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
Why Can’t Wheeler-Dealer Trump Cut a Deal with North Korea?
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

The United States and South Korea are currently engaged in large-scale, joint-military war games that simulate an invasion of the North, the destruction of the DPRK’s nuclear weapons sites, and a “decapitation operation” to take out the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. The objective of the operation is to intensify tensions between North and South thereby justifying the continued US occupation of the peninsula and the permanent division of the country.

Imagine if North Korea decided to conduct massive “live fire” military drills, accompanied by a Chinese naval flotilla, just three miles off the coast of California. And, let’s say, they decided to send formations of strategic high-altitude aircraft loaded with nuclear bombs to fly along the Canada and Mexico borders while tens of thousands of combat troops accompanied by hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles rehearsed a “shock and awe” type blitz onto US territory where they would immediately crush the defending army, level cities and critical civilian infrastructure, and topple the regime in Washington.

Do you think the Trump administration would dismiss the North’s provocative war games as merely “defensive maneuvers” or would they see them as a clear and present danger to US national security warranting a prompt and muscular response from the military?

It’s a no brainer, isn’t it? If North Korea treated the US like the US treats North Korea, then Washington would turn everything north of the 38th Parallel into a smoldering wastelands. That much is certain.

But double standards aside, the United States has always treated Korea with contempt and brutality. The ongoing war games are just the latest in a long line of provocations dating back more than a hundred years. In 1871, the US launched its infamous Korean Expedition in which US warships were deployed to the peninsula to force open markets and seize whatever wealth was available. Not surprisingly, the so called “diplomatic” mission quickly devolved into a full-blown conflagration as an armed contingent of 650 US troops landed on the Korean island of Ganghwa where they captured several Korean forts and slaughtered over 300 Korean soldiers. The battle culminated in a ferocious struggle for a citadel called Gwangseong Garrison. The Korean forces defended the fortress honorably, but their ancient matchlocks were no match for the American’s vastly-superior Remington rolling-block carbines. The Korean forces were butchered defending their own country while the invading American army barely suffered a scratch. (Just three Marines were killed in the fighting.) This was Korea’s first taste of US savagery.

Washington’s hatred for Korea reached its apex during the Korean War, a conflict in which the meddlesome US had no reason to be involved. The nationalist militias that had finally triumphed over 40-years of Japanese occupation, now had to face the full-force of the US military which was committed to containing communism wherever it popped up. In its demented attempt to impose its own values on the rest of the world, the US killed upwards of 3 million people, reduced most of the North to rubble, razed the main population centers to the ground, and viciously carpet-bombed reservoirs, irrigation dams, rice crops, hydroelectric dams, and all of the other life-sustaining infrastructure and food sources. The magnitude of the devastation was unimaginable, everything north of the 38th parallel was transformed into a moonscape. Washington wanted to make sure that survivors would face widespread famine, disease and Stone Age-type conditions for years to come. The US couldn’t win the war, so it destroyed every trace of civilization.

According to the Asia-Pacific Journal:

“By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.10 Only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine.” (“The Destruction and Reconstruction of North Korea, 1950 – 1960”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus)

The idea that the conflict was a “civil war” was a charade to conceal what was actually taking place. In reality, the US was engaged in a battle to the death with a weaker but more determined national liberation movement that sought to break to bonds of foreign occupation. The US could not prevail in the conflict, but they did manage to force a compromise on their adversary, the partitioning of the state along the 38th parallel followed by the installing of a military dictatorship in Soule. This is the bitter peace the US imposed on Korea.

Had the US had been defeated in Korea as they had been in Vietnam, the situation on the peninsula would probably be similar to that of Vietnam today. The country would be integrated under a central government, standards of living would have likely improved as the economy strengthened, and many of the ideological trappings of communism would have been discarded as the nation became more actively engaged in global trade.

But the US was not defeated in the Korean War, it merely withdrew to military bases in the south where more than 30,000 US combat troops reside to this day. As a result, the southern part of the peninsula remains occupied territory, its government in Seoul largely complies with Washington’s diktats, and the country is still split along the 38th parallel. Also, as the recent verbal confrontation between Washington and Pyongyang illustrates, hostilities could flare up at any time.

