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North Korea – As Trump Threatens, the Nation Still Struggles with America’s Lethal Legacy

NOVANEWS
 

“Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ … More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” (Amnesty International, 1996.)

As the US threatens to decimate North Korea again – if not the entire planet, given Donald Trump’s chillingly casual approach to the use of nuclear weapons – an article (1) has revealed the criminal legacy remaining from America’s last attack, ending sixty four years ago, on a country smaller than Mississippi. (North Korea is a landmass of 120,540 square kilometers, Mississippi is 125,443 square kilometers.)

“Experts say it will take a hundred years to clean up all of the unexploded ordnance”, says Major Jong Il Hyon: “but I think it will take much longer.”

Major Jong has lost five colleagues in the still ongoing ordnance disposal work and “carries a lighter one gave him before he died. He also bears a scar on his left cheek from a bomb disposal mission gone wrong.”

In Hamhung, the country’s second largest city three hundred and seventy mortar rounds were found in an elementary school playground in October last year, with a rusted, lethal round discovered nearby in February this year.

“Bombs, mortars and pieces of live ammunition” are still found in “thousands.” “Virtually all of it is American”, but “over a dozen” countries “fought on the US side and every now and then their bombs will turn up as well.”

In the region this lethal legacy is mirrored in: “Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and even Japan”, with a “huge amount of unexploded ordnance” needed to be disposed of by those courageous enough to risk their lives, daily, doing it.

The scale of the regional horror is near incomprehensible. For example:

“From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions – equal to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, twenty four hours a day, for nine years …” (2.)

Laos, 1983. An intensive bombing campaign, coupled with artillery battles on land, has left the landscape in some areas of Laos filled with craters. Photo: Titus Peachey

It is thought that possibly a third of the bombs did not explode and over twenty thousand people have been killed by unexploded ordnance since.

Moreover:

“Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War (210 million more bombs than were dropped on Iraq in 1991, 1998 and 2003 combined); up to 80 million did not detonate.”

Less than 1% of these munitions have been destroyed, with commensurate deaths and maimings ongoing.

The US is undoubtedly the “Leader of the Free World” in one thing: killing. It is also clearly the undisputed king of overkill and the most murderous of legacies, ensuring its actions will never be forgotten or indeed forgiven by the populations affected. Which of course, is why North Korea is trying to ensure it is powerfully enough armed to deter another attack. Whatever it has or has not achieved in this respect, compared to America’s planet threatening nuclear arsenal, it is utterly insignificant, for all Washington’s undiplomatic, bombastic bluster.

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson statement regarding North Korea that: “(Trump) has made it clear to me to continue our diplomatic efforts – which we are. As I’ve told others, those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops”, is hardly likely to encourage anything but frantic efforts at armed deterrence – whilst still clearing the poisoned legacy from over half a century ago.

Major Jong’s “bomb squad is one of nine … one for each province. His unit alone handled 2,900 left over explosives – including bombs, mortars and live artillery shells, last year.” This year: “they have already disposed of about 1,200.”

North Korea has said that 400,000 bombs were dropped on the capitol, Pyongyang: “roughly one bomb for every resident at the time.” 32,500 tons of napalm was also dropped on the country.

Some bombs are not easily recognizable to the untrained eye, Major Jong pointed out, thus an eleven year old lost his fingers investigating an item he had found. There are a “surprising variety.” He described one as a “butterfly bomb” which had “wing like attachments to disperse small ‘bomblets’ over a wider area.” It was “devised by the Nazis in World War 11. The US revised its design and used them in North Korea”, points out Associated Press.

Aging bombs become even more unstable, rust erodes detonators, thus the slightest movement causes them to explode.

“I’m sure that my daughter’s generation will also suffer from this problem”, said Major Jong: “I want the world to know.”

Historian Charles Armstrong of Columbia University points out that the saturation bombing:

“marked something of a turning point for the United States and was followed by the use of an even heavier version during the Vietnam war.”

He also makes the point, ignored by the blinkered and apparently supremely ignorant new incumbent in the White House that:

“To this day the North Korean Government and media point to the American bombing as a war crime and a major justification for the continued mobilization of the North Korean people – as well as the development of nuclear weapons – in defence against nuclear attacks.”

Has anyone on Capitol Hill heard of “cause and effect”?

Notes

2. http://legaciesofwar.org/about-laos/secret-war-laos/

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Korea: Diplomacy that Opens the Door to Healing and Reunification

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An Open Letter to the President of the United States, Donald Trump From Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, United Methodist Church

Featured image: Bishop Hee-Soo Jung

Mr. President, I respectfully write to you with four appeals.

First, I want to appeal to you for exemplary leadership in the case of North Korea. In a volatile and dangerous situation, a calm, cool, well-reasoned response is necessary. Our American media gives a limited, and somewhat biased view of what is happening on the Korean peninsula. Certainly there is evidence of rash and short-sighted decisions; but such evidence demands a more mature and measured response from global super-powers. North Korea needs to be taken seriously, and offered an opportunity to relate on the global stage. Name-calling and angry threats cannot make this situation better. But diplomacy that opens the door to healing and reunification is vitally important. The Korean War is yet to end, and the armistice in place is no substitute for a peace treaty. Further violence and damage is unneeded and unnecessary. Continued diplomatic conversations – such as those with South Korea and Japan – must include leadership from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). At the very least, the United States must rise above the caustic rhetoric to offer a better way. We must offer a witness of peace, not violence. Jesus Christ reminds us, “blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9a)

Second, I appeal for a commitment to lead the globe, and not just our own country. Economic justice, access to education, open source technology, and freedom of movement provide our entire world with hope for the future. By keeping open borders, we allow those most likely to become enemies to become friends and allies. Young people of all races, creeds, countries, and ethnicities contribute to global peace and security as they obtain greater promise of economic justice and equal opportunity. Our DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policies are a bright and shining hope for our whole planet. The more we support the youth of the world today, the more we lay a foundation for peace and security for our future. We have more than enough to share. We should be the country of open hearts, open minds, and open doors – a visionary commitment of The United Methodist Church. Open hands, as well, are a gesture of peace and hope for the future. This is what makes America truly great. Again, Jesus admonishes, “For if you only love those who love you, what reward have you?” Matthew 5:46a)

Third, I implore you to call for unity and reconciliation throughout the country. The growing polarities threaten to tear us apart, and when comments are made to further divide us, it does irreparable violence to our country. Racism, sexism, bigotry, insult, and attack have no place in our country; and they undermine our ability to provide leadership in the world. We are developing a planet-wide reputation for intolerance, injustice, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and incivility. We must follow an ethical high road. Where others resort to insult, mockery, and coarse language, we must maintain dignity, integrity and grace. Where others resort to weakness and violence, we must maintain strength through reason and common sense. When a Charlottesville occurs, we must name the evil as unacceptable behavior for what it is, and we must stand for what is good, right, and just. When professional athletes exercise their inalienable rights to protest, we should not attack and insult them, calling them names and shaming them for their heartfelt beliefs. Again, hear the teaching of Jesus: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matthew 7:2)

