Posts Tagged ‘north korea’

War cry.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sometimes it’s funny what speaks to you. Not funny, ha ha. Just…odd.

In late 1993 it was a bridge.

Not just any bridge. The 16th century bridge in Mostar, a concrete victim of the wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia in a bloody mess that struck horror through the hearts of people around the world.

Why the bridge and not the scores of people dying? Honestly, I can’t quite say for sure.

When I traveled to Yugoslavia for the first of many visits in 1981 it was still Tito’s land. Sure the “great” man had passed the year before, but the ugliness that would consume Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia had yet to overwhelm the country. One of my fondest memories (keeping in mind I was all of 10 years old at the time) was sitting near the Mostar bridge after an adventure in a restaurant bathroom that ended with my mother’s wet shoe. She had slip-stepped into “the hole” during a desperate bid to outrun the water cascading down the walls. (If you don’t know what I mean? Two words: Turkish toilet.) That memory still makes me smile.

When the Bosnian War claimed the Mostar bridge over a decade later, I was incensed. I was also still young, passionate and naïve. So I took action.

I hand-wrote a petition to then U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton begging him to take action to stop the carnage. I begged (forced) friends and family to sign my letter (I think the final count was 33 signatories). And then I faxed it off to the White House from the office of a local congressman.

I haven’t thought about that youthful adventure with the White House in years.

But last night, as our current President Barack Obama invoked the memories of the Bosnian War and the human costs of delayed and, in some very memorable cases, ineffective action (think: Srebrenica)  I found myself nodding at the television screen.

Obama said:

As President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action

 

And I agree. All these years later I still believe that people of good conscience have a duty to their fellow man to intercede when possible to prevent atrocities or human rights abuses on a major scale.

At the same time, I find it galling that this standard of intervention is applied by the international community selectively. What about Iran? What about Burma? Or North Korea? If we look back over the 15-plus years since the end of the Bosnian War how many dozens of examples could we find of governments brutally repressing the aspirations of their people without really trying all that hard?

As it happened I wasn’t the only one thinking it. @TechSurgeons and I began a short conversation on Obama’s Libya defense and I almost fell over when he tweeted:

@jterzieff I think “international community” just means France & wonder why he didn’t have a stronger reaction when Iran crushed its revolt.

So I guess the question is what is our standard for intervention? Because we need one folks, we really do. Do we need to intervene militarily every time a government calls out its troops to crush the people? Does the international community have the chutzpah to stand behind that every.single.time?

Is Libya our new standard? If yes, and it’s applied equitably around the globe, then – and only then – Mr. President, you have my support.

It scares me to say that. Violence almost always results in more violence. The deaths of so many innocents. Blood on all of our hands. But what’s the alternative?

If anyone has any ideas, I’ll gladly listen ….

North Korea LoveFest

Friday, July 30th, 2010

For the second time in two months, my heart is with the North Korean football (soccer) team.

News reports say the team – which turned in a gutsy and sportsmanlike performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – and its coach have been publicly shamed in a 6-hour harangue by party officials and ministers. As the Telegraph wrote:

The players were subjected to a “grand debate” on July 2 because they failed in their “ideological struggle” to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

The team’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-un – one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s sons and heir apparent.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

Sure North Korea went out in the first round.

Yes, they lost miserably to Portugal 7- 0.

And, yes, *sigh* it is hardly surprising

to hear the North Korean regime express displeasure.

But the truth is that the ruling cadres are just missing the point.

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Vuvuzela Dogpound?!?!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

So here we are … the morn of the 2010 World Cup semifinals.

For football fans, this is the week we relish when it comes along every four years. For World Cup haters, it means the torture is almost over (and I’ve got a special treat for you, just to get you through.)

The Netherlandsmy pre-tournie pick to win – is going to square off on the pitch against spunky Uruguay and my new football fave Diego Forlan. Tomorrow Germany will face off against Spain.

The first match will hurt no matter what, because I want both teams to win. The second is clear cut – Spain all the way. (Though to be honest, the Germans are looking mighty tough so far.)

There have been some seriously amazing – and some not so amazing – moments during this tournament that will keep football fans talking until the next World Cup. I’m thinking:

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To North Korea, With Love

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

It was supposed to be a World Cup blowout. One of the best teams in the world teaching upstarts a much needed lesson.

Brazil was going to stomp North Korea – and I was going to cheer every second.

But North Korea was spunky. No silly theatrical dives, no overly-dramatic facial expressions or picked fights. They ran like the wind. When they fell or tripped, they got right back up – and patted the back of any Brazilian player involved. They held off the Brazilian side well into the second half of the match out of sheer grit and determination. As the minutes ticked by, I couldn’t help but admire these men for standing firm against a football institution like Brazil. 

And by the end of the match? Well, we all knew they couldn’t win going down 2 goals to nil against the Samba Kings but I found myself cheering — like, jump up and down, pump fists in the air, cheering – when North Korea scored in the 89th minute.

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When the World Unites …

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The time has come….and, believe it or not, I am ready.

Supply of microwavable popcorn? Check.

Face paint? Check.

Large-screen television? Check.

Country flags? Check.

The goose bumps have started  ….. the 24 hour countdown until the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is in full effect!!!

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