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Will there ever be a compromise?

One of the issues that has interested me for some time has been how countries forge their cultural identity and develop a sense of common glue that binds them together with the same values and interests. It is something that for centuries people have fought and believed in. In Britain and the empire, the fighting was for ‘King and Country’ – in the US, it was perhaps for ‘liberty, democracy and the capitalist spirit?’ But today, as the mix of tourists, immigrants and business folk increase, what makes the British, British for example? Do we need to feel tied to common ancestry, to feel belonging? Perhaps not. What is it that provides us with a cultural identity? With what do we identify?

Of course, the growth of global trade, communication and popular culture is generally seen as a positive thing for our societies. But at the same time, the force of globalization can be associated with the demise of cultural identity in the West. Whilst in the West, cultural identity has been on the decline for many decades, in the East – particularly in emerging economies such as China – I wonder whether the erosion of cultural identity, which is still intact – is partly what the government fears as the country globalizes?

090226-pakistan-aid-hmed-3p_hmediumA billion dollars in aid to Pakistan over two years. That is a huge donation from Japan to try and assist the stabilisation of the Pakistani economy and to aid the fight against terrorism. It is also a large portion – in fact a quarter – of the total package pledged by about 40 countries and international organisations over the same period. It is a strong commitment to global security initiatives by the Japanese government.

It is also an important lever in any discussion that could lead to friction in the future. China has played a major role in the development of Pakistans nuclear infrastruture. China has supplied Pakistan with nuclear materials and expertise and has provided critical assistance in the construction of Pakistans nuclear facilities. Pakistan also acquired nuclear related materials from the Former Soviet Union. Importantly, Pakistan does not stand by a no-first-use doctrine.

Currently, Pakistan is a strategically important frontline state in the ‘war against terrorism’. With this enormous economic pledge from Japan, therefore, the debate is can aid contribute to providing greater control and stability to conflicts involving non-state actors? And more significantly for Japan, can this donation of a billion dollars in aid provide a leading voice for them in global security matters?

Perhaps more concerning is whether or not Pakistan is up to the challenge of working with these types of aid programs to provide the necessary stability required in the region. Take a look at the recent post by worldthreats.com who note that a leading expert is suggesting that Pakistan might collapse in six months.

Economic Yo-Yo

Just as there was talk of ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery emerging the IMF have released another two chapters warning of a prolonged and deep global recession. Its depressing and confusing.greenshots

Despite the yo-yo feeling as the stock market tries to pick up and not fall further, I feel that these historic global policy actions of fiscal-stimulus packages, monetary easing and massive bailouts has reduced a much worse outcome for the worlds financial system. yo-yo_jpg

But surely with this artificial pumping of money into the system across the world – we must be looking at a future of massive inflation?

yokota_frontcover2

I support the comments of TinkertheThinker ie- that there are bigger threats to consider than those from state actors at present. And the ongoing problems with pirates in the Indian ocean is indicative of the increased conflict posed by non-state actors.

Interestingly, however, the Japan Times tried to gauge the reaction of people on the street vis a vis the North Korean issues and regional security. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090414vf.html Its a mixed bag of short views from a range of nationalities living in Japan. The biggest fear/threat seems to be dealing with the ‘unknown’ – ie . North Korea is still the most secretive of states. And in addition to these concerns, the unresolved issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens still haunts Japanese civilians and complicates relations in the region. I believe that it is these domestic political issues that is driving Japanese Government policy towards North Korea. For those that are not aware of these issues – take a look at this recent publication.

http://blog.ningin.com/2009/01/19/north-korea-kidnapped-my-daugher-a-memoir-by-sakie-yokota/

Two questions for you on my blog tonight –

Does the US want China to take more of a role in dealing with this North Korea nuclear brinkmanship ?
And would China consider invading North Korea?

China seems to have the most influence over North Korea. And maybe the US is happy to let China take the lead with regard to security diplomacy. Typically China and North Korea have been seen as allies. But in the current global political climate does China need a belligerent and irrational neighbour causing regional security issues?

China has a long border with the North Koreans – it stretches 1420 km. And the potential for this border to become clogged with refugees, must be paramount in the Chinese officials minds, if there were to be a deterioation in the fabric of North Korean society.

In response to my two questions posed at the start of the blog – Japan would be very worried !
And perhaps the developments by China would be a PR disaster – so maybe Chinese invasion of NK would not be an option. Comments welcome – the North Koreans seem to love this kind of chess board strategy attention. Is it all a game with them?

A short post today – its Easter!

I caught up with a friend of mine from California and we talked about the state of the economy over in the US. He said he’d been offered an IOU instead of a tax refund earlier this year. I was amazed at his story!

But yes, the state of California is so hard pressed for cash -that it has had to delay paying taxation rebates to residents. I wonder what would happen if my friend decided that he couldnt afford to pay his taxes. Could he issue the state with an I.O.U. and get away with it? Surely that’s criminal Mr. Terminator? So where’s the money gone?1-27-2009-10-52-25-pm-149x300
http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2009/01/tax-refunds-now.html Click on the link and check out some of the comments about the state of californias taxes – people there aint happy!