Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta’s posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he ‘had something urgent to tell me’, after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital. What he had to say was actually straight to the point and definitely worth sitting two hours in an epic traffic jam: ‘No one will be allowed to build comprehensive public transportation in Jakarta or in any other Indonesian city. If a mayor or a governor tries and defies the wishes of the ruthless business community which is in fact controlling most of the Indonesian government, he or she will be dethroned, or even totally destroyed.’ These ‘prophetic’ words are still ringing in my ears, several months after the complete destruction of the progressive Jakarta governor, known as Ahok (real name: Basuki Tjahaja Purnama), who tried very hard to improve the seemingly ungovernable and thoroughly destroyed city, constructing new mass transit lines (LRT), restoring old train stations, cleaning canals, attempting to build at least some basic net of sidewalks, as well as planting trees and creating parks. After Ahok’s first and extremely successful term in office, the opposition consolidated its forces. It consisted mainly of the Islamists, big business tycoons, and the military as well as other revanchist cadres (almost exclusively pro-business and pro-Western individuals) that are still controlling Indonesia. ‘Ahok’, an outsider and an ethnic Chinese, patently lost.
One day you were the billionaire head of the National Guard in one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. Although that carries some risk, you were probably reassured by your position as a senior prince in the ruling family, never mind your strong ties to the US military… oh and of course the many zeros in your bank account. The next day, in a turn of events akin to Shakespearian drama, you were imprisoned (kind of) with ten of your fellow princes and a bunch of ministers and former ministers in a 5 star hotel on charges of money laundering, bribery and general corruption. Despite being a cousin of the Kingdom’s uber-autocratic crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was a son of former King Abdullah and got caught up in a clan war in the ruling family. Former Riyadh governor and another of King Abdullah’s sons, Turki bin Abdullah, was also arrested in the crackdown. Miteb was accused of conducting normal business practices in Saudi Arabia, such as embezzlement, hiring ‘ghost’ employees and awarding his own companies a $10 billion contract for walkie-talkies and bullet proof protection. However, after what must have been the worst three and a half weeks of his life in the Ritz Carlton ‘prison’, Miteb has purchased his freedom for a cool $1 billion.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.
In a testament to how the US government views its military service men and women, for decades, troops were used as experimental test subjects and doused with chemicals, injected with drugs, and otherwise treated like human guinea pigs – leading to a slew of negative health effects. When these troops simply tried to get care for the onslaught of medical problems brought on by these experiments the government told them to kick rocks. For decades, the military flat out denied medical care to those it injured through these unethical experiments. After being poked, prodded, and force-fed with everything from lethal nerve gases like VX and sarin to incapacitating agents like BZ, and given drugs like barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD, soldiers were told that is what they signed up for and were offered no care after their end of active service. After being told they were crazy for years, the Army finally declassified the details of these experiments. However, veterans were still denied care. In 2009, thousands of veterans – Vietnam Veterans of America and other plaintiffs who wanted to know which chemical agents they had been exposed to – filed a class action lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency, et al., for the experiments. It took seven years for a court to finally rule in the plaintiffs’ favor.
After jailing dozens of members of the royal family, and extorting numerous prominent businessmen, 32-year-old Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman has widened his so-called ‘corruption’ probe further still. The Wall Street Journal reports that at least two dozen military officers, including multiple commanders, recently have been rounded up in connection to the Saudi government’s sweeping corruption investigation, according to two senior advisers to the Saudi government. Additionally, several prominent businessmen also were taken in by Saudi authorities in recent days. A number of businessmen including Loai Nasser, Mansour al-Balawi, Zuhair Fayez and Abdulrahman Fakieh also were rounded up in recent days, the people said. Attempts to reach the businessmen or their associates were unsuccessful. It isn’t clear if those people are all accused of wrongdoing, or whether some of them have been called in as witnesses. But their detainment signals an intensifying high-stakes campaign spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. There appear to be three scenarios behind MbS’ decision to go after the military:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.
NewsDay, the privately-owned Zimbabwe newspaper, is reporting that all the provincial branches of President Mugabe’s party have passed votes of no confidence in his leadership. In a dramatic twist of events, all the ten Zanu PF provinces have passed a vote of no confidence on President Robert Mugabe, and declared the 93 year-old leader – who has been in office for 37 years – too old and incapacitated to lead both Zanu PF and government. The move, which comes at the height of a drama-filled week that saw the military taking control of the country, is a huge knock on the veteran’s leader’s prospects of retaining his presidency for much longer. It’s not clear where NewsDay got this information, although other sources are saying the central committee of Zanu PF could meet as early as Sunday to decide on Mugabe’s fate. In the meantime, Mugabe is reported to have resisted pressure to step down in negotiations with the Zimbabwe military and could face impeachment. The possibility of impeachment is being discussed by Zimbabwe politicians who are loyal to Mugabe’s former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose dismissal precipitated the crisis. The grounds for impeachment might include the wealth accumulated by the Mugabe family, corruption amongst his wife’s allies and the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy (now half the size it was in 2000). According to Bloomberg.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.
