Archive | Far East

How Politics Shaped the Korean War

NOVANEWS
www.nationalparks.org

As is the case in any war, politics can be a driving force.  Militarist Carl von Clausewitz said that “war is politics by another means.”  The Korean War was no different than any other war.  Many decisions involving the conduction of the war were politically driven on both the domestic and foreign fronts.  Conversely United States’ politics was affected by the Korean War.

The United States was involved in the economic recovery of Europe at the end of World War II.  This assistance had the beginnings of anti-Russian communist intent. The Truman Doctrine promised U.S. aid to any country who sought protection from aggression, either externally or internally, by countries or factions within countries who espoused Communism.   The Truman Doctrine gave Turkey and Greece economic support but was also a doctrine of encirclement as it also included Iran, Pakistan, Japan, and China.  Also at this time the French were back in Indochina and the United States’ aid was supplied to Chiang Kai-shek for his Nationalist cause in China.

The Marshall Plan poured money into the recovery of Europe after World War II.  European countries were pleased with U.S. aid and sought assurances of total U.S. attention to their concerns.  The European nations did not want money diverted from their uses to that of the Koreans as these people fought for their freedom and reunification.  Congress sided with the European countries.  Europe also wanted assurances that the U.S. would assist in keeping Russia out of Eastern Europe.  Involvement on a second front, in the Pacific, might very well cause United States’ support to be lessened on the European front

Before U.S. involvement in Korea the Republican Party was comprised of internationalists and their counterpart isolationists.  The isolationists, under the guise of non-interventionism were support for Nazi Germany and feared that FDR’s New Deal policies were socialist in base.  Additionally, key Republicans had long term business relationships in Nazi Germany.    These businessmen and corporations used isolationist policies in an attempt to pressure the government into continuing to give them a free hand to support German war industries despite the Neutrality Act.

Though isolationists and noninterventionists were characterized as Midwestern conservatives, often of German ancestry, these groups full filled a primary purpose of influencing public opinion against American efforts against Axis intervention on a world-wide scale.

The eighty-first Congress, which Harry Truman had inherited with his Presidential win, had no intention of cooperating with its new commander-in-chief by supporting the Truman Doctrine or the Marshall Plan.   The conservatives did not share Truman’s or Secretary of State Marshall’s enthusiasm for a program for containment of Communism.   Republicans wanted an end to the graduated income tax, no labor unions, an end to the social security system, end of antitrust legislation, and a foreign policy based on the use of military force in support of American economic interests. Conservative Democrats (Dixiecrats) wanted   continued restriction of voting franchise, an implementation of a national police force with broad powers of search and seizure, control of the press, arrest and detention without habeas corpus, recognition and implementation of a national religion that is Christian, Protestant, Evangelistic and xenophobic with mandated prayer in schools and direct financial support for religious institutions, the creation of a secondary level of citizenship based on race, religion, national origin, political beliefs, and a series of physiological and intellectual criteria, and restriction of women’s rights and the enfranchisement of women.. This is the traditional Republican agenda.

The collapse of the Nationalist China gave the Republicans fuel against the Democrats.  The United States wrote the China White Papers to state its attitude towards the Communist versus Nationalist civil war in China.  The U.S. denied any responsibility for the loss of mainland China to the Communists, but the Republicans issued a public statement that the U.S. withheld weapons from the Nationalist Chinese and placed Asia in danger of being consumed by Communism.   The Republican Party wanted Kai-shek returned to mainland China and did not want the Truman Administration to recognize Red China.   The China White Paper states that “social and political upheavals within China gave Communists the country.”    Republicans blamed the results on pro-Communists in both Roosevelt’s and Truman’s administrations and further declared that these pro-Communist groups gave China to the Communists.

Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked the State Department and accused it of being pro-Communist and responsible of Mao’s victory in China.  McCarthy said, “In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with Communists.”   The explosion of Russia’s first atomic bomb and the conviction of Alger Hiss for perjury after declaring he had never been in the Communist party all increased the pervading fear or distrust of Communism.

A Congressional election was approaching for November 1950 and the Republicans decided the most effective way to win more seats in Congress was by opposing the current administration. Congress was often divided on acceptable policies in dealing with the Korean War.   This political body alternately advocated the opposite positions of complete withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula or the waging of an all-out war against China.   An all-out war at this time would have meant global war.  “The Congressional Republicans throughout the 1950-1953 periods were seriously divided over the question of transforming the unification of Korea from a political to a military goal.

David Rees, author of Korea: The Limited War states that “The Korean decision was primarily a political decision in the Jeffersonian tradition of American idealism.”   The U.S. interest in Korea went beyond disgust of the Communist invasion of Korea, a defenseless country.

A limited war is a political war in that the home government’s political demands restrain the military.   The U.S. at times favored a limited war despite the military wishes for all-out war.  The three reasons why the U.S. decided to conduct a limited war were that they did not want to provoke Russia to enter the war, did not want to overextend in Korea and leave Europe vulnerable, and the U.S. allies were reluctant to expand the war.  The Republican dominated Eightieth Congress cut defense spending and delayed appropriating money for the army in 1949.  This was why the U.S. withdrew from South Korea in September of 1947.  Congress withheld monies again when it refused to give $60 million more in 1950 and 1951.  Without money armies cannot be maintained.

In the early part of the war the congressional Republicans approved of U.S. actions of moving into Korea.  Republican Senator Knowland warned of a Munich-like appeasement.  He vowed that if Korea fell to Communism, then all of Asia would be threatened.    He referred to appeasement as surrender on the installment plan. Republican Alexander Smith of New Jersey said,” We Republicans to a man—while we have been critical of the Far Eastern policy of the past—are united now with the administration.   While some Republicans were behind the administration, McCarthy was spouting that any failure of foreign policy was due to Communists within the State Department.

Eventually Republicans rallied around McCarthy and also joined in the anti-communist rhetoric.  Even Democrats voted for anti-subversive legislation.   There were witch hunts for Communists in the United States including the State Department.  Public demand for anti-Communist and anti-subversive legislature encouraged both Republicans and Democrats to vote for these measures.  The anti-communism band wagon seemed like a good ride as the elections of 1950 approached.  The Republicans planned to unseat the Democrats in Congress.

Republican charges of subversion in the administration colored foreign policy in the Far East.  By the summer of 1950 Truman had rejected peace efforts by India and England.  Then the administration used the conflict to achieve policy objectives in Europe.   The peace efforts of both India and England included the acceptance of People’s Republic of China into the United Nations as well as Korean War settlement. England wanted to maintain good relations with China for her own economic reasons.   If the administration had shown a willingness to accept Communist China, the Republicans would have used this to prove that there were Communists in the Administration as well as the State Department.  Public opinion in the U.S. was in favor of not accepting India’s peace initiative.

Republicans had allocated a tremendous amount of money for military aid in South Korea in October, 1949.  This money was to be used to build Korea’s army, but was never used for this purpose.  This would have been due to the reservations of the administration to give Rhee an army to use at his own discretion.  The administration was concerned that Rhee would take this army and attack North Korea and this would bring China and Russia into the fight.

