Tag Archives: North Korea

Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA, by Finian Cunningham

There is a long trail of roadkill, those who trusted the US government. From Finian Cunningham at sputniknews.com:

Only a fool would trust anything that comes out of Washington.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Chinese President Xi Jinping at the weekend, vowing greater cooperation to reduce tensions boiling up on the Korean Peninsula. Only a day before, however, Tillerson was threatening that the US would use pre-emptive military strikes against China’s ally North Korea if “we believe” it presented a threat “to us”.

So what’s it to be then? Cooperation or pre-emptive war?

At the same time that Tillerson was seemingly conveying a cordial tone to Beijing, President Trump was mouthing off at home that “North Korea was behaving badly” and that China had not done enough to contain it.
Trump’s comments angered China, with the latter responding it had in fact gone to great lengths over recent years to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula between North Korea and the American ally in the South, by continually calling for dialogue, which the US has continually rebuffed, preferring to play hardball instead.

The weekend exchange is but one brief insight into why Washington cannot be trusted. The president and his top diplomat can’t even articulate a consistent policy for even a few hours. How could one possibly take them seriously?

But Trump and Tillerson’s mixed signals are a mere trifling matter. Why the US cannot be trusted has got much more to with decades of systematic misbehavior by Washington. North Korea “behaving badly,” says Trump. Typical American arrogance and ignorance do not admit the reality of the US behaving atrociously.

The whole specter of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula was created in the first place by the United States. Its decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was motivated by the Soviet Union’s imminent entry into the Pacific War. Washington did not want to see the Soviet Union taking Japanese or Korean territory.

To continue reading: Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA

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War Is Not an Option for Korea, by Christine Ahn

Even best case scenarios for war on the Korean Peninsula are horrific. From Christine Ahn at antiwar.com:

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. “All options are on the table,” Tillerson continued, including “an appropriate response” to any North Korean threat.

The United States and North Korea are like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned last week. North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles off the coast of Japan as thousands of South Korean, Japanese, and US troops, backed by warships and warplanes, are currently engaging in massive military exercises, including the deployment of the Navy SEALS that killed Osama Bin Laden.

With no communication other than military posturing, Pyongyang is left to interpret Washington’s maneuvers as preparation for a preemptive strike. Given the political vacuum in South Korea following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, all tracks are heading towards one destination: war.

At a Council of Foreign Relations discussion on March 13, Mary Beth Long, a former assistant secretary of defense, advocated for “aggressive movement” given the failure of the Obama administration’s strategic patience, which depended heavily on sanctions to further isolate and foment the collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime.

Yet as hawks call upon President Trump to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs through the use of force, they’re undermining the very reason the US military has allegedly been stationed on the Korean peninsula for seven decades: to protect the South Korean people.

Although the fantasy of surgical strikes to topple brutal dictators has long intoxicated American military officials, they’ve been restrained by the sobering reality of such reckless action. In the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton considered a first strike on North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the Pentagon concluded that even limited action would claim a million lives in the first 24 hours – and this was well before Pyongyang possessed nuclear weapons.

To continue reading: War Is Not an Option for Korea

Start Dealing, by Robert Gore

Empires have one historical constant: they fail.

President Trump likes deals and campaigned on his deal-making prowess. Negotiation requires parties who respect each other enough to bargain in good faith. It is a lost art in US foreign policy, replaced by imperatives: we tell you what to do and you do it. This makes the US government the world’s most hated institution. Negotiation poses an existential threat to a Deep State grown powerful and wealthy imposing US dominance on the rest of the world, and increasingly, the American people. Dominance implies unipolarity; negotiation implies multipolarity.

During his campaign, Trump resonated with voters and put the Deep State on alert, voicing two criticisms of unipolarity: its cost and its failures. Trump’s criticism of NATO, particularly of costs borne primarily by the US, should be an opening salvo in a wider war against the costs of US empire. The US has over 800 bases in over 150 countries. The annual expense of maintaining those outposts is substantial, and other personnel costs, high-tech weaponry, and foreign military interventions run into the hundreds of billions. (Foreign interventions are usually kept off budget by one of Washington’s beloved accounting tricks.) Total annual spending for the military and intelligence, including veterans benefits, is close to $1 trillion.

There is significant waste and corruption. The Defense Department has never passed an audit, and trillions of dollars remain unaccounted for. Most of the intelligence agencies’ budgets are “black box”—undisclosed—but waste and corruption on a comparable scale is probably a safe assumption.

US FOREIGN POLICY: A FAT TARGET FOR SATIRE

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All that money has bought multiple failures. The US has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a chaotic quagmire that has led to increased terrorism and refugee flows in the millions. Trump’s campaign adroitly played on popular fears of refugees and terrorism, but he’s maintaining the policies that produce them. More US forces are being sent to Iraq and Syria, and one special forces’ operation in Yemen has resulted in the first US military death (and the deaths of at least 10 Yemeni civilians) on Trump’s watch. He has shown no inclination to stop or curtail drone strikes, covert operations, or proxy warfare.