I'm exposing new evidences on how Turkish charity IHH works with Turkish intelligence MIT to empower jihadists — Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) November 2, 2017
‘The main supplier of weapons and military equipment to ISIL fighters is Turkey, which is doing so through non-governmental organizations,’ Churkin said in a letter dated March 18, referring to the self-declared ‘Islamic State’ (IS) group by another acronym, ISIL. Churkin accused the Besar Foundation, the Iyilikder Foundation and the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH) of shipping ‘various supplies’ on behalf of Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency.’ ~ DW report The following report is by exiled Turkish journalist, Abdullah Bozkurt, President of the Stockholm Centre for Freedom: ‘A new cache of confidential documents from a classified investigation in Turkey shows that controversial charity group the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (nsan Hak ve Hrriyetleri ve nsani Yardm Vakf, or IHH, in Turkish) has been working with the Turkish spy agency, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), to enable jihadist terror groups.
Since the beginning of the centennial of World War I, I have been writing a series of essays about the war as the memory of events passes us by–a hundred years later. But as we approach the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution, I find it nearly impossible to delimit my thoughts on this profound event in the history of the human race as if it were only a passage of the war, like the Somme, or American intervention, or the internment of enemy aliens. There are so many narrations of the “event” itself. There are so many answers to the question “why.” There are so many clashing depictions of tectonic shifts in Russia and the world at that time, of Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzhinsky and the rest as actors, heroes, villains, and (to some modern day sycophants) secular saints. The inhuman cruelty, the killing capacity of this Marxist-Leninist movement which styled itself occasionally as the champion of the “people” (though much more often and much more truthfully as the vanguard of the proletariat on the march toward a revolutionary conflagration that would produce the new man) truly tests the bounds of human comprehension. Even if we take into account a group of recent historians who minimize standard historical estimates of total non-combat, democidal totals of deaths (based in part on recently found archival materials, but in part on soft hearts still loyal to the Great Experiment), the median calculation of Communist mortality by historians and demographers credits the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin with somewhere between eighteen and sixty-two million deaths beyond technically military losses. If we add up the democidal killings of spin-off Communist regimes across the globe, the totals are astronomical, with the estimates by historians, sociologists, demographers, and other serious analysts hovering around a hundred million human beings.
‘Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that relies on violence to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. Given the profits made by arms manufacturers, the defense industry, gun dealers and the lobbyists who represent them in Congress, it comes as no surprise that the culture of violence cannot be abstracted from either the culture of business or the corruption of politics. Violence runs through US society like an electric current offering instant pleasure from all cultural sources, whether it be the nightly news or a television series that glorifies serial killers.’ – Professor Henry A. Giroux This latest mass shooting in Las Vegas that left more than 50 people dead and more than 500 injured is as obscure as they come: a 64-year-old retiree with no apparent criminal history, no military training, and no obvious axe to grind opens fire on a country music concert crowd from a hotel room 32 floors up using a semi-automatic gun that may have been rigged to fire up to 700 rounds a minute, then kills himself. We’re left with more questions than answers, none of them a flattering reflection of the nation’s values, political priorities, or the manner in which the military-industrial complex continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives. For starters, why do these mass shootings keep happening? Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. This shooting is the deadliest to date. What is it about America that makes violence our nation’s calling card?
Shortly after Steve Bannon visited Hong Kong last week to give a closed-door speech at a big investor conference hosted by CLSA, a Chinese state-owned brokerage and investment group, Trump’s former strategist flew to Beijing for a “secret meeting with the second most powerful Chinese Communist party official”, less than a month after the former chief White House strategist declared that America was at ‘economic war with China’, the FT has reported. The meeting occurred at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership compound, where Bannon meet with Wang Qishan, the head of the Chinese Communist party’s anti-corruption campaign. “The Chinese reached out to Bannon before his Hong Kong speech because they wanted to ask him about economic nationalism and populist movements which was the subject of his speech,” the FT quoted a “person familiar” with the situation. Mr Wang, who is seen as the second most powerful person in China after President Xi Jinping, arranged through an intermediary for a 90-minute meeting after learning that Mr Bannon was speaking on the topic, according to the second person, who stressed there was no connection to President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to China. As the FT adds, the (not so) secret meeting between Bannon and Wang will “stoke speculation that the Chinese anti-graft tsar, who has purged hundreds of senior government officials and military officers for corruption in recent years, may continue to work closely with Mr Xi during his second term in office.” Under recent precedent, Mr Wang, who turned 69 in July, would be expected to step down from the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist party’s most powerful body. But his many admirers argue that as China’s most knowledgeable and experienced financial technocrat, he should stay on to help Mr Xi force through a series of stalled financial and economic reforms.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.