The republicans had started to “prey on the fears of the electorate in times of crisis for the sake of political gain.”   The conspiracy group in Congress started to say that the U.S. had deliberately lost Manchuria, China, Korea, and Berlin in a loss of strategic areas throughout the world.   Republicans played on the U.S. population’s mounting fear of Communism within the U.S. as well as through out the world.

Truman asked Congress to “…remove the limitations on size of armed forces…authorize the establishment of priorities and allocations of materials to prevent hoarding and requisitioning of necessary supplies…raise taxes and restrict consumer credit…and (allocate) an additional ten billion for defense.”    The authority to control prices, wages, and distribution of consumer goods at retail level vested in the President more arbitrary power over lives of American people than any other legislation past or present.   Republicans demanded a cut in domestic spending and protested the increase powers the President would have.

The major fact that Truman did not consult with Congress before committing troops to Korea affected the 1950 Congressional elections.  If he had consulted them, hoping they would approve, those opposed to the way the conflict was going would have not be able to place blame on Truman and call the conflict Truman’s War.

Republican Senator Taft called for votes for the GOP in order to stop Communism on the home front, “creeping socialism” as well as high taxes and inflation.    Finger pointing at the Democrats in essence said that Democrats are why we have this problem with Communism and that is a good reason to get them out of Congress.

By 1950 the Republicans were supporting American intervention in Korea and aligned themselves with the “no substitute for victory” mentality of McArthur while at other times calling for withdrawal from Korea.  Congress professed to want intervention in Korea but withheld funds necessary to keep an army there.    It is possible that Truman may have thought about the political consequences of his acts, but this did not stop him from doing what he thought was necessary.  The policies changed from time to time and at times there seem to be some confusion as to which policy or military strategy was appropriate and would be successful. The Republicans used McCarthyism to create fear of Communism to turn the public against the administration. This was done strictly for partisan reasons and to affect elections.

By the 1952 Presidential election, the real intent of the Republican Party was visible.  Despite at one time wanting both the U.S. out of Korea and supporting McArthur’s all out policy they nominated a military hero who had no plan for ending the war even though his platform was against unification at times and all out military policy.  The Republican Party was not consistent in what it thought the U.S. should do and did not present a working alternative, thus what they did was for political maneuvering. Foreign politics put pressure on the United States to abandon financial aid to Korea to assist it in its fight for independence and reunification.  American politics did affect the Korean War, but not to the extent that the Republicans would have wished. Truman was able to conduct the war as he saw fit.  Domestic politics did bring a Republican President to the White House, but not one whose policies differed that much from the outgoing President’s.

References

Caridi, Ronald J.  The Korean War and American Politics: The Republican Party as a Case Study.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1968. pp. 3,5,11,12,15,21,29,55,98

Congressional Record, June 26, 1950. p. 9158

Congressional Record, July 5, 1950. p. 9666

Congressional Record, Aug. 14, 1950. p. 12400

Congressional Record, Sept. 5, 1950. p. 14214

Duff, Gordon.  Historian.

Goldman, Eric.  The Crucial Decade and After. New York, 1960. p. 142

Highman, Charles.  Trading With the Enemy:The Nazi-American Money  Plot 1933-1949.  New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1983. pp. XV-XiX.,7

Kaufman, Burton I.  The Korean War: Challenges in Crisis, Credibility, and Command.  New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1986. pp. 52, 55

Rees, David. Korea: The Limited War. New York, 1964. p. 11

Reeves, Thomas C.  Life and Times of Joe McCarthy.  New York, 1982. pp. 305-314

The New York Times, January 4, 1950, pp. 1 & 6

Truman Memoirs II. pp. 329, 348

Posted in North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

The Real Reason Washington Is Worried About North Korea’s ICBM Test

NOVANEWS

The Real Reason Washington Is Worried About North Korea’s ICBM Test. An Effective Self-Defense?

With its ICBM test signaling its capability to retaliate against US aggression, North Korea has made clear that the United States’ seven decades long effort to topple its government may never come to fruition—a blow against US despotism, and an advance for peace, and for democracy on a world scale

This article first appeared on GR in July 2017.

A number of countries have recently tested ballistic or cruise missiles and a handful, not least Russia and China, possess nuclear-tipped ICBMs capable of striking the United States. And yet the missiles and nuclear weapons program of only one of these countries, North Korea, arouses consternation in Washington.

What makes tiny North Korea, within its miniscule defense budget, and rudimentary nuclear arsenal and missile capability, a threat so menacing that “worry has spread in Washington and the United Nations”? [1]

“The truth,” it has been said, “is often buried on the front page of The New York Times.” [2] This is no less true of the real reason Washington frets about North Korea’s missile tests.

Image result for David E. Sanger

David E. Sanger (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a July 4, 2017 article titled “What can Trump do about North Korea? His options are few and risky,” reporter David E. Sanger, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the unofficial think-tank of the US State Department, reveals why Washington is alarmed by North Korea’s recent test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“The fear,” writes Sanger, “is not that [North Korean leader] Mr. Kim would launch a pre-emptive attack on the West Coast; that would be suicidal, and if the North’s 33-year-old leader has demonstrated anything in his five years in office, he is all about survival.”

Washington’s alarm, according to Sanger, is that “Mr. Kim [now] has the ability to strike back.” In other words, Pyongyang has acquired the means of an effective self-defense. That, writes Sanger, makes North Korea “a dangerous regime.”

Indeed, to a world hegemon like the United States, any renitent foreign government that refuses to place itself in the role of vassal becomes “a dangerous regime,” which must be eliminated. Accordingly, allowing pro-independence North Korea to develop the means to more effectively defend itself against US imperialist ambitions has no place in Washington’s playbook. The United States has spent the past 70 years trying to integrate the tiny, plucky, country into its undeclared empire. Now, with North Korea’s having acquired the capability to retaliate against US military aggression in a manner that would cause considerable harm to the US homeland, the prospects of those seven-decades of investment bearing fruit appear dim.

US hostility to North Korean independence has been expressed in multifarious ways over the seven decades of North Korea’s existence.

A three-year US-led war of aggression, from 1950 to 1953, exterminated 20 percent of North Korea’s population and burned to the ground every town in the country [3], driving the survivors into subterranean shelters, in which they lived and worked. US General Douglas MacArthur said of the destruction the United States visited upon North Korea that

“I have never seen such devastation…After I looked at the wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited.” [4]

A vicious seven-decades-long campaign of economic warfare, aimed at crippling the country’s economy, and engendering attendant miseries among its people, has conferred upon North Korea the unhappy distinction of being the most heavily sanctioned nation on earth. Nestled among the tranches of US sanctions are those that have been imposed because North Korea has chosen “a Marxist-Leninist economy,” [5] revealing what lies at the root of US hostility to the country.

For decades, North Koreans have lived under a US nuclear Sword of Damocles, subjected repeatedly to threats of nuclear annihilation, including being turned into “charcoal briquettes” [6] and “completely destroyed,” so that they “literally cease to exist” [7]—and this before they had nuclear weapons and the rudimentary means to deliver them. In other words, in threats to vaporize North Koreans, Washington has threatened to make them the successors to aboriginal Americans as objects of US perpetrated genocides.

