Who's That You Called Dangerous, President Trump?

   

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Only two months ago, Donald Trump ordered the firing of 59 missiles at military bases situated on the territory of a sovereign nation with which the US is not at war (Syria).
North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 and hasn't invaded another country since.

How many countries has the US invaded since then?" itemprop="description" />

On July 6, CNN reports, "President Donald Trump chided North Korea for its recent missile tests, saying it is 'behaving in a very very dangerous manner.'" Particularly motivating Trump's expression of angst was this week's test of the Hwasong-14, which the North claims (and the US seems to believe) is "capable of hitting any part of the world, along with nuclear weapons."

But since Trump wants to talk about dangerous behavior, let's.

Kim Jong Un's regime has, in recent months, test-fired a handful of missiles harmlessly into the ocean.

Only two months ago, Donald Trump ordered the firing of 59 missiles at military bases situated on the territory of a sovereign nation with which the US is not at war (Syria).

The US government is worried that the North may be close to developing the launch capability to hit the US with one of its 13-30 atomic fission weapons boasting explosive yields of up to the equivalent of 30 thousand tons of TNT.

The US, by the way, possesses nearly 7,000 nuclear weapons with yields of up 1.4 million tons, and 450 Minuteman 3 ICBMs to carry them. It's also the only nation on Earth that's ever used atomic or nuclear weapons in war.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 and hasn't invaded another country since.

How many countries has the US invaded since then? There's not room here to list them all, but right off the top of my head I can think of six just since 2001 (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Syria). The US maintains military bases in more than 70 countries around the globe.

North Korea's army numbers nearly a million, armed with obsolete weapons and equipment, who haven't been tested in combat for nearly 65 years.

The US military boasts 1.3 million active duty troops, with state of the art weapons and equipment, who've been hardened by a decade and a half of near-continuous combat deployments.

The US military's annual budget is more than 20 times North Korea's entire annual Gross Domestic Product.

Who's that you called dangerous, President Trump?

It's true that the North Koreans have been working hard to develop nuclear weapons and a long-range missile capability. Who can blame them? Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi gave up their nuclear weapons programs under pressure from the US government, which then proceeded to overthrow and kill them. Apparently Kim Jong Un would rather die of old age than from making the mistake of trusting Donald Trump.


 

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The Long, Dirty History of U.S. Warmongering Against North Korea

Featured image: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence with Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, April 17, 2017. (Source: D. Myles Cullen / Progressive.org)

As the latest North Korea crisis unfolded, and Donald Trump swapped campaign plowshares for post-inauguration swords, Americans took to the streets demanding that the President release his tax returns and then marched for science. There were no mass protests for peace.

Although the substance of Trump’s foreign policy remains opaque, he had campaigned on an “America First” critique of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s liberal interventionism in Libya and, to his own party’s mortification, blasted George W. Bush’s neoconservative adventurism in Iraq.

Once in the White House, though, Trump announced he would boost the U.S. military budget by a staggering $54 billion and cut back on diplomacy, while pushing the United States to the brink of active conflict with North Korea. None of this provoked a major backlash. To the contrary, Trump’s surprise bombing of Syria, which, his administration declared, doubled as a warning for North Korea, garnered him across-the-aisle praise from hawks in both parties and his highest approval ratings so far.

The American public’s quietism with regard to the prospect of renewed U.S. aggression against North Korea is remarkable. It stands in stark contrast to the broad anti-war galvanization in the post-9/11 lead-up to the U.S. war in Iraq and the widespread protests against the Vietnam War in an earlier era.

To some degree, it recalls the muted mid-twentieth century political terrain that led to the Korean War—a brutal, dirty, and unresolved conflict that set the model for subsequent U.S. intervention. One of the few voices of opposition, Paul Robeson, in a critique that resonates to this day, lambasted his fellow citizens’ “meek conformity with the policies of the war-minded, the racists, and the rich.”

That “the maw of warmakers [was] insatiable” in Korea, as Robeson remarked in 1950, could be seen in the massive devastation of human life. The Korean War was an asymmetrical conflict in which the United States monopolized the skies, raining down ruin. Four million Koreans—the vast majority of them civilians—were killed. Chinese statistics indicate that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population. In North Korea where no family was left unscathed by the terroristic violence of the Korean War, anti-Americanism thus cannot be dismissed as state ideology alone.

