Monday, September 14, 2009
I read a very good article this morning on the growing censorship of the Internet and blogging in Asia. The article: Web Censoring Widens Across Southeast Asia was published in the Wall Street Journal for Monday, 14 September 2009.
The article details a number of efforts by governments to systematically stymie opposition groups, political dissenters, or individual bloggers. I am alarmed that the government in Malaysia would invoke a colonial era Internal Security Act to detain individuals for two years without trial.
The government is trying to put on a friendly moderate face to encourage western companies, and investors to help develop their growing economy. The problem is that laws like the Internal Security Act undermine this moderate view of Malaysia.
The article indicates that 63% of people in Malaysia use the Internet. This is incredible and really provides an opportunity for the government to engage their people.
I am not trying to single out Malaysia by any means, but the closest county in Internet users in the article is Iran with 32%. I don't see them making any changes to become more open soon.
I read the op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by Lindsey Graham, Joesph Lieberman, and John McCain today called Only Decisive Force Can Prevail in Afghanistan. I respect Messrs. Graham and McCain for their service to this great country, but on this opinion piece I am not sure I can agree completely.
As military officers they understand the requirements of a successful military engagement, but in country building they are far less experts. There has been a ratcheting up of rhetoric around pushing more troops there, but to what avail. Even if we crush the current Taliban forces, the rear guard can be repopulated from the poor and starving masses. A military push can not be successful unless it also brings a significant civilian component along.
Idle hands and minds in the hinterland form the foundation of the Taliban. Unless we can find a better solutions to the idleness and abject poverty, we will continue to engage the same enemy in perpetuity. We need a cadre of well trained people to engage the local population. This includes experts on farming, and animal husbandry. It is harder to convince someone to die when they have hope for a better future.
How can you help?
Tell your Congressman you want humanitarian assistance to accompany those troops. You can also help with providing micro-loans to young entrepreneurs in Afghanistan with programs like Kiva and Grameen Foundation