Archive for the ‘Geopolitics’ Category

Fidel Castro and his opposition to Individual freedoms   1 comment


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In the early 1960’s after The Bay of Pigs invasion which failed, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas – ORI), began shaping Cuba using the Soviet model, persecuting political opponents and perceived social deviants such as prostitutes and homosexuals; Castro considered same-sex sexual activity a bourgeois trait. Gay men were forced into the Military Units to Aid Production (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción – UMAP); after many revolutionary intellectuals decried this move, the UMAP camps were closed in 1967, although gay men continued to be imprisoned. In 2010, Castro took responsibility for this persecution, regretting it as a “great injustice”. By 1962, Cuba’s economy was in steep decline, a result of poor economic management and low productivity coupled with the U.S. trade embargo. Food shortages led to rationing, resulting in protests in Cárdenas. Security reports indicated that many Cubans associated austerity with the “Old Communists” of the PSP, while Castro considered a number of them – namely Aníbal Escalante and Blas Roca – unduly loyal to Moscow. In March 1962 Castro removed the most prominent “Old Communists” from office, labelling them “sectarian”. On a personal level, Castro was increasingly lonely, and his relations with Guevara became strained as the latter became increasingly anti-Soviet and pro-Chinese.

Castro’s increasing role on the world stage strained his relationship with the USSR, now under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev. Asserting Cuba’s independence, Castro refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, declaring it a Soviet-U.S. attempt to dominate the Third World. Diverting from Soviet Marxist doctrine, he suggested that Cuban society could evolve straight to pure communism rather than gradually progress through various stages of socialism. In turn, the Soviet-loyalist Aníbal Escalante began organizing a government network of opposition to Castro, though in January 1968, he and his supporters were arrested for allegedly passing state secrets to Moscow. However, recognising Cuba’s economic dependence on the Soviets, Castro relented to Brezhnev’s pressure to be obedient, and in August 1968 he denounced the leaders of the Prague Spring and praised the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Influenced by China’s Great Leap Forward, in 1968 Castro proclaimed a Great Revolutionary Offensive, closing all remaining privately owned shops and businesses and denouncing their owners as capitalist counter-revolutionaries. The severe lack of consumer goods for purchase led productivity to decline, as large sectors of the population felt little incentive to work hard. This was exacerbated by the perception that a revolutionary elite had emerged consisting of those connected to the administration; they had access to better housing, private transportation, servants, and the ability to purchase luxury goods abroad.

The man had no compunctions when it came to brutality and oppression for the sake of the Revolucion.

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Posted November 27, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

What will President Trump do about North Korea?   Leave a comment


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It is unusual, but the North Korean media seems lost for words. The mouthpieces of the Supreme Leader have so far had little to say about the 45th president of the United States of America.

Probably, like most of the rest of the world, Mr Kim and those close to him never assumed it would happen, so the barrage of rhetoric was directed at outgoing President Obama and his presumed successor.

He was a “wicked black monkey” and Hillary Rodham Clinton was a “pensioner going shopping” (the finer points of political correctness not having yet reached the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

Either way, the United States represented a “completely failed regime” that “will certainly be buried” in the “cesspool of history”.

But that was before the actual winner emerged. It’s true that the state news media had called Mr Trump a “wise politician” and the right choice for American voters. Since the election: silence, with only an indirect comment.

Might Kim Jong-un be confused by the things Mr Trump said on his way to victory? It’s true that the president-elect called the leader in Pyongyang a “bad dude”.
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But he also held out what might be heard as an olive branch – or at least a fast-food carton of peace. Mr Trump said that he would be prepared to meet Mr Kim over a hamburger.

“Why not? What is wrong with talking?” he was quoted as saying in May. “I won’t host a state dinner for him. Same goes for the Chinese and others who rip us off.” But a chat over a burger might be acceptable.

So, might the silence from Pyongyang be because they simply don’t know how to read Mr Trump’s words (in which they would not be alone).

Is the president-elect still up for a meeting with the man building nuclear weapons to turn Washington into a “sea of fire”? Is he still at odds with Japan and South Korea, or has victory in the election changed his policy?

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Joint US-South Korean military exercises

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It has certainly softened Mr Trump’s tone. Before the election, he seemed scornful of the alliance with South Korea and Japan. “Japan is better if it protects itself against this maniac of North Korea,” he said.

CNN said he had said on one of its programmes: “We are better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start protecting itself… they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.”

But the South Korean and Japanese leaders were the first he talked to after he won. He meets Prime Minister Abe in the flesh next week.

