Sunday, October 27, 2013

Enemies friend by Erick San Juan

In comments to European diplomats last weekend, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan confirmed that his country’s decision last Friday not to accept a temporary seat on the UN Security Council was “a message for the US, not the UN.”

Having collaborated closely in the US-led war for regime change in Syria, Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to the Obama administration’s decision to pull back from an imminent missile and air attack on Syria last month. It also has concerns over Washington’s involvement in international talks with Iran, which Riyadh regards as its chief rival in the region.

A source close to Saudi policy makers told Reuters: “Prince Bandar told [European] diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer to Iran.”

And “the shift away from the US is a major one. Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” Prince Bandar also warned that there would be wide-ranging consequences, including on purchases of US arms and on oil sales.

The longstanding US-Saudi alliance has rested on the assumption that Saudi Arabia would supply oil and purchase American arms in return for a US guarantee of security for the autocratic Saudi monarchy. The Reuters article suggested that Riyadh might also scale back its purchase of US bonds and other dollar-denominated assets. “All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact,” the source said.

A Wall Street Journal article pointed to another recent source of Saudi bitterness. When asked by Riyadh for details of US plans to defend Saudi oil production during a US attack on Syria, “Americans told them US ships wouldn’t be able to fully protect the oil region.” Dissatisfied with the response, “the Saudis told the US that they were open to alternatives to their longstanding defense partnership, emphasizing that they would look for good weapons at good prices, whatever the source.” (Saudi Officials Vent Anger Over US Failure to Attack Syria,, 10.25.2013)

This important development in the US-Saudi relationship  is just like the US-Iran ‘partnership’ on the Syrian crisis issue. One – soon to part ways while the other one (US-Iran) is on the same road with the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Syria.

Some pundits even suggested that the anger of the Saudi regime might be the way for the Kingdom to turn to China. Far out? Hmmm… possible for the old adage that the enemy of my enemy ( now) could be my friend. Why not?

But as Victor Kotsev wrote in his article - Rebels offer Assad a comeback: “Right now the possibility of a Western intervention has all but evaporated: US-Iranian negotiations have taken the front seat, and such an adventure would put paid to any possible accord. In the foreseeable future, moreover, deepening Russian involvement in Syria could be a guarantee of sorts for Assad's tenure.

William Polk, a top former US analyst and a member of the Cuban Missile Crisis management team, estimated in a recent analysis that the US-Russian agreement over the Syrian chemical weapons would eventually involve some "5-10 thousand Russians and perhaps twice that number of UN-designated peacekeeping forces from third world countries." Polk added, "With a Russian force in residence and forced to protect its widely scattered personnel and a significant UN peacekeeping force interspersed among the Russians, the government can to some degree discount external aggression."

Officially, Moscow is tight-lipped about any such plans, but it is already deeply involved in Syria and even the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hinted recently that Russia would assist more actively there.

Still, the hard-core international supporters of the rebels, such as Saudi Arabia, are not giving up either. The fight is likely to be long and no less brutal than it has already been. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Syria expert Joshua Landis estimated that the recent decision by the Saudis to reject their seat at the UN Security Council was meant to deflect pressure on them to change their course.

As the world awaits for the next move in the said crisis, divisions inside and outside Washington is getting deeper. But as perceived by the rest of the world, such deadlock on the Syrian crisis is a sign that there would be peace… for the meantime. Yes for a while, for the world war scenario is already programmed. It can be delayed but it will push through whether we like it or not.

Monday, October 21, 2013


By Erick San Juan

The coming self-destruction of humankind may well be only a minor prelude to a grand finale for the planet. Could a mega-nuclear blast at a geological pressure point like Fukushima puncture the Earth’s brittle crust and release a
flow of hot liquefied minerals from the mantle?

This is such a grim scenario for the world to witness after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan that even the corporate mainstream media are too afraid to discuss. Nuclear engineers and scientists believe that “the rising level of tritium measured in kelp samples south of the Fukushima 1 nuclear site is an indicator of intensifying nuclear reactions deep in the soil below the cracked reactors. Following the meltdowns in spring 2011, superheated fuel rods in up to three reactors have penetrated multiple barriers including the core shrouds, containment chambers and concrete foundations, escaping into the porous ground. Now inaccessible and scattered underground, the remnant fuel is getting hot enough to create huge flows of deuterium and radioactive tritium, which are commonly known as heavy water.