Senator Marco Rubio may have been targeted for assassination by one of Venezuela’s most powerful lawmakers and long time secretive head of the country’s security services. According to the Miami Herald, the US Department of Homeland Security disseminated a sensitive memo to federal agencies last month which identified Diosdado Cabello Rondon as behind the “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” while also noting the intelligence to be unverified as ‘no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far.” Cabello Rondon is widely believed to be Venezuela’s second most-powerful man and head of the country’s military and security services. US media has referred to him as “the Frank Underwood of Venezuela” (from the TV series House of Cards) for his well-known history of corruption, suspicion of drug trafficking, and Machiavellian plotting against rivals and involvement in pro-Chavez military crackdowns. As a behind the scenes influential military leader he’s kept both the late president Hugo Chavez and current socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro in power.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
Written by Patrick Lawrence of The Nation, It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised – a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment. The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole. All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that ‘hack’ and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 10, 2017.
The ongoing problems with the F-35 and other military programs, stemming from virtually unlimited budgets, underline the inefficiency of the American military-industrial complex (MIC). In contrast, Moscow develops armaments capable of counteracting the latest technological advances of the US at minimal cost. *** One of a state’s most insidious mechanisms is the inefficiency of the military-industrial sector. When looking at the world’s first superpower, this becomes all the more pronounced. Still, the ongoing problems highlighted by the F-35 program and failed missile interceptions by ABM systems are a good demonstration of how inefficiency in the US military sector has risen to worrying levels. The main cause of these issues is related to the huge military-industrial complex that employs hundreds of thousands Americans directly or indirectly. The unhealthy composition of this power conglomerate often employs a revolving door involving politicians and board members from large arms-producing companies. This situation raises questions about corruption as well as a number of obvious conflicts of interest.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 27, 2017.
Today we reveal a massive NATO-based international weapons trafficking hub run out of Baku, Azerbaijan supplying conflict zones worldwide including terrorists in Syria, UK Tory MPs now lobbying for a ‘Authorisation of the Use of Military Force in Syria to respond to chemical attacks, and US now asking to share a ‘No Fly Zone’ with Russia in Syria, More revelations with Grenfell Tower in London and much more…
The head of a prominent Syrian Kurdish militia said Turkish military deployments in northwestern Syria amount to a ‘declaration of war,’ Reuters reports. ‘These [Turkish] preparations have reached level of a declaration of war and could lead to the outbreak of actual clashes in the coming days,’ YPG commander Sipan Hemo told Reuters. ‘We will not stand idly by against this potential aggression.’ The YPG, a Kurdish acronym for ‘People’s Protection Units,’ is the armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), and one of the main groups within the U. S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF launched an operation to expel the Islamic State from its de facto capital of Raqqa in early June, taking territory along the Euphrates River to the south of the town, and just this week punching through the ancient Rafiqah Wall that surrounds Raqqa’s Old City. Turkey, for its part, was apoplectic over the American administration’s decision to not only work with, but arm, the Syrian Kurds, and as late as April outright threatened military action. Indeed, clashes broke out over the period of several days between the two sides soon after that threat in late April; the exchange left 11 Kurdish fighters dead.
Two days ago, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had made plans to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, adding that Ex-president Park, who was impeached in a corruption scandal earlier this year, signed a document approving a ‘leadership change’ in North Korea back in 2015. According to the Japanese outlet, South Korea’s intelligence agencies were to prepare operations to carry out the plan. The report noted that the plotters considered arranging accidents, with a car accident or the derailment of a train carrying Kim Jong-un on the table. Park’s administration also reportedly considered staging a coup in North Korea. The military activities of South Korea’s communist neighbor, including its nuclear arms development programs, apparently motivated the alleged plot, Asahi Shimbun notes. Tension between Seoul and Pyongyang spiked in August of 2015 as the countries exchanged fire after the North fired a projectile at the border city of Yeoncheon. However, the plans to assassinate the North Korean leader were not picked up by President Moon Jae-in’s administration after Park’s impeachment, the daily reports.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 28, 2017.
