Showing posts with label pacific. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pacific. Show all posts

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Views from Japan on the air-defense zone recently claimed by Beijing

Views from Japan on the air-defense zone recently claimed by Beijing

1  Excerpts from Japan Questions China's Policing of Defense Zone. By Yuka Hayashi
Officials Also Address Apparent Differences With U.S. Over Response
Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2013 11:50 a.m. ET
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579230894060384128

"I was taken aback when I heard this," Yukio Okamoto, a former senior foreign ministry official, said in an interview Sunday with NHK. "I can't think of any case like this in the past where the U.S. took a step that hurt Japan's interests over an issue related directly to Japan's national security in a way visible to the whole world."
 
"We have confirmed through diplomatic channels that the U.S. government didn't request commercial carriers to submit flight plans," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday during a visit to a regional city.

Speaking privately, Japanese officials say Washington has yet to coordinate views among different branches of the government and come up with a unified stance that can be conveyed to Tokyo properly.
[...]

Satoshi Morimoto, a former defense minister who teaches security at Takushoku University, said defense minister Onodera's remarks suggest China wasn't able to "conduct a scramble against American planes even as they flew through its new zone." Japan must determine whether China has the capability to monitor the whole expanse of its new ADIZ using radar located on the mainland and whether its pilots have the experience and expertise to go after foreign planes, Mr. Morimoto said on the NHK program.


2  a Japanese citizen:

実際この問題は簡単ではないと思われるが、日本としては、アメリカには中国の理不尽な行為及び要求を一切認めないよう望んでいる(日本政府は各航空会社に対して、中国の要求に答えないよう通達した)。日本とアメリカが一枚岩でこの件に対処すべきだとの考えが支配的である。ただ、アメリカと日本では航空会社に関する事情が異なるのは理解できる。
今後のバイデン副大統領との会談で日米の協力を確認することを期待する。まさかアメリカが中国に宥和的に方針変換することはないと信じたいが...。
この問題には韓国も絡んできており、複雑化している。今後どうなっていくのか注視せざるを得ない。
[transliteration: Jissai kono mondai wa kantande wa nai to omowa reruga, Nihon to shite wa, Amerika ni wa Chūgoku no rifujin'na kōi oyobi yōkyū o issai mitomenai yō nozonde iru (nipponseifu wa kaku kōkūkaisha ni taishite, Chūgoku no yōkyū ni kotae Nai yō tsūtatsu shita). Nihon to Amerika ga ichimaiiwa de kono-ken ni taisho subekida to no kangae ga shihai-tekidearu. Tada, Amerika to Nihonde wa kōkūkaisha ni kansuru jijō ga kotonaru no wa rikai dekiru. Kongo no baiden fuku daitōryō to no kaidan de Nichibei no kyōryoku o kakunin suru koto o kitai suru. Masaka Amerika ga Chūgoku ni yūwa-teki ni hōshin henkan suru koto wa nai to shinjitaiga.... Kono mondai ni wa Kankoku mo karande kite ori, fukuzatsu-ka shite iru. Kongo dō natte iku no ka chūshi sezaruwoenai.]

honestly, we Japanese has been sick and tired of China's movements lately... some journalists analyze Xi _jinping can't control the force any longer. and underground disorder's coming overground.

a citizen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What drives the global land rush?

What drives the global land rush? Authors: Arezki, Rabah; Deininger, Klaus; Selod, Harris
IMF Working Paper No. 11/251

Summary: This paper studies the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture. To do so, gravity models are estimated using data on bilateral investment relationships, together with newly constructed indicators of agro-ecological suitability in areas with low population density as well as indicators of land rights security. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor. In contrast to the literature on foreign investment in general, the quality of the business climate is insignificant whereas weak land governance and tenure security for current users make countries more attractive for investors. Implications for policy are discussed.


Introduction

After decades of stagnant or declining commodity prices when agriculture was considered a ‘sunset industry’, recent increases in the level and volatility of commodity prices and the resulting demand for land have taken many observers by surprise. This phenomenon has been accompanied by a rising interest in acquiring agricultural land by investors, including sovereign wealth and private equity funds, agricultural producers, and key players from the food and agri-business industry. Investors’ motivations include economic considerations, mistrust in markets and concern about political stability, or speculation on future demand for food and fiber, or future payment for environmental services including for carbon sequestration. Some stakeholders, including many host-country governments, welcome such investment as an opportunity to overcome decades of under-investment in the sector, create employment, and leapfrog and take advantage of recent technological development. Others denounce it as a ”land grab” (Zoomers 2010). They point to the irony of envisaging large exports of food from countries which in some cases depend on regular food aid. It is noted that specific projects’ speculative nature, questionable economic basis, or lack of consultation and compensation of local people calls for a global response (De Schutter 2011).  In a context of diametrically opposite perceptions, the objective of the present paper is to provide greater clarity on the numbers involved and the factors driving such investment. This is done by quantifying demand for land deals, and exploring the determinants of foreign land acquisition for large-scale agriculture using data on bilateral investment relationships. This work is an important first step to assess potential long-term impacts and discuss policy implications.

The analysis of large-scale land deals is relevant for a number of key development issues.  One such issue is the debate on the most appropriate structure of agricultural production. The exceptionally large poverty elasticity of growth in smallholder agriculture (de Janvry and Sadoulet 2010, Loayza and Raddatz 2010) that is reflected in rapid recent poverty reduction in Asian economies such as China, and the fact that the majority of poor are still located in rural areas led observers to highlight the importance of a smallholder structure for poverty reduction (Lipton 2009, World Bank 2007). At the same time, disillusion with the limited success of smallholder-based efforts to improve productivity in sub-Saharan Africa (Collier 2008) and apparent export competitiveness of “mega-farms” in Latin America or Eastern Europe during the 2007/8 global food crisis have led to renewed questions about whether, despite a mixed record, large scale agriculture can be a path out of poverty and to development.

