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What we can learn from the North Korea nuclear story

By Gunnar Westberg | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | June 23, 2018

The North Korea – USA nuclear crisis should teach us several lessons regarding nuclear weapons:

  • Nuclear weapons do not prevent nuclear proliferation.

The nuclear weapon states accepted in 1970 in the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty, NPT. In this treaty these states agree to negotiate the complete disarmament of their nuclear weapons. They have completely disregarded this pledge and insist that they must retain nuclear weapons in order to prevent other countries from acquiring them. The North Korea example shows us that this does not work.

  • Nuclear weapons are contagious.

The nuclear weapons states also insist, contrary to their pledge in the NPT, that they must keep their nukes “for their own security”. This provides an excuse for other states to acquire them. A small country such as North Korea, DPRK, has stronger reasons to build nuclear weapons than a superpower such as USA, which in a world without nuclear weapons would have an unchallenged military dominance.

  • Nuclear weapons can cause war.

Without the “fake news” of the risk of a nuclear attack on Manhattan from Iraq, the US public would probably not have accepted the war against Iraq. If DPRK had not obtained nuclear weapons the country would not have been threatened with an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear. It is often repeated that nuclear weapons kept peace in Europe during the cold war; If there had been no nuclear weapons the Soviet Union would have invaded Western Europe. This is an unproven conjecture. A deeper discussion on this subject is outside my competence and outside the mandate of IPPNW. However, most historians today agree, based on sources released after 1990, that the Soviet Union accepted the status in Europe after 1950.

  • Nuclear weapons can bring high status to the leader of a country.

This has been important for the North Korean leaders. Already the grandfather of the present leader of North Korea desired the honour of meeting personally the President of the USA. President Trump is the first to accept the invitation and, in the mind of the North Korean leader­, treat him as an equal. Nuclear weapons can also bestow superpower status to a country. This is obvious in the arguments coming from e.g. France and India.

  • Nuclear weapons, once acquired, are hard to give up.

This we will learn in the years to come.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

North Korea foreign minister calls Netanyahu “stinking Zionist”

Palestine Information Center – June 12, 2018

PYONGYANG – North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-Ho has described Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a “stinking Zionist” and bashed his offer to provide the citizens of Iran with water purification technology while Gaza faces a severe water crisis.

“Stinking Zionist Netanyahu offer water to Iran; he’s criminal/liar so wouldn’t deliver. Meanwhile, he can’t be bothered giving water to Gaza; he kills them instead,” Yong-Ho said on his Twitter page.

Yong-Ho’s Twitter remarks came as North Korea was gearing up for a landmark meeting to be held soon in Singapore between its leader Kim Jong Un and US president Donald Trump, a staunch supporter of Israel.

A second Tweet from the foreign minister said that while officials were preparing for the summit, “[North Korea] can’t fail to note stinking Zionist warmonger Netanyahu in Europe seeking to isolate Iran.”

It further accused Netanyahu of “working overtime to make the Singapore Summit fail; he hates DPRK,” it added, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean remarks were apparently prompted in part by a video published at Netanyahu’s official social media channels with an offer to Iran to provide its citizens with Israeli water technologies to combat persistent drought in the country.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Reasons Trump Breaks Nuclear Sanction Agreement with Iran, Declares Trade War with China and Meets with North Korea

By James Petras | Axis of Logic | May 13, 2018

Introduction

For some time, critics of President Trump’s policies have attributed them to a mental disorder; uncontrolled manic-depression, narcissus bullying and other pathology.

The question of Trump’s mental health raises a deeper question: why does his pathology take a specific political direction?

Moreover, Trump’s decisions have a political history and background, and follow from a logic and belief in the reason and logic of imperial power.

We will examine the reason why Trump has embraced three strategic decisions which have world-historic consequences, namely: Trump’s reneging the nuclear accord with Iran; Trump’s declaration of a trade war with China; and Trump’s meeting with North Korea.

In brief we will explore the political reasons for his decisions; what he expects to gain; and what is his game plan if he fails to secure his expected outcome and his adversaries take reprisals.

Trump’s Strategic Framework

The underlying assumption of Trump’s strategic thinking is that ‘power works’: the more intransigent his posture, the greater his belief in a unipolar world based on US power. As a corollary, Trump interprets that any ally, adversary, competitor who seeks negotiations, reciprocity or concessions is ‘weak’ and should be pressured or forced to concede greater concessions and further retreats and sacrifices, up to the ultimate goal of surrender and submission. In other words, Trump’s politics of force only recognizes counter-force: limitations in Trump’s policies will only result when tangible economic and military losses and costs in US lives would undermine US imperial rule.

