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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
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 company's gung-ho attitude and willingness to take on risky tasks were... 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
"The US kill rate in the 1950-53 Korean War equaled more than one 9-11 every day... for the whole 1,100 day war...The US may have killed 20% of the population of Korea, said General Curtis Lemay, who was involved in the US air war on Korea. If so, that is a higher rate of genocidal... 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: Will the PRC Abandon North Korea? Nope. In my current piece for Asia... 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
Nope. In my current piece for Asia Times Online (reproduced below) I argue that the PRC leadership has, for better or worse, reconciled itself to a nuclear North Korea, since the alternative—the Korean peninsula unified under a pro-US democracy—is unattractive both economically and strategically. So I was rather nonplussed—actually I felt kind of stupid, mingled... Read More
It’s All Evan Osnos’ Fault!
Evan Osnos is the China columnist for the New Yorker. My impression is that he usually covers the social issues/human rights/dissident beat. However, yesterday, riffing off the news about organized Chinese hacking of US government and private websites, he veered off into counter-proliferationblack ops: The fact is that the United States government has already shown... Read More
Are we about to be vaporized by North Korea’s nuclear weapons? Given all the hysteria this week over its third underground nuclear test, one would certainly think so. In reality, we are not about to be nuked by the North’s new boyish leader, Kim Jong-un. But, like many heads of small nations, he really does... Read More
Yakuzas (Japanese mafia). The largest Yakuza syndicate is over 70% Burakumin. Source Here are a few themes I wish to write about during 2012: Archaic admixture: A wild goose chase? With the discovery that Europeans and Asians are 1 to 4% Neanderthal, there has been a rush to learn more. What genes are involved? Does... Read More
The death last weekend of North Korea’s `Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il presents many dangers, but also some hopes for lower tensions on the strategic peninsula. Kim’s death was not unexpected. He had been seriously ill with diabetes and cardiac problems that led to a stroke in 2008. His youngest son, 26 or 27-year old Kim... Read More
In 2003, Qaddafi dismantled Libya’s nuclear arms program in exchange for better relations with the West. At the time, it seemed like a great idea ... Let me summarize my last series of posts. We are nearing the end of relative global peace, specifically the peace that has reigned since the Korean armistice was signed... Read More
Member and observer states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). In both the east and the west, defense alliances have become less centralized and more loosely defined since the end of the Cold War. They no longer contain regional conflicts and may actually cause them to go global. (source) Tensions are mounting on the Korean... Read More
North Korean shelling of Yeongpyeong Island, November 23, 2010. Why are tensions rising in Korea? There has been much talk about B.R. Myers’ book: The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves—and Why It Matters. Far from being communists, the North Koreans are, well, Nazis. And that matters a lot to us. Or so the... Read More
Rodong Sinmun building, Pyongyang. Source In my last post, I discussed how South Korea has “gone global.” Its business community has emancipated itself from the nation state and is now outsourcing employment to lower-wage countries and “insourcing” lower-wage labor. The eventual result? A downward leveling of incomes. And a profound ethnic and cultural transformation. South... Read More
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — This vast, pulsating city of ten million seems to have doubled in size since my last visit ten years ago. In spite of its gigantic scale and increasingly modernistic image, Seoul remains far calmer and better ordered than most of Asia's frenetic cities. Dynamic, optimistic, high-tech South Korea is flying at... Read More
Topic Classics
A menace grows from Bush’s Korean blind spot.