Whatever the envisaged scenario, renewed pressure on land raises the issue of whether there is sufficient competition and transparency to ensure that land owners or users are able to either transfer their land at a fair price or hold on to it as opposed to having it taken away without their consent and in what may be perceived an unfair deal. This resonates with recent contributions to the literature that suggest that resource abundance can contribute to more broad-based development only if well-governed institutions to manage these resources exist (Oechslin 2010). This is borne out by empirical evidence both across countries (Cabrales and Hauk 2011) and within more specific country contexts where resource booms may have fuelled widespread rent-seeking and corruption (Bhattacharyya and Hodler 2010) or even violence (Angrist and Kugler 2008) rather than economic development.

To better understand this phenomenon and its potential impact, an empirical analysis of the factors driving transnational land acquisition is needed. To this end, we constructed a global database with country-level information on both foreign demand for land and implemented projects as documented in international and local press reports. We complement it with country-specific assessments of the amount of potentially suitable land and other relevant variables. We then use bilateral investment relationships from the database to estimate gravity models that can help identify determinants of foreign land acquisition. Results confirm the central role of agro-ecological potential as a pull factor but suggest that, in contrast to what is found for foreign investment more generally, rule of law and good governance have no effect on the number of land-related investment. Moreover, and counterintuitively, we find that countries where governance of the land sector and tenure security are weak have been most attractive for investors. This finding, which resonates with concerns articulated by parts of civil society, suggests that, to minimize the risk that such investments fail to produce benefits for local populations , the micro-level and project-based approach that has dominated the global debate so far will need to be complemented with an emphasis and determined action to improve land governance, transparency and global monitoring.  The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 puts recent land demand into broader context, highlighting the importance of governance in attracting investments. It draws on an analysis of how foreign direct investment (FDI) is treated in the macro-literature to suggest a methodological approach, and outlines how we address specific data needs. Section 3 presents our cross-sectional data on land demand, outlines the econometric approach, and briefly discusses relevant descriptive statistics. Key econometric results in section 4 support the importance of food import demand as motivations for countries to seek out land abroad (‘push factors’) and of agro-ecological suitability as key determinants for the choice of destination (‘pull factors’). They also highlight the extent to which weak land governance seems to encourage rather than discourage transnational demand for land. Section 5 concludes by highlighting a number of implications for policy.


Buy the paper here: http://www.imfbookstore.org/ProdDetails.asp?ID=WPIEA2011251

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The future of politics will be decided in Asia, and the US will be right at the center of the action

America's Pacific Century. By Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton
November Issue of Foreign Policy Magazine
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/10/175216.htm 
The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.

October 11, 2011

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans -- the Pacific and the Indian -- that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world's population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia.

At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential. It will help build that architecture and pay dividends for continued American leadership well into this century, just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions and relationships has paid off many times over -- and continues to do so. The time has come for the United States to make similar investments as a Pacific power, a strategic course set by President Barack Obama from the outset of his administration and one that is already yielding benefits.

With Iraq and Afghanistan still in transition and serious economic challenges in our own country, there are those on the American political scene who are calling for us not to reposition, but to come home. They seek a downsizing of our foreign engagement in favor of our pressing domestic priorities. These impulses are understandable, but they are misguided. Those who say that we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward -- we cannot afford not to. From opening new markets for American businesses to curbing nuclear proliferation to keeping the sea lanes free for commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home. For more than six decades, the United States has resisted the gravitational pull of these "come home" debates and the implicit zero-sum logic of these arguments. We must do so again.

Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America's intentions -- our willingness to remain engaged and to lead. In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make -- and keep -- credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action. The answer is: We can, and we will.

Harnessing Asia's growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region's key players.

Just as Asia is critical to America's future, an engaged America is vital to Asia's future. The region is eager for our leadership and our business -- perhaps more so than at any time in modern history. We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good. Along with our allies, we have underwritten regional security for decades -- patrolling Asia's sea lanes and preserving stability -- and that in turn has helped create the conditions for growth. We have helped integrate billions of people across the region into the global economy by spurring economic productivity, social empowerment, and greater people-to-people links. We are a major trade and investment partner, a source of innovation that benefits workers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific, a host to 350,000 Asian students every year, a champion of open markets, and an advocate for universal human rights.

President Obama has led a multifaceted and persistent effort to embrace fully our irreplaceable role in the Pacific, spanning the entire U.S. government. It has often been a quiet effort. A lot of our work has not been on the front pages, both because of its nature -- long-term investment is less exciting than immediate crises -- and because of competing headlines in other parts of the world.

As secretary of state, I broke with tradition and embarked on my first official overseas trip to Asia. In my seven trips since, I have had the privilege to see firsthand the rapid transformations taking place in the region, underscoring how much the future of the United States is intimately intertwined with the future of the Asia-Pacific. A strategic turn to the region fits logically into our overall global effort to secure and sustain America's global leadership. The success of this turn requires maintaining and advancing a bipartisan consensus on the importance of the Asia-Pacific to our national interests; we seek to build upon a strong tradition of engagement by presidents and secretaries of state of both parties across many decades. It also requires smart execution of a coherent regional strategy that accounts for the global implications of our choices.

