Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Old Failed Scheme

An Old Failed Scheme

By Erick San Juan

It was almost a year ago when then National Security Adviser, Norberto Gonzales announced his proposal for a transition government which he called National Transition Council to be implemented prior to the May 2010 elections. Since day one that he became part of the loop of PGMA, he has been espousing for such a transition government. Gonzales even espoused for a provisional government with a selected shadow cabinet ready as printed in several newspapers. In so many fora that he was the guest speaker, he's parroting the same idea. (Are the confluence of events in the recent past and up to this moment still revolve around this idea?)

Then again in June of last year, he warned of an impending chaos come 2010 elections due to the possible failure of the country’s first poll automation. Gonzales suggested that the Comelec should have back-up plans. In lieu of a possible breakdown of the computers, he recommended the open election system (OES). He noted that some modern countries use OES or semi-automated election system. For Gonzales, OES is not only the most practical election scheme but the one most fit for our nation today and the most transparent one.

Gonzales was named as acting secretary of the Department of National Defense in November 2009 replacing Gilbert Teodoro who is running as PGMA's presidential candidate and now the Chairman of Lakas-Kampi-CMD for the May 2010 elections. Amidst the negative feedback from different sectors against the appointment of Sec. Gonzales as DND chief, Mrs. Arroyo stood firm in her decision. Speculations were raised by various camps that this move by the president will actually benefit her administration just in case the poll automation fails. As the 2010 elections is fast approaching, statements coming from the DND head has created problems instead of solutions and division among institutions. Some columnists even wrote that the statements from Gonzales should be treated as non-news, (like the possibility that there will be no automated voting in 20 to 30 percent of the polling areas because of the problem of transmission.)

In the latter part of this month, Sec. Gonzales declared that he would never follow illegal orders from President Arroyo in the event of a failure of elections on May 10. “I will never do so myself.”,he said. Why on earth does a cabinet secretary holding a very important post will say such a thing? This kind of statement only worsened the situation instead of helping the GMA administration. Although the secretary later on, downplayed the speculations of derailing the May elections. My point here is, why such statement was declared in the first place? It caused tension and heightened the rumor that there is a discord among PMAers, between the PNP Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa and GMA. The perception became a reality when the president failed to attend the graduation rites of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).

Someone seems to be orchestrating these recent events. Text messages went around of a possible holdover term of Mrs. Arroyo due to the recent appointments of the PMA Class 78 to the different branches of the AFP. Methinks that the only intention here is to create division among our AFP-PNP and lay the predicate that the coming elections will fail and create unrest in the process.

Let us all be vigilant and keep our faith in the military and our law enforcers. Let's hope that they will uphold the constitution and respect the pillars of democracy come May 10, 2010 elections. To pacify the nation, our high-ranking military officials stated that they will not succumb to the rumored takeover by a military junta in case of failed poll automation or no proclamation. Let's not push them to the wall and make a lot of prayers that our country will get over this much awaited elections peacefully. God bless our nation!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Target Iran – Prelude to WW3

