Friday, February 27, 2009

アフガニスタンニュース速報 Afghanistan News Flash!

Check it out in the February 27th entry of Juan Cole.


He gives some detail. Apparently Nancy Pelosi is involved in the back channel talks, as well as Iran. Well including Iran makes a whole lot of sense, we both have the same goals in Afghanistan, stability. The Bushies always refused to include the Iranians, because of that pro Israel Neocon blockage.


Professor Cole lists some 5 different Taliban factions, the most intransigent being that of Mullah Omar. Well he might just find out the rest of the Taliban abandon and turn on him.


So this puts the American "surge" in that country in the light of a negotiation tactic in pursuit of something beginning to look like an actual political solution.

それを考えると、これから、アフガニスタンにアメリカ兵の "サージ"(急増)は交渉の手かも知れません。もしかしたら、オバマ政権は、実際政治的な結論を探しているみたいです。

Very welcome news indeed.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Boots on the Groundを説明します。

Prime Minister Aso has just visited America. Of course, while the Prime Minister was pushing the Japanese Bullet Train, from the American side, the phrase “Boots on the Ground” has surfaced again.

麻生内閣総理大臣はアメリカへ訪問しました。麻生首相は日本産新幹線を薦めながら、またアメリカ側から”Boots on the Ground”のフレーズが出ました。

What the Americans are saying is, they want Japan to provide some serious help for their effort in Afghanistan.


Before I discuss the merits of the effort in Afghanistan, I will discuss why Americans always feel that they must intervene in other countries. When America was first being colonized by White Europeans, the phrase “ A City upon A Hill” was used in a sermon in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts. It comes from the Bible, Matthew, chapter 5 verse 14.


These words have formed a the base of the American National Character. In fact, they have metamorphosis into a philosophy, that some Americans call “American Exceptionalism”. This is the concept that American culture and society is better than any other country in the world, in all respects.


Well, this might be reasonable if Americans kept this philosophy in America. However, with this philosophy Americans feel that the entire world must become like America. And often America tries to do this by force. To the American mind, they are doing the world a favor.


The wars in the Middle East wars are a case in point. When America first invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the stated goals was to reform the societies of these two countries into Democracies similar to America.


Even though it is apparent that the Iraq war is a total disaster, Americans still think that they have made beneficial changes in that country. That is why so many Americans call the Iraq election of 2005 such a great success. To these people, they say that this is the Great Gift that America has brought to Iraq.


What these Americans ignore is the fact that in bringing this “Great Gift” to Iraq, over 1 million Iraqi’s have died, and 5 million are refugees. I wonder, was there not an easier, kinder way to give a gift to Iraq?


Now, Americans are struggling in trying to find some logic for continuing the war in Afghanistan. They keep talking about creating stability, but they do not understand that it is foreign soldiers in Afghanistan that are creating instability. They cannot understand that the culture and history of Afghanistan is vastly different than America. And that in such a country, the American way of doing things will just not fit or work at all.


One reason many Americans use for fighting the wars in the Middle East wars is, “If we don’t fight them over there, they will attack us over here”. The meaning of this phrase is that Americans are afraid of being attacked by Moslem people. So it is better to attack their countries first, and change them into Americans. What this really means is that Americans have a desire to change the world into something like themselves. So they think that other countries will do the same thing. This one reason that Americans spend so much money to build a huge military, they are afraid of everybody.


Most Americans just cannot understand that other countries are different.


The truth is, the American effort in Afghanistan has already failed. Sending more troops there will merely prolong the agony. If we truly want to help the Afghan people, we should withdraw all troops.


And then we should offer aid and help to the new government, as they request. But Americans should learn that all countries and people in the world are different in their own unique ways. Rather than trying to change people, Americans should learn how to live with people as they are.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

イラクとアフガニスタンニュース  Iraq and Afghanistan updates

Now for a few updates about Iraq and Afghanistan.
First, I will talk about Iraq. Well hey; you thought that that question was all settled, right? Wrong! General Petraeus, chief of the theater, and General Odierno, commander in Iraq, are dragging their feet on the withdrawal issue. They are insisting that we are leaving too early, the Iraqi’s are not ready. They say that if we leave too early, the situation may degenerate again. So instead of President Obama’s plan of withdrawal in 16 months, they are saying 23 months. And they are organizing a publicity committee of present and former General officers to make their case in the media.

それでは、イラクとアフガニスタン戦争の最新ニュースを書きたいと思います。まず、イラク戦争の事を書きます。ちょっと待って。 その戦争は、だんだん解決に成っていると思っていますか?違います。アメリカ中央軍司令官、ペトレイアス将軍とイラク司令官オディエルノ将軍は、イラクからアメリカ軍撤退計画をもっとゆっくりする様にしています。彼らの発言で、アメリカの撤退は早すぎます。イラク人は準備が足らないです。この将軍達の考えで、アメリカ軍がすぐ撤退しますと、イラクの状態はまた悪く成りますと言っています。だが、オバマ大統領の16ヶ月で撤退計画ではなく、自分たちの23ヶ月で撤退計画をするべきと言っています。彼らは現在ともっと多数の将軍のグループを作って、マスコミで アメリカ国民に自分たちの提案をつくっています。

Well this is insubordination. During the Bush administration, there were many objections to President Bush’s directives, but serving officers never spoke out in public. They resigned. And the actions of these generals is the height of Imperial hubris. The Bush administration tried mightily to negotiate a SOFA that would allow US troops to permanently stay in Iraq. They failed. The reason is that America’s strategic position in Iraq is too weak; Shiite tribesmen guard our supply lines. If they decided to fight, America would lose it’s entire force. But America would also use it’s massive firepower to make more of a mess of Iraq than it has already.


So that was the negotiations, eventually America totally caved into the Iraqi demands for a complete pullout, by 2011. No ifs ands or buts. The positions of General’s Petraeus and Ordierno are very condescending and racist. They are totally ignoring the Iraqi’s wishes in this affair. What they are really saying is that people with darker skin color, who wear funny clothes and talk funny, do not matter to what the Great Americans think and do.

交渉では、結局、アメリカはイラクの要求した2011年までにすべてのアメリカ兵をすべて撤退する提案を認めました。必ず、例外は有りません。この事で、ペトレイアス将軍とイラク司令官オディエルノ将軍の立場は、見下すような人種差別的です。この本当の意味は、アメリカ白人より肌の色がこい人、着ている服が違う人、英語以外の言葉を話す人、その人達の意見は、 世界一のアメリカ人に意味が有りません。

That mode of thinking is swiftly becoming obsolete. And to the two General’s in the Middle East, I will say that the Iraqi’s outfought America, otherwise, why would the Bushies agree to withdrawal? And gentlemen, try to stay, the Iraqi’s will begin to fight America in earnest again, and yes America will lose most of it’s force. Of course the two General’s will have helicopter rides out, too bad for everyone else.

その考え方は、現在、急にすたれています。この在中近東の二人のアメリカ将軍達に、アメリカ軍はイラクゲリラに負けました。それが本当の理由で、ブッシュ政権は撤退する事を同意しました。それと、もしアメリカ軍はイラクに残りましたら、これからイラク人が一生懸命戦って、アメリカ軍がほとんどの部隊を失うでしょう。勿論、この二人の将軍達はヘリコプターで逃げます。しかし、 残っている兵士達が残念な運命に成るでしょう。

They are thinking too much that America is the center of everything, they forget that America was not invited into Iraq, and there was no civil war before America invaded.

この哲学は、世界のどんな問題でも、アメリカの中心に成ります。しかし、この二人の将軍達はアメリカがイラクへ招待状が有りませんでしたし、 アメリカの侵略の前にイラクで内乱が有りませんでした。

Now Afghanistan. As far as insurgencies go, we are approaching endgame. The capitol is surrounded on three sides, and there are many Taliban cells in the capitol. Just before special envoy Richard Holbrooke visited Kabul last week, the Taliban conducted a nasty set of bombings, just to show that they are there.


The Karzai government is totally corrupt and ineffectual. The Army does fight sometimes, the police and judges are absolutely corrupt. The Taliban has a shadow government in 75% of the country. The rest is not ruled by the Karzai government, but by tribal chieftains. President Karzai is really only the mayor of Kabul.


Supply wise, America is in serious trouble in Afghanistan. America’s main route through the Khyber Pass has been severed early this month when a bridge was blown up. There is another road through Quetta in Pakistan, but Quetta is a hotbed of Taliban activity in Pakistan. The rest of the route is completely dominated by the Taliban. America would have to run supplies by heavily armed convoys. The armored escorts would consume more fuel than we could deliver.


In any case, the Pakistan army is giving up the fight against their domestic Taliban. This week the Pakistan government agreed to Taliban style Sharia law in the SWAT valley of Pakistan. Pakistan troops would remain confined to bases, and only shoot if attacked. And the Pakistani’s are becoming extremely incensed at continuing US drone attacks in their territory. Many Pakistani civilians are being killed in these attacks.


A NATO airbase in neighboring Kyrgyzstan is closing. However, Russia has offered to let America ship supplies through their territory. However, letting the Russians control the main supply route will mean the end of NATO, or at least American military presence in Europe. And the NATO core members of France and Germany probably would not mind. Frankly, I do not think NATO has a purpose any longer.

近くのキルギス共和国でNATO( 北大西洋条約機構 )空軍基地の利用も出来なく成っています。しかし、ロシアは自分の国経由で補給路をNATO軍が利用出来ると同意しました。しかし、ロシアはこれで補給路のコントロールに成って、だんだんアメリカ軍もヨーロッパから撤退に成るでしょう。NATO同盟も終わるかも知れません。私の意見で、NATOの中心国々、ドイツとフランスはアメリカのヨーロッパからの撤退を気にしないでしょう。私の考えで、現在の世界でNATO同盟も目的が有りません。

At this moment, a “surge” is beginning in Afghanistan, with 3,000 troops arriving in Kabul.


So what is the plan? There isn’t one. General Petraeus is saying things like arming the tribesmen of Afghanistan against the Taliban. Well the General is a fool. He did not create the Anbar Awakening Councils in Iraq; the Sunni Iraqi’s did it themselves. He just claimed success in the US media. Also, Afghanistan is very different than Iraq. The Taliban COMES from Afghan tribes. And why should they fight the Taliban for us? After all, America keeps bombing their villages.


So what is the solution? There is only one possibility. America should reach out to the most palatable branch of the Taliban, and there are three main branches, give them arms, help them win. They will win no matter what America does. But America should tell them, if they ever host a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda again, America will be back. That is the only goal that the United States can achieve. No other outcome is possible.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

捕鯨の問題  The Whaling issue

There has been controversy about Japanese whaling for many years. Personally, I do occasionally eat whale. I feel as long as the species taken are not endangered, why not? I know that this is a very emotional issue, and I realize that many foreign groups demonstrate against Japanese whaling.

ここ数年間、日本の商業捕鯨について論争が有ります。私は、たまに鯨を食べます。私の気持ちは、その鯨の種類が絶滅危機になければ、いいでしょう?私は外国人にとって、 これがとても感情的な問題の事をよく分かっています。外国では、商業捕鯨反対のデモは多いです。

Also, Japanese whaling is conducted under the rules set by the International Whaling Commission.


But in a recent incident, Sea Shepard has gone too far. They purposely rammed a Japanese whaling vessel. They rammed the Japanese ship in the center of it's hull. In the video in the link, the Sea Shepard ship, the Steve Irwin, can be seen accelerating and then making a sharp turn to strike the Japanese ship. According to some accounts, Captain Paul Watson of the Steve Irwin claims that he was maneuvering his vessel to prevent the Japanese mother ship from taking on a whale carcass, when another Japanese ship interposed itself causing the collision.

Mr. Watson is a dangerous grandstander, and as we can see from the video, the collision is no accident, it is a deliberate ram. Damage to the hull of the Japanese ship can be clearly seen.


Very fortunately, no one was hurt in this incident. And neither vessel sprung a leak. I do know something about Maritime affairs. While the Japanese ship would have had a greater danger of springing a leak by being rammed amidships, the Steve Irwin also could have sprung a leak by such action. Modern day vessels are not designed to ram. So Mr. Watson's action also endangered his own crew. Even though it is summer down there, if you have to go into the water, death comes in something like 3 to 5 minutes.


Every year Japan sends a whaling fleet down there, and every year Mr. Watson commits some antics, such as throwing bottles of rancid butter on the decks of Japanese ships. When you commit such acts on the high seas, they are not schoolboyish pranks, they are highly dangerous actions threatening life and limb. I think it is high time to take Mr. Watson before a court of law.


In America, the actions of the Sea Shepard society are featured on a regular television program, Animal Planet. I think that is the reason for the recent escalation of ramming by this group. I believe he will continue to escalate actions, until a ship is sunk and many people die. That is because he is on television, and he thinks of himself as a hero. He wishes to be noticed.


What should Japan do? I think there are two ways to approach this. One is by legal methods. Any country that supports his vessel in any way, such as refueling, or ship registration and so forth should be sued for damages that Paul Watson causes to Japanese ships. Paul Watson has damaged ships of Iceland and Norway previously, but legal efforts against him personally were impossible to enforce. So Japan should sue in international court any country that allows him to operate.

日本は、どうしたらいいですか? 私は、やり方が二つ有ると思います。第一は、法律的な事です。このシーシェパード団体を助け合う国々に、例えば、燃料とか船登録をします、ワトソンさんの責任で、日本の捕鯨船傷を損害賠償を法的に求めます。以前、ワトソンさんは、アイスランドとノルウェーの捕鯨船に傷を付けた事が有りますが、彼について法的な動きはだめでした。日本は彼にサポートする国々を国際裁判で訴えるべきと思います。

The second method is send two Japanese Coast Guard vessels with the whaling fleet. Inform all countries in the area, and the Sea Shepard organization, that their vessels will be prevented from interfering. If they insist on ramming Japanese vessels, they will be boarded, and the crew taken to Japan for trial. The Canadian Coast Guard has previously forced Sea Shepard vessels away from seal hunt areas.


I understand that many people are against whaling. But there is an international commission on this issue. Other environmental groups such as Greenpeace have cut their ties to this man. Well I can understand that, he is a menace. If you are against whaling, petition your government, demonstrate outside the Japanese embassy in your country. But I cannot forgive violence.


The thing is, we live in a society of laws, and the present law is Japan can take a certain amount of certain types of whales. The thing about legal rulings is that well, we are not always satisfied by the results. But that is the way it is in civilized society. Mr. Watson thinks he can enforce his own idea of law, by violent methods. Thus, he becomes a criminal.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

マスクの物語  Tale of the Mask

The other day, I caught a cold, and went to the doctor. I have lived in Japan for 35 years, and for the first time in my life, I put on a mask.


In Japan, is quite common to see people wearing masks during the winter. People do not want to catch a cold, or do not want to spread germs.


However, if you wear a mask in America, people will think you are a bank robber. This comes from so many Western movies. Always, the group of bad guys ride their horses into town, they cover their faces with their scarves, and then go rob the bank.


So for Americans, if they see some one with a mask, this is what they will think.


I think that Japanese people should not wear a mask when visiting or living in America, it might lead to embarrassing situations!


日本の小学校での英語教育 Teaching English in Japanese primary schools

I have read that English will now be taught in Japanese primary schools. Frankly, I do not think this is a good idea. I think it is much better that primary school students spend time learning proper Japanese before going into a foreign language.


I think that starting English in High School to be quite sufficient. By this time, students should have a proper grounding in Japanese language and culture. I think this is very important. American English and popular culture is frankly a mess, and I think students should be mature before they come into contact with it.

英語の勉強は高等学校から始まる事で十分です。高校生に成ったら、生徒たちは基礎的日本語と日本文化を学んだでしょう。これはとても大切と思います。アメリカの英語と若者文化は、正直に言うと、めちゃくちゃな事です。これを教える前に、学生たちはある程度の年齢に成った 方がいいと思います。

Also, besides English, I think that languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Russian should be offered. In the near future, these countries will become very important for Japan, and I think we should offer students a choice.


I do not ascribe to the theory that it is necessary to expose students at a young age to a language. In my high school in the rural US, German, French, Latin, and Spanish were all offered. They were not required, it was the student’s choice whether to study them or not. I studied three years of French and German, and still speak them today.


The main requirement for learning a language is personal desire, and students do not develop that until around the high school age.
I think that primary school should give a basic education as good Japanese citizens, before moving on to foreign affairs.