Tag: Asia

In Cambodia, Tourists Buy and Shoot Cows with Rocket Launchers

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In third world countries such as Cambodia, animal rights are often cast aside. Naturally, the lives of oppressed people and their struggle for food, water, and other essentials come first. As a result, individuals in these countries are often able to commit gross atrocities against animals.

In modern Western culture, there is much debate over animal rights. Vegans and vegetarians disagree with those who believe it is morally okay to kill an animal for food. However, most would agree that it is wrong to kill an animal without purpose. Such an action is wasteful, at least in the eyes of the West.

In Cambodia, though, the attitude is a little bit different. Over the past few years, rumors have surfaced on various blogs and informal reports that it was possible to shoot a cow in Cambodia with a rocket launcher. Some even stated that they were offered an animal target by default when shooting. Though it was, until recently, difficult to verify this, a recent Netflix documentary has opened the door to this atrocity.

In the show, Dark Touristhost David Farrier tours the world, searching for everything ‘mad, macabre and morbid” he can find. In an episode about South Asia, he visits a war-torn Myanmar and a resurrection in Indonesia. But before this, Farrier wants to see if the old Cambodian myth is true.

Arriving at a shooting range, the workers present him with a number of different weapons to choose from. After shooting at non-living targets, Farrier asks for the prize cow, and sure enough, he gets it. Though he chooses, out of common morality, not to shoot the animal, it is clear that this chilling practice is a reality in the small South Asian country.

Cambodia and its Lack of Cultural Justification

In Western culture, shooting a chained animal is inhumane. Yet, the interesting thing is, based on many aspects of Cambodian culture, one may expect it to be even more so on that side of the world.

In Cambodia, the vast majority of people are Buddhist. In fact, 95% practice Theravada Buddhism, the much stricter and more conservative of the two main branches. When Buddhists die, they believe that based on their actions in life, they will be reincarnated as another life form, often times an animal. Thus, they believe that the soul within a human may be exactly the same soul within an animal, but at a different point in its existence.

As a result, one may think that Cambodia would place a higher importance on the life of animals. Though they often use animals for important sacrifices to their spirits, this is understandably an honor killing.

The recreation of blasting chained cows, however, appears antithetical in a culture where the dominant religion is often vegetarian. Theravada monks, in fact, were only permitted to eat pork, chicken, and fish, and only if the monk knew the animal was not killed specifically for them. Still others are vegetarian entirely.

Thus, it appears that rather than a religiously sanctioned activity, this tourist activity is not representative of mainline Cambodian culture. Nonetheless, it still occurs with relative frequency in the formerly war-torn nation.


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Part IV- Humans and Animals: Possible Solutions and Justice

By. Joshua D. Glawson

With many of the issues previously mentioned, I have specified concerns about ‘Justice’ for animals. This includes using animals for consumption and for other practices. The best solution, however, lies not in banning the buying or selling of ivory or horns, nor in banning hunting. The most practical solution is noted by CITES and the Cato Institute. Their solution is to make the trading of these goods legal, create private land that holds these animals in an open area while providing food and water for them in regions that are conducive, and treat them as cattle. In essence, this is what helped to save the American bison from reaching extinction.

The American bison, also known as buffalo, were estimated to be in the 60 million population range throughout North America prior to 1800. By 1900 that number dwindled to a measly 300 due to over-hunting, overconsumption, disease, and predation by wolves. In the mid to late 1800s, companies were making fertilizer out of bison skulls. They also used the skins for coats. Moreover, buffalo meat is continually a revered product for meat eaters.

In the 1870s, it was clear that bison were becoming rare and their value was extremely high on the market. In 1905, American citizens came together to initiate a protection organization for bison, the American Bison Society. By 1919, it was estimated there were 12,521 bison. This number grew exponentially once private companies began breeding them as cattle for consumption. Although the original initiative was a joint effort of government and private citizens, the largest growth was via the private sector. Today, it is estimated there are around 500,000 bison in North America. That is a drastic improvement from 300.

This same process could be implemented in areas of Africa and Asia by privatizing land, building fences that can keep elephants in, providing enough food and water for them, and selling them off as cattle throughout the world for human consumption. This would decrease the value of tusks and elephant meat, while helping to maintain a larger population of elephants. A practice such as this also disincentives poachers because of decreased profits. However, it would increase the job market in that region for taking care of elephants and all of the processes necessary for a market of trade for elephant goods. This is similar to the concept of decriminalizing drugs, as it would create fewer violent criminals, but many more jobs.

Ecology cannot determine a precise number of a species. It can only specify their relations with their environment and other species. We humans naturally utilize what is around us, sometimes to the eradication of other species. I cannot say this is good, especially if more use from them would benefit us further. The world of nature is constantly in chaos, detrimentally, and in harmony, symbiotically. We are a part of that same cycle and we are able to reason far more expediently than other animals. So, if we are able to get use out of animals, we will. Same, in favor of animal rights activists, if we can get the same use out of plants as animals, that lessons the need for animal consumption. Yet, if people still choose to use animals, I cannot fault them for it.

As far as the topic of domesticated animals is concerned, the best solution for giving them anything close to a human right would be under property rights. If a dog is owned by someone, that dog is then the property of that owner and if anyone were to steal or harm the dog, the case can be taken to court. If the same dog hurts another person’s dog, the owner of the victim will have a claim against the attacking dog.

In matter of ‘Justice,’ humans can go to a court and claim their grievances, other animals are unable. If one dog attacks another, it cannot explain what took place. In order for a court to be unbiased, a jury or judge must be able to understand both sides in a human case, and the evidence must be insurmountable for either side. In order to not muddy the water of ‘Justice’ further than we already struggle with, strictly keeping domesticated animals under human property rights will be the best possible voice for animals.

Now, animal rights activists may respond that the same was once said for women, children, slaves, elderly, and the mentally disabled. They may point to so-called evidence in nature or in domesticated animals to suggest animals have “morals,” “ethics,” or a sense of “Justice.” Perhaps they have some inclinations to these things under a different meaning. But, it is not evident that all of the other species share it, and it is between their species and the species they choose to associate with, to a much less effective degree than our own species is capable of.

Thus, I revert back to the fact that only humans have “rights.” ‘Justice’ is a human construct to give protection and to ensure recompense for the individual, not a collective, and these “rights” are strictly negative in the sense that we do not directly harm other people. Rights are a moral claim to not be infringed upon by others. It is my belief that only humans have morals, ethics, rights, and Justice.

Equally so, the world will never be a perfect place and simply wishing others that do not agree with one’s agenda no longer exist makes one part of the problem. Moreover, harming others who do not agree with oneself will not solve the world’s problems. No utopia will exist by wishing away problems and ridding the world of those that use animals for consumption. Vegetarianism, veganism, and animal rights activists need to understand that they are free to make a personal preference, but forcing that on others only infuriates others. By forcefully intertwining our morals, ethics, and Justice with that of other species, it would further complicate our position as individuals in the world. It would become a constant burden in courts, and destroy the very fabric which protects each of us – ‘Justice.’


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The Necessity of Japanese Nationalism for Global Peace

By Ryan Love | USA

Nationalism is the new black. And in the Land of the Rising Sun a necessary resurgence is occurring. Growing threats from North Korea and China, as well as historical tensions with Russia, have led Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare that threats to Japan are at their highest since WWII. With nuclear powers surrounding Japan absent the US-Japanese military alliance Japan could be wiped off the map at worst, and at best become a secondary power in an East Asia rising in prominence. The reason behind these threats is simple: Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The article that prohibits the re-militarization of Japan. Without a strong military, accompanied by nuclear weapons, Japan will likely continue to be threatened by its neighbors.

The Liberal Democratic Party, the party firmly in control of the Japanese Diet, knows all of this. And yet over 70 years of pacifism has rendered the necessary political capital to fund these changes lacking. The most recent poll conducted in Japan holds support of the current constitution at around 55%. And yet Japanese nationalism is on the rise. Nippon Kaigi, the predominant establishment nationalist movement in Japan has members at all levels of government, and frequently in the majority. At over 38,000 members strong Nippon Kaigi has worked successfully to revise history textbooks to omit alleged war crimes and push for reform to allow for the re-militarization of Japan. A demilitarized Japan only serves to allow for further destabilization in East Asia. Particularly because countries like China and both Korea’s harbor malice toward the now-defunct Japanese Empire. As these countries, particularly China and North Korea, continue to expand their military actions only a revitalized Japanese military can prevent these transgressions.

A militarized Japan is one that prevents North Korean missile launches and Chinese expansion into the East and South East China Sea. It also ensures that America has a military ally capable of holding its own if conflicts arise in the future. And make no mistake the risk of conflict in the status quo is exceptionally high. Ask yourself, if Japan was a nuclear power would North Korea continue to shoot missiles into the Sea of Japan? Would China continually infringe upon American interests in East Asia? The answer is no. A strong Japan helps to strengthen the United States. And a self-sufficient Japan, militarily, ensures that the United States doesn’t have to bear such a financial burden for Japanese security, without losing influence in East Asia. Recent estimates from the Council on Foreign Relations put the risk of war at over 40%. The United States needs strong allies in the event of a conflict. Absent a re-militarized Japan the United States sits in a difficult situation, particularly if a conflict involving any combination of China, North Korea, or Russia arises.

Like Americans, the Japanese love their country. And they desire strongly to be able to defend their homeland. 2018 has brought about significant geopolitical threats both for the United States and for one of its closest allies Japan. A restoration of the Emperor to his divine status, as well as a revitalized Japanese military, will display to Japan’s enemies, who are also America’s enemies, that further transgressions must end. Japan should not be ashamed of its history and its culture. Particularly when such shame fuels and allows its enemies to mobilize against it. To war monger would be pessimistic, but with rising threats, it is important that America, and our allies, are at their strongest.