It’s worth mentioning that since the war ended in 1953, the United States has toppled or attempted to topple over 50 sovereign governments. In that same period of time, the North has not attacked, toppled or invaded anyone, nor have they leveled sanctions on anyone, nor have they armed and trained neo Nazis, Islamic jihadists or other fanatical militants to execute their proxy wars in far-flung regions around the globe, nor have they established black sites where they brutalize their kidnapped victims with extreme forms of torture. North Korea may be a seriously-flawed and, perhaps, even tyrannical regime, but it has not pummeled entire nations into dust sending millions fleeing across continents to seek refuge. It has not bombed wedding parties, hospitals, mosques etc wreaking havoc while plunging the world deeper into chaos and despair. North Korea is far from perfect, but compared to the United States, it’s looks like a paragon of virtue.

The North Korean’s want peace. They want a formal end to the war and they want guarantees that the United States won’t preemptively attack them. Is that too much to ask?

But the United States won’t sign a treaty with the North because it is not in its interests to do so. Washington would prefer for things to stay just the way they are today. In fact, Hillary Clinton said as much in a speech she made to Goldman Sachs in 2013. Here’s an excerpt:

CLINTON: “We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.

We [also] don’t want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb. So we’ve got a pretty good thing going with the previous North Korean leaders [Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-il]. And then along comes the new young leader [Kim Jung-un], and he proceeds to insult the Chinese. He refuses to accept delegations coming from them…..So the new [Chinese] leadership basically calls him [Kim Jung-un] on the carpet. …Cut it out. Just stop it. Who do you think you are? You are dependent on us [the Chinese], and you know it. (WikiLeaks)

There it is in black and white. The US does not want a unified Korea. (“for obvious economic and political reasons.”) The US wants to keep the country split up so it can keep the North isolated and underdeveloped, maintain the South’s colonial dependence on the US, and perpetuate the occupation. That’s what Washington wants. The goal is not security, but power, greed and geopolitical positioning.

From Washington’s point of view, the status quo is just dandy which is why there is no incentive to end the war, sign a treaty, wind down the occupation, or provide security guarantees for the North. As Hillary cheerily opines, “We’ve got a pretty good thing going on.”

Indeed. The only fly in the ointment is that young Kim is now toying with nuclear weapons which seems to have caught Washington by surprise.

But how could Washington be surprised when they’ve known the DPRK has had a nuclear weapons program since the early 1990s? Clearly, the issue should have been seriously addressed much earlier.

Even so, Washington’s elite powerbrokers have yet to settle on a remedy for this fast emerging crisis, which is why the Trump administration is running around twisting arms (Russia and China) and escalating his bombast rather than taking the rational approach and engaging the North Koreans directly in bilateral negotiations.

Has anyone even considered that option yet?

The North is eager to negotiate because the North wants peace, it’s as plain as the nose on your face. The North does not want a confrontation with the US because they know what the outcome would be. Complete and total annihilation. They know that and they don’t want that. Nor do they want to unilaterally disarm and end up like Gadhafi or Saddam. That’s why they built nukes in the first place, to avoid the Gadhafi scenario.

At this stage of the game, the US has just two options:

1/ Ignore the issue until the North develops the ballistic missile technology needed to strike the mainland USA, thus, putting American cities and civilians at risk.

2/ Negotiate an end to the war, provide security guarantees, and some economic inducements (oil and light-water reactors for electricity) in exchange for denuclearization and routine weapons-and-facilities inspections.

So what’s it going to be: Door Number 1 or Door Number 2?

We’ve been down this road before. In the 1990s the Clinton administration worked out the terms for the so called Agreed Framework which could have succeeded had Washington kept up its end of the deal. But it didn’t. Washington failed to meet its obligations, so now we’re back to Square 1, and the Trump administration has to decide whether they’re capable of making a rational decision or not. (Don’t hold your breath) Here’s how Jimmy Carter summed up the previous agreement in a Washington Post op-ed in 2010:

“Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take whatever actions they consider necessary to defend themselves from what they claim to fear most: a military attack supported by the United States, along with efforts to change the political regime.” (“North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post)

There’s a peaceful way out of this crisis. Just sit down and negotiate. It’s no big deal. People do it all the time. Heck, if Trump is half the wheeler-dealer he claims to be in his autobiography, it should be a piece of cake.

