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‘America First!’ AWOL from Beijing, War with North Korea Looms

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.11.2017

There’s no indication that President Donald Trump’s summit with China’s Xi Jinping achieved any breakthrough on North Korea. But why didn’t it? After all, Trump said that China could “fix” the North Korea problem “easily and quickly” and it was just a matter of Xi’s making up his mind to do so.

No less divorced from reality was Trump’s half-hearted pitch on the US trade imbalance with China. The problem, he said, was not the Chinese – whom he complimented on their cleverness in exploiting our stupidity – but on the flaccid policies of prior American administrations. Quite true! But what will he do differently? Not much it seems, except maybe give a big tax cut with no strings attached to fat corporations that are thrilled to keep moving their operations overseas. Global market über alles! And here we all thought Hillary Clinton lost the election . . .

All in all, Trump’s China visit was characterized by putting his “America First!” campaign principles on ice in favor of the globalist agenda of his economic advisers and subordination of trade to the geopolitical concerns of the military Junta that runs his administration for him. Sure, there might some tinkering here and there, like the recent hit against Chinese aluminum foil dumping. But plutocrats worried about a “trade war” with China can sleep easy.

On North Korea – the overwhelming US preoccupation at the Trump-Xi summit – Trump came up empty. For months observers have fretted over Trump’s oscillating rhetoric from fire and destruction one day to let’s-make-a-deal the next. He’s his own good cop, bad cop act.

In principle there’s nothing wrong with bluster and unpredictability. The art of the deal, you know. Despite the claims of Trump’s detractors, the President’s supposed irresponsibility and impulsiveness aren’t the problem. Trump’s personal style hasn’t yet resulted in war, and if war comes, that wouldn’t be the reason for it. Rather the real danger comes from the ostensible experts who set the parameters within which Trump operates, to whom he’s unwisely outsourced his foreign and security policies. The following articles of faith are baked into the cake:

  • First, It’s nice that there has evidently been a back channel for direct US talks with North Korea, but from Washington’s perspective there is nowhere for negotiations to go past demands for denuclearization. Any kind of concession to Pyongyang is out of the question, as it would mean “rewarding aggression” and “showing weakness.” There are no evident contours for a deal when only one side is expected to make concessions.
  • Second, because Washington has defined North Korea’s nukes as ipso facto a vital threat to the US, the minimum acceptable US goal is Pyongyang’s dumping its weapons.. (Regime change would be better, since it would also mean denuclearization.) The fact that Pyongyang is unlikely to give up its nukes under any circumstances means there can be no deal.
  • Third, in Washington’s collective mind the crisis is 100 percent the fault of North Korea, zero percent the result of our presence in Korea, of our threats against Pyongyang, or of our actions elsewhere. How can you blame us – we tried diplomacy for 20 years and all it did was lead to a bomb! Any suggestion that Kim Jong-un is responding to threats from George W. Bush’s 2002 Axis of Evil speech or to the disposal of Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein (who, unlike Kim, were foolish enough not to have WMDs) would be “blaming America!” Taking responsibility for past mistakes is not our forte. The prospect that the US mainland might in a few months be targetable by a nuclear-tipped North Korean ICBM has nothing at all to do with anything the US has said or done.
  • Fourth, we know China can solve this at will – easily and quickly, as the President said. As former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton says: “That’s why you say to China: ‘we’re gonna see reunification here. Do you want to do it the hard way or the easy way?” This means China can do the job for us, or we’ll do it. The notion that Beijing will not take an action fundamentally inconsistent to China’s national security because of American flattery or threats is almost inconceivable. But if they fail to do as we demand, what comes next will be their fault, not ours.
  • Fifth, the military option is still very much on the table. The Junta are not strategic thinkers but they are very, very certain of their technique. If worse comes to worst, and they are “forced to act” (from their point of view) they are supremely (and dangerously) confident that good execution can minimize the damage. Preparations for a preemptive strike continue apace. In Seoul Trump touted the prowess of the three US carrier groups off the peninsula. Maybe it’s all just a bluff to get the Chinese to act (as we know they can; see the preceding paragraph). But if worse comes to worst, and it turns out horribly for a lot of people: We had no choice in light of China’s inaction. Does this mean the planners are sitting around scheming to sacrifice Seoul so as not to look weak? No, but they are prepared to risk that outcome because they are boxed in by all the other elements of their approach. Worse, they are sure they call pull it off. After all, look at how well our other recent wars have gone!
  • Sixth, Trump has made it clear that his instincts are on hold and he’ll be guided by “the professionals.” (Compare Afghanistan, where his “new” same-old non-strategy was dictated by the Junta against what he admits were his own inclinations.) On Korea, the “experts” mainly refers to the Junta but also Nikki Haley (!!!!) and probably John Bolton. (There’s also a possibility that David Petraeus, the genius advocate of arming al-Qaeda in Syria, has a thumb in the pie as well.) Plus, keep in mind that Trump isn’t a neoconservative but he is an Andrew Jackson, or perhaps Teddy Roosevelt, nationalist. “Do not underestimate us,” Trump warned Kim. “And do not try us.” When the “experts” tell him that North Korea is “trying” us, what else can he do but act? After all, in April the “experts” told him that al-Assad gassed children in Syria – and boom! – he launched cruise missiles to the applause of both the Swamp critters and much of his populist base that has no idea where Syria is.
  • Seventh – and here’s the fun part – if it does all turn into a huge disaster involving hundreds of thousands of deaths, who will take the fall? Not McMaster or Haley. No, it will all be blamed on Trump and the “America First!” path he failed to follow. The establishment on both sides of the aisle, including many who prodded him toward a more aggressive policy, will rush to denounce him: See, we told you he’s nuts! The professionals gave him good advice but he messed everything up! In that case, they wouldn’t have to wait for impeachment, the 25th Amendment would be invoked. Talk about a “win-win” for the Deep State warmongers: getting rid of Kim and Trump!

