Tag Archives: North Korea

The True Danger of the North Korea Crisis: It Could Cost America Its Allies, by Robert Kelly

Would the US wage a war that might kill millions of South Koreans or Japanese without consulting South Korea or Japan? It would be a colossal mistake, but the US government has made a lot of colossal foreign policy mistakes lately. From Robert Perry at strategic-culture.org:

If Washington takes action without consulting its allies, the alliances themselves could fray

Tough North Korea rhetoric from the U.S. administration continues. Major South Korean media increasingly talk as if U.S. air strikes are likely, and theexpert community seems increasingly resigned to them as well. Despite constant criticism of his incendiary language, President Donald Trump continues to suggest that major action against North Korea is imminent—most recently by suggesting that we are now in a period of ‘calm before the storm.’

I have argued in these pages that such strikes would be an enormous risk. We do not know what the North’s redlines for retaliation against such a strike are. We do not know if the strikes would so unnerve the North’s elites that war was next, that they would respond with enormous force, possibly including nuclear weapons. An expert study of this scenario suggests appalling casualty numbers. We also do not know what China’s thresholds are for intervention. China is treaty-bound to help North Korea if it is attacked. It may not, but if a U.S. air strike against North Korea spirals into a major conflict, then the likelihood of Chinese intervention rises.

It is also worth noting that even if the Chinese and North Koreans do not respond to air strikes, North Korea will almost certainly deploy human shields as soon as the bombs start to fall. And the North has so many targets that the United States would like to hit, that any ‘air strike’ would look a lot more like a major air campaign and not a quick ‘surgical strike,’ as in Syria earlier this year. An air campaign against sites with human shields means a high civilian death toll. The North Koreans will not make this easy for us at all.

White House officials, most importantly Secretary of Defense James Mattis, continue to suggest that diplomacy is the preferred outcome. And there are options to continue to buy us time against the North Korean nuclear and missile programs: missile defense, sanctions, continuing to cajole China to push North Korea harder and so on. Nevertheless, the pressure to something dramatic regarding North Korea is rising. If war is inevitable — it is not, but for the sake of the argument—it is better to fight now, before they have more weapons, and before those weapons can more evidently strike the continental United States. Even Kim Young-sam, South Korea’s president at the time of the 1994 nuclear crisis, has retrospectively regretted his decision not to strike then.

To continue reading: The True Danger of the North Korea Crisis: It Could Cost America Its Allies

Advertisements

Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence, by Nicolas J.S. Davies

Perhaps hacked South Korean military computers files detailing US plans to murder Kim Jong Un  and launch an all out attack on North Korea might have something to do with Kim’s “paranoia” and “craziness.” From Nicolas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:

The Western media has been awash in speculation as to why, about a year ago, North Korea’s “crazy” leadership suddenly launched a crash program to vastly improve its ballistic missile capabilities. That question has now been answered.

In September 2016, North Korean cyber-defense forces hacked into South Korean military computers and downloaded 235 gigabytes of documents. The BBC has revealed that the documents included detailed U.S. plans to assassinate North Korea’s president, Kim Jong Un, and launch an all-out war on North Korea. The BBC’s main source for this story is Rhee Cheol-Hee, a member of the Defense Committee of the South Korean National Assembly.

These plans for aggressive war have actually been long in the making. In 2003, the US scrapped an agreement signed in 1994 under which North Korea suspended its nuclear program and the US agreed to build two light water reactors in North Korea. The two countries also agreed to a step-by-step normalization of relations. Even after the US scrapped the 1994 Agreed Framework in 2003, North Korea did not restart work on the two reactors frozen under that agreement, which could by now be producing enough plutonium to make several nuclear weapons every year.

However, since 2002-03, when President George W. Bush included North Korea in his “axis of evil,” withdrew from the Agreed Framework, and launched an invasion of Iraq over bogus WMD claims, North Korea once again began enriching uranium and making steady progress toward developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

By 2016, the North Koreans also were keenly aware of the horrific fate of Iraq and Libya and their leaders after the countries did surrender their unconventional weapons. Not only did the US lead bloody “regime change” invasions but the nations’ leaders were brutally murdered, Saddam Hussein by hanging and Muammar Gaddafi sodomized with a knife and then summarily shot in the head.