Fourth, Mr. President, I want to appeal to you to make politics secondary to service. The poor, the marginalized, those needing healthcare and social rescue are not enemies, nor are they a problem to be eliminated or destroyed. As far as the Affordable Care Act, fix what is broken, but do not destroy the good that has been achieved. Democratic leaders are not enemies; they are opponents. The legacy of the Obama Administration does nothing to reflect on you as our leader now. Please do not waste time “dismantling” what has come before. You won the election. You are President. Nothing your predecessors do, did, or said means anything at this point. Please do not look backwards; look ahead. Please do not destroy, but work to create. Do not tear down, but build up. For the stronger we are, the better we will lead. Jesus offers the instruction to build upon solid rock, rather than shifting sand. (Matthew 7:24-27) We need a firm and solid foundation upon which all can stand.

Mr. President, our country – our world – needs LEADERSHIP. We have a unique opportunity to make our global community strong, safe and productive. We need allies. We need connection. We need to take seriously the Biblical metaphor to be light in the darkness, a grand and glorious city on the hill. (Matthew 5:14) You said that you wanted to make America great again. Please keep this promise, and be a leader for peace, for progress, for unity, and for promise.

Grace and Peace,

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung

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Is Trump’s “Friend” Kissinger Steering Him from Calm to Storm?

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Henry Kissinger, seemingly returned from oblivion, has been in the ear of “old friend” Trump since mid-primary season, just after Trump declared himself open to negotiation with North Korea. Since that moment, Trump’s stance and rhetoric have veered inexorably toward war.

President Donald Trump met with top defense officials Tuesday morning — including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Joseph Dunford — in the White House Situation Room, to discuss potential options for responding to any North Korean “aggression” as well as how to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with nuclear weapons.

The meeting, which was later confirmed by the State Department and a White House press release, came a day after Mattis instructed the U.S. Army to stand ready if North Korea diplomacy fails, and less than a week after Trump’s cryptic “calm before the storm” comments about a previous meeting with top military commanders. Some have noted that the decision to have the meeting in the Situation Room, sometimes called the War Room, was significant, as it is often used to hold secure meetings regarding disasters, military conflicts, and other major crises both domestic and global.

While most reporting gave some context to Trump’s most recent meeting with top defense officials on tensions with Pyongyang, hardly any mentioned that the meeting had been immediately preceded by another. This meeting, also on the topic of North Korea, was held between the president and former Secretary of State and unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger.

In his post-meeting remarks, Trump praised Kissinger’s ‘immense talent.’

“Henry Kissinger has been a friend of mine,” he added. “I’ve liked him. I’ve respected him. But we’ve been friends for a long time, long before my emergence into the world of politics, which has not been too long.”

Kissinger is also a long-time advisor and confidante of Trump’s former rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday’s meeting was not the first occasion Trump has met with Kissinger since becoming a fixture in American politics. The pair’s first meeting after Trump’s rise to political prominence took place in May of 2016.  That meeting occurred a day after then-candidate Trump said he would open dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if elected President. Since that initial meeting, Kissinger and Trump met last November and have already met twice this year.

After their November meeting, Kissinger remarked that Trump would likely not be keeping all his campaign promises, as he was undergoing “the transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist.” This apparently included his promise of opening dialogue with North Korea.

While often characterized by the mainstream press as a leading “statesman” and “diplomat,” Kissinger’s record shows he is anything but. While serving as Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Kissinger oversaw a bloody coup in Chile, an illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia, and millions dead in Vietnam.

Despite overseeing such actions, Kissinger ended up being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in the same year as the Chilean coup, for his role in bringing “peace” to Vietnam and ending the Vietnam war, though he had actually worked to extend it. The choice of Kissinger was so outrageous that several members of the Nobel committee resigned in protest. Kissinger is also credited with transforming U.S. foreign policy into one of perpetual, undeclared war – a policy that continues today and one that Trump has embraced since becoming President.

Given Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and threats towards North Korea – as well as his rejection of diplomacy in resolving the crisis despite both Pyongyang’s and his own State Department’s apparent willingness to attempt it – Kissinger’s timely guidance to the President during “the calm before the storm” should give the American public considerable cause for concern.

Watch | Henry Kissinger on his 2016 meeting with Donald Trump

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Who are the War Criminals? Truman’s 1951 “Fire and Fury” against The People of North Korea

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Image: Truman and MacArthur on Wake Island

“Fire and Fury” was not invented by Donald Trump. It is a concept deeply embedded in US military doctrine. It has characterized US military interventions since the end of World War II.

What distinguishes Trump from his predecessors in the White House is his political narrative at the UN General Assembly.

President Truman was a firm advocate of “Fire and Fury” against the people of both North and South Korea.

What most people in America do not know –and which is particularly relevant when assessing the alleged “threats” of the DPRK to World peace– is that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of  US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings. Every single family in North Korea lost a loved one in the course of the Korean War.

Pyongyang 1953

The criminal bombings of Pyongyang in 1951 ordered by president Truman, were opposed by General Douglas MacArthur who was commander of allied forces in Korea:

“A defiant Douglas MacArthur appeared before Congress and spoke of human suffering so horrifying that his parting glimpse of it caused him to vomit.

“I have never seen such devastation,” the general told members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. At that time, in May 1951, the Korean War was less than a year old. Casualties, he estimated, were already north of 1 million.

“I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man,” he added, “and it just curdled my stomach.”  (quoted by the Washington Post, August 10, 2017)

The DPRK’s Foreign Minister’s Cable to the United Nations Security Council confirms the nature of the atrocities committed by the US against the people of North Korea under the banner of the United Nations:

See original below.

“ON JANUARY 3 AT 10:30 AM, AN ARMADE OF 82 FLYING FORTRESSES LOOSED THEIR DEATH-DEALING LOAD ON THE CITY OF PYONGYANG. …

HUNDREDS OF TONS OF BOMBS AND INCENDIARY COMPOUND WERE SIMULTANEOUSLY DROPPED THROUGHOUT THE CITY, CAUSING ANNIHILATING FIRES. IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE EXTINCTION OF THESE FIRES, THE TRANS-ATLANTIC BARBARIANS BOMBED THE CITY WITH DELAYED-ACTION HIGH-EXPLOSIVE BOMBS WHICH EXPLODED AT INTERVALS THROUGHOUT FOR A WHOLE DAY, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE PEOPLE TO COME OUT ONTO THE STREETS. THE ENTIRE CITY HAS NOW BEEN BURNING, ENVELOPED IN FLAMES, FOR TWO DAYS. BY THE SECOND DAY 7,812 CIVILIANS’ HOUSES HAD BEEN BURNT DOWN. THE AMERICANS WERE WELL AWARE THAT THERE WERE NO MILITARY OBJECTIVES LEFT IN PYONGYANG. …

THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.”