We should remind ourselves why North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the first place. As University of Chicago history professor Bruce Cumings writes, for North Korea the nuclear crisis began in late February 1993, when

General Lee Butler, head of the new U.S. ‘Strategic Command,’ announced that he was retargeting strategic nuclear weapons (i.e., hydrogen bombs) meant for the old U.S.S.R, on North Korea (among other places.) At the same time, the new CIA chief, James Woolsey, testified that North Korea was ‘our most grave current concern.’ By mid-March 1993, tens of thousands of [US] soldiers were carrying out war games in Korea…and in came the B1-B bombers, B-52s from Guam, several naval vessels carrying cruise missiles, and the like: whereupon the North pulled out of the NPT.” [8]

Two and half decades later the B1-B bombers and several naval vessels carrying cruise missiles—this time, US ‘power-projecting” aircraft carriers—are back.

Last month, Washington sent not one, but two aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, to the waters between Japan and Korea, to conduct “exercises,” “a show of force not seen there for more than two decades,” reported The Wall Street Journal. [9]

At the same time, the Pentagon sent B1-B strategic bombers, not once, but twice last month, to conduct simulated nuclear bombing runs “near the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas;” in other words, along the North Korean border. [10]

Understandably, North Korea denounced the simulated bombing missions for what they were: grave provocations. If the communist country’s new self-defensive capabilities spurred consternation in Washington, then Washington’s overt display of its offensive might legitimately enkindled alarm in Pyongyang. The Wall Street Journal summed up the US provocations this way: the “U.S. military has conducted several flyovers near the Korean Peninsula using B-1B [i.e., nuclear] bombers and directed a Navy aircraft carrier group to the region—all to North Korea’s consternation.” [11]

Robert Litwak, director of international security studies for the Wilson Center, explains the reason for Pyongyang’s consternation, if it’s not already blindingly obvious. US-led war games “[may look] like a defensive maneuver for us, [but] from North Korea‘s perspective, they may think we’re preparing an attack when you start bringing B2 fighters.” [12]

In January, North Korea offered to “sit with the U.S. anytime” to discuss US war games and its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang proposed that the United States “contribute to easing tension on the Korean peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in south Korea and its vicinity this year, and said that in this case the DPRK is ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.” [13]

The North Korean proposal was seconded by China and Russia [14] and recently by South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in. [15] But Washington peremptorily rejected the proposal, refusing to acknowledge any equivalency between US-led war games, which US officials deem ‘legitimate’ and North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, which they label ‘illegitimate.” [16]

US rejection of the China-Russia-South Korea-backed North Korean proposal, however, is only rhetorically related to notions of legitimacy, and the question of legitimacy fails to stand up under even the most cursory examination. How are US ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons legitimate and those of North Korea not?

The real reason Washington rejects the North Korean proposal is explained by Sanger: an agreed freeze “essentially acknowledges that the North’s modest arsenal is here to say;” which means that Pyongyang has achieved “the ability to strike back,” to stay the US hand, and deter Washington from launching a regime change aggression in the manner of wars it perpetrated against Saddam and Gaddafi, leaders who led pro-independence governments which, like North Korea, refused to be integrated into the informal US empire, but which, unlike North Korea, relinquished their means of self-defense, and once defenseless, were toppled by US-instigated aggressions.

“That is what Mr. Kim believes his nuclear program will prevent,” writes the Council on Foreign Relations member, referring to the US effort to bring the United States’ seven-decades-long campaign of regime change against Pyongyang to a head. And he may, Sanger concedes, “be right.”

Anyone concerned with democracy should take heart that North Korea, unlike Gaddafi’s Libya and Saddam’s Iraq, has successfully resisted US predations. The United States exercises an international dictatorship, arrogating onto itself the right to intervene in any part of the globe, in order to dictate to others how they should organize their political and economic affairs, to the point, in North Korea, of explicitly waging economic warfare against the country because it has a Marxist-Leninist economy at variance with the economic interests of the upper stratum of US society whose opportunities for profit-making through exports to and investments in North Korea have been accordingly eclipsed.

Those countries which resist despotism are the real champions of democracy, not those which exercise it (the United States) or facilitate it (their allies.) North Korea is calumniated as a bellicose dictatorship, human rights violator and practitioner of cruel and unusual punishment of political dissidents, a description to a tee of Washington’s principal Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, a recipient of almost illimitable military, diplomatic and other favors from the United States, showered on the Arabian tyranny despite its total aversion to democracy, reduction of women to the status of chattel, dissemination of a viciously sectarian Wahhabi ideology, an unprovoked war on Yemen, and the beheading and crucifixion of its political dissidents.

If we are concerned about democracy, we should, as Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo argues, also be concerned about democracy on a global scale. The worry that has spread in Washington and the United Nations is a worry that democracy on a global scale has just been given a boost. And that should not be a worry for the rest of us, but a warm caress.

Notes

1. Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim, “North Korea’s nukes are not on negotiation table: Kim Jong-un,” Reuters, July 5, 2017.

2. This may be attributable to Peter Kuznick, co-writer with Oliver Stone of The Untold History of the United States.

3. According to US Air Force General Curtis LeMay, head of Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, cited in Medi Hasan, “Why do North Koreans hate us? One reason—They remember the Korean War,” The Intercept, May 3, 2017. LeMay said, we “killed off…20 percent of the population…We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea.”

4. Glen Frieden, “NPR can’t help hyping North Korea threat,” FAIR, May 9, 2017.

5. “North Korea: Economic Sanctions,” Congressional Research Service, 2016.

6. Colin Powell warned North Korea that the United States could turn it into a “charcoal briquette.” Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarization,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.

7. US General Wesley Clark, quoted in Domenico Losurdo, Non-Violence: A History Beyond the Myth, Lexington Books, 2015, Clark said, “The leaders of North Korea use bellicose language, but they know very well that they do not have a military option available…Were they to attack South Korea, their nation would be completely destroyed. It would literally cease to exist.”

8. Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. p. 488-489.

9. Gordon Lubold, “North Korea, South China Sea to dominate Defense Secretary’s Asia Trip,” The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2017.

10. Jonathan Cheng, “U.S. bombers fly near North Korean border after missile launch,” The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2017.

11. Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea compares Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler,” The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2017.

12. “US experts argue in favor of scaling down S. Korea-US military exercises,” The Hankyoreh, June 20, 2017.

13. Korean Central News Agency, January 10, 2015.

14. Jonathan Cheng and Alastair Gale, “North Korea missile launch threatens U.S. strategy in Asia,” The Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2017.

15. David E. Sanger, “What can Trump do about North Korea? His options are few and risky,” The New York Times, July 4, 2017.

16. Jonathan Cheng and Alastair Gale, “North Korea missile launch threatens U.S. strategy in Asia,” The Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2017.

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Trump Threatens N.Korea with Nuclear War

NOVANEWS

Trump Threatens North Korea with Nuclear War. My Nuclear Button is Bigger and it Works

 

The Trump administration has begun the year with an open and reckless threat of nuclear war against North Korea—a conflict that would inevitably drag in other nuclear-armed powers, with catastrophic consequences for the world.

In a New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered talks with South Korea to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula but warned the US he was ready to defend North Korea. The entire US mainland, he declared, was “within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.”

