In the first week of July, there has been significant political developments in East Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has successfully pushed for the reinterpretation of the Article 9 of Japan's Constitution, moving the pacifist nation into an era of newly possible military participation. This has angered both South Korea and China as the reinterpretation is seen as destroying the pacifist spirit of Japan's constitution.
Meanwhile, Abe also moved to relax Japan's economic sanctions against North Korea in exchange of North Korea's cooperation on investigating Japanese kidnapping incidents after the Korean War. The lifting of sanctions shows a potential of undermining the international effort to de-nuclearize Korea.
While Japan is undergoing significant developments in both domestic and international affairs, South Korean President Park Geun-hye warmly welcomed China's President Xi Jinping. Both leaders discussed strengthening ties between both countries, including pledging to finish a free-trade agreement , and jointly announcing to oppose the development of nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula.
While there are still significant differences between both leaders, the visit was seen as a warm, cultural exchange. The warm gestures and the joint statement about nuclear weapons (China did not mention North Korea specifically due to political sensitivity) can be seen as a step towards progress on East Asia's stability while slowly tackling the problem of North Korea.
The developments in East Asia during the first week of July is significant diplomatically. Japan's Abe decides to increase flexibility on it's self defense force while making diplomatic gains with North Korea. On the other hand, China, North Korea's number one ally, made history with the warm cultural and diplomatic visit in South Korea that included an indirect condemnation on North Korea's nuclear weapon developments.
So what is missing? United States. The US continuous faltering of international diplomacy has consequentially lead to significant developments in East Asia without US being a major player. With regards to North Korea, this is the perfect time for the international community to pressure North Korea from abandoning nuclear weapon development as China, North Korea's primary ally, has finally publicly shown that even it had enough.
There are a lot of diplomatic developments in other parts of the world that the US is currently occupied to. However, losing focus on East Asia's development even for a moment can lead to unanticipated consequences to the US's absence of leadership in the region.
After Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, the federal government took the responsibility of setting up online exchanges for residents in 36 states. Although the federal government's health care exchange website has been up since October 1st, many residents are having problems in signing up for health care plans due to website errors.
The Obama administration has blamed the initial errors due to the overwhelming response by the public that overloaded the servers.
As someone who has been running a website since 2003, this childish explanation does not fly.
According to reporting done by Reuters, the health care exchange website's original budget was $93.7 million. Given that a cost of setting up a small data center is a minimum of $1 million (Ball park estimation), there should not be a shortage of money if the people in charge of the project did not mess up.
Now, the total current cost of the health care exchange website is reported to be $292 million, and the website is still not fixed. Due to the current conditions of the website, only 476,000 applications are filed (NOT processed) by the website.
Ignoring the fact that a Canadian (not American) company is running our national health care exchange website, why does setting up a website ever have to cost $292 million is beyond comprehension. Given our recent national debate on controlling national spending, the increasing cost of the national health care website is a prime example of wasting our national tax resources.
If the administration does not fix the website immediately and provide a truthful explanation behind the scenes, then the Affordable Care Act might fail due to the incompetence of a Canadian company.
Tonight, the United States has narrowly avoided a potential, man-made catastrophe driven by certain ideological politicians, whom have put no thought into their "political strategy.
Frankly, the tea-party politicians in Congress thought it was appropriate to risk the financial system of not only of the US but also the world for the sake of repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act. The funny thing is, the legislative branch that they are currently in passed the "Obama Care" legislation fairly in accordance to the parliamentary procedures set by Congress itself.
Threatening the financial stability by playing around with the debt ceiling crisis is not excusable. Regardless of the ideology driving the tea-party politicians, the potential consequence of their political strategy would have damaged the Capitalist system that billions around the world are dependant on.
While we have averted a crisis, the tea-party politicians have shown that they would dismantle the imperfect Affordable Care Act by threatening to take down one of the pillars of Free-Market Capitalism. Fact is, the world not only made fun of the United States for this idiotic political situation but also expressed worry on the impact on the world's economy, including China.
The names of those obstructionist politicians will be remembered.
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Daniel Shin © 2004 - 2013