Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinese President Hu Jintao - West of Taiwan Strait

by M. Ulric Killion 

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R Front) meets with tunnel construction workers in Xiamen, southeast China’s Fujian Province, during his inspection tour in Xiamen from Feb. 14 to 15, the first two days in China's Lunar New Year. (Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng). 

During the first weekend of the Chinese New Year holiday, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Fujian Providence (Hu urges developing west side of Taiwan strait, Xinhua, February 16, 2010). As Xinhua reported, “Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for efforts to accelerate the construction of the economic zone on the western side of the Taiwan Strait during his four-day inspection tour to Fujian Province that ended Monday. Hu urged Fujian officials and people to seize the favorable opportunities offered by the central government on the construction of the economic zone and accelerate the transformation of the economic growth model. Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, visited Zhangzhou, Longyan and Xiamen in Fujian during the inspection tour and celebrated the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, with local residents and Taiwan compatriots living in Fujian.”

It is more noteworthy, however, that his visit to Fujian Province included a visit to the seaside city of Xiamen, which is immediately west of Taiwan. Standing on the banks of the city of Xiamen, one can actually see two of the smaller islands that, as claimed by Taiwan, belong to the Taiwan archipelago. The two smaller islands in closer proximity to Xiamen’s coastline, though still a part of the Taiwan archipelago, are a part of the Greater Kinmen (大金門) archipelago. In particular, there is a smaller island lying in Xiamen’s harbor, which is Lesser Kinmen.

(Poster on Lesser Kinmen Island reads: 三民主义 统一中国/Three People’s Principles unite China; Photo/From Wikipedia).

On a clear day one can also see a poster on the island of Lesser Kinmen that reads: 三民主义统一中国 (San min zhuyi Tongyi Zhongguo). The phrase refers to the political theory or philosophy of Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan). This is his famous “Three Principles of the People.” The political idea actually associates with the earlier Republic of China (R.O.C.), which is distinguishable from the People’s Republic of People. Before 1949 and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong, actually, related his ideas of a new democracy to Sun Yat-sen’s earlier post-1911 theory of the “Three People’s Principles” (Three Principles of the People, San-min Doctrine, or San min zhuyi). 

Sun Yat-sen’s “Three People’s Principles”, more particularly, represent the principles of minzu (government of the people or nationalism), minqua (government by the people or democracy), and minsheng (government for the people). Many also translate the principle of minsheng as representative of the idea of socialism. This is because the concept of minsheng addresses issues of how the government would take care of the people, such as providing food, clothing, shelter and other necessities. The “Three People’s Principles” are also considered the basic philosophical ideals underlining the Chinese Revolution (1911) and founding of the Kuomintang (KMT; Guomindang) or the Chinese Nationalist Party. Additionally, many also employ the “Three People’s Principles” to describe Chinese nationalism, democracy, and economic equalization. In 1919, when in Shanghai, Sun Yat-sen presumably started writing the “Three People’s Principles.” The actual text of the “Three People’s Principles” that is available today is from his lecture notes, which are written in the vernacular style in 1924, when he reorganized the Kuomintang in Canton, in Guangdong Province (Ulric Killion, Modern Chinese Rules of Order (2007), Chapter 1).

However, Taiwan is not alone in its display of a public message by billboard or even propaganda by billboard. This is because from the Taiwan view of  the Xiamen coastline there is China’s version of public messaging by billboard. 

(A poster in Xiamen facing Taiwan reads: 一国两制 统一中国 (Yi Guo Liang zhi Tongyi Zhongguo One country two systems unite China; Photo by M. Ulric Killion).

China erected its own display of a political slogan, which conversely says: One Country two systems unite China. During the early 1980s, the slogan of “One country, two systems” is a political theory that is attributable to Deng Xiaoping as the means to unite China. In other words, during the era of Deng Xiaoping, the idea of the unification of China under one banner took shape. This meant promoting the unification or uniting of the systems of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan with the mainland under one banner or one China.

The propaganda by billboards seems reminiscent of the Cold War. This is because both sides by billboard-propaganda appear to acquiescence to the ending of a shooting (or military) war with the resumption of war by dialogue or even by public billboards. When visiting the area one gets an eerie sense of war, though now only a war of words. In this sense, it is a good sign but still perhaps a tedious and tenuous peace for both sides. The sense of uneasiness comes from the fact that the shooting war did not end until the 1970s. 

In an earlier article, Reuters (Chinese tourists flock to Taiwan’s Kinmen island, February 14, 2007) reported,
Kinmen County, an island chain with a population of 76,000, is catering to Chinese tourists by converting military facilities into tourist traps and building museums with wartime themes. Chinese tourists, who come on a rare ferry link from the mainland, can visit minefields, mortars and other wartime relics as well as purchase souvenirs of switchblades, cleavers and other knives made from spent artillery shells. A multilingual tourist map of the 12 Kinmen islets is sprinkled with little red stars showing where the Nationalists, who fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war in 1949, battled their mainland-based Communist rivals on-and-off until the 1970s. Taiwan estimates 10,000 troops died in the decades of fighting, and the island itself attained fame in the West when it became a major election issue in the 1960 U.S. presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Due to its proximity to China, Taiwan considered Kinmen a front-line to staving off its Communist foes, and built up a large military complex there, including miles of tunnels in the years after its 1949 retreat. All but 3,000 of the Taiwan soldiers who were once based here to repel invading Chinese have retreated to Taiwan about 200 km away.
Nonetheless, China is now stressing diplomatic and economic relations with Taiwan. As Xinhua reported concerning President Hu Jintao’s visit, “When inspecting the Haitian Wharf, the largest container terminal in the province, he urged the operator to boost the cross-Strait cooperation in economy and trade with better services.   During his visit to the Xiamen Strait Cruise Center, Hu talked with a Taiwan passenger awaiting the ship, who said the travels across the Strait are much more convenient than before. Hu said that compatriots across the Strait are like family members and should keep in close contact.” 

