July 22, 2017
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Why Korea cannot put forth a Korean perspective?
July 22, 2017
One of the great mysteries about Korea is why it is that although Seoul is full of many extremely educated and capable people with degrees from Harvard, Yale and Stanford, people who are extremely knowledgeable about topics from mechanical engineering to public policy and diplomacy, Korea is virtually incapable of advancing a Korean vision or perspective on current affairs. Extremely well-educated Koreans struggle with all their might to absorb and interpret the writings about North Korea and East Asia put out by American experts like Michael Green at CSIS or John Ikenberry at Princeton even though they have far greater understanding of the issues than those experts do.
The problem is much more serious today than ever before for the simple reason that Washington D.C. is incapable of making policy anymore. Paralyzed between a cabal of billionaires and their loyal minions who see the office of the presidency as a means to make large amounts of money and a professional class of bureaucrats and politicians who work for investment banks rather than for the national interest, Washington D.C. cannot formulate any long-term plans for itself, let alone respond meaningfully to recent developments in Japan, China or North Korea. Currently, the tendency in the United States is to paper over the increasing authoritarianism of the Abe administration, to present a caricature of Kim Jung Eun taken from a B movie and to make dark insinuations about a rising China threat at every opportunity. All this effort is linked to a deep level of denial about institutional decay in the United States itself.
South Korea has a more legitimate president than just about any other country and it has the expertise and the know-how to formulate its own policy and to make proposals for the future of East Asia. But if it relies on the United States and Japan to give it guidance, it will find itself increasingly at sea.
Why is it that Koreans have become so dependent on Western, particularly American, perspectives on economics, governance, security and diplomacy when Korea is far better positioned to put forth new approaches and launch initiatives, than the United States is? If we look at the question of engagement with China, there are far more Koreans who speak Chinese, who understand Chinese politics and economics in depth and who have a high level of education. And now with an isolationist and radically anti-intellectual Trump administration installed in Washington D.C., it should be the Koreans who are giving advice to Washington D.C., not the other way around. Read more of this post
July 13, 2017
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Watching recent reporting about the planned US missile-defense system THAAD being deployed in South Korea, the debate is completely absent any attempt to consider what exactly the function of THAAD is and what its role is in the true security of South Korea. In fact, there is almost no discussion about whether a missile attack from North Korea is likely at all, or what other security threats might be out there. It seems rather that THAAD has become a totem (bad or good) before which one prays in the hope that it will bestow magical powers.
July 12, 2017
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I must confess that when I saw this “hammer and paintbrush” logo on the Facebook page today, I wondered to myself whether Facebook has developed an organized proletariat. After all, the Bolsheviks became famous for their “hammer and sickle” mark. The hammer represented the workers and the sickle, the farmers who had been drawn into the struggle in that case.
In the case of Facebook, the symbol features the hammer and the paintbrush. Perhaps the hammer refers to programmers and the paintbrush to designers and the creators of content. As a creator of content myself, I would certainly be a paintbrush in the Facebook community. See my talk about Facebook.
How about yourself?