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US Cannot Shoot Down DPRK Missiles: Global Defense Experts

Sputnik – 24.09.2017

The US State Department stated on Friday that the country’s military defense networks will shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile if it flies over the island territory of Guam, but experts in the field have claimed that the Pentagon is flat-out wrong.

In stating that the US will destroy a Pyongyang ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead in mid-air, the Pentagon is not only misleading the public and its own government, it is outright lying, according to military experts with deep knowledge of missile-defense technology.

“No, we won’t,” counter military experts to claims by the Pentagon that the US may launch and intercept any missiles launched by the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The United States will have a hard time trying to shoot down DPRK nuclear missiles, a point of view shared by Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation specializing in nuclear weapons, and Kingston Reif, director of Disarmament and Threat Reduction policy at the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.

According to both experts, the United States touts its layered missile defense systems, even though almost none are capable of intercepting an ICBM.

When Pyongyang shot a missile over Japan, it flew high enough that no US system would be able to reach it, Cirincione wrote in a report for Defense One.

“The key word here is ‘over.’ Like way over,” Cirincione wrote. “Like 770 kilometers (475 miles) over Japan at the apogee of its flight path. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high.”

The US missile defense consists of three layers, including the Patriot, THAAD and the Aegis systems. For the sake of simplicity, their ranges can be memorized as 12, 125 and 1350 miles, respectively (thanks to the Business Insider for a nice chart).

However, all three are designed to take down a missile at its final, terminal, stage, while it is falling from the sky toward its target. Despite that the US has reportedly poured some $320 billion into missile defense systems over the last several decades, none of the systems is capable of reaching an ICBM (or even an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)) in its middle or post-launch stage.

Well, they will take down an ICBM in the terminal stage, right? Wrong, the experts say. While the much-advertised Aegis system, for example, has displayed stellar results in test fires against short-range and medium-range targets, these results must be taken with a heavy dose of salt, according to Reif and Cirincione.

“Only one of those tests has been against an IRBM class target similar to the North’s HS-12,” Reif told Fox News.

“THAAD, Patriot and especially Aegis, have done fairly well in tests, but these have been tests designed for success, simplified, carefully staged and using mostly short-range targets,” Cirincione stated.

According to Cirincione, currently the United States has a “50-50 chance” of hitting a missile similar to North Korea’s Hwasong-14 while the missile is in flight. And those results are only possible if the DPRK used zero countermeasures, such as decoys (some as simple as a balloon), electronic jammers and chaff.

There is also a little-discussed issue with naval-based Aegis launchers. Despite their flexibility compared to fixed ground-based systems, the ships need to be at precisely the right place at the right time to be capable to intercept a launch, experts say.

Trying to use missiles from Aegis ships “would be a highly demanding task and entail a significant amount of guesswork, as the ships would have to be in the right place at the right time to stop a test at sea,” Reif said, cited by Defense One.

There is a US system that is supposed to be the ultimate solution to the ICBM threat — well, at least sort of — called “Ground-Based Midcourse Defense,” or GMD, according to the experts. This system, which has already cost the US some $40 billion, is claimed to be able to shoot down ICBMS at their highest point, at ranges up to 3,500 miles.

According to the experts, “claimed to be able” does not equal “guaranteed to work.”

“The only system designed to defend the US homeland, known as the [GMD], has suffered from numerous technical and engineering problems, and testing in controlled conditions has not demonstrated that it can provide a reliable defense against even a small number of unsophisticated ICBMs,” Reif said.

“The success rate of the GMD systems in flight intercept tests has been dismal,” Cirincione quoted Philip Coyle, former director of operational testing for the Pentagon, as saying.

Cirincione also quotes the former head of the Missile Defense Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, saying that the chances of successfully hitting an ICBM with a GMD are “as good as coin toss.”

Top US officials, including President Donald Trump and his defense minister General Jim Mattis, claim that the Pentagon has the situation under control and can deal with any nuclear threat, giving US citizens a false feeling of safety. Neither the US mainland, Japan or South Korea are in any way protected by US missile defense technology from a DPRK nuclear strike.

Thomas Karako, senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview with Fox News that “North Korea has hundreds of missiles, [and] the THAAD battery is not there to defend the entire peninsula. […] This is not about having a perfect shield and sitting there and playing catch.”