US President Donald Trump fired off a derogatory and provocative tweet:

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The remarks further inflame an extremely tense situation and undermine the meeting between North and South Korea scheduled for next Tuesday. In an earlier tweet, Trump was decidedly cool toward the prospect of such talks, saying:

“Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not—we will see!”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders faced hostile questioning over Trump’s tweet, with one journalist asking: “

Should Americans be concerned about the President’s mental fitness that he appears to be speaking so lightly about threats regarding a nuclear button?”

Sanders responded by questioning North Korean leader Kim’s mental fitness, then aggressively defending Trump’s threat.

“This is a president,” she declared, “who’s not going to cower down and he’s not going to be weak, and is going to… stand up and protect the American people.”

Sanders attacked the previous Obama administration for failing to tackle North Korea and declared that the Trump administration was going to continue its strategy of “maximum pressure” on the Pyongyang regime. Trump has insisted he will not allow North Korea to build a nuclear missile capable of reaching continental America and will, if necessary, use military force to prevent it.

Trump came under fire from several congressional Democrats, with Ro Khanna calling for new legislation restricting the president’s ability to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike without authorisation. Jim Himes expressed the fear that Trump’s tweet could result in a fatal miscalculation with North Korea, warning:

“That would get real very quickly.”

These reactions reflect sharp divisions in ruling circles in Washington over Trump’s confrontational policies toward North Korea and China, which have produced mounting calls for the president’s removal.

“This Tweet alone is grounds for removal from office under the 25th Amendment. This man should not have nukes,” Richard Painter, a lawyer who worked for President George W. Bush commented.

Under the 25th amendment, the vice-president and a majority of cabinet can dismiss a president deemed to be unfit to hold office.

The bitter factional disputes in Washington are tactical in character. The political establishment as a whole has backed a succession of criminal wars of aggression over the past 25 years and would not hesitate to back the use of nuclear weapons to defend US economic and strategic interests. Those opposed to Trump, however, view Russia rather than China as the most immediate threat to be dealt with.

Trump’s bellicose threats to use the huge US nuclear arsenal are not just aimed at North Korea. They are designed to send a warning to any country that poses a challenge to American global hegemony. Trump has continued President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” against China that includes a huge military build-up in the Asia Pacific region in preparation for war.

The Trump administration has exploited the supposed North Korean threat to justify huge joint military exercises with South Korea and pressure China to impose crippling sanctions on the Pyongyang regime. The Chinese leadership is clearly concerned at the danger of war, including nuclear war, in its backyard, but also reluctant to provoke a crisis in North Korea that could be used to install a pro-US regime in Pyongyang.

An editorial in the state-owned Global Times yesterday expressed alarm at Trump’s tweet, declaring that “vying for who has a bigger, more powerful nuclear button is definitely not a solution” to the confrontation.

The editorial warned that the standoff on the Korean Peninsula could not continue.

“It will get better, or get worse. If there is no major turnaround, a horrible situation might not be so far away,” it stated.

The Trump administration has repeatedly rejected Chinese proposals for negotiations with North Korea.

The terrible scale of destruction that even a limited war on the Korean Peninsula, or restricted nuclear exchange, was outlined in a lengthy essay entitled “The Korean Missile Crisis: Why Deterrence Is Still the Best Option” in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs.

The author Scott Sagan, who is highly critical of Trump, warned that the current confrontation with North Korea was more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, during which the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war. He argued for a policy of containment and deterrence of a nuclear-armed North Korea, akin to US strategy during the Cold War.

The alternative, Sagan explained, would be horrendous.

“According to NUKEMAP, a single 100-kiloton nuclear weapon detonated above the port city of Busan, in South Korea… would kill 440,000 people in seconds. A weapon of that size detonated over Seoul would kill 362,000; over San Francisco, the number would be 323,000.”

These estimates did not include deaths from fires and nuclear fallout.

A nuclear war would kill millions, even if it did not involve other nuclear-armed powers such as Russia and China. Yet that is exactly what Trump is threatening. Using the United Nations as a world stage last year, he belligerently declared he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it posed a threat to the US.

Sagan’s assessment was echoed this week by former US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen who warned that the world was “closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been.” Mullen was pessimistic about any peaceful solution, saying:

“I don’t see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.”

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Trump Nuking North Korea Would “Make America Great Again”?

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Trump Nuking North Korea Would “Make America Great Again”? Trump is a Modern-day Machiavelli Who doesn’t Care about Morals and Ethics

If Trump is willing to accept the enormous loss of American life — which are the only people that he cares about as the US President — then turning the Korean Peninsula into Asia’s nuclear panhandle would indeed “Make America Great Again” by permanently handicapping its Russian & Chinese geostrategic competitors as well as its Japanese & South Korean economic ones.

The war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald J. Trump has suddenly taken a very foreboding turn, with both men now talking about “nuclear buttons” and openly hinting at the prospects of carrying out a preemptive first strike against the other.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

The first thing to remember is that Trump is dead serious (pun intended) about his desire to “Make America Great Again”, and that he will stop at nothing to see his vision fulfilled in the future, including if he has to use nuclear weapons to make it happen.

Normative objections like arguing about how “terrible” and “evil” this is have absolutely no effect on Trump, who has come to be the literal embodiment of the “Mad Man Theory” and cares nothing about such concerns, ruthlessly viewing the world through a Neo-Realist prism where everything revolves around power.

If there’s any “emotional” point that would give Trump pause to think, then it’s about the lives of the nearly quarter-million Americans (including servicemen and their families) living in South Korea who could easily be killed in the opening days of a Korean Continuation War, and this is the only reason why Trump has yet to use nuclear weapons against North Korea.

Right now the President whose opponents label as a “heartless psychopath” is actually very concerned about the moral responsibility that he would have to forever shoulder in potentially sacrificing so many Americans, but if he ever surmounts his conscientious objections to this or is misled by the “deep state” into believing that North Korea is in the imminent process of launching its own preemptive strike (or is provoked by the military to already do so), the he might “make peace with himself” in the “comfort” that “only” 250,000 Americans had to die (notwithstanding the millions of Asians that he doesn’t care about) in order to “Make America Great Again”.

Brutally speaking, the only real consequence that the US would suffer from nuking North Korea is the death of its South Korean-based compatriots as “collateral damage”, and the possibility of a Chinese military response to America’s brazen bombing(s?) could be avoided if Washington provokes Pyongyang into striking first because of Beijing’s previous pledge not to intervene if its wayward “ally” is the one most directly “responsible” for reigniting hostilities.

US bases in South Korea

Source: Oriental Review

Accepting that the US would quickly emerge as militarily victorious in this conflict, it’s now time to examine how the destructive consequences of nuking North Korea would actually “Make America Great Again” from Trump’s “Kraken”-like Neo-Realist perspective.

To begin with, almost all of North Korea’s territory could be rendered inhospitable depending on the scale and scope of the US’ nuclear arms use, thus turning it into the ultimate “buffer zone” and therefore making the decades-long question of whether the (now-former) country would be occupied by Chinese or American-South Korean troops after a speculative continuation war moot.