(Shuzhuang Garden Beach, Gulangyu, in Xiamen; Photo by M. Ulric Killion).

According to Xinhua, “Hu also visited some tourist attractions including the Gulangyu Islet and extended his greetings to travelers.”

Shuzhuang Garden is one of Gulangyu’s notable gardens. 

Gulangyu and its many gardens and beaches is a beautiful place with several pavilions, a pagoda, old-style bridges, different views of the sea, and narrow street corridors that are well worth wandering around. 

(Military facilities on Gulangyu, in Xiamen; Photo by M. Ulric Killion).

However, Gulangyu, like the Greater Kinmen (大金門) archipelago, still shows signs of the earlier shooting war, notwithstanding its natural display of beauty, scenery, and nature. 

This is because one can still find located near the center of the island a military installation or facility, and other signs of an earlier shooting war. For instance, a walk along one of the beaches in Gulangyu might also reveal other signs of a former shooting war, such as an abandoned bunker.

 SDC13098(An abandoned bunker on a Gulangyu beach, in Xiamen, which shows obvious structural damage on the outside wall; Photo by M. Ulric Killion).

As for Xiamen in general, Xinhua reported, “Hu stressed the role of tourism in the transformation of the economic growth mode, urging local authorities to make Fujian a tourist resort with international fame. During his visit to a tourist information center in Xiamen, Hu urged the city to strengthen its tourism management and provide better services to solicit more visitors.”

During his visit, Xinhua also reported, “Hu extended Spring Festival greetings to migrant workers at the construction site of Xiang'an Tunnel in Xiamen. Speaking highly of the migrant workers as a labor force growing in China's reform and opening up, Hu urged all government departments to be more concerned about these workers.” 

(Gulangyu celebrating the Chinese New Year; Photo by M. Ulric Killion).

During his tour in Zhangzhou and Longyan, according to Xinhua, “Hu visited some Taiwan businesses. He also promised favorable polices to support and accelerate the development of old revolutionary bases.”

Finally, the ending of a shooting war is always a good thing. For instance, in Xiaman even the location of the poster or billboard (i.e., One Country two systems unite China) facing Taiwan was off limits to public eyes and sightseers until about the 1990s, and enjoyed a strong military border patrol presence. 

China is now focusing on improving China-Taiwan relations through diplomacy and economic relations, though still diplomatic and economic relations, ultimately, manifesting its “One country, two systems” political theory or philosophy. 

All of this is still better than a shooting war.

Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year! Wish you have more money! 恭禧发财!!

Photo by M. Ulric Killion, 02/14/2010 --

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Iran, nuclear weapons, and the effectiveness of economic sanctions

by M. Ulric Killion 

The launch of Omid satellite from Semnan province of Iran; Photo/Wikipedia. 

On February 3, 2009, to the consternation of a Western world, as Reuters reported, “Iran said it had launched a domestically made satellite into orbit for the first time on Tuesday, prompting further concern among Western powers and in Israel over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran said the launch of the Omid (Hope) research and telecom satellite was a major step in its space technology timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah.” Iran’s first satellite launching coincided with celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, while, more importantly, raising concerns in the United States and other countries about Iran’s potential use of long-range missiles to send nuclear warheads halfway around the globe (Fathi and Broad, 2009).
The threat of Iran being capable of sending a nuclear warhead halfway around the globe, however, is more of an exaggeration, rather than reality, of its nuclear potentiality. Intelligence sources from Western countries cannot even agree on an estimation of when Iran will actually be able to produce nuclear weapons. This is because of earlier estimates widely ranging from 1 to 3 years (French/Israeli estimates), to 5 years (US pentagon estimate), to 10 years (CIA estimate) (Killion, 2007). 

Weapons experts also generally agree that the act was a symbolic one because of the size of the satellite. Launching a heavy warhead intercontinental distances, according to aerospace experts, would require a far more powerful satellite. The launch was not a moment for panic, as Charles D. Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) explained, because, “It shouldn’t force us to make a missile defense decision in Europe” (Fathi and Broad, 2009). Nonetheless, as reported by the New York Times (Fathi and Broad, 2009), Iran’s launch came as a time when, “President Obama has struck a conciliatory tone toward Tehran, suggesting that he will move toward dialogue after years of tensions. Even so, he may take a tough line in the coming months and could seek to tighten sanctions against Iran.” 

The concern with Iran and its nuclear program is part of a larger issue, which is the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, though Iran routinely appears in the media as the only culprit desiring to introduce nuclear weapons in the region. The problem with so characterizing this larger, more important issue, in the context of Iran alone, is a failure to recognize that Israel also has a nuclear program. Borrowing from the jurist’s tool, if the issue sub judice is the proliferation of nuclear weapons by Iran in the Middle East, then a critical sub issue might also be the proliferation of nuclear weapons by Israel in the Middle East, thus, presenting the issues of Iran and nuclear weapons, and Israel and nuclear weapons.
In the media in general, there is a great deal of debate concerning Iran and its growing potential to develop nuclear weapons, though Iran rightly maintains that it has the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Borrowing from the title of a recent Washington Post (Erdbrink and Branign, 2009) article, “In Iran, nuclear issue is also a medical one.” This is because, “In Iran, an estimated 850,000 kidney, heart and cancer patients are facing a race against time. Although these patients are in need of post-surgery treatment with nuclear medicine, doctors and nuclear scientists here say domestic production will dry up when a research reactor in Tehran runs out of fuel, perhaps as soon as this spring” (Erdbrink and Branign, 2009). A problem is that the suspicions of Western countries may be so strong that they threaten the availability of nuclear medicine. 