It was all for a good cause, the fight against “evil communism”. The doctrine of fighting communism acted as a powerful ideological instrument during the Cold War era.

Our message to US military servicemen and women at all levels of the military hierarchy.

Reverse the course of History. Abandon the Battle Field, Refuse to Fight!

For complete text of the cable addressed to the UN Security Council click UN Repository

 

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The Korean War and Crimes against Humanity: Forgotten When We Need to Remember

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The world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present.

First published by GR in May 2017

“ON JANUARY 3 [1951] AT 10:30 AM, AN ARMADE OF 82 FLYING FORTRESSES LOOSED THEIR DEATH-DEALING LOAD ON THE CITY OF PYONGYANG. … 

“THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.” [UN Repository]

With tension ever mounting in the Korean peninsular, all the higher every year with US bombers conducting annual drills over South Korea within direct strike range of North Korea, it is notable and deeply regrettable the West has lost all sight and memory of the enormous destruction inflicted on the Korean people in the Korean War 1950-53.

How can we ever in the West begin to understand the large scale militarisation of North Korea if, in the US and UK in particular, political assessment and judgement takes no account of Korean history?

North Korea was as a matter of historical fact through the Korean war carpet bombed for three years by US bombers. There was, after the first months of the war, mounting air defences in northern most North Korea bordering China, including Russian MIG fighters but, none-the-less, US B29s bombing was for most of the war free-range over the whole peninsular.

To quote from testament from both sides,

“The US airforce destroyed every town and village in north Korea”. “The destruction was enormous”.

In the  words of Air Force General Curtis LeMay:

“We burned down every town in North Korea …. over a period of three years or so we killed – what – 20 percent of the population”.

And this including the very worst of it large scale use of napalm. To quote Senator John Glenn, then a major in the US air force before becoming an astronaut:

“We did a lot of napalm work dropping fuel tanks loaded with napalm, flying in low, called a Nape Scrape”.

Napalm, jellied petroleum and phosphorus. No-one likes to spell it out but people quite simply burn to death.

In all some 600,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the towns and villages and cities of the country. That is well over a million concussion bombs, along with 40 million gallons of high octane napalm. And to add to this, in the final stages of the war, mass bombing (1,514 sorties) of Sui-ho hydro-electric and irrigation dams (the world’s fourth largest) on the Yalu River then flooding and destroying huge areas of northern farmland and crops.

“Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine”. [Asia-Pacific Journal 2009]

In the words of Professor Charles Armstrong, Director of the Centre for Korean Research, Columbia University:

“The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating UN forces”.

That then is the horror of the brutal Korean war. Over two million Korean civilians died including many tens of thousands of children. On US pilot testament destruction was “indiscriminate”.

Is it then any wonder North Korea turns out a highly militarised state, deeply loathing the “Yankees”, raining bombs and death and destruction on their towns and villages for three years ?

No-one can deny the one-party state authoritarianism of North Korea but then we surely have to ask how much of this huge militarisation has been created by the horrors of warfare, all the more so large scale bombing impacting on civilian populations. As also not to forget, until the end of WW2, Korea suffered 35 long years of brutal occupation by the Japanese. Over one million forced deportations, suppression of Korean culture and identity, deaths in Japanese labour camps estimated at over half a million.

In all Korea was a long suffering country for many decades, the very worst not forgotten by the Koreans the enormous destructive US bombing ’50-53.

International Perspective – East or West trauma is not forgotten.

The US, and New York in particular, were devastated by the attack on the Trade Centre towers in 2001. Terrible shock traumatic destruction with 2,996 deaths and 6,000 injuries. And that huge and deep trauma living on to this day and for whole lifetimes in those directly affected, all who lived and live in New York, and indeed in the consciousness of the whole of the US, and the world.

But the West forgets and is oblivous or indifferent to the suffering inflicted on the Korean people 1950-53. And that is bombing and destruction and loss of life of many thousands of Trade Centre attacks. Not loss of life from air attacks on armies in combat but bombing of civilian populations in towns and cities to “terrorise” a country into submission. That was, on all the evidence, in the face of huge Chinese troop influx into the peninsular, US military policy.

It is then impossible to see how it could be clearer, for those who will look, the actions of the US and West have played a hugely determinate role in the creation of the deeply alarming militarised state of Korea the West not only condemns but has listed (George W. Bush 2002) as part of an “Axis of Evil”. On this view not a breath of recognition that three years of carpet bombing, following 35 years of repression under Japanese occupation, surely provides an understandable rationale why any country would become formidably militarised. Defence of the country the all-consuming priority.   

For the people of North Korea the mass killing and destruction of civilians a holocaust against their people. For them, United States enormous war crimes and atrocities never brought to any court of justice.

Instead the hugely admired US East Asia commanding general of the time, General Douglas MacArthur, returned home in 1951 to a huge New York ticker-tape heroes welcome. Not condemnation from the US public (as arose in the Vietnam war) but celebration. But then the general US public of that time new very little of the real consequences of the war on the country. For instance that MacArthur and many in higher US military circles advocated dropping atomic bombs on Chinese cities to get the war over and unite Korea.

“His [MacArthur’s) plan was to drop between 30 and 50 atomic bombs-strung across the neck of Manchuria, and spread behind us, from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea – a belt of radioactive cobalt for at least 60 years there would be no invasion of Korea from the North.” [B-29s Over Korea – Wayland Mayo]

History Repeating – self same military mind-sets gathering again.

And now we have history on the brink of repeating yet again. The whole situation enormously high risk and dangerous with Secretary of State Tillerson indicating in his view, as he did in discussion April 12th with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov over Crimea and Syria, “history is not the issue”. What matters, as Tillerson said, is dealing with “current threats”. In a stroke Mr Tillerson excluding all relevance of historical causes and motivations why North Korea is so vehemently anti-American.

Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov:

“As far as Syria is concerned and Bashar al-Assad, we talked today about the history, and Rex [Tillerson] said that he was a new man and is not interested so much in history; he wants to deal with today’s problems. But the world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present”. [US Dept of State – Lavrov-Tillerson meeting 12th April]

Since then the Secretary of State has made clear, in the UN Security Council 28th April, “the time for strategic patience is over”. And all the more deeply alarming telling the Council there will be “no negotiations” until North Korea “first” takes “concrete steps” to shut down all missile activity and “de-nuclearise”. For Tillerson, and UK Foreign Secretary Johnson, in considerable contrast to the views of China and Russia, the reasons why North Korea has become one of the most militarised states in the world are not relevant. The Korean War with 3 million dead not counted in contemporary political calculus.