Secondly, the atmospheric aftereffects of America’s nuclear weapons use are difficult to precisely predict and should be left to more competent experts to comment upon in detail, but it can confidently be presumed that this would affect South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, up to and including making some of their territory also inhospitable.

Not only that, but Seoul and even Tokyo could be wiped out if Pyongyang is successful in nuking them in its final moments, and even if they’re not destroyed, then the resultant nuclear atmospheric damage to South Korea and Japan would devastate these once-strong Asian economies and reduce them to uncompetitive “Third World” states.

The same can also happen to a large chunk of China in its rustbelt “Manchurian” region of the Northeast, as well as the base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and its “Window to Asia” in Vladivostok, though the exact consequences are again subject to the atmospheric ramifications resulting from the scope and scale of any speculative American nuclear bombing of North Korea.

One of the relevant tangential developments that could unfold is that China’s domestic agricultural industry could collapse, and this could combine with the widespread fear resulting from the nearby radioactive panhandle to produce unpredictable socio-political consequences in the People’s Republic.

Furthermore, the nuclear destruction of North Korea and the attendant apocalyptic aftereffects that this would have for Northeast Asia would for all intents and purposes remove each of these victimized nation-states from the geopolitical game except for perhaps Russia, seeing as how they’d all be wreaked with internal turmoil in dealing with the long-term radioactive fallout of what happened, thus restoring the US to its immediate post-World War II “glorious” position in recapturing the majority of the global economy and literally “Making America Great Again”.

It’s precisely this “reward” that is so tempting to Trump and why his finger is itching to press the nuclear button, but then again he’s still held back by the thought of the quarter-million American lives that might have to be sacrificed as a result, though he might “console” himself with the “excuse” that this was “necessary” in order for the remaining 320+ million to “rule the world”.

As for the millions upon millions of Asians who would surely die in this scenario, Trump would “rationalize” it by convincing himself that he was taking North Korean “slaves” “out of their misery” and that all the others who allowed Kim Jong Un to “get out of control” and launch what the Pentagon might provoke to be Pyongyang’s first strike “deserved it”, shedding all personal responsibility for this by claiming that he “inherited an impossible mess” from his hated predecessors who already made its dynamics “irreversible” and therefore its conclusion “inevitable”.

The only realistic chance that Trump can be stopped from nuking North Korea in the event that he “gets over” the potential deaths of a quarter-million Americans (considering that the deaths of Asians aren’t anything that he cares about) and/or is misled into thinking that North Korea is on the cusp of launching its own imminent first strike (or was provoked into doing so) is if Russia and China convey the message to the US — whether openly or discretely — that they will respond with nuclear weapons if Washington dares to use them.

This brinksmanship would be very dangerous because there’s no telling whether Kim Jong Un would introduce nukes into any forthcoming conflict first, though from Pyongyang’s perspective it would have to in order to ensure its survival or “go out with a bang” like it’s been threatening, resultantly giving the US a semi-“plausible” right to respond in kind, albeit much more disproportionately.

However much some people may wish, it is unlikely that Russia and/or China would go to nuclear war against the US over North Korea, especially in the event that Pyongyang used nukes first (whether justifiably or not), and in spite of the long-term radioactive fallout that could devastate their two countries (China much more so than Russia in this case).

In addition, it can be assured that any US nuclear (counter-)attack against North Korea would be preceded by the scrupulous monitoring of all Chinese nuclear assets “just in case”, meaning that Washington would be on “red alert” to nuke China if Washington thought that Beijing was about to bomb its overseas bases or homeland in preemptive response for the deadly radioactive future that the US would be giving it, thus representing an unimaginably dangerous situation fraught with the risk of even the smallest misstep leading to a nuclear war between the US and China and further diminishing the chance that Beijing would strike back.

All in all, Trump is proving himself to be the consummate risk-taker who’s not afraid to up the stakes in any situation, and a thorough read of his personality proves that he wouldn’t shy away from using nuclear weapons against North Korea, deeply believing that it’s the key to “Make America Great Again” even if this would run the chance of a nuclear war with China too.

Trump is a modern-day Machiavelli who doesn’t care about morals, ethics, and principles when it comes to advancing his country’s grand strategic interests on the world stage, but it’s because of the little bit of “humanity” that’s still left within him in caring about the fate of a quarter-million Americans that he has yet to push the nuclear red button that’s sitting so tantalizingly close on his desk.

Posted in USA, North Korea0 Comments

As North and South Korea Reciprocate Offers of Talks, Trump Responds: “I Too Have a Nuclear Button”

NOVANEWS

While the U.S. has been cold toward Kim Jong Un’s offer of Olympics talks with South Korea, Seoul has extended the hand of full-fledged diplomacy.

 

South Korea has responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong- un‘s diplomatic overture with an offer Tuesday to hold high-level talks between the countries on the border next week.

On New Year’s Day, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un announced that the country will seek participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea between Feb. 9-25, foretelling 2018 as a “year of reconciliation” even as he noted that he now had a “nuclear button” on his desk, referring to the country’s now-powerful nuclear deterrence and weapons delivery system.

In a Twitter message posted Tuesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump, referring to Kim, said:

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The former reality television personality regularly pokes fun at his North Korean counterpart on Twitter, issuing various missives that have worried U.S. commentators due to their inflammatory and non-diplomatic nature. Kim has refused to back down, calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, however, welcomed Kim’s New Year address and asked his government to move as quickly as possible to bring North Korea to the Olympics, but he stressed that an improvement in inter-Korean relations “cannot go separately with resolving North Korea’s nuclear program.”

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said the offer for high-level talks next Tuesday had been discussed with the United States. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauertsaid she was not aware if the matter had been discussed in advance of the South Korean response.

Cho suggested the talks be held at the truce village of Panmunjeom in the De-Militarized Zone on Jan. 9, and said they should be focused on North Korea’s participation at the Olympics, but other issues would likely arise, including the denuclearization of North Korea.

“I repeat: The government is open to talking with North Korea, regardless of time, location and form,” Cho said.

Should the talks be held, it would be the first such dialogue since a vice-ministerial meeting in December 2015.

Moon Jae-In has long been an advocate of the so-called “Sunshine Policy” introduced in 1998 by South Korea’s then-President Kim Dae-Jung called for a slow process of confederated reunification and resulted in a blossoming of North-South relations, including large shipments of food aid to the North and a lifting of restrictions on joint business ventures.

The South Korean leader, who eventually earned a Nobel Peace Prize, even urged the U.S. to lift its embargo on the North. Pyongyang had, for the first time, established official ties with various European states while holding talks with the U.S. and Japan.

The policy broke down amid threats by the United States, whose then-President George W. Bushsaid that Pyongyang was a part of the “Axis of Evil” including Iraq and Iran.

The White House is lukewarm to the idea of the two Koreas holding talks, responding with a mixture of doubt and the usual sarcasm that has marked Trump’s attitude toward to diplomacy.

“Our policy on North Korea hasn’t changed at all. The United States is committed and will still continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change and make sure that it denuclearizes the peninsula,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Our goals are the same and we share that with South Korea, but our policy and our process has not changed.”