Reasons Why Trump Broke the Peace Accord with Iran

Trump broke the accord with Iran because the original agreement was based on retaining US sanctions against Iran; the total dismantling of its nuclear program and calling into question Iran’s limited role on behalf of possible allies in the Middle East.

Iran’s one-sided concessions; trading military defense for market opportunities encouraged Trump to believe that he could intimidate Iran militarily by closing all its markets.

Trump views President Rohani as a rug seller not a military strategist. Trump believes that an economic squeeze will lead President Rohani to sacrifice his allies in Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (Houthi), Palestine (Hamas) and Iraq (Shia) and to dismantle its ICBM defense strategy.

Trump pursues the strategic goal of weakening Iran and preparing a regime change, reverting Iran into a client state – as it was prior to the 1979 revolution under the Shah.

The second reason for Trump’s policy is to strengthen Israel’s military power in the Middle East. The Trump regime is deeply influenced by the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the US, dubbed ‘the Lobby’.

Trump recognizes and submits to Zionist-Israeli dictates because they have unprecedented power in the media, real estate, finance and insurance (FIRE). Trump recognizes the ZPC’s power to buy Congressional votes, control both political parties and secure appointments in the executive branch.

Trump is the typical authoritarian: at the throat of the weak, citizens, allies and adversaries and on his knees before the powerful ZPC, the military and Wall Street. Trump’s submission to Zionist power reinforces and even dictates his decision to break the peace accord with Iran and his willingness to pressure France, Germany, the UK and Russia to sacrifice billion-dollar trade agreements with Iran and to pursue a policy of pressuring Teheran to accept part of Trump’s agenda of unilateral disarmament and isolation. Trump believes he can force the EU multi-nationals to disobey their governments and abide by sanctions.

Reasons for Trump’s Trade War with China

Prior to Trump’s presidency, especially under President Obama, the US launched a trade war and ‘military pivot’ to China. Obama proposed the Trans-Pacific Pact to exclude China and directed an air and naval armada to the South China Sea. Obama established a high-powered surveillance system in South Korea and supported war exercises on North Korea’s border. Trump’s policy deepened and radicalized Obama’s policies.

Trump extended Obama’s bellicose policy toward North Korea, demanding the de-nuclearization of its defense program. President Kim of North Korea and President Moon of South Korea reached an agreement to open negotiations toward a peace accord ending nearly 60 years of hostility.

However, President Trump joined the conversation on the presumption that North Korea’s peace overtures were due to his threats of war and intimidation. He insisted that any peace settlement and end of economic sanctions would only be achieved by unilateral nuclear disarmament, the maintenance of US forces on the peninsula and supervision by US approved inspectors.

Trump’s unilateral declaration of a trade war against China accompanied his belief that military threats led to North Korea’s “capitulation” – its promise to end its nuclear program.

Trump slapped a trade tariff on over $100 billion dollars of Chinese exports in order to reduce its trade imbalance by $200 billion over two years. He demanded China unilaterally end industrial ‘espionage’, technological ‘theft’ (all phony accusations) and China’s compliance monitored quarterly by the US.

Trump demanded that China not retaliate with tariffs or restrictions or face bigger sanctions.

Trump threatened to respond to any reciprocal tariff by Beijing, with greater tariffs, and restrictions on Chinese goods and services.

Trump’s goals seek to convert North Korea into a military satellite encroaching on China’s northern border; and a trade war that drives China into an economic crisis.

Trump believes that as China declines as a world economic power, the US will grow and dominate the Asian and world economy.

Trump believes a successful trade war will lead to a successful military war. Trump believes that a submissive China, based on its isolation from the ‘dynamic’ US market, will enhance Washington’s quest for uncontested world domination.

Trump’s Ten Erroneous Thesis

Trump’s political agenda is deeply flawed!

Breaking the nuclear agreement and imposing harsh sanctions has isolated Trump from his European and Asian allies.

His military intervention will inflame a regional war that would destroy the Saudi oil fields. He will force Iran to pursue a nuclear shield against US-Israeli aggression and lead to a prolonged, costly and ultimately losing war.

Trump’s policies will unify all Iranians, liberals and nationalist, and undermine US collaborators.

The entire Muslim world will unify forces and carry the conflict throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Tel Aviv’s bombing will lead to counter-attacks in Israel.

Oil prices will skyrocket, financial markets will collapse, industries will go bankrupt.

Trump’s sanctions and military aggression against Iran will lead to mutual economic destruction.

