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Japan not satisfied with N. Korea’s nuke test halt, wants ‘complete & irreversible’ denuclearization

RT | April 21, 2018

While South Korea has welcomed Kim Jong-un’s announcement of the suspension of nuclear and ballistic tests, Tokyo, which strongly supports Washington’s “maximum pressure” approach, voiced an extremely cautious optimism.

Japan, the United States and South Korea have been relentlessly striving for a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, meaning of course only Pyongyang’s nukes and not the US strategic bombers and aircraft carriers. Following months of productive talks with Seoul, Kim Jong-un announced a halt to any further nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, saying that North Korea’s strategic deterrence program has reached its goal.

“North Korea’s decision is meaningful progress for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which the world wishes for,” the South Korean President’s office said in a statement. “It will contribute to creating a very positive environment for the success of the upcoming inter-Korean and North-US summits.”

Japan, however, was a bit more cautious with its assessment of the development. “This announcement is a forward motion that I’d like to welcome,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

“I want to welcome these positive moves, but I wonder if this will lead to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear arsenal, weapons of mass destruction and missiles,” Abe said. “I’d like to keep a close eye on the developments.”

Japan’s Defense Minister was even more skeptical in his remarks. “We can’t be satisfied,” Itsunori Onodera, was quoted as saying by the Japan Times, noting that Kim did not mention the “abandonment of short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles.”

Donald Trump has, meanwhile, welcomed the news, calling it a big progress and telling his Twitter followers that he is “looking forward” to the upcoming US-North Korea summit, which is being planned sometime after the intra-Korean meeting on April 27.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Kim Jong-un: No need for further nuclear & missile tests

RT | April 20, 2018

North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs have allowed the country to secure strategic stability and peace, so there is no need for additional missile and nuke tests anymore, Kim Jong-un has proclaimed.

“From April 21, 2018, nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile tests will be discontinued,” the Korean Central News Agency cited Kim as saying, at a plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK).

“North Korea’s nuclear test center will be discarded in order to ensure the transparency of the nuclear test suspension,” KCNA added.

Announcing the country’s new course, the ruling party has declared that North Korea “will never use nuclear weapons, unless there is nuclear threat or nuclear provocation to our country, and in no case we will proliferate nuclear weapons and nuclear technology.”

In the announcement, North Korea noted that the “suspension of nuclear testing is an important process for global nuclear disarmament.” Therefore, North Korea is willing to join international denuclearization efforts.

The extraordinary development comes just ahead of Kim’s meeting with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in later this month. The announcement also follows US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo’s recent secret meeting with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is also preparing to meet Kim in the coming weeks and has, on a number of occasions, vowed that Washington will keep up its “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korea until it agrees to denuclearize.

“Our campaign of maximum pressure will continue until North Korea will denuclearize,” Trump said on Wednesday. “As I have said before, there is a bright path available to North Korea when it achieves denuclearization in a complete and verifiable and irreversible way. It will be a great day for them, it will be a great day for the world.”

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

North & South Korea may announce official end to war – local media

RT | April 17, 2018

Seoul and Pyongyang are reportedly set to make a huge step in the peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula, as officials from the two states are negotiating a joint statement outlining a formal end to hostilities.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, are scheduled to meet at a rare inter-Korean summit on April 27. A local media report indicated that the date could put an end to more than half a century of confrontation.

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in are to meet in the demilitarized zone in the village of Panmunjom, 53km north of Seoul. It will be the third event of its kind in the history of the two nations. Two previous meetings in 2000 and 2007 focused on political and economic issues.

Delegations from the North and the South have been holding meetings prior to the high-level talks to discuss a joint statement. The document may lead to “the end of confrontation,” newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing a government official.

War broke out between the two Koreas in 1950, and they formally remain at war despite the de facto end of hostilities in 1953.

The thaw in relations began on the eve of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, when the two nations formed a joint women’s ice-hockey team and agreed to march under a unified banner at the opening ceremony.

On Monday, South Korean envoy to Russia Wu Yun Gin said that Seoul will “do its utmost” to persuade the North to support the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula during the forthcoming talks. North Korea has repeatedly stressed that it is not going to stop its nuclear program until the US abandons its ‘hostile’ policy towards Pyongyang and halts military drills on the country’s doorstep.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments

China becomes Trump’s indispensable partner

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 29, 2018

On Wednesday, the Chinese ambassador to the United States briefed the National Security Council in the White House regarding the visit by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Beijing. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later expressed cautious optimism that in their estimation, “things are moving in the right direction” and the meeting in Beijing between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping was “a good indication that the maximum pressure campaign (on North Korea) has been working.” She said:

  • You saw him (Kim) leave for the first time — since becoming the leader of North Korea — for that meeting. And we consider that to be a positive sign that the maximum pressure campaign is continuing to work. And we’re going to continue moving forward in this process in hopes for a meeting down the road.
  • Certainly we would like to see this (end-May meeting between Trump and Kim). Obviously this is something of global importance and we want to make sure that it’s done as soon as we can, but we also want to make sure it’s done properly. And we’re working towards that goal. As we’ve said before, the North Koreans have made that offer and we’ve accepted, and we’re moving forward in that process.

Trump himself gave thumbs-up. He tweeted: “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”

Evidently, Beijing transmitted some extraordinarily hopeful tidings. The remarks by former US state secretary James Baker (who still remains an influential voice in the conservative spectrum) praising China’s role suggests that Beijing is moving in tandem with the Trump administration. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Baker said:

  • “I think it’s too bad that there wasn’t some way that we could work with the Chinese to achieve this, this result of denuclearization of the peninsula. China is the only country in the world that really has any influence, significant influence on North Korea.”
  • “I would have sent some high-level envoy to Xi Jinping, the president of China, that the Chinese trust and have confidence in. And I would have said, ‘Look, you don’t like what’s going on in the Korean Peninsula. We don’t like what’s going on. Why don’t we cooperate to stop it?”
  • “We, the United States, will support any government you (China) install in North Korea, provided they repudiate the acquisition or maintenance of nuclear weapons. We will trade with that government, we will establish diplomatic relations, we will execute a peace treaty ending the Korean War. Your (China’s) job is to put a government in place there that is different than this government.” (See the video of the interview.)

