Friday, April 27, 2007

News From Elsewhere - How We Are Seen

I don't much like being topical in my blog, seeing as I feel so powerless in the face of all that's going on.

However, I do still receive various publications from other countries where I have lived, and sometimes the news about America that's in those publications at the very least enriches my understanding, and at times just plain startles me.

Now maybe you already know all this, but two things I came across yesterday put a bit of a new light on our American fear and opposition to the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and in Korea.

As this information is from the London Sunday Times, a Rupert Murdoch publication which could not be accused of being wildly anti-American (to put it mildly), it certainly makes me ponder, at least.

Iran: In an article headed "Iran to hit back at US kidnaps" we read that Iran is threatening action against American interests in Europe and elsewhere in retaliation for the kidnapping of "several" senior Republican Guard officers. The deputy defense minister while he was in Turkey, one in northern Kurdish Iraq, one in southern Iraq, and the head of the Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf, for example. Not to mention an attack on the Revolutionary Guards within Iran itself, killing at least 17. All of which led Reza Faker, a writer close to President Ahmadinejad, to write in Subhi Sadek, the Revolutionary Guard's weekly paper: "We've got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks". Wonderful. But we couldn't respond to a letter from Ahmadinejad?

North Korea: An article headed Crime Keeps Kim In Luxury details the North Korean leader's bank accounts around the world, particularly in Macau, totalling more than $5 billion dollars in external assets (some the result of excellent counterfeiting of US $100 bills and much else not very pretty). Beginning in 2005 the U.S. government had pressured banks to freeze these accounts and cut Kim and family off from their corrupt earnings. Reluctant banks even found themselves under sanctions. Given the involvement of this money in smuggling weapons, even into the US, this is all understandable.

But here's what happened next. When the sanctions became uniform, and cut Kim off completely, bang, October's nuclear test. And in February we heard news that North Korea had agreed, in negotiations, to shut down their nuclear reactor...but we didn't hear the rest ... IF financial sanctions were lifted within 30 days. Alas, alas, that deadline passed in March, without such lifting. Thus when the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency went to North Korea to settle the details, he was sent packing. This information surfaced, according to the Sunday Times, in a report to the US Congress by investigators for Edward Royce, a California congressman. I've been hearing about North Korea not "honoring their agreement" - but as to our role in all this, maybe I've missed it, but it was news to me. In case it's news to you ...

I'll try and be more fun sometime soon.

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