Monthly Archives: October 2005

Lotte Marines Clinch Pennant!

I’m happy to see the long-suffering White Sox in the U.S. World Series. Last year about this time, I was wondering whether this year would see an all-Chicago series between the Cubs and the Sox. The major drawback of the White Sox victory over the Angels is that it brings to an end Matt Welch‘s season of sharply informed comment on the national pastime.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Pacific League playoffs have ended, too, with gratifying results.

FUKUOKA (AP) Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines are going to the Japan Series for the first time in 31 years.

Tomoya Satozaki doubled in a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning at Yahoo Dome on Monday as the Marines defeated the Softbank Hawks 3-2 in Game 5 of the Pacific League’s second stage playoffs to advance to the Japan Series, where they will face the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers.

“I don’t think either team should have lost,” said Valentine. “The Hawks are a great team and the Marines are a great team and I congratulate everyone in the organization.”

The Marines, who last played in the Japan Series in 1974 when they were known as the Lotte Orions, will open the best-of-seven championship on Saturday at Chiba Marine Stadium.

When I was a kid, my brother and I used to root for the Nankai Hawks, while my Dad would root for their archrivals, the Daimai Orions. Now I’m happy to see the successors of the Orions beat the Hawks, mostly because the Hawks have been rather unfair toward foreign players, while the Marines have gone so far as to hire a foreign manager, not to mention one of Hawai‘i baseball’s favorite sons, Benny Agbayani.

In a sloppy piece (see comments) from 2001, Scott Gorman at described the Hawks’ attitude toward foreign players who threaten their manager’s home run record.

On September 24th, [Tuffy] Rhodes, a journeyman when he played in America, did the unthinkable: He tied Sadaharu Oh’s decades-old record for most home runs in a season when he belted number 55. That he was even granted a chance to tie and perhaps surpass Oh, the unchallenged king of Japanese baseball as a player and now the manager of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, may be a testament to how much attitudes towards American players have changed in Japan, just as the immense popularity of Ichiro Suzuki in the United States signals a sea change in the American acceptance of Japanese players.

In contrast, consider the case of Randy Bass, an American slugger of an earlier era, who in 1985 was denied even the opportunity to challenge Oh. When he got close, Japanese players and managers appalled at the thought of an American (and it must be said in race-conscious Japan, an African-American player to boot) taking home the precious record intentionally walked or hit him every time he came to the plate in the last games of the season. Oh said nothing.

But this year, Oh let it be known that Rhodes should have a chance without prejudice, much to his credit. Perhaps he suddenly remembered that as a young player, before he was anointed, he took lots of guff because his mother was born in Taiwan, and he therefore was not a “pure” Japanese. [Oh’s family name is Wang in Chinese, and more likely came from his father’s side.] Rhodes’ lot was made easier by the fact that he showed proper respect for the record and the personage of Oh all year, much to the dismay of the Japanese sporting press, who love to create screaming headlines.

(But perhaps Oh still had mixed feelings, at least about seeing his 37-year-old record broken in front of him. In a game against Oh’s Fukuoka Daiei Hawks on September 30th, Rhodes was walked or given impossible-to-hit pitches, despite Oh’s statement that he wanted everything on the level. Were Oh’s coaches acting against his wishes? Hard to say, but unlikely. But the general principle remained; Rhodes, it was maintained, was still be given his chances, apparently just not against the Hawks).

UPDATE: Tom of That’s News to Me notes that Gorman seems to have mixed up Randy Bass, who’s white, with Tuffy Rhodes, who’s black.

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The Interrogation of Kim Hyun Hee

On November 29, 1987 … a powerful bomb exploded on a Korean Air Lines (KAL) jetliner over the Andaman Sea on its way from Abu Dhabi to Seoul. All 115 passengers and crewmembers were killed….

Moving swiftly after news of the plane’s disappearance, the Bahrain Intelligence Service had determined that the passport of Mayumi Hachiya, a 25-Year-old Japanese woman traveling with her father and registered on the first leg of KAL 858 from Baghdad to Abu Dhabi, was a fake. On November 31 at the airport in Bahrain, where the two had flown in an attempt to get home from Abu Dhabi, the suspicious pair was apprehended by Bahraini police as they were about to board a flight for Rome. The elderly man, who turned out to be a veteran North Korean secret agent, bit into a cyanide-laced cigarette and died instantly. Bahrain Police Chief Ian Henderson, however, grabbed for a similarly poisoned cigarette on the lips of the young woman. She hesitated for a moment, and Henderson flicked the cigarette out of her mouth. The young woman survived. To this day, Henderson, an Englishman by birth, shows curious visitors the scar on his finger where the young woman bit him when he reached for the “cigarette.”