WHAT DOES THAT regional strategy look like? For starters, it calls for a sustained commitment to what I have called "forward-deployed" diplomacy. That means continuing to dispatch the full range of our diplomatic assets -- including our highest-ranking officials, our development experts, our interagency teams, and our permanent assets -- to every country and corner of the Asia-Pacific region. Our strategy will have to keep accounting for and adapting to the rapid and dramatic shifts playing out across Asia. With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

By virtue of our unique geography, the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power. We are proud of our European partnerships and all that they deliver. Our challenge now is to build a web of partnerships and institutions across the Pacific that is as durable and as consistent with American interests and values as the web we have built across the Atlantic. That is the touchstone of our efforts in all these areas.

Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific. They have underwritten regional peace and security for more than half a century, shaping the environment for the region's remarkable economic ascent. They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges.

As successful as these alliances have been, we can't afford simply to sustain them -- we need to update them for a changing world. In this effort, the Obama administration is guided by three core principles. First, we have to maintain political consensus on the core objectives of our alliances. Second, we have to ensure that our alliances are nimble and adaptive so that they can successfully address new challenges and seize new opportunities. Third, we have to guarantee that the defense capabilities and communications infrastructure of our alliances are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and nonstate actors.

The alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region, demonstrates how the Obama administration is giving these principles life. We share a common vision of a stable regional order with clear rules of the road -- from freedom of navigation to open markets and fair competition. We have agreed to a new arrangement, including a contribution from the Japanese government of more than $5 billion, to ensure the continued enduring presence of American forces in Japan, while expanding joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities to deter and react quickly to regional security challenges, as well as information sharing to address cyberthreats. We have concluded an Open Skies agreement that will enhance access for businesses and people-to-people ties, launched a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific, and been working hand in hand as the two largest donor countries in Afghanistan.

Similarly, our alliance with South Korea has become stronger and more operationally integrated, and we continue to develop our combined capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean provocations. We have agreed on a plan to ensure successful transition of operational control during wartime and anticipate successful passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And our alliance has gone global, through our work together in the G-20 and the Nuclear Security Summit and through our common efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan.

We are also expanding our alliance with Australia from a Pacific partnership to an Indo-Pacific one, and indeed a global partnership. From cybersecurity to Afghanistan to the Arab Awakening to strengthening regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, Australia's counsel and commitment have been indispensable. And in Southeast Asia, we are renewing and strengthening our alliances with the Philippines and Thailand, increasing, for example, the number of ship visits to the Philippines and working to ensure the successful training of Filipino counterterrorism forces through our Joint Special Operations Task Force in Mindanao. In Thailand -- our oldest treaty partner in Asia -- we are working to establish a hub of regional humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the region.

AS WE UPDATE our alliances for new demands, we are also building new partnerships to help solve shared problems. Our outreach to China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Pacific Island countries is all part of a broader effort to ensure a more comprehensive approach to American strategy and engagement in the region. We are asking these emerging partners to join us in shaping and participating in a rules-based regional and global order.

One of the most prominent of these emerging partners is, of course, China. Like so many other countries before it, China has prospered as part of the open and rules-based system that the United States helped to build and works to sustain. And today, China represents one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage. This calls for careful, steady, dynamic stewardship, an approach to China on our part that is grounded in reality, focused on results, and true to our principles and interests.

We all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. Some in our country see China's progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China's growth. We reject both those views. The fact is that a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. But you cannot build a relationship on aspirations alone. It is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation -- and, crucially, to meet our respective global responsibilities and obligations. These are the things that will determine whether our relationship delivers on its potential in the years to come. We also have to be honest about our differences. We will address them firmly and decisively as we pursue the urgent work we have to do together. And we have to avoid unrealistic expectations.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, one of my top priorities has been to identify and expand areas of common interest, to work with China to build mutual trust, and to encourage China's active efforts in global problem-solving. This is why Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and I launched the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the most intensive and expansive talks ever between our governments, bringing together dozens of agencies from both sides to discuss our most pressing bilateral issues, from security to energy to human rights.

We are also working to increase transparency and reduce the risk of miscalculation or miscues between our militaries. The United States and the international community have watched China's efforts to modernize and expand its military, and we have sought clarity as to its intentions. Both sides would benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. So we look to Beijing to overcome its reluctance at times and join us in forging a durable military-to-military dialogue. And we need to work together to strengthen the Strategic Security Dialogue, which brings together military and civilian leaders to discuss sensitive issues like maritime security and cybersecurity.

As we build trust together, we are committed to working with China to address critical regional and global security issues. This is why I have met so frequently -- often in informal settings -- with my Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, for candid discussions about important challenges like North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and developments in the South China Sea.

On the economic front, the United States and China need to work together to ensure strong, sustained, and balanced future global growth. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the United States and China worked effectively through the G-20 to help pull the global economy back from the brink. We have to build on that cooperation. U.S. firms want fair opportunities to export to China's growing markets, which can be important sources of jobs here in the United States, as well as assurances that the $50 billion of American capital invested in China will create a strong foundation for new market and investment opportunities that will support global competitiveness. At the same time, Chinese firms want to be able to buy more high-tech products from the United States, make more investments here, and be accorded the same terms of access that market economies enjoy. We can work together on these objectives, but China still needs to take important steps toward reform. In particular, we are working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies or against their innovative technologies, remove preferences for domestic firms, and end measures that disadvantage or appropriate foreign intellectual property. And we look to China to take steps to allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly, both against the dollar and against the currencies of its other major trading partners. Such reforms, we believe, would not only benefit both our countries (indeed, they would support the goals of China's own five-year plan, which calls for more domestic-led growth), but also contribute to global economic balance, predictability, and broader prosperity.

