“For a number of years, mainland Chinese buyers have accounted for nearly all new apartment sales in Melbourne and Sydney. On numbers I’ve seen, they have been investing between A$2 billion and $3 billion a year.”

via http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com

The mean does matter

bq. The desire to force upon the people a creed which is regarded as salutary for them is, of course, not a thing that is new or particular to our time. New, however, is the argument by which many of our intellectuals try to justify such attempts. There is no real freedom of thought in our society, so it is said, because the opinions and tastes of the masses are shaped by propaganda, by advertising, by the example of the upper classes, and by other environmental factors which inevitably force the thinking of the people into well-worn grooves. From this it is concluded that if the ideals and tastes of the great majority are always fashioned by circumstances which we can control, we ought to use this power deliberately to turn the thoughts of the people in what we think is a desirable direction.

bq. Probably, it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another. In any society freedom of thought will probably be of direct significance only for a small minority. But this does not mean that anyone is competent, or ought to have power, to select those to whom this freedom is to be reserved. It certainly does not justify the presumption of any group of people to claim the right to determine what people ought to think or believe. It shows a complete confusion of thought to suggest that, because under any sort of system the majority of people follow the lead of somebody; it makes no difference if everybody has to follow the same lead. To deprecate the value of intellectual freedom because it will never mean for everybody the same possibility of independent thought is completely to miss the reasons which give intellectual freedom its value. What is essential to make it serve its function as the prime mover of intellectual progress is not that everybody maybe able to think or write anything but that any cause or idea maybe argued by somebody. So long as dissent is not suppressed, there will always be some who will query the ideas ruling their contemporaries and put new ideas to the test of argument and propaganda.

_F.A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom (Eleven: The End of Truth)_

The Mythology Of The ‘Moral’ America

bq.
* Covertly overthrew President Salvador Allende in Chile and replacing him with Augusto Pinochet who would kill and torture over 100,000 people
* Currently providing over $3 billion a year in military aid to Israel while it systemically cleanses greater Palestine of non-Jews
* Currently providing over $3 billion a year to Pakistan and Egypt, despite wide-spread human rights abuses and lack of democratic rights
* Spearheaded efforts to impose a UN Blockade to Iraq, leading to an estimated 200,000 deaths in the late 1990’s
* Currently providing over $1 billion a year to Saudi Arabia, including $3 million dollars of electro-shock devices used to torture inmates and political prisoners
* Funded and headquartered in Georgia the School of the Americas Assassins (currently named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which trained and armed ‘anti-Communist’ fighters in Latin America. These have included dictators and gross human rights abusers such as Bolivia’s Hugo Banzer and Panama’s Manuel Noriega.
* Overthrew the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in 1953 and replaced it with the dictatorship of the pro-Western Shah
* Funded the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, including Osama Bin Laden, to fight the Soviets in the early 1980s
* Provided Saddam Hussein with the chemical weapons he would use to kill over 100,000 Kurds
* And that’s just a brief list, not including America’s involvement in Vietnam, the bombing of civilians in Cambodia and subsequent rise of the Khmer Rouge, the use of nuclear weapons against Japan, or the funding and arming of Contra death squads in Nicaragua.

“Link”:http://www.prosebeforehos.com/international-relations/04/29/the-mythology-of-the-moral-america/?polred via “dekorte.com”:dekorte.com

Reading List: Vietnam A History

“Vietnam: A History”:http://www.amazon.com/Vietnam-History-Stanley-Karnow/dp/0140265473 by Stanley Karnow.

This is a second book about the Vietnam War I have read from American journalists. Compared with the “Bright Shining Lie”:http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Shining-Lie-America-Vietnam/dp/0679724141 by Neil Sheehan, this book covered more about the internal politics among American leaders; the book is also more journalistic. Sheehan’s book has a fictional feel and covers much more in details the actions in ground.

Karnow gave a very good summary of the French colony period. He started from the very early efforts introducing Christianity into the country, and under that cover the French and foreign merchants sponsored the priests conducting activities undermining the Vietnamese monarchy.  One point Karnow seems to emphasized from this part, IMHO, is the the development of the Vietnamese nationalism. Vietnam as the independent country had a very long history; it was formed as early as the England was formed. Karnow and many other authors pointed out that both the French and the Americans underestimated this point and thought they could impose on the populace client governments.

While this book is a good source to understand the war, it is a book written by American journalist. By that, I mean it is nowhere near non-bias. The bias nature happens at many levels. For example, the author literally said twice in the book that Vietnam war (or American war as the Vietnamese call it) was a civil war in which Americans tried to support the democratic government in the South against the communist force from the North. However, the whole book (of course written by the same author) showed exactly the opposite. It was the war created by the American government, initiated right after the WWII when they funded the French effort to recapture the colony. The South Vietnam government was built mostly through CIA activities. All the details are well presented in the book. A lot people countered this point by saying that the North Vietnam government was a client state of Russia and China. Though the North was heavily influenced by Russia and China because they depended on them for the supplies, but they are nowhere near a client state. During the French war, Viet Minh was the only force has mass political support and the strength to fight the French. Russia and China did not and could not dictate who would be the next president of the North Vietnam.

The author was bias in the way he described actions of both sides. While talking about the crimes committed by Americans during the war, Karnow tended to describe them at abstract levels. For example, he described very little about the My Lai massacre, the bombing of the South Vietnam, the bombing of the North Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia and Laos. He did mentioned in his book the event which B52 wiped out the whole Kham Thien street in Hanoi, however it was described as a mistake a collateral damage. In contrast, he went into details about the Hue massacre, told a lot of personal stories of several victims.

As human we cannot completely be non-bias, however as a professional journalist, I supposed Karnow should have tried to be more neutral. Obviously, he did not manage to do so in this book, or maybe he really think that was the way things went. Whatever the reason, be aware of this mental model bias when reading any political works.

I was surprised at the number of grammar errors in the book. The Vietnamese names are comprised of seperate words, so “Hai Phong” is the name of the city in the North. The Western authors usually wrote as Haiphong which is not considered a correct way In Vietnamese. Regardless of which way you want to use, you should use it consistently. Karnow sometimes write Hai Phong, sometimes Haiphong. And many times, he just got names wrongly. For example, on page 200, a town called Lao Cai was written as Laokay.

Having said all these, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the war. Just be aware of the limitations.

Promised Land?

Three-part series examining the origins, violent creation, and modern-day reality of the state of Israel, told through the stories of individual Israelis.

“Link”:http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2008/05/2008615173216317.html via Al Jazeera

Note: Look like a good series.

Quote of the day

bq. The most effective propaganda is that which is invisible. If propaganda is seen as propaganda, it’s not working. One of the failures of the Soviet system was that its propaganda was always understood for a large part, from the early 1930s on, by its own people as propaganda.

Stuart Ewen

Peaceful Europe

Certainly they are not; in my family, my grandmothers are living witnesses of the French brutality; that was history. Chomsky explained clearly the current arrangement among major Western powers.

“Link”:http://www.vnavarro.org/wp/?p=497

If you look over a longer historical sweep, Europe was the most savage and brutal region of the world for centuries. Establishing the nation-state system in Europe was a program of mass murder and destruction. In the 17th century, probably 40% of the population of Germany was wiped out by war. In the course of this savagery and brutality, Europe created a culture of savagery and a technology of savagery that enabled it to conquer the world. For example, Britain is a little island off the coast of Europe, but it dominated the world. And the rest of Europe didn’t exactly have nice policies. A small country like Belgium was able to kill probably 10 million people in the Congo.

This, of course, was associated with racist arrogance of the most extreme kind. And it finally culminated in two world wars. Since the Second World War, Europe has been at peace, not because Europeans became pacifists, but because there was a realization that the next time they played the traditional game of slaughtering each other they would wipe out the world. They’ve created such a culture of savagery and technology of destruction that that game is over.

The Second World War was also a sharp shift of global power. The United States had been the most powerful economy in the world for a long time, far stronger than Europe, but it was not a major player in world affairs. It dominated the Western hemisphere and there were forays into the Pacific, but it was second to England and even France.

The Second World War changed all that. The United States profited enormously from the war, and the rest of the world was seriously harmed and destroyed. The war ended the Depression, and industrial production practically quadrupled. The United States ended the war possessing literally half the wealth of the world and with incomparable security and military force, and planners knew it. They planned for global domination in which the exercise of sovereignty by other countries would not be tolerated. The plans were developed and implemented. In Europe, at the end of the war, there was a wave of radical democracy, anti-fascism, the resistance, workers’ control – some of which was quite significant — and the first task of the United States and Britain, the conquerors, was to crush it. So in country after country, Japan as well, the first task of the liberators, so-called, was to crush the resistance to fascism and restore the traditional order. Maybe not under the same name, but often under the same leaders. It was a battle that didn’t happen overnight. For example, Italy was probably the main target of CIA subversion, at least into the 1970s when the record runs dry, to try to prevent Italian democracy, because this would have meant a big role for the labor movement, which couldn’t be tolerated. It gradually sank in: European elites had to accept a position in which the United States would take over their traditional role of running the world by savagery and barbarism, and they would accept part of the gains that would come to the United States from global domination.

It’s not that the radical democrats lost entirely in Europe – they did gain a measure of social democracy. In fact, Europeans live better that Americans in many respects: they’re healthier, they’re taller, they have more leisure. The United States, especially since the 1970s, has about the highest number of work hours in the industrial world, about the lowest wages, the worst benefits, and the worst health outcomes. Even if we just look at height: when an American goes to Europe, the first thing that strikes you is how tall everybody is, and it’s literally true. So Europe has had many gains from its subordinate position – let the United States take the lead in destroying, massacring, and so on – and a kind of complacency has set in. There’s almost a sigh of relief: after centuries of savagery and barbarism, we’ll relax and follow somebody else, let them do it, and we’ll just enjoy the benefits from that.

The political classes, the business classes, and so on, don’t have any objection to this. What you call Americanization is really the spread of business control. The business classes are quite happy. They’re closely integrated. There is some conflict, but they are really closely integrated with the United States.

International affairs

bq. International affairs are much like the Mafia: the Godfather cannot tolerate disobedience even from a small storekeeper who fails to pay protection money, or “the rot might spread and spoil the barrel,” in the terminology of US planners: the rot of successful independent development, out of US control. Vietnam, it was feared, might infect surrounding countries, even Indonesia, with its rich resources. And Japan — what the prominent Asia historian John Dower called “the superdomino” — might “accommodate” to an independent East Asia, becoming its industrial and technological center, effectively recreating the “New Order” that fascist Japan had sought to construct by force during World War II. The U.S. was not prepared to lose the Pacific phase of World War II a few years later.

From “Chomsky Speaks”:http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20080616.htm