There is great poignancy here in these remarks because Baker had played a key role under President Ronald Reagan (Trump’s role model) negotiating the end of the Cold War in the 1980s face to face with Mikhail Gorbachev.

China has positioned itself brilliantly as the facilitator-cum-partner-cum-ally-cum-friend – depending on who its interlocutor on the Korean Question happens to be. Xi deputed politburo member Yang Jiechi as his special envoy to visit Seoul to brief the South Korean leadership, even as preparatory talks for the inter-Korean summit in April were scheduled in the DMZ in Panmunjom. Evidently, Yang had a hand in the positive outcome today at the Panmunjom meeting where there is agreement to schedule the inter-Korean summit on April 27. (here and here)

Quite obviously, there are processes today that are beyond the US’ control. Again, the US’ number one ally in Northeast Asia – Japan – has been marginalized. No one set out from Beijing to brief Tokyo. Inevitably, there are conspiracy theories. The London Times newspaper resuscitated today the hackneyed thesis that China is driving a wedge between the US and South Korea. But that seductive conspiracy theory underestimates that China is, in actuality, playing for far higher stakes in its rise on the global stage as a great power.

To be sure, history is in the making. If, as Baker says, the US is willing to normalize with North Korea and conclude a peace treaty to bring the Korean War to a formal end, the raison d’etre of continued US military presence in South Korea (on which there is significant local opposition already) becomes unsustainable. That impacts the overall US power projection in Asia. Again, if the North Korean problem is resolved peacefully, can the Taiwan Question be far behind?

Equally, China must know that there is no quick fix to the North Korean problem and it suits China to leverage the US’ critical dependence on its cooperation for the long haul – which in turn can stabilize the Sino-American relationship itself and open a new era of big-power relationship based on trust, mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s core interests, which Beijing has been assiduously seeking.

On the other hand, Trump is well aware that if he can swing a deal on North Korea, it will significantly boost his re-election bid in 2020. Wouldn’t China know it, too? (Read my column in The Week magazine recently – The art of the Korean deal.)

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

China gives shock therapy to US

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 28, 2018

Just as a hypothesis was appearing that the United States “marginalized” China in the processes surrounding the North Korean situation, it gets blown to smithereens. The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “unofficial” three-day visit to Beijing is a stark reminder that China is becoming even more central than before in the resolution of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

A profound reset of the power dynamic in the Asia-Pacific and internationally has taken place between Sunday and Wednesday. Questions arise as regards the exquisite timing of Kim’s first-ever visit to Beijing, its rich symbolism in this being his first-ever journey abroad after taking the reins of power seven years ago, and what it means.

Both Beijing and Pyongyang must be acutely conscious of the timing. The Xinhua dispatch on the visit cited both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kim openly noting the regional backdrop. Xi noted that this is “a special time” when “positive changes had taken place on the Korean Peninsula”. Kim noted that “the Korean Peninsula situation is developing rapidly and many important changes have taken place” while “a series of major and happy events” have occurred in China too.

The three key elements discernible from the unusually long 2600-word Xinhua report are:

  • Both China and North Korea sense that an open display of fraternal ties is necessary and can be advantageous.
  • The ties by far exceed a friendly inter-state relationship. Xi pointedly recalled the past when the two leaderships “maintained close exchanges and paid frequent calls on each other like relatives.” Equally, ideological affinities were stressed. Kim recalled his father and grandfather. There is an attempt to hark back to the past fervor in the relationship, which is thought to have been a bygone era.
  • Most important, Kim committed himself to the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. But he added the expectation that Seoul and Washington should also respond with goodwill and create an atmosphere of peace and stability on the basis of “progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace.” In return, he secured China’s assurance of support “no matter how the international and regional situation changes.”

No doubt, Kim received an exceedingly warm welcome with several politburo members in attendance. Kim said “he felt he should come in time to inform Comrade General Secretary Xi Jinping in person the situation out of comradeship and moral responsibility.” Xi remarked, “I am willing to keep frequent contacts with Chairman through various forms such as exchange of visits.” Xi and Kim have personally pledged to mentor the relationship and a line of communication opens directly between them. Xi is staking his prestige.

Xinhua made no reference to President Donald Trump or his tentative plan to meet Kim in end-May (although surely, the topic would have figured in the talks.) On the other hand, Xi voiced support for the improvement of inter-Korean ties and peace talks. China’s support strengthens Kim’s hands in the upcoming negotiations with his South Korean counterpart President Moon Jae-in.

Kim has once again shown astuteness and statesmanship by securing China’s support precisely just when it matters most to him. Significantly, Kim’s visit to Beijing comes at a time when the US-China relations are buffeted by adverse currents – Trump’s threat of trade war, the Taiwan Travel Act (designed to encourage high-level contacts between Washington and Taipei), and the US Navy’s freedom of navigation operation last weekend within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly archipelago.

Kim’s visit to Beijing coincided with China’s Liaoning carrier strike group of more than 40 other warships and submarines conducting drills off the coast of Hainan in the South China Sea in a substantial show of force. Even as Xi and Kim were holding talks, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on a visiting US Congressional delegation to “play a constructive role and work with China to maintain the political and public opinion foundations for China-US relations.”

The US faces a dilemma in the weeks ahead. The recent reshuffle in the State Department and the National Security Council has added to the disarray within the Trump administration. The huge uproar in public opinion over the appointment of John Bolton as the NSA is not helping matters, either. On the other hand, US-Russia tensions are cascading. No one knows whom to dial in Washington.

Beijing is plainly disdainful of Trump’s attempts last week to flex muscle. The signs are that Trump is already backtracking. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was rather “forceful” in her remarks on Tuesday: “I must stress that negotiation is by no means an occasion for one party to make requests in an arrogant and condescending way.”

Having extended a big hand of support, Beijing is enabling Kim to approach the negotiating table from a position of advantage. An editorial in the Global Times notes that a “friendly relationship between China and North Korea is an important strategy to protect their interests… which can enhance regional balance and eliminate some unrealistic motives.”