Let’s hope so.

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 13 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Bring Kim to Washington. Give him a State Dinner. Announce an immediate unilateral cessation of hostilities. Tell Kim that, if invited, Washington will send a delegation to explore opportunities for trade. Problem solved. Everybody wins. Glad I could help.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  2. Mr. Whitney,
    Longtime reader, I classify myself as a believer in maximum liberty yet with order, very Jeffersonian/libertarian in most areas, yet we have many areas of overlap and what is amusing to me is that many of my liberal/Democrat friends suffer a severe case of cognitive dissonance when I tell them you are a lefty and send them your writings, well done! Been pondering Korea for a while and it dawned on me that many countries have an incentive to destroy or severely damage South Korea by using or framing North Korea. SK is a very productive low cost producer, the exact type that Mafia’s always threaten or attack, China, the US, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, the UK and others probably wouldn’t mind that a tough economic competitor was brought down, just like FDR smashed Germany and Japan, started thinking this when Hyundai and KIA started offering 10 year warranties, why not offer that if you may not be around to honor it.

  3. The problem is, what Whitney neglects to say, it isn’t that billionaire-dictator Kim Jung-un offers to negotiate with a mind to a result that would include removal of the USA (because according to Whitney and other dupes or paid advocates of the billionaire-dictator, USA is the 100% sole cause of all the troubles) … no that ain’t what the narcissistic billionaire-dictator is offering. Rather he has stated (through the Russia-China joint declaration) that abandonment of the South by the USA is a necessary precondition to any negotiation! So any negotiations would, in effect, be arranging the details of the surrender of the South to the billionaire-dictator.

    This is like when Israel lays out preconditions that are abhorrent to all Palestinians for any negotiation over the issues, so that any negotiations are guaranteed to require immediate unacceptable loss-of-face by all Palestinian representatives.

    What Whitney is really saying:

    Homicidal narcissistic billionaire-dictator Kim Jung-un = GOOD

    The people and government of the Republic of Korea (the only democratically elected government on the Korean Peninsula) = BAD

    Try this instead:

    Globalist elitist narcissist billionaires (including Kim Jung-un) = BAD

    Accepting that proposition – that’s my precondition for any further discussion with Mr. Whitney or anyone who wants to comment in his defense!

    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
  4. @WorkingClass

    “Tell Kim that, if invited, Washington will send a delegation to explore opportunities for trade. Problem solved. Everybody wins. Glad I could help.”

    Perfect! Lovely takes in an alternate universe. You obviously understand that the Military Industrial Complex division of Deep State, Inc will never allow such a thing. They want the bomb, plane and Seoul reconstruction contracts. It’s covered over via the wars over race here in the States of course, but there will be no peace in this. It’s so transparent, so easy to see, yet the young ignore the corporate looting, deaths and destruction committed in our name. If Trump made such a move, they’d line him up like Kennedy in Dallas.

    For the Generals and all their Lockheed-Martin masters who will be paid win, lose, or draw, it’s a grand adventure. Full speed ahead, watch out for the cargo ships and let’s get down to making some money in the name of freedom, patriotism and service by others for the Deep State profit centers!

  5. Q: Why Can’t Wheeler-Dealer Trump Cut a Deal with North Korea?

    A: Because the throng of neo-cons standing behind him would slay him with the daggers they’ve had pointed at his kidneys since 20 January 2017.

  6. This is it in a nutshell. The Korean war resulted in mass murder and the physical destruction of North Korea. In subsequent times, the continued existence of North Korea has become necessary as a rationale for continued yankee occupation of the rest of Korea and Japan. The nuclear bombs exist largely because of the example of yankee actions elsewhere. As I recall, Kim Dae Jung, the South Korean president at the turn of the millenium, had almost completed negotiations for a modus vivendi or perhaps even an eventual liquidation of the north Korea regime (costs of reconstruction would be astronomical, but it was scotched by the incoming yankee Bush regime.

