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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 North Korea ItemsEntire Archive
"When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight," Samuel Johnson observed, "it concentrates his mind wonderfully." And the prospect of a future where Kim Jong Un can put a nuclear weapon on a U.S. city is going to cause this nation to reassess the risks and rewards of the American Imperium.... Read More
Saturday, Kim Jong Un tested an ICBM of sufficient range to hit the U.S. mainland. He is now working on its accuracy, and a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop that missile that can survive re-entry. Unless we believe Kim is a suicidal madman, his goal seems clear. He wants what every nuclear power... Read More
President Trump seems to be impatiently racing toward at least one disastrous war. Maybe two. The big question is who will be first? North Korea or Iran?Over the past several days President Trump has sent two nuclear-capable B-1 bombers over the Korean peninsula to send a clear message that he is ready to attack North... Read More
“I have some pretty severe things we’re thinking about,” Trump said of North Korea at a news conference in Warsaw. “Doesn’t mean we’re going to do them.” What President Trump really meant is that he has painted the US into a corner with all his threats of war and really does not know what to... Read More
Here’s a reasonable question to ask in our unreasonable world: Does Donald Trump even know where North Korea is? The answer matters and if you wonder why I ask, just remember his comment upon landing in Israel after his visit to Saudi Arabia. “We just got back from the Middle East,” he said. In response,... Read More
Readers of China Matters may have noticed there hasn’t been too much to read lately. That’s because since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing a weekly video reports for Newsbud, an online indy media outfit run by Sibel Edmonds. It started with China Watch, a weekly newsprogram that covers key China-related international affairs.... Read More
The North Korean “crisis” is a Washington orchestration. North Korea was last at war 1950-53. N. Korea has not attacked or invaded anyone in 64 years. N. Korea lacks the military strength to attack any country, such as South Korea and Japan, that is protected by the US. Moreover, China would not permit N. Korea... Read More
The United States is not going to launch a preemptive attack on North Korea. The risks far outweigh the rewards and, besides, the US has no intention of getting bogged down in a conflict that doesn’t advance its geopolitical objectives. The saber-rattling is just an attempt to divert attention from the Syria-Jordan border where the... Read More
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The more dangerous America’s crackpot President becomes, the saner the world believes him to be. Just look back at the initial half of his first 100 days: the crazed tweeting, the lies, the fantasies and self-regard of this misogynist leader of the Western world appalled all of us. But the moment he went to war... Read More
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Introduction: US Empire building on a world-scale began during and shortly after WWII. Washington intervened directly in the Chinese civil war (providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek’s army while the Red Army battled the Japanese), backed France’s re-colonization war against the Viet Minh in Indo-China and installed Japanese imperial collaborator-puppet regimes in South Korea, Taiwan... Read More
In my long experience in Washington, vice presidents did not make major foreign policy announcements or threaten other countries with war. Not even Dick Cheney stole this role from the weak president George W. Bush. But yesterday the world witnessed VP Pence threaten North Korea with war. “The sword stands ready,” said Pence as if... Read More
Let’s say you know someone who wears funny blue suits and doesn’t share your views on politics. So you decide to stick this person in a cage and put him on a diet of bread and water until he agrees to change his wardrobe and adjust his thinking. And when he sits quietly on the... Read More
"Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?" tweeted President Donald Trump on Easter Sunday. Earlier, after discovering "great chemistry" with Chinese President Xi Jinping over "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake" at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had confided, "I explained ... that a trade... Read More
Photo by Stefan Krasowski | CC BY 2.0
Washington has never made any effort to conceal its contempt for North Korea. In the 64 years since the war ended, the US has done everything in its power to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on the Communist country. Washington has subjected the DPRK to starvation, prevented its government from accessing foreign capital and markets,... Read More
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(A Light-headed discussion of grave affairs)
What’s wrong with gassing your own people? After all, California does it and Oklahoma plans it, and these are fine advanced states. I would not like the Russians to send their howling missiles to Sacramento: they gas their own people. While gassing someone’s else people may be considered a sort of interference in their affairs,... Read More
If Donald Trump can keep his nerve, he will soon have consigned the North Korean nuclear farce to history – and in doing so will have done much to change the narrative of his hitherto faltering presidency. It is his Cuban-missile-crisis moment. Firmness and level-headedness are necessary in equal measure. And a victory will be... Read More