According to Karko, THAAD has been deployed in South Korea not to provide protection for the 25 million population of the country, but to “buy time for a military counterstrike.”

The top US brass, repeating words of confidence over and over again, may trick themselves into believing their own words, according to Reif.

“Misplaced overconfidence in missile defense could prompt US leaders to think that we can escalate in response to North Korean provocations without having to worry about a potential North Korean nuclear response,” Reif warned.

“This would greatly increase the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 5 Comments

Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | October 12, 2017

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

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Reaction

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

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

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

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

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

July 1950 U.S. Army file photograph once classified “top secret”. S. Korean soldiers walk among thousands of political prisoners shot at Taejon, S. Korea.
(AP Photo/National Archives, Major Abbott/U.S. Army, File)

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

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

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

An Ally’s Fears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

North Korea Would Be Stupid to Trust the U.S.

By Jacob G. Hornberger | Future of Freedom Foundation | September 28, 2017

To many mainstream pundits, the solution to the crisis in Korea is for U.S. officials to sit down and “talk” to North Korea in the hopes of negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement. While it won’t guarantee that a deal will be worked out, they say, “talking” is the only chance there is to resolve the crisis.

They ignore an important point: Any deal that would be reached would involve trusting the U.S. government to keep its end of the bargain. And trusting the U.S. government would be the stupidest thing North Korea could ever do. That’s because as soon as U.S. officials found it advantageous, they would break the deal and pounce on North Korea, with the aim of achieving the regime change they have sought ever since the dawn of the Cold War more than 70 years ago.

Look at what U.S. officials did to Libya. Its dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, agreed to give up his nuclear-weapons program in return for regime security. That turned out to be stupid move. As soon as U.S. officials saw an opening, they pounced with a regime-change operation. Today, Qaddafi is dead and Libya is in perpetual crisis and turmoil. That wouldn’t have happened if Qaddafi had a nuclear deterrent to a U.S. regime-change operation.

Look at what U.S. officials are doing to Iran. They entered into a deal in which the U.S. government agreed to lift its brutal system of sanctions, which has brought untold suffering to the Iranian people, in return for Iran’s abandoning its nuclear-weapons [sic] program. After the deal was reached and Iran had complied, U.S. officials broke their side of the deal by refusing to lift their brutal system of sanctions and even imposing more sanctions. U.S. officials are also now looking for any excuse or justification for getting out of the deal to which they agreed.

Even longtime partners and allies of the U.S. government can never be certain that the Empire won’t suddenly turn against them.

Look at what happened to the U.S. government’s loyal partner and ally Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials worked closely with him during the 1980s to kill Iranians. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait to settle an oil-drilling dispute, U.S. officials went after him with a vengeance, and notwithstanding the fact that, prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, they had falsely indicated to Saddam their indifference to his dispute with Kuwait. Result? Today Saddam is dead, and the U.S. government succeeded in achieving regime change in Iraq.

Look at Syria, which for a time served as a loyal partner and ally of the U.S. government, as reflected by the secret agreement to torture Canadian citizen Mahar Arar on behalf of U.S. officials and report their findings back to the CIA. Later, U.S. officials turned on Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad, in a regime-change operation.

Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. Recall the countless agreements that U.S. officials made in the 1800s with Native Americans. U.S. officials were notorious for breaking them once it became advantageous to do so. Native Americans were entirely justified in accusing U.S. officials of speaking with a “forked tongue.”

If you were a North Korean, would you trust U.S. officials? Would you give up the one thing that is deterring a U.S. regime-change operation in return for a promise from U.S. officials that they would not initiate a regime-change operation? That would really be a really stupid thing to do, from the standpoint of North Korea. As soon as the U.S. government found it advantageous to break the deal and invade North Korea, engage in another state-sponsored assassination, or impose a new round of regime-change sanctions, they would do it.

“Talking” to North Korea will do no good because North Korea will never trust the United States to fulfill its part of any deal that is worked out. There is but one solution to the crisis in Korea: withdraw all U.S. forces from that part of the world immediately and bring them home. Anything less will only continue the crisis or, even worse, result in a very deadly and destructive war.

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 5 Comments

How to End the Korea Crisis

By Ron Paul | September 25, 2017

The descent of US/North Korea “crisis” to the level of schoolyard taunts should be remembered as one of the most bizarre, dangerous, and disgraceful chapters in US foreign policy history.

President Trump, who holds the lives of millions of Koreans and Americans in his hands, has taken to calling the North Korean dictator “rocket man on a suicide mission.” Why? To goad him into launching some sort of action to provoke an American response? Maybe the US president is not even going to wait for that. We remember from the Tonkin Gulf false flag that the provocation doesn’t even need to be real. We are in extremely dangerous territory and Congress for the most part either remains asleep or is cheering on the sabre-rattling.

Now we have North Korean threats to detonate hydrogen bombs over the Pacific Ocean and US threats to “totally destroy” the country.

We are told that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a “madman.” That’s just what they said about Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, and everyone else the neocons target for US military action. We don’t need to be fans of North Korea to be skeptical of the war propaganda delivered by the mainstream media to the benefit of the neocons and the military industrial complex.

