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www.time4education.com Triumphant Institute of Management Education P Ltd Nyayapati Gautam Current Affairs - International
North Korea – The World’s Only Communist Monarchy An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo- Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet- sponsored Communist control. North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung failed to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the Korean War (1950-53)
North Korea – The World’s Only Communist Monarchy As a consequence he adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self- reliance" as a check against outside influence. North Korea moulded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control.
Kim Jong Il He was born in: –1942 in a log cabin frosted with snow at a revolutionary training camp on holy Mount Paektu –His birth foretold by a swallow and accompanied by a double rainbow & a new star in the heavens. –He learned to walk in three weeks, to talk in eight –He wrote six operas and 1,500 books while a student at Kim Il Sung University –He scored five holes-in-one in his first game of golf. –He was “the greatest writer who ever lived” and “greatest musical genius” –He was also the Glorious General from Heaven, the Guiding Star of the 21st Century …. –His bad temper could shake buildings; his cheerier moods could melt ice; and on a visit to South Korea fog shrouded him to keep him safe from snipers.
Kim Jong Il He was often portrayed as a platform- heeled, bouffanted buffoon—a cartoon villain. Yet he was coolly rational and, in the final reckoning, successful. Not only did he himself die at liberty, but he protected an entire generation of the narrow elite who rose with him. And above all, Kim, the family man, ensured that he passed his movie set to a chosen heir, his pudgy third son, Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Il Even as outsiders mocked him. Inside the country, no one dared. Kim knew exactly how the population lined up: loyal core, 5-25%; wavering, 50-75%; hostile, 8-27%. But those who dissented—even in a whisper, even by hanging his portrait askew—ended in prison camps, subject to forced labour and starvation. Perhaps one in 20 North Koreans passed through Kim’s gulags. Possibly 200,000 remain there. The rest were either brainwashed or pretended to be.
Kim Jong Il Era For years he was invisible –Not seen by the world until the 1970s –Never heard in North Korea until he came briefly to the microphone, at a parade in 1992, to cry “Glory to the heroic soldiers!” Yet since the 1960s he had been a feared force in his father’s Propaganda and Agitation Department: –eliminating internal rivals –possibly plotting foreign assassinations (the Korean Air bombing of 1987, in which 115 died, and the Rangoon bombing of 1983, killing three South Korean ministers, were both attributed to him) –building up the cult of his father in statues and birthday celebrations (and the cult of himself too)
Kim Jong Il Era The staging of Kim’s funeral was to show that, the regime has fallen into line behind the son. –with his uncle and aunt as regents. Continuity is the imperative. Kim Jong Il leaves behind two valuable prizes: –nuclear weapons (and the leverage they offer) –unambiguous support from China. Kim personality cult: –It flows from powerful myths about race and history. Above all is North Koreans’ sense of racial purity. –They have been taught to think of the Kims as warm, doting parents, fiercely guarding a vulnerable nation from American and Japanese and even Chinese abuse.
The Cracks… The famine of the late 1990s engendered unprecedented cynicism towards the regime. Survival mechanisms that have proved more durable than the state’s capacity to stamp them out. –Black markets have sprung up, –A thriving petty trade across the border with China –North Koreans watching South Korean soap operas on smuggled DVD players now know that their leaders have lied about the supposedly poor and oppressed people in the South.
Problems for China The strategists in Beijing have propped up the regime both because: –They fear instability on their border –They worry about a unified Korea, perhaps with American troops up against the Chinese frontier –Their dilemma is that whatever they do, North Korea will eventually collapse. On the one hand, the lack of reform is leading North Korea down a dead end. On the other, a more open country would surely spell the end of the Kim dynasty. It is why Kim Jong Il never blessed change, no matter how many times the Chinese showed him their economic miracle. Some in Beijing claim to see a reformist in the uncle-regent, Jang Song Taek.
US & Korea China is likely to encourage reforms if: –S. Korea and the US work harder to minimise the dangerous consequences of collapse by co- operating to prevent the North’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from falling into the wrong hands. –And they could make it far clearer to the Chinese that once the peninsula is at peace there will be no need for American troops to stay. The regrettable truth is that – –Not just China but also America (fearful of another global crisis), South Korea (fearful of the costs of adopting a country that seems alien to many young Koreans) and Japan (fearful of a united Korea) have propped up a murderous regime. Korea’s forgotten and downtrodden people.
Kim Jong Un Kim junior is now officially in charge. –He has been dubbed the “Young General” –His dynastic succession, which had been in preparation since 2009, was reaffirmed swiftly by the state media. –At just 27/28 years of age, educated in Switzerland and a great fan of basketball, lacks both experience and proof of loyalty from the armed forces. –He was installed as the country’s leader-in-waiting little more than a year ago. –By contrast his father had been groomed for leadership for nearly 20 years, with careful attention paid to establishing for him a cult of personality in the image of his own father, the dynasty’s founding dictator, Kim Il Sung.