With Moon Jae-In’s victory in South Korea, the period of tension on the Korean Peninsula is likely to end. With the rise to power of the new president, South Korea can expect a sharp decline in hostilities with North Korea as well as a resumption of dialogue with China. An expected and highly anticipated victory was confirmed in South Korea on May 9, with candidate Moon winning South Korea’s presidential race over his rivals Hong Joon-pyo (Liberty Korea Party) and Ahn Cheol-soo (People’s Party). After the resignation and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye over an immense corruption scandal, public opinion turned away from her party in favour of the main opposition representative, a center-left lawyer specializing in humanitarian issues. Moon spent several years in the opposition party advocating for greater cooperation in the region and dialogue with Pyongyang as well as with Beijing, representing quite a contrast to Guen-Hye’s pro-Americanism. Along the lines of Duterte in the Philippines, Moon intends to resume dialogue with all partners in order not to limit his options in the international arena. Such an approach reflects the essence of the multipolar world order: cooperation and dialogue with all partners in order to achieve a win-win outcome. Looking at the situation in the region, the victory of a politician who seems to have every intention of negotiating an agreement rather than supporting military escalation seems to provide for a hopeful future for China and her neighbors. The level of cooperation and trade between South Korea and China is fundamental to the economy of both countries, so a return to the negotiating table over the issues surrounding the deployment of THAAD are a hopeful sign that the business communities of China and South Korea value deeply.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 15, 2017.
Submitted by James Durso ‘The lion is back in his den!’ Hosni Mubarak, former President of Egypt, walked free last week after six years in detention on charges of murder and corruption. What does the U. S. have to show for it? Nothing. In January 2011, Egyptian activists planned protests against corruption, lack of economic growth, and the heavy-handed police tactics of the recent years. The protests were scheduled for 25 January in Cairo and across Egypt. A broad swath of Egyptian activist groups participated, including the Islamists. The protests quickly escalated and became increasingly violent to the extent that the police were replaced by the military. At the end of two weeks, Mubarak had dissolved his government, appointed an interim leader, and announced he would not seek re-election in the September 2011 elections. In early February 2011, on the same day that Vice President, and former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak would resign as President, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the constitution and dissolved both houses of Parliament for six months until elections could be held. In May 2011, Mubarak was charged with the murder of protesters and ordered to stand trial. The elections of June 2012 handed power to the only organized opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood and its leader, Mohammed Morsi, who promptly tried to install an Islamist constitution and grant himself broader power than had Mubarak. The secular opposition was upset that the Islamist opposition they helped usher into power would be so… Islamist. More violent protests ensued. The whole sorry mess came to an end in July 2013, when the military seized power and Morsi’s hand-picked minister of defense, General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, became Egypt’s leader and was elected President in May 2014 with a Chicago-like 93 percent of the vote.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 4, 2017.
The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position. Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too. The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize. From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.
Long-time Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to the murky agencies at work to ensure this planetary plan stays on track as the ‘deep state,’ in his book of the same name. He writes that it includes key elements of the national security state, which ensure continuity of policy despite the superficial about-faces from one administration to the next. The deep state is effectively a warlike oligarchy, hell-bent on full spectrum dominance, driven by a lust for wealth and power, and anxious to inscribe its name in history. Specifically, Lofgren says, the deep state includes the Department of Defense, the State Department, the National Intelligence Agencies, Wall Street, the defense industry, and the energy consortium, among other major private players. They share common agendas, operate a revolving door of employees, and have a collective distaste for democracy, transparency, and regulation. The deep state is the link between military interventions and trans-pacific trade deals, between sanctions and IMF loans. All of these tools, be they arms or loans or legal structures, serve a single purpose: the overarching control of world resources by a global community of corporate elites. One can also see how these three instruments of policy and power all do tremendous damage to a particular entity, the nation-state.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 12, 2017.
A South Korean court removed the president on Friday, a first in the nation’s history, rattling the delicate balance of relationships across Asia at a particularly tense time. Her removal capped months of turmoil, as hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets, week after week, to protest a sprawling corruption scandal that shook the top echelons of business and government. Park Geun-hye, the nation’s first female president and the daughter of the Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee, had been an icon of the conservative establishment that joined Washington in pressing for a hard line against North Korea’s nuclear provocations. Now, her downfall is expected to shift South Korean politics to the opposition, whose leaders want more engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major confrontation in the region. They say they will re-examine the country’s joint strategy on North Korea with the United States and defuse tensions with China, which has sounded alarms about the growing American military footprint in Asia.