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Tag Archives: North Korea

The weakened UN sanctions on North Korea show that the US has more bark than bite when it comes to Kim Jong-un

From the threat to smite with “fire and fury likes of which the world has never seen” to being forced to climb down on the much heralded “super-tough” sanctions on Pyongyang at the UN, the policy of Donald Trump’s administration on North Korea continues on its confusing course.

In order to avoid vetoes by Russia and China at the Security Council, the US had to dilute a whole series of proposed punitive measures. An oil embargo which would have caused serious problems for Pyongyang has been replaced by a plan to reduce oil exports to the country in the future. Proposed restrictions on North Koreans working abroad – an important source of foreign exchange – have been ditched as has a naval blockade to ensure that existing UN sanctions are being enforced. Even the supposed assets freeze on Kim Jong-un, portrayed as the pantomime villain of the piece, and his cronies, has been dropped.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/north-korea-un-sanctions-donald-trump-haley-kim-jong-un-nuclear-weapons-talks-a7942841.html

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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in Asia, North America

 

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For Trump and the US right, breaking the nuclear taboo has always been thinkable

In November 1950, when North Korean forces had the US military on the run, President Truman held an infamous press conference during which he threatened to declare nuclear war.After a bland statement and several minutes of to and fro over diplomatic issues, one journalist asked whether the US was about to use its nuclear weapons. Truman stated not only that an attack was under active consideration but also that “the military commander in the field” would decide whether to hit military or civilian targets. He did not rule out attacking targets in China, either.Calamity ensued. Support for the intervention in Korea ebbed away – among the US’s allies, at the UN and among the electorate. The event became a textbook example of how not to do nuclear diplomacy – one followed until August 2017, when President Trump made his “fire and fury” threats against Pyongyang.

Source: For Trump and the US right, breaking the nuclear taboo has always been thinkable | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in Asia, North America

 

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A ‘China First’ Strategy for North Korea

LONDON – Most pundits agree that the least bad way to deal with North Korea’s nuclear saber rattling is a continued combination of tight containment and aggressive diplomacy. Fewer, however, have recognized that the least bad military option – the one implied by US President Donald Trump’s insistence that China take responsibility for its dangerous neighbor – is a Chinese invasion, or regime change forced through China’s threat to launch one.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-north-korea-military-intervention-by-bill-emmott-2017-09

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Asia

 

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Hawkish talk only heightens the threat from North Korea

As the war of words over North Korea escalates, it is easy to forget there was a spark of good news as recently as last month. Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, assured North Korea’s ruler that “we do not seek regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel. We are not your enemy.”

Source: Hawkish talk only heightens the threat from North Korea | Jonathan Steele | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Asia

 

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Korea, Afghanistan and the Never Ending War Trap

There are more parallels between an unfinished 1950s war in Northeast Asia and an ongoing 16-year-old war in the crossroads between Central and South Asia than meet the eye. Let’s start with North Korea.Once again the US/South Korea Hunger Games plow on. It didn’t have to be this way.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained how: “Russia together with China developed a plan which proposes ‘double freezing’: Kim Jong-un should freeze nuclear tests and stop launching any types of ballistic missiles, while US and South Korea should freeze large-scale drills which are used as a pretext for the North’s tests.”Call it sound diplomacy. There’s no conclusive evidence the Russia-China strategic partnership floated this plan directly to the administration of US President Donald Trump. Even if they did, the proposal was shot down. The proverbial “military experts” lobbied hard against it, insisting on a lopsided advantage to Pyongyang. Worse, National Security Adviser H R McMaster consistently lobbies for preventative war – as if this is any sort of serious conflict “resolution”.