Two serious threats are emerging during this tritium build-up: medical effects of exposure to beta particles on top of gamma radiation from the Fukushima releases and more ominous, the possibility of a tritium-deuterium fusion reaction that triggers a plutonium blast more powerful than the 2011 explosion at Reactor 3.” (Source: Rising Tritium Could Trigger Huge Fukushima Blasts by Yoichi Shimatsu)

Another fact pointed out by Shimatsu is that the Fukushima nuclear plants rest atop the Abukuma block, a mega-sheet of bedrock uplifted by the subduction of the Pacific plate under the Okhotsk plate. Inside the impact zone, both plates are cracking under enormous pressure, which heats the rock into magma and causes volcanic activity in the region.

The hundreds of tons of escaped nuclear fuel beneath the Fukushma No.1 plant exceeds the combined weight of all fissile material in nuclear-weapons testing to date. If this melting mass of uranium and plutonium were to explode, the seams in the tectonic plates could be blown apart, unloosing rivers of magma onto the Earth’s surface. A vast cloud of radioactive particles, toxic gases, sulfur and industrial waste would encircle the globe with more deadly
consequences than the 1883 Krakatoa eruption.. The human species, a parasite dependant on other life-forms and vulnerable to oxygen depletion, will be among the first to go extinct.

A clear self-destruction but obviously triggered by nature which snowballed into a global catastrophe as studied by experts on the field that this is uncontainable, clearly a continuing nuclear disaster. ENE News reported that Kyoto University's Okada Norio, Yoshio Kajitani, Hirokazu Tatano and Beijing University's Tao Ye and Peijun Shi said that radioactive isotopes released from Fukushima were detected in North America and other regions in the world. The polluted water released by the Tokyo Electric Power Company wll likely affect the entire Pacific Ocean in the coming decades.

From a layman’s point of view, this nuclear disaster is not only contaminating the earth’s mantle but penetrated beyond the earth’s surface and worst, the earth’s largest body of water – the Pacific Ocean. It is very clear that both land and water are now at risk to be contaminated by nuclear radiation that is slowly creating a possible extinction scenario to all life forms in the offing.

May it be religious or scientific viewpoint, there seems to be a consensus that the final days of civilization is fast coming to an end. The efforts to halt or slow down the uncontainable disaster were all in vain. The need for concerted
effort from experts all over the world is badly needed and time is of the essence to reduce the scope of the affected area.

Whether we like it or not, humankind is threatened by the biggest disaster in world’s history,and a total earth change is inevitable, an event that did not come from known environmentalists and global warming advocates.

This is the reality that the present civilization must face and find solutions fast or face extinction. As what the Japanese Professors said in their assessment –
Fukushima has reached the worst case scenario  - a ‘world-ends-scenario’. God forbid!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not So Comfort Women by Erick San Juan

"Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few."
-------------Sir Winston Churchill----------

And this ‘few’ comfort women still seeking justice and acknowledgement for the wrongdoing inflicted on them from 1910 to 1945 by the Japanese soldiers, they are the victims of war crimes of the Second World War.

For the few comfort women like the mother of my former nanny, who are still alive today, with the average age of 88 are still fighting, hoping that justice will be given to them before they die.

From the detailed article by C. Sarah Soh, Japan's Responsibility Toward Comfort Women Survivors – “The euphemism "comfort women" (ianfu) was coined by imperial Japan to refer to young females of various ethnic and national backgrounds and social circumstances who were forced to offer sexual services to the Japanese troops before and during the Second World War. Some were minors sold into brothels; others were deceptively recruited by middlemen; still others were forcibly abducted. Estimates of the number of comfort women range between 50,000 and 200,000. It is believed that most were Korean.

The question of the wartime forced recruitment of Korean women as ianfu was first raised in the Japanese National Diet in June 1990 as a result of the women's movement in South Korea. The first class-action suit by Korean ex-comfort women was filed against the Japanese government in December 1991, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Since 1992, Korean and Japanese women leaders, as well as ex-comfort women and legal experts, have persuaded international organizations, including the United Nations, to conduct a series of hearings and formal investigations into the matter. In her 1998 U.N. report on contemporary forms of slavery, Gay McDougall recommended among other things that Japan pay state compensation to the "individual `comfort women'" and prosecute all those responsible for the comfort system who remain
alive today.”