And so it is the West makes no effort to understand another nation’s history then history repeats. But then in the US and in the UK the Korean war is known as the Forgotten War. Forgotten for one reason as in burying memory of large scale war crimes against civilian populations. Horror for civilian population, horror for combatant troops. The West in so many ways in denial of a war that is very distant “long ago” but then, for the Koreans, as alive today as terror and fear of the US and West as sixty years ago.

And from the side of the West, to face up to responsibility for the huge numbers of civilian casualties from bombing of Korean towns and cities as US governments would, as at Nuremberg, face the self same charges the West brought against the Nazi regime after WW2: Crimes against Humanity. War crimes against civilian populations.

Understanding the other side – understanding ourselves.

Such Human Rights courts of justice not on any agenda anywhere in the West a very good start to ease tension would be, as is being called for by China and Russia, high level meetings between all major parties. And in this respect, at the heart of the whole current tension, it is of the deepest concern that in the West it is rarely brought to light that the US has repeatedly turned down North Korea offers to end nuclear weapon development.

Image result for nuclear north korea

That will come as a shock to many but negotiation records show that offers have been put forward by North Korea back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s but then rejected by the US as, in return, North Korea asks that the US and South Korea end annual large-scale “warfare exercises” on their borders. The most recent offer 2015:

“North Korea announces offer to suspend nuclear testing …in exchange for the United States and South Korea calling off annual joint-military exercises slated for spring 2015. The United States rejects the offer.” [Arms Control Association]

These offers rejected US military build-up as of May 2017 in warfare exercises includes the newly installed US anti-missile THAAD system, low flying bombers within minutes’ strike range of North Korea, together with an aircraft carrier battle fleet, including who knows how many nuclear strike submarines, in Korean off-shore waters.

North Korea finds all this US “menace”, as both China and Russia have repeatedly emphasised, hugely threatening (as indeed do the Chinese). And one would think, if it was our own country, terrifying. For UK just compare the 1940 blitz with cities across the UK from London to Liverpool ablaze. British people do not forget. And for the US, missiles on Cuba in the early ’60s and that very nearly leading to world nuclear war. But on the North Korean offers to de-nuclearise the US repeatedly refuses quid pro quo de-escalation with parallel negotiations.

On scores for belligerence the US, and others in the West including the UK, could surely not be higher. On four counts : enormous destruction of North Korean civilian population by vastly superior US air forces 1950-53 (albeit bannered under the “UN”) ; repeated US refusal of North Korea’s offers of quid pro quo de-esculation of forces on both sides; US bringing even more over-whelming military force into South Korea and off-shore seas ; US and UK calling for and indeed demanding, through the UN, imposition of more and more powerful sanctions, most crippling closing international access to sources of financial exchange. This then closing off (blockading) routes for trade driving North Korea into deeper isolation and poverty.

Threats mounting on both sides, racking up more and more tension and fear. As in all conflicts so much mirroring, of behaviour, both sides then condemning the other. Defence and survival on one side seen by the other as threat and belligerence. In the case of North Korea desperation leading who knows where.

The enormous tragedy for Korea – for all Korean people.

In all an enormous tragedy for all Koreans. Bitterly and deeply ironically both sides in Korea want to unite, as one Korea. Huge loss of life and huge casualties, three years of war with estimates of over three million dead, both sides fighting to “unite their country”, only to end up summer 1953 exactly where they started on the 38th parallel. Such utter futility. The pity and insanity of war at its most tragic.

As matters stand now, with increasingly intense US and South Korean military exercises each year, in the face of ever increasing North Korean nuclear strike capacity, the latest missile launch 14th May getting closer to a full-fledged long range ICBM strike capability, the whole situation is clearly becoming progressively more precarious year by year. High level careful communication is clearly needed, as repeatedly promoted by the Chinese. Not warships and missiles, from either side, ending up mirroring each other into destruction. With tensions ever mounting, it is then encouraging that newly elected South Korean president , President Moon Jae-in, wants to talk with the North. And it is understood wants to see the THAAD missile system removed.

And for the North Koreans, from the Western view, however hollow we view their society, however much it appears or indeed is a sham, the people clearly have enormous pride. In so many ways (the great buildings in Pyongyang, military parades, and missiles) showing to the world how much they have achieved, and that is achieved from ground zero 1953 total destruction of their country.

And this achievement in huge contest and rivalry, with powerful national jealousies, between North and South. The two sides the great misfortune to end up on the world’s most volatile tectonic plates between communism and capitalism. Both sides showcasing what their “side” has achieved: the South hosts the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, the North parades and launches missiles. This whole complex psychological cauldron is what the West needs to understand and respect.

Respect Fuche – self-reliance – the founding ideology of the country. However badly from the West we view the regime, to the country’s credit they have made huge and heroic and enormous progress providing universal education, health care, and housing, for their population. And that is universal and free health care and education up to university level. No massive student debts for North Korean students.  No sick and uninsured with no medical health care in this country. Their system has huge holes, as we do in the West, but its not all bad, unless we in the West will only see it that way : esse est percipi – thinking makes it so. There is much we might learn, if we negotiate, not wrack up mounting war menace and threats.

SOURCES:

Interviews and Transcripts

Korean War – Part 19 – Use of Napalm … Senator John Glenn – in 1950 a major in US Air Force : “We did a lot of napalm work … dropping fuel tanks loaded with napalm .. we call it a Nape Scrape” “You could strafe them, bomb them, napalm them. Quite a variety of weapons.

Korean War – Part 22 – bombing of North Korea .. the United States Air Force destroyed every town and city in Norht Korea. Kim Un Sun – factory worker – “Lets make bullets of revenge to give to the Americans”.

North Korea Remembers US War Crimes – what the West wants to forget … the view of North Korea : “Brutal atrocity of US Imperial Aggressors”.

Air Force General Curtis LeMay – “… we burned down every town in North Korea …”

Air&Space 2015 – How the Korean war almost went nuclear … Operation Hudson Harbor …

B-29s Over Korea – US Planned to A-Bomb N. Korea: [MaArthur’s] plan was to drop between 30 and 50 atomic bombs-strung across the neck of Manchuria, and spread behind us, from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea- a belt of radioactive cobalt for at least 60 years there would be no invasion of Korea from the North

Attacks on the Sui-ho Dam … the hydroelectric targets were subjected to attacks totalling 1,514 sorties.

Asia-Pacific Journal 2009: Professor Charles Armstrong “Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine”.