At first, with her interrogators the young woman stuck steadfastly to her cover story that she was a Chinese orphan who had grown up in Japan and who had had nothing to do with the bombing. But her actions belied her story. In one violent outburst in Bahrain, enraged by a line of questioning about her sexual past, she felled a female interpreter with a palm-heel strike to the nose, delivered a hammer-fist punch to the groin of Henderson, and then grabbed for his pistol. She was about to shoot herself with the pistol when she was jolted by an electric stun gun. Her rage prompted Henderson to send her to Seoul. “Get her out of here. She belongs to the South Koreans now,” Henderson said.

The man who took Kim Hyun Hee–her real name–back to Seoul was Vice Foreign Minister Park Soo Kil. Park flew to Bahrain shortly after the KAL 858 explosion with three agents from the Agency for National Security Planning, also known as the KCIA, to demonstrate to the Bahrain authorities that Kim was indeed a North Korean agent. Chief among the evidence was an analysis of the cyanide-laced cigarettes, which showed them to be the same type used by North Korean agents apprehended in South Korea. Bahrain was getting pressure from unfriendly countries such as Syria to send her to China. Park told Bahrain government officials that the longer the suspected terrorist stayed in their country, the more at risk Bahrain would be to a rescue attempt by North Korea that could leave more people dead, likely Bahrainis. Finally, after Kim’s attack, the Bahrain government let her return with him.

In Seoul, under twenty-four-hour observation and subject to in-depth questioning to which she replied in either Japanese or Chinese, Kim broke and confessed. On the eighth day of her interrogation, she collapsed upon the breast of a woman interrogator and said in Korean, “Forgive me. I am sorry. I will tell you everything.” The interrogation had been conducted masterfully by the South Koreans. They had observed the way she expertly made her bed every morning as if she had had prolonged military training, uncovered discrepancies in her story, like her incorrect use of southern Chinese words to describe life in northern China, and cajoled her by taking her on a tour of Seoul.

She admitted to helping place a radio time bomb with liquid explosive in the overhead luggage rack of KAL 858 while on the Baghdad to Abu Dhabi leg and then deplaning with her fellow agent. Kim revealed that the two North Koreans had been traveling overseas, disguised as father and daughter, for more than three years in preparation for the operation. Interestingly, the South Koreans used the fact that Kim had said she was originally from China to get back at the North Koreans. They communicated to Peking through the New China News Agency in Hong Kong that “your North Korean friends have put this monkey on your back.” The Chinese were upset–and probably embarrassed….

For the bombing of KAL 858, the U.S. put North Korea on its list of countries engaged in terrorism and started to assist South Korea in security arrangements for the upcoming [1988] Olympics. In a meeting with Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in March 1988, President Reagan received assurances that there would be no North Korean terrorist attacks at the Olympics.

SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 283-284, 286-287

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Mullah Omar and Bin Laden: New Friends, Not Old

Since September 2001, Mullah Omar has been widely portrayed as an old friend of Osama bin Laden’s. Richard C. Clarke, the CIA counterintelligence chief, said that Mullah Omar and bin Laden were old friends and that Mullah Omar was anxious for bin Laden to return to Afghanistan from Sudan. [Former Taliban intelligence chief] Khaksar denies this, saying the two had never met until after the Taliban took control of Kabul in September 1996.

Clarke said Bin Laden was encouraged by Mullah Omar to come to Afghanistan from Sudan to build training camps and bring his money. That’s plain wrong. The terrorist training camps flourished under the mujahedeen government [1992-1996], the opponents of the Taliban. Osama bin Laden came to Afghanistan from Sudan with the help of the mujahedeen government.

The Taliban had become, by 2001, a loathsome repressive regime. But that does not justify or explain why the CIA revised history in order to connect bin Laden and Mullah Omar in those early days of the Taliban movement. The CIA should have known that Osama bin Laden’s friends were the men of the Northern Alliance, men like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the very men it would later choose to help hunt bin Laden.

SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 31-32

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Kandahar, 1986: City of Music and Rubble

It’s a bizarre twist that the Taliban movement, with its horrific repressiveness and abhorrence of music and mysticism, should have come out of Kandahar, where ritual worship at shrines is widespread. That region is home to the [Sufi] Pirs, clerics who trace their lineage to Islam’s prophet and have mystical qualities that are revered, their feet and hands kissed.

The severe interpretation of Islam that the Taliban eventually embraced with such vigor came from the outsiders who would take it over, the Afghans trained at Pakistani madrassas, and later by the austere philosophy of Wahabi Islam practiced by Saudi Arabia and the Arab militants who would later wield such control.

Kandahar was not a city of severe Islam in 1986. Kandaharis were not anti-Western ideologues, but in fact just the opposite. The mujahedeen, who arranged my clandestine visit to Kandahar city, were Pashtun tribesmen, kinsmen of Mullah Omar. They drove throughout the region on motorcycles.

In their homes in bomb-shattered villages were old dust-clogged tape recorders that blared Pashtu songs. The most popular singer was a Pashtu chanteuse named Nagma, who sang of love lost, new love.

SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), p. 33

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Rashid on the Pakistani Military vs. Mother Nature

In today’s Daily Telegraph, Ahmed Rashid questions how well Pakistan’s military rulers will survive the latest huge natural disaster to hit the region.

The last time the Pakistan army rode to the rescue of its citizens after a massive natural disaster, the result was a civil war and the loss of half the country.

That was in 1970, when half a million people in what was then East Pakistan drowned as a result of typhoons and floods, and the delay of the army in launching a relief effort led to enormous public anger and the eventual creation of Bangladesh….

So far the army has been woefully slow in reacting to the disaster. Its much vaunted Crisis Management Cell – set up after 9/11, run by army officers and modelled on America’s National Security Council – has itself been an abysmal disaster. Management on the ground has been superficial at best. Stories abound, such as the one about a 72-man team of Spanish rescuers and their sniffer dogs being kept waiting for 48 hours at Islamabad airport before someone told them where to go. But as the army operation kicks in, bolstered by foreign aid, money and helicopters, public anger will recede.

One may well ask why the seventh largest army in the world is holding its hand out for helicopters and tents when America has supplied dozens of helicopters since 9/11 and the country is one of the largest tent manufacturers in the world.

The army itself holds thousands of tents in stock, along with tens of thousands of tins of foodstuffs and blankets – which do not seem to have been released. Perhaps this is because the army continues to fight an insurgency in Balochistan and al-Qa’eda remnants in Waziristan along the border with Afghanistan. These operations are on-going even as the army runs the relief effort.

It has not gone unnoticed among Western intelligence agencies that the epicentre of the quake is also the epicentre of the camps run by Pakistani extremist groups affiliated to al-Qa’eda, where hundreds of Kashmiri militants and Afghans are being trained.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pointed the area out to visiting Western leaders on a map as being the centre of Taliban resurgence. The Kashmiris trained in this area still cross the Line of Control to ambush Indian patrols. The army, wishing to continue to exert pressure on India and Afghanistan, has turned a blind eye to these activities. While the army is likely to be wary of allowing Western aid agencies running pell-mell all over Azad Kashmir, it will now be impossible to keep these camps hidden and to continue training.

One positive result of the earthquake may be greater international and Pakistani civilian pressure to close these camps, thereby speeding up the peace process with India.

via RealClearPolitics

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Kaplan on the Modern Military vs. Mother Nature

In today’s New York Times, Robert D. Kaplan develops a point he made after last year’s Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

With the global population now at six billion, humans are living in urban concentrations in an unprecedented number of seismically, climatically and environmentally fragile areas. The earthquake-stricken region of Pakistan saw a doubling of its population in recent decades, certainly a factor in the death toll of more than 20,000. The tsunami in Asia last December showed the risks to the rapidly growing cities along the Indian Ocean. China’s booming population occupies flood zones. Closer to home, cities like Memphis and St. Louis lie along the New Madrid fault line, responsible for a major earthquake nearly 200 years ago when those cities barely existed; and the hurricane zone along the southern Atlantic Coast and earthquake-prone areas of California continue to be developed. More human beings are going to be killed or made homeless by Mother Nature than ever in history.

When such disasters occur, security systems break down and lawlessness erupts. The first effect of the earthquake in the Pakistani town of Muzaffarabad was widespread looting – just as in New Orleans. Relief aid is undermined unless those who would help the victims can monopolize the use of force. That requires troops.

But even using our troops in our own country is controversial: the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 strictly limits the use of troops inside the United States. The Gulf Coast devastation has helped remind us that this law was enacted in a rural America at a time when natural disasters took a relatively small human toll, and such calamities were viewed more fatalistically.

In a nation and a world where mass media and the Internet spread the word of disaster so effectively, impassioned calls to do something can quickly erode constitutional concerns, political differences and worries over sovereignty. Just as Pakistan has now agreed to accept aid from its rival India, Iran accepted help from the United States Air Force after the earthquake in Bam in 2003. The very people who typically denounce the American military will surely be complaining about its absence should our troops not show up after a major natural calamity.

Indeed, because of our military’s ability to move quickly into new territory and establish security perimeters, it is emerging as the world’s most effective emergency relief organization. There is a saying among soldiers: amateurs discuss strategy, while professionals discuss logistics. And if disaster assistance is about anything, it’s about logistics – moving people, water, food, medical supplies and heavy equipment to save lives and communities. We also have our National Guard, which is made up primarily of men in their 30’s (many of whom are police officers and firefighters in civilian life) trained to deal effectively with the crowds of rowdy young men that tend to impede relief work.

via RealClearPolitics

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The Seduction of Mullah Omar

The Taliban had a lot to offer Pakistan. They could provide strong Pashtun allies in Afghanistan, something Pakistan desperately needed because its only other significant Pashtun ally was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the mujahedeen prime minister who hadn’t yet set foot in Kabul, choosing to stay outside the city and pound it with rockets in an attempt to dislodge his rival and the current defense minister, Ahmed Shah Masood….

The Taliban could also provide training and inspiration for the jihadis that Pakistan was using with such ferocity in Indian-ruled Kashmir, a small former princedom that both India and Pakistan claimed as their own….

It wasn’t difficult to co-opt the Taliban. Pakistan insinuated its control slowly and insidiously. It used Pakistani mullahs like those attending the meeting in Kandahar to mold and manipulate Mullah Omar. Additionally, the ISI recruited Afghans trained at Pakistani madrassas to infiltrate Mullah Omar’s inner circle. One of Pakistan’s handpicked men was Tayyab Aga, barely thirty-five years old and a perfect English speaker. He would eventually become Mullah Omar’s spokesman, rarely leaving his side. He won Mullah Omar’s confidence through sheer persistence.

Every day, he and his friends would sit outside Mullah Omar’s office in Kandahar and send in messages, pleading to see the one-eyed leader. Mullah Omar didn’t always answer their messages. Sometimes they waited weeks before being called in to see him. But they were patient men.

Each time, they would fill his head with flattery, praising him for his commitment to Islam, to the purity of the Sharia law that he had imposed. The seduction went on for months.

A measure of their progress was that eventually some of the founding members of the Taliban, men like [intelligence chief Mullah Mohammad] Khaksar, had trouble seeing Omar. Khaksar said: “It changed slowly. I used to walk into his office unannounced, drink tea and talk. But then it changed. I couldn’t easily see him. He was always too busy and when we did get in they were always there, these mullahs from Pakistan or these new Afghan mullahs talking nonsense.”

The real triumph for Pakistan and for its Afghan surrogates came in the first months of 1996 on the day that Mullah Omar removed the Cloak of Islam’s Prophet from its sacred resting place, unseen since 1935, and in front of more than 1,500 mullahs who had traveled to Kandahar, declared himself Amir-ul Momineen, or King of the Faithful.

This act of hubris turned even the Muslim countries against the Taliban, reducing their circle of international friends and making them more dependent on Pakistan. It also inspired the Islamic zealots, those jihadis Pakistan had been nurturing so carefully.

SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 41-42

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Anti-DDT Trumps Antimalaria in the West

An op-ed by Sebastian Mallaby in today’s Washington Post hits on a topic that was once close to my liver and is now closer to my heart, enforced disarmament in the battle against malaria.

Some 500 million people still get the disease annually, and at least 1 million die, but the World Health Organization refuses to recommend DDT spraying. The U.S. government’s development programs don’t purchase any of the chemical. In June President Bush made a great show of announcing a new five-year push against malaria; DDT appears to play no part in his plans.

But the worst culprit is the European Union. It not only refuses to fund DDT spraying: In the case of at least one country, it has also threatened to punish DDT use with import restrictions.

That country is Uganda, which suffered a crippling 12 million cases of malaria in a population of 27 million in 2003. The Ugandans know perfectly well that DDT can help them: As Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute recently testified to Congress, DDT spraying in one part of the country in 1959 and 1960 reduced the prevalence of malaria from 22 percent to less than 1 percent. Ugandans also know the record in South Africa, where the cessation of DDT spraying in 1996 allowed the number of malaria cases to multiply tenfold and where the resumption of spraying in 2000 helped to bring the caseload down by almost 80 percent.

So the Ugandans, not unreasonably, would like to use DDT. But in February the European Union waved an anti-scientific flag at them. The Europeans said Uganda might need to institute a new food monitoring program to assuage the health concerns of their consumers, even though hundreds of millions have been exposed to DDT without generating any solid evidence that the chemical harms people. The E.U. proposal might constitute an impossible administrative burden on a poor country. Anti-malaria campaigners say that other African governments are wary of even considering DDT, having seen what Uganda has gone through.

Please read the rest.

I’ve only experienced the mildest form of malaria, Plasmodium vivax. It was unpleasant enough, but P. falciparum is the true killer. And it’s spreading.

UPDATE: Two discussion threads in diametrically opposed blogs question Mallaby’s take and tease out some of the finer points of the DDT vs. malaria issue. Enviro-hawk Tim Lambert argues that the E.U. is only concerned to prohibit the use of DDT on agricultural products that it imports. Everyone seems to agree that’s a dangerous and counterproductive use of DDT, in that it fosters DDT-resistant strains of malaria more quickly than localized use does and can endanger other species. So agricultural use should be banned. There seems to be much less agreement about how much and how widespread DDT resistance already is. The most effective use of DDT seems to be spraying it on the inside walls of houses or on mosquito nets. Libertarian Ron Bailey‘s piece sparks a debate about how effective DDT is relative to other chemicals, what the relative costs are, and how important human life is relative to that of other living creatures.

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Belated Happy Hangul Day!

Hangul Day (한글날) was 9 October. The ever-observant Language Hat has more, and Language Log has much, much more.

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A Nondiplomat at a Nonembassy in Taiwan

In Taiwan I had to get used to the unusual situation of conducting diplomacy in a country with which America wasn’t supposed to have diplomatic relations. To wit, at AIT [American Institute in Taiwan] we were officially consultants under contract to the State Department working in an unofficial capacity at a nonembassy to advance America’s interests in Taiwan. It was a mouthful, and the semantics and diplomatic gyrations that American representatives in Taiwan had to go through were at times humorous, at times frustrating.

Starting with the mundane, we had to develop a new vocabulary to conduct diplomacy. The embassy became an institute in 1979, and I was its second director, following veteran diplomat and fellow China hand Chuck Cross. At the institute, there were no American flags flying, no national days celebrated, nor Marines in red, white, and blue. Instead of a political section, we had a general affairs section or GAS, perhaps an appropriate acronym for political reporting. Rather than a consular section, there was a travel service section. In our daily lives, we had to be careful to adhere to certain rules. If I were addressed by a Taiwanese journalist as ambassador, I had to ignore him. If at some function or performance we were seated in the special section reserved for diplomats, we had to suggest that this was not quite right. Most of the time we ended up sitting there anyway. Should the agressive Taiwanese press have caught wind of any protocol slipup on our part and used it to trumpet recognition of an upgrading of the relationship, we would have caught hell from both Washington and Peking.

The most frustrating part was that we were prohibited from meeting with Taiwanese Foreign Ministry and Defense officials as well as with the president himself in their offices, nor could they visit us in ours. We could meet with a designated group of Taiwanese foreign service officers who staffed AIT’s counterpart organization on the Taiwan side. But we had to transact the majority of our discussions in other venues, like restaurants, country clubs, golf courses, and private homes. Perhaps the most serious casualty of such restrictions was our waistlines. Dinners and cocktail parties–the staple of most diplomatic posts–took on added importance in Taiwan. A rich Chinese diet can wreak havoc with an American-fed body, as it did with mine.

SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2004), pp. 238-239

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