Of course, we have made very clear, publicly and privately, our serious concerns about human rights. And when we see reports of public-interest lawyers, writers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up, both publicly and privately, with our concerns about human rights. We make the case to our Chinese colleagues that a deep respect for international law and a more open political system would provide China with a foundation for far greater stability and growth -- and increase the confidence of China's partners. Without them, China is placing unnecessary limitations on its own development.

At the end of the day, there is no handbook for the evolving U.S.-China relationship. But the stakes are much too high for us to fail. As we proceed, we will continue to embed our relationship with China in a broader regional framework of security alliances, economic networks, and social connections.

Among key emerging powers with which we will work closely are India and Indonesia, two of the most dynamic and significant democratic powers of Asia, and both countries with which the Obama administration has pursued broader, deeper, and more purposeful relationships. The stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca to the Pacific contains the world's most vibrant trade and energy routes. Together, India and Indonesia already account for almost a quarter of the world's population. They are key drivers of the global economy, important partners for the United States, and increasingly central contributors to peace and security in the region. And their importance is likely to grow in the years ahead.

President Obama told the Indian parliament last year that the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests. There are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but the United States is making a strategic bet on India's future -- that India's greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India's markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India's vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance. So the Obama administration has expanded our bilateral partnership; actively supported India's Look East efforts, including through a new trilateral dialogue with India and Japan; and outlined a new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia, with India as a linchpin.

We are also forging a new partnership with Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, the world's most populous Muslim nation, and a member of the G-20. We have resumed joint training of Indonesian special forces units and signed a number of agreements on health, educational exchanges, science and technology, and defense. And this year, at the invitation of the Indonesian government, President Obama will inaugurate American participation in the East Asia Summit. But there is still some distance to travel -- we have to work together to overcome bureaucratic impediments, lingering historical suspicions, and some gaps in understanding each other's perspectives and interests.

EVEN AS WE strengthen these bilateral relationships, we have emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation, for we believe that addressing complex transnational challenges of the sort now faced by Asia requires a set of institutions capable of mustering collective action. And a more robust and coherent regional architecture in Asia would reinforce the system of rules and responsibilities, from protecting intellectual property to ensuring freedom of navigation, that form the basis of an effective international order. In multilateral settings, responsible behavior is rewarded with legitimacy and respect, and we can work together to hold accountable those who undermine peace, stability, and prosperity.

So the United States has moved to fully engage the region's multilateral institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, mindful that our work with regional institutions supplements and does not supplant our bilateral ties. There is a demand from the region that America play an active role in the agenda-setting of these institutions -- and it is in our interests as well that they be effective and responsive.

That is why President Obama will participate in the East Asia Summit for the first time in November. To pave the way, the United States has opened a new U.S. Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. Our focus on developing a more results-oriented agenda has been instrumental in efforts to address disputes in the South China Sea. In 2010, at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, the United States helped shape a regionwide effort to protect unfettered access to and passage through the South China Sea, and to uphold the key international rules for defining territorial claims in the South China Sea's waters. Given that half the world's merchant tonnage flows through this body of water, this was a consequential undertaking. And over the past year, we have made strides in protecting our vital interests in stability and freedom of navigation and have paved the way for sustained multilateral diplomacy among the many parties with claims in the South China Sea, seeking to ensure disputes are settled peacefully and in accordance with established principles of international law.

We have also worked to strengthen APEC as a serious leaders-level institution focused on advancing economic integration and trade linkages across the Pacific. After last year's bold call by the group for a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, President Obama will host the 2011 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Hawaii this November. We are committed to cementing APEC as the Asia-Pacific's premier regional economic institution, setting the economic agenda in a way that brings together advanced and emerging economies to promote open trade and investment, as well as to build capacity and enhance regulatory regimes. APEC and its work help expand U.S. exports and create and support high-quality jobs in the United States, while fostering growth throughout the region. APEC also provides a key vehicle to drive a broad agenda to unlock the economic growth potential that women represent. In this regard, the United States is committed to working with our partners on ambitious steps to accelerate the arrival of the Participation Age, where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, is a contributing and valued member of the global marketplace.

In addition to our commitment to these broader multilateral institutions, we have worked hard to create and launch a number of "minilateral" meetings, small groupings of interested states to tackle specific challenges, such as the Lower Mekong Initiative we launched to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands Forum, where we are working to support its members as they confront challenges from climate change to overfishing to freedom of navigation. We are also starting to pursue new trilateral opportunities with countries as diverse as Mongolia, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and South Korea. And we are setting our sights as well on enhancing coordination and engagement among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India, and the United States.

In all these different ways, we are seeking to shape and participate in a responsive, flexible, and effective regional architecture -- and ensure it connects to a broader global architecture that not only protects international stability and commerce but also advances our values.

OUR EMPHASIS ON the economic work of APEC is in keeping with our broader commitment to elevate economic statecraft as a pillar of American foreign policy. Increasingly, economic progress depends on strong diplomatic ties, and diplomatic progress depends on strong economic ties. And naturally, a focus on promoting American prosperity means a greater focus on trade and economic openness in the Asia-Pacific. The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia. Last year, American exports to the Pacific Rim totaled $320 billion, supporting 850,000 American jobs. So there is much that favors us as we think through this repositioning.

When I talk to my Asian counterparts, one theme consistently stands out: They still want America to be an engaged and creative partner in the region's flourishing trade and financial interactions. And as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia's dynamic markets.

Last March in APEC meetings in Washington, and again in Hong Kong in July, I laid out four attributes that I believe characterize healthy economic competition: open, free, transparent, and fair. Through our engagement in the Asia-Pacific, we are helping to give shape to these principles and showing the world their value.