Source: Korea, Afghanistan and the Never Ending War Trap

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Asia

 

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In South Korea we’re scared but we’ve normalised the fear

Perhaps the best way to overcome the fear of North Korea’s military threats is to live where the beast is the closest – South Korea. I live in “the Seoul region”, the area including and surrounding the capital, where about half the country’s 51 million people are concentrated.I also live less than 200km from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, and less than 300km from Yongbyon, where a major nuclear facility is located. In other words, Seoul is well within reach of North Korea’s nukes and missiles, many of which have been decorating the headlines with increasing frequency in recent years.Yet when North Korea fired another long-range ballistic missile on 28 July – its 12th test in 2017 alone – most South Koreans hardly batted an eyelid. Friday night continued on the streets of Seoul with no visible sense of urgency (unless you were a journalist, in which case your night would have been ruined by having to exasperatedly call the defence ministry).

Source: In South Korea we’re scared but we’ve normalised the fear | Haeryun Kang | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Asia

 

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Back Channel to North Korea

While the Trump administration’s policy on North Korea is gyrating in all directions—mostly bad—someone in Washington is keeping hope alive. Namely, despite escalating tensions which appear to be approaching a violent breaking point, there might be a peaceful way out of what some pundits are calling a “slow-motion Cuban missile crisis.”Reports emerged last week that American and North Korean diplomats were holding secret meetings in New York City. In fact, the “New York” channel between the United States and North Korea has existed since the early 1990s. For decades after the Korean War, there were no official contacts between the two countries as Washington pursued a policy of isolating Pyongyang. The Reagan administration shifted gears in the late 1980s and began a policy of limited engagement with North Korea because of concerns about its nascent nuclear weapons program and a desire to support South Korea’s policy of reaching out to Pyongyang. American and North Korean diplomats in Beijing held occasional meetings to discuss important issues. But as the crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear program mounted at the beginning of the Clinton administration, the U.S. decided that it was more convenient for executive branch officials to hop on an airplane shuttle for the short ride from Washington to New York to meet North Korean diplomats at the United Nations than to endure the grueling 14-hour trek to Beijing. Those New York sessions often took place in isolated, dingy basement rooms at UN headquarters beyond the prying eyes of reporters.

Source: Back Channel to North Korea – The Atlantic

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Asia

 

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This Is Not a North Korean Crisis. It’s a Trump Crisis.

In a normal world, every politician in Washington would be alarmed if the U.S. president threatened to use nuclear weapons to destroy another nation, as President Donald Trump did on Tuesday. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” he said during a photo op at his Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” To someone who had just awoken from a years-long coma, his remarks would have suggested that the world was on the brink of nuclear war. Indeed, historians in search of a rhetorical precedent had to go all the way back to President Harry Truman’s 1945 announcement of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

https://newrepublic.com/article/144270/not-north-korean-crisis-its-trump-crisis

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Asia, North America

 

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Hostile Terrain: Tank Traps, Fake Towns & Secret Tunnels of the Korean Borderlands

Strange structures start to appear all around as one drives toward the Korean Demilitarized Zone from either side of the border. There are overhead signs and what appear to be bridges connecting nothing at either end, roadside concrete blocks stacked like Brutalist totem poles, beach ball-sized steel orbs rusting on stumpy pedestals and other odd varieties. Some look like old ruins. Others could be mistaken for art.

Source: Hostile Terrain: Tank Traps, Fake Towns & Secret Tunnels of the Korean Borderlands – 99% Invisible

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Asia

 

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How did Trump really end up clashing with North Korea? By pursuing two contradictory foreign policies at the same time

The looming military conflict between the US and North Korea contains a double danger. Although both countries are for sure bluffing, and not anticipating an actual nuclear exchange, rhetoric never functions as mere rhetoric but can always run out of control. Furthermore, as many commentators have noticed, the weird thing is that Trump decided to occupy a position symmetrical to Kim Jong-un, raising the stakes in the game.

This escalation more and more resembles the struggle for recognition between the two subjects described by Hegel, the struggle in which the winner is the one who proves his readiness to die rather than make a compromise on behalf of life. Trump thereby inadvertently got caught into a game which does not become a true superpower – something that can be understood as a strategy of North Korea, a small and weak country, is simply ridiculous in the case of the US where a discreet stern warning would be enough.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-north-korea-kim-jong-un-nuclear-holocaust-rhetoric-foreign-policy-contradiction-a7892031.html

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Asia, North America

 

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