Trump’s military policy in the Middle East has been indistinguishable from Obama’s, and a subtle diplomatic shift demonstrates that US unipolarity, rather than multipolar “deals,” will continue to be the order of the day. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was a throwback to presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, who negotiated arms control agreements with hostile powers. It has achieved its primary aim—nobody claims Iran is now developing nuclear weapons—yet Trump and team continuously criticize it. Iran has taken a substantial risk with the nuclear treaty. Muammar Gaddafi explicitly renounced nuclear weapons and terminated Libya’s embryonic program, while Saddam Hussein never had them, and the US violently deposed both of them. ( And US officials wonder why North Korea “clings” to its nuclear program!) Yet, Trump officials have put Iran “on notice,” called for renewed sanctions, and rattled the invasion sabers because Iran fired missiles that were not banned in the agreement.

An objective assessment of repressive “state sponsors of terrorism” in the Middle East would conclude that Saudi Arabia is at least as culpable, if not more so, than Iran. Saudi Arabia has supported al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (which Iran is fighting) in Syria and Iraq. It is waging war against its tiny, impoverished neighbor, Yemen, on the unproven contention that the Houthi rebels they’re fighting are an Iranian proxy force. Al Queda in Yemen has been the beneficiary of this Saudi campaign. The US has been helping the Saudis, providing weapons and other military and intelligence support. After a Saudi missile, bought from the US, struck a Yemeni funeral, killing over 100 people, Obama held up an arms sale, but Trump is reconsidering and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pushing for it. Thousands of its citizens are dying of malnutrition, but relief convoys can’t get through because Saudi Arabia has bombed much of the infrastructure. Yet, nobody is putting Saudi Arabia “on notice.” Trump recently sat down with the Saudi deputy crown prince for a convivial lunch.

Yemen marks the latest in a string of American military adventures stretching back to Korea. These forays have increased the power and wealth of the US military-industrial-intelligence complex, but have not attained any concrete military objective, i.e., winning. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Trump has promoted some of failure’s architects to prominent places in his administration, and he’s increasing the military’s already bloated budget, with no check on its spendthrift ways. Notwithstanding failure’s staggering costs in blood and treasure, substantial elements of the foreign policy, military, and intelligence establishment, (including Hillary Clinton), want to train their sights on Syria, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. After sixteen years the US cannot win a war in Afghanistan, but they want to take on the world’s second and third largest military forces (and nuclear arsenals) and three of their allies.

Trump’s voters elected him to reject, not buy into, the establishment and Clinton’s absurdity. Russia and China do not have the economic or military strength to build empires. (Nobody does; empires dissipate, not increase, strength.) They recognize the multipolarity the US rejects, and are leading diplomatic, financial, and economic initiatives with nations stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe. Whatever noises Trump made about establishing better relations with Russia have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the Russian “election hacking” and undue influence allegations. His administration’s stance towards China has been nonstop bluster. Last week Tillerson told North Korea it had better shape up or else, the “else” being possible US military action (LINK). As Justin Raimondo has argued, the tense and highly militarized situation on the Korean peninsula requires negotiations between the US, the Koreas, and China; saber rattling could lead to Korean War II or worse.

Trash talk, gestures, and threats may play well to domestic crowds, but they don’t get you far in international relations. If Trump engages in skirmishes over the Deep State’s surveillance of him, but carries water for its disastrous policies, including its surveillance of the American people, then his election was a waste of time. He can recognize the evolving multipolar world and negotiate, compromise, and deal, or he can try to maintain the US’s fading dominance. If he chooses the former, he has a shot at greatness. If he chooses the latter, his presidency will fail with the US empire.

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“Military Action Is On The Table”: Tillerson Warns “Patience” With North Korea Has Ended, by Tyler Durden

Would the US really take military action against North Korea when China is its ally and next-door neighbor? Call SLL skeptical. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The U.S. policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in South Korea on Friday quoted by Reuters, adding that military action would be “on the table” if North Korea elevated the threat level. Tillerson said that 20 years of trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program had “failed” and that he was visiting Asia “to exchange views on a new approach.”

“I think it’s important to recognize that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearization have failed,” Tillerson said. “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told a news conference in Seoul and added that any North Korean actions that threatened the South would be met with “an appropriate response.”

Rex Tillerson speaks as South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se looks on during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea March 17, 2017.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson said when asked about military action.

The harshly worded warning came as Tillerson began his first Asian visit as secretary of state; after Japan and South Korea, he will travel to China on Saturday with a main focus on finding a “new approach” on North Korea after what he described as two decades of failed efforts to denuclearize the insular nation.

To continue reading: “Military Action Is On The Table”: Tillerson Warns “Patience” With North Korea Has Ended

How To End the Korean War, by Justin Raimondo

Amazingly, the Korean War has never officially ended. In that fact, there may be an opportunity to negotiate some sort of resolution to the problematic Korean Peninsula situation short of war. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

What in the name of all that’s holy is going on in North Korea?

