NEW LEADER MAGAZINE@(April 2012)
and Role of Southeast Asia
Stuart Alan Becker (business section editor of "Phnom Penh Post")
Hajime Fujiwara (freelance journalist, Structural Geologist)
A ban on the development of the nuclear weapons and states for non-nuclear localization in Southeast Asia
Fujiwara: You've covered a wide area of business fields as a special editing reporter for the "Phnom Penh Post". Your reputation follows your great skills in journalism with an expansive interview portfolio with celebrities reproduced throughout world-wide media. Included in your celebrity-list is Professor Noam Chomsky from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). To make use of the concept of human resource development from Dr. Chomsky, you are also the founder of the Institute of Enlightenment, in Thailand - a combination of the Enlightenment movement from the 18th century and those from Buddhist ethics. To takes advantage of this occasion of dialogue, let's try to focus on a discussion today, surrounding the topic of Southeast Asia's role in the twenty-first century.
Becker: First of all, I am pleased to be a part of this discussion because it is an important topic to which I have a strong curiosity. However being that, you are an expert in the field of energy, I would like to hear your comments about the future of energy development and its environmental problems. Secondly, let's also touch upon the radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear accident in Japan in two years ago.
Fujiwara: After a discussion such of general topics and environmental issues, let's then move onto the energy problem.
Becker: Let's say that my presence in Cambodia in the corner of Southeast Asia today, holds true to the key issues that are also a trend in nearby neighborhoods such as China. Geopolitically speaking, it is the probably the most important participant in nuclear-energy development. I think that if the United States is to react against this approach, I wonder how it impacts on US's present Asian policies.
Fujiwara: If we set our discussion as per your suggestion, our dialogue will trivialize the relationship between the United States and China. We need to develop our discussion to a broader dimension. Let's start with a more macroscopic perspective: Four billion and a half years ago, our earth was born in the solar system and an English scientist named James Lovelock called "Gaia". There were three spheres on the earth called lithosphere, water, and atmosphere. These were in other words known as solid, liquid and air; life was a product from our mother Gaia. Organic activity of life then began three billion and eight hundred millions years ago when the integration between seawater and soil acted on the hotbed and Gaia's homeostatic force gave way to evolution of life itself.
Becker: You are talking about the story of life on earth and its evolution. In that sense, Southeast Asia is certainly a place that covered in fertile soil and assuredly the homeland of life.
Fujiwara: Yes indeed. The earth's crust is made of rock has been weathered by the sun and water during a very long geological time. Then with the selective action of water and wind, between the land and oceans, a distribution of soil and sand became the stratum of the sediment that developed. Life was born first at the bottom of the sea. Hydrothermal lives in crevices of submarine lava and microbial evolution became algae and microorganisms. Such microbial activity from mud to soil and on the biosphere of Southeast Asia has brought about some of the most advanced forms on the planet.
Becker: What's more, it is a haven for these forms of life that were blessed with the abundance sunlight and rainfall.
Fujiwara: Southeast Asia is the location of an important amount of rice being harvested in addition to its abundance in fruit and other grains. Wide development of soil in Southeast Asian agricultural zone and it is truly a blessed region. Clearly, we should give it a carefully planned, environmental protection more than anything else today.
Becker: I cannot agree more.
Fujiwara: The geographical distribution of weathered rock as sediments on the surface are in the following order: gravel, sand, and a mixture of sand and soil from the slopes of mountains via plains to the sea. With this configuration there are some exceptions and in arid areas, the sand has made a desert. Most important biomass zone located in the prairie regions and the rich soil development on the plains, riverbanks and coastal zones. There is always an abundance of plants and animals by breeding and it makes for a rich agricultural sector of considerable strength. As a result, one of the richest ecological zones in Asia is covered by a huge crescent from Japan to India.
Becker: Southeast Asia is a base of food production that is so very important to the fate of mankind today - as it is the earth's biggest breadbasket. It is important that this issue of food and the Rome Club sounds an alarm in the report. It is said that by the early twenty-first centuries, this planet earth will have a population of more than seven billion people. At meetings in Kyoto and Brazil during the international agreement on the environmental conservation, this figure was confirmed by the United Nations. Nevertheless, rain forests continue to be cut down or by over-exploitation, and the carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase in industrialized areas whilst global warming still continues to progress steadily. I think that there is a need to link these environmental issues with Southeast Asia. UNESCO has been nominated to use a rating scale equal to that used by the World Natural Heritage Sites, to avoid ruining the planet's future and to keep the sanctuaries of life.