Target Iran – Prelude to WW3
By Erick San Juan

The signs are all over. The drumbeat is getting louder. Different voices from the remnants of the followers of the previous neocons-dominated Bush-Cheney administration is echoing the call for an attack on Iran. Even the US President himself, Barack Obama, in his January State of the Union address warned Iran that it will face growing consequences if it will still refuse to cooperate with the international community on its nuclear program.
Among the consequences is the imposition of sanctions, (the US is pressuring the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to approve the fourth round of more crippling sanctions) that may lead to what the US and its allies demand for a regime change in the process. The only real holdout for these sanctions to take effect is the vote of the People’s Republic of China, which in January held it's council's revolving presidency.
One may wonder what did Iran do to deserve these punishments from the community of nations? In fact, Iran never attacked a single nation for over 200 years and yet the US kept accusing the Islamic Republic as a threat to the Middle East countries particularly in the Persian Gulf region. Moreover, as Iran allegedly develops its nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment, the threat extends to the United States of America, and consequently to the rest of the world. Never mentioned is the fact that, as a signatory to the U.N.'s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran's right to develop nuclear energy is enshrined in international law. Just a few months ago, the U.N's International Atomic Energy Chief, Mohammed El Baradai, the person responsible for monitoring compliance with that treaty, stated that “Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn’t have an ongoing nuclear weapons program. But somehow, everyone in the West is talking about how Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world.” (Interview with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept. 2009)
Disregarding the report of the former IAEA chief that no nuclear weapons program is being undertaken by the Islamic Republic, the US has started its massive military build-up of the Persian Gulf area. According to a Feb. 1 Reuters report, “The United States has expanded land- and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Gulf to counter what it sees as Iran's growing missile threat .... The deployments include expanded land-based Patriot defensive missile installations in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain, as well as navy ships with missile defense systems in and around the Mediterranean, officials said… The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said last month that the Pentagon must have military options ready to counter Iran should Obama call for them.”
As if the Middle East region is not enough, the mighty US even extended its reach by allowing a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan. The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system, which is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. I would like to reiterate that such massive military build-up in this part of the Asian region could be a pretext, disguised as joint military exercises for counter terrorism and against sea pirates.
Moreover, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms from his mid-February visit to Israel. He has been worrying aloud that Israel will mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran. This is of particular concern because Mullen has had considerable experience in putting the brakes on such Israeli plans in the past. This time, he appears convinced that the Israeli leaders did not take his warnings seriously – notwithstanding the unusually strong language he put into play. He insisted publicly that an attack on Iran would be "a big, big, big problem for all of us, and I worry a great deal about the unintended consequences." (Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran by Ray McGovern,
I believe the good admiral rightly assessed the probable outcome of such scenario and things are about to spin out of control. Whether there will be war does not depend on Mullen or even Obama. It depends mostly on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And Mullen does well to be worried. (Ibid)
Amidst the growing tensions and provocations for a war on Iran, there are also groups calling for peaceful means to end this myth of a growing Iranian nuclear weapons threat to the world. We hope that their voices be heard so that the entire humanity will not be faced with the impending Third World War.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

G2-Weakened by Strength

G2-Weakened by Strength
By Erick San Juan

In the latter part of January, I wrote about the emergence of G2 which US economist and the director of Peterson Institute for International Economics Fred Bergsten coined the term G-2 as the new global economic formula in his "The United States and the World Economy 2005". In the early 2009, the concept was upheld by US foreign policy gurus like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former White House National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Their idea was that China should shoulder the burden of global hegemony jointly with the US, which implied that the Obama's administration would be steering a course generally benign to the country. (Stalemate in China-US Relations, Collapse of the G-2 Myth by Roman Tomberg, 3/3/2010
This G2 will never be realized as tensions between China and US seem to be growing faster than the efforts made for a lasting cooperation to achieve their goal of easing the world’s burden brought about by the global financial crisis. Both countries tend to show off their power and might when it comes to geopolitical strategies, setting aside the important factor of respect to one’s sovereignty as an independent nation state. The pretext to this saber rattling is the deployment of their sophisticated naval ships, air and satellite capabilities, armed forces disguised as joint military exercises for counter terrorism and against sea pirates.
Moves by the Obama administration only worsened the rift with China and brought further damages to the already bruised relationship. Among these serious provocations made by the US government were the February 2010 controversial visit of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso in the White House that really sent annoying message to Beijing, and at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit where President Obama did not agree to any formal agreement on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and totally blamed China and other developing countries which had agreed to informal substantive targets on CO2 reductions.
On the geopolitical-economic aspect, there are several domineering “requests” by Washington that ranges from China vote at the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran on the issue of Tehran’s alleged uranium enrichment, the denuclearization of China’s ally – North Korea and to return to the six-party talks to solve this issue. Another one is the revaluing of the yuan (the Renminbi) that has been on the table for negotiations since 2005, which the US claims as artificially undervalued to give Chinese exports an unfair price advantage that made the US manufacturing exports suffered and a huge number of American jobs lost in the process. At the opening of 2010, Google Inc. said it may exit China on grounds that user e-mail accounts were being hacked. China has also taxed American chicken imports after the U.S. imposed tariffs on Chinese tires.
The most recent disagreement between the U.S. and China comes after the House and Senate foreign affairs committees allowed a proposed $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan to go forward. The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system, which is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co.
The system, valued at $2.8 billion, would add to Taiwan’s network of 22 missile sites around the country to defend against a Chinese attack. The proposal also includes UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters costing $3.1 billion made by United Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. Harpoon missiles at a cost of $37 million. After the planned sale was announced Jan. 29, China has already suspended its military-to-military contacts with the U.S. and imposed sanctions on the companies that make the weapons. (Bloomberg)
Based on the abovementioned scenarios, one can easily see that the success of the G2 really depends on how these two countries will resolve their indifferences and will use their strength for the benefit of each other and the rest of the world.
Still, certainly in the near future, spats between the US and China are bound to increase. Differences that earlier, from a greater distance, were not visible have become important. As with all ties - and especially with new ties - the closer they bind, the more difficult they become. (China-US ties bind and bruise by Francesco Sisci)

