Working in the Republic of the Dictator

I USED to work in a country where the head of government was a DICTATOR. He was a dictator, because there was no limit to his length of tenure. He was basically, President for LIFE.

‘Local businesses’
There were no free press, and there were almost no western business franchises there. The reason, I heard, was because they did not want western ideas like, “freedom”, or “free speech”, etc. to spread thru the thin population.

Having no western business franchises was supposed to be good, as it would generate more businesses for the local businesses, right?

Wrong.

Everything there was mediocre. I saw a restaurant trying to package itself as a McDonald’s, but it was pathetic, as the design just wasn’t anywhere as good as typical western or local franchises we have at home. Their equivalent to the value meals were downright laughable. No wonder it was not popular.
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Just Another US Campus Shooting Massacre

The Virginia Tech shooting early this week. Just another shooting massacre, in another US Campus.

So, what else is new? This is not the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time this has happened. This is the nth time this has happened, and, of course, if you ask the NRA, Gun Control has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it.

I love guns, I have one myself. But w/ all these massacres going on, I really think that gun laws in the US should be tightened somewhat.

I am not anti-gun per se, I agree ordinary citizens should be allowed to own guns, but it has to be properly regulated.

American gun laws are so lax, it seems that anybody BREATHING would be able to buy & own a gun. Continue reading

Clinton vs. Obama – First Impressions

I find the coming US Presidential race very interesting, primarily because there is a very good chance that the winner will likely be either the US first Black President in Barrack Obama, or first woman President in Hilary Clinton.

I haven’t been following the campaign trail of these 2 Democratic candidates very closely, just a glimpse here & there on the Cable News channels. However, this early, I have formed an initial impression about these 2 people:

‘Left or Center?’

Am basing this on the 2 candidates’ initial stance on Iraq, and it seems that Barrack is farther to the Democratic “left” w/ his politics compared Hillary. Barrack stated clearly his stance on the issue: He wants the troops out of there immediately. Continue reading

Future China – Taiwan Conflict Beyond 2015?

I saw a glimpse of the interview of Taiwan’s President about 2 weeks ago CNN.  I didn’t pay that much attention to most of the interview, just absorbed a small part of it.

‘Mainland China War Plans’

Basically, what he was saying is that they have intelligence information that China was embarking on a 3-phase armed forces improvement program starting 2007, & ending in 2015.  The goal of the program, was for China to be able to upgrade its military capability by 2015 so that it will be enough to ENSURE victory over Taiwan.

Of course, this was the Taiwan President talking, not China, but, it goes to show, that tensions between those 2 countries continue to be very high.

‘China-US Conflict’

IF, China does invade Taiwan, then it is very likely the US will be drawn into the war, judging by their previous actions when it comes to tensions between China & Taiwan.  This was most evident when US Carrier Battle Groups steamed for Taiwan when Beijing started having missile flight tests around Taiwan during the Clinton Administration.

Then again, a war between the US & China will likely hurt both countries economically.  Right now, the US is China’s biggest customer, so any problems that could affect business between these 2 countries, like a Taiwan-China War, will likely severely affect the economies of both the US & China.  So, for China, it would be like hitting its own head w/ a stone.

But China could also say the same for the US:  If the US decides to fight China, IT, too, could be severely affected economically.  Will the US really allow that to happen, for a country like Taiwan?  That, could serve as a deterrent, for the US to engage China in an armed conflict.

With China emerging as the US’ main rival as a superpower, you can expect it to eventually have some form of a showdown w/ the US within the next century or so.  I think that, is a CERTAINTY.

‘Philippine-China Relationship’

For our part, the Philippines is strategically located near Taiwan & China, so whether we like it or not, we will likely end up embroiled in such a conflict SOMEHOW.  So, this should shape our future strategic planning & policies when it comes to China.

Some points regarding this would be:

–  I feel that trade relations between China & the Philippines should continue & fluorish, but these should be mainly limited to strictly BUSINESS only, & that sensitive electronics & military hardware should be strictly off limits.

–  We should build up our external defenses also to within respectable levels.  We may not be able to match military capability w/ a superpower like China, but, still the same, we need to be able to have at least some form of deterrent capability against China.

The Iran Nuclear Crisis

* There has been speculation, that Iran’s nuclear row w/ Israel is simply a political divertion by the current Iranian regime, to keep its constituents distrated from more pressing domestic issues. This could well be very true, but Israel has been taking the threat VERY seriously, & if anybody else was in their place, I think they would done no less than the same thing, ESPECIALLY w/ Iran sending out a couple of wrong signals not only to Israel, but to the rest of the world about its nuclear intentions.