So, the discovery of the US war plan in 2016 sounded alarm bells in Pyongyang and triggered an unprecedented crash program to quickly expand North Korea’s ballistic missile program. Its nuclear weapons tests established that it can produce a small number of first-generation nuclear weapons, but it needed a viable delivery system before it could be sure that its nuclear deterrent would be credible enough to deter a US attack.

To continue reading: Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

Trump’s Scary Nuclear Doctrine, by Alastair Crooke

The scariest part of Trump’s nuclear doctrine is that nobody knows what it is, perhaps not even Trump. From Alastair Crooke at consortiumnews.com:

Pleasing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and terrifying almost everybody else, President Trump is threatening nuclear war against North Korea and, by implication, war with Iran, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.

There are acres of print analyzing “will he, or won’t he” in respect to President Trump taking military action in North Korea. And equally, volumes on what Trump may intend to do in respect of Iran: Is he engaged primarily in rhetorical “theatre” to please his base, and earn press plaudits; or is he girding up for attrition (hot or cold) against Iran?

Illustration by Chesley Bonestell of nuclear bombs detonating over New York City, entitled “Hiroshima U.S.A.” Colliers, Aug. 5, 1950.

The unanswered question is: does President Trump regard North Korea and Iran as somehow connected (albeit that Iran has no nuclear weapons, and no nuclear weapons program)? Certainly one person – one who talks to the Trump family a lot – does think the two are directly linked.

Jeffrey Sachs, who listened to Trump’s speech at the United Nations, in which the President said he was ready to “totally destroy” North Korea, tells us about the audience reaction: “Well, you could hear shuffling, chuckles, amazement, gasps, a few applause. There was Netanyahu enthusiastically applauding. It was a very odd scene. I am still a bit shaken by it.”

Of course, for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some neoconservatives, a U.S. attack on the Korean nuclear program sets a wonderful precedent for Iran – for now or for the future.

We just do not know. Trump’s former career as a reality TV host has left him with a predilection for teasing and hype (“just tune in again next week, to learn more”). What is increasingly plain is that those on the inside – such as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee – are equally unsure whether President Trump is about to unleash “World War III” – or not.

To continue reading: Trump’s Scary Nuclear Doctrine

Trump: Rhetoric vs. Reality, by Justin Raimondo

Regardless of rhetoric, President Trump is not going to start a war with North Korea. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Don’t mistake the bluster for policy

With Donald Trump in the White House, merrily tweeting whatever disruptive and disturbing sentiments erupt from his consciousness in the early morning hours, hysteria has become the default condition of our pundit class. Trump tweets that “only one thing” can stop Korean despot Kim Jong-un’s nuclear pyrotechnics, and the editorialists swing into action, while the Democrats point gleefully to the prospect of World War III: “See? We told you he’s nuts!”

Add to this the widespread belief that Kim Jong-un is a “madman,” and the hysteria of the chattering classes reaches fever pitch: we’ve got no less than two crazy people with nuclear weapons, and they’re about to blow up the world! Oh no!

The problem with this scenario is that it has nothing to do with reality: it’s a rhetorical construct, based on the verbal extravagances of actors whose entire modus operandi depends on a constant stream of bluster, bluff, and unmitigated bullshit.

For Kim and the North Koreans, this strategy has served them well: long after the fall of communism, the withdrawal of Soviet protection, and their alienation from Beijing, the last bastion of old-style Stalinism continues to defy the West. It has taken a monomaniacal focus on a single goal – the complete militarization of their society, resulting in the utter impoverishment of the populace – but the North Koreans have managed to do it: while their little Sparta would ultimately lose a war with the United States, the price they would make us pay is far too high for the preventive war so many fear to be “on the table,” as our rulers routinely put it. North Korean artillery perched on hillsides within range of Seoul – South Korea’s bustling capital, with a population of some ten million – would wreak devastation on a scale not seen since Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden. North Korea’s one-milion-plus Army would pour over the border and smash through both the South Korean defense forces and the 30,000 or so US military personnel currently (and foolishly) stationed on the peninsula.