Fujiwara: Yes. This east and southern margin of Eurasian continent include Japan, Taiwan, the southern parts of China, Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Indochina, spreading throughout the region to reach through Burma and Bangladesh. It is an interesting inspiration. In order to preserve the ecological environment without the broad support of its people, it is terribly difficult to follow through on such valuable ideas. It is therefore necessary to prevent the future development by the governments, in order to leave such a gift for-next- generation. The surface of the earth was covered by thick forest about ten thousand years ago, before the beginnings of the agricultural revolution. Human activity has cut trees, forests have became plains while field cultivations have proliferated in the western semi-sphere due to new weather conditions. In the eastern semi-spheres and tropical zones, however, rice has fed people and forest conservation was part of its life style.
Becker: Why such a difference between two semi-spheres?
Fujiwara: In the European Peninsula, the western semi-sphere had small summer rains and the energy from the sun and the only way to survive was through grain cultivation, animal meat and milk products. The expansion and development of their practices is part of their life style and behaviors.
Becker: Do you think about why they cut trees and pioneered the destruction of the forests?
Fujiwara: Yes, but people in the eastern semi-sphere had no domestic animals and coexisted with the forest as their lives were based on LOHAS principles.
Becker: What is the LOHAS? I have never heard such a strange name.
Fujiwara: LOHAS mean Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability rather than the typical terms used such as "expansion" and "development". It is a mentality against mass production. It is consumption-based but also attached to a method of reciprocal gift-giving rather than a transactional money exchange, referred to by Professors Bronistaw Malinosky and Claude Levi-Strauss. The importance of the future may only be driven by the implementation of a project seeking to protect this last paradise on earth. Preventing the development projects on a state level or through multinational corporations in the region, it is critical that the members of the Security Council in the United Nations stay uninvolved whilst allowing such activities to be handled by the NGO and NPO communities.
Becker: But why five countries of the Security Council like the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France?
Fujiwara: Because the 'Big Five Council members possess nuclear weapons. These five countries hold a strong political tradition of colonialism and of hegemonism. The Big Five have historically been very invasive characters. They are dangerous and use nuclear weapons as a big threat - which is in itself a threat to the survival of life. To avoid nuclear disasters in Southeast Asia, of course we should expel these five countries from its sanctuary to limit the intrusiveness of nuclear power.
Becker: Aside from the Big Five, other countries hold nuclear bombs such as India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea as well. If we seal off these nuclear weapons states, theoretically, the meaning of this concordance will increase. It should also be emphasized that Japan and Germany also have the technical capabilities of nukes and economic power.
Fujiwara: The history of American resource exploitation and its identity as the Manifest Destiny It would be though Germany and Japan will not be able to build businesses to create a nuclear power plants in Southeast Asia.
Becker: Whether, the colonialism and imperialistic risk is raging again, Southeast Asia has been invaded again! They will soon destroy the status of this life paradise. We are now in the twenty first century so I do not think the situation need to be approached with such caution, as I do not think that they would repeat their same kinds of wild behavior as they have displayed in the past.
Fujiwara: I do not agree such an optimistic view. It should be noted that the US has a history. The significance of its impact not only on the geo-political issues, but also on environmental issues demonstrates the importance of talking about such subjects. The US in the past one hundred years has attempted on the world stage, in particular, countless acts of imperialist behaviors in Latin America. Though they have stalled in recent years, it would be na?ve to think that Southeast Asia would not fall prey to their predatory ways.
Becker: What are you specifically referring to now?
Fujiwara: Let's talk first about U.S. imperialism. I remember as a young boy, the familiar American saying "Remember the Alamo" - this arouses patriotism in the American people. The idea represents the principle to justify the aggression behind it, if you haven't noticed.
Becker: My father was a soldier during the Vietnam War. He was a helicopter pilot in the Army, flying around the front-line of the battlefield. So it goes without saying that I was young zeal patriot - a typical young, patriotic, country-boy. I was enthusiastic for American military victory and like most American young boys, I admired Americans who died a hero's death at the Alamo. I had this feeling of reverence and compassion that was very strong. However, after working as a journalist in Southeast Asia, I have had much time to rethink and have revised such opinions. I know now that the United States defoliated Vietnam and showered Cambodian with a rain of bomb without indiscrimination against its people.
Fujiwara: Do you feel that United States failed to take responsibility in Cambodia's civil war? What do you have in mind as an American?
Becker: In the shades of public deception the US stopped dropping bombs in North Vietnam, but then engaged in carpet bombing with B-52s in Cambodia. They used more bombs than during the Second World War, killing farmers and nearly one million people. Effectively, the crimes of Nixon and Kissinger were promoting just the same vicious killing crimes from the Nazi era. We should pursue these crimes against humanity in court. Professor Chomsky has had more than a strong appeal in support of this case, stating that the United States caused the tragedy of civil war in Cambodia. It is therefore its duty to take responsibility for all compensations. Today, I think the myth of the Alamo is something that takes away from Texas rather than bring necessarily depicting heroic beauty.