Kim isn’t going to be a pushover for Trump. There is speculation among US analysts that Trump may not want to square up to Kim just yet. But then, wriggling out of engagement may not be easy if the inter-Korean summit in April creates new momentum for peace. How Trump gets filled in on Xi’s talks with Kim may show which way the wind is blowing.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Is the North Korea Deal a Stalking Horse for Trump’s Mid-East Makeover?

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 22.03.2018

Clearly Donald Trump’s Presidency is entering a new phase. He is feeling his oats: he now has successes under his belt, and seems emboldened, and ready to pursue his impulsive, instinctive personal style, which he believes, took him to the Presidency. Things are about to get ‘interesting’ (in the Chinese sense). He is throwing off his restraints (Tillerson on JCPOA; and Cohn on tariffs). And other conventionalist ‘impedimenta’ (i.e. McMaster) may go, too, in coming days. General Mattis will cut a somewhat lonely figure in the future, perhaps.

Tillerson, last October said: “The president is a very unconventional person, as we all know, in terms of how he communicates, how he likes to create action-forcing events. And so, the President often takes steps to force an action when he feels things are just not moving.” So, it seems that Trump is forcing ‘action’ now. But with what end in mind? And, more importantly, is that end realistic, or will it take us to disaster – even to war?

Trump relishes risk, and elevating the stakes, sky-high. And his choices for replacements to this week’s dismissals reflect this: David Stockman describes Larry Kudlow as being “off the very (deep) deep-end for years, on the more important matters of deficits, tax-cut magic, Fed money-printing, wild-eyed economic growth rates, and, above all else, incorrigible cheerleading for Wall Street’s serial financial bubbles.” In short, Trump is casting aside Cohn’s conventional banker’s caution, in order to double-down on ‘supply-side’ economics (a big risk when government debt already stands at 105% of nominal GDP, and the US has a three trillion plus borrowing requirement already baked in, for the next three years ).

And he has just cast overboard, Tillerson’s old-style, courteous and conventional diplomacy, for that of a polarizing ‘hawk’ – Mike Pompeo. Not just any old hawk, but an North Korea hawk, as well as an Iran hawk; and a Russia hawk too. And, is, just to round off the picture, an Islamophobe (as extensively documented by Jim Lobe), and – like Trump – a partisan, Israeli loyalist.

“Just two days before he was named Rex Tillerson’s successor as secretary of state”, Uri Friedman has noted in The Atlantic : “CIA Director Mike Pompeo … an unsparing critic of the nuclear agreement with Iran, vowed to not repeat Barack Obama’s mistakes. What he promised was breathtaking: that President Trump would secure a better deal with North Korea … than his predecessor did with Iran, which had yet to acquire nuclear weapons.” Friedman continues: “The previous administration was negotiating from a position of weakness. This administration will be negotiating from a position of enormous strength”… The administration’s plan for the talks, [Pompeo] explained, is to maintain and increase economic pressure on North Korea while aiming for the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea … [unlike Obama, who left] “the Iranians with a breakout capacity” to produce nuclear weapons, Pompeo noted. The “human capital and enrichment capacity” behind Iran’s nuclear-weapons program “continues to remain in place” despite its pause in testing, he cautioned – and “President Trump is determined to prevent that from happening in North Korea.”

Friedman comments: “What made Pompeo’s comments remarkable wasn’t just his assertion that the United States could compel North Korea to do what most experts believe North Korea never will: fully give up its nuclear weapons. It was also how confidently he made the claim, given what he’s said in the past about North Korea.”

Not surprisingly, the American and European press is replete with questions about whether Trump, by making Pompeo Secretary of State, finally has fully succumbed to the neo-cons (especially as John Bolton appears to be being considered for a senior position in Trump’s Administration, too). It has prompted serious and cool-headed commentators to predict that Pompeo’s appointment, plus Bolton hovering in the wings, suggest that we are heading for war with Iran and Russia.

The latter may well be right, but perhaps we should try to unpack this a little further. The ‘anti Trump, covert US state’, and its collaborators amongst Europeans and ‘globalist’ European intelligence services, evidently is ratchetting-up the pressure on Russia at every point – hoping to push President Putin into some ill-judged over-reaction, that would compel Trump to take some irreversible, rupturing action against Russia. They hope to corner Trump into burning his bridges with Putin, for good. But Trump bends a bit under the extreme force of these winds, but stays afoot – and the Russian President does the same, despite the heat of severe provocations.

Does Trump seek war with Russia? No. But the covert state does; and will try everything to get it. Trump does want war with Russia. In fact, he wants President Putin to help him make peace in the Middle East.

Tillerson is cast aside not because Trump wants nuclear war, but as a result of the mismatch between Trump’s mode of negotiation – as expressed in the Art of the Deal – and the conventional diplomacy of building good relations and a rapport with one’s counter-parties, as conducted by Tillerson. Trump simply does not believe that Tillerson’s way works. The latter clearly is not Trump’s way. He does not believe in it. He demands leverage. He insists to show strength. He hikes his threats to Armageddon levels; pushes the stakes sky-high, and just when it seems that tensions inexorably will explode, he tries to secure a deal.

This is the point of Pompeo, I suggest: He is the ‘enabler’ to push the stakes to the very limit; the ‘hawk’ that makes everyone fear – and come to believe – that conflict is inevitable; but who – at one minute before midnight – offers a deal. It is a process wholly different to the laboured, incremental, step-by-step approach of conventional diplomacy. Could Tillerson really have made such a bluff – of imminent war, of ‘fire and fury’ – credible? He is perhaps, too nice.

So, what is going on? Trump, it seems, is emboldened sufficiently to try to unfold his ‘plan’ for Middle East peace. It is not so much a ‘plan’ in a conceptual sense, but rather a series of transactional steps that he seems to have in mind. But key to this sequencing, is the ‘seed’ planted by Mark Dubowitz and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which is funded primarily by right-wing supporters of Israel, including billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is a long standing advocate for war on Iran.

Politico describes Dubowitz as “a key outside adviser to the Trump Administration on Iran”. And the point on which Dubowitz has been insisting with Trump, is that any North Korean nuclear deal is intimately interconnected with the Iranian JCPOA – and that both ultimately connect to making peace in the Middle East.

