The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewMike Whitney Archive
The U.S. Pushed North Korea to Build Nukes: Yes or No?
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

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 cage-floor with his hands folded, you ignore him altogether and deal with other matters. But when he stomps his feet in anger or violently shakes the cage, you throw cold water on him or poke him in the back with a sharp stick.

How long do you think it’ll take before your prisoner changes his clothes and comes around to “exceptional” way of seeing things?

It’s never going to happen, is it, because your whole approach is wrong. People don’t respond positively to hectoring, intimidation and cruelty, in fact, they deeply resent it and fight back. And, yet, this is exactly the way Washington has treated North Korea for the last 64 years. Washington’s policy towards the DPRK is not comprised of “carrots and sticks”; it’s sticks and bigger sticks. It’s entirely based on the assumption that you can persuade people to do what you want them to do through humiliation, intimidation and brute force.

But the policy hasn’t worked, has it, because now the North has nuclear weapons, which is precisely the outcome that Washington wanted to avoid. So we don’t even have to make the case that US policy is a flop, because the North’s nuclear arsenal does that for us. Case closed!

So the question is: What do we do now?

Three things:

First, we have to understand that the current policy failed to achieve what it was supposed to achieve. It was the wrong approach and it produced an outcome that we did not want. We could argue that Washington’s belligerence and threats pushed the North to build nukes, but we’ll save that for some other time. The main thing is to acknowledge that the policy was wrong.

Second, we have to understand that situation has changed in a fundamental way. North Korea now has nuclear weapons, which means that North Korea is a nuclear weapons state. US policy-makers need to repeat that to themselves and let it sink in. It changes the calculus entirely. When one realizes that the North now has the power to reduce Osaka, Tokyo or Seoul to smoldering rubble with one flip of the switch, that has to be taken seriously. In practical terms, it means the so called “military option” is off the table, it’s no longer a viable option. The military option will lead to a nuclear exchange which — by the way– is not the outcome we want.

Third, we need examine the new threats to US national security that have arisen due to our 64 year-long failed policy, and respond accordingly.

What does that mean?

It means that Washington’s idiot policy has put us all at risk because the North is fine-tuning its ballistic missile technology so it can hit targets in the US with nuclear weapons. This didn’t have to happen, but it is happening and we need to deal with it. Fast.

So what do we do?

We do what every civilized country in the world does; we modify our policy, we turbo-charge our diplomatic efforts, we engage the North in constructive dialogue, we agree to provide generous incentives for the North to suspend or abandon its nuclear weapons programs, and we agree to provide the North with written security guarantees including a treaty that formally ends the war, explicitly states that the US will not launch another aggression against the North, and a strict time-frame for the withdrawal of all US occupation forces and weaponry on the Korean peninsula.

That’s what we do. That’s how we put an end to this unfortunate and entirely avoidable geopolitical fiasco.

We sign a treaty that requires both sides to gradually deescalate, meet certain clearly-articulated benchmarks, and peacefully resolve the long-festering situation through focused and results-oriented negotiation.

And what is the Trump administration doing?

The exact opposite. They’ve ratchetted up the incendiary rhetoric, put the troops on high alert, moved a carrier strike-group into Korean waters, and threatened to use the military option. After 64 years of failure, they’ve decided to double-down on the same policy.

Washington is incapable of learning from its mistakes. It keeps stepping on the same rake over and over again.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
Hide 5 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Well, from what I read in the MSM now, they in fact didn’t send a carrier strike-group into Korean waters. Just his usual ‘all hat, no cattle’ style.

  2. MarkU says:

    All in all a good piece by Mike Whitney but with one really irritating flaw, the characterisation of the “failed” policy as a “mistake”. Clearly, nobody and certainly no government, can make the same error for 64 years. Equally clearly, the real agenda must be different from the alleged objective.

    A tidy resolution of the Korean issue would leave no pretext for the continuing US military presence in South Korea, it is pretty much that simple. The real target is and always has been China. There have been numerous opportunities to normalise the relationship with North Korea (to some degree at least) all have been spurned. A state of tension is required.

    Routinely attributing “failed” policies as “mistakes” or “intelligence failures” is bullshit, and serves only to muddy the waters and conceal the real agenda. This is one of the reasons I do not really trust Mike Whitney or any of his ilk.

  3. “… the North has nuclear weapons, which is precisely the outcome that Washington wanted to avoid.”

    Is it?

    There is no money for the right sorts of people if North Korea were to engage in peaceful commerce with the rest of the world. I bet Disney could propose a vacation resort and the Norks would embrace the opportunity, but we don’t seem to be willing to let them appear to be on the path to “normal” on their own terms.

  4. dearieme says:

    “… we agree to provide the North with written security guarantees including a treaty that formally ends the war, explicitly states that the US will not launch another aggression against the North, and a strict time-frame for the withdrawal of all US occupation forces and weaponry on the Korean peninsula.”

    The trouble is that the USA’s behaviour since the end of the Cold War has made such promises impossible to believe. Slick Willie, W, O; what have they wrought?

  5. Olly says:

    “And what is the Trump administration doing? The exact opposite.”
    As long as war is ‘business for profit’ in America, expect pre-election outright rabid lies especially on foreign policy. Remember Obama’s 2008 pre-election foreign policy for ‘peace’? That’s how he got elected! How did that compare to his foreign policy thereafter? Ouch! Trump also made an absolute 180-degree turn on foreign policy in his 100-days after election. Before 2016 election, Trump was a ‘friend’ of Russia vs. mad-dog Clinton, who was in heat rabidly for aggression, death, and, corporate war profit against Russia. If Clinton was elected in 2016, then ships today would be around Ukraine & Russia not North Korea. When the world, ultimately, gangs-up on US deathly war aggression, by both parties, and trashes the US dollar as punishment, then (only then) will America’s evil foreign policy be arrested, contained, controlled. Once underway, let’s hope US won’t go berserk and snap, as spoiled brats typically do. Amen.


Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Mike Whitney Comments via RSS