The State Department’s Nauert couldn’t help but express misgivings about potential talks, saying that North Korea might be “trying to drive a wedge of some sort” between the United States and South Korea and added that while it was up to Seoul to decide who it talked to:

“We are very skeptical of Kim Jong Un’s sincerity in sitting down and having talks.”

China, which has consistently expressed hopes that diplomacy be used to ease tensions, said the positive comments from the Koreans was a good thing.

“China welcomes and supports North Korea and South Korea taking earnest efforts to treat this as an opportunity to improve mutual relations, promote the alleviation of the situation on the Korean peninsula and realize denuclearization on the peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Since the end of the Second World War and the creation of the Republic of Korea under the supervision of the U.S. postwar occupation, Seoul has been a crucial linchpin of the U.S. Asia-Pacific security infrastructure.

Posted in North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

China Slams US Accusation About Selling Oil to North Korea

NOVANEWS

Featured image: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying (Source: People’s Daily Online)

 

On Thursday, Trump abrasively tweeted: “Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea.”

“There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”

The NYT, WaPo, CNN, other US and Western media jumped on the issue, repeating Trump’s accusation, no evidence proving China is violating UN Security Council resolutions on the country.

Editorials in China’s Global Times (GT) and People’s Daily (PD) sharply denied the accusation.

PD quoted China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, saying:

“The Chinese government has been comprehensively, accurately, faithfully and strictly implementing the Security Council’s DPRK-related resolutions,” adding:

Beijing’s enforcement of Security Council resolutions is “earnest and serious (its measures and actions) forceful and effective.”

“If there is solid evidence proving that there is on the Chinese side any violation of the Security Council resolutions, China will surely deal with it in accordance with laws and regulations, and not a single case of violation should get away with it.”

Hua suggested Western media address whether governments they represent strictly implement SC resolution. Washington, NATO, Israel, and its rogue allies breach them with disturbing regularity, pursuing their lawless agendas.

In response to Western media claims about photos taken by US satellites, allegedly showing Chinese ships linking up with North Korean ones, GT said the vessels in question aren’t oil tankers or capable of carrying large tonnage.

Besides, it’s unclear what nation they belong to or where they came from.

GT:

“It’s universally known that the ownership of a vessel cannot be determined from the logos and flags on it.”

“It’s hasty to assert that the ship is connected to China just based on its appearance. Moreover, if it was indeed smuggling, it is highly likely that the vessel would use false logos.”

“What motivation would China possibly have to secretly supply oil to North Korea? How would Beijing benefit from risking its national reputation for such petty actions?”

“Amid increasingly tough sanctions on Pyongyang, there are indeed some people smuggling for huge gains. But these smugglers might be mainlanders, South Koreans, Japanese, Taiwanese, groups from Southeast Asian countries or even Westerners.”

The greater issue is why China and Russia permitted multiple rounds of harsh sanctions on North Korea – knowing they’re counterproductive.

They don’t work, encouraging, not curtailing, Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic programs – most importantly, inflicting enormous harm on millions of ordinary North Koreans, victims of US-led rage against their country.

China and Russia shamed themselves for going along with Washington’s punitive agenda, its ruthlessness against all sovereign independent countries including their own.

Resoluteness demands standing up to bullies like America, challenging its ruthlessness responsibly, not acting as a willing co-conspirator against the North Korean people.

Note: Security Council sanctions on North Korea ban around 90% of refined petroleum products, not 100%.

They permit four million barrels of crude oil imports. They ban or severely limit most everything else, a policy of economic strangulation – a flagrant human rights abuse.

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S. Korean President Moon’s Pardon: No “Prisoners of Conscience”

NOVANEWS

S. Korean President Moon’s Pardon: No “Prisoners of Conscience” Were Included in the Special Pardon.

Official Statement About the Special Pardon on December 29, 2017

No prisoners of conscience were included in the Special Pardon.

On December 29, 2017, President Moon Jae-in granted a special pardon in his first year in office. Since he left out the chance on the National Liberation Day and Chuseok, we looked forward to his first amnesty. However, we cannot believe the result even if we get to the contents. He is the president who didn’t release a single prisoner of conscience. So, why did he drag on until the last working day of 2017?

President Moon did not keep the victims of the former government warm.

The Minister of Justice took credit saying this special pardon was designed from the very start to help those convicted of crimes while trying to make a living. But it is not different from the previous disappointing government. This special pardon ignored all prisoners of conscience including Lee Seok-ki and Han Sang-gyun as well as the victims associated with the Sewol Ferry Tragedy and THAAD. 

The conscience of the government stopped in front of prisoners of conscience.

A related official of the Blue House said,

“There was a concern that the special pardon would lead to national division.”

It sounds like a cowardly excuse. The government would rather say that it was afraid that the approval rating or votes in the local election in 2018 would fall. As the poet Song Kyung-dong said,

“Is the government of Moon Jae-in afraid of Park Geun-hye and Lee Jae-yong in prison?”

President Moon Jae-in must know that human rights issues should be decided by a majority decision.

However, the fact that he dealt with all results through electronic approval during his vacation comes to our attention.

December 29, 2017, will be recorded in history as the day when the conscience of the government which was established as a result of the people’s Candlelight Movement [and the impeachment of president Park] betrayed both the prisoners of conscience [including those imprisoned by President Park] as well as the Candlelight Movement. 

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How Cheney and His Allies Created the North Korea Nuclear Missile Crisis

NOVANEWS

By Gareth PorterTruthout 

Vice President Dick Cheney (L) gathers with other senior members of the US Government during remarks by President George W. Bush about the North Korean missile launches in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington July 5, 2006. (Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC / Corbis via Getty Images)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney gathers with other senior members of the US Government during remarks by former President George W. Bush about the North Korean missile launches in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington July 5, 2006. (Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC / Corbis via Getty Images).

The Trump administration has been telling people for months that the crisis with North Korea is the result of North Korea’s relentless pursuit of a nuclear threat to the US homeland and past North Korean cheating on diplomatic agreements. However, North Korea reached agreements with both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations that could have averted that threat, had they been completed.

Instead, a group of Bush administration officials led by then-Vice President Dick Cheney sabotaged both agreements, and Pyongyang went on to make rapid strides on both nuclear and missile development, leading ultimately to the successful late November 2017 North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

The record shows, moreover, that Cheney and his allies derailed diplomatic efforts to curb North Korean nuclear and missile development, not because they opposed “arms control” (after all, the agreements that were negotiated would have limited only North Korean arms), but because those agreements would have been a political obstacle to fielding the group’s main interest: funding and fielding a national missile defense system as quickly as possible. The story of Cheney’s maneuvering to kill two agreements shows how a real US national security interest was sacrificed to a massive military boondoggle that served only the interests of the powerful contractors behind it.

Curbing North Korean Arms or Missile Defense?

In October 1994, the Bill Clinton administration reached a historic agreement with North Korea called the “Agreed Framework,” under which Pyongyang agreed to freeze its existing plutonium reactor and related facilities within a month, with full monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and to dismantle them as soon as they could be replaced with light water reactors. The United States promised to provide the reactors, as well fuel oil, until the light water reactors were built. And even more crucially, the US also pledged to take steps to end the enmity toward North Korea and normalize relations between the two longtime adversaries.