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“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” So thundered President Donald Trump last week. Unfortunately, neither China nor North Korea appeared intimidated by this presidential bombast or Trump’s Tweets. What would ‘we will’ actually entail? This clear threat makes us think seriously about what a second Korean War would be like.... Read More
"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." So President Donald Trump warns, amid reports North Korea, in its zeal to build an intercontinental ballistic missile to hit our West Coast, may test another atom bomb. China shares a border with North Korea. We do not. Why then is this our problem... Read More
North Korea: the natural solution. Might Mother Nature solve the North Korean problem for us? She certainly might. I tell people, quite truthfully, that I have been inside North Korea. For extra effect I sometimes add “… as an illegal immigrant.” Visiting my wife’s home province in northeast China sixteen years ago, we took a... Read More
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Panmunjom, the ‘peace village’ on the incredibly tense demilitarized zone (aka DMZ) between North and South Korea, is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited. Tough North Korean soldiers lurk about, watched by equally tough South Korean troops in one-way sunglasses and an aggressive judo ‘warrior’ stance. When I was filming at Panmunjom, we... Read More
To back up Defense Secretary "Mad Dog" Mattis' warning last month, that the U.S. "remains steadfast in its commitment" to its allies, President Donald Trump is sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to Korea. Some 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 U.S. troops have begun their annual Foal Eagle joint war exercises that run through April. "The... Read More
Palm Beach – A serious curse on the Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea or the DPRK) for apparently murdering one of my schoolmates. Very bad form, Pyongyang! My old high school, the Ecole International of Geneva, Switzerland had a zany and interesting collection of cosmopolitan students from everywhere. We had lots of children of... Read More
North Korea has ‘entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM)’. So crowed North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, in his New Year’s Day message aimed at tough-talking US president-elect, Donald Trump. In case there was any doubt about Pyongyang’s meaning, Kim warned his nation would continue to... Read More
I have a piece up at Asia Times on Donald Trump’s North Korea options: waste it, sanction it (and China), or have a burger with Kim Jong Un: Trump, North Korea, bombs, and burgers. “Kinda crippling sanctions” got another workout at the UN on November 30, highlighting a point I made in the piece that... Read More
North Korea’s fifth nuclear test produced an explosion fury and hysteria around the world, more empty threats against the Hermit Kingdom, and a giant sell-off in stock markets by foolish investors. No wonder gleeful North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was having such a big laugh. It’s not often that a small nation of only 24.8... Read More
I consider North Korea to be America’s stalking horse for its China strategy. If I’m right, things aren’t looking too good. I have a piece up at Asia Times, Will We Have to Nuke Asia in Order to Save It? It reviews the recent excitement over the fifth North Korean nuclear test and addresses the... Read More
Children of North Korea
A colossal mass demonstration, well choreographed to the level of ballet but with tens of thousands of participants in the centre of Pyongyang completed and sealed an important and unusual political event in this remote and isolated land of North Korea – the Party Congress. The demo has been followed by a show, so big... Read More
Should Japan and South Korea be permitted to develop nuclear weapons? That was the very good question posed last week by candidate Donald Trump. Washington’s elite and neocon war party threw up their hands in horror at Trump’s heretical question. The media, heavily influenced by neocons who hate Trump’s call for even-handed US policy in... Read More
Happiness is having your very own atomic bomb. This week we saw pictures of beaming North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, examining either a nuclear model or maybe even the real warhead of a miniaturized nuclear weapon. Having a nuclear warhead is not, however, enough to scare your enemies and neighbors. You’ve got to have a... Read More
“Let’s begin 2016…with the thrilling explosion of our first hydrogen bomb, so that the whole world will look up to our socialist, nuclear-armed republic and the great Workers’ Party of Korea!” Kim Jong-un North Koreans may be happy, but the rest of the world certainly is not. Predictably, the US, Japan, China, Australia and South... Read More
Here’s your U.S. foreign policy quiz for the day: Question 1– How many governments has the United States overthrown or tried to overthrow since the Second World War? Answer: 57 (See William Blum.) Question 2– How many of those governments had nuclear weapons? Answer— 0 Does that mean North Korea needs nuclear weapons to deter... Read More
For Xi Jinping, it has been a rough week. Panicked flight from China's currency twice caused a plunge of 7 percent in her stock market, forcing a suspension of trading. Kim Jong Un, the megalomaniac who runs North Korea, ignored Xi's warning and set off a fourth nuclear bomb. While probably not a hydrogen bomb... Read More
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In my opinion, a lot of the mockery of the North Korean nuclear test—the silly little man with his silly little bomb—is racism that reassures. It evokes the explanation for why many poor rural whites adopted a posture of racial exclusion instead of class solidarity with poor rural blacks in the American South: “because 'If... Read More
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One byproduct of tensions with the People’s Republic of China over the South China Sea (to be followed, shortly, I believe by tensions over the friction between the PRC and Taiwan ruled by the DPP) is the opportunity for the United States to abandon the useful but by now threadbare fiction that the massive U.S.... Read More
What does it take to make a nation great? What makes a country a great place to live, a healthy society, and a bastion of stability? Various theories and ideas have been put forward, and I think they are all pretty much bunk. I think we can apply a little reductionism here, and conclude that... Read More
Happiness is having your very own Submarine-launched ballistic missile. This week, North Korea’s dynastic leader, Kim Jong-un, was beaming from ear to ear as a Pukgeukseong-1 missile shot out of the water, apparently launched by a new “Sinpo” class strategic submarine. For Kim, Christmas arrived early. The United States and South Korea publicly sneered at... Read More
[Updated Jan. 17 & Jan. 20, 2015--CH] A couple days ago I was interviewed by The Real News on the current round of sanctions against North Korea. Link here. I talked about a few things that I’ve covered in China Matters and on my twitter feed, not all of which made it into the report:... Read More
[Update, Dec. 19: I am not blown away by the US attribution of the hack to North Korea. On technical grounds, there’s problems like this, pointed out by Jeffrey Carr (h/t to “@SaiGonSeamus), who wrote a book on cyberwarfare: The White House appears to be convinced through "Signals intelligence" that the North Korean government planned... Read More
James Risen’s report in the New York Times on Blackwater’s death threat against State Department investigators in Iraq (and the US embassy’s craven decision to kick out the investigators for being “unsustainably disruptive to day-to-day operations” in response) also includes this interesting passage: The backstory for the Shenyang job is presumably the flood of economic... Read More
What’s going on in murky North Korea? I’ll bet even the US National Security Agency doesn’t know. The world was shocked last week to learn that North Korea’s boyish dynastic leader, Kim Jong-un, has ordered the public arrest, then swift execution of his uncle by marriage, Jang Song-thaek. Jang was viewed as the North’s second... Read More
You remember Caligula. John Hurt played him with creepy malignity in the old BBC production of I, Claudius. Caligula was the third emperor of Rome on a strict count (which doesn’t include Julius Caesar), the fourth of the Twelve Caesars written up by the historian Suetonius. At age 24 Caligula succeeded his great-uncle Tiberius, the... Read More
How US Policy is Driving North Korea's Nuclear Aspirations
North Korea's military remains on hair-trigger alert following joint-military exercises that were conducted by the United States and South Korea in April. Barack Obama, who promised to negotiate directly with the DPRK during his 2008 presidential campaign, has reneged on his promise and taken a more belligerent approach to the crisis than his predecessor, George... Read More
[This piece appeared at Asia Times Online on May 21, 2013.  It can be reposted if ATOl is credited and a link provided.]   The big story in Asia affairs today is a little trip that was supposed to stay a secret: the dispatch of Isao Iijima, adviser to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to... Read More
Is the US Thinking About Backpedaling on North Korean Nukes?  Will the Pivot Go Wobbly?
Will President Obama become a late and unlikely convert to realpolitik and allow John Kerry to sacrifice America’s nuclear non-proliferation principles on the battered altar of North Korean diplomacy? And will the fearsome pivot to Asia turn into a dainty pirouette, an American pas de deux with China as the two great powers search for... Read More
Korea, wrote the famed German expert on geopolitics Baron Haushofer a century ago, was one of the world’s five most strategic areas. So it remains today, as China, Russia, Japan and the United States vie for influence on the peninsula and the waters around it. The latest crisis over Korea began in March with an... Read More
Putting Korean Lipstick on the “Pivot” Pig [revised and expanded April 9, 2013] This piece appeared in somewhat different and more decorous, somewhat desnarked form at Asia Times Online on April 10, 2013 as "China: Pivot Partner or Pinata?".   For readers outside the Americas who are unfamiliar with what a pinata is, the ATOl editors... Read More
The intensifying war of words between North Korea, the United States and ally South Korea could ignite a major conflict. The likely trigger would be a small clash at sea, in the air, or along the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas. What would a war in Korea look like? First, nuclear conflict is unlikely.... Read More
In response to a query, here is my take on North Korea’s seemingly outlandish behavior (I might also direct interested readers’ attention to my article Big Bang Theory in North Korea in the March 2013 edition of CounterPunch Magazine—subscribe at www.counterpunch.org--which covers the issue in more detail): 1.        China’s influence on North Korea’s nuclear policy... Read More
Today, China Matters wins the Internet…or at least the North Korea/Syria contrarian sub-category… A couple items that demonstrate the value of close and impartial reading of news reports…or dumb luck? We report, you decide. First, North Korea. On February 28, I wrote: In my current piece for Asia Times Online … I argue that the... Read More
The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another. Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These ‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb that is said to... Read More
Topic Classics
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.