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Thursday, March 25, 2004
Repressive regime equals freedom, says Rummy
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has a piece in the March 19 edition of The New York Times, "The Price of Freedom in Iraq," that is a justification for U.S. policy in Iraq but ostensibly is an argument on why South Korea should help Uncle Sam out there. Included is this bit:
Korean freedom was won at a terrible cost — tens of thousands of lives, including more than 33,000 Americans killed in action. Was it worth it? You bet.Ignoring North Korea, which the U.S. has had little direct influence on, what type of "freedom" did the "terrible cost" pay for?
First there was the government run by the U.S. The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress writes:
The United States Army Military Government in Korea (1945-48), confronted with serious problems of public order, found itself retaining the old colonial police apparatus and its Korean personnel. United States-sponsored legal reforms, such as an effort to institute habeas corpus in 1946, often failed; attempts by United States advisors to prevent South Korean police from using torture, especially in political cases, also were unsuccessful. Under Syngman Rhee, the South Korea continued the prewar pattern of using law and the police for political purposes--intimidating the judiciary, arresting journalists, and applying extralegal pressures against the teaching profession and members of the new National Assembly.Next up was the regime of Syngman Rhee, which, in the words of the Asian Human Rights Commission, used:
the National Security Law (NSL). Passed in 1948, the NSL which still exists to this day, was so vague and broadly defined that it could be easily used as a political tool to suppress virtually any kind of opposition. Armed with the law, Rhee embarked on a massive campaign of anti-communist witch hunts that affected tens of thousands of people, of whom the majority had no connection whatsoever with the left. All major organizations, the military, the press, and educational institutions, were subjected to close scrutiny and purge. In the spring of 1950, south Korean prisons held 60,000 people, of which 50 or 60% were charged with violations under the NSL. The NSL was also invoked to dragoon the National Assembly into compliance with Rhee's will. In October 1949, 16 assemblymen were jailed under national security violations. Not surprisingly, these 16 men were those who had called for arrests and trials of Japanese collaborators and the resignation of the whole cabinet, an action that struck at the heart of Rhee's rightist support.That was followed in 1961 by the military rule of Park Chung Hee. The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress writes:
The Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) was created in June 1961 to prevent a countercoup and to suppress all potential enemies. It was to have not only investigative power, but also the power to arrest and detain anyone suspected of wrongdoing or harboring antijunta sentiments. The KCIA extended its power to economic and foreign affairs under its first director, Colonel (retired) Kim Chong-p'il, a relative of Park, and one of the original planners of the coup against Chang.Don't think the U.S. has any problem with this:
Park announced in February 1963 that he would not participate in civilian politics. The following month, however, he announced a popular referendum to decide whether the junta should extend its rule for another four years. Facing stiff opposition from both the South Korean public and the United States, the plan for a referendum was canceled.Again, the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress writes:
In December 1971, Park again tightened his control over the country. He proclaimed a national emergency and forced through the National Assembly a bill granting him complete power to control, regulate, and mobilize the people, the economy, the press, and everything else in the public domain. In October 1972, he proclaimed martial law, dissolved the National Assembly, closed all universities and colleges, imposed strict press censorship, and suspended political activities. Within a few days he "submitted" a new draft constitution--designated the yusin (revitalization) constitution--to a national referendum. The 1972 constitution allowed Park to succeed himself indefinitely, to appoint one-third of the National Assembly's members, and to exercise emergency powers at will. The president was to be chosen by the more than 2,000 locally elected deputies of the supposedly nonpartisan National Conference for Unification, who were to cast their votes as an electoral college without debate.Authoritarianism continued in the years that followed, before, no thanks to Lady Liberty, things started to open up in 1987 as result of popular protests.
Is this the "freedom" that Rummy wants in Iraq?