Posts tagged ‘Russia’

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Everybody’s Language: North Korea’s polyglot Propaganda

KCNA’s website publishes articles and news in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese. The gist is the same in all versions of KCNA’s multi-lingual rendition of Tuesday’s missile launch over Japan, but certain details appear to have been customized, in accordance with the targeted audience.

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile - click photo for video

The Genius instructing the Military: this is how to launch a missile – click photo for Voice of Korea video

It’s Japanese devils in KCNA’s Chinese rendition of Tuesday’s (regional time) missile launch over Japan, but it’s Japanese islanders in the newsagency’s English version. There are no permalinks on KCNA’s website, therefore, some copies and pastes will follow here.

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in English

KCNA August 30 article in Chinese

KCNA August 30 article in Japanese

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

KCNA August 30 article in Korean

If Google Translate is something to go by, the Japanese version refers to Japan as an “island nation”, rather than to “devils”:

All military officers of the Korean People’s Army Strategy Army formulated a bold strategy that the brutal Japanese island nation will be overwhelmingly surprised on August 29th of the blood on which the shameful treaty “Merger of Korea-Japan” was promulgated 107 years ago He is the most enthusiastic to the unprecedented patriot who has approved to launch a ballistic rocket from the metropolitan area and cleared up the resentment piled up in the chest of our people, the highest leader who is a hero of the nation I will send a greeting of gratitude and complete the holy mission and duty as a reliable nuclear weapon power of the Korean Workers’ Party at the head of the last Jihye who will make a total decision on anti-Empress and Anti-America confrontation fight if the party’s central order makes orders I vowed to death. – –

朝鮮人民軍戦略軍の全ての将兵は、107年前、「韓日合併」という恥ずべき条約が公布された血の8月29日に残虐な日本の島国夷がびっくり仰天する大胆な作戦を策定し、首都圏地域から弾道ロケットを発射するように承認してわが人民の胸に積もりに積もった恨みを晴らしてくれた不世出の愛国者、民族の英雄である最高指導者金正恩委員長に最も熱烈な感謝のあいさつを送り、党中央が命令を下せば反帝・反米対決戦を総決算することになる最後の聖戦の先頭で朝鮮労働党の頼もしい核武装力としての聖なる使命と本分を全うする決死の誓いを立てた。---

[Update, Oct 3: Jichanglulu‘s comment sheds more light on KCNA’s Japanese version.]

The Korean version – also if Google Translate gets it right – mentions the 107th anniversary of the 1910 Annexation Treaty, but without any reference of a Japanese (national) character:

All the soldiers of the Strategic Armed Forces of the KPA approved the launch of ballistic rockets in the metropolitan area on August 29, when bloodshed was declared a fake treaty of “Korea-Japan Merger” 107 years ago. As the most patriotic and patriotic hero of the nation, Kim Jung Eun, the most grateful leader of the Korean people, who gave us the hearts of our people, the most warm thanks to the comrade, At the forefront of the temple, the holy mission of the trusteeship of the Korean Workers’ [Google translation ends here]
조선인민군 전략군의 전체 장병들은 107년전 《한일합병》이라는 치욕스러운 조약이 공포된 피의 8월 29일에 잔악한 일본섬나라족속들이 기절초풍할 대담한 작전을 펼치시고 수도권지역에서 탄도로케트를 발사하도록 승인하여주시여 우리 인민의 가슴에 쌓이고쌓인 한을 풀어주신 절세의 애국자,민족의 영웅이신 경애하는 최고령도자 김정은동지께 가장 뜨거운 감사의 인사를 드리면서 당중앙이 명령만 내리면 반제반미대결전을 총결산하게 될 최후성전의 맨 앞장에서 조선로동당의 믿음직한 핵무장력으로서의 성스러운 사명과 본분을 다해나갈 결사의 맹세를 다지였다.(끝)

In Spanish, readers are told that

All officials and soldiers within the Korean People’s Army’s strategic forces expressed gratitude to the Supreme Leader, the unequaled patriot and the hero of the nation, who, on August 29, the bloodstained day of the thuggish Korean-Japanese annexation treaty’s publication, put into practice the courageous operation of instilling fear into the cruel reactionary Japanese, by permitting the launch of a ballistic missile from the Korean capital’s region, so as to make amends for the pent-up grudges of the Korean people.

Todos los oficiales y soldados de las fuerzas estratégicas del EPC expresaron agradecimiento al Máximo Dirigente, patriota sin igual y héroe de la nación, quien el 29 de agosto, día ensangrentado de ser publicada hace 107 años el infame tratado de anexión de Corea a Japón, practicó la operación valiente para dar el gran temor a los crueles reaccionarios japoneses y permitió en la zona de la capital el lanzamiento el cohete balístico haciendo quitar el rencor acumulado del pueblo coreano.