For instance, as earlier reported by the Los Angeles Times (November 2, 2009), Iran wanted “to send 800 kilograms, or 1,764 pounds, of its enriched uranium abroad to be exchanged for fuel for a medical reactor,” though many in the West deemed this a ploy or compromise to a pending United Nations-backed proposal. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, “The original proposal, backed by the Obama administration, had called for Iran to send abroad 1,200 kilograms, or 70 percent of its nuclear material supply, by year's end, temporarily lowering Iran's capacity to build a nuclear bomb and creating the diplomatic breathing room for a possible broader deal.”
As for the year-end deadline of the Obama administration, Washington policy may be evidencing a policy shift toward Iran as oppose to harsh sanctions. The Washington Post reports (2009),
Ten months after President Obama set a year-end deadline for Iran to engage with world powers on its nuclear program, the government in Tehran has failed to respond in kind, other than an abortive gesture in the fall. Now, in what may be a difficult balancing act, officials say the administration wants to carefully target sanctions to avoid alienating the Iranian public -- while keeping the door ajar to a resolution of the struggle over Iran's nuclear program. The aim of any sanctions is to force the Tehran government to the negotiating table, rather than to punish it for either its apparent push to develop a nuclear weapon or its treatment of its people.
As such, it seems as though the world may have been witnessing a new era in US-Iran relations. This is because the Obama administration may employ a new strategic approach to Iran and nuclear proliferation in Middle East by an approach characterizing targeted-sanctions rather than harsh sanctions (Washington Post, 2009). No doubt, in the halls of the U.S. Congress, conservative members of congress are sounding an alarm, while the more liberal members may be feeling a mild distraction.
A problem is that many lack an understanding of the workings of the International Atom Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is the international center of cooperation in the nuclear field, which was originally set up in 1957 as the “Atoms for Peace” organization and housed within the United Nations family. For fulfilling its international role, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) establishes a safeguards system that is under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the NPT in transferring technology for peaceful purposes. The primary pillars of the NPT are non-proliferation, disarmament and the right to peacefully, use nuclear technology (Killion, 2007). Both the IAEA and the treaty designedly address the problems of nuclear deterrence and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while allowing for the peaceful use of nuclear technology. 

In his article Nuclear Deterrence, Preventive War, and Counterproliferation (2004), Jeffery Record writes, “During the Cold War, the principal function of nuclear weapons was to deter nuclear attack. Nuclear deterrence was not considered a tool of nonproliferation. The primary mechanisms for halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons were the nonproliferation regime established by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 and the U.S. extension of nuclear deterrence to states that might otherwise have sought security through the acquisition of nuclear weapons.” In other words, the IAEA and the NPT intend to address the issue or problem of nuclear deterrence theory and its attendant problematic proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Then there is the issue of Iran and the NPT. On the issue of using nuclear technology, though many will disagree, misunderstand or misinterpret, Iran, as a signatory state of the NPT, can rightfully contend that it can resume uranium enrichment program for a civilian nuclear energy program, thus rightly claim the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy based on the NPT, at Article III, Paragraph 3, and Article IV. The full text of Articles III reads:
1. Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this Article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this Article shall be applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.
2. Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this Article.
3. The safeguards required by this Article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international co-operation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this Article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.
4. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall conclude agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the requirements of this Article either individually or together with other States in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such agreements shall commence within 180 days from the original entry into force of this Treaty. For States depositing their instruments of ratification or accession after the 180-day period, negotiation of such agreements shall commence not later than the date of such deposit. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of initiation of negotiations.
The full text of the NPT, at Article IV, reads:
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.
2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in. the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.
The recognition of Iran’s rights under the treaty (i.e., NPT, Arts. III & IV), however, does not condone an earlier development in the level of enriched uranium that is allegedly in its possession, which is higher than the low-enriched material used to generate power, and heading toward a weapons-grade level (Killion, 2007; Hafezi, 2009). This is a different issue in terms of Iran and the terms of the NPT, because a weapons-grade level constitutes a blatant breach of the treaty.

Then on February 7, 2010, there is also the problem of Iran’s announcement, “that it will start enriching uranium to higher levels, shrugging off international fears that such a move will bring it closer to being able to make nuclear warheads. . . . The Iranian move came just days after Ahmadinejad appeared to move close to endorsing the original deal, which foresaw Tehran exporting the bulk of its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and then conversion for fuel rods for the research reactor. The plan was endorsed by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - the six powers that originally elicited a tentative approval from Iran in landmark talks last fall” (George Jahn, Iran says it will increase uranium enrichment, Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2010). 

The problem of Iran commencing to enrich uranium alarms the world for obvious reasons. This is because, “Although material for the fissile core of a nuclear warhead must be enriched to a level of 90 percent or more, just getting its stockpile to the 20 percent mark would be a major step for the country’s nuclear program. While enriching to 20 percent would take about one year, using up to 2,000 centrifuges at Tehran’s underground Natanz facility, any next step - moving from 20 to 90 percent - would take only half a year and between 500-1,000 centrifuges. Achieving the 20-percent level ‘would be going most of the rest of the way to weapon-grade uranium.’” (Jahn, 2010).
On January 28, 2010, the US Senate passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (S. 2799) (International Trade Law News, Jan. 28, 2010). The Act (S. 2799), notwithstanding possible economic sanctions by the UN body, intends to forestall Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons or, perhaps more broadly stated, a greater proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This is because Israel implicitly through the secrecy (i.e., policy of opacity) of its nuclear weapons programs has comfortably nestled itself in the category of a non-signatory state, pursuant to the NPT, alongside India. Nuclear weapons are already a geopolitical reality in the Middle East. This also presents a problem for nuclear deterrence theory. 