The FDD thesis is that “the Iran-North Korea axis dates back more than 30 years. The two regimes have exchanged nuclear expertise, cooperated widely on missile technologies, and run similar playbooks against Western negotiators. The fear: Tehran is using Pyongyang for work no longer permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal [i.e on nuclear warheads] while [Iran is] perfecting North Korean-derived missile delivery systems, back home [which are not covered by the JCPOA]”. Or, in other words, that Pyongyang has sub-contracted to itself the development of an ICBM capable nuclear warhead, whilst Tehran – on the other hand – is focused on developing missile capability. And this presumption of a division of labour between North Korea and Iran essentially is at the root of Trump’s demand that the Europeans must get Iran to relinquish the so-called ‘sunset clauses’, and the Iranian missile programme – lest Iran enable North Korea to achieve the capability to land a nuclear bomb on the US.

Is there really this conspiracy? There may have been some co-operation years ago, in the era of Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan, but the FDD thesis is more speculation, than substance. North Korea’s and Iran’s aims differ: North Korea wants inter-continental missiles that can reach America. Iran doesn’t. It wants short and medium range missiles for self-defence.

Be that as it may: there are grounds to believe that Trump’s working hypothesis is based on the FDD theory. And further, that ending this supposed interplay between Iran and North Korea constitutes the pillar on which Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ for the Middle East rests.

So, Pompeo’s job is to convince Kim Il Jung that he faces utter destruction unless he takes the path of divesting the state of its nuclear programme; and to do something similar to Iran in respect to its (hypothetical break-out capacity), and its missile programme: i.e. Pompeo must achieve double de-nuclearisation by escalating the stakes sky-high to the point that everyone fears war – in the expectation that North Korea and Iran will be the ones to back down (The Art of the Deal).

And this ‘double de-nuclearisation’ – this line of thinking goes – will make Israel and Saudi Arabia feel safer: Saudi can normalise with Israel, and the latter can then do something for the Palestinians (according to this White House optic). With the final part to this construct being the quiet understanding that Russia will restrain Iran, Syria and Hizbullah; and Trump will commit to restrain Israel … Peace in our time?

Maybe. But just to be clear, this is a highly risky project, which may well lead, instead, to war. North Korea may call Trump and Pompeo’s ‘fire and fury’ bluff (leaving Washington without any ‘off ramp’, except the very military action which the bluff is supposed to obviate). Iran may elect to ignore Pompeo too; it has learned to distrust America’s word. Israel may fear Iran’s conventional weapons as much – or more so – than Iran’s nonexistent nuclear warheads, and seek to entangle the US in a war to destroy Iran, and thus preserve Israel’s regional hegemony.

And, then there is the question of whether America is at present ‘agreement capable’? The unitive US state is fragmented. For whom or what does Trump speak? Can Trump give either North Korea or Iran any credible security guarantees, in the event of some agreement? Would Congress co-operate? Would the covert state co-operate? Will super-hawk Pompeo remain loyal to Trump’s vision? Will the neo-cons manipulate this process towards the conflicts that they seek to ignite?

Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic has written of Pompeo:

“He is sometimes described as a Trump loyalist, but that is nonsense: No one is loyal to Trump—he is too indecent a human being to attract such normal personal attachments. The administration is not divided into people who are loyal to Trump and those who are not. Rather, it is divided between those who know how to manipulate his vanity, his hatreds, his sensitivities, and those who do not.”

Trump may discover that the intransigence of his presumed opponents is not his biggest problem, but taking Washington – and all its burning hatreds – with him, represents the bigger challenge.

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US & South Korea to start massive joint military drills on April 1

RT | March 20, 2018

Following a months-long pause in military drills and despite a thaw in relations between Seoul and Pyongyang, South Korea and the US will resume joint military exercises on April 1, the Ministry of National Defense announced.

“The practice is slated to begin April 1, and it will be conducted on a similar size in previous years,” the Ministry of National Defense said, according to Yonhap.

The Pentagon confirmed the planned resumption of joint US-South Korean drills, noting that the exercises are expected to conclude toward the end of May.

“Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and the Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo have agreed to resume the annual combined exercises including Foal Eagle and Key Resolve which were de-conflicted with the schedule of the Olympic Games. The exercises are expected to resume April 1, 2018, at a scale similar to that of the previous years,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a statement.

Furthermore, the US military noted that the North Koreans were notified about the drills by the United Nations Command. The Pentagon spokesman further added that the maneuvers have been long planned and are not a response to any specific North Korean action.

“Our combined exercises are defense-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

After North Korea stated its desire to seek rapprochement with its neighbor, Seoul managed to convince Washington to hold off the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills until after the Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea.

However, despite Pyongyang’s pledge to temporarily halt its missile testing, pending upcoming US-North Korean talks, the US has never made concessions to freeze its military drills with South Korea. On Monday, Logan clarified that the military exercise would involve about 23,700 US troops and 300,000 members of the South Korean military.

Following the latest round of negotiations with a high-level delegation from Seoul earlier this month in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un sent Trump an invitation to discuss the prospects of improving bilateral ties face to face. After months of saber-rattling between the two leaders, Trump agreed to meet the North Korean leader “sometime” in May.

The US president’s readiness to hold discussions with the North came following reassurances by Seoul that Kim is “committed to denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, which Washington has persisted on. To make negotiations possible Kim even “pledged” to refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests until talks with Trump take place. Surprisingly, the North Korean leader also allegedly showed understanding towards the US-South Korean drills, which have greatly contributed to the ongoing tensions in the region. The US, in return, offered no concessions or promises, insisting that harsh sanctions will remain until a verifiable agreement is reached.

March 20, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Operation Mongoose and North Korea

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 15, 2018

In reporting on President Trump’s nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, the New York Times made a remarkable admission:

Mr. Pompeo has consistently taken one of the most hawkish lines on dealing with Pyongyang. He appears focused on regime change as the one sure way to resolve the North Korean problem. This week, he told Fox News that “never before have we had the North Koreans in a position where their economy was at such risk, where their leadership was under such pressure.” The United States, he says, should make “no concessions” in any negotiations.