The Russian translation – again, according to Google Translate – doesn’t appear to make any particular mention of the Japanese at all:

Все солдаты и офицеры стратегических войск КНА преподнесли уважаемому высшему руководителю товарищу Ким Чен Ыну – выдающемуся патриоту и герою нации самую теплую благодарность за то, что он разрешил запустить в столице по плану смелой операции баллистическую ракету кровавого 29-го августа, который исполняется 107 лет со дня опубликования позорного соглашения так называемой «аннексии Кореи Японией», и сорвал злобу нашего народа. И они дали клятву выполнить священную миссию и долг как надежные ядерные вооруженные силы ТПК на форпосте окончательной священной войны, когда будет подытожена антиимпериалистическая и антиамериканская борьба, если будет приказ ЦК ТПК.

All the soldiers and officers of the KPA strategic troops presented the most warm gratitude to the distinguished senior leader, Comrade Kim Jong-un, an outstanding patriot and hero of the nation, for allowing him to launch a ballistic missile of bloody August 29th on schedule in the capital, which marks 107 years since Day of publication of the shameful agreement of the so-called “annexation of Korea by Japan”, and ripped off the anger of our people. And they took an oath to fulfill their sacred mission and duty as the reliable nuclear forces of the WPK at the outpost of the final holy war, when the anti-imperialist and anti-American struggle will be summed up, if there is an order from the TPK Central Committee.

As for the Russian-language approach – again, if this is a basically accurate Google translation -, the explanation for the comparatively polite approach towards Japan might be found in what a Chinese researcher, Cui Heng, wrote in December 2013:

Russia isn’t only prepared to develop beneficial relations with Japan for geopolitical reasons. In Russian historical memory, there isn’t much hate against Japan. During the age of the great empires, Japanese-Russian relations in the Far East were of a competitive nature. Many Russians still talk about the 1905 defeat, but the Far East wasn’t considered a place that would hit Russian nerve as hard as the crushing defeat in the Crimean war. Back then, Japan wasn’t perceived as a threat for Russia, and from another perspective, if there had been anti-Japanese feelings, there wouldn’t have been a revolution. According to perception back then, the [1905] defeat was a result of the Russian government’s incompetence, not [brought about by] a strong adversary. The outstanding achievements of the Soviet Red Army in 1945 led to a great [positive] Russian attitude, but still without considering Japan a great enemy.

And as far as the term “Japanese devils” is concerned, the Chinese version – the only KCNA version that takes the expression of sentiments against Japan that far – may intend to remind North Korea’s somewhat changeable Chinese allies of traditional common causes.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Taiwanese Media Reports: Association of International Broadcasters maintains Radio Taiwan International’s Membership, despite Chinese Motion to replace it

Making Taiwan appear “inofficial” has become easy business for Beijing, when it comes to politicians. The row about the country’s inoffical embassy in Nigeria may be one of the recent cases in point.

But influencing journalists doesn’t appear to be quite that easy. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in Taipei is quoted as saying that

At this year’s first meeting of AIB’s executive board, the possibility of ejecting RTI to make room for China Central Television [CCTV] was discussed, but RTI vice president Travis Sun’s (孫文魁) proactive handling of the matter has dealt with the situation.

AIB stands for the Association of International Broadcasting, an organization headquartered in Britain, and RTI stands for Radio Taiwan International, Taiwan’s foreign broadcasting service. According to the Taipei Times –  quoting weekly Taiwanese magazine The Journalist – the Chinese motion was rejected after RTI’s protests won the support of British, German, French and Russian committee members.

According to the AIB website, RTI vice president Travis Sun is among the six members of the organization’s executive committee.

According to “The Journalist”,   Travis Sun had been voted into the committee with the highest number of votes. Also according to “The Journalist”, CCTV and other Chinese media had previously been invited to join the AIB, but had declined, because of RTI’s membership. Following China’s motion this month, the AIB secretariat drafted three resolutions for discussion by the executive committtee. One suggested that the Chinese media could enter with an inofficial membership. The second suggested inoffical membership or termination of membership for RTI, and the third suggested to abandon the idea of Chinese media obtaining membership.

It appears that Sun appealed to AIB’S journalistic values to defend RTI’s membership, and successfully so, and all that, apparently, on the phone. According to the Taipei Times, RTI didn’t send personnel to participate in the AIB’s annual meeting in London due to “internal reasons,” instead being represented by personnel from the Taipei Representative Office in the UK. Also according to the Taipei Times, during a June 20 teleconference, Sun had been confronted with the secretariat motions.

Reportedly, Britain, France, Germany (that would be Deutsche Welle‘s committee member), and Russia (i. e. the delegate for RT) decided in RTI’s favor.

The Russian committee member, Alexey Nikolov, is currently serving as the executive committee’s chairman, according to “The Journalist”. The article mentions the “Voice of Russia” as the media organization he represents. That would now be Sputnik News Agency and Radio. According to AIB and RT, Nikolov is RT‘s managing editor, or managing director.