This is because if Israel has already developed and now possesses nuclear weapons, then Israel is the first country to actually, introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. For this reason, assuming arguendo, Iran is developing a level of enrich uranium that is approaching a weapons-grade level, then Iran may have launched its nuclear weapons program in direct response to Israel’s existing nuclear weapons arsenal, or simply, as a nuclear deterrent or pursuant to nuclear deterrence theory (Record, 2004; explaining that nuclear deterrence is not a tool of nonproliferation). In such a scenario, Iran and its nuclear weapons program, in conjunction with Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, may, ultimately, be equally blameworthy for the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. 

Additionally, this does not excuse Iran from the allegations or charge of developing nuclear weapons; it is just that reason dictates that both Iran and Israel may now equally share the blame for the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Moreover, the problem remains how to forestall Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, which is a direct violation of the NPT. In answer to this problem, key power states or western states are focusing, at least for now, on economic sanctions rather than military force. 

This presents the issue of the effectiveness of economic sanctions. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in its February 8, 2010-Daily Briefly presented a succinct analysis of the effectiveness of economic sanctions against Iran. The analysis at CFR.org Daily Brief, Feb. 8, 2010, at relevant part, reads:
On Forbes.com, Jamsheed Choksy says economic sanctions against Iran have not curbed its oppression, nuclear ambitions, or support for terrorism, because they have failed to target "the lavish lifestyles of those in power."
The Washington Institute’s Jeffrey White and Loring White say war games conducted by Harvard University, Tel Aviv University, and the Brookings Institution suggest the West is unlikely to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
In the Financial Times, Philip Stephens says the United States and Europe should more aggressively support democracy and human rights in Iran, but recognize that overt foreign backing for the opposition movement would only hurt it.
The analysis, though brief, succinctly states that the failure of economic sanctions in the past, in conjunction with the war games, prognosticate that economic sanctions will be ineffective against Iran’s regime. The observation by Choksy (Forbes.com) is critical, notwithstanding the result of the war games conducted by Harvard University. Choksy distinguishably observed that the economic sanctions fail to target “the lavish lifestyles of those in power.” 

Chosky’s observation deserves further mention. This is because the effective head of Iran’s political establishment is not the president or the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but rather the Iranian Supreme Leader or the religious leader selected by an Assembly of Experts (Killion, 2007). The problem is the wealth of clerics in power or what Choksy characterizes as “the lavish lifestyles of those in power,” which economic sanctions fail to target. 