Unfortunately, while many U.S. officials would look upon that paragraph nonchalantly, it actually goes a long way to explain why North Korea embarked on a program to acquire nuclear weapons.

To understand the import of the point that the Times makes about Pompeo, it is helpful to examine a top secret document of the U.S. national-security establishment, a document that was kept secret from the American people for more than 40 years. In fact, the only reason that we are able to see it now is because of the JFK Records Act, which mandated that the Pentagon, CIA, and other federal agencies release to the public all their records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy. This particular document wasn’t released until 1998.

The document related to Operation Mongoose, which was a top-secret regime-change plan of the U.S. national security establishment, one intended to oust the communist regime in Cuba, headed by Fidel Castro, and replace it with a pro-U.S. dictatorship, similar to the Fulgencio Batista regime that Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in their 1959 revolution.

Keep in mind one important factor: Although Cuba was ruled by a communist regime, it never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. It also never assassinated anyone in the United States. And it never committed any act of sabotage in the United States.

Nonetheless, that top-secret document starts out with the following sentence: “The U.S. objective is to help the Cubans overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba and to institute a new government with which the United States can live in peace.”

Live in peace? The Cuban regime was living in peace with the United States. It simply wasn’t bowing and kowtowing to the United States and following its orders on how things were going to operate inside Cuba. That’s what the Pentagon and CIA considered not “living in peace” with the United States. That’s why they wanted to effect regime change in Cuba. It’s, in fact, why they are still dead set on regime change in North Korea.

Among the methods employed to effect regime change in Cuba was the infliction of massive economic suffering among the Cuban populace. The document even refers to this as “economic warfare.” That’s what the U.S. embargo was (and is) all about. The idea was that when the Cuban people were suffering enough, perhaps even dying, they would oust the Castro regime and replace it with a pro-U.S. regime. It’s also what the sanctions against North Korea are all about.

Needless to say, there was no concern expressed for the Cuban people suffering or dying from the embargo. They were considered a means to an end.

In fact, many years later, we saw this same phenomenon in Iraq, when U.S. officials were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with their sanctions on that country. Their indifference to that suffering was reflected by what the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright publicly stated — that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” By “it” she meant regime change in Iraq.

Sabotage of Cuban industries was another method to bring about regime change. One idea was to introduce a corrosive element in locomotive fuel. Much more ominous, given the increased likelihood that people would die, was a plan to introduce corrosive elements into Cuban jet fuel.

The document also refers to other U.S. actions to foment dissent and revolution against the Castro regime, to be followed by U.S. military action to assist them.

Unmentioned in the document was the top-secret assassination partnership that the CIA had entered into with the Mafia without the consent or knowledge of President Kennedy, whose brother Robert was, at the same time, prosecuting the Mafia in federal court for criminal activity. The CIA’s notion was that it wielded the legitimate moral and legal authority to murder anyone who it deemed was a threat to U.S. “national security.” The Mafia, of course, was chagrined that Castro had nationalized the Mafia’s casinos in Havana and put an end to its lucrative (and illegal) U.S drug import business, much of which operated through Cuba.

That top-secret Operation Mongoose, regime-change document is dated January 8, 1962.

There is another top-secret document that came out in the 1990s thanks to the JFK Records Act. It was dated March 13, 1962. That document detailed Operation Northwoods, which called for plane hijackings and terrorist attacks on American soil carried out by U.S. agents secretly posing as Cuban communists. The idea was to provide President Kennedy with an official (and false) pretext for attacking and invading Cuba and effecting regime change there. It was unanimously endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To his everlasting credit, Kennedy rejected the plan, earning him ever deeper enmity from his national-security establishment. (See FFF’s ebooks JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne and Regime Change: The JFK Assassination by Jacob G. Hornberger.)

The Cubans invited the Soviets to install nuclear weapons later that year, in October 1962. While U.S. officials have long described the missiles as “offensive,” the Cuban position was actually quite defensive: If — and only if — you attack and invade us, we will defend ourselves with our Soviet-provided nuclear weapons.

Fortunately for the United States and the world, President Kennedy ended up “blinking” by agreeing not to invade Cuba (to the deep anger and rage of the Pentagon and the CIA, which were pressuring him to attack and invade during the entire crisis). Given that the threat of invasion was over, the Soviet Union, in turn, removed its nuclear missiles from Cuba.

Does anyone think that North Korea hasn’t familiarized itself with Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, the CIA-Mafia assassination partnership, and these particular documents that were kept secret for more than 40 years? They know what the U.S. national-security establishment is up to in Korea. They know what the New York Times has pointed out about CIA Director’s Mike Pompeo’s desire for regime change in North Korea. They are not stupid. They know that nuclear weapons are the best way to deter against a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Liberals, Conservatives Worry About Korean Peace Threat

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | March 15, 2018

WaPo: North Korea and South Korea snooker Trump

Washington Post‘s Max Boot (3/8/18)

Commentators across the spectrum of acceptable establishment opinion are alarmed by the possibility of peace breaking out on the Korean peninsula.

Some oppose the idea of talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on principle. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin (3/9/18), for instance, suggested that Trump should not meet with Kim:

Is Trump now to glad-hand with Kim, treating him as just another world leader? Will Trump even bring up human rights? (You will recall that, in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was ridiculed for suggesting he’d sit down with the North Korean dictator; he prudently backed off that idea.)

Her newly hired colleague Max Boot (Washington Post, 3/8/18) concurred:

As recently as August, Trump tweeted: “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” He was absolutely right.

Boot went on to contend:

The South Koreans claim that the North Koreans are willing to discuss denuclearization, but the likelihood is that they will only do so on terms that the United States should never accept. Kim may offer to give up his nukes if the United States will pull its forces out of South Korea and sign a peace treaty with the North.

What Boot sees as a doomsday scenario—peace between the two Koreas and the withdrawal from the peninsula of US troops, which serve as a constant threat to the North and thus ensure the permanent threat of war—is actually a formula for ensuring that there isn’t a second Korean war, one that is certain to be even more devastating than the catastrophic first one for Korea, and likely for the region and further afield.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: "Looked at each other as if in disbelief"

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC, 3/9/18)

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC, 3/9/18) seemed flabbergasted by the prospect of a meeting between the leaders:

It has been the dream of North Korean leaders for decades now that they would advance their weapons programs and their nuclear programs so much so that the United States would be forced to acknowledge them as an equal and meet with the North Korean leader…. They got there with [Trump] and I don’t know that the administration intended it to be that kind of a gift. It’s just a remarkable time to be covering this stuff.

MSNBC blogger Steve Benen (3/9/18) says he’s “not opposed to direct diplomacy,” but he sounded like a time capsule from 1951 when he warned that

Trump has agreed to give Kim Jong-un exactly what he wants. North Korean leaders have sought this kind of meeting for decades because it would necessarily elevate the rogue state: It would show the world that North Korea’s leader is being treated as an equal by the Leader of the Free World.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof  (3/9/18) also claims to prefer that the US and North Korea exchange words rather than missiles, but he expressed relief that the threat of peace was minimal: “It’s genuinely encouraging that Kim doesn’t object to the US resuming military exercises,” he wrote, but worried that America

has agreed to give North Korea what it has long craved: the respect and legitimacy that comes from the North Korean leader standing as an equal beside the American president.

For Maddow, Benen and Kristof, a catastrophic nuclear war likely to kill millions is less threatening than the (frankly remote) possibility of America treating a small Asian country as an equal. This sort of commentary shows that liberal analysts are every bit as capable of a chest-thumping jingoism as their counterparts on the right.

In Praise of Sanctions

Sanctions on North Korea make it harder for aid organizations to operate in the country, and for people living there to obtain drugs and medical supplies, such as anesthesia used for emergency operations and X-ray machines needed to diagnose tuberculosis (Washington Post, 12/16/17). Tomás Ojea Quintana, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, says he is “alarmed by reports that sanctions may have prevented cancer patients from access to chemotherapy and blocked the import of disability equipment.”

According to Kee B. Park (12/18/17), a neurosurgeon at Harvard Medical School, the hunger in North Korea “is devastating. And it’s our fault. Led by the United States, the international community is crippling North Korea’s economy” by “banning exports of coal, iron, lead, seafood and textiles, and limiting the import of crude oil and refined petroleum products,” “punishing the most vulnerable citizens” of the country. For example, UNICEF says that “an estimated 60,000 children face potential starvation in North Korea, where international sanctions are exacerbating the situation by slowing aid deliveries.”

The Post’s Boot, however, is impressed by the sanctions, and worried that they might be lifted: “North Korea hopes at a minimum for a relaxation of sanctions just when they are beginning to bite.” In the interest of precision, he should have added “60,000 children” after the word “bite.”

He continued:

It may make sense to talk to North Korea, but at a lower level, while maintaining the “maximum pressure” sanctions policy. Eventually the regime may feel so much pain that it will be willing to bargain in earnest.

North Korea doesn’t have the capacity to pain on the US, so it’s worth asking: Who will enforce hunger on America and destroy its economy to compel it to reverse its past approach (The Nation, 9/5/17) and “bargain in earnest” with North Korea? And would Boot endorse such an approach?

Boot can rest easy, however, about “so much pain” being reduced, as the Trump administration appears poised to maintain the sanctions until it determines that there has been “real progress” in the talks (AP, 3/13/18).

Kristof, like Boot, suggests that Trump “probably does” deserve credit for using sanctions to get North Korea to suspend tests of nuclear weapons:

First, Trump raised the economic pressure on North Korea with additional sanctions and extra support from China, and the pain was visible when I visited North Korea in September. Kim has made rising living standards a hallmark of his leadership, and sanctions have threatened that pillar of his legitimacy.

Kristof has made a career branding himself a bleeding heart concerned for the world’s most vulnerable but evidently his heart doesn’t bleed for “the most vulnerable citizens” of states that defy US dictates.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The U.S. Government Is the Problem in Korea

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 13, 2018

There are differing opinions regarding President Trump’s decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis in Korea.

Some people are happy that the two rulers are meeting because of the possibility that it will result in a peaceful resolution of a crisis that has gotten precariously close to breaking out into renewed warfare. What’s wrong with talking? this group says.

Others are saying that Trump acted too impulsively in accepting the invitation, arguing that summits should be held only after lower-echelon bureaucrats have determined that such a meeting is likely to result in positive developments. These people are suggesting, perhaps accurately, that if the talks fail to arrive at a solution, the situation could be made worse given that “talking” might no longer be viewed as an option for resolving the crisis.

Most people in both groups fail to see something important: that it is the U.S. government, not North Korea, that is the crux of the problem in Korea. Given such, how likely is it that a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un is going to arrive at a solution? I hope that I will be proven wrong but my hunch is: Not very likely at all.

The U.S. government has two aims in Korea, both of which are related.

Its principal aim is regime change. It wants to oust the communist regime in North Korea and install a pro-U.S. regime in its place, one that will then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country to construct U.S. military bases and install U.S. missiles along the Korea-China border.

For many people, the Cold War ended in 1989. Not for the Pentagon and the CIA. Caught off guard by the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the U.S. national-security establishment nonetheless continued viewing communist-socialist countries like Russia, North Korea, and Cuba as official enemies of the United States and threats to U.S. “national security.”

That’s why U.S. officials broke their promise to Russia not to expand NATO. Almost immediately after the Cold War ended, NATO proceeded to absorb Eastern European countries that had been members of the Warsaw Pact, with the aim of placing U.S. military bases and missiles ever closer to Russia. The last step was to incite regime change in Ukraine, with the aim of replacing a pro-Russia regime with a pro-U.S. regime, which would then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country, where they could install military bases and missiles on Russia’s border and even take over Russia’s longtime military base in Crimea. Russia, of course, forestalled that plan with its takeover of Crimea.

It’s also why U.S. officials have maintained their decades-long embargo against Cuba, a country that has never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The aim continues to be to oust the Castro regime and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like the Fulgencio Batista regime that Fidel Castro and Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in 1959.

That’s their aim with North Korea — regime change, the same aim they had for 11 years with Iraq, which they tried to achieve through 11 years of brutal sanctions, much like the sanctions that the U.S. has been enforcing against North Korea for several years. When the Iraq sanctions failed to succeed in achieving regime change in Iraq, President Bush ordered the Pentagon and the CIA to attack, which then succeeded in ousting Saddam from power and replacing him with a pro-U.S. regime.

