Backtalk, February 19, 2009

The Dragon or the Snake?

After reading this article and others by Mr. Sascha Matuszak, one can only conclude that he is only interested in smearing China, be it its government, its people, its culture, its food, its anything. I wouldn’t be so dismayed by his articles if he were to give us more in-depth analysis or criticism of the Chinese phenomenon resulting from the open-up policy of Deng Xiao-Ping. Instead all we read about are petty things like people coughing up mucus in the morning or peasants putting up their feet during train rides or how Chinese food is tricky! And it seems like he wants to use any pretext or opportunity to show people his disgust with China or its people.

Frankly, I think he is a racist. Look at the outrageous claims that he makes:

1. “Are the Chinese still locked in the ancient and ridiculous belief that outsiders are dogs incapable of understanding the speech at the high court?”

2. “China today is crude and still very racist after years of anti-everybody communist propaganda.”

I am very disappointed at, an otherwise very informative forum, for hosting a column by a racist like Mr. Matuszak.

(In spite of his supposed years of stay in China, he still does not grasp what is meant by “Laowai.” It is not the equivalent of the “N-word.” It is just a casual way of referring to foreigners.)

~ Roger Chan

Sascha Matuszak replies:

Hello Roger:

Your letter is typical in that it leaves out any words of mine that might refute the claim that I have “racist” tendencies and inflates every comment that agrees with your premise. Here is one quote from my latest column, the one right before I say that some Chinese are crude and racist:

“China is a complex country with more contradictions then you can shake a stick at. Chinese have cultivated hospitality for thousands of years – there is a poem describing almost every aspect of a guest’s visit.”

You may have missed that one. The annoying thing for you must be the truth of both statements.

And you are flat wrong when you say that laowai is only a “casual reference for a foreigner.” Of course it means “foreigner,” but any one of us laowai who have walked down any street outside of the French Concession in Shanghai knows full well how many other meanings it has.

The phenomenon of China’s "Opening Up" is extraordinary, and there are countless GDP stats, glowing business reports, and other fine analyses of the economic miracle. My job is to show the day-to-day reality. I am not racist, I just call it how I see it. And if my column were labeled “An American in America” I am sure I would be getting hate-mail from red-blooded Americans, too.

I repeat:

“All this trickery and so much more could be avoided if China would just join us on the world’s stage as both the glorious Dragon it is, and the lowly Snake it and all of us are, at some point or another. A bit of honesty, a bit of courage, and so many problems are brushed away like so much chaff.”

Rune Burdahl’s Backtalk

Thank you for your response to my letter in Backtalk.

According to Norwegian law professor Ståle Eskeland, the U.S. claimed self-defense under UN rules (article 51 presumably). Another law professor, Geir Ulfstein at Oslo University, says that the use of military force demands a Security Council decision.

The ISAF states on their Web site that they have a UN mandate. However, the resolutions (1368 and 1373) … do not mention or authorize the use of military force.

~ Rune Burdahl

Europe: Divorce the US Military

Neil Clark’s excellent piece on Europe neatly and rightly addressed the attempt by European leaders to make Blair the first president of the European Union. Ireland, a small player on the European stage, is in a unique position to stop Blair getting the job. Ireland is the only country that is holding a referendum to approve the new constitution that creates the job of president. If Ireland votes “no” then there will not be a job for Blair. So we should all start working for the no campaign immediately. People outside Ireland can make their contribution by writing to Irish newspapers and politicians.

~ Brian Cluer

War Money

If Congress won’t deny Bush his war money, we can legally start today and tomorrow to deny our tax money to Congress. First, craft for your household the tightest, most self-denying budget you can stand (even if it means oatmeal and peanut-butter sandwiches for all of 2008). Second, divert every cent of your available money into tax-sheltered and tax-deferred vehicles; maximize contributions to all 401k plans; open IRAs for everyone eligible in your household; join an employer health savings account; start educational savings accounts for all eligible minor children, grandchildren, other relatives. Third, stop over-withholding at work; if you normally get a tax refund, increase your number of exemptions for payroll. This will pinch. It might even hurt. But how much are you really willing to suffer to stop this government from killing in your name? If you’re not doing this or something even better, stop talking to me. I’ve had enough of the professional Democrats and their hand-wringing! This can’t wait until November 2008 or January 2009, and certainly not until November 2012, ’16, or ’20.

~ William K. Scattergood, Jr.

The Cable-Cutter Mystery


[T]he fiber-optic cut is VERY likely not related to government intervention.

There are three reasons I believe this.

1. Optical Time-Domain Reflectometry allows trained network operators to pinpoint with a good amount of precision exactly where the cables were cut. So it is no mystery to the technicians involved where the problem is physically located, even if that information isn’t being reported.

2. With redundancy in satellite and copper connections, it isn’t really feasible to covertly blacken out an entire area of the world. The worst that could happen is things would slow down. Highly sensitive military traffic can still be routed via satellites for those actors who possess them. I believe Iran can likely be included in this group.

3. Even if we were able to reroute network traffic to a point that we control, it doesn’t matter. SSH and other private key encryption mechanisms ensure that no amount of computing power in the known universe could decrypt that traffic. It would be noise and nothing more. Believe me, the government will not be the first to break Diffie-Helman encryption. The Internet is much more of a threat to established governments than even most of its fiercest devotees know. Math says “no.” This is why it’s still illegal for citizens of the U.S. to export new encryption technologies – the nanny state is behind on that battle and hates secrets.

That said, you’re not a “nutjobber” or conspiracy theorist. You’re a damned fine journalist, and a patriot (in the non-acronym sense of the word), though I miss the old photo. I look forward to your column every week, so keep up the good work.

~ Alexander Saint Croix, network support analyst, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota

Dead End

Mr. Malic:

I’ve appreciated your writing on Kosovo and the broader post-Yugoslav situation. While the defense of Serbian sovereignty is certainly a legitimate perspective, hasn’t it too easily foundered within the role designated for it by the Western-dictated “script” for the conflict, even when being “reasonable,” trying to compromise over autonomy, etc.?

It seems that within the perceptual field engendered by the “script,” any legitimate position put forward by Serbs are almost stillborn, discounted as they perfectly fit the expected role. No surprise, as the “script” was specifically designed to counter the defense of Serb interests, whether in Kosovo, or the rest of the Yugoslav states.

So to challenge/transcend the “NATO consensus” script, it really must be drawn “outside its box,” i.e., not through the defense of Serbian sovereignty, but drawing out issues which clarify the true dynamics of the situation:

  • The implications of recognizing of a criminal/terrorist Kosovo leadership, along with UNMIK’s interference with bringing KLA war criminals-politicians to justice.
  • Accounting for the actual ethnic cleansing that happened in Kosovo, and NATO’s criminal responsibility for it, along with the KLA’s intimidation/liquidation of alternative Albanian viewpoints.
  • The foreseeable future of an “independent” Kosovo: corrupt UNMIK-EU/Mafia rule, with Bosnia as the model.

Within the script, any reasoning which opposes “independence” for a 90 percent ethnic majority is discounted, but all these issues are distinct from the (legitimate) issues of Serbian sovereignty, and indeed question the “NATO consensus” script’s true outcome for the democratic rights of Kosovan Albanians.

In any case, I look forward to reading more of your work on Yugoslavia and more, here on, and hopefully elsewhere.


Nebojsa Malic replies:

Certainly, one big part of the problem is that the authorities in Belgrade have never come out and said that the KLA is a terrorist organization (instead, they released all of the jailed KLA, at Washington’s insistence); that the KLA committed atrocities against other Albanians as well as Serbs; that NATO’s 1999 assault was illegal and illegitimate; and that no outcome other than full reintegration of Kosovo into Serbia’s constitutional order would be acceptable (precisely what Franjo Tudjman’s Croatia argued for – and got – in Dayton, concerning its ethnic Serbs).

The arguments you listed – terrorism, crime, corruption, etc. – have actually been brought up repeatedly, and to no avail. Imperial officials and the mainstream media don’t so much dismiss them as outright ignore them, and the Empire does what it wants anyway. Meanwhile, the quislings running Serbia are so deathly afraid of falling from Brussels’ and Washington’s grace, they are willing to do anything to satisfy Empire’s demands. And when they do protest and try to defend themselves, it’s usually a day late and a dollar short.

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