  7. The quote from Clinton’s speech creates a false impression.

    Clinton was describing CHINA’s attitude, not the United States’ position, when she said, “We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.” That is, she is saying that China does not want the peninsula to be united because then North Korea would be subordinated to the South.

    This meaning becomes clear if you look at the transcript. Clinton was asked about CHINA’s foreign policy:


    Q: North Korea? On the one hand they wouldn’t want — they don’t want to unify Korea, but they can’t really like a nutty nuclear power on their border. What is their interests and what are they going to help us do?

    MS. CLINTON: Well, I think their traditional policy has been close to what you’ve described. We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.

    We don’t want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb. So we’ve got a pretty good thing going with the previous North Korean leaders. And then along comes the new young leader, and he proceeds to insult the Chinese. He refuses to accept delegations coming from them. He engages in all kinds of both public and private rhetoric, which seems to suggest that he is preparing himself to stand against not only the South Koreans and the Japanese and the Americans, but also the Chinese.

    So the new leadership basically calls him on the carpet. And a high ranking North Korean military official has just finished a visit in Beijing and basically told: Cut it out. Just stop it. Who do you think you are? And you are dependent on us, and you know it. And we expect you to demonstrate the respect that your father and your grandfather showed toward us, and there will be a price to pay if you do not.

    Now, that looks back to an important connection of what I said before. The biggest supporters of a provocative North Korea has been the PLA. The deep connections between the military leadership in China and in North Korea has really been the mainstay of the relationship. So now all of a sudden new leadership with Xi and his team, and they’re saying to the North Koreans — and by extension to the PLA — no. It is not acceptable. We don’t need this right now. We’ve got other things going on. So you’re going to have to pull back from your provocative actions, start talking to South Koreans again about the free trade zones, the business zones on the border, and get back to regular order and do it quickly.

    Now, we don’t care if you occasionally shoot off a missile. That’s good. That upsets the Americans and causes them heartburn, but you can’t keep going down a path that is unpredictable. We don’t like that. That is not acceptable to us.

    So I think they’re trying to reign Kim Jong in. I think they’re trying to send a clear message to the North Korean military. They also have a very significant trade relationship with Seoul and they’re trying to reassure Seoul that, you know, we’re now on the case. We couldn’t pay much attention in the last year. We’ve got our own leadership transition. But we’re back focused and we’re going to try to ensure that this doesn’t get all the rails.

    So they want to keep North Korea within their orbit. They want to keep it predictable in their view. They have made some rather significant statements recently that they would very much like to see the North Koreans pull back from their nuclear program. Because I and everybody else — and I know you had Leon Panetta here this morning. You know, we all have told the Chinese if they continue to develop this missile program and they get an ICBM that has the capacity to carry a small nuclear weapon on it, which is what they’re aiming to do, we cannot abide that. Because they could not only do damage to our treaty allies, namely Japan and South Korea, but they could actually reach Hawaii and the west coast theoretically, and we’re going to ring China with missile defense. We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.

    So China, come on. You either control them or we’re going to have to defend against them.

  8. I first wrote about this bogus threat in 2003: “The Mythical North Korean Threat”

    Few Americans know that the South Korean military is five times more powerful than the North, and not a single American solider is needed to defend it. North Korea is a prop used by the Pentagon for ever more funding. Meanwhile, South Korea is cutting the size of its army!

    Donald Rumsfeld tried to improve relations by pulling US troops back from the DMZ, but after he left American Generals defied agreements and kept some troops there, while spending $13 billion on new luxury bases there.

    That article begins: “North Korea remains a favorite threat for the Pentagon. After the Cold War ended, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army General Colin Powell admitted: “I’m running out of demons. I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.” Two decades later, North Korea remains a favorite demon for Army Generals. We are told the newest North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is as crazy and unpredictable as his forefathers. Our corporate media demonizes him in every report, but they do not tell you that he loves American basketball and speaks English. He attended a first-class private school in Switzerland for several years, and has a college degree in physics. Despite traditional saber rattling talk, he is worldly enough to know that North Korea would quickly lose a war. ”

  9. @Grandpa Charlie

    Only the U.S.A. gets to have a billionaire narcissist as head of state!