Trump’s trade war with China will lead to the disruption of the supply chain which sustains the US economy and especially the 500 US multi-nationals who depend on the Chinese economy for exports to the US.

China will increase domestic consumption, diversify its markets and trading partners and reinforce its military alliance with Russia.

China has greater resilience and capacity to overcome short-term disruption and regain its dominant role as a global economic power house.

Wall Street will suffer a catastrophic financial collapse and send the US into a world depression.

Trump’s negotiations with North Korea will go nowhere as long as he demands unilateral nuclear disarmament, US military control over the peninsula and political isolation from China.

Kim will insist on the end of sanctions, and a mutual defense treaty with China.

Kim will offer to end nuclear testing but not nuclear weapons. After Trump’s reneged on the Iran deal, Kim will recognize that agreements with the US are not trustworthy.

Conclusion

Trump’s loud, threatening gestures are a real danger to world peace and justice. But his assumptions about the consequences of his policy are deeply flawed. There is no basis to think his sanctions will topple the Iranian regime; that Israel will survive unscathed from a war with Iran: that an oil war will not undermine the US economy; that Europe will allow its companies to be frozen out of the Iran market.

Trump’s trade war with China is dead in the water. He cannot find alternative production sites for US multi-nationals.

He cannot freeze China out of the world market, since they have links with five continents.

Trump cannot dominate North Korea and force it to sacrifice its sovereignty on the basis of empty economic promises to lift sanctions.

Trump is heading for defeats on all counts. But he may take the American people into the nuclear abyss in the process.

Epilogue

Are Trump’s threats of war part of a strategy of bluff and bombast designed to intimidate, in order to secure political advantages? Is Trump playing the Nixon-Kissinger ‘madman’ tactic, in which the Secretary of State tells adversaries to accept his ‘reasonable’ demands or face the worst from the President? I don’t think so.

Nixon, unlike Trump, was not led by the nose by Israel. Nixon, unlike Trump, was not led by pro-nuclear war advisers. Nixon, in contrast to Trump, opened the US to trade with China and signed nuclear reduction agreements with Russia.

Nixon successfully promoted peaceful co-existence.

Trump is a master of defeats.

© Copyright 2018 by AxisofLogic.com

May 14, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

US Mainstream Media Attacks North Korea for Supporting Palestine in a Disgusting Display of Nuclear Hypocrisy

By Adam Garrie | Eurasia Future | April 22, 2018

While Donald Trump is busy giving himself credit for the efforts of Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in to reconcile the two Korean states in the hope of ending the Korean War/Fatherland Liberation War, Trump’s domestic opponents are busy saying that the man who threatened to “destroy” North Korea in front of the UN General Assembly just seven months ago is somehow going “soft” on North Korea. Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to respond with his customary bombast.

But while the typical back-and-forth between Trump and his media critics continues, one mainstream media publication in the US has taken things a step further by trying to damage the spirit of good will surrounding the DPRK’s rapprochement with Seoul. Newsweek has quoted form an official Korean source Minju Joson, regarding Pyongyang’s condemnation of the slaughter of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators who have been attacked by the military of the Tel Aviv regime during the Great March of Return.

Newsweek published the following statement from the government of the DPRK:

“Israel’s wild act of destroying Mid-east peace and mercilessly killing Palestinians is a hideous crime that deserves denunciations thousands of times. If the U.S. is interested in protecting human rights, it should keep pace with the efforts of the international community to denounce and check Israel’s human rights abuses. But, the U.S. chimed in with Israel in the eyes of the international community, fully disclosing that it is applying double-dealing standards in human rights and politicizing it”.

While the intention of the Newsweek piece was clearly to sow resentment towards the DPRK among Zionist Americans, Newsweek may not achieve the desired result. As the treatment of Palestinians becomes ever more barbaric at the hands of a regime intent on spilling blood in Gaza and the West Bank, even many Americans with Zionist sympathies including actress Natalie Portman have expressed their condemnation of the regime’s activities. While Portman’s stand has been applauded by many, the regime’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has said that Portman’s remarks “border on antisemitism”. This charge is clearly ridiculous for obvious enough reasons, but it is nevertheless being proffered by a regime desperate for legitimacy.

But while the Tel Aviv regime continues to cling on to its illegal nuclear weapons, the DPRK has expressed a willingness to cease testing its weapons while promising the goal of de-nuclearisation in order to achieve peace between Pyongyang and Seoul in line with the desires of the DPRK’s northern neighbours China and Russia.

While North Korea has not actively enraged in the long cold Korean War since 1953, “Israel’s” wars have been endless since 1948. The regime continues to occupy Palestine and part of Syria while it has recently threatened Lebanon with a new invasion.