No sooner had the Clinton administration negotiated the “Agreed Framework,” however, than the Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress in the 1994 election. That seismic political shift enabled a powerful lobby of military contractors pushing for a national missile defense system to achieve a congressional mandate for rapid development and deployment of such a system.

It was a fateful convergence, because the missile defense lobby’s strategy was to create a sense of urgency about an alleged imminent threat to the US homeland from ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons mounted by “rogue states”– Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

It was not the US, but North Korea that proposed an agreement in 1998 that would end its development of new missiles as part of a broader peace agreement with Washington.

And the Clinton administration’s agreement with North Korea — the only “rogue state” known to have a nuclear weapons program as well as a missile program — threatened that missile defense lobby strategy.

When a 1995 CIA intelligence estimate said that none of the three “rogue states” would have ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United States for at least 15 years, the missile defense lobby got Congress to pass legislation creating a “national commission” on the ballistic missile threat that would contradict the CIA assessment. The commission, led by Republican hard-liner Donald Rumsfeld, asserted in its final report in July 1998 that either Iraq or North Korea might acquire long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States in as little as five years. In a craven retreat under political pressure, the CIA then largely adopted the commission’s argument.

North Korea had only carried out two tests of medium or longer-range missiles in the decade from 1988 to 1998, neither of which had been successful, so the Clinton administration was not focused on the threat of an ICBM: It held just two rounds of talks on the ballistic missile program between 1996 and 1998.

In fact, it was not the United States, but North Korea that proposed an agreement in 1998 that would end its development of new missiles as part of a broader peace agreement with Washington.

When the United States failed to respond to the proposal, however, North Korea launched a three-stage rocket called the Taepodong on August 31, 1998, which the missile lobby and news media argued was a major step toward a North Korean ICBM. The missile lobby used that event to push for legislation establishing a national policy goal to deploy and “effective National Missile Defense System” as soon as technologically possible.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was using the regime’s missile development as a prod to get the Clinton administration to negotiate a deal that would include concrete steps toward normalization of relations. He even sent a personal envoy to Washington to present the outline of a new North Korean offer to give up the regime’s quest for an ICBM, as well as its nuclear weapons capability. In October 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went to Pyongyang, and the two sides came close to a final agreement that would have ended North Korean missile development as well as its nuclear weapons program and led to normalizing relations.

But Clinton didn’t go to North Korea to sign the deal in the final months of his presidency, and the election of George W. Bush in November 2000 was a major victory for the missile defense lobby. Bush named Rumsfeld, the primary political champion of a missile defense system, as his Secretary of Defense. And no less than eight figures with direct or indirect ties to Lockheed Martin, the leading defense contractor in the missile defense business, became policymakers in the new administration. The most important was Dick Cheney, whose wife, Lynn Cheney, had earned more than half a million dollars serving on the board of directors of Lockheed-Martin from 1994 to 2001.

Cheney set about killing the Agreed Framework and securing the missile defense system even before Bush entered the White House. Cheney chose Robert Joseph, a hardline supporter of missile defense and foe of an agreement with North Korea, as a key member of the transition team that Cheney led. Cheney then made Joseph senior director on the National Security Council (NSC) staff with responsibility for both missile defense and “weapons of mass destruction” proliferation policy.

“Joseph really hated the Agreed Framework,” Larry Wilkerson, then in the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, told journalist Mike Chinoy. “His objective was first to kill the Agreed Framework and to make sure that nothing like it could ever get created again.”

Joseph’s first project was to draft a National Security Presidential Directive that laid out a “new strategic framework,” essentially built around a ballistic missile defense system, as Joseph later told a National Defense University researcher

Joseph drafted a speech that the president gave on May 1, 2001, in which Bush debuted a new central argument for national missile defense. “Deterrence can no longer be based solely on the threat of nuclear retaliation,” Bush declared, adding that missile defense system could “strengthen deterrence by reducing the incentive for proliferation.”

Cheney and Bolton Go for the Kill

Colin Powell’s State Department posed the main obstacle to the Cheney group’s plans for trashing the Agreed Framework. The Department’s East Asian Bureau got Bush’s approval for a formal policy review on North Korea, which concluded by defining the policy goal of exploring a deal with North Korea that would involve “an improved relationship.”

But Cheney had a bureaucratic strategy to frustrate that endeavor and finish off the Agreed Framework. The NSC staff initiated a “nuclear posture review,” which was carried out without any participation by Powell’s allies. The final document included North Korea on a new list of countries that could be targets for US use of nuclear weapons.

No less than eight figures with direct or indirect ties to Lockheed Martin, the leading defense contractor in the missile defense business, became policymakers in the new administration. The most important was Dick Cheney.

That designation, which was leaked to the press in March 2002, conflicted directly with the US pledge in the Agreed Framework to “provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat or use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.”

Then Bush’s State of the Union message in January 2002 introduced the idea of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and Iraq. That was not merely a throwaway line introduced by a speechwriter, but reflected lobbying by Cheney and Rumsfeld for “toughening sanctions and isolation to lay the groundwork for regime change in North Korea,” according to Condoleezza Rice’s memoir, No Higher Honor.

John Bolton, Cheney’s proxy in the State Department on proliferation issues, writes in his memoir Surrender is Not an Option that he considered the “axis of evil” speech a signal that he could now begin a bureaucratic offensive aimed at killing the Agreed Framework. Bolton recalls that he pushed the State Department to adopt the position that North Korea was out of compliance with the Agreed Framework for having “failed to make a complete and accurate declaration of its nuclear activities and refused to allow inspection of related facilities.”

However, Bolton was misrepresenting the terms of the agreement, which provided that North Korea would come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement, including the accuracy and completeness of its declaration on its nuclear program, “[w]hen a significant portion of the LWR [light water reactor] project is completed, but before delivery of key nuclear components…” Construction on the light water reactor had not even begun in 2002, when the State Department notified Congress that North Korea was out of compliance.

Bolton’s plan was frustrated temporarily by resistance from the NSC, over which then-National Security Adviser Rice had some influence. But the decisive blow to the Agreed Framework came in July 2002, when, according to his memoir, Bolton obtained an intelligence assessment stating that North Korea “began seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities” in 2001, and that it had “obtained equipment suitable for use in uranium feed and withdrawal systems.” Bolton recalls that the new intelligence finding was “the hammer I had been looking for to shatter the Agreed Framework.” He argued in interagency meetings that North Korea had pledged to “take steps to implement the North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and therefore any North Korean move toward uranium enrichment violated its commitment.

Bolton was creating another false issue. Robert Carlin, a North Korea expert and adviser to the US negotiators, has pointed out that the reference to that document was an “afterthought” and that “no one really believed that the reference to the North-South agreements would constitute one of the core DPRK obligations” in the agreement.

Bush’s negotiator with North Korea, Charles L. Pritchard, suggested bringing the uranium enrichment issue into the Agreed Framework, using the North Korean interest in normalization as negotiating leverage, according to Bolton. He also warned that if the United States withdrew from the agreement, North Korea would resume its plutonium program or start a new uranium program.