To continue reading: Trump: Rhetoric vs. Reality

Humor is Where You Find It, by Robert Gore

Looking for a good laugh? Consider the United States.

Football is a tedious game that fills three-and-a-half hours of airtime with 30 minutes of action, commercials, commentary, instant replays, more instant replays, closeups of pretty cheerleaders, and halftime pageantry. The players are paid great gobs of money but run the risk of rendering themselves concussive basket cases. The super rich owners hold up municipalities for taxpayer-funded stadiums while keeping the TV, ticket, merchandising, and concessions revenues. They’ve also climbed into bed with the federal government, accepting taxpayer money for promoting patriotism. Among other things, this requires players, who until 2009 could stay in the locker room while the National Anthem was played, to be on the field, presumably standing at respectful attention.

Presumably—aye, there’s the rub. Last season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed his disagreement with certain governmental policies and practices by kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. Since then, other players have done the same, to the consternation of many fans, including President Trump. Ratings and attendance are tanking and the crony socialist owners are caught between the rock of their payrolls’ politics and the hard place of their fans’ disgust. To borrow from Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to ponder their plight without laughing. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of guys and gals.

Last year’s losing presidential candidate has written a book blaming virtually everyone for her loss…except the one person who was responsible. A cottage industry has sprung up to feed this self-exculpatory fantasy, affixing on Russia as the author of Hillary’s woes. Russia “hacked” DNC computers, except technically they couldn’t have been hacked, they were downloaded, an inside job. The materials Russia couldn’t have hacked were given by someone, presumably whoever downloaded them, to WikiLeaks, which disclosed them. Doing so, it committed the cardinal sin in contemporary American governance: disclosing the truth. In classic Clinton fashion, Hillary and team never contested the authenticity or veracity of the disclosures, instead concocting the Russian story.

Efforts to keep this fabrication going are a source of endless amusement. There have been evidence-free “assessments” from the intelligence agencies, a special counsel probing the tax returns of a Trump campaign manager who served all of two months, and now there are stories that “Russian-aligned” groups and RT bought a drop-in-the-bucket worth of ads on Facebook and Twitter during a campaign in which billions of dollars were spent on advertising, not counting the unpaid “donations” to Hillary from the mainstream media, pollsters, Google, and Facebook.

The purveyors of the Russian concoction are those desperately lonely schmucks who take the ugliest girls in the bar home at closing time because they’re the only ones left. The concoction is all they have. Let’s hope they have the decency to hate themselves in the morning.

America is like that high school all-everything—sports star, class president, valedictorian—who can’t accept that at the university, she’s just another student. For a brief shining moment after World War II it had an uncontested empire, but empires are notoriously hard to hang on to. Seventy years later the US has a string of “inconclusive” (never “losing”) wars, a lot of promises to its own citizens that aren’t going to be kept, and an empire that’s slipping away. Its chief adversaries—Russia, China, and Iran—are going about their business, consolidating economic and political power in the Eurasian center of the world.

They’ve been helped immeasurably by the comedy of errors that has been US policy in Syria. The same people who championed disastrous regime changes in Iraq and Libya set their sights on Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s duly elected leader. That this entailed crawling into bed with ISIS, an offshoot of al Qaeda, the outfit that reportedly attacked the twin towers and the Pentagon, seemed not to bother anyone. Neither did the fact that while we were supporting ISIS’s rebellion in Syria, we were also supporting the Iraqi government’s effort to quell ISIS’s rebellion in Iraq. Why is it that the butt of all the jokes often ends up picking up the tab? The US wasted tons of blood and treasury, accomplished none of its stated goals, and was humiliated when, at the request of Assad, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah came in and routed ISIS. You can’t make this stuff up.

Even the US’s supposed friends can’t stifle their schadenfreude, having been under its domination for so long. Derisive joy is tempered by justified concern: in its arrogance and desperation to maintain its untenable position, those zany Americans might blow up the world. The president recently stood before the United Nations, an organization ostensibly devoted to peace, and said he’d destroy North Korea. Maybe it was all just posturing and hyperbole in good fun, but the North Koreans, and their next-door neighbors China and Russia, weren’t laughing.