The aim is no different in Iran. There are few things U.S. national-security state officials would love more than regime change in Iran, one that replaces the current regime with a pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like that of the Shah of Iran, who CIA officials installed into power in a coup in 1953.

Don’t forget: Prior to the U.S. regime change in Iraq, U.S. officials labeled Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as members of an “axis of evil.”

The U.S. government’s second aim is to have North Korea abandon and dismantle its nuclear-weapons program, which, needless to say, would make it less costly to pursue a U.S. regime-change operation against North Korea.

But North Korean officials are not dumb. They know that in a conventional war against the United States, North Korea wouldn’t stand a chance, any more than Iraq stood a chance when the U.S. government invaded it. Given the overwhelming military might of the U.S. government, virtually no Third World countries can defeat the U.S. in a war. (North Vietnam was a rare exception.)

The North Koreans know that there is only one way that would be likely to deter a U.S. attack on North Korea — nuclear weapons.

How do they know that? Easy. They know about Cuba. During the JFK administration, the Pentagon and the CIA were exhorting President Kennedy to undertake a full-scale invasion of Cuba because, they said, Cuba (like North Korea) posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” To create the false appearance that such an invasion was “defensive” in nature, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously proposed Operation Northwoods to the president, which called for terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by CIA agents secretly posing as Cuban communists.

Even though Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon and the CIA kept pressing for a regime-change invasion of Cuba. That’s when Castro invited the Soviets to install nuclear missiles on the island. The idea was that the missiles would hopefully deter U.S. officials from attacking Cuba in a regime-change operation.

The plan worked. Kennedy “blinked” and entered into a deal with the Soviets in which he vowed that the U.S. would not invade Cuba and in which he also secretly agreed to withdraw U.S. nuclear missiles aimed at Russia from Turkey. In return, the Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba, confirming that their purpose was deterrence and defense.

How could North Koreans not be impressed with that outcome? Compare the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which did not have nuclear missiles.

Why would North Korea ever agree to give up its nuclear weapons? There is only one slight chance of that happening — if North Korea can be convinced that the U.S. government has permanently abandoned its aim of regime change. But that could only happen if the U.S. government totally withdrew all U.S. forces from Korea and vowed never to attack North Korea (or create an Operation Northwoods type of false pretext attack).

How likely is that? I would say not very likely at all. The Pentagon and the CIA need an ongoing crisis in Korea (and others against Russia, terrorists, Muslims, Syria, the Taliban, drug dealers, etc.) to help justify their ever-growing budgets. Anyway, for them to exit North Korea would, in their minds, constitute “appeasement” in the face of the supposed communist threat to U.S. “national security.”

There is another complication for North Korea — the fact that the U.S. government cannot be trusted to keep its word. Sure, U.S. officials can point to Cuba and argue that succeeding U.S. regimes have complied with Kennedy’s vow not to invade Cuba. But others can point to the U.S. double-cross of Russia with respect to NATO expansion. Or to the U.S. double-cross of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who ended up dead in a U.S. regime-change operation after agreeing to give up his nuclear program. Or to President Trump’s vow to break the U.S. agreement with Iran after it agreed to give up its nuclear program.

Thus, the big problem at the upcoming meeting with Trump and Kim Jong-un is that they are holding what are essentially intractable and irreconcilable positions: U.S. officials wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons but refuse to abandon their aim of regime change. Even if they promised to give up regime change, they couldn’t be trusted, especially if U.S. forces remained in Korea. North Korea, on the other hand, will never give up its nuclear weapons so long as the threat of regime change persists.

The real solution to the Korea crisis? Forget a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s not necessary. Simply bring all U.S. forces home, immediately. The Korea civil war is none of the U.S. government’s business. Never has been, never will be. (Neither was Vietnam’s civil war.)

Might North Korea attack South Korea after the U.S. is gone in an attempt to forcibly unite the country? It’s certainly possible. President Lincoln invaded the Confederacy in a successful attempt to unify the country. But given South Korea’s strong economic base and powerful military, it is a virtual certainty that South Korea would end up winning such a war.

Might North Korea use nuclear weapons in a war against South Korea? Why would it? If it is attacking to unify the country, what good would it do to have a unified country if the southern half is radiated for the next hundred or so years, along with much of the north as well?

The U.S. government and the interventionist-imperialist philosophy it stands for are the real problem in Korea. Lift U.S. sanctions, bring all U.S. troops home now, and leave Korea to the Koreans. That’s the solution to the crisis in Korea.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 4 Comments

North Korean Leader Wants Peace With US, Establish Diplomatic Ties – Reports

Sputnik – March 12, 2018

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un expressed willingness to sign a peace agreement with the United States as well as to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, South Korean media reported Monday, citing a source at the South Korean presidential administration.

Kim spoke about the intention to normalize relations with Washington during a meeting with a South Korean delegation in Pyongyang, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported.

The North Korean leader’s final goal is to sign a peace agreement with the United States and establish diplomatic ties, possibly including the opening of a US embassy in Pyongyang, according to the newspaper.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump accepted the invitation to meet with Kim by the end of May following months of heightened tensions and exchanges of frequent military threats between the two leaders.Donald Trump said later that he expected “tremendous success” in solving the North Korean issue, saying that he expected Pyongyang to cease its ballistic missile and nuclear tests as well as denulearize.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

US bureaucracy and media sent reeling by news of Trump-Kim summit; working to prevent it

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | March 12, 2018

Events in the US since President Trump agreed to South Korean President Moon’s proposal that he meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un show (1) the extent to which the US elite including large sections of the US government’s bureaucracy are willing President Trump to lose despite the huge damage this threatens the US; and (2) how President Trump’s foreign policy instincts are often superior to those of the foreign policy veterans or “adults” which whom he has become surrounded.

Firstly, it is now clear that President Trump’s decision to agree to President Moon’s proposal for a summit meeting with Kim Jong-un was his own.

Apparently when he was told of the proposal by the South Korean delegation which came to brief him about the talks the South Koreans had just had with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, he immediately and enthusiastically agreed to it without first consulting any of his advisers.

