managed to blow through $300 billion dollars in two years in a futile war, there is still another half a trillion sloshing around the world that would collapse our currency if it came home to roost or was used in commerce.

Instead, it gets sponged up by the Japanese who are getting pretty loud with their sabre rattling.
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