The US has become an infantile nation. Not playing well with others, it demands the world conform to its dictates…or else. That or else is basically holding its breath until it turns blue, as it self-destructively plunges further into debt and wreaks havoc globally, instilling fear and hate, prompting vengeance. Fealty to a failing government and its symbols has become the sine qua non of a ritual, insecure patriotism. Real patriotism, loyalty to America’s founding ideals, demands opposing at every turn the government’s mindless, unprincipled, and voracious quest for power, treasure, and empire. If the flag and the National Anthem mean anything at all, they stand for the proposition that liberty must be defended and fought for, particularly against that which has always been its chief nemesis—government. Now, they only serve as sad markers of how much has been lost.

AMERICA AT ITS GREATEST


AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Trump Fails to Understand North Korea Existential Fears, by Wayne Madsen

The North Korean “crisis” is not insoluable, but it will require the US to at least understand the North Korean perspective. From Wayne Madsen at lewrockwell.com:

Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric aimed at North Korea is evidence that neither he nor his administration grasp the historic paranoia of the North Korean government. The fear in Pyongyang that North Korea will become a ceded territory in a big power agreement has been a factor since the days of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. This existential threat also formed the policies of Kim Il Sung’s successors – his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the present leader, Kim Jong Un.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who knows North Korea well, has called for a toning down of the rhetoric from the U.S. side. Carter also refers to North Korea by its formal name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK. In August of this year, Carter released a statement on U.S.-DPRK relations:

“I have visited North Korea three times, and have spent more than 20 hours in discussions with their political leaders regarding important issues that affect U.S.-DPRK relations.

In June 1994, I met with Kim Il Sung in a time of crisis, when he agreed to put all their nuclear programs under strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and to seek mutual agreement with the United States on a permanent peace treaty, to have summit talks with the president of South Korea, to expedite the recovery of the remains of American service personnel buried in his country, and to take other steps to ease tension on the peninsula. Kim Il Sung died shortly after my visit, and his successor, Kim Jong Il, notified me and leaders in Washington that he would honor the promises made by his father.”

To continue reading: Trump Fails to Understand North Korea Existential Fears

 

A Failing Empire, Part 1: Russia & China’s Military Strategy To Contain The US, by Federico Pieraccini

The US’s adversaries are now strong enough to challenge the US’s unipolar dominance. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

Looking at the global political landscape over the last month, two trends are becoming more apparent. The infamous military and economic power at America’s disposal is declining, whereas in the multipolar field, an acceleration has occurred in the creation of a series of infrastructures, mechanisms and procedures to contain and limit the negative effects of America’s declining unipolar moment. This series of three articles will focus firstly on the military aspect of these ongoing changes, then the economics at play, and finally, how and why smaller countries are transitioning from the unipolar camp to the multipolar field.

One of the most tangible consequences of the decline of US military power can be observed in the Syrian conflict. Over the past few weeks, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have completed the historic and strategic liberation of Deir ez-Zor, a city besieged for more than five years by Islamists belonging to Al Qaeda and Daesh. The focus has now shifted to the oilfields south of the liberated city, with a frantic rush by both the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the SAA to free territories still held by Daesh. The final goal is to claim Syria’s resources and strengthen a weak US position (the US is not even part of the Astana peace talks) in future negotiations concerning the country’s future. To understand how much the US dream of partitioning Syria is failing, one only need note repeated US failures as seen in the liberation of Aleppo and then Deir Ez-Zor, and now the crossing of the Euphrates river. In spite of American intimidation, threats, and sometimes even direct aggression, the Syrian army continued to work against Daesh in the province of Deir Ez-Zor, advancing on oil rich sites. Thanks to the protection given by the Russian Federation Air Force during the conflict, Damascus has obtained a protective umbrella necessary to withstand attempts by the US of balkanize the country.

To continue reading: A Failing Empire, Part 1: Russia & China’s Military Strategy To Contain The US