  10. So, how do Trumpians who see through anti-North Korean analyze why Trump, from the start, was ultra-hawkish on the subject? North Korea would never be allowed to get a nuclear weapon that could reach the U.S., repeatedly proclaimed Trump. Shouldn’t y’all have seen the writing on the wall regarding Trump’s policies? Do you achieve a non-imperialist program by campaigning on anti-Korean hysteria?

    • Replies: @Grandpa Charlie
  11. No need to defend or apologize for North Korea to bash US policy on Korea.

    North Korea is run by a totally vile regime. It’s not even properly nationalist as the Family Supremacism comes before the nation. At least Stalin and Mao didn’t turn their power into personal dynasties. They were principled at least to that degree.. if not much.

    Also, it makes little sense to compare North Korea with North Vietnam. Ho was a genuine national leader(like Ataturk, Gandhi, Mao, Sukarno, etc), even something of a ‘hero’ even though his Stalinism was ruthless and bloody.
    In contrast, Kim was a total toady of Stalin. He was a shoe-in. He owed everything to Stalin. And NK would have been a total Soviet puppet if not for Korean War where Kim was bailed out by China. So, NK became subservient to both China and USSR. When China was junior partner to the USSR, NK was essentially a toady of the Soviets. But when Sino-Soviet split happened, it was great for Kim as he could play off one against the other.

    Anyway, it makes little sense to apply the Vietnam conflict on Korea. North Vietnam, as flawed and terrible as it was, did have genuine sovereignty and did struggle for national unification on its own terms. In contrast, North Korea always acted with permission of bigger powers.

    Granted, the north ‘invasion’ of south made sense, just as south ‘invasion’ of north would have made sense. The nation was divided by foreign powers. As division was imposed from above, it was natural that both north and south wanted to unite the nation again.

    The real issue is how did it become divided in the first place, and it is here that the US deserves most blame for hatching plan to jointly ‘liberate’ the peninsula with the USSR, thereby cutting in half without any consideration of the people there.

    As for the current fat Kim Jr., what a moron. What did he do in Europe? I don’t think he ever read a book or even saw the Godfather? Ironically, I think he’s acting like some reckless moron because he’s steeped in American culture. He was into rap and NBA and he got some of that gangsta attitude from Negroes.
    His father was a turd, but at least he had some culture. He was into cinema and had reasonably good taste. He was a collector of world cinema. And his grandfather, though a hick and ignoramus, acted with some sobriety.
    But this fat princeling? He’s doing the gangsta thing.

    If he had any sense, he could make a compelling moral case for NK. He could lay out how the US has acted criminally in all these wars in Middle East. How the US isn’t worthy of trust.
    Instead, he can’t get enough of doing the James Bond villain gangsta thing like a spoiled brat baby.

    South Korea is a political whore of the US, but the economic growth and rise of democracy in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea during the Cold War were no small feat. It showed American influence at it best. In contrast, communist Asia went through Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, Killing Fields, Boat People madness, and etc.

    But US is no longer what it is. It is no longer the magnificent Anglo-Christian nation but some crazy globo-homo loony nut nation that foments wars all over just to appease the lust of a supremacist ethnic group. So, US has become the leading evil force in the world. A real shame as, all said and done, it did more good than bad up to the end of the Cold War.

    • Agree: Grandpa Charlie
  12. @Stephen R. Diamond

    “anti-Korean hysteria” screams Stephen R. Diamond. Yeah, like realistic portrayal of Kim Jong-un is “anti-Korean”? Like let’s be PC and careful how we think back upon the reign of Pol Pot in Cambodia?

    Sorry, but USA achieves a “non-imperialist program” by getting out of NATO and the ME (and South America and Africa), but not by abandoning the Republic of Korea and the Korean people.

    BTW: the Korean War began when the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea attacked the US Army – with bloody losses to innocent people, and that war has yet to end. Surrender could end it, perhaps, but not honorably!

  13. Because the spineless poltroons that were his predecessors in office already gave away the store in order to make the Norks some future sucker’s problem.

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