The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea – 2009: Professor Charles Armstrong, “The US Air Force estimated that North Korea’s destruction was proportionately greater than that of Japan in the Second World War, where the US had turned 64 major cities to rubble and used the atomic bomb to destroy two others. American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea — that is, essentially on North Korea –including 32,557 tons of napalm”.
“The DPRK government never forgot the lesson of North Korea’s vulnerability to American air attack,…”

New York Times – Choe Sang-Hun – 2015: North Korea offers US Deal to Halt Nuclear Tests …

Arms Control Association – 2015: North Korea announces offer to suspend nuclear testing …in exchange for the United States and South Korea calling off annual joint-military exercises slated for spring 2015. The United States rejects the offer.

12th April 2017 Tillerson Lavrov Press Conference on Syria – Lavrov emphasises “historical context” – Tillerson dismisses history with emphasis on “current threats”.

US Dept of State – 12th April 2017 Tillerson Lavrov Transcript:  Foreign Ministr Lavrov : “As far as Syria is concerned and Bashar al-Assad, we talked today about the history, and Rex said that he was a new man and is not interested so much in history; he wants to deal with today’s problems. But the world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present”.

28th April 2017 – UN Security Council Meeting on Korea … full meeting.

US Dept of State – 28th April 2017 – Secretry Tillerson Statement to UN Security Council: “The policy of strategic patience is over”. Call for economic and financial isolation of DPRK. North Korea must take concrete steps to end illegal weapons programs before we can even consider talks.

NY Times – Choe Sang-Hun – 2nd May 2017 – US Antimissile System Goes Live in South Korea ….

CGTN – 2nd May 2017 – Us B-1B Lancer bombers fly over South Korea angering DPRK …

Commentary and Analysis

2012 – Washing Post John Tirman : Why do we ignore the civilians killed in American wars? “Estimates of Korean war deaths …. widely believed to have taken 3 million lives, about half of them civilian.”

Global Research 2010 – Professor Michel Chossudovsky: “It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953.” “US Sources acknowledge 1.55 million civilian deaths in North Korea”.

Wikipedia Civilian Casualty Ratio – Korean War: The median total estimated Korean civilian deaths in the Korean War is 2,730,000.

March 2015 – Washington Post fomer reporter Blaine Harden: The US war crime North Korea won’t forget – “War reporters rarely mentioned civilian casualties from U.S. carpet-bombing. It is perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war”. “People in the North feel backed into a corner and threatened”.

Boundless – World History – Korea under Japanese Rule: The 1910-1945 Japanese occupation of Korea was marked by the suppression of Korean culture and heritage, mass exploitation of the Korean labor, and violent repressions against the Korean independence movement.

Vox – Max Fisher August 2015 – Americans have forgotten what we did to North Korea:  You can glimpse both the humanitarian and political consequences in an alarmed diplomatic cable that North Korea’s foreign minister sent to the United Nations .. in January 1951 : THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.

UN DAG Repostory – source of 1951 diplomatic cableEnglish copy of cable.

Democracy Now – April 2017 – Noam Chomsky on North Korea ….”China and North Korea proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems. And the U.S. instantly rejected it … ”

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North Korea and Trump’s “Reality Free Zone”: Tweeting About Armageddon

NOVANEWS

When US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stated of North Korea (4th September 2017): “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that”, she unwittingly put her finger on why the DPRK has been conducting missile tests and stating that they have ever bigger, better and longer range capabilities.

There is no certainty that either of the latter is the case, but the tiny country has been subject to nearly seventy years of vilification and ever more threatening behavior from the US and allies, with the language of Donald Trump, from near day one of his Presidency of the US regime reaching ever more apocalyptic heights.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that dialogue and communication are vital:

“Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences … The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific.”

One can only hope “diplomat” Haley – who told the UN Security Council:

“The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means …” and that North Korea was “begging for war” – was listening.

This of a country which in living memory had every town, village and its capital city near erased from the map by the United States and lost at least twenty percent, some estimates state nearer thirty percent, of it’s population of then just nine million people.

Pyongyang 1953. totally destroyed

Pyongyang rebuilt today (Trump Doesn’t like it, competes with Trump Tower?)

In 1953 when the US had destroyed all and there was nothing left to bomb they turned to bombing the dams, flooding the rice fields and causing starvation. North Korea’s government and the country’s collective and inherited memory have not forgotten and are simply attempting to insure such a horror never again afflicts their small nation.

There has been no empathy, knowledge of history, compassion in the Trumposphere. The five times draft dodger, has threatened “fire and fury” along with legality-detonating assassination of the Head of State, referring to him as “Little Rocket Man”, adding that he and his government: “won’t be around much longer.”

Kindergarten Level Rhetoric

Trump is also threatening generating the potential extinction of life on earth. His obsession with “if we’ve got nuclear weapons why don’t we use them” argument goes back decades – but his kindergarten level rhetoric shows a frightening disconnect from statesmanship, diplomacy – and reality. This is not conjecture. Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists have put their reputation on the line writing in the just published book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” (1)

“that he is dangerously mentally ill and presents a clear and present danger to the nation …  (exploring) Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses (they) find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man.”

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists whilst on a recent visit to Beijing that the State Department had: “a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang” and “We can talk to them … we do talk to them”, Trump tweeted: “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” wrote the President from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

How cheap human life is to a man who has never witnessed, indeed five times evaded, seeing the carnage even one bullet can do. In context, it has just come to light (3) that:

“President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room …

“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

“The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a ‘moron.’ “

Trump has vociferously denied the report, predictably falling back on his seemingly miniscule vocabulary and calling it “fake news”, even threatening the broadcaster’s licence. So far he hasn’t threatened to nuke their New York headquarters.

Back to North Korea and the President’s chilling ignorance. On 1st October he tweeted:

“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

Kim Jong-un is thirty three and was formally announced as his father’s successor on 26th December 2011. He has thus been power just short of six years. Twenty five years ago he would have been eight years old.

In the last such manoeuvres in August one South Korean defense official told the newspaper Chosun Ilbo that this year’s exercises would include: “a nuclear war game for the first time.” 

USS Theodore Roosevelt Dispatched to the Korean Peninsula, October 12

Currently, in addition to the massive war games, the US has been overflying North Korea with B-52 bombers, with further exercises taking place in and with South Korea and in the last days also with Japan. It should also be remembered that the US has in the Pacific (3):

Total military personnel

87,000

US 7th Fleet

 50-70 ships and subs including …

Up to 14 destroyers and cruisers

1 aircraft carrier

Up to 12 nuclear powered submarines

140 aircraft

In South Korea

23,468 personnel

300+ tanks

In Guam

3,831 personnel

B52 bombers and fighter jets

In Hawaii

40,000 military personnel

200 ships including …

5 aircraft carriers

1,060 aircraft

Moreover, as has been pointed out (4):

“In Donald Trump’s first six months in office, he dropped over 20,650 bombs in approximately seven countries, which killed thousands of civilians. By comparison, Kim Jong-un bombs the ocean.”