Where are the cooler heads in Washington to tone down this war footing?

Making matters worse, there is very little understanding of the history of the conflict. The US spends more on its military than the next ten or so countries combined, with thousands of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world many times over. Nearly 70 years ago a US-led attack on Korea led to mass destruction and the death of nearly 30 percent of the North Korean population. That war has not yet ended.

Why hasn’t a peace treaty been signed? Newly-elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in has proposed direct negotiations with North Korea leading to a peace treaty. The US does not favor such a bilateral process. In fact, the US laughed off a perfectly sensible offer made by the Russians and Chinese, with the agreement of the North Koreans, for a “double freeze” – the North Koreans would suspend missile launches if the US and South Korea suspend military exercises aimed at the overthrow of the North Korean government.

So where are there cooler heads? Encouragingly, they are to be found in South Korea, which would surely suffer massively should a war break out. While US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was bragging that the new UN sanctions against North Korea would result in a near-complete blockade of the country (an act of war), the South Korean government did something last week that shocked the world: it announced an eight million dollar humanitarian aid package for pregnant mothers and infant children in North Korea. The US and its allies are furious over the move, but how could anyone claim the mantle of “humanitarianism” while imposing sanctions that aim at starving civilians until they attempt an overthrow of their government?

Here’s how to solve the seven-decade old crisis: pull all US troops out of [South] Korea; end all military exercises on the North Korean border; encourage direct talks between the North and South and offer to host or observe them with an international delegation including the Russians and Chinese, which are after all Korea’s neighbors.

The schoolyard insults back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are not funny. They are in fact an insult to all of the rest of us!

September 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | 3 Comments

Straws in the Wind for a Reset in US-Russian Relations

By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR – Asia Times – 23.09.2017

The receding specters of a war involving North Korea and a US-Russia confrontation in Syria. The sound of cracking ice in the frozen conflict in Ukraine. Russia and the United States bidding farewell to “tits-for-tat.” Is this the dawn of a brave new world?

You might be skeptical, but it’s possible to draw positive conclusions from the two meetings, on successive days, between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. These meetings, in fact, bode well for another meeting ahead, between presidents Valdimir Putin and Donald Trump, this time in Danang, Vietnam, on the sidelines of the November 11-12 APEC summit.

There are straws in the wind that cannot be ignored. Lavrov told the media after listening to Trump’s UN speech that he viewed it positively. Lavrov was in a forgiving mood towards the threats held out by Trump to “evil regimes” in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Indeed, he felt that it was a “remarkable speech,” with Trump voicing respect for sovereignty and equality in international affairs and promising that the US will not impose itself on other countries. “I think it’s a very welcome statement, which we haven’t heard from the American leaders for a very long time,” Lavrov noted with satisfaction.

Thus, the foreplay has already begun that frames November’s Putin-Trump talks as a new page in Russian-American relations. Moscow judges that things can only improve in those relations and that Trump is wedded to his conviction that good relations with Russia are in the US’ best interests and – as Lavrov put it – “the interests of solving quite a number of important and most acute world problems.” Lavrov told the Associated Press :

“And what I feel talking to Rex Tillerson is that… they are not happy with the relations (with Russia)… And I believe that the understanding is that we have to accept the reality, which was created… by the Obama administration… And, being responsible people, the Russian government and the US administration should exercise this responsibility in addressing the bilateral links as well as international issues. We are not at a point where this would become a sustained trend but understanding of the need to move in this direction is present, in my opinion.”

The US and Russia have resumed dialogue over the global strategic balance, but to a great extent the shape of things to come over North Korea, Syria and Ukraine will set the tempo of their relations in the short term. US-Russia cooperation can make all the difference in addressing these problems, while any exacerbation of these conflict situations will inevitably impact their relationship.

North Korea: The Trump administration can turn the Russia-China entente to its advantage to defuse the North Korean crisis. While China’s capacity to leverage North Korea is not in doubt, what remains unexplored is that Moscow also wields influence with the leadership in Pyongyang. Kim Il Sung served as an officer in the Soviet Red Army after crossing into the USSR during World War II, before returning home to found North Korea in 1948.

Russia is uniquely placed to offer an “integration package” that might interest Pyongyang. It is a failure of leadership in Washington that the “Russian option” (in tandem with China) hasn’t been explored.

Syria: While the situation in Syria gives grounds for cautious optimism and the formation of new de-escalation zones may create conditions for internal dialogue in the country, it is time to work for a regional settlement as well.

A recent regional tour of the Persian Gulf by Lavrov and the upcoming visit by Saudi King Salman to Russia (October 4-7) should be viewed in this context. Russia also enjoys good relations with Turkey and Israel, while Iran is its ally in Syria. All this makes Russia a key interlocutor. Arguably, the Iran nuclear issue has morphed into a template for a settlement in the Iraq-Syria-Lebanon triangle.

Ukraine: The proposal mooted by Russia at the UN Security Council regarding the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in the separatist Donbas region of Ukraine is gaining traction. Interestingly, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg hailed the idea after a meeting with Lavrov in New York on September 21.

