Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a joint statement on North Korea that leaves little, if any room for either side to back down without losing face. Despite perennial U.S. claims of “saber-rattling” from North Korea, this time the rhetoric on both sides has gone further than ever before. It appears this absurd farce has reached the point where each side must put up or shut up. The statement reads:
Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.
North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority. Upon assuming office, President Trump ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Today, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, we briefed members of Congress on the review. The president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners.
We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue. We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region.
The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.
Like most of what comes out of Washington DC, this is a pack of lies. First of all, let’s examine the claim that “past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests.”
According to an article by James O’Neill in the New Eastern Outlook:
North Korea signed the nuclear treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) in December 1985. A further non-proliferation agreement came into force in May 1992, at which time IAEA inspections of North Korea’s compliance with the NPT began. There were disputes about North Korea’s actual compliance with the NPT, but the significant point is that the North Koreans agreed to the IAEA’s inspection demands. In exchange, the US suspended its joint military exercises with the South Koreans and agreed to face to face negotiations to resolve outstanding issues.
A further preliminary agreement was reached in September 2005 following the so-called six party talks (South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US). No progress has been made since then, although the North Koreans reiterated as recently as November 2010 that they were willing to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear program, place the program under IAEA inspection, and conclude a permanent treaty to replace the 1953 armistice. In short, to implement what had been agreed (along with a number of other points) in October 1994.
It is the US that has refused to sit down with North Korea and negotiate such a settlement. Instead, the US has installed the THAAD missile system in South Korea, which the Chinese, as well as the North Koreans, correctly claim is a direct threat to their security.
The US continues to conduct joint military exercises off the Korean coast, the maritime boundaries of which are themselves in violation of international maritime law. Further, as noted above, the making of threats of unilateral (and illegal) military action are hardly conducive to the resolution of any dispute. Neither is unhelpfully labeling the other party a member of an “axis of evil” likely to do anything to improve relations.
Thus, the real reason past efforts with North Korea have failed is the fault of the United States. There are other examples of the U.S. refusal to negotiate with adversarial nations that resulted in wide-scale death. This was the case in WWII, when Japan attempted to surrender before the U.S. was able to test their new toys in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And although the Communists in North Vietnam actually signed a peace treaty in 1973, effectively surrendering, the U.S. Congress didn’t hold up its end of the bargain, so the war dragged on for another two years and even more people died.
The claims of North Korean “provocation” and that “North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat” is also baseless, not to mention hypocritical, coming from a country that has thousands of ICBMs that can deliver instant annihilation to anyplace on the planet—and has already done so in a nation it claims as an “ally.” Despite all the propaganda in the corporate media about the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, the arrival of a submarine carrying nuclear missiles and the deployment of THAAD on the Korean peninsula, the fact of the matter is that the United States has the ability to defend itself quite well from North Korean nukes without this absurd show of force.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that North Korea even has the ability to get missiles all the way to the U.S. mainland, much less Hawaii. They can barely get most of their missiles off the launchpad without them exploding. And even if they did, even if a few missiles got past the U.S. defenses, the retaliation would utterly destroy North Korea. So any aggression emanating from North Korea is tantamount to suicide. The Korean War has been on hold for 64 years and North Korea has never attacked a single country up to now. The U.S., however, has been at constant war. The tensions we are witnessing today are due to unprovoked U.S. aggression, although the corporate media is presenting it the other way around.
The statement ends with the line “we will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region. The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
When the U.S. says it is going to use its military to “preserve stability and prosperity” and “seek peace,” everyone should already know by now that this is code for death and destruction. That the U.S. is “coordinating and cooperating” with its “allies” in the Republic of Korea and Japan should make everyone in those two countries quite alarmed. These nations are not allies, they are occupied territories, bases for the projection of U.S. military power into East Asia. These are vassal states, countries that exist only to serve “U.S. interests.” If it is in the interest of the United States to sacrifice the people in these nations on the altar of “freedom and democracy” you better believe that is what is going to happen.
O’Neill goes on to conclude:
South Korea is an important component of the US strategy of “containing China”, i.e. preventing the rise of an alternative element that might threaten the US’s hegemonic unipolar view of the world.
It suits US foreign policy very well indeed to be able to paint Kim Yong-Un as a dangerous and unpredictable madman. It helps justify the massive continued US military (and nuclear armed) presence in the region, including in South Korea, and maintaining 400 military bases to “contain China” and any other enemy du jour in the region. In that sense, Kim is very much Washington’s ‘useful idiot.’
The greater danger to peace and stability in the region comes from an even more dangerous and unpredictable egoist in the White House. That really is a worry.
Do Americans worry about the innocent South Koreans and Japanese who will be caught in the crossfire if/when the U.S. launches a preemptive strike against yet another country that has not attacked the U.S. nor poses any credible threat to their homeland? Does it bother anyone that such an attack is illegal under international law? Or that this senseless murder is committed in their name?
So far, this hasn’t been a problem for the American people. There is no reason to think this time will be any different.