While North Korea’s uneasy truce with South Korea has not resulted in catastrophe even at the lowest ebbs in relations, the same cannot be said for the Tel Aviv regime’s relations with its neighbours. The Newsweek piece which was intended to slander North Korea has actually helped to raise the important issue of double standards in the US where North Korea’s defensive nuclear programme is presented as something which threatens the world while “Israel’s” offensive and illegal nuclear programme is virtually never discussed. As none of “Israel’s” neighbours have nuclear weapons and as none of the world’s nuclear powers have directly threatened the regime, no country in the world has less of a justification for nuclear weapons than “Israel”. Even in the case of Pakistan and India, two of the world’s most confrontational neighbours with nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan can always justify the presence of its weapons based on the threat posed by the other. “Israel” has no such justification available.

The US hypocrisy regarding the DPRK vis-a-vis the “Israeli” regime is nothing new. These morosely unjust double standards go back decades. In 1967, the American Naval Ship USS Liberty came under a sustained attack from the “Israeli” air-force and torpedo boats without any warning or justification. In spite of Liberty’s commanders sending communications informing “Israel” that they were an “allied” US ship, the attack persisted for hours. Archival material has revealed that some of the pilots were aware that the ship was American, but that they were ordered by their superiors to keep attacking.

Ultimately, 34 Americans died in the attack while 171 were severely wounded. The incident was systematically hushed up by the US government and media. Many researchers suspect that “Israel” had attempted to stage a false flag incident that would later be blamed on Egypt, in order to coerce the US into attacking Egypt and its Soviet ally. Because “Israel” was not able to kill all the men on board, the plan failed as the survivors knew full well that it was “Israel” and not Egypt nor any other Soviet ally that had attacked their ship.

By contrast, the US media could not stop talking about the DPRK’s capture of the USS Pueblo in 1968. There is still no consensus as to whether the US Naval ship that was captured by the DPRK was in North Korean or international waters. Unlike the allied USS Liberty in the Mediterranean, the USS Pueblo was an enemy ship conducting espionage activities against a communist Asian state at the height of the US war in Vietnam. The incident therefore ought to be viewed in this wider content. In any case, the DPRK captured the ship where it remains to this day as a museum piece. One American died during the capture and the rest of the crew were eventually released into US allied South Korea.

Objectively, any American should be able to see that what “Israel” did to the USS Liberty is a vastly bigger issue than what the DPRK did to the spy-ship USS Pueblo. Yet decades later, it is an ever more militaristic “Israel” that is given billions by the United States, while North Korea continues to be sanctioned and threatened by the United States, in spite of the fact that 2018 has seen Pyongyang and Seoul reach a new detente which will see Koreans from both sides of the 38th parallel marching together in the Olympics under a flag of unity.

The events mentioned in this piece are one of the reasons that Palestinians and North Koreans alike, have no faith whatsoever in the United States and the so-called international community it endlessly asks to unite against North Korea, while equally imploring it to abandon Palestine.

So while Newsweek seeks to condemn North Korea for its consistently principled stand as a friend of Palestine, the truth of the matter is that while North Korea has never been a legitimate threat to the wider world, “Israel” not only remains a threat, but has a history of confrontation with almost every country in the region. The fact that the regime continues to slaughter Palestinians protesting for rights to their stolen land is proof positive that while North Korea is embracing peace, the Tel Aviv regime remains more militant than ever.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Russia Urges US Military to Scale Back in Korean Peninsula

teleSUR | April 21, 2018

Russia is welcoming North Korea’s decision to suspend nuclear and missile tests, while simultaneously urging the United States and South Korea to scale back on their own military activities in the peninsula.

In a statement released Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said: “We consider this decision to be an important step toward further easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula and the strengthening of positive trends on settlement of the Northeast Asian situation.

“We are urging the United States and the Republic of Korea to take adequate accommodating steps aimed at slowing down military activities in the region and reaching mutually acceptable agreements with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the upcoming intra-Korean and U.S.-North Korean summits.”

According to Russian state press agency TASS, Moscow is hoping the situation proceeds along the path originally suggested by Russia and China.

North Korea announced early Saturday that it was suspending all nuclear and missile tests, and focusing its development instead on socialist economic development and peace.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country no longer needs to conduct tests because it has completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons.

“The northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK will be dismantled to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear test,” North Korean state news agency KCNA said.

Kim is scheduled to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in May, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week.

He has recently held meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the CIA’s head and Secretary of State appointee, Mike Pompeo.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

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 | , | 3 Comments

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