Wrong Signal No. 1

* The first big problem, is that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has PUBLICLY declared that Israel should be, “… Wiped off the map …” in a speech as reported by Al Jazeera in Oct. 28, 2005. When you have a country’s leader, saying your country should be wiped off the map of the Earth, & you see his government tinkering w/ nuclear capability later, I think that should constitute as a cause for major concern.

* Take note, that after uttering such statements, the moron has not PUBLICLY RETRACTED that statement even after the issue of nuclear proliferation by Iran started to become an issue. Not that it would make much of a difference, though, unless Iran corrects “Wrong Signal No. 2”.

Wrong Signal No. 2

* There IS a way for Iran to enjoy all the healthy benefits of nuclear energy, without it becoming a big nuclear proliferation issue. And that is by simply having the nuclear material processed elsewhere. Apparently, if you have the capability to process nuclear material, then you have the capability to refine it to weapons grade. Take away that capability, & you will not have the capability to make nuclear weapons.

* Both Russia & China, whom Iran sees as allies (& vice versa), has, repeatedly, in any negotiations regarding the issue, offered to process the nuclear fuel for Iran. Its a standing offer, & all Iran has to do, is agree to it. But, Iran has repeatedly also rejected such offers, on the grounds that it had, “… The right to pursue an independent national nuclear capability …”, blah-blah-blah.

* If Iran thinks that Israel will let them pursue the capability to process nuclear fuel, & TRUST them not to make weapons-grade material, then I think they have to, at the very least, review that position. “Wrong Signal No. 1” just made that issue of “trust” a lot worst.

Solution?

* Overall, I think the issue can, & will be resolved (at least temporarily), if Iran agrees to have the nuclear fuel for their plant processed by Russia, & China. Without the capability to process nuclear fuel, they will be strengthening their position that their nuclear ambitions are “… For peaceful purposes only …”. It will also rob Israel the MORAL ASCENDANCY to launch a pre-emptive strike against their facilities. If Israel still does it, it will come across as a paranoid nation, which might cause harm among its neighbors.

* Iran will still, of course, need to have a more transparent nuclear program (i.e., no underground bunkers, allowing free access by UN non-nuclear proliferation Inspectors, etc.) to ensure it is still not trying to build a nuclear processing plant in secret somewhere, but allowing other countries to process their nuclear material will be an first big step in ensuring better prospects of peace in that area of the world.

Israel’s Nuclear Strike On Iran’s Nuclear Facility?

One event that COULD happen in 2007, would be a low-yield nuclear strike on Iran’s underground nuclear facility. 

Timing

It could happen this year.  The key, will be WHEN Iran will reach the “point of no return” in terms of manufacturing weapons-grade nuclear material. 

It seems you have to factor in the time it will take Iran to develop the technology to generate weapons grade material. 

Then, you also have to factor in the time it takes to develop the material, once Iran acquires the technology to do it.

Israel has to hit Iran BEFORE they have the weapons grade material.  Otherwise, Iran could move it, & launch it towards Israel.  Or, perhaps trigger a bigger explosion when the plant is hit.

Some experts in the field estimate that “point of no return”, to sometime within this year. 

Israel has been making noises about a possible strike against Iran for some time now.  It has gotten to the point that Israel was willing to have its top government & military officials, both past & present, to be interviewed about the topic over at a special report on CNN (or was it BBC?  Hmmm …) around Nov. or Dec. 2006.

Perhaps in the hopes of reaching a wider audience, that could help turn the tide of opinion more against Iran.

But, it seems such warnings are falling on deaf ears.  If so, Israel may have no choice, but to ACT …..

Low Yield Nuclear Weapons

The problem, is that, because of Israel’s famous raid on Iraq’s Osirak Nuclear Plant a couple of years ago, countries like Iran has learned to prepare BETTER for such types of raids.

Iran’s nuclear facility, for example, is buried deep beneath the ground, w/ countermeasures in place against “Smart” bombs. 

So much so, that their defenses could now only be likely effectively destroyed, w/ the use of nukes.

If Israel uses nukes to blow up Iran’s Nuclear facility, it will be the first time in the history of mankind since Nagasaki, that a nuclear weapon is used on another country. 

Such a strike, will undoubtedly cause Iran to launch an all out war w/ Israel.  It is, after all, a nuclear strike. 

Bangkok’s New Year Bombings

These bombings are bound to affect Thailand’s reputation as a “safe” country. If it continues, then you can expect it will have a huge effect on its tourism industry.

While we are lucky to get around 1-3 million foreign tourists per year, Thailand gets something like 10-12 million.

Continued bombings will likely have a significant dent on that industry, not to mention on that country’s investment climate. You put a dent on those industries, & it will hurt the economy. You hurt the economy, & it will likely start some discontent among the people.

If the economic impact is enough, & the Thai government isn’t able to make the necessary adjustments, they could end up in trouble. That’s a lot of “ifs”, of course, but if it pulls thru …