Fujiwara: That's right. The war was started by Americans who settled in the Mexican territories of Texas. Independence was cried by its intruders and finally, Mexico lost their Texas territory. The scenario is the same for the territories of California and New Mexico. The United States has always been taking from its neighbors. It owes its identity to a "Manifest Destiny" motto. If you replace your resources by the expansion of boundaries, it is only a war act as seen in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. These acts should be considered as an 'invasions' for all intents and purpose of an expansion into foreign countries.
Becker: Yes, the idea has been repeatedly used with the "Remember the Alamo" which then became "Remember Pearl Harbor" and soon after by "Remember Kane." Recently and regretfully, it was used to fuel the hostility in the "Remember 9.11" - justifying the United States starting its attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fujiwara: When you have military propaganda like "Remember Kane", newspapers owned by Hurst help fuel the war whilst the American public opinion became solidly military-driven. In comparison during the Vietnam War invasion, there was frustration due to the lack power of the press during the increased anti-war momentum. I see you with the same kind of courage in the current American media.
Becker: The newspaper industry in the United States is near bankruptcy today then followed by the recession. The corporate circle and the government are of course both in favor of manipulating information as on Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV. The majority of the media is in a significant state of recoil today. But on the other hand, the United States has a wide range of grassroots democracies and there is a tradition to resist any tyranny of power as does Professor Chomsky of MIT.
Fujiwara: It's in fact, US's imperialistic style - otherwise known as the "law of the jungle". It is certainly still intact today, rampant in developing countries throughout the world, rich in natural resources. The decision to withdrawal U.S. forces after its failed mission in Iraq - leaving only the clean-up crew of the puppet regime -was proclaimed in the name of Democracy. Over one million Iraqis were slaughtered during this invasion and the modus operandi of the United States was no different than the one used in Cambodia. The history of US' invasions in Latin America also supported by the pro-US military regimes - which has been ousted by their near- collapse but this same pattern is repeating itself time and time again.
Becker: The United States' war budget and waste have been both huge, bearing a tremendous weight with its financial losses. The American government can no longer delay the inevitable.
Fujiwara: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the monopolistic domination of the United States has been led by nothing more than the neoconservatives in Washington. The United States should be considered near criminal in its actions. Greed has become the driving-factor behind ninety-five percent of America, whilst most citizens are good and friendly people. It is only the remaining five percent that hold a monopoly on most of the wealth and power in the country and are driven by greed as seen in the Washington government. Tyranny reigns the United States as it becomes an obstacle in the world's peaceful co-existence. Many Americans are simply unaware of this.
Becker: The result, unfortunately, is that most Latin American nations have become anti-American today. Pro-American nations have been disappearing one by one in Africa and the Middle East - and its remaining allies today are mostly found in Southeast Asia and Islael!!
Fujiwara: The U.S. government always needs potential enemies and if Washington cannot find them, they will create them by confronting their "enemies" with unwieldy injustices. They have a clear history with achieving the shift in public opinions followed by a plot to inflate its existence. The country is clearly losing touch with its original American spirit of acceptance of differences with tolerant minds and traditional beliefs in protecting the individual spirit. It is instead being replaced by followers of egotistic, freedom-fighters, engaging in exploitation and aggression. The military and corporate industries wholly represent this shift in spirit by embracing "the laws of the jungle" and have unfortunately destroyed the US' reputation across the globe.
Becker: The US is today now encouraging the commercialization of agricultural land, agriculture pesticides, fertilizers, hormone-use, and all of this resulting in a dismal outlook on the future of the global community. Today's US agricultural practices is solely a money-making instrument overtaking nature rather than protecting the future of humanity.
Fujiwara: The Great Plains of the United States and Pampa regions of South America became the granary regions for wheat and soybeans only because irrigation facilities and dams were constructed. The deterioration of the underground aquifer zones and also conspicuous lack of surface water become one of the biggest threats for US agriculture and eventually on its people and the quality of food production. The American "agribusiness" is facing a serious crisis due to the destruction of its good soils as it further degrades it with the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. After its extensive exploitation and destruction of South American agricultural fields, the American Imperialists have under in the name of "development", now been trying to create a sphere of influence using the economic hit-men aimed at the Southeast Asian paradise. The unnatural character driving the American agribusiness is a major concern.
Becker: American capital has definitely played a significant part in Latin America's banana farms, the production base of sugar in Cuba and the pineapple cultivation in Hawaii - with absolute, monopolistic management style.
Fujiwara: The reason is that there is no longer any thought towards the symbiotic nature of the agribusiness. The concept of symbiosis has been used to refer to a phenomenon that allows for multiple relationships between many types of organisms which coexist together. A philosopher Ivan Ilyich (1926-2002) created the word "convivial" to re-capture this level in society; they can work through mutual support and live symbiotically. In any form as a learner, a teacher, a producer or end-user, the mutual affinity of self-sustaining organisms through co-existence refers to a state that keeps the balance between and for each system. From an earthly perspective we are clearly talking about soil; the ground that holds life in balance in a multidimensional fashion. Convivir (in Spanish) has led to the discovery of the importance of the transformation of soil and organic matter.