Moreover it seems his excitement was so great that he even let slip news of the big announcement which was coming at the Gridiron Dinner.

It seems that none of the key officials of the government – Secretary of State Tillerson (currently on a tour of Africa), Defense Secretary Mattis or National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster – were consulted.

Not only were key officials of the US government not consulted, but there is no secret about their concern and displeasure, whilst the US media is now united with expressions of concern that by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un President Trump has walked into some kind of trap.  In his typical earthy way President Trump has even tweeted about it

Not surprisingly, there are already attempts to hedge the summit meeting with preconditions, with White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders already talking about unspecified ‘concrete steps’ North Korea must take place before the summit meeting can happen at all

The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea, so the president will actually be getting something

It is also being said – apparently in all seriousness – that President Trump’s agreement to meet with Kim Jong-un reverses a previously unknown US policy not to meet with North Korea’s leaders lest this might lend them ‘legitimacy’.

Apparently Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il had repeatedly sought a summit meeting with the US President, only for his requests to be spurned by the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

All I would say about that is that I have never heard of such a policy before, but that if such a policy does exist then it is wrong, has visibly failed, and should be immediately reversed.

Suffice to say that when Kim Jong-il apparently first requested a summit meeting with US President Bill Clinton in the 1990s North Korea did not have nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Now it has both.

In other words refusing to meet with North Korea’s leaders has not denied them ‘legitimacy’; it has merely made them pursue their strategic weapons programme more aggressively, resulting in the opposite outcome to the one intended.

If President Trump has indeed reversed a policy of not meeting with North Korea’s leaders, then he should be commended – not criticised – for reversing a policy which has utterly and completely failed.

In any event this criticism ignores the fact that this latest proposal for a summit did not originate with the North Koreans.  It clearly comes from the South Koreans whose President Moon Jae-in is looking to President Trump for political cover so that he can press ahead with his dialogue with the North.

Refusing the proposal for a summit would deal a major political blow to President Moon Jae-in, quite possibly inclining him to cut the US further out of the steps he is taking to pursue dialogue with the North, which cannot be in the US’s interests.

US critics of the Trump-Kim summit need to understand that the US is not the only player in this game and that it is a mistake to see this is as a one-to-one confrontation between North Korea and the US.

Not only are the South Koreans taking an active and independent role in the diplomacy, but President Trump himself has just got a call from a very powerful player with a big stake in the game who will have made it very clear that he wants the summit to go ahead.

That player was no less a person than Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took time off from a key meeting of China’s National People’s Congress to telephone President Trump in order to make clear China’s wish that the Trump-Kim summit takes place and that progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the Korean conflict takes place.

Here is how China’s Xinhua news agency reports the call

Speaking by telephone, Xi told Trump that he appreciates the US president’s desire to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue politically, hoping that the United States and the DPRK will start dialogue as soon as possible and strive for positive results.

Xi added that he hopes all parties concerned will show goodwill and avoid doing anything which might affect or interfere with the improving situation on the peninsula, calling on them to maintain the positive momentum on the Korean Peninsula issue.

Xi also told Trump that China and the United States should focus on cooperation, control differences, promote win-win economic cooperation, and push for new advancement of bilateral relations in the new year.

Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Trump said the nuclear issue has shown positive development recently, adding that a high-level meeting between the United States and the DPRK meets the interests of all parties, hoping for an eventually peaceful solution to the nuclear issue.

It has been proved that President Xi is right to insist on a dialogue between the United States and the DPRK, Trump said, adding that the US side highly appreciates and values China’s significant role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China over the issue, Trump said.

Xi pointed out that China remains persistent in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving the nuclear issue through talks.

At present, the positive changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula are conducive to putting the denuclearization process back on the right track of settlement through dialogue, which is also in line with the direction set by UN Security Council resolutions concerning the DPRK, Xi said.

“I believe that as long as all parties adhere to the general direction of political and diplomatic settlement, we will surely push forward the Korean Peninsula issue in the direction that the international community has been looking forward to,” Xi said. (bold italics added)

It is unusual for Xinhua to quote words Xi Jinping actually used in a telephone call with another world leader, yet this is what it has just done in relation to the conversation Xi Jinping and Donald Trump have just had with each other. Moreover the words which Xinhua has quoted make clear China’s concern that the dialogue be continued.

On any objective assessment the storm of anger and criticism that the news of the Trump-Kim summit has provoked is baffling.

The critics have no alternative to offer other than the same policy of endless confrontation that has failed so dismally up to now.

As for the summit itself, what exactly is it that they fear? President Trump is hardly in a position to give the whole US position away. No one is expecting a comprehensive settlement of the whole conflict emerging from a single summit, and it is absurd to talk as if that is what might happen. Months and probably years of hard negotiating lie ahead.

However if a negotiation is going to succeed the parties must at some point meet, and that is all the South Koreans and the North Koreans are proposing, and all that President Trump has agreed to.

Personally I cannot escape the feeling that the true cause of the alarm of at least some of the critics of the proposed Trump-Kim summit is that they do not want President Trump – who they have spent years ridiculing as an infantile narcissist – to prove them wrong by achieving a major diplomatic success. President Trump’s tweet which I have quoted above shows that he thinks the same.

However there is almost certainly a more sinister agenda at work as well.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that some people in the US do not want to see the confrontation with North Korea end, not just because they balk at the idea of the US making concessions and because the Korean conflict is for the US’s military industries highly lucrative but because they fear that an end to the Korean conflict might undermine the US’s position in the north east Pacific and might result in South Korea going its own way.

Some of the criticisms which have been made of the President Trump’s agreement to attend the Trump-Kim summit look suspiciously like the start of a campaign by these people to abort prospects for a Korean settlement.

Given the entrenched positions these people hold in the US government and in the US media, there is no guarantee they will fail, and no guarantee that in the face of the obstacles they are putting before it the Trump-Kim summit will take place.

It is to be earnestly hoped that President Trump this time sticks to his decision and presses ahead with the summit. As I have said previously, a great opportunity to make the deal of his life stands before him. In his own interests and in the interests of the US he should not spurn it but seize it.

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment