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Eric Margolis

Japan Must Face Up To China

China Protest
photo: guccio@文房具社

World War II has never really ended for Japan. Sixty-eight years after the battleship US “Missouri” sailed into Tokyo Bay to receive the surrender of the Japanese Empire, Japan still behaves like a meek, defeated nation rather than one of the world’s great powers – and great peoples.

Economically, Japan is a giant, albeit a staggering one. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party just secured full control of both houses of Japan’s parliament. Abe’s “three-arrow” reform program has injected new life in Japan’s formerly stagnant $5 trillion economy industry and driven down the over-valued yen.

But military, Japan remains a midget. Its so-called Self-Defense Forces were designed to stop a Soviet amphibious invasion of the northern islands. Japan’s US-written pacifist constitution prohibits all offensive military operations or exports of arms and military equipment.
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The Road to Nowhere: Kerry's Mideast Journey

Kerry Peres Abbas
photo: World Economic Forum

Here we go again, another round of Mideast peace talk kabuki.

A process in which Washington, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization hold intense talks over holding talks, a ritual as stylized as the traditional Japanese dance. In the end, it’s the same empty, cynical ritual, year after year.

This past week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading the dance in the latest attempt to restart peace talks between Israel and the Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO. As of this writing, the talks appear off. But they may be on again just as quickly. It depends on how much Washington offers its feuding clients, Israel and the PLO.

Watching this annual charade is both painful and exhausting. It makes cynics of the most idealistic hopers for Mideast peace.

Israel holds all the cards, and knows it. Jewish settlements, roads, and security walls are roaring ahead, relentlessly gobbling up the occupied West Bank, Golan and their water resources. West Bank Palestinians are being crammed into future native Bantustans patterned after South Africa’s apartheid-era reservations for blacks.
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Those Old Colonial Lusts

Syria
photo: Zachary Baumgartner

That old colonial impulse keeps coming back. This past week, Britain and France pushed the rest of the European Union to lift the arms embargo in Syria – which in plain English means outright military intervention in that nation’s civil war.

Let’s recall that Britain once ruled a quarter of the earth’s surface and most of its oceans. France ruled much of West Africa, the Sahara and, after Word War I, what are today Syria and Lebanon. Britain ruled much of the rest of the Mideast.

Well, they’re back! France and Britain took the lead in attacking Libya and overthrowing its long-time leader and former ally, Muammar Ghadaffi. They now dominate Libya’s oil – a major source of energy for Europe. France just sent troops to protect its mining interests in former colonies, Mali and Niger.


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