Germany is supportive of the Russian move and hopes to elaborate the concept in coordination with France, its western European partner in the Normandy format. With Angela Merkel remaining as Chancellor following Sunday’s Bundestag elections a definite prospect, it’s time to breathe new life into the Minsk accord, which is of course the base line for the EU to consider any rollback of sanctions against Russia.

While there is talk of Europe’s “strategic autonomy” in the Trump era, it is unrealistic to expect “an anti-American Europe that will break with Washington in favor of warmer relations with Moscow,” as noted Russian pundit Fyodor Lukyanov wrote recently. On the other hand, the Trump administration will have a tough time shepherding the EU into a united front against Russia (which President Obama brilliantly succeeded in doing, in 2014.) Clearly, a new framework for US-Russia relations has become necessary. And it must begin by breaking the stalemate in Ukraine.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Listening to the Donald at the UN

The Saker • Unz Review • September 19, 2017

Late this morning, outraged emails started pouring in. My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”. The cause of all that? They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN. I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself. Yeah, it was painful.

You can read the full (rush, not official) text here or watch the video here. Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing. But there are a few interesting moments including these:

“We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been”

This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars. Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military. This is completely false, of course. If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over. In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.

Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important. This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the US that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war. Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.

[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is. There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory. But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies. Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at? Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this? If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay. But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?! Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium? Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices. My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”. This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then. It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the US of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Wow! Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all). Totally destroy North Korea. I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan. No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people. Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified. I bet for the former reaction. It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat. And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea. For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeated that today. That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK. There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah). The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close. In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul. At the very least, they can totally destroy it. Along with much of Japan. I wonder if the US decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?

Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection. Why do I say that? Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy. In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really. What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking. Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved? No? Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything. They really don’t have it. The amazing reality is that they don’t even have a goal defined. How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.

[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia. Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan. This may not be what the US would want, but this is the reality. Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump. First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories which the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA! The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years. The US also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination. And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the US in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?! Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement. And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack. Wow! For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions. The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…

Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway? Who does he think he is lecturing? Yet another US middle school classroom?! Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?! Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet. Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the US, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.

I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect. Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world. The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this). Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness. Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense? Probably not. My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously. Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.

[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama. This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya. The reason why this is a joke is that when Dubya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him. Oh boy where we wrong! Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya. I do. I really do. Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was. Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].

In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the US. Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill. Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing. That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done. Because, and make no mistake here, if the US cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like. But for as long as the US remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary as President would have been infinitely worse!). However, the US themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindictive and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC. Step by step the US is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being. It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war. The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead. As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

US Comes to Russia With ‘Absurd’ Request for More Sanctions Against North Korea

Sputnik | September 11, 2107

Given the US approach to its relations with Russia, it is “absurd” for Washington to expect Moscow’s support for its sanctions plan for North Korea, Georgiy Toloraya of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Sputnik.

On Monday, the UN Security Council is to vote on a US-drafted resolution that would strengthen sanctions against North Korea in the aftermath of a reported sixth nuclear test.

The original version of the text called for a trade embargo on oil and textiles and a financial and travel ban for leader Kim Jong-un. China and Russia oppose sanctions that could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, which was already put under more sanctions in August. With that in view, the US has watered down the text in order to win the approval of the Security Council, although it still proposes a ban on North Korean textiles.

Georgiy Toloraya, Director of the Center for Russian Strategy in Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics, told Sputnik that the US position, which expects Russia to support sanctions against North Korea while at the same time sanctioning Russia, is “absurd.”

“The Americans want to deprive the North Koreans of heat, to expel all their guest workers who are needed by Russia in the Far East, and also to stop the export of textiles from the DPRK. What does that have to do with the nuclear missile program?” Toloraya asked.

“In addition, the Russian president said correctly that it is quite absurd to include Russia along with the DPRK on the sanctions list, and then ask us to take joint actions on sanctions. Moreover, we consider this unnecessary because sanctions simply don’t work.”

In July, the US Congress approved a sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea. Speaking at the BRICS conference last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “It’s ridiculous to put us on the same sanctions list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea.”

Zhou Yongsheng of the Center for International Relations Studies at the Diplomatic Academy told Sputnik China that as far as sanctions are concerned, it’s either all or nothing.

“I think that if we really apply a full package of sanctions to the DPRK, then this will also help solve the nuclear problem. Since right now the supply of energy resources and grain to the DPRK has not been completely stopped, this means that the DPRK has the means for a confrontation with the international community. In the event that some kind of supply to the DPRK is interrupted completely, then the country won’t last too long and it is very possible that it will make some concessions,” Zhou declared.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin remarked on the importance of deescalating the tense situation in the Korean peninsula.

“There is no point in giving in to emotions and driving North Korea into a corner. Now, more than ever, everybody needs to stay calm and avoid steps that lead to an escalation of tension,” Putin said.

Moon Jae-in and Putin signed a host of deals to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of joint financial and investment platforms, healthcare and IT. Putin also reiterated Russia’s readiness to develop trilateral projects in the Far East with both North and South Korea, which would open the country up economically and politically.