And in the latest appeal (October 11) this year by South Korea’s gender equality and family minister at the human rights panel of the United Nations General Assembly, the minister has raised the issue of women used as sex slaves by the wartime Japanese military.

Although Minister Cho Yoon-sun did not specifically name Japan, she called on “the responsible government” to apologize and take responsible measures in her speech at the assembly’s Third Committee, which oversees social and humanitarian affairs.

With the advancement of women on the committee’s agenda, Cho devoted a substantial portion of her address to the issue of the “comfort women,” as Japan euphemistically refers to its wartime sex slaves.

This is the third year in a row that South Korea has taken up the issue at the committee. Last year, however, it was only briefly cited.

Cho said more than 100,000 women were forced to work at brothels run by the Imperial Japanese military but “only 56 still live amongst us.”

Minister Cho added that the issue of comfort women is not a matter of the past, it is now an urgent task for the international community to give their attention to and support in order to put this problem behind us.
But on the other side, with the Japanese government, the increasingly ultra-nationalistic statements are proclaimed not by Japanese marginal politicians, but by members of the ruling establishment. These include a comment of the chairman of the political council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party S.Takaiti, who called  into question the appropriateness of an official apology of T. Murayama administration in 1995, which acknowledged the Japan’s entry into the path of war was a political mistake and expressed remorse and apologized for the suffering brought by Japanese aggression to the residents of many Asian countries.

According to Takaiti, Japan’s action were justified at that time because it “fought for its own survival.” In addition, the head of political council of the Liberal Democratic Party expressed solidarity with the previous thesis of Prime Minister Abe, that the use of term “aggression” in the context of T.Murayama’s statement seems inappropriate, as there is no consensus about its interpretation in the scientific community.

After the remarks about the feasible use of the term “aggression” in T.Murayama’s statement, the Japanese Prime Minister continued playing with the notions and said that he would also reject to use the term “invasion” with regard to Japan.

Another shocking statement was done by the leader of the Renaissance Party of Japanese parliament -T. Hashimoto, who believes that the institutions of “comfort women” was a “natural phenomenon” and was necessary for the “rest of Japanese soldiers between battles.”  Previously. Hashimoto notices that there was no evidence that “comfort women” were concussed by force or threat to prostitution.

In line with the above statements, a suggestion is proposed by the head of the Japanese Cabinet of Ministers E.Sua in January this year “to conduct an expert assessment, whether his predecessor E.Kano in 1993 had a right to apologize for the “immeasurable pain”, which hurt women from neighboring Asian countries, being sex slaves”.

Attempts of some high-ranking Japanese politicians to deny obvious facts of the past, which cannot be understood even in modern Germany having similar shameful pages in its history, should not be left without an adequate response. We need to continue working consistently to achieve sincere and unconditional apologies from Japan for the sins of its past. Time is running out on the remaining victims of war atrocities. The Japanese government must act fast. The shameful past done by their military will always haunt them even in the generations to come.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not So Perfect Alibi? By Erick San Juan

Different speculations  came out as to why US President Barack Obama did not attend the important summits together with his Asian tour particularly in the ASEAN nations. Some pundits believe that the so-called partial US government shutdown was not the real reason.  And the situation became more suspicious when even US Secretary of State John Kerry also cancelled his visit to the Philippines ‘due to bad weather.’(kuno)

The mere fact that this visit of President Obama and/or Sec. Kerry to the region  particularly to its allies is very crucial to US pivot to Asia, one will wonder – was the sudden change of travel plans of both Obama and Kerry has something to do with China? Is the Chinese pressure so strong that such important plan had to be cancelled?  Just asking because both alibis seemed quite shallow.

As what Manong Ernie Maceda said in his column at the Philippine Star last week– “the cancellation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Manila because of storm “Santi” shows the low priority that the Philippines has with US officials. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was open. No flights were cancelled. The storm was coming in from Catanduanes, while the flight path from Brunei is through Mindanao.  Kerry’s visit was supposed to substitute for President Obama’s state visit. It should have gone through at all costs.”

Yes, at all costs, that is why the excuse he gave was not valid at all.

We have to consider also the statement of President BS Aquino at the APEC about the Philippines-US Framework Agreement on Increased Rotational Presence. It was reported that PNoy said the United States (US) should be clear with the words they use concerning the said agreement.

“During negotiations, we always get entangled with all the semantics. Those words that are actually used to convey the thoughts.”

He said the words to be used in the agreement on increased rotational presence should “satisfy both parties needs and wants; and satisfy all or addresses all concerns and anxieties.”

“Their language is geared to support the request for budget when they go to Congress,” the President pointed out. “Their language might be perfect in an American manner of speaking English but might be construed differently through a Filipino.” (Source: Aquino presses careful crafting of US rotational presence deal by Roy Mabasa 10.9.13)

If PNoy felt this urgency to discuss this executive agreement that entails another pact that will make the country beholden to a perceived master in the offing, it is very clear that our relationship with Uncle Sam is one way. So Manong Ernie is right, we are being given low priority by these US officials.

This is the sad reality I have been saying for so many times now, these so-called agreements/treaties we entered into with Uncle Sam are always for the benefit of their country than ours and in the process we are always shortchanged. When are we going to learn to assert our rights as a sovereign nation?

This is not a simple matter that we just have to ignore and let Washington craft the agreement on their own liking. This is about national security and most of all our sovereignty (what was left of it) is at stake here.

In the four rounds of talks that transpired regarding the access agreement, there are "gaps" in the "critical provisions" that need "more work," according to Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, who heads the Philippine panel.

The military-to-military agreement is expected to boost the defense capability of the AFP amid growing territorial threats, increase the training of its troops, and improve disaster response.

Batino said they have narrowed down the framework agreement to 5 key provisions namely: scope, agreed installations/AFP Facilities, prepositioning of defense equipment, supplies, and materiel, ownership and security. (Source: Bases access: PH, US disagree on 'critical provisions' by Carmela Fonbuena,

Now that the chance for our President and other government officials to tackle the crucial decisions covering the new access agreement was postponed (to who knows when), methinks that this pact is already a done deal on Washington’s side for their Congress to release the budget, and will left us (again) to just accept it with open legs, as usual. So, what else is new? And don’t forget  (as Reuters reported last October 3), also on the cards is the development of Oyster Bay, which lies about 550 km (340 miles) southwest of Manila.

"It will be a mini-Subic," Commodore Joseph Rostum O. Peña, the commander  of the Philippines' western navy, said in the first public comments about converting Oyster Bay into a major naval base.

"A future port here would extend the reach of the navy's two frigates, both former U.S. Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, in the southern part of the South China Sea." he said in an interview from his office overlooking the mouth of the bay.

Oyster Bay is about 160 km (100 miles) from the Spratlys.

"In Manila, the leaders must move behind rhetorical blandishments about a new spirit of partnership and start to detail specific actions that will strengthen Philippine defense capabilities," said Patrick Cronin, an Asia-Pacific
security expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington DC. That includes building a permanent home for the Philippines' two big warships. It also means finding strategic areas where the United States could rotate troops, ships and naval aircraft — all within easy reach of territory claimed by Beijing. Oyster Bay may be the best choice," said Cronin.

After reading this, the access agreement is already a done deal, to hell with the other critical provisions that we wanted to further discuss with Washington.

Need we say more?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dysfunctional Power by Erick San Juan

Dysfunctional Power by Erick San Juan

The latest superpower dysfunctional spectacular, aka the US shutdown, has forced US President Barack Obama to cancel an entire Asian trip. First, the White House announced Obama was shutting down the Philippines then Malaysia, supposed stars of the "pivoting to Asia". Then it was finally confirmed, he was also shutting down the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Bali on Tuesday and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and East Asia summit next Thursday in Brunei. That leaves Chinese President Xi Jinping to bask, unrivaled, in center stage glow.  (Source: China: We don't do shutdowns by Pepe Escobar, 10/04/13)

President Barack Obama missed the chance of engaging hands-on with the countries in the region in his re-balancing policy which concerns China and in pushing further his “already infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Malaysia which is actually perceived as a corporate 'racket' that is a great deal for US multinationals but not exactly for Asian interests. TPP is the American answer to China boosting its already massive business ties all over Asia”. (Ibid)

And as for the Philippines, the government and those kowtowing to Uncle Sam’s whims were all disappointed for the cancellation of Obama’s visit. But this does not mean that the greater access agreement to the country’s military bases will not push through because the Pentagon is still very much in tune with its pivot to Asia.

China in the center stage

So, in the absence of Washington’s head, in the end it was left to Xi to stage yet another Southeast Asian triumph. Beijing may offer Kuala Lumpur a wealth of investment without pesky TPP-style interference on how the country runs its state-owned enterprises or how it dispenses government contracts. And on top of it, Xi got a personal shot at trying to get Malaysia on his side in the negotiations about the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

President Xi Jinping actually accomplished a lot in the absence of his ‘rival’ in the region and once again used its soft power operation in the process. As what Pepe Escobar cited, Xi became the first foreign leader ever to address the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta. He stressed that Beijing wanted by all means to boost trade with ASEAN to a whopping US$1 trillion by 2020 and establish a regional infrastructure bank.

His message, in a nutshell: China and "certain Southeast Asian countries" must solve their wrangling over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights "peacefully". As in, we will discuss that messy South China Sea situation (he made no direct reference to it in his speech) but don't let that interfere with our doing serious business in trade and investment. Who is ASEAN to say no?

Beijing has already agreed to discuss a legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea with ASEAN. A working group met last month in Suzhou. Four of the 10-member ASEAN (but not Indonesia) are involved in the South China Sea dispute - which, predictably enough, is all about unexplored oil and gas wealth. The Philippines will keep accusing Beijing, as it did last month, of violating  for the moment the informal Code of Conduct. Indonesia has volunteered as mediator. It won't be a rose garden, but the fact is China and ASEAN are already talking.

Beijing has scored yet another milestone in its soft power and peaceful rise in the region sans Washington’s leader. Although some pundits say that China now owns America (already?). And that “in the future, China will employ millions of American workers and dominate thousands of small communities all over the United States. Chinese acquisition of U.S. businesses, set a new all-time record last year and it is on pace to shatter that record this year.

The Smithfield Foods acquisition is an example.  Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world. It has facilities in 26 U.S. states and it employs tens of thousands of Americans.  It directly owns  460 farms and has contracts with approximately 2,100 others.  But now a Chinese company has bought it for $ 4.7 billion, and that means that the Chinese will now be the most important employer in dozens of rural communities all over the U. S.

Thanks in part to our massively bloated trade deficit with China, the Chinese have trillions of dollars to spend. They are only just starting to exercise their economic muscle.

It is important to keep in mind that there is often not much of a difference between “the Chinese government” and “Chinese corporations”.  In 2011, 43 percent of all profits in China were produced by companies where the Chinese government had a controlling interest in. 

Last year a Chinese company spent $2.6 billion to purchase AMC entertainment – one of the largest movie theater chains in the United States.  Now that Chinese company controls more movie ticket sales than anyone else in the world. 

But China is not just relying on acquisitions to expand its economic power. “Economic beachheads” are being established all over America. For example, Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group, Inc. recently broke ground on a $100 million plant in Thomasville, Alabama.  Many of the residents of Thomasville, Alabama will be glad to have jobs. It will also become yet another community that will now be heavily dependent on communist China.

And the list goes on and on… When you total up all imports and exports, China is now the number one trading nation on the entire planet. Overall, the U.S. has run a trade deficit with China over the past decade that comes to more than 2.3 trillion dollars. China has more foreign currency reserves than anyone else on the planet. It now has the largest new car market in the entire world. China also produces more than twice as many automobiles as the United States does. After being bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, GM is involved in 11 joint ventures with Chinese companies. China is now the number one gold producer in the world. It also produces more than 90 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements. And China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of any national defense system.

Just to sum it all up, while the US does shutdowns, China does business.

This is just part of the big picture. We have to gather our act together and have a reality check that to engage militarily with China is really suicidal. In our local lingo-"KWARTA O KAHON?"