The same source makes a vital point, ignored by media and politicians:

“The media’s insistence that North Korea will never give up its weapons systems is completely disingenuous when one reads the entire context of the statements offered by Kim Jong-un’s government. On July 4, Kim’s statement read as follows:

“The DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.” 

Indeed – and with arch hawk retired Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters writing an op-ed in the New York Post (4th September): “Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans” and with the Pyongyang government and people well aware of what happened to Libya which was persuaded to give up its weapons programme and Iraq which had done the same after 1991. Of course Kim Jong-un and his colleagues are going to try to persuade that they can give as good as they fear getting in hope of avoiding annihilation.

Given the reckless rhetoric of Trump and others, as the New York Times puts it (5):

“Congress has been sufficiently alarmed to consider legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

“ …  As things stand now, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed when there was more concern about trigger-happy generals than elected civilian leaders, gives the president sole control. He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.” 

Moreover:

“A New York Times analysis found the U.S. could use 1,103 nuclear warheads and decimate China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and Syria … and still have 2,897 left.”

Given that the man who tweets casually about “fire and fury” and smirks as he talks of “calm before the storm”, took the nuclear “football” (briefcase) down to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and allowed its minder to have “selfies” taken with it, him and guests, it seems pretty clear that the current incumbent of the White House still resides in the fantasy land of reality shows with no grasp of the potential global pyromaniacal armageddon he jokes about unleashing.

Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists of course, have far more disturbing diagnoses.

Apparently he likes watching movies.

Perhaps someone should give him a copy of  “The Day After.”

Notes

1.    https://www.amazon.com/ Dangerous-Case-Donald-Trump- Psychiatrists/dp/1250179459

2.    https://www.nbcnews.com/ politics/donald-trump/trump- wanted-dramatic-increase- nuclear-arsenal-meeting- military-leaders-n809701

3.    https://www.theguardian.com/ world/2017/sep/04/north-korea- nikki-haley-sanctions-nuclear- test-begging-for-war

4.    https://nworeport.me/2017/09/ 17/north-korea-offers-to-give- up-their-nukes-media-blackout/

5.    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/ 10/11/opinion/trump-korea-war- competence.html?action=click& pgtype=Homepage&clickSource= story-heading&module=opinion- c-col-left-region&region= opinion-c-col-left-region&WT. nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on North Korea and Trump’s “Reality Free Zone”: Tweeting About Armageddon

The US on the Brink of War with North Korea

Amid accelerating US preparations for conflict with North Korea, yesterday’s night-time flight by two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula was designed to provoke a North Korean response that could be used as the casus belli for all-out war.

The supersonic bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets for the first joint night-time training exercise that involved practicing air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then off the west coast. This rehearsal for war with North Korea followed another first when two B-1B bombers late last month flew the furthest north along the North Korean coast since the start of this century.

At the same time, the Pentagon is assembling a naval armada off the Korean Peninsula. The nuclear attack submarine USS Tucson arrived off South Korea on Saturday. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group of cruisers and destroyers is due to arrive later this month for joint exercises with the South Korean navy. Two Australian frigates are also en route to Korean waters.

The Trump administration’s relentless campaign of bellicose threats and military provocations makes clear that the danger of a catastrophic war, which could drag in major powers such as China and Russia and escalate into a nuclear exchange, is real and imminent. As he faces a mounting political crisis at home, the US president may see a war with North Korea as a means of shoring up his administration and crushing domestic political opposition.

From the standpoint of military logic, the US has deliberately placed the Pyongyang regime in an impossible situation. In his fascistic rant at the UN last month, Trump declared that North Korea confronted “total destruction” unless it capitulated completely to US demands. He flatly ruled out any negotiations with Pyongyang when he rebuked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for “wasting his time” in sending out diplomatic feelers.

North Korea’s foreign minister responded to Trump’s UN speech by declaring that it amounted to a declaration of war and warned that his country had the right to take countermeasures, including the shooting down of US strategic bombers in international airspace. Yet the Pentagon has continued to send B-1Bs to conduct war games in close proximity to North Korea.

Confronted with the most powerful military on the planet armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear weapons, the Pyongyang regime could conclude that it has to attack first, including with its limited nuclear arsenal, before its military is totally destroyed. Each B-1B flight poses the immediate question to the generals in Pyongyang: is this another drill, or the start of an all-out attack?

In Washington, the military is being prepared and primed for war against North Korea. In a keynote speech to top army officers on Monday, Defence Secretary James Mattis insisted that the military had to be “ready to ensure we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”

The Army Association paraphrased General Robert Abrams, commander of US Army Forces Command, who spoke at the same event as saying,

“Sending American forces to fight a World War II-style all-out war would mean facing a harsh reality: Troops will die, and in large numbers. “

Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford met with Trump on Tuesday to review military options, including “to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.” In other words, the Trump administration is on the brink of an illegal war of aggression on the pretext that North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal poses a threat to the US.

A US attack on North Korea would inevitably lead to a confrontation with China and Russia, which have repeatedly called for an easing of tensions and a return to negotiations. A war on their borders and the installation of a US puppet regime in Pyongyang cuts directly across their strategic interests in Asia. Moreover, the subjugation of North Korea is part of Washington’s far broader ambition to undermine, encircle and, if necessary, go to war with China to ensure American hegemony in Asia and the world.

Trump has accelerated the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” against Beijing on every front—diplomatically, economically and militarily. He has strengthened US ties throughout the region, threatened China with trade war and confronted Beijing militarily, not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the South China Sea. On Tuesday, a US navy destroyer carried out another provocative intrusion near China’s Paracel Islands to challenge Beijing’s “excessive maritime claims.”

The US drive to war is not simply the product of the fascistic President Trump. Rather, he is the expression of the deepening political, social and economic crisis of American imperialism, which has sought to arrest its historic decline through its aggressive use of military might. Having created one disaster after another in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, Washington is upping the ante and preparing for a direct conflict with its major rivals, China and Russia in the first instance.

The danger of war is further heightened by the immense turmoil and conflicts within the American political establishment, including in the White House, and more broadly, popular opposition to war and austerity. Trump is publicly at odds with both Tillerson and Mattis, who have suggested that diplomatic efforts need to be exhausted before any attack on North Korea—not because they are opposed to war, but because they fear the immediate eruption of a mass anti-war movement in the event of undisguised US aggression.