What Now? North Korea’s is a government of competing factions: –the army, the Korean Workers’ Party and the cabinet being the greatest –uncertainty or crisis in the months ahead could upset the delicate balance behind the dictatorship. Time for reform because: –2012, the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth –It is supposed to be the year that North Korea becomes a “strong and prosperous nation” (kangsong taeguk). –The justification for reform could be: Kim Jong Il built the nuclear weapons that made his nation “strong”, Now it is the time make the country “prosperous”.
Will N. Korea Bite? North Korea is in desperate need of food aid. –US had reportedly offered to ship nearly a quarter of a million tonnes of "nutritional aid" on a month- to-month basis –The condition is that it would be allowed to verify that none of it ended up "on some leader's banquet table". –Pyongyang might suspend its uranium-enrichment programme. However foreign powers can’t do much. N. Korea was “remarkably insensitive to punishments and rewards” from abroad. – It shrugs off both sanctions and support. –Its behaviour is guided by domestic politics
MYANMAR Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. –Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony. –Independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988: –first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. –In September 1988, the military deposed NE WIN and established a new ruling junta.
Military Junta In August and September of 1988, Myanmar saw massive pro-democracy demonstrations. –Strikes and protests were held in virtually everywhere – It was against a military dictatorship that has held Myanmar in an iron grip since the army seized power in 1962 and abolished the country's democratic constitution. –Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero Aung San, happened to be in the country at that time (she then lived in England) and people turned to her for leadership. –She then emerged as the main leader of the country's pro-democracy movement.
Aung Sang Suu Kyi Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and subsequently transferred to house arrest. She was finally released in November 2010.
Back to … Military Junta But the government didn't fall. –It retreated into the background, and on Sept. 18, 1988, the military moved in, not to seize power -- which it already had -- but to shore up a regime overwhelmed by popular protest. –The result was a brutal massacre. Thousands of marchers were mowed down by machine-gun fire, protesters were shot in custody, and the prisons were filled with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Western countries, led by the United States, condemned the carnage. –Sanctions were imposed on the regime, –No effect. –Sanctions turned it into an international outcast.
China enters the scene China took full advantage of the situation. –In the1985 edition Beijing Review an article outlined the possibilities of finding an outlet for trade for China's landlocked southern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan through Myanmar to the Indian Ocean. –It also mentioned the Burmese railheads of Myitkyina and Lashio in the north and northeast, and the Irrawaddy River as possible conduits for Chinese exports. –This caused the West to rethink its Myanmar policy –The military leadership also got uncomfortable at its growing dependence on China.
Reform Process Myanmar's reform process began sometime in 2007 or 2008, possibly in the wake of the 2007 Saffron Revolution of Buddhist monks. President Thein Sein's government has begun implementing some of the country's most serious political reforms in a decade. –It has allowed more open discussion of political and economic reform. –Suspended construction of a Chinese-funded dam due to the population's concerns about its environmental side effects –Most prominently freed Suu Kyi.
Reform Process - Gathering Pace In early February, for the first time in memory, the finance minister revealed details of the government budget. –In a speech to parliament!!! he also divulged how much Myanmar owed in foreign debt ($11 billion). Then, a couple of days later the Govt. announced it will consider allowing monitors into the country for by-elections on April 1st. –It would be an extraordinary step. –These will be the first parliamentary seats to be contested by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), since it was unbanned by the government just a few months ago. –Suu Kyi herself is contesting and she recently held her first political rallies outside the capital
Reform Process - Gathering Pace Parliament is also considering a new media law that would, in theory, give Myanmar one of the most liberal reporting environments in the region. Only a year ago papers were not allowed even to mention Ms Suu Kyi’s name. Headlines like these were used “Sunderland Freeze Chelsea”, “United Stunned by Villa” & “Arsenal Advance to Grab Their Hope” to communicate the same.
WHY THE REFORMS? Long-term anxieties contributed to the generals’ change of heart. –After decades in power the regime became increasingly aware that once-rich Myanmar had in its hands fallen embarrassingly far behind the neighbours. The reform process was greatly accelerated last year by the Arab spring. Thein Sein, a former general who became the new president in March 2011, succeeding the hardline General Than Shwe was an enthusiastic Reformer. –Thein Sein is actually ready to admit to failures and says the country must learn from others.
WHY THE REFORMS? Another person who testifies to the president’s sincerity is Ms Suu Kyi. The government knows that Ms Suu Kyi has the first and last word on lifting any sanctions, a powerful bargaining position. –Yet Ms Suu Kyi has had to be flexible too. –She surprised her supporters by running for parliament –It looks like she has reneged on her principled opposition to participating in politics under the terms of a constitution, passed in 2008, which, above all, entrenches the army in politics.
Pragmatic Reforms Both Mr Thein Sein and Ms Suu Kyi have learned the virtues of pragmatism. –At their crucial meeting last August some sort of deal was worked out, and after that the pace of change quickened. –Broadly, it seems that Thein Sein promised to push ahead with the release of political prisoners, and give the nod to political reforms that might one day allow the NLD to take power. –In exchange, Ms Suu Kyi promised to rejoin (and so legitimise) the political process, and to work to lift sanctions. –Tacitly, at least, the NLD seems to have agreed that no retribution or prosecutions will follow against the generals for past crimes should they one day lose power.