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Master Planned Crisis?

A Master Planned Crisis?
By Erick San Juan

Before the turn of the last quarter of 2009, a warning from the Department of Energy through Sec. Angelo Reyes was given to the public of a looming power crisis come 2010. The said warning was brought out by the Secretary during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives, but he didn’t mention about the El Niño phenomenon. He just warned about the shortage of power supply from the existing power plants. He even suggested, at that early stage, that the President can be given emergency powers to prevent a full-blown power crisis by invoking Section 71 of the Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

Then came Ondoy and Pepeng, the three major dams overflowed and the alleged “untimely” release of excess water caused a lot of deaths. Several groups questioned the dam operators’ decision of releasing too much water at a time when the provinces were still flooded with heavy rains. Actually, some people claim that the reason for the low level of water supply in our dams today was allegedly caused by too much water released during typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng.

Before the end of 2009, the El Niño scare was made known to the public and we're all told through the media, that it may cause a shortage of water supply particularly in the Angat reservoir where 97 percent of Metro Manila and nearby towns get its potable water supply. (Only to find out later that Angat dam is up for sale and the last dam owned and operated by the government will be privatized).

But what is this El Niño phenomenon all about?

El Niños, termed by scientists, El Niño Southern Oscillations or ENSOs, are believed by climatologists and astrophysicists to be related to eruptions in solar activity which occur periodically. (Global Warming or Global Freezing: is the ice really melting? By F. William Engdahl)

Dr. Theodor Landscheidt of Canada ’s Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity, said ENSO is the “strongest source of natural variability in the global climate system. During the severe ENSO event 1982/1983, when the sea surface off Peru warmed by more than 7° C, it was discovered that there are strong links to weather in other regions as, for instance, floods in California and intensified drought in Africa.”

Landscheidt adds, “El Niño and La Niña are subjected to external forcing by the sun’s varying activity to such a degree that it explains nearly all of ENSO’s irregularities and makes long-range forecasts beyond the 1-year limit possible. This is no mere theory. My forecasts of the last two El Niños turned out correct and that of the last one was made more than two years ahead of the event…” (Ibid)
Me thinks that this El Niño phenomenon can be predicted (as what the above mentioned report says). Our government agencies concerned could have anticipated and made plans to address the effects brought about by this natural event, particularly our source of electricity. If we will look closely, the so called power crisis is brought about by technical and mechanical failures (as what President Arroyo commented) when suddenly several power plants had to shut down due to maintenance works that had lead to rotating brownouts. The citizenry became curious when these power plants closure coincided with Sec. Reyes’s proposal of granting emergency powers to the President to avert a full blown power crisis. Why is the DOE Secretary so eager to push for this emergency power when there are other ways to solve this “crisis”? Is there a hidden agenda behind such proposal? Just asking.

As an observer of day to day events, we cannot helpbut to be cynical towards some government officials who are actually orchestrating events disguised as God save the Queen, when in fact, such situations that they concocted will lead to the Queen’s downfall. Sadly, as they manipulate the scenarios, greedy big business and "foreign hands" conspire, take advantage of the situation and gain profit out of chaos..

We should all be wary and be always prepared for man-made crisis even when all is well, so that we won’t end up wishing in vain for safety when danger befalls.....