And after his talk with President Park, her office said that Mr Trump had pledged that “we will be steadfast and strong with respect to working with you to protect against the instability in North Korea”.

Much depends on who President Trump surrounds himself with. One possibility for secretary of state (in charge of foreign affairs) is John Bolton, who was once described by North Korea as “human scum”.

He was a hawkish ambassador to the UN under George W Bush. He has urged toughness towards Russia and is, therefore, unlikely to recommend “hamburger diplomacy” with the North Korean leader.

But one thing we have learned is that predicting Donald Trump is a fool’s game.

And the Obama doctrine of showing “strategic patience” (squeeze and wait) with North Korea hasn’t obviously worked. There are no signs of regime collapse in Pyongyang – quite the contrary.

What might President Trump do to thwart Mr Kim?

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North Korea said that it had tested its first thermonuclear weapon in January 2016

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On American television in February, he indicated that he thought China was the key.

He said: “China has control – absolute control – over North Korea. They don’t say it, but they do.

“And they should make that problem disappear.”

In Iowa in January, Mr Trump hinted at some admiration for Kim Jong-un, even as he suggested his counterpart was crazy.

He said: “This guy, he’s like a maniac, OK? And you have to give him credit.

“How many young guys – he was like 26 or 25 when his father died – take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden, you know, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it. How does he do that?”

And answering his own rhetorical question, Mr Trump said: “He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games. And we can’t play games with him. Because he really does have missiles. And he really does have nukes.”

He does – and they are getting better, with a bigger bang. The clock is ticking faster.

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Could a future summit be possible?

 

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Posted November 17, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

Trump election: Wall with Mexico ‘to be part fence’   Leave a comment


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US President-elect Donald Trump has said his planned wall along the Mexican border could be partly fence.  In some areas, “a wall is more appropriate”, he told US broadcaster CBS, but “there could be some fencing”,

Mr Trump repeatedly promised during his election campaign to build a wall to keep out illegal migrants. He said he planned to deport or jail up to three million undocumented migrants with criminal records, such as gang members and drug dealers.

Other undocumented migrants would be assessed once the border was secured, Mr Trump added.

Forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall became a rallying cry among Trump supporters during the campaign.

Their candidate caused outrage by suggesting Mexicans were exporting “their rapists” to the US, along with drugs and other crime.

Trump’s Great Wall

 

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‘The Donald’ negotiating with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

 

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The Republican defeated Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election, shocking many who had expected the Democratic candidate to win following favourable opinion polls.

In his first major interview to a US broadcaster since the election, Mr Trump told CBS: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”



Posted November 13, 2016 by markosun in Conspiracy Theories, Geography, Geopolitics

CNN getting panels ready for election night, Trump and Hillary last minute travel routes and Iraq   Leave a comment


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CNN is bringing in all the panelists Tuesday night

 

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The news network has 15 back-up panelists in case of emergency.

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Last day campaign travel schedule for Hillary and Donald

 

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More U.S. election

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Meanwhile back in Iraq

 

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Posted November 6, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

The North Korean Cult of Personality for the Kim Family   Leave a comment


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A Dynastic Totalitarian Dictatorship.

The North Korean cult of personality surrounding its ruling family, the Kim family, has existed in North Korea for decades and can be found in many examples of North Korean culture. Although not officially recognized by the North Korean government, many defectors and even Western visitors claim there are often stiff penalties for those who criticize or do not show “proper” respect for the regime. The personality cult began soon after Kim Il-sung took power in 1948, and was greatly expanded after his death in 1994.

While other countries have had cults of personality to various degrees (such as Joseph Stalin’s in the Soviet Union), the pervasiveness and extreme nature of North Korea’s personality cult surpasses that of Stalin or Mao Zedong. The cult is also marked by the intensity of the people’s feelings for and devotion to their leaders, and the key role played by a Confucianized ideology of familism both in maintaining the cult and thereby in sustaining the regime itself.

The enormous statues and portraits

 

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Stadium with participants holding large cards.

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The cult of personality surrounding the Kim family requires total loyalty and subjugation to the Kim family and establishes the country as a one-man dictatorship through successive generations. The 1972 constitution of the DPRK incorporates the ideas of Kim Il-sung as the only guiding principle of the state and his activities as the only cultural heritage of the people. According to New Focus International, the cult of personality, particularly surrounding Kim Il-sung, has been crucial for legitimizing the family’s hereditary succession, and Yong-soo Park noted in the Australian Journal of International Affairs that the “prestige of the Suryong [supreme leader] has been given the highest priority over everything else in North Korea”.