Becker: I'm not sure what you mean, Dr. Fujiwara. The difference between clay and the word soil, please explain the difference in its genetic character more clearly.
Fujiwara: Clay is the colloquial term for matter that covers the surface of the earth. But more geologically speaking, clay is a general term that includes many combinations of minerals and fine mineral sediments of phyllo-silicate and water. Soil refers to the combination of clay and silt, which are sedimentary layers upon which harbor biological activity. The environment is therefore activated from the resilience of the earth, in which the microbes live, acting and plowing through the crust of the planet. Asia is at first glance a den of micro-bacteria - a world in which all life actually co-exists. It is a true paradise of harmonious forms of life that thrive.
Becker: It is truly a blessing that such plentiful food storage exists in nature which then can be cultivated through non-invasive agricultural practices aside from the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and artificial hormones - as these are as far from any organic practices imaginable.
Fujiwara: Indeed. It is interesting that four older civilizations from outside of the Yellow River region in China are on the edge of the Proto-Mediterranean Sea (also known as the Tethys ) from several tens of million years ago. In the flood plains of Southeast Asia where the life-chain of soils consisting mainly of organisms makes for a true treasure-house of symbiosis at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains.
Becker: The symbiotic world of bacteria, plants, animals and humans peacefully co-existing on such soils certainly brings a vivid image of life to mind. It is what we call the treasures of life - if we are lucky enough to find it.
Fujiwara: Certainly, with any holy place with a natural agriculture zone, we should do all possible to establish policies against fertilizers, useless pesticides, and harmful hormones in its agriculture practices. We need to put into place a protective measure against petroleum products and chemical compounds. In Europe, north-eastern Asia and in North and South Americas, the soils are so contaminated to date and microorganisms have been completely depleted due to the use of such chemical products. Japan and China's farmlands have transformed the minerals in its soils and its productivity has fallen year after year. In order to recover any fertility in these areas, compost-based refuse-fermentation, rotting organic matter, plowed organic fertilizers with an addition of sprayed lactic-acid bacterial culture are the only solutions. These are an integral part of natural and traditional farming practices.
Becker: Traditional farmers certainly diligently perform such cultivation practice and producing quality-oriented delicious and lively food. Only recently have they run into moneymaking ventures such as agribusiness, resulting in unnatural tasting fruits and vegetables. These substandard products only look good for sale purposes.
Fujiwara: We are in the era of pretention. Lured by abuses of science and technology, many farmers have become the slaves to the wrong seeds (GM = genetically modified), aiming for bigger harvests while minimalizing to their effort for big scamping. They are now using so much genetically modified seeds to make money. It's truly unbelievable. Monsanto's invention of the "Roundup" devil is derailing the global ecosystem and assuredly will cause the extinction of life systems as we know them today due to an abnormal evolution in nature.
Becker: The genetically modified (GM) seeds of Monsanto Inc. have now reached more than ninety percent of the world's agricultural markets mostly in U.S. The producer of this devil's potion promotes resistance of food-products to pests thereby reducing weeding-practices for farmers. The truth of the matter is that there are no long-term safety data from the use of such products much less any date showing what the long-term use of such products will have on the generations of organisms that eat them. European environmental organizations and public interest groups have been actively protesting against GM foods for long time. Today, one hundred percent of the livestock in the US is fed on genetically modified grains which are then used to produce and other food products, exported all over the world.
Fujiwara: There is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food may have an unexpected and horrible impact on human health and whole life system. It is truly a worry for our world today.
Becker: Strange diseases and birth defects have been attributed to large quantities of land pollution caused by Agent Orange, sprayed in Vietnam and Cambodia by American military @ operation. We should recall that these were considered to be criminal acts.
Fujiwara: The United States has never truly reflected on its actions as being criminal acts. In the industry of agricultural production today, American corporations and the Big Five UN Council members, as well as Italy, Germany and Japan, who continue to produce chemical fertilizers and hormones today, should prevent themslves from acting in the agricultural regions of Southeast Asia. It is therefore primordially important to prohibit such products to enter the markets in Southeast Asia where one of the last remaining paradise of symbiotic earth-life. This has been shown throughout the history of the planet in the past three billion and eight hundred million years, that we should responsibly consider food production to be the choice of its residents.
Becker: I understand that the sense of your view against American and international big businesses and are based on the appreciation of life and soil. I am convinced that your radical opinion is not by all means, an anti-American political attitude. Your objection of big businesses and US' politics to advance into South-East Asia is from a natural science perspective to express the beauty of coexistence of life rather than mere greed-driven politics.
The Collection of Papers