MALDIVES Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom dominated the islands' political scene for 30 years, elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2003, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms.
Maldives - Background Progress was sluggish and many promised reforms were slow to be realized. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. In June 2008, a constituent assembly - Special Majlis - finalized a new constitution, which was ratified by the president in August. The first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system were held in October 2008. Gayoom was defeated in a poll by Nasheed a political activist who had been jailed many years earlier by the former regime.
Maldives – Some information Area: 298 sq km Tourism, Maldives' largest economic activity, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector, but the fish catch has dropped sharply in recent years.
The Coup Nasheed, known by his nickname “Anni” relinquished his presidency in a brief press conference on February 7 th. –Something forced on him at gunpoint, he later said. –After a night “in protective custody”, he was freed and the next day took to the streets, leading a rally of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which ended in arrests and violent scuffles, in which he was hurt. The vice-president, Waheed Hassan, had been sworn in as his replacement. –Nasheed’s supporters see the new man as an puppet, with the real power-grabbers being close to Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Nasheed & MDP Nasheed won 54% of the vote. –His charisma soon charmed the outside world –He also indulged in shrewd publicity stunts that were aimed at drawing attention to the particular danger climate change poses to the Maldives –Nasheed held the world’s first (scuba-enabled) underwater cabinet meeting, and suggested his country set aside some of its tourism earnings to buy a new homeland. But from the beginning, the MDP has struggled to remake the Maldives. –The judiciary has blocked efforts to reform and to prosecute members of the Gayoom regime. –Nasheed’s detractors allege that, in response, he acquired intolerance of dissent like Gayoom.
Downfall What precipitated his downfall was the arrest of a judge accused of being in Mr Gayoom’s pocket. –That arrest, which was condemned as unconstitutional, galvanised nightly protests in Male. –When some of the police mutinied and joined the protesters, it was obvious that Nasheed’s days were numbered. –The offending judge has now issued an order for Mr Nasheed’s arrest. One element of the opposition to him is Islamic. –After he resigned, there were soon stories of the alcohol and “hash oil” allegedly found in his home.
Not the First Coup Operation Cactus - November 3, 1988
ISRAEL AND IRAN U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta apparently predicted that Israel will attack Iran and its nuclear complex "in April, May or June.“ ! ! ! ! !
Why would Israel do that? Time pressure Why so soon? –The Iranian program is still under the supervision of IAEA inspectors and Iran has not made any moves to "break out" toward the production of bomb- grade highly enriched uranium. –However Iran's uranium enrichment effort continues to advance, even after the Stuxnet computer attack and the assassination of several of its nuclear scientists. –According to the report, Iran seems to be successfully installing advanced, high-efficiency uranium-enrichment centrifuges, which means a significant increase in enrichment capacity and output in the near future.
Why would Israel do that? More importantly - from Israel's perspective – –Iran is now installing centrifuge cascades into the Fordow mountain site near Qom. –This bunker is too deep for Israeli bombs to penetrate.
Risks from Israeli perspective Monitoring is definitely on but as Tehran undoubtedly assumes, such a "breakout" (tossing out the inspectors and quickly enriching to the bomb-grade level) would lead to air strikes from Israel. Israeli leaders may have concluded that Iran could break out after the Fordow site is operational. (Later in 2012)
Is Military action enough? Alternatives to military action now fall short For the Israelis starting a war is risky. –There should be convincing reasons for discarding the non-military alternatives. So why can't Israel's secret but widely assumed nuclear arsenal deter an Iranian nuclear strike? –Israel's territory and population are so small that even one nuclear blast would be devastating. Even if Iran sought a nuclear weapons capability solely to establish its own defensive deterrent, the outcome would be gross instability in the region in the eyes of Israel.
Escalation Dominance The benefits of escalation A strike on Iran's nuclear complex would be at the outer boundary of the Israeli Air Force's capabilities. –Israel's small inventory of bunker-buster bombs may damage the underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, but they will likely have no effect on the Fordow mountain complex. Iran has undoubtedly dispersed and hidden many other nuclear facilities. An Israeli strike is thus likely to have only a limited and temporary effect on Iran's nuclear program.
Escalation Dominance So, why bother? –Israel's leaders may actually prefer a wider escalating conflict. –This especially so before Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state. –Under this theory, Israel would take the first shot. –Israel might then prefer Iranian retaliation, which would then give it the excuse for broader strikes against Iran's oil industry and power grid etc. –It would be even better if Iran were to block the Strait of Hormuz or attack U.S. forces in the region. –Because this would bring U.S. Central Command into the war and result in even more punishment for Iran. –“Escalation Dominance”
End Game The End Game War of attrition. Slow down progress in Nuclear development. International sanctions – weaken the civilian economy and reduce political support for the regime. The stable and favorable outcome for Israel would be either Tehran's abandonment of its nuclear program Or an internal rebellion against the regime.