North Korean authorities have co-opted portions of Christianity and Buddhism, and adapted them to their own uses, while greatly restricting all religions in general as they are seen as a threat to the regime. An example of this can be seen in the description of Kim Il-sung as a god, and Kim Jong-il as the son of a god or “Sun of the Nation”, evoking the father-son imagery of Christianity. According to author Victor Cha, during the first part of Kim Il-sung’s rule, the state destroyed over 2,000 Buddhist temples and Christian churches which might detract from fidelity to Kim. There is even widespread belief that Kim Il-sung “created the world” and that Kim Jong-il controlled the weather. Korean society, traditionally Confucian, places a strong emphasis on paternal hierarchy and loyalty. The Kims have taken these deeply held traditions and removed their spiritual component, replacing them with loyalty to the state and the ruling family in order to control the population. Despite the suppression of traditional religions, however, some have described Juche, sociologically, as the religion of the entire population of North Korea.

According to a 2013 report by New Focus International, the two major North Korean news publications (Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency) publish around 300 articles per month relating to the “cult of Kim”. The report goes further and suggests that with the death of Kim Jong-il, the average North Korean citizen is growing weary of the vast amount of propaganda surrounding the Kims. DailyNK likewise published in 2015 that the younger generation is more interested in the outside world and that the government is finding it difficult to secure the loyalty of the “jangmadang” (marketplace) generation and promoting the idolization of Kim Jong-un.

The DPRK government claims there is no cult of personality, but rather genuine hero worship.

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Mansudae Grand Monument

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After his death on December 17, 2011, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that layers of ice ruptured with an unprecedentedly loud crack at Chon Lake on Mount Paektu and a snowstorm with strong winds hit the area. A political paper by his son, Kim Jong-un, sought to solidify his father as the “Eternal General Secretary of our Party.” Many had been seen weeping during the 100-day mourning period, which is typical of Korean Confucian society, and an analyst at South Korea’s Korea Institute for National Unification determined that much of the public grief evidenced during the mourning period was a genuine expression of sorrow. Yet, there has been some doubt as the genuine nature and depth of the displays of grief.

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Kim Jong-un, the grandson of North Korea’s founder, was largely absent from the public and government service until the mid-2000s. In 2010 he began being referred to as the “Young General” and by late 2011 as “Respected General”. Like his father, he lacks any formal military training or service. With the death of his father, state media began to refer to him as the “Great Successor.” Although he is still a new ruler, the development of his own personality cult is well underway, with large numbers of posters, signs, and other propaganda being placed all over the country. Some commentators have noted that his striking likeness in appearance to Kim Il-sung has helped solidify him as the undisputed ruler in the minds of the people.

Kim Jong-un marks the third generation of Kim family dynastic leadership. According to Daily NK, people who criticized the succession were sent to re-education camps or otherwise punished and, after the mourning period of Kim Jong-il, government authorities began to increase their efforts on building the idolization of Kim Jong-un.

After Kim Jong-il’s death the president of the Presidium announced that “Respected Comrade Kim Jong-un is our party, military and country’s supreme leader who inherits great comrade Kim Jong-il’s ideology, leadership, character, virtues, grit and courage.”

Shortly after the new leader came to power, a 560 metres (1,840 ft)-long propaganda sign was erected in his honor near a lake in Ryanggang Province. The sign, supposedly visible from space, reads “Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!”

In 2013, the Workers’ Party of Korea amended the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System, which in practice serves as the primary legal authority and framework of the country, to demand “absolute obedience” to Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Sung-taek, was executed on December 12, 2013. His death was attributed, in part, to undermining the Kim family personality cult. His death has also been seen as a move by Kim Jong-un to consolidate his own cult.

In 2015, at the end of the formal three-year mourning period for the death of Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un ordered the construction of new monuments to be built in every county of North Korea. Extensive renovations to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace have also been ordered. According to The Daily Telegraph, analysts “say the order to erect more statues to the Kim family will be a heavy financial burden on an economy that is already struggling due to years of chronic mismanagement and international sanctions”.

