Archive for April, 2018

Up The Wrong Tree

April 23, 2018

The most powerful man in China is in les Etats Unis this week, and he has come bearing a gift … of sorts.  But while traditional media ‘analysts’ are focusing their attention on weighty policy matters such as global commerce and the AIPAC vendetta against Iran, the material meaning of Macron’s visit has been mostly overlooked.  Perhaps that’s because M. le President‘s real message has flown from Paris in an Airbus cargo hold, disguised by festive trappings of tricolor ribbons.

French President Emmanuel Macron will give his American counterpart an oak sapling to be planted at the White House as a symbol of lasting friendship.  [In an interview with le Reynard], Macron said “During the First World War, during the Second World War, when we were attacked, when our liberty was attacked, thousands of your people came here and died here for my country.  That’s a story of our relationship. That’s why my gift to your president will be an oak taken in a very symbolic place, especially for your Marines in north of France –that together, I mean, we will put in his garden because that for me is a great symbol of this long term relationship.”

The face-value meaning of this statement suggests that Macron is evoking the 1918 WWI battles of Belleau Wood and Château Thierry, in which U.S. Marines of the American Expeditionary Forces assisted French troops in stopping a massive German offensive at the Marne River.  United States forces suffered 9,777 casualties, included 1,811 killed.  Belleau Wood (and nearby Château Thierry) subsequently became known among (some) military historians as the turning point of the war, and American propagandists did nothing to discourage circulation of this view.  Belleau Wood has become a key episode in the lore of the United States Marine Corps (“Retreat?  Hell, we just got here”).

But That Ain’t All

However, peeping through the oak tree’s branches, Lunghu also sees further aspects of this gift:

  • In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods.
  • In November 2004, the United States Congress designated the oak as America’s National Tree, and it is also the national tree of England, France, and Germany.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the oak is a nut tree: it produces thousands and thousands of nuts.  Unfortunately, the leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous due to the presence of tannic acid

Furthermore, as every American schoolboy (and girl) knows, when we think of Washington and trees, the oak isn’t what comes to mind.  Especially at this time of year, when the National Cherry Blossom Festival has just concluded its seasonal run in our nation’s capital.  Instead, Americans think of the cherry tree … and the young George Washington … and his shiny new hatchet.  We then contrast the mythic past with the mendacious present.

Thus, Emmanuel Macron has presented us with two trees, both rooted in a distant historical past: a hundred-year oak and a two-hundred-seventy-five-year cherry.  Tied together by a glossy ribbon of bleu-blanc-rouge.

On April 23, Macron will be given a tour of Mount Vernon, the Virginia plantation home of U.S. first President George Washington, where he [and his wife Brigitte] will have a private couples’ dinner [with the Trumps].

 

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Where In The World

April 19, 2018

If and when Kim Jong-un actually does sit down for talks with The Great Satan in the merrie, merrie month of May, where-oh-where will those talks take place?  This is the question that has occupied the minds and mouths of media mavens for several past weeks, but their proffered suggestions thus far lack both credibility and imagination.  Here’s what little they’ve been able to muster thus far:

  • Bangkok [Bloomberg]
  • Beijing [AFP]
  • Singapore [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Ulan Bator [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Vietnam [AFP]
  • Panmunjom [Reuters/AFP]
  • Pyongyang [AFP]
  • Seoul [AFP]
  • Jeju Island [Hankyoreh]
  • Geneva [Bloomberg/Reuters/AFP]
  • Stockholm [Bloomberg/Reuters/AFP]
  • Oslo [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Helsinki [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Prague [Bloomberg]
  • Warsaw [Bloomberg]
  • None of the above.  [Lunghu]

Lunghu is gonna do everybody a favor and name two other places with an actual shot at ending up as host venue.  One might be Kim’s choice, the other would be Melania’s.  Both locations feature beautiful natural landscapes and crisp, clean mountain air.  In May, the stark grandeur of vertiginous granite and limestone slopes will be softly accented by the delicate colors of alpine flowers in full bloom.  Book your airline tickets now to take advantage of the cheap fares. You can thank me later.

Kŭmgangsan Resort Area  [Kangwon Province, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]

home of nine dragons in Kuryong Falls

 

Lake Bled  [Julian Alps, Slovenia]

The World Rowing Championships were held at Lake Bled in 1966, 1979, 1989, and 2011.  So it’s Lunghu’s sentimental choice.

 

However, it’s always possible that outsize egos and diplomatic protocol won’t permit a meeting at any site perceived to be either man’s home turf.  Sadly, that probably also rules out Doonbeg [Co. Clare, Eire].  A loovely spot it is, to be sure.  Instead, let’s consider a darkhorse candidate:

Sapporo  [Hokkaido, Japan]

  • Sapporo was host city for the 11th Winter Olympics (in 1972), the first ever held in Asia.  This history provides a neat cultural/thematic link to the recent role of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in jumpstarting inter-Korean dialog. Furthermore, the city is considering a bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics.
  • Sapporo might sometimes be a little chilly in May, but it’s the sunniest month of the year, and it has the topography and infrastructure to handle a sudden influx of dignitaries, security personnel and media masses.  Better still, the island of Hokkaido is replete with beautiful landscapes, mountain vistas, flora and fauna: truly a fairy-tale wonderland for a nature-lover like Kim Jong-un.  There are golf courses too.
  • Shinzo Abe is the odd man out in YoDg’s improbable Kim-Moon-Trump schmooze-fest, and his newly-marginal position in the geopolitics of northeast Asia is compounded by domestic corruption scandals that have undermined his party base at home.  For Trump, this weakness is a vulnerability that can (and will) be exploited for economic gain.  In exchange, he can offer Abe the illusory prestige of summit host and the appearance of ‘inclusion’ at the negotiation table.  Kim might be willing to go along with the program because he understands that this would actually be a humiliating role for Abe and running-dog imperialist lackey Japan.
  • Recent fire-over-earth volcanic eruptions are in southern Japan.

But really, how likely are any of Lunghu’s suggestions to be chosen as a summit site?  It all depends on whether desperate men will continue to accept his sage counsel as the best path to a satisfactory outcome for all concerned.