We are pursuing new cutting-edge trade deals that raise the standards for fair competition even as they open new markets. For instance, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports within five years and support an estimated 70,000 American jobs. Its tariff reductions alone could increase exports of American goods by more than $10 billion and help South Korea's economy grow by 6 percent. It will level the playing field for U.S. auto companies and workers. So, whether you are an American manufacturer of machinery or a South Korean chemicals exporter, this deal lowers the barriers that keep you from reaching new customers.

We are also making progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will bring together economies from across the Pacific -- developed and developing alike -- into a single trading community. Our goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth. We believe trade agreements need to include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovation. They should also promote the free flow of information technology and the spread of green technology, as well as the coherence of our regulatory system and the efficiency of supply chains. Ultimately, our progress will be measured by the quality of people's lives -- whether men and women can work in dignity, earn a decent wage, raise healthy families, educate their children, and take hold of the opportunities to improve their own and the next generation's fortunes. Our hope is that a TPP agreement with high standards can serve as a benchmark for future agreements -- and grow to serve as a platform for broader regional interaction and eventually a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific.

Achieving balance in our trade relationships requires a two-way commitment. That's the nature of balance -- it can't be unilaterally imposed. So we are working through APEC, the G-20, and our bilateral relationships to advocate for more open markets, fewer restrictions on exports, more transparency, and an overall commitment to fairness. American businesses and workers need to have confidence that they are operating on a level playing field, with predictable rules on everything from intellectual property to indigenous innovation.

ASIA'S REMARKABLE ECONOMIC growth over the past decade and its potential for continued growth in the future depend on the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military, including more than 50,000 American servicemen and servicewomen serving in Japan and South Korea. The challenges of today's rapidly changing region -- from territorial and maritime disputes to new threats to freedom of navigation to the heightened impact of natural disasters -- require that the United States pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture.

We are modernizing our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia -- and our commitment on this is rock solid -- while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean. For example, the United States will be deploying littoral combat ships to Singapore, and we are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together. And the United States and Australia agreed this year to explore a greater American military presence in Australia to enhance opportunities for more joint training and exercises. We are also looking at how we can increase our operational access in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region and deepen our contacts with allies and partners.

How we translate the growing connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans into an operational concept is a question that we need to answer if we are to adapt to new challenges in the region. Against this backdrop, a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages. The United States will be better positioned to support humanitarian missions; equally important, working with more allies and partners will provide a more robust bulwark against threats or efforts to undermine regional peace and stability.

But even more than our military might or the size of our economy, our most potent asset as a nation is the power of our values -- in particular, our steadfast support for democracy and human rights. This speaks to our deepest national character and is at the heart of our foreign policy, including our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific region.

As we deepen our engagement with partners with whom we disagree on these issues, we will continue to urge them to embrace reforms that would improve governance, protect human rights, and advance political freedoms. We have made it clear, for example, to Vietnam that our ambition to develop a strategic partnership requires that it take steps to further protect human rights and advance political freedoms. Or consider Burma, where we are determined to seek accountability for human rights violations. We are closely following developments in Nay Pyi Taw and the increasing interactions between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government leadership. We have underscored to the government that it must release political prisoners, advance political freedoms and human rights, and break from the policies of the past. As for North Korea, the regime in Pyongyang has shown persistent disregard for the rights of its people, and we continue to speak out forcefully against the threats it poses to the region and beyond.

We cannot and do not aspire to impose our system on other countries, but we do believe that certain values are universal -- that people in every nation in the world, including in Asia, cherish them -- and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Asia to pursue their own rights and aspirations, just as we have seen people do all over the world.

IN THE LAST decade, our foreign policy has transitioned from dealing with the post-Cold War peace dividend to demanding commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down, we will need to accelerate efforts to pivot to new global realities.

We know that these new realities require us to innovate, to compete, and to lead in new ways. Rather than pull back from the world, we need to press forward and renew our leadership. In a time of scarce resources, there's no question that we need to invest them wisely where they will yield the biggest returns, which is why the Asia-Pacific represents such a real 21st-century opportunity for us.

Other regions remain vitally important, of course. Europe, home to most of our traditional allies, is still a partner of first resort, working alongside the United States on nearly every urgent global challenge, and we are investing in updating the structures of our alliance. The people of the Middle East and North Africa are charting a new path that is already having profound global consequences, and the United States is committed to active and sustained partnerships as the region transforms. Africa holds enormous untapped potential for economic and political development in the years ahead. And our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere are not just our biggest export partners; they are also playing a growing role in global political and economic affairs. Each of these regions demands American engagement and leadership.

And we are prepared to lead. Now, I'm well aware that there are those who question our staying power around the world. We've heard this talk before. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was a thriving industry of global commentators promoting the idea that America was in retreat, and it is a theme that repeats itself every few decades. But whenever the United States has experienced setbacks, we've overcome them through reinvention and innovation. Our capacity to come back stronger is unmatched in modern history. It flows from our model of free democracy and free enterprise, a model that remains the most powerful source of prosperity and progress known to humankind. I hear everywhere I go that the world still looks to the United States for leadership. Our military is by far the strongest, and our economy is by far the largest in the world. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities are renowned the world over. So there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last.

As we move forward to set the stage for engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the next 60 years, we are mindful of the bipartisan legacy that has shaped our engagement for the past 60. And we are focused on the steps we have to take at home -- increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing, overcoming partisan division -- to secure and sustain our leadership abroad.

This kind of pivot is not easy, but we have paved the way for it over the past two-and-a-half years, and we are committed to seeing it through as among the most important diplomatic efforts of our time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Australia prepares for U.S. decline

A Pacific Warning. WSJ Editorial
Australia prepares for U.S. decline.
WSJ, May 08, 2009

Since World War II, U.S. military dominance has underpinned the Asia-Pacific region's prosperity and relative peace. So it's cause for concern when one of America's closest allies sees that power ebbing amid unstable nuclear regimes such as Pakistan and North Korea and the expanding military power of China.

In the preface to a sweeping defense review released Saturday, Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon writes: "The biggest changes to our outlook . . . have been the rise of China, the emergence of India and the beginning of the end of the so-called unipolar moment; the almost two-decade-long period in which the pre-eminence of our principal ally, the United States, was without question."

Australia isn't forecasting the end of U.S. dominance soon; the report predicts that will continue through 2030. There are also a few bright spots, such as a stronger India and the emergence of Indonesia as a stable democratic ally.

But without sustained U.S. defense spending and focus on the Asia-Pacific, it's unclear which nation will ultimately dominate the region -- and that could have profound effects on security and trade. The clearest challenge comes from China, which the Pentagon estimates spent $105 billion to $150 billion in 2008 bulking up its forces. Australia also worries about instability among its Pacific island neighbors, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and emerging threats like cyber war.

In response to this outlook, Canberra is retooling its defense. It is doubling the size of its submarine fleet to 12 from six and buying about 100 Joint Strike Fighters, three destroyers and eight frigates. The ships and subs will be equipped with cruise missiles. It will also upgrade its army and special forces units and look for new ways to cooperate with the U.S. and other regional democratic powers.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Saturday: "Some have argued that in the global economic recession we should reduce defense spending to ease the pressure on the budget. But the government believes the opposite to be true. In a period of global instability Australia must invest in a strong, capable and well resourced defense force."

Australia currently spends around $13.1 billion a year on defense, not counting money for new equipment. The new policy paper says spending will increase by 3% annually until 2018, which isn't much. But the importance of Canberra's message is about priorities. Australia is worried about the end of the "unipolar moment." Americans and Asians should be worried too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

US State Dept on Fiji: Abrogation of Constitution

Fiji: Abrogation of Constitution. By Richard Aker, Acting Deputy Department Spokesman
US State Dept, Office of the Spokesman, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC, April 10, 2009

The United States is deeply disappointed by the collapse of Fiji's political dialogue process and the abrogation of Fiji's constitution, which we see as movement away from the goal of returning Fiji to democratic governance and its formerly leading role in the Pacific. We are concerned by the implications this abrogation holds for the future of judicial independence, media freedom, and democracy itself in Fiji.

We call upon Fiji's interim authorities to respect the protections afforded the people of Fiji by the 1997 Constitution until the country can once again hold free and fair elections. The United States reiterates its call for Fiji to adhere to the timetable and benchmarks articulated by the Pacific Islands Forum. The United States believes that the return of democracy in Fiji will depend on an open and transparent process that includes the participation of all political parties in a genuine dialogue that is independent, inclusive, time-bound, and with no pre-determined outcome.

PRN: 2009/316

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Injecting New Dynamism in US-Australia Ties

Injecting New Dynamism in US-Australia Ties. By Rajaram Panda and Pranamita Baruah
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, April 1, 2009

Labour Party Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, has been in office for nearly one and a half years after his unexpected victory over John Howard in late 2007. For almost three decades after World War II, Australia systematically repudiated the idea of being identified as an Asian country, until the resource boom in the early 1970s that catapulted Australia as one of the major resource exporters to resource-importing countries such as Japan and now China. Since then, Australia’s external orientation has undergone a profound change. Though various political parties have remained at the helm at different periods, the fundamental approach to foreign and foreign economic policies has remained unchanged.

How is Rudd different from his predecessors? Rudd has brought a unique style of governance by either floating new ideas and concepts or re-looking at Australia’s priorities in foreign relations. Not long after he came to office, he floated a new concept for evolving a new kind of security architecture for the Asia-Pacific without spelling out clearly its purpose, aims, structure and objectives. He even sent his marketing manager, Richard Woolcott, the man who mid-wifed the birth of APEC in 1989, to sound out member countries of the region envisaged to be members in Rudd’s proposed architecture. The vagueness of the idea might render it to remain buried for ever and can only be resurrected in the unlikely event of changes of attitude and policies in many of the Asia-Pacific countries in the future.

Rudd is known for his soft attitude towards China. After assuming office, he made his first major overseas visit to China, much to the annoyance of the Japanese, who felt that their bilateral relationship was undermined by Rudd’s preference for China. A Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, Rudd made his open preference for China over Japan known when he, during his meeting with President Barack Obama on March 23, 2009, said that the US and Australia should work together to integrate China into global governance and called the Asian power a “huge opportunity”. He also said that China should feel it has a stake in world politics, most notably the International Monetary Fund where its voting power is now minimal. Rudd was probably exploiting the Obama administration’s vow to pursue common goals with China such as reviving the global economy despite longstanding concerns on human rights and other issues. Rudd seems not worried about China’s pursuit of sophisticated weaponry, which is altering Asia’s military balance.