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Related

AIB members

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Updates/Related

Taiwan not abandoned, Sentinel, June 30, 2017

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deutsche Welle’s “Emotionally Appealing Content”

Emotionally appealing …

The German federal government plans to increase its funding of Deutsche Welle (DW) by 11.2 mn Euros in 2018,  Medienkorrespondenz (MK), a media news magazine from Bonn, reports. That would be a total of 325.6 mn Euros. In addition, DW has earnings from sponsors, according to Deutsche Welle law (article 11). Originally a foreign broadcaster, DW wants to develop into a “digital media corporation”, with a priority on “mobile utilization situations” and “social media”. Apparently, the linear television programs are doomed to become a platform for feature stories and clips that would also be useful for DW’s “Facebook” account, and vice versa.

Some of the quotes from the press release read like a jargon outside the command of their adopters themselves. According to MK, DW wants to increase its audience from currently 135 mn users to a target of 150. On its digital media, DW wants to “put a stronger focus on emotionally appealing content and on DW profile themes” (“einen stärkeren Fokus auf emotional ansprechenden Content und auf DW-Profilthemen setzen”).

MK appears to have had a question, and got a reply:

By “emotionally appealing content”, the broadcaster means topics that can be experienced on an emotional level”, it explained on inquiry. This was about “empathy with protagonists, or a narrative level at eye level.” Deutsche Welle denotes, for example, reports about human rights, freedom of expression, equal rights and democratic values as “profile themes”.

Unter „emotional ansprechendem Content“ versteht der Sender, wie er auf Nachfrage erläuterte, wenn in Beiträgen Themen „auf einer emotionalen Ebene erlebbar“ seien. Es gehe um „Empathie mit Protagonisten oder eine Erzählebene auf Augenhöhe“. Als ihre „Profilthemen“ bezeichnet die Deutsche Welle beispielsweise Berichte über Menschenrechte, freie Meinungsäußerung, Gleichberechtigung und demokratische Werte.

The trend has emerged for some time. And when you are sufficiently emotive, concerning Deutsche Welle “profile themes”, you don’t even have to know who Liu Xiaobo is, as shown in a “news story” named “Beauty Queen and Activist fight for human rights in China” (“Beauty-Queen und Aktivist kämpfen für Menschenrechte in China”). The story initially contained a Liao Yiwu photo, while the caption was referring to Liu Xiaobo. Sounds all alike anyway.

Liao Yiwu, mistaken for Liu Xiaobo

DW caption, February 2016: he’s here, not there

… and better off

After so much emotion, it’s time to meditate on some numbers. DW’s budget was reportedly at about 321 mn Euros in 1998, it decreased considerably in the years after that, and began to rise to new heights after Peter Limbourg, a former news anchor on German commercial television, had become the broadcaster’s new director.

The following numbers are sort of my guesswork, even if based on sources – they may, at times, include special budgets (funding programs targeted at refugees living in Germany, for example, or the Deutsche Welle Akademie), and sometimes they may not. (The drop from 321 mn to 302 mn from 2015 – 2016, for example, doesn’t look logical to me.) The 2016 – 2018 numbers are from the same source – Medienkorrespondenz -, these two reports, covering three fiscal years, follow the same formula and make it easy to compare the three years.

All numbers shown below (rounded) are millions.

Year
Operational
Investment
Total
Source
1998 321  Die Welt
2010 261  BMF
2011
2012  271  Bundestag
2013  296  BT WiWi
2014  311  DW
 2015  321  DW
 2016  285  17  302  MK 16
 2017  299  27  325  MK 16
 2018  305  32  336  MK 17
 2019

DW is a publicly owned broadcaster – it could actually afford to be a showcase for solid, trustworthy journalism. But a goal of this kind doesn’t appear to define the mission. In an interview in November 2014, Limbourg told German television that we obviously have to see to it that the German perspective and German values for which we stand, i. e. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, that these are heard in the world.

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Related

Negotiations with Politics, Dec 26, 2011

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Huanqiu Shibao: Imagine (Mother of all Bombs, Father of all Bombs)

Main Link: Can “Mother of all Bombs” frighten Pyongyang?, Huanqiu Shibao, April 14. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

American military stationed in Afghanistan threw a large airbomb, referred to as “mother of all bombs”, in the country’s eastern mountaineous regions in the evening of Thursday local time. Said bomb’s weight was 9.8 tons, with a capacity amounting to 11 tons of TNT, and it is the largest non-nuclear bomb used by America in combat so far.

驻阿富汗美军当地时间星期四晚上在这个国家的东部山区投掷了一枚有“炸弹之母”之称的大型空爆炸弹,该炸弹重9.8吨,爆炸当量相当于11吨TNT,它是迄今美国在战斗中使用的最大威力非核爆炸装置。

The White House and the US military stationed in Afghanistan said that the use of this precision-controlled blockbuster had been directed at “Islamic State’s” fighting groups’ tunnel and cave systems and eliminated said facilities, and maintained the momentum of American troups striking at “Islamic State”. President Donald Trump said in a brief comment that this had been another successful action carried out by the US military. He also mentioned North Korea, saying that [the issue of] the “mother of all bombs” being a signal to Pyongyang or not wasn’t important.