“Development of the Far East will not only contribute to the prosperity of the two states but also to changes in North Korea, which will become a basis for trilateral relations,” the South Korean president said.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

North Korea Played a Winning Card!

Al-Manar | September 8, 2017

North Korea has successfully carried out its sixth nuclear experiment in 11 years.

The country now, beyond any doubt is a nuclear power. This new development has sparked a score of reactions across the world, yet the overall tone of threats, especially those coming from USA did not amount to a direct menace of starting a war. They rather called for tightening the sanctions, reaching a total siege that could bring North Korea to its knees.

The defiant regime in Pyongyang, knew exactly how and when to play its winning cards.

Now the situation has reached a turning point whereby the North Korean leader has enough influence and a balance of terror where he could bring the American administration back to the negotiating table.

It is worth mentioning that the whole situation in the Korean Peninsula could be summed up as follows:

– Both USA and North Korea have no interest in starting a military confrontation that could easily slip into a nuclear war which would lead to catastrophic consequences all over the world.

– USA wants China to interfere and tame its ally and reach a settlement to the crisis without paying any price to Pyongyang. To this effect, Washington is applying pressure and tough sanctions on Chinese companies to prompt a direct reaction against North Korea.

– Washington is taking advantage from the recent escalation to make more arm deals and sell more weapons to South Korea and Japan, and to present itself as their defender and savior!

– Russia and China are happy to witness the North Korean provocation and challenge to Washington as this serves as a very important testing balloon to see how USA reacts in such situations.

– North Korea is interested to strike a permanent deal with Washington that would guarantee regime stability plus economic benefits that ends the paralyzing siege against it.

– China, North Korea’s main and almost only ally and supplier is not happy to watch the North Korean card slipping from its hand, as Pyongyang is attempting to find an independent track by itself away from any country’s major influence.

As a summation, the Korean Peninsula crisis has been set to a new phase where Washington can never be at ease meddling in its affairs. The North Korean nascent nuclear power is capable of hitting not only Japanese and South Korean targets or even US targets, but probably also European ones. This opens a new chapter in the crisis where the title is not limited to USA but rather shared, influentially though by North Korea. This ends the American monopoly and ushers in a new era where unipolarity no more exists.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 3 Comments

While Trump tweets, Putin steals a march on North Korea

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | September 8, 2017

The message from the two-day Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) conference, which concluded in Vladivostok on Thursday, is that Russia’s “pivot to Asia” in recent years, in the downstream of Western sanctions against it, has become a core vector of its foreign policies.

The EEF began modestly in 2015 with the agenda of showcasing the “new reality” of a role for the Russian Far East in the economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region. But this year’s EEF waded into the critical regional security issue of North Korea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed, inter alia, that a North Korean delegation would attend the EEF event. He said, “As I understand, the DPRK’s delegation to the EEF consists of representatives of the economic bloc. We (Russia) also have representatives of our economic ministries and departments here. So I think, meetings within the profile structures of the two countries will take place.”

This comes at a time when administration of US President Donald Trump is stepping up its rhetoric and demanding more sanctions against North Korea. Curiously, South Korean President Moon Jae-In also attended the EEF conference, taking time off to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok on Wednesday.

Moon may well be quietly admiring of Putin for saying things upfront about North Korea which he is unable to do himself. When talking to the media in Xiamen on Tuesday following the BRICS summit, Putin had done some plain speaking regarding North Korea. Notably, he said:

“Everyone remembers well what happened to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Hussein abandoned the production of weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless… Saddam Hussein himself and his family were killed… Even children died back then. His grandson, I believe, was shot to death. The country was destroyed… North Koreans are also aware of it and remember it. Do you think that following the adoption of some sanctions, North Korea will abandon its course on creating weapons of mass destruction? “Certainly, the North Koreans will not forget it. Sanctions of any kind are useless and ineffective in this case. As I said to one of my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass, but they will not abandon this program unless they feel safe.”

After meeting Moon, Putin again urged that dialogue is the only way out of the crisis. Putin is well aware that Moon has a pivotal role in preventing US President Donald Trump from taking military risks, and he cannot be unaware that some fractures have appeared lately in the US-South Korea alliance. Significantly, Moon said at his press conference with Putin on Wednesday:

“Mr. President and I have also agreed to build up the basis for the implementation of trilateral projects with participation of the two Koreas and Russia, which will connect the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East… We have decided to give priority to the projects that can be implemented in the near future, primarily in the Far East. The development of the Far East will promote the prosperity of our two countries and will also help change North Korea and create the basis for the implementation of the trilateral agreements. We will be working hard on this.”

To jog memories, Moscow has, in the past, mooted certain infrastructural projects involving North Korea that might hold the potential to stabilize the region: an extension of the Trans-Siberian railway system into South Korea via North Korea; a gas pipeline connecting South and North Korea with the vast Russian oil and gas fields in the Far East; and transmission lines to take surplus electricity from the Russian Far East to the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean companies are involved in Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 energy projects and are currently discussing with Russia the delivery of liquefied natural gas. South Korean shipyards are hoping to build 15 tankers to transport gas from the Yamal LNG plant in the Russian Far East.