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A new bronze statue depicting the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, and his father Kim Il Sung are seen at stands inside the grounds of the Mansudae Art Studio after it was unveiled in Pyongyang Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. As North Koreans prepare for what would have been the 70th birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il this week, the country's state media have gone to great lengths to build up the man who led the nation for 17 years until his death in December. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

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Familism is a type of collectivism in which the one is expected to prioritize the needs of the greater society or family over the needs of the individual. This plays out on a large scale in North Korea, where the Great Leader Kim Il-Sung is Father and the Communist Party is Mother. Thus, not only are the people expected to cherish their birth parents and treat them with all the respect demanded of traditional Confucian filial piety, but they must cherish and adore the ruling Kim family and the Mother Party even more so.

Familism in North Korea stems from a combination of the traditional East Asian Confucian value of filial piety (upmost respect for parents and grandparents as well as elder uncles and aunts), the communist system of collectivism, and the Kim cult of personality. As a traditional East Asian and Confucian value, the importance of family has come to resonate through all aspects of North Korean life, from politics to the economy to education and even to interpersonal relationships between friends and enemies.

When the Soviet Union first entered North Korea in 1945 to start its occupation, it had to start almost from scratch in establishing a communist base in the capital region of Pyongyang. In fact, the Soviets’ ideologies of communism and socialism were likely as foreign to the Koreans of Pyongyang as the Soviets themselves. However, by emphasizing family and a father-child relationship between the Soviet Union and Korea, and later between Kim Il-Sung and the North Korean people, Kim not only managed to apply Western Marxism to an Asian state, but also to secure his own personality cult, thereby constructing a sense of unquestioning loyalty toward him amongst the North Korean people when North Korea was at its most vulnerable to unwelcome western influences.

I’m sure Kim-Jong Un is waiting for his statue.

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Posted October 19, 2016 by markosun in Bizarre, Geopolitics

Make Someplace Great Again   Leave a comment


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Posted October 4, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

The longest speeches ever at the United Nations   Leave a comment


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The document “List of Speeches and Visits Made by Heads of State and Dignitaries” gives the length of speech or speech times for many statements made from 1945-1976.

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The longest timed speech listed in the above document was made by Fidel Castro of Cuba at the 872nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 26 September 1960. The time listed is 269 minutes.

Other long speeches:

  • 10 Oct. 1960 – H.E. Mr. Sékou Touré – Guinea – President – 896th Plenary – 144 minutes
  • 23 Sep. 1960 – H.E. Mr. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev – USSR – Chairman of the Council of Ministers – 869th Plenary – 140 minutes
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  • 30 Sep. 1960 – H.E. Dr. Soekarno – Indonesia – President – 880th Plenary – 121 minutes

In addition, we have this note:

  • 23 Sep. 2009 – H.E. Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi – Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Leader of the Revolution – 96 minutes – (according to the website of the 64th session General Assembly General Debate)

On 23 January 1957 V. K. Krishna Menon delivered an unprecedented eight-hour speech defending India’s stand on Kashmir. To date, the speech is the longest ever delivered in the United Nations Security Council, covering five hours of the 762nd meeting on 23 January, and two hours and forty-eight minutes on the 24th, reportedly concluding with Menon’s collapse on the Security Council floor. During the filibuster, Nehru moved swiftly and successfully to consolidate Indian power in Kashmir. Menon’s passionate defence of Indian sovereignty in Kashmir enlarged his base of support in India, and led to the Indian press temporarily dubbing him the “Hero of Kashmir”.

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Famous Hugo Chavez speech

Speaking one day after Bush addressed the same session of the General Assembly, Chávez announced, “The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.” At that point, Chávez made the sign of the cross, positioned his hands as if praying, and looked briefly upwards as if invocation of God. He continued “Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the President of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world.” Chávez also said that President Bush “…came [to the General Assembly] to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.” Chávez began his talk by recommending Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: “It’s an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what’s happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.” Citing Chomsky’s book, Chávez explained, “…the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.”

 

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Posted September 20, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

Meanwhile, back to Donald Trump   Leave a comment


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‘The Donald” has been busy being colourful as ever in the last few days. He has finally acknowledged that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Back in 2011 after Obama released his long form Hawaiian birth certificate proving he is American, Trump still wasn’t satisfied. CNN clips show Trump telling Wolf Blitzer that he heard reports that the birth certificate was fake. And people are going to vote for this wacko to be president of the most powerful nation on the earth!

And in the last couple days Donald said Russian president Vladimir Putin is a stronger leader than president Obama. Of course Putin is stronger, he is a totalitarian dictator! He runs Russia with an iron fist. He kills journalists and opposition leaders. I think Trump likes that sort of thing. Donald seems to have a man-thing for Vlad.

And then there is Trump’s “Great Wall of the United States”. And he will get Mexico to pay for it, even though the Mexicans tell Trump to go to hell.