However, Bolton recalls telling Pritchard that wouldn’t make “the slightest difference,” because North Korea already had enough plutonium for “several weapons.” In fact, it was not at all clear that Pyongyang had already converted plutonium into a single nuclear weapon.

Cheney set about killing the Agreed Framework and securing the missile defense system even before Bush entered the White House.

However, Bolton showed no apparent concern about North Korea’s long-range missile program, which the Clinton administration and North Korea had agreed would be negotiated in conjunction with moves toward normalization. “I wanted a decisive conclusion that the Agreed Framework was dead,” Bolton writes.

In October 2002, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly went to Pyongyang with explicit orders, which Rice attributes to those who were undermining diplomacy, to accuse Pyongyang of cheating on the agreement by having a uranium enrichment program. North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju did not deny the government’s interest in uranium enrichment, but said it was a response to the clear indications from the Bush administration that it had no intention to improve relations with his government. He also said North Korea was prepared to negotiate on all enrichment, including uranium, if the United States changed its hostile policy.

However, at an NSC meeting a week later, no one disagreed with the assertion that the Agreed Framework was dead, according to Bolton. In December 2002, the Bush administration strong-armed its Japanese and South Korean allies to end their supply of oil to the North Korea, officially terminating the Agreed Framework.

Cheney and his allies were clearing the political path to full funding for the national missile defense system they wanted to rush to deployment as quickly as possible. Rumsfeld had created a new Missile Defense Agency in the Pentagon in early 2002, which had unprecedented freedom from congressional or Department of Defense oversight.

They were also opening the floodgates for North Korean nuclear and missile development.

Cheney Kills Rice’s North Korea Agreement

For the next three years, the Bush administration refused direct negotiations with North Korea. But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got Bush to agree in September 2005 to a joint statement of principles with North Korea in the context of Six-Party Talks.

In October 2007, Washington and Pyongyang negotiated an agreement under which Pyongyang would first seal and then disable its plutonium-based facilities for shipment of heavy fuel and provide a full accounting of its entire nuclear program, including uranium. For its part, the US pledged to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and lift other trade restrictions. In a later phase, the two sides would agree on a verification system and on steps leading to normalization of relations.

Then Cheney sabotaged the new agreement. In April 2007, Israel claimed Syria had built a nuclear reactor in the desert in eastern Syria with North Korean assistance. Bush’s advisers all accepted the Israeli claim as true, but nearly a decade later, the IAEA’s expert on North Korean reactors at the time revealed detailed technical evidence that had led him to conclude with certainty that the Syrian site could not possibly have been a North Korean-designed reactor.

Cheney seized on the alleged Syrian reactor to wrest control over North Korea policy from Rice. In a January 4, 2008 White House meeting, he recalls in his memoirs In My Time how he successfully prodded Bush and Rice to agree with his assumption that a “failure to admit they’ve been proliferating to the Syrians would be a deal killer.” Two months later, Bush gave Cheney power to approve any joint US-North Korean text negotiated by the State Department.

Under pressure from Cheney, Rice adopted a new diplomatic strategy. In addition to their obligations in the first two phases of the October 2007 agreement, she writes inNo Higher Honor, “[t]he North Koreans would also have to agree to a verification protocol to govern the on-site inspection of all aspects of their nuclear program.”

That verification protocol — not the actions pledged by Pyongyang in the October 2007 agreement — would now be the basis for deciding whether the administration would take North Korea off the terrorist list and stop the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Cheney and his allies were clearing the political path to full funding for the national missile defense system they wanted to rush to deployment as quickly as possible.

Rice was changing the rules after the fact. After had North Korea delivered its declaration on its plutonium enrichment program in late June 2008, US negotiators sought North Korean agreement for inspectors to go into any site, whether declared or not, including sensitive military sites. Pyongyang conveyed its strong private objections to that, as well as to environmental sampling by inspectors. The 45-day period during which the United States was supposed to have taken its two small steps toward normalization came and went.

North Korea immediately accused the United States of violating the October agreement and suspended the disabling of its nuclear facilities. The US negotiator, Chris Hill, got what he regarded as North Korean verbal agreement to an amended version of the verification protocol, but North Korea would not sign it. On the basis of that unwritten understanding, Bush agreed to take North Korea off the US list of terrorist sponsors, and the physical disabling of the North Korea’s plutonium complex was completed.

But Bush insisted that North Korea sign the verification protocol, and in December, after Barack Obama’s election, Pyongyang rejected the Bush administration’s unilateral rewriting of the agreement, issuing a statement that it would only agree to intrusive inspections when US “hostile policy and nuclear threat to the North are fundamentally terminated” US-North Korean diplomacy on the October 2007 nuclear deal came to a halt.

Cheney and his allies had prevented the successful completion of two agreements that could have averted the present crisis with North Korea. When Bush took office in 2001, North Korea was believed to possess less than an atomic bomb’s worth of plutonium. By the end of his second term, North Korea was already a nuclear power, with several nuclear weapons.

Even more significant, however, the Bush administration never even attempted to negotiate limits on North Korea’s long-range missile program. That failure was very costly to the interests of the American people — but it was a gift to the national missile defense program that has kept on giving

Posted in USA, North Korea0 Comments

Russia’s Lavrov calls on U.S. and North Korea to start talks

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 Image result for Lavrov CARTOON

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Monday for the United States and North Korea to start negotiations, the RIA news agency reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and U.N. special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura in Moscow, Russia December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Lavrov was cited as saying that Russia was ready to facilitate such negotiations.

Moscow has long called for Washington and Pyongyang to hold talks aimed at de-escalating tensions around North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.

North Korea’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that the latest U.N. sanctions against North Korea were an act of war and tantamount to a complete economic blockade against it.

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Media On North Korea: Easier To Demonize Than Try To Understand

People watch a TV screen showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivering a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (AP/Ahn Young-joon)

U.S. campaigns for regime change characteristically focus on the “madness” of the “dictators” to be toppled. In the case of North Korea, the narrative is spiced by the country’s developing nuclear capabilities — which North Korea views as its main line of defense against . . . regime change.

The media’s demonization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially in the realm of American news, continues a pattern seen in years past. From Iraq to Venezuela, the corporate media’s depiction of inhabitants of foreign territories is meant to remove their autonomy and humanity, and this is exactly what’s happened in the case of North Korea.

As Donald Trump and his administration threaten to wipe out an entire country of 25 million, outlets like CNN unquestioningly publish allegations against North Korea — pushing out a narrative that it poses a threat that should terrify not only the United States but the world.

 

Despite how often the U.S. has waged war against other countries, the media is now making it seem as though the threat is not an empire that’s used nuclear weapons twice, but North Korea, which has a no first-use policy (NFU) in place. This principle — wherein a nuclear power pledges not to use its nuclear arsenal unless first attacked by an adversary — is not one by which the U.S. abides.

Yet countless articles depict North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as “a madman,” and U.S. politicians routinely characterize Kim as “crazy,” while pundits invade our television screens to openly fantasize about wiping North Korea off the map. As if they were talking about a piece of paper and not 25 million human beings.

Posted in North KoreaComments Off on Media On North Korea: Easier To Demonize Than Try To Understand

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