I would say something silly like "shiver me timbers" but this is serious. A Korean fishing boat has been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia (Chosun):
A South Korean trawler was hijacked on Tuesday off the coast of Africa. The 160-foot fishing vessel Dongwon 628 was about a hundred kilometers off the Somali coast when its crew put in a radio distress call.
U.S. and Dutch naval ships patrolling international waters in the Persian Gulf region arrived at the scene a few hours later. Yet by then the pirates had reportedly taken control of the Korean vessel and efforts to intervene were abandoned when members of the Korean crew were threatened with guns. According to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain the ship then turned toward Somali territorial waters.
Please note that it was not just ships from the global hegemony that tried to help the Koreans, but also at least one from the Netherlands (I thought they had pulled out of the area).
Yonhap reports that the ships involved in the attempted rescue were the The USS Roosevelt and Dutch ship HNLMS Zeven Provincien.
BTW, that last link includes a nice graphic that I stole. Here it is (BBC):
I would imagine that most of the piracy on in Indonesian waters and on the west coast of Africa is against local boats, but piracy off the Horn of Africa and in the Straits of Malacca is a serious international concern. I have previously posted on Korean interests and piracy in the straits. Hopefully, this incident will cause the Korean government to become more involved in combating pirates.
Like others, Freedom House was dismayed by the publication of those cartoons that many Muslims have deemed offensive to their religion and their Prophet. In their writings and depictions, journalists and artists have an obligation to respect the values and sensitivities of religious believers and minority groups. At the same time, it may well be that the cartoon that has drawn the most commentary - showing the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban - was actually a jibe, not at Islam or its adherents, but at those extremists who have besmirched the name of a major religious faith by resorting to violence in its name.
The publication of the cartoons does not stand apart from the many instances of hard-edged, polemical, blatantly unfair, and even obnoxious commentary that occur regularly in societies with an independent media and traditions of free speech. Democratic societies have ways of dealing with biased or insulting journalistic expression by means of robust and free public debate and criticism. In the current controversy, the self-correcting abilities of democratic institutions, including the press itself, through responsible professional bodies and fine-tuning of standards and norms, have been forgotten.
The larger and more urgent issue, however, is not journalistic fairness or propriety, but the threats to freedom of expression posed by those who have resorted to intimidation and violence in their response to the cartoons' publication or who have manipulated and goaded others to a violent response.
Freedom of expression is a cherished and necessary value in free societies. Freedom of expression and of the press have been made secure in broad parts of the world through many years of struggle and sacrifice. A free press is the first target of dictators and authoritarians; even in stable democracies, journalistic and artistic expression frequently comes under pressure from political leaders and interest groups. That a free press is a necessary bastion in the defense of freedom of religion ought not be forgotten.
South Korea said Tuesday that its foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, will run for the top post at the United Nations...
"We will notify the Security Council of his candidacy through a letter addressed to its president once the council officially commences the election process," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement read by Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.
Ban already has early (if conditional) backing from the US. It is widely believed that it is Asia's turn. There is one problem: it is conditioned on Ban getting the backing of Southeast Asia countries and one of the other candidates is Surakiart Sathirathai, the foreign Minister of Thailand (there is at least one other Asian also in the running). The message from the State Department seems to be that they will back whichever candidate the Asian caucus nominates.
UPDATE: The US says that supporting any candidate now would be premature. That is not really a contradiction of the statement of support for Ban made yesterday but reinforces the fact that he will have to win over other Asian nations in order to win.
(If anyone has any ideas how those in Korea can support the Danes, feel free to leave a comment.)
I am not the first IKK blogger to talk about the ongoing 'Cartoon Intifada' (I believe that honor goes to the Big Hominid). In fact, I'm probably jumping on this on the back end of the issue's shelf-live. However, things have gotten to the point where I have decided to go off my normal beat and talk about it.
Like manyothers have already said, I believe that the Danish paper in question and other media outlets have the right to publish those cartoons but that they should exercise that right while respecting the beliefs of others. If I were the editor of the paper (which I am obviously not), I would not have run the cartoons. Your right to draw cartoons does not give you the right to have someone publish them and editors should exercise prudence.
If Muslim groups would have called for a boycott of advertisers of the paper in a bid to force them to drop their ads, I would have seen no problem with that. The paper chose to print those cartoons and can live with the (non-violent or state-coerced) consequences. I suspect that many 'culturally sensitive' Danes would have sided with them, making any boycott that much more effective.
Likewise, if the cartoons had been published with the financial support of the government, then foreign governments would have a legitimate beef with the Danish government. But they were not so they don't.
In my view, this mess did not start out as a free speech issue, but it became one once some Muslim leaders and governments decided to pressure the Danish government into censoring their media. So the current boycott of Danish goods by some Muslim countries and groups in order to force them to impose censorship on the press is a direct assault on our values. Perhaps we are in a Guns of August situation but freedom of the press is not a point of compromise.
While there is not a lot we can do about goons in the streets of Tehran or Damascus, we can do our little part to counteract the boycott of Danish goods.
For starters, check out this list of Danish products and see if there is anything you can buy at your local superstore.
If you are in Itaewon, you can order Carlsberg or Tuborg beer. If you want some junk food, have a Steff hot dog (The garlic onion dog is pretty good.).
So far I have ordered one round of Carlsberg beer while celebrating the birth of my daughter and had one hot dog set at Steff that I otherwise would not have bought. That is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the current anti-Danish boycott but it is a start. I hope that other expats will take up the challenge to add their own drops to the bucket.
Two final things that bug me about how the issue is being handled in the States and a few other places. The first is the rather obvious double standard by media outlets like the New York Times on offending Muslim beliefs offending versus Christian ones (Remember Piss Christ?).
The second is the somewhat related belief that printing the cartoons was like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater. First, it belittles Muslims by equating them to rabid Pavlovian dogs ready rip your leg off at the site of a cartoon. It serves to remember, that even if a million Muslims went crazy over the cartoons, 1,299,000,000 Muslims did not go crazy.
Those two problems combine to effectively make a' rioters veto' in which those who resort to violence have the right to silence those they don't like:
"I think the press has an obligation not to gratuitously offend, but I also think that the press has the right and occasionally the obligation to blaspheme. These images aren't shown. We're extending the supposedly spontaneous -- but in fact politically organized and politically motivated -- rioters veto power over what runs in American newspapers. It's ridiculous and indefensible."
Since the L.A. Times (among others) has decided not to run the cartoons (and indirectly compared Muslims to road-raged psychos with guns when explaining why they will not), I fully expect them to show their new found religious sensitivity by refusing to run ads or reviews of The Da Vinci Code for its negative portrayal of the Catholic faith.
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Big Lebowski. If you haven't seen it, buy or (legally) download it ASAP.
Early in the movie, the Big Lebowski hires the Dude to deliver a ransom in a briefcase for his wife. When the Dude fails to deliver the briefcase, the Big Lebowski yelled at him but did not do anything else to either harm the Dude or find his wife. The point where the Dude finally realizes the Big Lebowski's game is one of the most memorable parts of the movie for me (from the script):
I mean we totally f***ed it up, man. We f***ed up his pay-off. And got the kidnappers all pissed off, and the big Lebowski yelled at me a lot, but he didn't do anything....
...His million bucks was never in [the briefcase the Big Lebowski gave to the Dude], man! There was no money in that briefcase! He was hoping they'd kill her!
The rest of the world complains that American hegemony is reckless, arrogant, and insensitive. Just don’t expect them to do anything about it. The world’s guilty secret is that it enjoys the security and stability the United States provides. The world won’t admit it, but they will miss the American empire when it’s gone.
The comparison is not perfect since the Big Lebowski wanted the Dude to fail and the rest of the world wants America to succeed, but cynicism of those who howl against the USA from under its protection fits perfectly.
I remember a few years ago there was a lot of huffing and puffing about Europe (led by France with help from Germany, of course) counterbalancing the United States but they never actually got around to do anything about it.
Read the rest, but here is another teaser:
The gap between what the world says about American power and what it fails to do about it is the single most striking feature of 21st-century international relations. The explanation for this gap is twofold. First, the charges most frequently leveled at America are false. The United States does not endanger other countries, nor does it invariably act without regard to the interests and wishes of others. Second, far from menacing the rest of the world, the United States plays a uniquely positive global role. The governments of most other countries understand that, although they have powerful reasons not to say so explicitly.
The only non-rogue country that might have it in for the USA in the near future is China and that will only happen when they think they have what it takes to run the show themselves. Until, and maybe beyond, that time America will be the principle provider of stability on this planet.
Conflicts in East Asia over islands with potential offshore oil and gas deposits (the Spratlys and Senkaku immediately come to mind) are widely reported; however, another offshore resource is also causing conflicts in this part of the world: seafood.
Japanese, Koreans and coastal Chinese all rely on the sea to provide a large part of their diets and each has large fleets of fishing ships working to meet demand. Each nation also jealously guards fishing rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The problem is that fishermen in the region are much less strict in staying within the limits of their nations' respective EEZs.
One nice thing about writing a piece for TCS is that you get a cute little graphic to go with your story. Alas, I think my graphic is not as cool as what you usually see on TCS's front page. I guess that is what I get for writing an article about fish.
Maybe I should write about terrorists with biological weapons. That would probably net me a really cool graphic. Alas, I don't know enough about biological weapons to write a descent piece.