While Australia and the United States are longstanding allies, Rudd had a visibly uneasy relationship with former President George W. Bush. However, Rudd 51, and Obama, 47, both come from humble backgrounds and lived for years overseas. Politically, each changed his country’s course upon taking office by ordering troops out of Iraq and vowing action on climate change. According to Alan Dupont, Director of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, both are “ideological soul mates” and that both will be able to “connect intellectually”. Indeed, two months into office, Obama has extended only select invitations to foreign leaders to come and see him in Washington. Before Rudd, Obama has met at the White House only with the leaders of Japan, Britain, Brazil and Ireland, along with China’s foreign minister and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Obama also flew to Canada to see Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On his part, Rudd has made efforts to cushion the economy against the global credit crisis to bolster Australia’s financial system. While praising Obama’s plan to finance as much as $1 trillion in purchases of illiquid real-estate assets, besides the plan to establish a fund to lend directly to companies should foreign banks fail to roll over as much as $75 billion of maturing debt, Rudd said that these would not work unless it is globally coordinated. Rudd also rejected the idea of a global reserve currency since the dollar’s position remains unchallenged. The global economic crisis dominated discussions and both leaders agreed on what needed to be done. Obama envisaged a world-wide job boom in clean energy technology as one way to restore employment and the economy once the crisis was sorted out. Obama said all nations would be challenged “in finding new areas of economic growth” that are going to be necessary to “replace some of the financial shenanigans that have taken place over the past couple of years.” Clean coal technology is one area of job creation in which both Obama and Rudd found common ground to work on.

Viewed broadly, Rudd has two aims in shaping Australia’s relationship with the US under the Obama administration. The first is to maintain the robustness of the Australia-America alliance and wants to leverage closeness to Obama for promoting Australia’s middle-power diplomacy. The other aim is to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to join Obama in the war on terror, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Notwithstanding dwindling public support at home for sending more troops to Afghanistan Rudd’s boldness in joining the US in its campaign against terrorism has endeared him to the US. At present, Australia has 1100 troops in Afghanistan and the US is expected to ask Australia to increase that number. At the personal level, Rudd is still haunted by the September 11 attacks on the United States and the Bali bombings. The Newspoll published in The Australian just before Rudd left for Washington found 65 per cent of respondents against increasing Australia’s commitment. Both the US and Australia, however, do not want Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists. If Australia sends extra help only to concentrate on training Afghanistan’s security forces, Rudd probably can sell the idea positively to the Australian public. Australia’s commitment in Afghanistan is, however, not a blank cheque, Rudd explained.

Rudd is aware that the alliance is fundamental for Australia’s national security. His international profile has been to work closely with Australia’s old “great and powerful friends” and to make new friends. That explains his fondness for China, an emerging Asian power, projected to play a decisive role in global politics in the coming decades and his focus on strengthening the economic ties with that country. Similarly, from the early days of the global financial crisis, Rudd liaised closely with Britain’s Gordon Brown. We can expect a great deal of similarity in focus between Rudd and Brown and Rudd and Obama in this week’s G-20 meeting in London and a conference on climate change in Copenhagen later this year. The Copenhagen meeting is designed to establish new global standards for emission reduction after the expiry of the Kyoto protocol in 2012. Rudd warned that the G-20 leaders must act jointly to clean up the banking sector, improve financial regulation, stimulate the economy and fight protectionism. He warns that a meeting in London in 1933 designed to find a consensus on ending the Great Depression failed because individual nations were not prepared to put aside their own interests in favour of global economic stability. In 1933, every nation put its own interests first. World leaders today are challenged not to repeat the mistakes made three-quarters of a century ago.

Indeed, the world faces a 1930s-style recession unless world leaders put their agenda for a common program that will help address this burning issue that plague the world at present. The economic turmoil has increased the “challenge of statecraft and diplomacy” and reduction of carbon emission is one such problem that demands early action. After more than a year of planning and consultation with industry, Rudd plans to introduce an emission trading scheme from July 2010. However, the mining industry already shedding jobs and world trade collapsing under recession, the Opposition, parts of the business sector and some Labor right-wingers want the plan shelved. However, the cost of not acting on climate change is seen to be greater than the cost of acting soon.

Traditionally, US Presidents go out of their way to ensure that the first encounter with Australian Prime Ministers is positive because of their close and solid partnership. Therefore, analysts would tend to compare the relationships between John Howard and George Bush and whatever develops between Obama and Rudd. The only starting point for that comparison is that Howard and Bush became close only after they faced a crisis – 9/11 terror attacks. Rudd and Obama have now come together during another crisis. This one is global recession. It would be interesting to see in the coming years what kind of bond both leaders develop that can sustain their common interests bilaterally and globally.

Dr. Rajaram Panda is Senior Fellow, and Pranamita Baruah is Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bushfires and extreme heat in south-east Australia

Bushfires and extreme heat in south-east Australia. By David Karoly
Real Climate, February 16, 2009 @ 3:12 PM

Guest commentary by David Karoly, Professor of Meteorology at the University of Melbourne in Australia

On Saturday 7 February 2009, Australia experienced its worst natural disaster in more than 100 years, when catastrophic bushfires killed more than 180 people and destroyed more than 2000 homes in Victoria, Australia. These fires occurred on a day of unprecedented high temperatures in south-east Australia, part of a heat wave that started 10 days earlier, and a record dry spell.

This has been written from Melbourne, Australia, exactly one week after the fires, just enough time to pause and reflect on this tragedy and the extraordinary weather that led to it. First, I want to express my sincere sympathy to all who have lost family members or friends and all who have suffered through this disaster.

There has been very high global media coverage of this natural disaster and, of course, speculation on the possible role of climate change in these fires. So, did climate change cause these fires? The simple answer is “No!” Climate change did not start the fires. Unfortunately, it appears that one or more of the fires may have been lit by arsonists, others may have started by accident and some may have been started by fallen power lines, lightning or other natural causes.

Maybe there is a different way to phrase that question: In what way, if any, is climate change likely to have affected these bush fires?

