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NightWatch 20100930


For the Night of 30 September 2010

The Senkakus Confrontation

China: Today, Chinese authorities released three of the four Japanese employees of Fujita Corporation, who had been detained for entering and taking pictures in a restricted military zone. As is the Chinese custom the men were released after they acknowledged "having violated Chinese law and showed regret for their mistake," Xinhua reported.

The status of the fourth Japanese national and a Chinese national who was with the four remains unreported.

Comment: The Chinese persist in following atavistic political principles inconsistent with the status as an emerging power. It demands apologies and reparations for incidents that many observers judge were deliberately ordered by some Chinese authorities to provoke an incident with Japan. This is how North Korea behaves.

Instead of prosecuting wrong doers, they release them after they admit guilt and show regret, but keep in custody the men who refused to bow to Chinese face-saving procedures. The Chinese authorities never admit they are wrong.

These are the symptoms of an insecure political entity in which law is a variable set of rules whose primary purpose is to perpetuate the government system and embellish its self image. These are the governmental principles of an oriental despotism, not a modern state, which does not acknowledge a law superior to its own needs.

In a modern state, if the laws are clearly posted and people break them, they are liable to prosecution. Repentance and atonement govern sentence, not application of law. In a rule-by-law state, a despotism, the law is waivable when it suits the interests of the state.

The carry-over practices from earlier eras limit respect for China as a leader and encumber its claim to great power status. Their application in this instance does not defuse the confrontation with Japan, which is China's obvious intent.

South Korea-North Korea: Inter-Korean military talks lasted two hours and predictably made no progress in settling disputed issues. South Korean officials urged North Korea to admit to, apologize for and punish those responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan last March. The North's delegates said they cannot accept the multinational investigation results.

South Korea also demanded a halt to North Korea's military threats and aggressive behaviors at sea borders. The North Korean lead negotiator called for a "humanitarian" approach to dealing with issues. The two sides failed to set a date for the next round of talks.

Note: Back to business as usual, a certain sign the large leadership event in North Korea has ended.

North Korea: A Korean Workers' Party delegation led by Choe Thae Bok, a member of the party's Political Bureau and secretary of its Central Committee, departed Pyongyang on 30 Sept3ember for a visit to China, The Korean Central News Agency reported.

Comment: The party conference has ended. Choe is a very senior Party official whose presence at the Party Conference would be mandatory. His departure means the Conference ended. Today's posting of photos of the pudgy Kim Jong -un, just like his Dad, also is the internal sign the event has concluded.

The pudginess of Kim Chong-un and the overall rotund resemblance to the Kim Chong-il of 30 years ago are considered traits that qualify him for leadership in North Korean folk lore, as if the son is the re-incarnation of the father.

India: The Allahabad High Court ordered that the holy site in Aloha should be split between Hindus and Muslims, lawyers for the Hindu petitioners said, according to a BBC report on 30 September.

The area is the site of a mosque torn down in 1992. Other parts will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect. Officials called for calm and respect for the verdict.

Comment: Hindus and Muslims consider Ayodhya sacred to their faiths. The High Court's Solomonic order to split the difference is not a decision. The order will result in Hindu-Muslim violence in which the Hindus will prevail.

Pakistan: Pakistani senior authorities ordered a block on oil tankers and trucks carrying NATO supplies through the Torkham checkpoint on the Afghan border, according to government officials. The officials said they were not given a reason for the order. It also is not clear whether all routes have been blocked.

Comment: The route closure is a response to the deaths of several Frontier Corps soldiers killed by a NATO helicopter attack from Afghanistan. The facts are disputed, but killings of tribal fighters and terrorists leaders are different from attacks on Frontier Corps outposts. Pakistani border security forces tend to be locally recruited and thus sympathetic to the Afghan Taliban. They are Pashtuns.

Mortar and small arms fire across the border from Pakistan against Afghan outposts is common. What is unusual is a NATO response as described. US specialists are working with the Frontier Corps to improve their capabilities and efficiency. This attack jeopardizes that US initiative.

Military politics. Eight Army major generals were promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on 30 September, with the concurrence of Chief of the Army Staff General Kayani. The promotions include new Army Corps Commanders and Major General Tariq Khan, Inspector General Frontier Corps, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Province.

Comment: General Kayani and Prime Minister Gilani are advancing generals who will be beholden to them. The extension of Kayani's tenure as Chief of the Army Staff affords time to install Corps commanders whom he approves.

The promotion of Tariq Khan is noteworthy. Tariq Khan is pushy and a bit unpolished, but has worked hard to upgrade the Frontier Corps, the primary security force in the tribal areas of western Pakistan. He has been reasonably effective and worked well with American advisors, but has incurred resentment from seniors in regular army command positions.

His promotion is a reward for good service and a statement that the elected government considers the militants a national security threat. It also creates the Frontier Corps and counter-insurgency operations as a career path to three-star rank.

Afghanistan: The city of Herat in western Afghanistan is ready for NATO to start transitioning security responsibility to Afghan forces, according to a statement by the commanding general for NATO's Regional Command West, Italian Brigadier General Claudio Berto.

Other provinces and cities will take more time, but Herat is ready, Berto said. NATO Deputy Chief of Staff for Stability Operations, Italian Colonel Vito Cracas, said that he has identified districts within Herat Province that will be ready for transition in six to nine months, and others that will be ready in 12 to 24 months, adding that some districts likely will not be ready even in two years' time.

Comment: Herat is increasingly linked by road, rail and telecommunications to Iran. The city is relatively free of attacks, but outlying districts are under stress. The Italians who command NATO forces in the west see the signs of exit and are lending their support.

Ecuador: During this Watch. Army units rescued President Correa from the police hospital where he was taken after mutinous police fired tear gas at him. He challenged the police to shoot him. Instead they pelted him with stones and water and gassed him. Then they took him to a police hospital.

Hundreds of officers took over police barracks in Quito, Guayaquil and other cities in three provinces. They also set up roadblocks out of burning tires that cut off highway access to the capital

Late reports indicate Correa is now under the protection of the army in a different location. The head of the armed forces, Ernesto Gonzalez, said troops remained loyal to Correa. "We are in a state of law. We are loyal to the maximum authority, which is the president."

Comment: Correa declared a state of emergency before he was taken to hospital. The declaration empowers the army to defend the state from internal and external enemies. That declaration might have saved his presidency and his life.

Pay and benefit cuts are the issues driving the nationwide mutiny by the police and elements of the armed forces.

The US Embassy warned Americans to remain in the homes because of the police strike.

End of NightWatch for 30 September.

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