Dream of the Dragon

Category: wargames

Maximum Accountability

by Justin

The post title is misleading – what I’m talking about is misdirected cruelty masquerading as extreme accountability.

In the thick of the financial crisis many people demanded the sacking of Goldman Sachs executives that oversaw the exploitation of its investors. Again, throughout the Gulf spill disaster concerned citizens called for the firings of BP and Transocean leaders as a show that things would change. In giant corporations this may very well have amounted to just that: a show. But sometimes that’s all anyone wants – a little drama in place of substantial reform. Well, North Korea went to the extreme of misguided theatrics, hoping that an execution would overshadow the endemic flaws in its system.

This ran in the Guardian yesterday, a brief account of the execution by firing squad of former North Korean cabinet official Kwon Ho Ung. Read the rest of this entry »

Scratched Coin

by Justin

Even the sudden evidence that journalists can wield great power and exert great influence can’t change that I associate the word coin exclusively with Two Face. And that association lands somewhere between Arkham Asylum and Tommy Lee Jones.

I’m a little late in addressing the remarkable piece Michael Hastings wrote for Rolling Stone that achieved no less than the resignation/sacking of the chief director of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama appointed McChrystal barely a year ago to lead a calculated escape from the Afghanistan imbroglio – the revelation of insubordination and the firing of a four-star general should have placed Obama squarely in GOP cross-hairs.

But the man who literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency tactics (this is the COIN we hear so much about) stepped into more than fill McChrystal’s shoes. Upgrade time, really. And it may be that the firm move by Obama to remind the general of the relationship between civilian government and its military arm ends up showing some needed steel. Who knows, this debacle may change things for the better. That’s just politically, mind you, and just for Obama’s reputation in the immediate future. The Rolling Stone profile of General McChrystal resulted in not only a changing of the guard but a sudden, piercing spotlight on the entire counter-insurgency strategy.

That’s the exciting bit, really. Read the rest of this entry »

When does poverty push back?

by Justin

Our government is far from perfect. In the past years we’ve seen flagrant obstructionism and the disproportionate weight of the wealthy elite tipping the scales of representation. We’ve also seen the fanaticism of willful ignorance on the far right create a hostile political environment and place the truth in the center of tea soaked crosshairs. To huge extent we’ve seen the great engines of bipartisanship and compromise that once existed buckle and break. People from all demographics, all economic echelons, all sorts of ideological backgrounds rail against the government for ignoring their needs and favoring the opposition. I get that. I participate in that same outrage. For all the frustration, I enjoy marveling at the koan-like nonsense of Sarah Palin and wondering how corporate greed can dedicate absolutely no thought to the plight of future generations. It’s luxurious, really.

Imagining, then, a government that in a single day can cut one’s life savings from $1560 to $30 with a radical currency revaluation throws things into a different perspective. The New York Times offered up an incredible piece drawing the disastrous policies of the North Korean government into focus. I’d been seduced by the sinking of a South Korean warship and what seemed to be a more and more likely military conflict. What struck me about that situation was that it seemed entirely plausible that the North would declare an end to the armistice and attack South Korea – totally plausible and totally insane. Read the rest of this entry »