The bitterness of the infighting was underscored when a well-sourced NBC article last week revealed that Tillerson had threatened to resign and called Trump “a moron” following a top-level Pentagon meeting.

On Wednesday, NBC reported that what prompted Tillerson to make that remark was a proposal by Trump to increase the number of US nuclear weapons ten-fold, which would put the US in violation of all existing nuclear treaties and effectively render it a pariah state.

In a chilling expression of the type of crackdown that could be imposed in the context of a further escalation against North Korea, Trump threatened in a tweet to suspend NBC’s broadcasting license over the story.

The deep divisions in American ruling circles that are fuelling speculation about Trump’s impeachment were summed up in a Washington Post editorial on Tuesday headlined “What to do with an unfit president.”

Far from halting the drive to war, the political crisis only adds to the danger. Beset with conflict at home, Trump is being propelled to extricate himself by seeking to project political and social tensions outwards against a foreign foe. His critics and opponents are not opposed to war—many are criminally culpable for the US acts of aggression over the past 25 years. The differences are purely tactical—how to attack and who to attack first.

Without the development of a mass anti-war movement of the working class in the United States and internationally, war is not only possible but inevitable. Such a movement cannot be based on appeals to the powers-that-be, but rather on a revolutionary socialist perspective to abolish the diseased capitalist order that threatens to drag humanity into the abyss.

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“Calm Before the Storm”? Trump Sends Second Aircraft Carrier to Korean Peninsula with 7,500 Marines Aboard

NOVANEWS
 

Just one week after uttering his now-infamous “this is the calm before the storm” statement to the press ahead of a dinner with military leaders, we now learn that President Trump has dispatched a second nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, filled with 7,500 marines, to the Korean Peninsula. Of course, this comes after rumors swirled earlier this week that North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18th.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is en route to the western Pacific after leaving San Diego port last week.

The Roosevelt will focus on maritime security operations in the Pacific and Middle East, the US military announced.

But the £3.4billion ($4.5billion) warship, known as “the Big Stick”, has been sent to boost US defence on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean media.

It is expected to arrive in region in the coming weeks amid fears North Korea is about to test another missile or nuclear weapon.

Per the following map from Stratfor, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will join the USS Ronald Reagan which is already operating in the region.

Ship Positions

According to a statement from Admiral Steve Koehler, a strike group commander on the ship, the Roosevelt is carrying some 7,500 sailors and marines that are “ready as a war fighting force”.

“The US Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” he said in a statement before the ship’s launch.

“After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Of course, as we noted above, this buildup of naval forces in the Pacific follows an ominous warning from the President last week that preceded a dinner with military leaders: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” he said: “It could be the calm… before… the storm.”

A reporter quickly asked what the storm might be –“Is it Iran, ISIS, what’s the storm?”  to which he replied… “…you’ll find out.”

TRUMP: “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

REPORTER: “What storm Mr. President?”
TRUMP: “You’ll find out.” (via Satellite News)

So what say you? Just more bluster from a headline seeking President and normal-ish naval patrols in the Pacific or have we reached a point of no return in an escalating conflict with a rogue North Korean leader that could turn violent at any moment?

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on “Calm Before the Storm”? Trump Sends Second Aircraft Carrier to Korean Peninsula with 7,500 Marines Aboard

Carter Offers to Meet with Kim Jong-un to Prevent War with N.Korea

NOVANEWS

Jimmy Carter wrote that his more than 20 years’ worth of experience in dealing with the North taught him that what the country’s leadership wants more than anything is direct talks with the U.S. that would lead to a permanent peace treaty.

  

With tensions once again flaring up between the United States and North Korea, it was reported Tuesday that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has offered to meet with leader Kim Jong-un to discuss ways to achieve peace.

The revelation comes by way of South Korean news outlet JoongAng Ilbo, which spoke with Park Han-shik, a prominent scholar on North Korean-related issues. Park previously helped Carter plan diplomatic trips to the country in 1994 and 2010.

JoongAng Ilbo writes that Park met with the former president at his home in Georgia on September 28, and it was there that Carter reportedly expressed his wishes.

“Should former President Carter be able to visit North Korea, he would like to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss a peace treaty between the United States and the North and a complete denuclearization of North Korea,” Park told the outlet, “and contribute toward establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

Earlier in September, while speaking before gatherers at his Carter Center in Atlanta, the former president was highly critical of the Trump administration, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Then, last week, Carter penned an editorial for The Washington Post in which he addressed North Korea directly.

Carter wrote that his more than 20 years’ worth of experience in dealing with the North taught him that what the country’s leadership wants more than anything is direct talks with the U.S. that would lead to a permanent peace treaty. Technically, the agreement to cease the Korean War in 1953 was only an armistice, and the two countries are still at war.

The former president says that, indeed, “the preservation of their regime” is priority one for the government in Pyongyang, and current strategies that attempt to de-escalate the situation are failing because the North Korean leadership “believes its survival is at stake.”

Carter says what’s needed now is for the U.S. to “send a high-level delegation to Pyongyang for peace talks or to support an international conference” of all the relevant regional players, including China.

In his piece, Carter doesn’t nominate himself to lead such an effort, but if Tuesday’s report out of South Korea is accurate, he seems willing to fill the role. He would need permission from the federal government, however, as a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea went into effect in September.

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Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

NOVANEWS

The revelation that North Korea hacked into South Korea’s military secrets and found U.S. plans for a preemptive “decapitation” of Pyongyang’s leadership explains its rush to build a nuclear deterrent, says Nicolas J S Davies.

Featured image: North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

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 U.S. scrapped an agreement signed in 1994 under which North Korea suspended its nuclear program and the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. lead bloody “regime change” invasions but the nations’ leaders were brutally murdered, Saddam Husseinby hanging and Muammar Gaddafi sodomized with a knife and then summarily shot in the head.

So, the discovery of the U.S. 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 U.S. attack.

In other words, North Korea’s main goal has been to close the gap between its existing delivery systems and the missile technology it would need to actually launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the United States. North Korea’s leaders see this as their only chance to escape the same kind of mass destruction visited on North Korea in the first Korean War, when U.S.-led air forces destroyed every city, town and industrial area and General Curtis LeMay boasted that the attacks had killed 20 percent of the population.

Through 2015 and early 2016, North Korea only tested one new missile, the Pukkuksong-1 submarine-launched missile. The missile launched from a submerged submarine and flew 300 miles on its final, successful test, which coincided with the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises in August 2016.

North Korea also launched its largest satellite to date in February 2016, but the launch vehicle seemed to be the same type as the Unha-3 used to launch a smaller satellite in 2012.

However, since the discovery of the U.S.-South Korean war plans a year ago, North Korea has vastly accelerated its missile development program, conducting at least 27 more tests of a wide range of new missiles and bringing it much closer to a credible nuclear deterrent. Here is a timeline of the tests:

Two failed tests of Hwasong-10 medium-range ballistic missiles in October 2016.

