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There should be a lawsuit against the North Korean government

by on Aug.28, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Human Rights

There should be a lawsuit against the North Korean government over their negligence that resulted in Otto Warmbier’s early death. Prisoners should not be given food that can cause botulism. Makers and sellers of food that causes botulism in the US can be sued. So the North Korean government can be sued for allowing such food to be fed to prisoners as well. The North Korean government may in turn sue their prison food suppliers. This should not be a matter of national sovereignty. This is a matter of universal human rights.

I do not think that going to war with North Korea will bring justice to Otto Warmbier’s family. Many more people will die and yet Otto Warmbier will not be brought back. If we do not want Otto Warmbier to die in vein, let’s try to push for some progress in prisoners’ rights in North Korea.
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May Liu Xiaobo Rest In Peace

by on Jul.14, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Human Rights

I admire Liu Xiaobo for his passion and love for his country and his people, as well as his courage to fight for what he thought was right. Xi Jinping lacks the courage to do anything a little bit differently. That was why there was no pardon for Liu Xiaobo. (People in power are rarely brave enough to do things differently because they do not want to lose allies or be seen as dictators.) It is very regretful that Liu had to die so soon. I think his bad health had to do with his unhappiness with politics in China. And his imprisonment could have made it worse. Same thing happened to Lynne Stewart. I hope people do not get imprisoned for their political believes.

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The “Russia Trump connection” and the US war in Syria

by on Apr.08, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>Presidential Campaigns>Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Wars>Syria War

It feels like the presidential election did not end until now and the result is not what people thought it would be on election night. Neocons never gave up on their conspiracy theory that Trump won with helps from Russia and pressed on until they have now finally won in the sense that they have been able to force Trump to go along with them and start a war in Syria.

Initially, I thought if the Russia Trump connection debate and investigation are ignored, nothing will happen. Now I feel the need to ask questions concerning this debate and investigation. Can we find any voters who regret that they did not vote for Hillary Clinton because of what they got to know about Hillary and the Democratic Party during the election? Why is it better that voters are less informed of the candidates? Did Russia interfere in the disclosure of any information concerning any candidate?

The playing up of the “Russia Trump connection” is purely political, in some way similar to the insistence by Trump on proof of Obama’s eligibility to be President of the United States.

That being said, Trump changing his position on Syria is not all due to the fact that he has been harassed by neocons on his connection to Russia. He has always tried to be popular. And now that he is surrounded by neocons, he must be thinking that starting a war in Syria is popular.

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How to fight terrorism?

by on Apr.08, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Middle East>Posts>Opinions>Politics>Terrorism

I guess Trump has been attacked on so many fronts that he does not know what are the right things to do any more. Now he is doing exactly what Hillary would have done if she had become President: trying to take down the Assad regime. Never mind that neoconservatism is going to destroy America! It is popular right now!

Since Trump has been saying that he will focus on fighting terrorism, I will just talk about how to fight terrorism. Firstly, take a look at why terrorism is not just happening in the Middle East but also in America, Europe (including Russia) and China. People who become radicalized in America, Europe (including Russia) and China are not foreign nationals but mostly citizens or legal residents. These people are radicalized not just because they are inspired by others but mainly because they feel hopeless in some ways for economic or political reasons. If they are not inspired by others, they may still commit violent acts or do drugs or find some other ways to self-destruct, just like any other citizen who is not inspired by Islamic Extremism. To fight terrorism, the problems these people are facing need to be solved. Problems of only part of the population in any society are actually problems of that whole society, not just problems of that part of the population.

Secondly, can countries outside of the Middle East use force to eradicate Islamic Extremism in the Middle East? It depends. Regimes like those in Germany and Japan during WWII were taken down by force by Allies. But so far, have we seen any regime like that popping up in the Middle East? Regimes that may be repressive but are not committing genocide or waging large scale wars against other countries may not be taken down by force. They need to be dealt with in other ways.