Putin stated at the press conference with Moon that “Russia is still willing to implement trilateral projects with the participation of North Korea.” He flagged the above three projects specifically and added, “The implementation of these initiatives will be not only economically beneficial, but will also help build up trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

The big question is whether there was some form of contact between the delegations of North and South Korea on the sidelines of the EEF conference in Vladivostok. Russia, the host country, is uniquely placed to play the role of facilitator.

At any rate, Moscow is willing to undertake a mediatory role between the two Koreas, which no other world capital today can perform. It can talk to Pyongyang to raise its comfort level and integrate North Korea in regional cooperation, while also easing South Korea’s existential angst. Moscow’s trump card is its privileged communication channels to Pyongyang and its common interests with Seoul (and Beijing, and Tokyo) in avoiding a catastrophic war.

In the given situation, Russian diplomacy becomes optimal. While bringing about peace, it also holds the potential to create wealth and shared prosperity, which provides the bedrock for regional stability and helps the development of the Russian Far East. Incidentally, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang, the point person for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, also attended the EEF meet.

Putin arrived in Vladivostok from China where he held detailed discussions with President Xi Jinping on Monday regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula. A high degree of Sino-Russian coordination on North Korea is already evident.

Any Russian peace initiative on North Korea will be a reflection on the failure of leadership in Washington. The Trump administration is unlikely to view such a scenario with equanimity, given its far-reaching implications for the US-led system of alliances in the Far East.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

North Korean delegation arrives in Russia, to be joined shortly by South Korean President

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | September 5, 2017

Hours after the 9th annual BRICS summit wrapped up in Xieman, China, delegates from East and South East Asia have begun arriving in the Russian city of Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum.

The Forum is an event designed to enhance economic partnerships and cooperation between multiple Asian nations including Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam and the Korean states.

This year’s summit occurs days after North Korea tested what is thought to be a hydrogen-weapon. Russia and China have both condemned the move and support UN sanctions against Pyongyang, but are equally opposed to further crippling unilateral sanctions from Washington.

With many suspecting that North Korea would boycott the event, Russian officials have confirmed otherwise, stating that the North Korean delegation is already in Vladivostok.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to arrive shortly along with the South Korean delegation. While the Korean crisis is set to dominate discussions that would otherwise have been reserved for discussing trade and economic matters, it is not yet clear if the North and South Korean delegations will interact at any level.

Many suspect that Russian President Vladimir Putin who hosts the event will attempt to conduct dialogue with the representatives of both Korean states in order to try and de-escalate regional tensions.

The Eastern Economic Forum officially begins on the 6th of September and runs through the 7th.

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

How ‘Regime Change’ Wars Led to Korea Crisis

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 4, 2017

It is a popular meme in the U.S. media to say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “crazy” as he undertakes to develop a nuclear bomb and a missile capacity to deliver it, but he is actually working from a cold logic dictated by the U.S. government’s aggressive wars and lack of integrity.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Indeed, the current North Korea crisis, which could end up killing millions of people, can be viewed as a follow-on disaster to President George W. Bush’s Iraq War and President Barack Obama’s Libyan intervention. Those wars came after the leaders of Iraq and Libya had dismantled their dangerous weapons programs, leaving their countries virtually powerless when the U.S. government chose to invade.

In both cases, the U.S. government also exploited its power over global information to spread lies about the targeted regimes as justification for the invasions — and the world community failed to do anything to block the U.S. aggressions.

And, on a grim personal note, the two leaders, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, were then brutally murdered, Hussein by hanging and Gaddafi by a mob that first sodomized him with a knife.

So, the neoconservatives who promoted the Iraq invasion supposedly to protect the world from Iraq’s alleged WMDs — and the liberal interventionists who pushed the Libya invasion based on false humanitarian claims — may now share in the horrific possibility that millions of people in North Korea, South Korea, Japan and maybe elsewhere could die from real WMDs launched by North Korea and/or by the United States.

Washington foreign policy “experts” who fault President Trump’s erratic and bellicose approach toward this crisis may want to look in the mirror and consider how they contributed to the mess by ignoring the predictable consequences from the Iraq and Libya invasions.

Yes, I know, at the time it was so exciting to celebrate the Bush Doctrine of preemptive wars even over a “one percent” suspicion that a “rogue state” like Iraq might share WMDs with terrorists — or the Clinton Doctrine hailed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s acolytes enamored by her application of “smart power” to achieve “regime change” in Libya.

However, as we now know, both wars were built upon lies. Iraq did not possess WMD stockpiles as the Bush administration claimed, and Libya was not engaged in mass murder of civilians in rebellious areas in the eastern part of the country as the Obama administration claimed.

Post-invasion investigations knocked down Bush’s WMD myth in Iraq, and a British parliamentary inquiry concluded that Western governments misrepresented the situation in eastern Libya where Gaddafi forces were targeting armed rebels but not indiscriminately killing civilians.

But those belated fact-finding missions were no comfort to either Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi, nor to their countries, which have seen mass slaughters resulting from the U.S.-sponsored invasions and today amount to failed states.