For instance, there is an article titled, Traitors and Mullas of Iran Bank Account Info in foreign countries (posted by Zand-Bon on Jan 11, 2010), though this writer is unable to substantiate its accuracy. The same article was also later reposted on January 18, 2010 at the website of New York Hudson under the title of Iranian Mullahs and Others with Bank Accounts in Foreign Countries. The article reads as follows.
A Brief Report on Bank Accounts of the Heads of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Foreign Countries:
(With special thanks to one of the Green supporters who is working in one of Malaysia’s Banks)
1- Gholam Hossein Elham: 25 M USD at Dubai, 13 M USD at Turkey, 17 M USD at Swiss, 0.7 M USD at Beirut
2- S.H. Panahian: 11 M USD at Islamic Bank of Sharjeh, 4 M EU at Malaysia,
3- Masoud Kazemi: 45 M EU Germany, 4.2 M USD at Dubai
4- Ali Hashemi Bahramani: 5.2 M USD at Kuwait, 11 M EU at Belgium, 23 M USD at Dubai, an Unknown account in Swiss
5- Mohamad Mohamadi: 12 M USD at Dubai, 17 M USD at Kuwait, 8 M EU at Turkey
6- Mehdi Ahmadi Nejad: 18 M EU at Belgium, 45 M EU at Swiss, 44 M USD at Islamic bank at Sharjeh
7- Naziyeh Khamenehiee: 7 M USD at Turkey, 65 M EU at Germany, 122 Pound M at Great Britain
8- Sadegh Mahsouli: 14 M EU at United Arab Emirates, 24 M USD at Turkey, 3 M EU at Malaysia
9- Mojtaba Khameneiee: 1 B Pound Great Britain (has been blocked), 2.2 B EU at Germany, 766 M USD at Qatar, an unknown account at Swiss
10- Hossein Ma`adi khah: 15 M USD at Kuwait, 45 M EU at Austria, 7 M USD at United Arab Emirates
11- Isa KAlantari: 3.2 M EU at Belgium, 1.2 M USD at Italy
12- Hossein Taeb: 122 M USD United Arab Emirates, 42 M EU Italy
13- Masoud Hajarian Kashani: 92 M USD at Austria, 13.7 M USD Qatar [CUTOFF]
14- Sardar Ahmad Vahidi: 32 M USD United Arab Emirates, 65 M USD at Turkey, 122 M USD at Germany (has been blocked)
15- Abas Kadkhodaiee: 2.5 M EU Itay, 7.1 M USD Kuwait, 32 M USD Dubai
16- Mojtaba Mesbaah Yazdi: 184 M USD Dubai, 221 M USD at Alnakhl Corporation, 55 M EU at Spain
17- Ali Mesbaah Yazdi, 45 M USD United Arab Emirates, 17 M USD Turkey, 65 M Pound at Barkley Bank at Britain, 75 M USD at South Africa, 110 M EU at Germany
18- Hessin Firouz Abadi: 320 M USD at Malaysia, 65 MUSD United Arab Emirates, 103 M USD Kuwait, 17 M USD at Turkey, Unknown bank account at Swiss
19- Parviz Fatah: 16 M USD Turkey, 5.2 M EU at Turkey, 22 USD Swiss
20- Hassan Shajooni: 66.5 M USD Dubai, 39 m USD Kuwait, 11.2 M USD Beirout, 8 M USD Malaysia
21- H Asgar Oladi: 172 M USD Belgium, 120 M EU Germany, 420 MUSD Alnakhl Company, 42 MUSD turkey, 219 MUSD Malaysia, Unknown bank account at Swiss
22- Hossein Jannati: 288 MUSD dubai, an Unknown amount at a bank in Turkey which has been guaranteed for 200 M USD, 150 M USD at Japan, 32 MUSD at Malaysia
23- Sakineh Khamenehie: 25 M USD at Malaysia, 14 M USD Qatar, 112 M USD at Dubai
24- Esfandyar Rahim Mashaiee: 5.2 M EU Germany, 32 M EU Italy, 41 M USD Dubai
25- H Mohamadi Araghi: 48.4 M USD Dubai, 2.4 M USD Beirut, 56 M EU Spain
26- Ali Akbar Velayati: 244 M EU Germany, 6 M EU Austria, 56 MUSD Malaysia
27- Mohamad Mohamadi Reyshahri: 241 M USD Alnakhl Company, 121 M USD Dubai, 48 M USD Germany, 43 M EU Italy
28- Mohsen Hashemi bahramani: 35 MUSD United Arab Emirates, 65 M EU Belgium
29- Masoomeh Hashemi Samareh: 11 MUSD Qatar, 5.9 M USD Malaysia
30- Ali Larijani: 185 M EU Austria, 16 M USD United Arab Emirates, 112 M EU Malaysia
31- Abas Akhondi: 9 M USD United Arab Emirates, 5.2 M USD Beirout Bank
32- Mohsen Rafighdoust: 129 M USD Belgium, 44 M USD Kuwait, 92 M USD Malaysia
33- Hamid Hosseini: 30 M USD Malaysia, 82 M EU Spain,
34- Mohamad Hosseini: 14 M USD United Arab Emirates, 7 M USD Kuwait, 3 M USD Turkey, 11 M Pound Britain
35- Mahmoud Hosseini: 3.2 M USD Turkey, 11.4 M USD Kuwait
36- Mojtaba Hashemi samareh: 28 M EU Spain, 76 M USD United Arab Emirates, 124 M USD Malaysia
37- Kamran Daneshjou: 76 M EU Austria, 7.2 M USD Malaysia
38- Ahmad reza Radan: 98 M USD United Arab Emirates, 65 USD Kuwait, 121 M USD South Africa
39- Yadollah Javani: 22 M USD United Arab Emirates, 5 M USD India, 23 M EU Portugal
40- Gholam Reza Fayaz: 65 M USD Malaysia, 40.9 M USD Kuwait
41- AliReza Fayaz: 23 M USD United Arab Emirates, 17 M EU Turkey, 7 M EU Italy
42- Ali Mobasheri, 12elgium, 19 M USD Malaysia, 42 M USD Kuwait
43- Mohamad Naghdi: 142 M EU United Arab Emirates, 24 M USD United Arab Emirates, 66 M USD Malaysia
44- Farhad Daneshjou: 2.3 M USD United Arab Emirates, 5.6 M USD Turkey
45- Khosro Daneshjou: 11 MUSD Turkey, 7 M USD Zcheck Republic
46- Hamid Hosseini: 4.2 M USD Malaysia, 28 M USD United Arab Emirates
47- Mohamad Bagher Kharazi: 120 M USD Lebanon, 86 M USD United Arab Emirates, 42 M USD at Barkley Bank South Africa Branch
48- Mehdi Hashemi Samareh: 5.7 M USD Turkey, 44 M USD Kuwait
49- Hamid Rasay: 62 MUSD Hungry, 32 M EU Germany, 18 M Pound Britain, 14 M USD United Arab Emirates
50- Hossein mousavi Ardebili: 21 MUSD Kuwait, 110 M USD United Arab Emirates, 32 M USD Malaysia
51- Ali Mobasheri: 7 M Eu Austria, 22.4M USD United Arab Emirates
52- Hossein Shariat Madari: 225 M USD United Arab Emirates, 54 M USD Alnakhl Company, 65 M EU HSBS Bank Britain, 156 M USD Malaysia, 600 M USD St. Peterzburg Bank, Russia,
53- Hossein Shahmoradi: 56 M USD United Arab Emirates, 64 M USD Malaysia, 7 M USD India
54- Kamran Daneshjou: 24 M USD Japan, 43 M USD Malaysia
55- Davoud Ahmadi Nezhad: 55 M USD United Arab Emirates, 48 M EU United Arab Emirates, 8 M USD St. Peterzburg Bank, Russia,
56- Abdollah Araghi: 84 m USD United Arab Emirates, 127 M USD Lebanon, 76 M USD Malaysia, SecretAccount at Swiss
57- Baha-odin Hosseini Hashemi: 45 M USD United Arab Emirates, 80 M USD Malaysia
58- Mohi Odin Fazel Harandi: 52 M USD Omman, 45 M USD Saudi Arabia
59- Ahmad Jannati: 450 M Eu Belgium, 143 M USD Alnakhl Company, 124 MUSD United Arab Emirates, 267 M USD Malaysia, 118 M USD South Africa, Unknown Bank account at swiss
60- Ali Janati: 35 M USD United Arab Emirates, 155 M USD Turkey, 55 M EU Germany, Unknown Bank account at swiss
61- Hossein Safar Harandi: 38 M USD United Arab Emirates, 20 M USD Malaysia, An unknown account in Turkey
62- Morteza Rafighdoust: 120 M EU Germany, Unknown Bank account at swiss
63- M H Parsa: 43 M USD Turkey, 12 M USD Malaysia
64- Fatemeh Asgar Oladi: 43 M USD Qatar, 16 M USD Turkey
65- Ali Akbar Mohtashemi: 125 M USD Sharjeh, 85 M USD Kuwait, 200 M USD Malaysia, Unknown Bank account at swiss
66- Yaser Bahramani Hashemi: 22 M EU Germany, 12 M EU Austria, 14 M USD United Arab Emirates
67- Gholam Ali Haddad Adel : 12 M USD Turkey, 2.4 M USD Malaysia, 43 M USD United Arab Emirates
For all of these reasons, the analysis, though brief, of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is on point. Assuming the accuracy of the information on the bank accounts of clerics, the article titled, Iranian Mullahs and Others with Bank Accounts in Foreign Countries, actually substantiates Choksy’s (Forbes.com) contention of a critical failure of economic sanctions to target the wealth of clerics in power or what he characterizes as “the lavish lifestyles of those in power.”  As for the war games, they simply do not directly address the issue of the effectiveness of economic sanctions. 

As for Philip Stephens’s (Financial Times) idea of western powers focusing, though indirectly, on the promotion of democracy and human rights in Iran, there remains the problem of a radical cleric. As even Iran’s new president Ahmadinejad, unlike both of his predecessors Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (president, 1989-1997) and Mohammad Khatami (president, 1997-2005), who is not a cleric rather a military man (Killion, 2007), as Ilan Berman (Understanding Ahmadinejad, 2006) earlier explained, “Since taking office in August 2005, however, the 50-year-old Ahmadinejad has done much to demonstrate his radical credentials. He has ratcheted up the Islamic Republic’s hostile rhetoric toward Israel and the United States. His government has systematically rolled back domestic freedoms and deepened its control over Iranian society. And, under his direction, the Islamic Republic has accelerated its very public march toward an atomic capability.” 

Additionally, the idea of promoting, though indirectly, democracy and human rights in Iran also fails to directly address the issue of the effectiveness of economic sanctions. All of this prognosticates that Iran will eventually acquire nuclear weapons, if not simply withdraw from the NPT, notwithstanding western powers actually concentrating their efforts on economic sanctions that ultimately target the wealth of clerics in power or “the lavish lifestyles of those in power.”
Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Legal Reforms and Judicial Independence in Turkey - Update

An earlier blog posting titled, Legal Reforms and Judicial Independence in Turkey: The Western-Donor-Aid Issue (Nov. 5, 2009), addresses the issues of modern judicial reforms in the Republic of Turkey (Turkey). The political party in power is the AKP government or the Justice and Development Party or White Party (i.e., Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi). 

The model of Turkey’s judiciary is influenced by the ruling Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the influence of those in opposition to Turkey’s ruling AKP, which are both Turkey’s fiercely secular, powerful military force, and  the secular opposition party of the People’s Republican Party. All of this will eventually present an interesting episode in constitutionalism and its attendant judicial powers, especially the independence of a judiciary.

 As an update to the earlier blog, there is the new information from the Eurasia Security Watch, which reported that:
Turkey’s ruling Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been struck a major blow in its ongoing tug-of-war with the country’s fiercely secular military. The relationship between Turkey's powerful armed forces and civilian government has been a rocky one (with four military coups in 50 years), particularly when it is led by religious parties. But the AKP has been on the offensive in recent years, making dozens of arrests of retired and active military officers on allegations of plotting another coup or undermining the government. Perhaps the AKP's most audacious move, however, was its stage-managing of legislation (passed last year) granting civilian courts the power to prosecute military personnel in peacetime for “crimes against national security, constitutional violations and attempts to topple the government.” However, Turkey’s secular opposition party, the People’s Republican Party, challenged that law in court and on January 21th the verdict came down: a unanimous vote by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to strike the measure down. (Istanbul Zaman, January 22, 2010).
Editor, Jeff Smith, Eurasia Security Watch, No. 217, Feb. 5, 2010.
M. Ulric Killion, Legal Reforms and Judicial Independence in Turkey: The Western-Donor-Aid Issue, Nov. 5, 2009 (Alternative web link at M. Ulric Killion’s space).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The GDP-fetish: A dubious measure of human progress

by M. Ulric Killion 

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith first expressed skepticism about the value of economic growth as indicated by gross domestic product (“GDP”), and as a measure of human progress, in his classic "The Affluent Society" (1958). Several decades later Galbraith’s views on the topic became the “conventional wisdom” (a phrase coined by him); (Ajit Randeniya, Please don’t mention the GDP growth again, LankaWeb, Sept 19, 2010). 

