Sunday, December 11, 2005

The geopolitical significance of the Miss World contest 

So, there I was, trolling through the Miss World Pageant slideshow instead of going to church this morning (I know, I know -- the Daughter has a riding lesson this morning, and my resolve crumbles without my wife, er, encouraging me), when I came across this slide.
From left: Miss South Korea Oh Eun-Young, Miss Japan Erina Shinohara, Miss China Zhao Ting Ting smile for photographers during a tree planting ceremony ahead of the Miss World Final to be held in the Chinese Island resort in Sanya, China, Friday, Dec. 9, 2005. China's tropical beach resort of Sanya is gearing up to hold its third consecutive Miss World finals, with 105 contestants from around the globe.

That's one heckuva threesome. I, for one, am thrilled that they did not let a silly visit to a shrine to war criminals get in the way of regional comity.

We should be thankful for the Miss World Contest for other reasons. Among others, it reminds us that we must never judge a book by its cover. For instance, which of the women below is Miss Costa Rica, and which is Miss Iceland?

Answers here and here.

The Miss World contest also exposed a heretofore unrealized dividend of the war on terror and the liberation of Afghanistan -- Miss England, one Hammasa Kohistani, fled the Taliban as a teenager only to be "discovered" on the London tube.

Are there more like her? Have we liberated a new supply of potential supermodels? Semper Fi!

While I missed the event itself, my careful review of the 131 photos in the Yahoo! News slideshow (sort of the "play at home" version) allowed me to pick my winner: Miss Italy, Sofia Bruscoli.

I especially liked her "formal evening attire" (Sofia is the one in the middle):

And, of course, Sofia has the added upside of coming from a "Coalition of the Willing" country. (Much more Sofia here).

The actual winner was the very unViking-like Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir of Iceland, a country with a population measured in dozens, rather than millions. Talk about punching above weight.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 11, 01:25:00 PM:

Yasukuni is not "a shrine to war criminals." Of the two-and-a-half million dead to which the shrine is dedicated, fourteen of them were convicted Class A by IMTFE.

Japan's geopolitical rivals and enemies, as well as domestic leftists, have denounced any given prime minister's attendance at Yasukuni for decades; and have refused to forgive a people who have long since apologized and reformed.  

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By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Dec 11, 02:58:00 PM:

Cover Me:

You are, of course, correct, although technically, so am I. To be clear, my characterization is meant to be a reflection of the position taken by China and South Korea, not some sort of objective truth. I like Koizumi, and think that a (somewhat more) remilitarized Japan may be good for the world.  

By Blogger CGrim, at Sun Dec 11, 03:21:00 PM:

I agree.

Imagine if there were complaints from overseas every time the President visited the Vietnam Wall?

Japan is going to be the trump card in a potential conflict (military, social, or economic) with China.  

By Blogger Major Bill, at Sun Dec 11, 03:37:00 PM:

Not true, not true! Japan has NEVER apologized for it's actions in WWII.

Major Bill  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 11, 04:00:00 PM:

Your choice of photo for Miss Iceland presents some interesting questions, and a (possibly) unintentional trick for readers.

The photo of Miss Iceland includes what appear to be semi-tropical trees in the background. Since Costa Rica is a Carribean island, this gives a sub-concious cue that the brunette is Miss Costa Rica.

Perhaps a more appropriate photo would have shown the brunette in a more general setting, similar to that for the blonde.

Interesting how the little things can throw you off.  

By Blogger Pile OnĀ®, at Sun Dec 11, 04:43:00 PM:

Geo-politics aside, I must say that I am a big fan of women...of the the world.  

By Blogger jic, at Sun Dec 11, 07:13:00 PM:

That article says that Hammasa Kohistani "fled the country as the Taleban came to power", so her being in England was not "a heretofore unrealized dividend of the war on terror and the liberation of Afghanistan". If anything, it makes it more likely that she might go back there!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 11, 07:36:00 PM:

Compared to Germany the Japanese have not apologized, and they've done nothing but equivocate on atrocities committed in China during the war. They fudge the history in school textbooks and largely refuse to accept that it was a war of unjustified aggression. Still, at some point you must let these things go and judge based on present conduct. Today's Japan is a world apart from that of 1940.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 03:58:00 AM:


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 11:53:00 AM:

Major Bill: Wikipedia is generally not a final authority but this abridged list of formal apologies offers independent sources, and fairly well refutes your assertion. Make no mistake; I contend Imperial Japan deserved every punishment it received from the Allies. But that country is long gone.

Tigerhawk: I understand now. The Stratfor report in the linked entry is a little light on details, though, and it is discomfiting to see how many levelheaded people, when told of Japanese remilitarization, immmediately think of Victory at Sea.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Dec 13, 04:58:00 AM:

IMO, a country that allows convicted war criminals to sit on the national Diet and edits out the heinous and twisted crimes committed at an instutional level by the country from its history books is not really showing remorse.

I skimmed those articles at the Wikipedia site and saw a huge repetition of a particular phrase: "Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations," with very slight variations.

Japan has just been carrying out the diplomatic niceties to shut up its peers. Until they make mention of the death marches, the Rapes of Nanking and Manilla, the "comfort women," the *vivisection* and biological weapon experimentation on Chinese civilians and American airmen, the slave labor, et cetera, Japan will get exactly 0 credit from me. At least Germany was honest.

This sums it up nicely. Recalling his days in China from 1941 until the end of war as a company commander in the Imperial army, Tominaga said he chopped off the heads of POWs and said the war turned him into a beast. Pointing to a recent resurgence of nationalism, as seen in the emergence of a revisionist view of Japan's modern history, Tominaga said those who try to cover up such issues as women who were forced into sexual slavery for Imperial forces and the Nanjing Massacre will never be able to feel the pain inflicted on the sufferers. From http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~asiactr/haq/200202/0202a001.htm

Also, Japan has not apologized for Pearl Harbor, which was a diplomatic stickler a few years ago. (I forget when, exactly. I was pretty young) They asked the US to apologize for the atomic bombings, and our representative (president? ambassador?) said sure, as soon as you apologize for Pearl Harbor. Silence followed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 14, 11:00:00 AM:

Dawnfire, I would advise you not to anthropomorphize a country. "Japan" is not a thing that exists independently of its citizens. Japanese society and polity was deeply, painfully and irrevocably altered by the postwar occupation. Those few remaining who were alive in the militarist days could never bring the country's population into some kind of totalitarian atavism — if they even had the inclination to do so. There is among the postwar Japanese an understanding of what is good and what terrible acts were committed by their forebears.

But collective blame on descendants? One is reminded of nonsense we hear about slavery reparations. Coeur de Lion was a wretched man; a killer. Should his statue outside the Houses of Parliament be ripped down? Foreign grievances which, Dawnfire, I think you would admit, can never be satisfied, nurse nothing but a grudge.  

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