Recently released (yet unverifiable) photos of a brand new wall that Trump has built with his own casino money hit the web recently. Purportedly built along the Mexican-New Mexico border, this is one hell of a wall. Trump brought in some top US generals to take a look. They were impressed, especially with the missile launchers.

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Another recently released photo. This one was apparently taken by an intrepid Esquire photographer. The location is unknown, although it is rumoured it was in the eastern reaches of Siberia.  Rumour has it the Esquire photographer was taken into custody by Russian authorities after he submitted the photo and was sentenced to life in a Russian Gulag.  The first ten years will be hard labour and only bread and water to eat.

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Posted September 10, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics

President Obama had to use Air Force One belly exit metal staircase on arrival in China   Leave a comment


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This is how it usually unfolds.

 

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The main deck door with rolling staircase.

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Barack Obama ‘deliberately snubbed’ by Chinese in chaotic arrival at G20

The US president was denied the usual red carpet welcome and forced to ‘go out of the ass’ of Air Force One, observers say

China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US president was not provided with a red carpet staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20.

Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders of India, Russia, South korea, Brazil and the U.K., who touched down on Sunday morning.

But the leader of the world’s largest economy, who is on his final tour of Asia, was forced to disembark from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday afternoon.

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The belly door

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When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: “This is our country! This is our airport!”

“The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards,”the New York Times reported.

Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China, said he was convinced Obama’s treatment was part of a calculated snub.

“These things do not happen by mistake. Not with the Chinese,” Guajardo, who hosted presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón during his time in Beijing, told the Guardian.

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A Chinese official said there was no intended snub.

“It would do China no good in treating Obama rudely,” the official, who declined to be named, was quoted as saying.

“China provides a rolling staircase for every arriving state leader, but the US side complained that the driver doesn’t speak English and can’t understand security instructions from the United States; so China proposed that we could assign a translator to sit beside the driver, but the US side turned down the proposal and insisted that they didn’t need the staircase provided by the airport,” the official added.

The US president offered a diplomatic reply when asked to comment on the airport “kerfuffle” on Sunday during a joint press conference with Theresa May.

“I wouldn’t over-crank the significance of it because, as I said, this is not the first time that these things happen and it doesn’t just happen here. It happens in a lot of places including, by the way, sometimes our allies,” Obama said, adding that “none of this detracts from the broader scope of the relationship”.

Obama suggested his Chinese hosts might have found the size of the US delegation “a little overwhelming”.

“We’ve got a lot of planes, a lot of helicopters, a lot of cars and a lot of guys. If you are a host country, sometimes it may feel a little bit much.”

The Americans always operate big, and the delegation travelling with the president providing support is no exception. At least two giant C-17 Globemaster transports accompany the President. One carries the “Beast”, the armoured car like presidential limousine. As well as Secret Service support vehicles and equipment.  Another one carries “Marine One”, the presidential helicopter, other support helicopters may also be part of the contingent.

With this huge presence landing at your airport, and we know how the Americans sometimes can be assertive and over-bearing, the Chinese figured proper protocol was out the door. Thankfully, Obama said enough of this noise, use the retractable metal stairs.

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The Beast unloaded

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Marine One being unloaded

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Support suburban with a super machine gun, the infamous mini-gun.

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When disembarking in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan the belly door is used.

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Postscript: Donald Trump said it was a terrible snub by the Chinese. He said if that happened to me, I would have closed the doors and flew the hell out of there. Trump would flee the highest level economic summit in the world, because he didn’t get stairs with a red carpet!

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Posted September 7, 2016 by markosun in Aircraft, Geopolitics

The labyrinthine cesspool that is the Syrian Civil War   Leave a comment


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I have an interest in following wars – as the military historian John Keegan once said, “war is hell, but it does make for riveting good history” – that break out around the planet. Never have I seen such a convoluted can of worms such as the war in Syria. There are so many groups, which in turn are made up of many sub-groups, that are fighting each other that it is mind-boggling. Turkey, Russia, the United States, Islamic freak militants, the Free Syrian Army, the Kurds, Syrian government forces, Al Qaeda linked Al Nusra Front to name a few of the combatants. The civilian casualties and deaths are beyond horrific. What a messy out-of-control bloodbath.

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Main belligerents

 

Opposition

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Army of Conquest

Allied groups

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(SDF)

Allied groups:


CJTF–OIR

There is almost 50 entities listed above. Unbelievably complex conflict.

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Posted August 29, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics, War