North Korea and the vanishing American Empire

If Kim thumbed through today’s news he would have seen the limp and bloodied body of a dead Palestinian boy being rushed away from the site of Israel’s latest attack in Gaza. He would have read about the mysterious explosions that rocked Kabul overnight and the 30 or so “alleged” Taliban that were blown up in America’s scattershot carpet-bombing of southern Afghanistan. He would have seen that 24 new bodies of bound and brutalized Iraqis had been dumped at the Baghdad morgue after being abducted and tortured by the roaming death squads which control the capital.

He might have spotted a story about America’s continued involvement in Central Asia where the thirst for oil and natural gas has Bush’s NGOs toppling governments behind the pretext of “spreading democracy”. Or, he may have noticed an article which recounted Bush’s latest saber-rattling at Iran for their “alleged” nuclear weapons program.

Wherever he looked, he would have found examples of the United States and Israel rampaging through Muslim countries; ignoring international law and flaunting the human rights of the native people.

Doesn’t this explain why Kim believes that he needs the protection of a nuclear arsenal to ward off an American attack?

How can we expect North Korea to stop building nukes when 2 of the world’s most powerful nations have just doused the planet with gasoline and are reaching for the matches?

Like every other world leader, Kim simply wants to avoid ending up like Saddam Hussein. His missile tests were designed to send a message to Washington that North Korea has no intention of being the next victim of Bush’s “democratization” program. And, while the tests may have been condemned by the pro-American media, we can at least appreciate the logic of his motives.

But, does that mean that North Korea is a threat to American national security or to the region?

Kim has had plenty of opportunity to cause trouble if that’s what he wanted. For 6 years the Bush administration has treated the reclusive Kim with complete contempt, and yet Kim has not retaliated. In 2001 North Korea was included in Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, a provocative list of the administration’s “target states”. In 2003 Dick Cheney followed up with a not-so veiled threat saying, “I have been charged by the President with making sure that none of the tyrannies in the world are negotiated with. We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”

In case Kim hadn’t gotten the message from the V.P., John Bolton offered this blistering warning: “The end of North Korea is our policy,” adding that the Pyongyang regime was a “hellish nightmare”.

Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld leaked a memo to the UK Telegraph in April 2003 which called “for regime change in North Korea.”

Kim’s “crash course” in nuclear weapons technology is due entirely to incitements by the Bush administration. His behavior tells us that he’s taking the threats seriously and is rushing to create a credible deterrent. It’s clear that his intentions are purely defensive and that he poses no danger to his neighbors or the United States.

The same rule applies to Kim’s missile tests which have rattled the US, Japan and South Korea. The tests were meant to send a “hands off” message to Washington but, unfortunately, they splashed helplessly into the sea. This could have the adverse effect on the overall situation by emboldening the administration hawks to reconsider military action. The the real risk of violence comes from the American battleship group which has moved into the waters just off the coast of North Korea; if fighting breaks out, that’s where it will begin.

So far, Kim has acted predictably. He probably would prefer to feed his starving people than to build nukes, but feels that he has no other option. The onus for proliferation lies entirely with Bush and his team of armchair warriors. Rather than agree to bilateral negotiations, Bush has stubbornly refused to sit down with North Korea and, thus, escalated the situation into another crisis. The irony is that Bush knows exactly what Kim wants, but refuses to yield.

More than anything, North Korea wants assurances from the administration that they will not be attacked. The issue is downplayed in the media because the forth estate would like to obscure the fact that the US rules the world through the threat of force. The administration will not sign a “non-aggression pact” with North Korea because that would undermine its role as the global Mafia chieftain who keeps the weaker states in line by breaking legs. The Bush people think it would be unseemly for the world’s only superpower to seriously address the security needs of its underlings.

The media has done an admirable job of concealing the facts about America’s involvement on the Korean peninsula. Ever since the end of the Korean War in the 1950s the US has maintained a massive military presence in the south (which at one time included nuclear weapons) which has always been an irritant to the North. As Gary Leupp noted in a Counterpunch article “Basic Facts People should know about North Korea”, Koreans are “one of the world’s most homogeneous groups, and united from the 7th century through 1945, is now divided into 2 nations due primarily to the actions of the Truman administration and the US military”. “Reunification” of the peninsula is not in America’s geopolitical interests and the US government has done everything in its power to block progress in that regard. The Bush administration has taken a hammer to South Korea’s “sunshine policy” and exacerbated tensions with its hard-line policies. This guarantees that the US will be allowed to maintain its basing rights in the south which they see as critical to America’s long-term interests in the region.

The media focuses exclusively on the bizarre personality of Kim Jung II rather than historical facts which might clarify the real issues. What possible difference does it make if Kim is an oddball or not? The lazy media is simply demonizing him to divert attention from the facts. In 1994 the Bill Clinton committed to the “Framework Agreement”; a deal which promised to provide food, fuel and 2 light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for North Korea’s abandoning its nuclear weapons programs. The North agreed to these terms but the U.S. HAS NEVER HONORED ITS OBLIGATIONS. This isn’t information that we should expect to read in the newspapers since it clearly shows that America is responsible for the current standoff.

When Bush took office in 2000, he rejected the idea of any engagement with the North and derided the Clinton plan as “blackmail”. The consequences of this reversal in policy are obvious. The intelligence agencies now believe that the North has enough fissile material for between 2 to 8 nuclear warheads and is currently developing the required delivery-systems.

By any standard, the Bush policy has been an utter flop. Now, the “war president” has decided to maximize his failure by pushing for tough sanctions at the Security Council. The prospect of cutting of food and energy supplies to starving civilians never seems to lose its appeal for the plutocrats and corporate kingpins in the Bush administration. The human suffering it creates is never even seriously considered.

Fortunately, Russia and China are blocking Bush’s attempt to get a resolution passed in the Security Council. The bumbling Bush diplomatic team has not been able to get support for “punitive action” and will have to settle for a presidential statement which has no real binding authority. It is an innocuous slap on the wrist without meaning or consequences.

Bush was looking for broad consensus, but ended up looking foolish and impotent once again.

Increasingly, nations are drifting away from Washington; a phenomenon that would cause concern among serious political heavyweights, but leaves the blockheads in the administration completely clueless. Washington’s “soft-power” has eroded more rapidly than its “moral authority” and without any tangible reward. It has been jettisoned as extra-baggage, unnecessary for the world’s greatest military. The Bush team doesn’t seem to grasp that they are already bogged down and overextended in both Afghanistan and Iraq. They still see themselves as riding a wave of American invincibility, but that wave is quickly diminishing to a trickle.

The North Korea flap has further exposed the cracks and fissures in Fortress America. Bush is unable to cobble together a coalition for even the most straightforward crisis. While Condi and Bolton stomp around waving their hands in the air, China and Russia have reacted coolly, shrugging off Washington’s entreaties as just more grist for the mill. The growing distrust among the allies and vassals has never been more palpable. America’s leadership is not being challenged as much as it is simply being ignored. No one is particularly eager to follow the United States lead anymore. That’s the unfortunate price that one pays for leading the world in human rights abuse and aligning with the Middle East pit-bull, Israel.

An Amrican writer who runs his his own landscape company in Snohomish, Wa, U.S., Mike Whitney regularly features on ukurnet and other websites