This question is always hard to answer because they don’t call it the Hermit Kingdom for nothing. Very little comes out of the notoriously reclusive – and repressive – Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, and not that much gets in. But occasionally there is a burst of activity that, like the eruption of a volcano, is hard to miss – the recent launching of four ballistic missiles being one of them.

The missiles landed in the Sea of Japan, about 190 miles off the Japanese coast, sending shockwaves throughout the region. Both Tokyo and Seoul protested, while the North Koreans characterized the action as a logical reaction to the perceived threat of imminent military action by the US and South Korea. Pyongyang’s fear is not unfounded.

The exercises, conducted jointly by US and South Korea and dubbed “Foal Eagle,” are a dress rehearsal for all-out war with the North. In addition to the USS Carl Vinson and a strike force of two guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, the US sent in a squadron of stealth fighter jets as well as B-52s and B-1Bs – these latter capable of carrying nuclear payloads. “Foal Eagle” is an annual exercise, but every year the amount of US firepower gets bigger – and in the context of rapidly rising tensions between Pyongyang and the rest of the world, this does nothing to ease the former’s well-known paranoia.

But it isn’t just paranoia that is motivating North Korean behavior: for the first time, there is open talk in US ruling circles of launching a preemptive strike against the regime of Kim Jong Un. As Time magazine puts it:

“Taking out North Korea’s two major nuclear sites with air strikes would be dangerous but probably not too difficult, U.S. officials say. The possibility of North Korean retaliation against Seoul, South Korea’s capital of 10 million and only 35 miles from North Korea, would be a complicating factor, they concede.”

Yes, the continued existence of 10 million South Koreas, not to mention the 30,000 or so American soldiers stationed on the peninsula, is indeed “a complicating factor.” That’s one way of putting it.

To continue reading: How To End the Korean War

The Four Horsemen Of The Trumpocalypse, by Charles Goyette

Charles Goyette does a good job outlining the odds of war with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, although the sentimental favorite at SLL remains None of the Above. From Goyette at lewrockwell.com:

It’s a horse race.

Will Donald Trump’s first new war be with Russia, Iran, China, or North Korea?

Here are some things to consider as you try to handicap this deadly contest:

RUSSIA:

It is a certainty that a war of principals or proxies with Russia remains a chief objective of the neocons and the Deep State. If Victoria Nuland in Kiev didn’t convince you of this, recall Murray Rothbard’s trenchant observation that “sanctions are simply the coward’s and the babbler’s halfway house to war,” and it is clear we have been on the way to war with Russia for some time.

All that could ever have been hoped from Donald Trump was that if elected president he would deflect Washington’s headlong rush to a Russian war, beginning with the lifting of sanctions. Judging today by the way he has populated his administration, I no longer have any hope that Trump will change that trajectory.

Look at it this way. For Donald Trump to have survived and flourished in New York and New Jersey real estate development, he had to have a keen sense of the hidden power interests that he needed to appease: Which union or brotherhood had to be guaranteed building contracts, which suppliers must be used, and which politicians need to be greased to win zoning and other approvals. Beginning with the Flynn episode and other surveillance and leaks, the President is being schooled by the permanent government. Whatever else you may say about him, he is a quick learner. Unquestionably, in its few short weeks in Washington, the Trump team’s rhetoric about Russia has toughened and official U.S. behavior is again growing bellicose.

To continue reading: The Four Horsemen Of The Trumpocalypse

Mad About THAAD: An Untimely Decision, by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov excoriates the US government for its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea. From Gurtov at antiwar.com:

The US decision, supported by the South Korean government, to deploy an antimissile system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) may be one of the most thoughtless strategic moves in a generation. The official US argument is that close-in defense against North Korean missiles is necessary. But the deployment has resulted in the following: an argument in China for increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile; an incentive in North Korea for moving rapidly ahead to develop its long-range missile capability; a deep fissure in China-South Korea relations; roiling of South Korean politics at a time when its corrupt president has been impeached; and a new issue in Sino-US relations.

Most of these negatives were well known when THAAD was initially on the drawing board several years ago. Yet they were thrust into the background on the argument that the North Korean missile threat to the continental US was so pressing as to warrant building a defense against it. Never mind that any North Korean missile attack, whether on South Korea, Japan, or the US, would result in the immediate and utter destruction of North Korea military and political institutions, as Kim Jong-un and his colleagues surely understand. But rather than consider the possibility that North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile buildup is intended to deter a US attack, and rather than weigh a new diplomatic overture to the North that might reduce tensions and thus the need for THAAD, US leaders in the last two administrations went ahead. Lay the decision at the door of the “military-industrial complex” if you will, the fact remains that planning and deployment of THAAD is a decision where the risks and costs far outweigh any benefit.

To continue reading: Mad About THAAD: An Untimely Decision