白宫及驻阿富汗美军表示,使用这种精确制导的巨型炸弹旨在摧毁“伊斯兰国”武装分子的隧道和洞穴系统,该炸弹是清除上述设施同时保持美军打击“伊斯兰国”势头的合适武器。特朗普总统发表简短评论说,这是美军又一次成功的袭击行动。他还提到了朝鲜,表示“炸弹之母”是不是向平壤发出一个信号,这不重要。

Trump hasn’t been president for three months yet, but the US military has launched at least two attacks that drew global attention. One was the bombing of the Syrian air force base, and the other was the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. Trump is clearly more spontaneous in using US military might than previous US president Obama, and displays some indulgence and pride in American military power.

特朗普担任总统还不到3个月,美国军队发动的攻击至少已经两次受到全球瞩目,一次是轰炸叙利亚空军基地,一次就是在阿富汗使用“炸弹之母”。特朗普对使用美国军力比前任总统奥巴马显然更加随意,他表现出对美国军事力量的某种迷恋和骄傲。

Even the younger president Bush, who conducted two wars, went through detailed procedures prior to war, and the wars were part of an extensive range of expectations. In contrast, both the bombing of a Syrian airbase and throwing the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan came very suddenly. If use of armed force continues at the current frequency and pace, president Trump may be “in constant war”, becoming remembered as the “warring president”.

即使打了两场战争的小布什总统,每一次开战之前都经过了繁琐程序,而且当时的开战处于广泛的预期之中。然而无论攻击叙空军基地还是往阿富汗山区扔“炸弹之母”,来的都很突然。如果按照这样的频率和速度使用武力,那么特朗普总统就要“不停打仗”了,他说不定最终会作为一名“战争总统”被历史记住。

The “mother of all bombs” is a very cruel kind of weapon, consuming a large amount of oxygen in the process, within the range of its explosion. As its destructive force is very large, its so-called “precision control” only applies in a locational sense. In fact, its probability to harm innocent is comparatively high. In the current fields of anti-terrorism operations, with military and civilians being located next to each other, the US military incessantly kills and wounds ordinary people. By using the “mother of all bombs”, Washington doesn’t appear to have taken the issue of innocent fatalities very seriously.

“炸弹之母”是一种非常残忍的武器,它能在爆炸过程中消耗周围的大量氧气,由于破坏力极大,它的所谓“精确制导”只是投放地点意义上的,实际上伤及无辜的概率更高。如今与反恐有关的战区,大多是军民相间的,美军不断在伊拉克、阿富汗等地炸死炸伤平民,现在又把“炸弹之母”投入使用,看来华盛顿并没真把伤及无辜当回事。

Obviously, the purpose of this bombing has been about testing the effect of this weapon. At the same time, it has added a new antic to US military deterrence. Presumably, similarly mountainous North Korea felt the shock waves from far-away Afghanistan. If the US military could, by throwing this bomb [in Afghanistan], get the Pyongyang regime under control, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. However, its likely effect will be contrary.

这次投弹显然有试验该武器实战效果的目的,同时也是给美国的军事威慑增添一个新噱头。想必同样多山的朝鲜感受到了这场遥远阿富汗大爆炸传过来的冲击波。如果美军扔了这个炸弹,就真能把平壤政权给镇住,那倒也不错。然而它所产生的效果很可能是相反的。

Pyongyang’s main line of thought these years has been that if you have no nuclear weapons, the future of their regime will resemble Saddam Hussein’s and Gaddafi’s. The “mother of all bombs” may once again irritate and mislead Pyongyang, about how important it would be to increase the explosive capacity they themselves can master.

平壤这些年来只有一个思维,那就是如果没有核武器,萨达姆和卡扎菲政权的下场就是平壤政权未来的样子。“炸弹之母”可能再次刺激并误导平壤:提高自己所能掌握的爆炸当量是多么重要。

Various analysts believe that Pyongyang has done all the preparation for a sixth nuclear test, and that its top leader Kim Jong-un will now make his final deliberations: to set it off, or not. The latest bit of information conveyed to Pyongyang by the US military won’t contribute to rational choices by Pyongyang.

多方分析认为,朝鲜已经做好举行第六次核试验的各种准备,其最高领导人金正恩可能正在做最后的权衡:引爆还是不引爆。美国军方传递的最新信息对平壤做出理性抉择没有好处。

Reportedly, there is still a non-nuclear bomb that exceeds the “mother of all bombs”. That is the Russian high-efficiency vacuum bomb, called “father of all bombs”. Imagine what would happen if Russia used it to strike at the “Islamic State” in Syria, and how America and the West would condemn Moscow.

据报道,世界上还有比“炸弹之母”爆炸当量更大的非核炸弹,它就是被称为“炸弹之父”的俄罗斯高效率真空炸弹。设想一下,如果是俄罗斯在打击叙利亚“伊斯兰国”组织时扔一颗“炸弹之父”,那么美国和西方舆论会不会往死里骂莫斯科。

America appears to have the privilege to do whatever it wants to do, but this, very probably, means all kinds of danger, rather than more security.

美国像是有想怎么做就怎么做的特权,然而这对世界来说很可能意味着某种危险,而不是更多的安全。

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Related

Defending the decision, CNN, April 14, 2017
“MOAB killed dozens”, NY Times, April 14, 2017
Warning to North Korea, KBS Seoul, April 14, 2017
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The U.S. Democrats’ Red Herring: Blaming the Russians

Mattathias Schwartz of The Intercept suggests a statement different from the one US President Obama actually made at his last press conference. That statement, as scripted by Schwartz, would have deviated from the actual statement indeed. But it wouldn’t have provided America with moral and political leadership, as the teaser suggested.

The Intercept's presidential statement

The Intercept’s presidential statement

There’s no question to my mind that Donald Trump and his supporters (professionals and “ordinary people”) have made substantial contributions to brutalize the campaign, and political culture. But there is no question either that the Democratic Party’s establishment has shown its contempt for democratic principle, by pushing Hillary Clinton‘s nomination campaign, at the expense of Bernie Sanders‘. Clinton and her supporters showed quite the “sense of entitlement” once ascribed to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

That – not the Russian exposure of it – is the problem.

Were there American media that exposed the Democratic National Committee’s conduct? I haven’t heard of any. There was no Bob Woodward of our times who would have dug up that pit. The American media didn’t perform. They didn’t pick up their essential role. Moscow simply filled the vacuum.

Maybe that’s what Obama should have said (if he could have). He could have tried to talk some sense into those democrat functionaries (and press people) who are now trying to make the public forget their own role in their candiate’s undoing.

Obviously, there’s no reason to thank the Russian leadership for what they did. But there is no reason to flame them, either. America wasn’t treated like a banana republic this year, it acted like one.

If you want more of the same, shoot the messenger. But if you want democracy that works, do your homework.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is the Truth losing in Today’s World? (And if Yes: How so?)

That’s what Richard Stengel, currently undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, believes, according to a Washington Post article:

“We like to think that truth has to battle itself out in the marketplace of ideas. Well, it may be losing in that marketplace today,” Stengel warned in an interview. “Simply having fact-based messaging is not sufficient to win the information war.”

And, adds the author of the WaPo article, David Ignatius:

How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

Fascinating stuff – fascinating, because it feels like a déjà vu to me (and I’m wondering for how many others who have a memory of some decades).

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

When I studied and worked in a fairly rural place in China, I had a number of encounters with – probably mainstream – Chinese worldviews. That was around the turn of the century, and these were probably the most antagonistic, and exciting, debates I ever had, as the only foreigner among some Chinese friends. Discussions sometimes ended with the two, three or four of us angrily staring at each other, switching to a less controversial topic, and bidding each other a frosty good-bye.

But there was a mutual interest in other peoples’ weird ideas. That’s why our discussions continued for a number of weekends. At at least one point, I felt that I had argued with overwhelming logic, but my Chinese interlocutor was unimpressed. I blamed Chinese propaganda for his insusceptibility, but apparently, propaganda was exactly his point: “If propaganda helps to keep my country safe, I have nothing against propaganda,” he replied.

I found that gross. The idea that propaganda should just be another tool, something you might volunteer to use and to believe in, so as to keep your country and society stable, was more alien to me than any Chinese custom I had gotten to know.

The idea that truth is, or that facts are, the essential resource of a (working, successful) democracy looks correct to me. Democracy can’t work without an informed public. But when it comes to German mainstream media, I have come to the conclusion that they aren’t trustworthy.

I agree with the WaPo article / Richard Stengel that the US government can’t be a verifier of last resort. No government can play this kind of role. The Chinese party and state have usurped that role, but China is known to be a low-trust society – that doesn’t suggest that they have played a successful role as official verifiers. While many Chinese people do apparently think of their government as the ultimate guardian of national sovereignty and individual safety from imperialist encroachment, they don’t seem to trust these domestic public security powers as their immediate neighbors.

And the ability of any Western government to be a verifier ends as soon as an issue involves state interests, government interests, or governing parties’ interests.

The US government as a verifier of last resort concerning the Syria war? That idea isn’t even funny.

The German government as a verifier of last resort when it comes to foreign-trade issues (within the European Union, or beyond)? Bullshit.

But what about the American media? I don’t have a very clear picture of how they work, but it would seem to me that US television stations usually address the issues that earn them most of the public’s attention. If that is so, it should be no wonder that Donald Trump profited more from media attention, than Hillary Clinton.

But if tweets, rather than platforms, become the really big issues, the media must have abandoned the role that has traditionally been ascribed to them.

German (frequently public-law) media are strongly influenced by political parties, and apparently by business-driven foundations, too.

I don’t know if something similar can be said about American media, but even if only for their attention-seeking coverage, they can’t count as well-performing media either.

What about “social” media? According to Stengel, as quoted by the Washington Post, they give everyone the opportunity to construct their own narrative of reality.

Stengel mentions Islamic State (in 2014) and Russian propaganda campaigns as examples. In the latter’s case, he points to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations during the elections in particular.

I believe that Stengel / Ignatius may have half a point. Russia – provided that they were indeed behind the leaks – only targeted Clinton’s campaign, not Donald Trump’s.

But then, wouldn’t it have been the task of the US media to unearth either campaign’s dirty secrets? Russian propaganda performed, even if only selectively, where US media had failed. It exposed practice in the Democratic Party leadership that was hostile to democracy, but acting under the guise of defending it.

How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth, Ignatius finally asks, and quotes Stengel once again, and addressing the role of “social media”:

The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms. “They see this information war as an existential threat,” says Stengel. The tech companies have made a start: He says Twitter has removed more than 400,000 accounts, and YouTube daily deletes extremist videos.

Now, I’m no advocate of free broadcasts for ISIS videos. But if the best hope is the removal of accounts and videos by the commercial providers, it would seem that there isn’t much hope in human power of judgment, after all – and in that case, there wouldn’t be much hope for democracy as a model of government.

Ignatius:

The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a “global ombudsman for information.”

Wtf? Human-machine processes? Has the “Global Times” hacked the WaPo?

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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Monday, November 28, 2016

A few Thoughts about Castro

Fidel Castro, in the course of about half a century, became an icon for people who would have liked to challenge America’s leading global role. And he was hated by many Americans. When I asked an otherwise friendly American friend (by letter, back then) in the early 1990s why the embargo was still in place, I got a long and angry answer, as if I had I had trespassed. And when I made some not-too-critical, but not really reverent remarks about Castro the other day, I got an angry answer, too. What you get in a conversation about Castro really depends on your interlocutor (and, of course, on your diplomatic skills).

What is frequently ignored however, is the Cuban people. It is true that fear, intimidation and human rights violations has helped to keep the Cuban Communist Party in power. so have state and party propaganda. Decades of getting the same stories told over and over and over again, in school, the media, and  arguably by Grandpa at home, won’t fail to leave  traces on most human harddisks.

Few political leaders of the 20th and – so far – 21st century trigger as strong emotions as Fidel Castro does. Castro is idolized, and demonized. And more frequently than not, peoples’ reactions to his memory depend on where they belong, or who they side with: America, China, or Russia, for example.

It would take biographic research to judge Castro and his rule. It would require reading one or two biographies, at least. The information that daily mass media offer won’t provide insights into how Cuba has endured, or profitted from, Castro rule since early 1959.

But you wouldn’t run into too many people without clear-cut opinions about Castro.

That’s why countries and civilizations can be surprising to outsiders (and even to insiders). Things happen, and they may appear to be unlogical or bizarre. But they happen for reasons – good or bad -, and the driving forces behind them aren’t necessarily idiocy.

To understand Castro’s rise to power, and the reasons as to why the Cuban Communist Party has been able to cement its dictatorship to this days, we would need to walk the Cuban streets of the 1940s and 1950s, not those of the 2010s.

Research – scientific or journalistic – needs to take us there.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

People’s Daily: “Little NATO” drawing nearer as Japan and South Korea initial Intelligence Sharing

South Korean parliamentary opposition leader Woo Sang-ho of the main oppositional Minjoo Party said on Monday that they would impeach or dismiss the defense minister if the government went ahead with plans to sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

Chinese Communist Party organ People’s Daily wrote on Wednesday or Thursday that if signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement between the two countries after World War 2, and criticized the tw0 governments’ moves indirectly, by quoting a military expert.

→Link

On November 14, South Korea’s and Japan’s initialled a “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. If officially signed, this would be the first military cooperation agreement after the second world war. Military expert Zhang Junshe said in an interview with People’s Daily online that if the agreement in question was signed, the two countries would bypass America and exchange intelligence directly. This was significant good news for Japan and America, but for South Korea, this was like drinking Zhen poison to quench its thirst, or to allow the wolf into the house. The agreement could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North-East Asian region.

14日,韩国和日本政府草签了《军事情报保护协定》。如该协定正式签署,这将是两国自第二次世界大战结束后签署的首份军事合作协定。军事专家张军社在接受人民网采访时表示,若该协定正式签署,日韩两国将绕过美国直接共享情报,这对日美两国是重大利好消息,但对韩国而言则如同饮鸩止渴、引狼入室。该协定可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。

According to a report by South Korea’s “JoongAng Ilbo” on November 15, South Korea hopes to use Japan’s reonnaissance satellites, radar, and other advanced equipment to gather intelligence, while Japan could make use of intelligence gathered by traditional Korean manpower.

据韩国《中央日报》15日报道,韩国希望利用日本的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获取情报;而对日本来说,则可利用韩国传统人工收集的情报。

Currently, there are separate “Military Intelligence Protection Agreements” between South Korea and the US and Japan and the US respectively, but the exchange of military intelligence between South Korea and Japan needs to go through America as a “connecting airport”, with no “direct flight”.

目前,韩美、日美之间分别缔结有《军事情报保护协定》,不过韩日两国交换军事情报需要通过美国这个“中转站”,双方之间并无“直航”。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that Japan had advanced military technology at its disposal and could rely on advanced reconaissance satellites, radar, and other first-class equipment to gather information concerning North Korea’s nuclear tests, missile launches etc., while South Korea, owing to its geographical advantage, could gather first-hand intelligence gathered by agents and spies. If Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the two sides could bypass America and exchange intelligence directly.

张军社指出,日本具有先进的军事科技,可凭借其先进的侦察卫星和雷达等尖端装备获得朝鲜核试验和导弹发射等情报信息,而韩国凭借地理优势,可获得更多由特工、间谍人员等获得的第一手人工情报。日本和韩国一旦签署《军事情报保护协定》,双方将可以绕过美国直接交换军事情报。

Some media reports point out that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan was a sensitive issue, because of the history of Japanese colonial rule over South Korea from 1910 to 1945 on the one hand, and also because of territorial disputes between the two sides. With historical and territorial issues unresolved, the South Korean government has always faced continuous resistance. On June 29, 2012, the South Korean government even brought a signing to an “emergency halt”, right on the scheduled day of signing.

有媒体报道指出,军事合作在韩日两国合作中属敏感范畴,一方面缘于日本1910年至1945年在朝鲜半岛推行殖民统治的历史,另一方面缘于双方现在的领土争议。在历史和领土问题均未解决的情况下,韩国政府推动签署军事情报方面协定一直面临重重阻力。2012年6月29日,韩国政府甚至在原定协定签署日当天“紧急叫停”。

This time, South Korea and Japan have signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at tremendous speed, and South Korea said that it had only taken about a dozen days to conduct and intitial the agreement. Reportedly, the two sides will also work hard to sign the agreement by the end of November, after completing domestic procedures.

此次日韩两国“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,从韩方宣布重启有关协定谈判到协定草签仅用了十几天。据称,双方还将力争在完成国内手续后,于11月底前正式签署协定。

How could a agreement that had been stalled for years be settled in a dozen days? The background factors are providing food for thought.

一个多年无法的协定如今为何在短短十几天便得以尘埃落定?背后缘由耐人寻味。

According to Zhang Junshe, Japan has, after the end of World War 2, never profoundly reflected on the crimes it committed to the countries of North-East Asia. While America and Japan had made efforts all along to facilitate the signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, the opposing domestic voices in South Korea had always been very strong. The South Korean masses fear Japanese militarism’s rise from the ashes, so as to trample over the Korean peninsula once again. There are various reasons for Japan and South Korea to rush the initialling of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. From South Korea’s perspective, with president Park Geun-hye’s “Choigate” scandal almost inescapable for the government, the country is facing a serious domestic crisis. By signing military cooperation with Japan, domestic sight can be shifted and passed on to the crisis, thus easing the pressure on Park Geun-hye’s government because of “Choigate”. Also, as South Korea’s agreement to the American deoployment of the “THAAD” anti-missile system had led to a deepening of contradictions with China, Russia, and other neighboring countries, South Korea’s choice to deepen previous cooperation with Japan can also, to a certain degree, ease pressure from neighboring countries. In addition, America is very positive about facilitating the Japanese-South Korean signing of the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”. America has always hoped to strengthen military cooperation between its two Asia-Pacific allies, but for historical reasons, Japan and South Korea have, for a long time, given an appearance of unity while being divided in fact. If Japan and South Korea officially sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” at last, this undoubtedly spells an important result for America’s “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific”, conducive to pulling Japan and South Korea together for the formation of a “small NATO” concept.

据张军社介绍,二战结束以来,日本从未对其在二战期间对东北亚各国所犯下的罪行作出深刻反省。虽然美、日方面一直在努力促成日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,而韩国国内的反对声音一直十分强烈。韩国民众唯恐日本军国主义死灰复燃,再次践踏朝鲜半岛。此次日韩“火速”草签《军事情报保护协定》,原因是多方面的。从韩国方面看,目前朴槿惠政府深陷“闺蜜门”事件难以自拔,韩国内部面临着严重的政治危机。韩国此时与日本签署军事合作,可以转移国内视线,转嫁危机,减轻“闺蜜门”事件给朴槿惠政府带来的压力。此外,由于韩国同意美国在韩部署“萨德”反导系统,导致韩国与中国、俄罗斯等邻国矛盾加深,所以韩国选择加强与日本之前的合作,某种程度上也能减轻周边国家对其造成的压力。另外,美国对促成日韩签署《军事情报保护协定》非常积极。美国一直希望它的两个亚太盟友加强军事合作,但日韩两国因为历史问题长期貌合神离。若日韩最终正式签署《军事情报保护协定》,无疑是美国“亚太再平衡”战略的重要成果,有利于实现美国拉日韩两国构建东北亚“小北约”的构想。

Ma Yao, special researcher with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Shanghai International Studies University, told media that for a long time, the main obstacle for building trilateral US-Japanese-South Korean military cooperation had been in South Korea, and the progress in South-Korean-Japanese military cooperation meant that the obstacle for trilateral military cooperation was reduced and might never return. This was a “watershed” in South-Korean-Japanese cooperation in the military field.

上海外国语大学国际关系与公共事务学院特约研究员马尧在接受媒体采访时表示,长期以来,美国构建美日韩三边军事合作的主要障碍在韩国,而韩日军事合作方面的进展意味着三边军事合作的障碍或将不复存在,这是“韩日在军事领域合作的分水岭”。

For Japan and America, it would clearly be significant good news if Japan and South Korea signed the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”.

日韩若签署《军事情报保护协定》,对日本和美国而言,显然都是重大利好消息。

Zhang Junshe pointed out that under the guise of the North Korea crisis, Japan could take advantage of the situation and get involved in the affairs of the Korean peninsula, broaden its right to discourse, thus increasing its influence in Northeast Asian affairs. For America, closer military cooperation between Japan and South Korea is conducive to advancing its control of the two allied countries further, to serve its “Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific” strategy, to achieve its goal of controlling North East Asia, and to advance and achieve the protection of its regional hegemony.

张军社指出,日本未来可以以朝鲜危机为幌子,趁机介入朝鲜半岛事务,扩大其在朝鲜半岛事务中的话语权,进而提升其在东北亚局势中的影响力。对美国而言,日韩两国更紧密的军事合作有利于其进一步控制这两个盟国,为其“亚太再平衡”战略服务,实现其控制东亚的目标,进而实现维护其地区霸权的目的。

The next paragraph translation is a stub (or whatever). It apparently refers to undoing the limits put on Japan’s military power after WW2, and the Shinzo Abe government’s goal to “normalize” Japan’s military policies.

You can contribute to a translation.

In March 2016, Japan’s new military legislation was officially implemented, allowing Japan to go from ordinary times to “有事”时, from its own ground to freely using force abroad.

2016年3月,日本新安保法正式实施,使日本获得了从平时到“有事”时、从本土到周边再到全球自由对外使用武力的权限,从而使日本绕过和平宪法束缚,初步实现长期追求的“军事正常化”目标。

If Japan and South Korea sign the “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement”, this will open a channel for Japan to get involved in matters of the Korean peninsula. For South Korea, this undoubtedly means  drinking Zhen poison as a thirst quencher and allowing the wolf into the house, turning South Korea into the biggest victim. Zhang Junshe says that South Korea’s government, in order to shift the pressure from “Choigate” and to respond to America’s call, to resist China’s and Russia’s resistance against the “THAAD” deployment in South Korea, and to involve Japan, presents itself, on the surface, as retaliation against North Korea, it actually helps America to form a military alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region, and provides the conditions for Japan to step into the Korean peninsula.

若日韩签订《军事情报保护协定》,“则为日本介入朝鲜半岛事务打开了一个通道,这对韩国而言无异于饮鸩止渴、引狼入室,韩国将成为最大的受害者。”张军社如是说,韩国政府为了转移“闺蜜门”事件的压力,同时响应美国的号召,抵抗中国和俄罗斯对“萨德”入韩的反对,将日本拉拢过来,表面看是为了对付朝鲜,实际上是在帮助美国在亚太构建军事同盟体系,为日本插足朝鲜半岛提供条件。

Zhang Junshe also said that the main goal of the Japanese-South Korean “Military Intelligence Protection Agreement” was to strengthen shared intelligence about North Korea, and that this kind of military alliance directed against third countries was an expression of cold-war mentality that would cause fierce reactions from North Korea. It could damage peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and negatively affect peace and stability in the entire North East Asian region. As North Korea’s closest neighbor, China could therefore also face more security threats.

张军社还说,日韩《军事情报保护协定》主要目的就是要加强有关朝鲜情报的共享,这种针对第三国的军事同盟是冷战思维的表现,必然引起朝鲜方面的激烈反应,可能破坏朝鲜半岛的和平稳定,对整个东北亚地区的和平稳定也会带来不利影响。中国作为朝鲜半岛的近邻,也可能因此面临更多安全威胁。

South Korean Arriang News TV reported on Friday that the agreement could become effective without parliamentary approval in South Korea (where the government lost its majority in April this year). However, 59 percent of the public disapproved of the agreement.

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