More than almost anyone in the world, North Koreans know intimately what it means to be in the crosshairs of the American war machine. In May 1951, writer and activist Monica Felton observed that in the course of her travels through North Korea as part of an international fact-finding delegation,

“the same scenes of destruction repeated themselves over and over again . . . . The destruction, in fact, is so overwhelming that if the war is allowed to continue—even for another few months—there will be nothing left of Korea. Nothing at all.”

It is no coincidence that the phoenix serves as one of North Korea’s national emblems.

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Senator Lindsey Graham (Source: Truth Revolt)

Then, as now, Korea rested in the hazy recesses of American consciousness, mostly out of sight, mostly out of mind. When recently asked to comment on the catastrophe that would ensue were Trump to authorize a preemptive strike against North Korea, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, responded with chilling candor:

Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there. It wouldn’t be here. It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America.

Although famously at odds with Trump on numerous other matters, Graham here captured the pyrrhic spirit of the President’s “America First” foreign policy, a self-privileging worldview that allows for untold ruin and suffering so long as they remain far from our shores.

Graham’s statement is in keeping with the time-honored American tradition of envisioning apocalypse for North Korea—a tradition that survived the Cold War’s end and has served as through-line across successive U.S. presidencies. In recent days, we have been told that the United States must entertain all possible scenarios against North Korea as an interloper in the nuclear club, including a preemptive nuclear strike.

It has been drilled into our heads that North Korea poses a clear and chronic danger, a threat not just to the United States and its allies in Asia and the Pacific, but also to all of humanity. Yet as Donald MacIntyre, Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine during the George W. Bush era, has observed, when it comes to North Korea, Western media has faithfully adhered to a “demonization script” and in so doing has helped to “lay the groundwork for war.” Conditioned by jingoistic portraits of the North Korean enemy—“axis of evil,” “outpost of tyranny,” “rogue state”—and complacent in our displacement of risk onto them, not us, we consent to North Korea’s extinction in advance.

Instability in Korea has, for several decades, lined the pockets of those who profit from the business of war. Indeed, the Korean War rehabilitated a U.S. economy geared, as a result of World War II, toward total war. Seized as opportunity, the war enabled the Truman administration to triple U.S. defense spending, and furnished a rationale for the bilateral linking of Asian client states to the United States and the establishment of what Chalmers Johnson called an “empire of bases” in the Pacific. General James Van Fleet, the commanding officer of UN forces in Korea, described the war as “a blessing” and remarked, “There had to be a Korea either here or some place in the world.”

As Cumings writes:

[I]t was the Korean War, not Greece or Turkey or the Marshall Plan or Vietnam, that inaugurated big defense budgets and the national security state, that transformed a limited containment doctrine into a global crusade, that ignited McCarthyism just as it seemed to fizzle, and thereby gave the Cold War its long run.

Fast-forward to the present: the portrait of an unpredictable nuclear-armed North Korea greases the cogs of the U.S. war machine and fuels the military-industrial complex. Within Asia and the Pacific, this jingoistic portrait has justified the accelerated deployment of missile-defense systems in Guam and South Korea, the strategic positioning of nuclear aircraft carriers, the sales of military weapons, war exercises between the United States and its regional allies, and a forward-deployed U.S. military posture. Even as China is without question the main economic rival of the United States, an armed and dangerous North Korea furnishes the pretext for a heavily militarized U.S. presence in the region.

File:Korean War, train attack.jpg

While trains were used to transport U.S. Soldiers and their equipment during the Korean War, trains in North Korea were targets of attack by U.S. and other U.N. forces. Here, U.S. forces target rail cars south of Wonsan, North Korea, an east coast port city. (Source: U.S. Army Military History Institute / Wikimedia Commons)

Unsurprisingly, few media outlets have reported on North Korea’s overtures to the United States, even as these, if pursued, might result in meaningful de-escalation on both sides. To be clear: peaceful alternatives are at hand. Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long-overdue end.

It has also proposed that the United States cease its annual war games with South Korea—games, we must recognize, that involve the simulated invasion and occupation of North Korea, the “decapitation” of its leadership, and rehearsals of a preemptive nuclear strike. In return, North Korea will cap its nuclear weapons testing. China has reiterated this proposal. The United States maintains that its joint war games with South Korea are simply business as usual and has not seen fit to respond.