In recent blog postings at M. Ulric Killion’s space, there are two articles addressing the issue of gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of progress. The first article is written by Judith D. Schwartz (Times, Jan. 30, 2010), and is entitled, Is GDP An Obsolete Measure of Progress?, and characterizes the now historical use of GDP as a measure of progress as a sort of fetish. Schwartz writes,
Since it became the prime economic indicator during the Second World War (to monitor war production) many have criticized policy-makers' reliance on the GDP — and proposed substitute measures. For example, there is the Human Development Index (HDI), used by the UN's Development Programmed, which considers life expectancy and literacy as well as standard of living as determined by GDP. And the Genuine Progress Indicator, which incorporates aspects of social welfare such as income equity, pollution, and access to health care. In the international community, perhaps the biggest nudge has come from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who commissioned a report by marquee-name economists, including Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, to find alternatives to what he calls “GDP fetishism”. What exactly have we been fetishizing?
The second article is written by Wang Xiaotian (China Daily, Jan. 30, 2010), and it is titled, GDP accounting to be consistent. Wang specifically addresses practical problems of constructing GDP data in the context of China and its National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), thus, also implicitly presenting an example of the practical aspects and problems that arguably associate with using GDP as a measure of progress. Wang writes,
China could wave goodbye to its GDP data discord as the national statistics bureau chief claims that he will unify provincial and central GDP calculation methods and improve grassroots statistical quality this year. Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has criticized some local officials who inflate the GDP figures they report to the NBS. The problem has affected the nation's statistical credibility and produced disunity between central and provincial data, Ma said. . . .
There are two notable points from Wang’s article. First, the proposed changes by the NBS will be a “positive signal for macro economic analysis.” Secondly, and more to the point, as Wang writes, “But some analysts warned that if the country pays too much attention to GDP growth and continues to judge local officials’ performance on local GDP growth, the problem of statistical inaccuracy would remain difficult to solve.”

Additionally, the mention of Wang’s article does not intend to intimate that what Schwartz and others characterize, as a GDP-fetish is peculiar to China and its polity and economy. Schwartz’s article, impliedly, concurs that this is not a China-specific problem, when writing, “Since it became the prime economic indicator during the Second World War (to monitor war production) many have criticized policy-makers' reliance on the GDP — and proposed substitute measures.” Thus, Schwartz’s article, arguably, demonstrates the historical significance and even universality of the problem of a GDP-fetish. Schwartz rightly perceived the problem as a historical one, which deserves our attention. 

Then there are the problems that associate with the GDP-fetish. According to Professor David R. Henderson (Naval Postgraduate School), GDP is simply “not a good measure of welfare” (David R. Henderson, GDP Fetishism, Mar. 1, 2010). This is because economists, though Henderson is admittedly referring to economic professors, “tend to consider fiscal and monetary policy positive if these policies increase GDP, but they often fail to ask, let alone answer, whether those same policies increase or reduce welfare. I have a term for giving GDP such a sacred a place in economists’ reasoning: GDP fetishism.”

In one of Henderson’s many illustrations of the pitfalls of using GDP as a measure of welfare, or what he characterizes (and uses interchangeably) as simply “wellbeing”, he borrows an example from earlier editions of the late Paul Samuelson’s classic textbook Economics. “Samuelson pointed out that if a man married his maid, then, all else equal, GDP would fall.” In explanation of this unique illustration, Henderson writes:
One of the most careful definitions is in The Economic Way of Thinking, 10th edition, by Paul Heyne, Peter Boettke, and David Prychitko. They write: “The gross domestic product is the market value of all the final goods produced in the entire country in the course of a year.” Most economists would agree with this definition. It turns out, though, as Heyne et al. point out, that even this careful definition does not accurately characterize GDP, let alone wellbeing. It is inaccurate in two ways. First, because there is usually no market for the things that government produces (the U.S. Postal Service being one of the exceptions), government spending on goods and services is valued at cost rather than at market prices. Second, because many goods and services are not bought or sold, even though they would have a market value if they were, these goods and services are not counted in GDP.
In other words, as Henderson explained, “The new bride continues doing the housework without being paid. But that would not mean that the work suddenly had no market value. So, in this case, GDP actually understates the market value of all final goods and services because this particular service is no longer exchanged on the market. Because many valuable goods and services are not exchanged on the market, this inaccuracy imparts a downward bias to measured GDP as a measure of actual GDP.” Moreover, and as earlier mentioned, this is one of the many examples that Henderson employs to illustrate the pitfalls of the GDP-fetish as a measure of welfare or “wellbeing”, and, impliedly, as a measure of human progress.

In illustration of the problems that associate with the GDP-fetish, Schwartz mentioned the example of the United Nations Development Programme, and writes, “the Human Development Index (HDI), used by the UN’s Development Programme, which considers life expectancy and literacy as well as standard of living as determined by GDP. And the Genuine Progress Indicator, which incorporates aspects of social welfare such as income equity, pollution, and access to health care.” The UN Development Programme recognizes the limitations of employing GDP as a measure of progress, especially human progress.

Moreover, the UN Development Programme is only one of many instances of international organizations and their agencies such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and international economic institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or World Bank), and International Monetary Fund (IMF), recognizing the problem of a GDP-fetish.

Demonstrating the historical significance of the problem, both the IMF and the OECD have recognized the difficulties of using GDP as a measure of human progress. For instance, an earlier IMF study recognized that in the end, it is consumption rather than investment or GDP that serves as a better measure of economic welfare. This same is true with other international organizations such as the OECD. This is because an earlier study of the OECD also concluded that within a national account framework there are much better measurements of economic resources than GDP per capital, such as national product and net income. (Ulric Killion, Modern Chinese Rules of Order, 2007). All of this challenges the efficiency and efficacy of what many characterize as a GDP-fetish.

In the specific context of China, though the problem of a GDP-fetish is admittedly a universal one, “A January 2006 article (Shenzhen Daily) reads, ‘Economists agreed that China had the wind in its sails.’ However, as early as 2003, Li Deshui acknowledged for the first time that China’s economic estimates were flawed, and its research methods ‘did not always reflect the real situation,’ which necessitated that after about twenty years the NBS had to switch from the Soviet accounting system, and not standard international practices of readjusting quarterly and annual GDP growth estimates, to Western accounting standards. In terms of the reliability of China’s statistics published by the NBS, one hopes that the ‘wind in its sails’ is not from the ‘wind of falsification and embellishment’ (jiabao fukuafeng)” (Killion, 2007).

Nonetheless, in the end, during the post-global financial crisis era, as economic recovery became strongly reliant on government policies, especially macroeconomic policies, the order of the day or new era is a new measurement of human progress, rather than continuing to employ GDP as a measure of welfare, “wellbeing” or human progress. This applies to both developed and developing countries and economies.

Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Global Capital Punishment: The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

by M. Ulric Killion

In 2009 and earlier years, there has been a great deal of debate about the issue of capital punishment or the death penalty. The issue of capital punishment presents a global issue because the issue of the death penalty transcends national boundaries or jurisdictions. In 2009, the media reported many instances of capital punishment or the death penalty in countries such as the United States, China, Iran, and many other countries. 

The issue of capital punishment also appears not to be divisible by models of polities, as the most dire punishment employs by many forms of government and judicial systems. In 2010 and on, one reasonably suspects that the debate on the pros and cons of punishment by capital punishment (death penalty) will continue. For this reason, it seems prudent at this time, which is at the end of the first decade of a new millennium to provide the following information and data concerning capital punishment. What follows is a succinct exposition summarizing the pros and cons of the issue. 

A search for critical information on capital punishment resulted in the following information and data, which is from, “[A] blog about human rights, including political and economic rights, from the perspective of politics, art and philosophy (hence P.A.P.), but also law, economics, statistics etc. Political and economic rights, that means we also talk about issues such as democracy and poverty.” The source of this summary is “Statistics on Capital Punishment at the P.A.P. Blog”, which presents an excellent summary of the relevant issues and data. The most striking aspects of the summary on capital punishment at the P.A.P. Blog are the current trends and deterrent effects of capital punishment.

Moreover, at the end of the day, in modern societies, capital punishment or the death penalty may present the most Draconian form of negative liberty (i.e., Draconian legislation) or means chosen to force human individuals to be free.

Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2010.

The Statistics on Capital Punishment:

A more polemical post on capital punishment is here.
1. Current situation: death penalty laws and numbers of executions 2. Deterrence? 3. Racial discrimination in the use of capital punishment 4. Trends in capital punishment: numbers of executions, public support and abolitionism
1. Current situation: death penalty laws and numbers of executions
These are the different death penalty laws around the world:
death penalty map
(source, click on the image to enlarge)
capital punishment laws of the world, 2008 map
capital punishment laws of the world, 2008 map
Amnesty International estimates that around 1.200 people were executed by their governments in 2007. Of course, this is a gross underestimate given the large number of unreported executions, extra-judicial executions, deaths caused while incarcerated, etc.
This graph ranks countries according to the number of executions compared to total population:

death penalty
The number of prisoners on death row around the world – the people waiting sometimes for 20 years for their “imminent” execution – is probably close to 15.000:
death row
The following chart shows the number and methods of executions in the U.S. (there was a Supreme Court enforced moratorium in the sixties and seventies):
executions us
2. Deterrence?
It is difficult to conclusively demonstrate the existence or non-existence of a deterrence effect because correlations unearthed (or not) in statistical analysis do not imply causation. Those who refrain from committing crimes due to a supposed deterrent effect of the death penalty will by definition never show up in any statistic. 

This Amnesty International graph shows that murder rates in US states that apply the death penalty are higher than the rates in other states.
deterrence capital punishment death penalty
So this would indicate that deterrence doesn’t work. But we can only be sure of this when the death penalty will no longer be applied for many years to come in the states which apply it currently, and when the murder rate after abolition doesn’t go up. But even if all this happens, this can be the result of other causes. 

This other graph points in the opposite direction:

deterrence capital punishment death penalty

There’s a paper here presenting the results of a survey among leading criminologists regarding their opinion on the deterrent effect of capital punishment in the U.S.

The findings demonstrate an overwhelming consensus among these criminologists that the empirical research conducted on the deterrence question strongly supports the conclusion that the death penalty does not add deterrent effects to those already achieved by long imprisonment.
Here’s one result of the study:
death penalty deterrent expert opinion
More about deterrence statistics is here.
3. Racial discrimination in the use of capital punishment
A particular problem with executions in the US, is the apparent racial discrimination of death row. Whereas people from African-American descent make up only 12% of the population, they represent 34% of the executions:

justice and race in the us
4. Trends in capital punishment: numbers of executions, public support and abolitionism
I’ve argued here against the death penalty, so it’s good news to see that there’s a gradual, worldwide trend in favor of the abolition of capital punishment. Let’s first have a look at the U.S. The number of death sentences in the U.S. has dropped substantially over the last decade:
number of death sentences in the us
The number of executions has dropped as well:

  • 98 in 1999

  • 53 in 2006

  • 42 in 2007.
number of executions in the us
Of course, the U.S. isn’t the most brutal in this respect:
number of executions worldwide
In the U.S., public support for the death penalty is waning, especially when the people who are polled can choose the alternative of life imprisonment without parole:
support for death penalty
death penalty or life imprisonment
preferred punishment for murder
When we look beyond the U.S. – which is indeed not the main culprit – we see that an increasing number of countries has abolished or limited the death penalty. At the end of 2008, almost 140 countries had either legally abolished capital punishment, or stopped applying the punishment in practice (abolitionist in practice means not having carried out an execution in over 10 years):

number of abolitionist countries death penalty