To answer that question, we need to look at the history of fires and fire weather over the last hundred years or so. Bushfires are a regular occurrence in south-east Australia, with previous disastrous fires on Ash Wednesday, 16 February 1983, and Black Friday, 13 January 1939, both of which led to significant loss of life and property. Fortunately, a recent report “Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent Trends and Projected Climate Change Impacts”(ref. 1) in 2007 provides a comprehensive assessment on this topic. In addition, a Special Climate Statement(ref 2) from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology describes the extraordinary heat wave and drought conditions at the time of the fires.

Following the Black Friday fires, the MacArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) was developed in the 1960s as an empirical indicator of weather conditions associated with high and extreme fire danger and the difficulty of fire suppression. The FFDI is the product of terms related to exponentials of maximum temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and dryness of fuel (measured using a drought factor). Each of these terms is related to environmental factors affecting the severity of bushfire conditions. The formula for FFDI is given in the report on Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia. The FFDI scale is used for the rating of fire danger and the declaration of total fire ban days in Victoria.

Read more.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Unexpected side effects of environmental policies, fire control & Australia

Environmental Policies Kill - Again!, by Iain Murray
Openmarket, February 11, 2009 @ 11:31 am

One of the main themes of my book, The Really Inconvenient Truths, is that misguided environmental policies often lead to humanitarian and environmental disaster. We’ve just seen another example in Australia, where fires have claimed many lives. Distraught survivors are certain they know at least part of the reason why the fires were able to do so:

During question time at a packed community meeting in Arthurs Creek on Melbourne’s northern fringe, Warwick Spooner — whose mother Marilyn and brother Damien perished along with their home in the Strathewen blaze — criticised the Nillumbik council for the limitations it placed on residents wanting the council’s help or permission to clean up around their properties in preparation for the bushfire season. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” he said.

It’s called bushfire season for a reason: the bush catches fire. If you want to reduce the effects, you cut back the bush. Policies that stop this are criminally dangerous.

It’s a similar story here in the US. Every year wildfires cause more damage than they should because landowners are restricted from clearing land because of a variety of environmental policies. See here for the disturbing details of one such case from the 1990s. Here’s how I summarize the American approach to wildfires in my book:

When Californian farmers adjacent to the national forests found the kangaroo rat, which graces the Endangered Species List, on their property in the 1990s, they soon found that the rat had destroyed their livelihoods. They were unable to develop their properties in any way without paying a fine for every acre of land they owned, even if they only wished to develop a small portion of it and even if the rat habitat would be unaffected. So they sold their land to property developers, who were easily able to afford the fees. As a result, homes stood next to national forests where previously there had been a buffer zone of farmland.

Meanwhile, the forest service was unable to carry out controlled burns in those forests adjacent to the homes because the underbrush they wished to clear was also home to, you guessed it, the kangaroo rat. Even building a firebreak could get landowners into trouble under the Endangered Species Act. This problem was already apparent. After similar fires in 2003, California’s Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, created by then governor Gray Davis and whose members included Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein as well as state legislators of both parties, concluded that “habitat preservation and environmental protection have often conflicted with sound fire safety planning.”

Liberal environmentalist dogma, however, prevented any action being taken to ensure that sound fire safety planning was enabled, far less that logging companies be allowed to do their bit to protect landowners and the environment. Instead, the contradiction was allowed to stand and when the fires swept through California, the environmental “protections” of the Endangered Species Act led directly to the destruction of the very habitats and animals they were meant to save.

Congressmen should know about these problems and the best available solution. In September 2000, the late and much lamented Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho, chair of the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, held hearings on private conservationand the lessons the nation could learn from exemplary private landowners.

Skeet Burris, a South Carolina tree farmer and the American Tree Farm System’s “National Tree Farmer of the Year,” was asked if he practiced controlled burns on his private forestland. He replied that he did because it was necessary to protect the health of his pines and that fire was an integral part of the ecosystem of the southern pine forests. He said he burned about one third of his forest annually.

Chenoweth-Hage asked if, before he began his burns, he waited until there was a huge fuel build-up, a long drought, and an especially hot spell with low humidity and high winds. To some laughter, Burris responded that such a policy would be insane. When he was told that such conditions were characteristic of prescribed burns on the national forests, he explained that he couldn’t afford to take such risks.

His forests and home were all that he owned and that his children and grandchildren would inherit. Furthermore he couldn’t risk his controlled burn destroying his neighbors’ forests and homes because he would personally be held liable. There would be no taxpayers to foot the bill, no transfer to another forest, no early retirement on a taxpayer pension, no other golden parachutes. As the landowner he would personally bear the costs— and that drove his behavior.

As R.J. Smith says: “As long as man is part of nature, we can only have a sound and healthy environment by the exercise of caring stewardship and management. For guidance in that we must now look to the nation’s successful private conservationists.” Liberal environmentalism, on the other hand, has set theforests ablaze.

Instead of repealing or reforming these regulations, the stimulus bill included $500 million for “wildland fire management.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

US: Bainimarama Has No Plan For Elections in Fiji

Bainimarama Has No Plan For Elections in Fiji
Press Statement by Robert Wood, Acting Spokesman
US State Dept, Washington, DC, January 27, 2009

The United States is extremely disappointed that Fiji’s self-appointed leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, refused to attend the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) conference of leaders in Port Moresby on January 27. The United States firmly supports the PIF’s statement that “More than two years of rule by an unelected military government, with no clear timetable for the return of constitutional government to the people, is not acceptable by international standards.” The United States strongly endorses the PIF position and urges Fiji’s interim government to move immediately to restore democracy and to hold free and fair elections by the end of this year.

2009/080