Two successful tests of Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missiles, in February and May 2017. The missiles followed identical trajectories, rising to a height of 340 miles and landing in the sea 300 miles away. South Korean analysts believe this missile’s full range is at least 2,000 miles, and North Korea said the tests confirmed it is ready for mass production.

Four medium-range ballistic missiles that flew an average of 620 miles from the Tongchang-ri space center in March 2017.

Two apparently failed missile tests from Sinpo submarine base in April 2017.

Six tests of Hwasong-12 medium-range ballistic missiles (range: 2,300 to 3,700 miles) since April 2017.

A failed test of a missile believed to be a “KN-17” from Pukchang airbase in April 2017.

Test of a Scud-type anti-ship missile that flew 300 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan, and two other tests in May 2017.

Several cruise missiles fired from the East coast in June 2017.

A test of a powerful new rocket engine, maybe for an ICBM, in June 2017.

North Korea tested two Hwasong-14 “near-ICBMs” in July 2017. Based on these tests, the Hwasong-14 may be capable of hitting city-sized targets in Alaska or Hawaii with a single nuclear warhead, but cannot yet reach the U.S. West Coast.

Four more missiles tested in August 2017, including a Hwasong-12 that flew over Japan and travelled 1,700 miles before breaking up, maybe as a result of a failure in a “Post Boost Vehicle” added to improve range and accuracy.

Another ballistic missile flew 2,300 miles over the Pacific on September 15, 2017.

An analysis of the two tests of the Hwasong-14 in July by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) concluded that these missiles are not yet capable of carrying a 500 kg payload as far as Seattle or other U.S. West Coast cities. BAS notes that a first generation nuclear weapon based on the Pakistani model that North Korea is believed to be following could not weigh less than 500 kg, once the weight of the warhead casing and a heat shield to survive reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere are taken into account.

Global Reaction

Awareness of the role of the U.S. war plan in spurring the dramatic escalation of North Korea’s missile program should be a game changer in the world’s response to the crisis over Korea, since it demonstrates that the current acceleration of the North Korean missile program is a defensive response to a serious and potentially existential threat from the United States.

If the United Nations Security Council was not diplomatically and militarily intimidated by the United States, this knowledge should trigger urgent action in the Security Council to require all sides to make a firm commitment to peaceful and binding diplomacy to formally end the Korean War and remove the threat of war from all the people of Korea. And the whole world would unite politically and diplomatically to prevent the U.S. from using its veto to avoid accountability for its leading role in this crisis. Only a unified global response to potential U.S. aggression could possibly convince North Korea that it would have some protection if it eventually halted its nuclear weapons program.

But such unity in the face of a threat of U.S. aggression would be unprecedented. Most U.N. delegates quietly sat and listened on Sept. 19 when President Donald Trump delivered explicit threats of war and aggression against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, while boasting about his missile strike against Syria on April 6 over dubious and disputed claims about a chemical weapons incident.

For the past 20 years or more, the United States has swaggered about as the “last remaining superpower” and the “indispensable nation,” a global law unto itself, using the dangers of terrorism and weapons proliferation and highly selective outrage over “dictators” as propaganda narratives to justify illegal wars, CIA-backed terrorism, its own weapons proliferation, and support for its favored dictators like the brutal rulers of Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies.

For even longer, the United States has been two-faced about international law, citing it when some adversary can be accused of a violation but ignoring it when the U.S. or its allies are trampling on the rights of some disfavored country. When the International Court of Justice convicted the United States of aggression (including acts of terrorism) against Nicaragua in 1986, the U.S. withdrew from the ICJ’s binding jurisdiction.

Since then, the U.S. has thumbed its nose at the entire structure of international law, confident in the political power of its propaganda or “information warfare” to cast itself as the guardian of law and order in the world, even as it systematically violates the most basic rules spelled out in the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

U.S. propaganda treats the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, the world’s “Never again” to war, torture and the killing of millions of civilians in the Second World War, as relics of another time that it would be naive to take seriously.

But the results of the U.S. alternative — its lawless “might makes right” war policy — are now plain for all to see. In the past 16 years, America’s post-9/11 wars have already killed at least two million people, maybe many more, with no end in sight to the slaughter as the U.S.’s policy of illegal war keeps plunging country after country into intractable violence and chaos.

An Ally’s Fears

Just as North Korea’s missile programs are a rational defense strategy in the face of the threat Pyongyang faces from the U.S., the exposure of the U.S.’s war plan by American allies in South Korea is also a rational act of self-preservation, since they too are threatened by the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula.

Now maybe other U.S. allies, the wealthy countries that have provided political and diplomatic cover for the U.S.’s 20-year campaign of illegal war, will finally reassert their humanity, their sovereignty and their own obligations under international law, and start to rethink their roles as junior partners in U.S. aggression.

Countries like the U.K., France and Australia will sooner or later have to choose between forward-looking roles in a sustainable, peaceful multi-polar world and a slavish loyalty to the ever-more desperate death throes of U.S. hegemony. Now might be a good moment to make that choice, before they are dragged into new U.S. wars in Korea, Iran or Venezuela.

Even Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is afraid that Donald Trump will lead humanity into World War III. But it might come as a surprise to people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and parts of a dozen other countries already engulfed by U.S.-driven wars to learn that they are not already in the midst of World War III.

Perhaps what really worries the Senator is that he and his colleagues may no longer be able to sweep these endless atrocities under the plush carpets of the halls of Congress without a genteel Barack Obama in the White House to sweet-talk U.S. allies around the world and keep the millions being killed in U.S. wars off U.S. TVs and computer screens, out of sight and out of mind.

If politicians in the U.S. and around the world need the ugliness of Donald Trump as a mirror for their own greed, ignorance and temerity, to shame them into changing their ways, so be it – whatever it takes. But it should not escape anyone anywhere that the signature on this diabolical war plan that now threatens to kill millions of Koreans was not Donald Trump’s but Barack Obama’s.

George Orwell might well have been describing the partisan blindness of the West’s self-satisfied, so easily deluded, neoliberal society when he wrote this in 1945,

“Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its color when it is committed by our side… The Nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Here’s the bottom line: The United States has been planning to assassinate Kim Jong Un and to launch an all-out war on North Korea. There. You’ve heard it. Now, can you still be manipulated into believing that Kim Jong Un is simply “crazy” and North Korea is the gravest threat to world peace?

Or do you now understand that the United States is the real threat to peace in Korea, just as it was in Iraq, Libya and many other countries where the leaders were deemed “crazy” and U.S. officials (and the Western mainstream media) promoted war as the only “rational” alternative?

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

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