With the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism rearing their heads in our current moment, we have cause to be gravely concerned. During his recent anti-North Korea tour of Asia and the Pacific, Vice President Mike Pence grimly stated, “The sword stands ready,” with no sense that plowshares might be in the offing. The implication in the Trump administration’s words (“all options are on the table,” “rogue state,” “behaving very badly”) and deeds (the U.S. bombings of Syria and Afghanistan) is that force is the only lingua franca available, and that with North Korea, we must learn war over and over again.

Almost seventy years ago, we entered into a war with North Korea that has never ended. At the time, only a handful of Americans raised their voices in opposition. Let’s not let the historical record reflect our silence now.

Christine Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute. She has spent time in North Korea, including as part of a North American peace delegation.

Logically it makes perfect sense for countries to want nukes....otherwise they get attacked.

Leave North Korea Alone – OpEd

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea, has the right to test and develop as many weapons as it likes. It doesn’t need another country’s permission to enhance its arsenal and, given America’s history of aggression, it is wise to do so. Any country deemed an enemy of the United States that doesn’t have a strong defense is in danger of ending up like Iraq or Libya, invaded or destroyed by other means.

There is no reason for Americans to pay attention to drivel about DPRK missiles reaching Alaska or any other part of this country. The United States has more weapons, nuclear and conventional, than any other nation in the world and is therefore the greatest threat to peace. The only danger from the DPRK’s missile program comes from American reactions to it.

The corporate media are constantly whipping the public into a frenzy regarding matters that should not be of concern. Despite headlines asking, “What to do about North Korea,” the answer is simple. There is nothing to do at all. Or rather it should be to engage with that nation rather than to demonize it on a regular basis. The Trump administration has asked for a unilateral stand down as a prerequisite for any talks, something which the DPRK would not and should not agree to do.

While politicians and pundits demand that something be done about this independent country, the United States escalates tensions with war games that simulate an invasion of North Korea. At the same time that the DPRK is labeled a danger the American Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system is being installed in South Korea and poses a very real threat. And in turn it creates an incentive for more weaponry.

President Trump is the greater danger in this scenario. He ran for office on a platform of putting America first and with a mistaken and uninformed notion that other countries won’t put their own interests first. He believes that he can pull Russia away from allies like China and Iran when they have become closer for the express purpose of defending themselves from America. Trump may fume that China doesn’t control the DPRK but his temper tantrums don’t change the fact that other countries do what is best for themselves too.

But Trump isn’t alone in his North Korea scare mongering. Democrats haven’t defended that country’s right to self-determination either. Trump rattles his saber with a loud voice, but Democrats are just as ready to advance the cause of the United States as hegemon. Democrats in the House of Representatives joined Republicans recently in voting for new sanctions against the DPRK. Only one member voted against this proposal.

The liberal corporate media do likewise. Their lament that something must be done about North Korea puts the seal of approval on very dangerous foreign policy decisions. One can read through page after page of the New York Times or Washington Post without seeing any difference of opinion on North Korea. Every reporter and op-ed writer sees it as a problem to be solved instead of as a nation to be engaged with in a respectful manner.

The only potential peacemakers on this issue are Russia and China. They call on North Korea to cease its missile testing and also on the United States to stop its provocative military maneuvers. The reasonable proposal has been either ignored or condemned by the press and the politicians in this country. Their agreement on this issue and their continued closeness are also not a problem to be solved but instead result from a legitimate need for protection from the United States.

North Korea is considered a bogeyman whether it tests missiles or not. It has been accused of everything from hacking into the Sony corporation computer systems to creating new malware viruses. Its president Kim Jong-un is treated like a joke or a demon. He may as well use the only defense he has at his disposal and that is to make America think twice about attacking his country.

Trump is like his presidential predecessors. He upholds the belief that other countries have no rights that the United States need to respect. The media may follow along with words like “isolated, “rogue,” and “reclusive.” These adjectives mean just one thing. A particular state has run afoul of the American government because it dares to exist on its own terms. That is a right every nation should have. Scare mongering is a tool to get public approval for more war. It is the United States that increases the risk of nuclear conflagration more than all of the “rogue” nations put together.

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