Waging wars not for self-defense is self-destructive. That is how empires fall apart, which is illustrated by the fable “The Death of a Camel”. The death of the camel in the story started with a kick at a piece of glass out of anger, which caused a foot to bleed. Then the blood attracted a vulture and a wolf which scared the camel into running until exhaustion, which resulted in the camel falling next to an anthill and getting attacked to death by the ants.

By the way, supporting the Assad regime is a wrong way for Russia to fight terrorism in Russia. And it is considered an interference in Syria’s internal affairs. Russia can be friendly to Syria. But to provide military support to a regime is more than being friendly.

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The failed Western approach to terrorism

by on Mar.06, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Middle East>Posts>Opinions>Politics>Terrorism

The failed Western approach to terrorism is like painkillers which make you unable to feel the pain but do nothing to help your body recover or eliminate the source of pain.

Like painkillers, which are prescribed to patients to make them happy by making them unable to feel the pain, operations that “kill terrorists” are good propaganda to make the general public happy. But they not only always fail to eradicate terrorism, but also more likely than not increase terrorism.

If you can not understand why I am saying it is a Western approach and it is a failed approach, please study the difference between Western medicine and Chinese medicine. In Western medicine, if an organ in your body fails to function normally and causes pain and suffering, often times it is removed. In Chinese medicine, the goal is to make a failed organ get back to normal.

Trying to get something back to normal is not as easy as removing it all together. That is why people often throw away things that have malfunctioned rather than try to fix them. But for a body to function properly, organs should not be discarded so readily. For a society to function properly, people should not be purposely killed. Just like organs depend on each other to function, people depend on each other to live. You and me may not be directly affected by the removal of a person, some of that person’s relatives and friends and associates may.

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Trump’s priorities

by on Mar.05, 2017, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>Immigration & Globalization>Immigration>Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Middle East

Trump has made several promises that are contradictory. For example, his promise to deport unauthorized immigrants is contradictory to his promise to make America great again. So what does he think is more important? Obviously, from what he has been doing since he took office, we can tell that he is putting his own interest and his own party’s interest above the interests of the country. Making America great again has to come last. The first thing in his mind is to keep his supporters happy so they will vote for him again in 4 years. The next thing in his mind is still future elections: how to make sure there will not be more Democrats.

Trump’s small-minded thinking reinforced my impression that he is mediocre, that he can not put the country’s interests first, that he does not have what it take to be a great president. His chief strategist Steve Bannon may be to blame for his petty strategies. But Trump has to be the one to take the ultimate responsibility since he does have the power to say no to Steve Bannon.

I can understand why there can not be a great president at this time though. People on the extreme right would kill any president who dare not to answer to them. So there is not much of a chance for anyone to do anything great right now. Innocent lives will continue to be destroyed for some crazy people to be happy. For the short period of time since Trump took office, innocent women and children have been killed in raids in the Middle East, immigrants have been killed, attacked, or separated from their children to be deported. All of these have been weighing heavily on those like myself who did not support Hillary to defeat Trump.

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What has the current Chinese goverment inherited in the South China Sea?

by on Sep.05, 2016, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Asia>South China Sea

A map with a line around the South China Sea is what the current Chinese government has inherited from the previous Chinese government.

What is the value of that map? The current Chinese government and a lot of its supporters on this matter think that the map represents the rights for China to own the part of the South China Sea within the line, which is almost 90% of the South China Sea.

However, has any agreement between China and the countries around the line on the map ever been reached? If not, the map only represents an ambition, a desire, a plan, not a fact or reality. It only represents a goal that China tries to achieve, not a historical fact as the current Chinese government is claiming.

The reason why this goal is now being pursued openly despite of all the oppositions is that the current Chinese government is now more confident of its ability to achieve this goal and has more domestic support for this ambition because of increased nationalist sentiments, both of which is the result of increased national strength, including economic and military strength.

However, increased national strength can not alter historical facts and should not be used to try to alter historical facts. The current Chinese government may now have the money to buy ads all over the world to sway public opinions around the world. But historical facts will not change even if people’s perception of them change.

In Chinese, what the current Chinese government is doing is called 自欺欺人 – deceiving oneself while trying to deceive others (i.e., being delusional).

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Libertarianism, the most American thing, can solve problems worldwide

by on Aug.05, 2016, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>Presidential Campaigns>Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Asia>South China Sea>Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs

Although I do not know where libertarianism came from and I know that it probably exists all over the world all the time, I first got to know about it in the US, and I find it to be the most American thing of all.

As I understand it, libertarianism is the believe that people should not interfere with each other’s freedom and this is out of respect for each other’s rights.

A lot of time, people interfere with each other because they want something for themselves and they want others to give up some of their rights so they can have what they want. This is a main source of conflicts around the world.

Sometimes, it is hard to figure out who should have the rights to do what, as in the case of a restaurant wanting to not accept gay customers. If the restaurant is allowed to ban gay customers, it sends a message to the society that it is OK to discriminate against gays. If it is not allowed to ban gay customers, the society is interfering with the restaurant’s business and may cause the restaurant to lose businesses because some customers may not like to dine with gays in the same restaurant. Moreover, if the restaurant is the only one in a neighborhood, some people may not get to dine out in the neighborhood whether the restaurant is allowed to ban gay customers or not. (Is it easier to learn to accept gays or to stop being gay?)

Most of the time though, it is possible to accommodate all sides, as in case of the South China Sea disputes, a solution to which I have made a proposal for in an earlier post. That proposal was rooted in respect for the rights of all parties involved to continue exercising whatever rights they have had up until recent years. If the status quo needs to be changed, all parties involved should be consulted and arguments for change need to be presented if any party is not willing to accept the change.

When there is an impasse, it is more likely that a party wants something for itself that hurts the interests of others. Then is the time to remind everyone involved that all parties should be respected.

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Why is China insisting on bilateral negotiations that have not been working?

by on Jul.30, 2016, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Asia>South China Sea

The Philippines had negotiated with China over their South China Sea disputes for many years before going to court. It is very obvious that bilateral negotiations have not been working for them. So why is China still insisting on having bilateral negotiations rather than accepting arbitration?

The answer is very simple. Arbitration results are beyond China’s control.

Bilateral negotiations sound like a good way to resolve disputes when compared to armed conflicts. But bilateral negotiations work only when both parties in the negotiations are willing to compromise. They do not work when one party is not willing to compromise and insists that something is not negotiable.

When bilateral negotiations fail, that is when arbitration is needed.

Another problem with China’s insistence that bilateral negotiation is the only way to resolve disputes is that while negotiations are ongoing, China does not stop activities in the disputed territory that may need to stop because, as long as no results come from the negotiations, China still has “indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed territory. So if bilateral negotiations never come to a conclusion, China can do whatever in the disputed territory forever. That will give China the incentive to never compromise in the negotiations and let them fail.

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Is it better to have a rule based order?

by on Jul.30, 2016, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Asia>South China Sea

Rule based orders are often not accepted by the strong. The strong believes that they can get what they want with their strength and should always be in control as long as they are strong. A rule based order will challenge that. It makes the strong feel vulnerable, which is especially unacceptable to them.

However, a rule based order protects the weak and keeps the peace. Without a rule based order, armed conflicts can break out, because there are often more than one party who are confident of their strength or want to test or prove their strength. This is the reason why there have been armed conflicts throughout history. The reason for rule based orders to come into existence is to avoid armed conflicts.

We should not go back to the time when there is no rule to rule the world, when armed conflicts are the way to settle disputes, just because a strong nation does not want to accept a rule based order, as suggested by some.

By the way, bilateral negotiation works only if both parties are sincere in resolving their disputes and so are willing to compromise. It does not work when one party insists that there are certain things that are not negotiable. If bilateral negotiations always work, we will not need any legal system.

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