There also has been virtually no accountability for the war crimes committed by the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush and Obama both ended up serving two terms as President. None of Bush’s senior advisers were punished – and Hillary Clinton received the 2016 Democratic Party’s nomination for President.

As for the U.S. mainstream media, which behaved as boosters for both invasions, pretty much all of the journalistic war advocates have continued on with their glorious careers. To excuse their unprofessional behavior, some even have pushed revisionist lies, such as the popular but false claim that Saddam Hussein was to blame because he pretended that he did have WMDs – when the truth is that his government submitted a detailed 12,000-page report to the United Nations in December 2002 describing how the WMDs had been destroyed (though that accurate account was widely mocked and ultimately ignored).

Pervasive Dishonesty

The dishonesty that now pervades the U.S. government and the U.S. mainstream media represents another contributing factor to the North Korean crisis. What sensible person anywhere on the planet would trust U.S. assurances? Who would believe what the U.S. government says, except, of course, the U.S. mainstream media?

Remember also that North Korea’s nuclear program had largely been mothballed before George W. Bush delivered his “axis of evil” speech in January 2002, which linked Iran and Iraq – then bitter enemies – with North Korea. After that, North Korea withdrew from earlier agreements on limiting its nuclear development and began serious work on a bomb.

Yet, while North Korea moved toward a form of mutual assured destruction, Iraq and Libya chose a different path.

In Iraq, to head off a threatened U.S.-led invasion, Hussein’s government sought to convince the international community that it had lived up to its commitments regarding the destruction of its WMD arsenal and programs. Besides the detailed declaration, Iraq gave U.N. weapons inspectors wide latitude to search on the ground.

But Bush cut short the inspection efforts in March 2003 and launched his “shock and awe” invasion, which led to the collapse of Hussein’s regime and the dictator’s eventual capture and hanging.

Gaddafi’s Gestures

In Libya, Gaddafi also sought to cooperate with international demands regarding WMDs. In late 2003, he announced that his country would eliminate its unconventional weapons programs, including a nascent nuclear project.

Gaddafi also sought to get Libya out from under economic sanctions by taking responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Scotland, although he and his government continued to deny carrying out the terror attack that killed 270 people.

But these efforts to normalize Libya’s relations with the West failed to protect him or his country. In 2011 when Islamic militants staged an uprising around Benghazi, Gaddafi moved to crush it, and Secretary of State Clinton eagerly joined with some European countries in seeking military intervention to destroy Gaddafi’s regime.

The United Nations Security Council approved a plan for the humanitarian protection of civilians in and around Benghazi, but the Obama administration and its European allies exploited that opening to mount a full-scale “regime change” war.

Prominent news personalities, such as MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, cheered on the war with the claim that Gaddafi had American “blood on his hands” over the Pan Am 103 case because he had accepted responsibility. The fact that his government continued to deny actual guilt – and the international conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was a judicial travesty – was ignored. Almost no one in the West dared question the longtime groupthink of Libyan guilt.

By October 2011, Gaddafi had fled Tripoli and was captured by rebels in Sirte. He was tortured, sodomized with a knife and then executed. Clinton, whose aides felt she should claim credit for Gaddafi’s overthrow as part of a Clinton Doctrine, celebrated his murder with a laugh and a quip, “We came; we saw; he died.”

But Gaddafi’s warnings about Islamist terrorists in Benghazi came back to haunt Clinton when on Sept. 11, 2012, militants attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA station there, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The obsessive Republican investigation into the Benghazi attack failed to demonstrate many of the lurid claims about Clinton’s negligence, but it did surface the fact that she had used a private server for her official State Department emails, which, in turn, led to an FBI investigation which severely damaged her 2016 presidential run.

Lessons Learned

Meanwhile, back in North Korea, the young dictator Kim Jong Un was taking all this history in. According to numerous sources, he concluded that his and North Korea’s only safeguard would be a viable nuclear deterrent to stave off another U.S.-sponsored “regime change” war — with him meeting a similar fate as was dealt to Hussein and Gaddafi.

Since then, Kim and his advisers have made clear that the surrender of North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal is off the table. They make the understandable point that the United States has shown bad faith in other cases in which leaders have given up their WMDs in compliance with international demands and then saw their countries invaded and faced grisly executions themselves.

Now, the world faces a predicament in which an inexperienced and intemperate President Trump confronts a crisis that his two predecessors helped to create and make worse. Trump has threatened “fire and fury” like the world has never seen, suggesting a nuclear strike on North Korea, which, in turn, has vowed to retaliate.

Millions of people on the Korean peninsula and Japan – and possibly elsewhere – could die in such a conflagration. The world’s economy could be severely shaken, given Japan’s and South Korea’s industrial might and the size of their consumer markets.

If such a horror does come to pass, the U.S. government and the U.S. mainstream media will surely revert to their standard explanation that Kim was simply “crazy” and brought this destruction on himself. Trump’s liberal critics also might attack Trump for bungling the diplomacy.

But the truth is that many of Washington’s elite policymakers – both on the Republican and Democratic sides – will share in the blame. And so too should the U.S. mainstream media.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment