All posts by Felicity Arbuthnot

Draft Dodger in Chief Dodges “Historic” Opening of US Embassy, Jerusalem

It was NBC’s Cal Parry who summed up the obscenity of Donald Trump’s ignorant and igniting decision to move the US Embassy to West Jerusalem, then to celebrate the inauguration on Monday, 14th May: “Well dressed American and Israeli officials on one side of the screen: desperation, death and fires on the other.”

In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians began their flight from the city and the region trying to escape the massacres by Jewish militias on that date, seventy years ago. Commemorated ever since as the day of “Nakba” — disaster, catastrophe, cataclysm — following them to this day as land is stolen, families expelled and “settlements” encroach, and Palestinian history is bulldozed.

‘ “When the massacre started the (paramilitaries) took a kid and strapped him on an army jeep and drove him around different neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, saying ‘the same will happen to you if you don’t leave,’ ” Abu Kaya said, retelling his grandfather’s story to Middle East Eye.’

…  not a single country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem because such a move is widely considered to violate international law.

Further:

Under United Nations Resolution 181, which in 1947 set out the conditions for the partition of Palestine into an “Arab State” and a “Jewish State”, Jerusalem was to be administered by the UN under a “special international regime.

The 1949 armistice agreement that formally ended the first Arab-Israeli war divided the city along the “Green Line” into Israeli-controlled western areas, and Jordanian-held East Jerusalem, which included the Old City.

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is widely recognised as illegal and violates further United Nations resolutions.

For Palestinians then, sovereignty over the city is not something for leaders of other countries to determine, as US President Donald Trump did when he announced the embassy move in December.

In the few minutes it took to jot down notes for this piece, the Palestinian death toll of those demonstrating rose from twenty-eight dead, shot by Israeli soldiers, to forty-three. The injured rose from 1,693 to “near two thousand.”

Fadi Abo Salah, 30, who lost both legs in a bombing by Israeli aircraft, was one who lost his life, in his wheel chair — targeted by an Israeli sniper — in front of his wife and three small children. (Palestine Live group.)

Israel, frequently declaring itself “the only democracy in the Middle East”, carried out a very democratic slaughter and target practice. Young, old, disabled, male, female, all were equally entitled to be shot, sniped at, tear gassed.

Tiny Laila al-Ghandour who died from tear gas inhalation was just eight months old.1

Journalist Sharif Kouddos recorded:

Wails of grief inside family home of Laila al-Ghandour, 8-month old who died of gas inhalation yesterday. Her aunt says the gas came from everywhere, including drones.

By Monday’s end he Tweeted:

Sharif Kouddous

@sharifkouddous

Casualty toll from today in Gaza now stands at 55 dead, including 6 minors. 2,770 wounded, including 225 children. Of the wounded over 1,350 were hit with live ammunition, according to Ministry of Health.

“It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time,” stated Médecins Sans Frontières.

As the Embassy partied and visitors “clapped and cheered”, Gaza’s hospitals, already teetering on collapse resulting from restrictions on all coming in to the besieged Strip — including electricity, with water contaminated — had surgeons operating day and night, with the injured being treated in the hospital car parks even, due to the overwhelming influx of those targeted.

In another world, just sixty miles away: ‘Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and said:

Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.  The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.1

Deaths had risen to fifty nine.

Of the eighty six Ambassadors to Israel, only thirty two attended the ceremony, with fifty four boycotting and only four EU Member countries attending.

Moreover:

The Haaretz newspaper reported that most EU member States did not participate in the ceremony because they have a firm policy towards the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It said that the ambassadors of Russia, Egypt, India, Japan and Mexico also did not attend the celebration.

Fallout has been swift. French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces …” and again criticized the moving of the Embassy.

King Abdullah, of course, has custodianship of all Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and: ‘has the right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard them, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, which is defined as “The Entirety of Al Haram Al Sharif.” ‘ As far as can be ascertained thus far, it seems that this important, indeed unique, historic custodianship was neither discussed with the King or his representatives, nor even a consideration of the Trump Administration as they bulldozed their way through diplomacy, history and all norms in their Jerusalem settlement.

NATO ally President Erdogan of Turkey has recalled his Ambassadors to Israel and the US.

South Africa recalled their Ambassador to Israel, with immediate effect, as the Embassy celebrations were ongoing.

Ireland has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to protest Israeli violence.

Kuwait moved for an emergency meeting of the UN, which was blocked by the US. A ‘draft statement included language expressing “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.” ‘

‘It also reaffirmed UN resolutions on the status of Jerusalem, saying that recent events had “no legal effect” under international law. The statement was withdrawn once the US indicate that it would block it, a UN diplomat said.’ (CNN, 15th May 2018.)

Qatar condemned “a massacre” and “savage killings.”

Germany, somewhat weakly, expressed concern at the massacre saying: “The right to peaceful protest must also apply in Gaza”, via a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

In the UK, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry in an unusually unequivocal statement said:

We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been lied or injured as a result.

These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.

Throughout that six-week period, the UN’s Secretary General has been calling for an independent investigation into these incidents, one that should urgently determine whether international law has been broken, and hold the Netanyahu government to account for their actions. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation today.

These incidents must also be the catalyst for urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade on Gaza, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation.

Chile, with the largest population of Palestinians outside the Arab world, raised Palestinian flags outside the main entrance of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda.

Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, read the names of the Gaza massacre victims at the UN session, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh.

The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has demanded an arms embargo on Israel, demanding backing of Amnesty International’s call for a global arms embargo on Israel. Amnesty has condemned: “ … an abhorrent violation of International Law and human rights. “

Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated: “Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”

Writer, broadcaster and academic, Kenan Malik Tweeted:

@kenanmalik

Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the UK, considers the shooting dead of 58 Palestinians and the wounding of 2700 as “measured” and “surgical”. I’d hate to know what is his definition of “unmeasured” or “non-surgical.”

The death toll became sixty.

From the Trumposphere, Donald Trump input:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

May 14

Big day for Israel. Congratulations!

However, on this day of diplomatic thuggery  — which the US State Department flagged as a “historic move” — the five times Draft Dodger in Chief it seems reverted to type. The man to whom limelight is seemingly indispensible, stayed in Washington and addressed the Embassy gathering by video, from a safe 5,897 miles away, dodging any potential conflict, demonstrations, dissent. Trump, of course, pulled out of a visit to London in February, to open the new US Embassy, which has also relocated, reportedly for fear of the massive protests planned at his stay.

The man who can menace Iran, threaten North Korea with: “ … fire and fury and frankly the power the likes of which like this world has never seen”, cowers from peaceful protesters with placards. No wonder he had no intention of showing up in Jerusalem, even as guest of honour, surrounded by steel rings of security, in a region destabilized by the US and “allies” for decades, with the unarmed, indigenous population simply demanding some justice sixty miles away.

Donald Trump, it seems, talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. Perhaps someone also told him Armageddon is in Israel (site now named Megiddo.)

  1. Guardian, 15th May 2018.

Trump and Syria: “The worst case scenario is now our reality”

As all becomes ever more rapidly surreal it seems that, barring a miracle, Draft Dodger in Chief, Donald Trump might trigger a world war, over an incident in Syria which is entirely evidence free.

The discredited White Helmets – a “rescue” group only operating in areas held by “rebels” who routinely decapitate, including children, set fire to people and commit numerous unspeakable acts – have produced a video of an apparent chemical attack on 7th April.

The “White Helmets” are funded in millions by the UK Foreign Office, the US, Canada and various other Western governments. Coupled with this is: A UK government £5.3 million media activists’ programme included training Syrian independent journalists and activists, including for reporting of “White Helmets” activities across Twitter and Facebook.1

No wonder every seemingly staged “rescue” always has a few convenient camera people handy, recording the “victims.” The duty of first responders, of course, is to also protect the victim at all cost, in their vulnerable state, from public view.

The latest camera friendly crisis is yet another “chemical weapons attack” which the US, UK and usual suspects are blaming on the Syrian government. However, this is such a worn and discredited theme, were it not for trigger-happy Trump and his band of war obsessed mongers, it would simply be dismissed out of hand. For the US both supplying chemical weapons to the “moderate head choppers” and the discrediting of the endless attempts to pin chemical attacks on the government, see Professor Michel Chossudovsky’s meticulous documentations. See also Robert Stuart’s impressive, minute unraveling of the propaganda which was “Saving Syria’s Children.”

It also seems to have escaped the Trumposphere that in 2013, Syria surrendered all stocks of chemical weapons, under the auspices of the UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons and international observers and participants.

I wrote at the time:

On 12th September 2013 Syria’s President al-Assad committed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons, with the caveats that the United States must stop threatening his country and supplying weapons to the terrorists.” (Weapons disposal detail.)

“Why do you need the attribution mechanism, if you’ve already named the perpetrators before any investigation?” asked Russia’s Ambassador to the UN this week, referring to blatant accusations against Damascus coming from the US and its allies.

It is worth noting that those dealing with patients suffering the effects of a chemical weapons attack need specific protective clothing. Pictures have been shown of an allegedly affected toddler being sprayed with water, held and sprayed by people in jeans, t-shirts and without even plastic gloves.

Strangely at the site of an alleged chemical attack at Khan Sheikhun on 5th April 2017, just two days over a year before the latest allegations, pictures not only emerged of first responders with no protective clothing, gloves, but of the White Helmets in flip flops and casual clothing “gathering soil samples” from areas allegedly hit by the weapons.

In Douma the Russian military have been rather more professional, with the Russian Embassy in South Africa Tweeting:

Russia in RSA

@EmbassyofRussia

April 10

Russian MoD investigates #DoumaProvocation, sheds light on the situation: All soil test results from Douma, #Syria have shown NO trace of neither sarin nor chlorine nor any other chemical agent. Local hospitals have NOT received ANY patients with chemical poisoning symptoms pic.twitter.com/cwIY8zXOIC

An accompanying correspondent wrote:

War Correspondent Alexander Bilibov from #Syria: “We checked the place of the alleged CW attack together with #Russian mil., asked the civilians. Nobody heard about #CW attack”. Alexander’s group asked at hospitals, spoke to the docs. Nothing. #SyrianCWHoax pic.twitter.com/He9NS7yx8F

At the UN, on Monday, 9th April – ironically the fifteenth anniversary of the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad’s Firdos Square, marking the destruction of Iraq on a pack of lies – Steffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria, stated regarding the attack that: “… the United Nations was not in a position to verify those reports” (of a chemical weapons attack.)

The UK and France were predictably hawkish with the Russian Ambassador responding factually:

… that Washington, D.C., and those blindly following it – namely London and Paris – were deliberately stoking international tensions and engaging in a confrontational policy against the Russian Federation and Syria without any justification.

The United States and its partners did not understand the potential consequences of their reckless geopolitical experiment in the Middle East, he said, emphasizing that Western capitals were taking up rumours spread by non-governmental organizations, the White Helmets and the media. The use of sarin or chlorine gas in Douma had not been confirmed, he stressed, calling for a prompt investigation and for Western politicians to scale down their rhetoric.

Syria’s representative agreed that the lies of some permanent Council Members had fuelled conflicts, including in Viet Nam, the Korean Peninsula and Iraq.  Now they sought to defeat Syria.

Emphasizing that the United States, United Kingdom and France were eager to hold Council meetings on the basis of fabricated information, he recalled that the Syrian Government had warned the Council, OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism on many occasions about terrorist groups possessing chlorine and sarin.  The White Helmets would fabricate evidence and Hollywood-like scenes intended to stir incitement against Syria and its allies.  The Syrian military had no chemical weapons, having destroyed them under United States auspices, he stressed. [Emphasis mine.]

Of course, in this new equivalent of the “forty five minute to destruction” lie (Tony Blair’s government’s infamous September 2002 dossier of fairy tales which massively contributed to Iraq’s destruction) who should pop up but Tony Blair, urging Prime Minister May to join strikes on Syria without even putting it to a Parliamentary vote.

He said that there was no need for her to ask her MPs as reprisals were likely to be “air action, rather than ground force action.” Work that one out. And Blair, who if justice existed, should be answering for his part in Nuremberg’s “supreme international crime” at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, was “Middle East Peace Envoy.”

The British and Americans, of course, on Syrian land, in sea or air space are in the country entirely illegally.

President al-Assad has immediately invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to Syria to investigate, as did the Russians, the US are fighting their visit. Doesn’t take much thinking about. According to the OPCW website, they are leaving “shortly.”

However, in this truly terrifying scenario the world is facing not the ruthless horrors of the Bush family, or of the Clintons, Jimmy Carter’s threats to the Middle East, Nixon’s criminality. No, we have Donald Trump.

In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, twenty seven eminent psychiatrists and mental health experts put their careers on the line, flagging up their clinical assessments, arguing that in Mr. Trump’s case they had a moral and civil “duty to warn.”

Each chapter is more concerning than the last. But perhaps in the present circumstances it is apt to quote John D. Gartner, Ph.D, clinical psychologist, who taught at the Department of Psychiatry at John Hopkins University Medical School for twenty eight years. In a chapter entitled: “Donald Trump is A) Mad B) Bad C)All of the Above”, he cites a colleague’s assessment of Trump’s grasp on reality:

He cannot be contained because he is psychologically off the chain. With each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium grade mania in more disturbing forms …

Trump’s first hypomanic crash resulted in only a few bankruptcies, but while he is President the consequences could be on a scale so vast it’s difficult to even contemplate:

… exhibiting malignant narcissism … His worsening hypomania is making him increasingly more irrational, grandiose, paranoid, aggressive, irritable, impulsive … He evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader. The worst case scenario is now our reality.

He warns of the consequences being “most likely catastrophic”.

Professor Gartner ends the chapter defending the authors of the book for breaking the rules by going public:

History will not be kind to a profession that aided the rise of an American Hitler through its silence.

It would be hard to dispute this chilling assessment having read how lightly Trump takes a possible world war in a Tweet today:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

2h

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

Now Trump’s right hand man is John Bolton, arch hawk, advocate of regime change in Iran, North Korea, Syria, supporter of the horrors of Libya and Iraq.

But, of course, for someone possibly in a parallel universe, incinerating a nation or the planet would be a great diversion from Trump’s troubles at home and the raid on his lawyer’s office and seizure of countless possibly incriminating documents.

  1. See Foreign and Commonwealth Office: “Providing non-humanitarian assistance in Syria”, Updated 1 December 2015.

North Korea and Double Standards: Vancouver Conference a Missed Opportunity

Perhaps few double standards in international relations could be so sharply exposed as the US-Canada hosted Conference in Vancouver on 16th January, focused on the traded threats between the United States and North Korea.

The US possesses an estimated 9,600 nuclear missiles, enough to eliminate life on earth multiple times – were it not vapourised in a mere “few” nuclear strikes.

Donald Trump has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury”, suggesting that it may be necessary to “totally destroy” the small nation. It has been widely reported that the US has a “decapitation programme” to eliminate the North Korean Leader and government – and presumably with it the capitol city and more. Further, Trump apparently thinks the possible eradication of a nation and possibly near geographical neighbours can be encapsulated in his infantile taunt:

…I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!.1

There are huge uncertainties as to the ability of North Korea to deliver a nuclear payload to the US or even a US-appropriated island such as Guam. However, there is no uncertainty that since the Trump Presidency the chilling threats of annihilation from Washington have spurred North Korea to accelerate what they regard as a defensive weapons system.

The Vancouver Conference could have been a perfect place, in a beautiful city, to invite a delegation from North Korea for dialogue, communication and walking in the shoes of others. “Hermit nation” sneers the West. No, ostracized, cut out, diplomatically dismissed and threatened with annihilation.

But North Korea, its largest trading partner, China, and Russia who know more than a bit were not invited. As ever the victim is excluded. No lessons learned or seemingly even cared about, from the horrors inflicted on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and indeed the former Yugoslavia previously, to name just a few other slaughter-fests led by the unappointed “Leader of the Free World.”

The way to stop North Korea “threatening” is to stop near sixty years of genocidal threatening by the US and include the country in all discussions, instead of accusing it of being “isolated” because the West is isolating it.

Vancouver is another devastatingly missed opportunity where those threatening the entire planet have posh, multi-course dinners and fine wines pat themselves on the back, whilst others live daily with the searing terror a thankfully false nuclear alarm in the US State of Hawaii suffered two days ago.

Let us hope that this assessment is wrong and that there are those who can embrace the chance to turn things around and persuade the war hawks that theirs is the path to insanity and even the – literally – world’s end.

As Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote:

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

  1. Twitter, 4.49 pm, 2nd January 2018.

Trump, North Korea, Iran: Some Facts and “the instinct to attack”

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?

— Mahatma Gandi, 1869-1948

When the UN was established on 24th October 1945, little over five months after the end of World War 11, the organization’s stated aims were to prevent further devastating conflicts. In spite of the fact that 193 out of the world’s 195 nations are Member States, it has failed woefully.

The US alone has been involved, since the UN’s founding, in fifty-seven overt murderous meddlings, government overthrows, bloody invasions and/or occupations. One article estimates that the US – supremely ironically base of the UN’s great Headquarters – “most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.”

The writer asks: “How many September 11ths has the United States caused in other nations since WWII?” He answers himself: “Possibly 10,000.” It is surely a reflection of desperation for peace and disgust at where humanity is being led, that the meticulously researched piece was shared over seventy seven thousand times on the one quoted site alone.

No wonder the US government is so keen to crush and corral the Internet.

Donald Trump, addressing the UN General Assembly on the 19th September, made it chillingly clear that if he has his way he is headed for numerous more international “September 11ths.”

It was seemingly equally clear that he was clueless about the fine founding aims, for all its failings, of the UN:

We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind … to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person … of nations large and small … to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours …

Human worth, tolerance, peace and international neighbourly-ness are clearly a foreign land to the multiple draft dodger.

Just prior to America’s Congressional Budget Office announcing that the nation’s nuclear weapons programme will cost a mind-bending $1.2 Trillion over the next thirty years to update and maintain, Trump used the UN to threaten the annihilation of North Korea and accuse Iran of pursuing “death and destruction.”

At every level hypocrisy towers – along with “might is right” threats. As John Queally reminds the U.S. military maintains plans to “strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes.”

Further:

… the U.S.’s overall military capabilities are unparalleled. The U.S. has one of the world’s largest military budgets accounting for gross domestic product, spending roughly $618 billion a year on arms and other military capabilities. It has nearly 8,000 nuclear warheads in reserve, 13,900 aircraft, 920 attack helicopters and 72 submarines, along with 800 overseas military bases in 70 countries scattered across strategic areas throughout the world, and roughly 150,090 soldiers stationed across 150 countries. The U.S. employs about 1,066,600 soldiers.

The President and Commander in Chief of this arsenal of Armageddon, referring to North Korea railed about “a band of criminals arming itself with nuclear weapons …” What an irony from the leader of the only nation on earth to have used them – twice – and used them again and again in the form of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans and almost certainly Syria.

The resultant cancers and birth defects are the shaming, horrifying legacy of criminality on an unprecedented scale – the medical legacy of which will, of course, prevail for 4.5 Billion years, the life of depleted uranium – and the estimated life of the earth – lest it ever be forgotten.

Given Trump’s terrifying threats of circumstances where “… we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea …” issued at the UN, no wonder that nation, isolated, threatened and vilified for over half a century seeks what it sees as defense.

Incredibly, Trump’s paragraph including the total destruction of North Korea ended: “The United States is ready, willing and able … That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for …” He is clearly clueless as to that founding pledge. Perhaps he was confusing it with NATO.

Iran is, of course, also in Trump’s sights. Yet less than three weeks before his UN tirade, the International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear power programme, had confirmed that Iran was abiding by the 2015 multilateral agreement which he incessantly accuses the country of violating.

Moreover, The IAEA director, Yukiya Amano, confirmed to the Associated Press that the Agency has access to all locations “without making distinctions between military and civilian locations”.  There is also a framework for the Agency to visit even the most sensitive sites.

In May this year, at a Press Conference in Denmark on the Iran agreement Amano stated:

Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime. Our inspectors are on the ground 24/7. We monitor nuclear facilities remotely, using permanently installed cameras and other sensors. We have expanded access to sites, and have more information about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Peace, tolerance and international neighbours, however, were reduced by the President at the UN, to Iran being: “a corrupt dictatorship”, exporting “violence, bloodshed and chaos.” It also “funds terrorists that attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbours.”

Iran, of course, has not attacked another nation for over two hundred years and fought only when defending its own territory against encroachment or attack. Current Middle East nightmares have entirely sprung from, as General Wesley Clark stated he was told shortly after 11th September 2001: “We’re going to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran…”

As for a “peaceful … Israeli neighbor”, Planet Trump is clearly set on disconnect.

Donald Trump either had not read the IAEA Report or chose to ignore it, telling the UN that: “ a murderous regime” was “building dangerous missiles” and that the 2015 agreement “provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear programme.” The gutter-language insults and accusations heaped on a proud, ancient nation reflect an ignorance of diplomacy, politics and indeed, basic norms of civility.

In an address on “Iran Strategy” on 13th October in the surely misnamed “Diplomatic” Reception Room he opened by saying he had ordered a “strategic review” of policy “toward the rogue regime of Iran.”

He was announcing “major steps … to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions …”

“Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world.”

Far from “clear eyed”, the all is blind, un-statesmanlike, including a one-sided, context-less, history of the US/Iran relationship, which needs a lengthy article to address reality. Ranting, knowledge-free accusations seem instead plucked out of the air.

As for “sponsorship of terrorism … continuing aggression in the Middle East … and around the world”, perhaps a glance at Washington’s nationwide back yard and a bit of introspection might be worthwhile.

Then there was this gem:

The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the U.S., a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran. Just imagine the sight of those huge piles of money being hauled off by the Iranians, waiting at the airport for the cash. I wonder where all that money went.

Iran had, in fact, been owed $400 million since 1979, over an order of US aircraft which were never delivered after the severing of Iran-US relations after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. The interest has risen year on year and Iran was awarded the $1.7 billion compensation by an international Court in The Hague.

It was not, in fact, even paid in dollars, since the US will not trade in dollars with Iran, so had to scrabble around assembling various other currencies to service the debt. Since, due to the US embargo on Iran, there are no currency trading mechanisms, the compensation had to be physically flown in and delivered.

Trump’s sabre rattling against Iran is chilling – and, of course, has no mention of crimes of enormity by the US against the country:

In August 1953, through the auspices of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and British intelligence, in cooperation with forces loyal to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, the popularly-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was forcibly removed from power.

To insure the Shah retained power, the father of General Norman Schwartzkopf, of Basra Road massacre infamy, had:

Under a CIA operation called ‘Operation Ajax’ been sent to Iran to encourage the Shah to return to power and, most crucially, helped him … by forming and training security forces that would be loyal to the Shah. These … would eventually metamorphose into the dreaded and feared SAVAK secret police, one of the most brutal foundations of the Shah’s power.

SAVAK basically served as an intelligence agency with unlimited police powers — and a very effective deterrent to any opposition to the Shah. Officers of the organization could spy on or arrest almost anybody at will and frequently used torture to gain information or to simply intimidate the populace.

SAVAK’s presence deepened in the 1960s and 1970s, when it arrested, tortured and killed untold thousands of Iranians – anyone who was perceived to be a threat to the Shah’s one-party rule.

Trump’s chilling threats towards Iran seem to include intended revenge for the hostage taking of personnel in the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Has he any idea of the regime the US embassy might have seemed to represent to the people of Iran, given just the briefest details of US meddling, above?

There seems to be no great world institutions, even American constitutionals ones, flashing warning lights in truly terrifying times. North Korea and Iran have both indicated willingness to talk. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson seems to be making encouragingly conciliatory statements about dialogue, President Carter has offered to talk to North Korea. Both seem to have been dismissed or slapped down by a man with seemingly hate in his heart – and his finger on the nuclear button.

In an excellent just out book, “Devil’s Bargain”, by Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek’s senior national correspondent, he compares former Trump Campaign Manager, Steve Bannon to Trump, the “first instinct was always to attack.”

Wake up world.

NATO’s Plans for “persuasion and impacting the media”

In his excellent “NATO, a Monstrous Institution” Karel van Wolferen writes:

Having survived Afghanistan, NATO continued to play a significant role in the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libya, and in the destruction of parts of Syria through covertly organising, financing, and arming Isis forces for the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government. And it continues to serve as a cover for the war making elements in Britain and France. America’s coup in the Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in a crisis in relations with Russia, gave NATO a new lease on life as it helped create entirely uncalled for hysterical fear of Russia in Poland and the Baltic states. (Emphasis added.)

Professor van Wolferen puts his finger on an often forgotten fact. NATO has to continually seek a “new lease of life”, a raison d’etre. If factions – predominately Western and US led – were not encouraged, or inspired by oil and other natural resources to be bloodily carpetbagged, NATO would be redundant. When the Berlin Wall came down and the world rejoiced, things must have looked bleak in NATO-land.

Nothing could make this more cynically, starkly clear than a letter, written in June 1979, from General Alexander Hague, NATO Secretary General, on handing over the position to his successor Joseph Luns. The letter reads:

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Grand Quartier General des Puissances Alliees en Europe
Belgium

26 June 1979

His Excellency Joseph M.A.H. Luns
The Secretary General
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Brussels/Zaventem Autoroute
B-1110 Brussels, Belgium

Dear Joseph,

On leaving the post of Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, I feel it my duty to stress once again certain aspects of allied strategy which demand our further attention and effort.

Yet in my view, planning for the deployment and use of modernized nuclear forces in Europe can adequately be accomplished only if full understanding and cooperation are achieved. It is therefore necessary to prepare systematically and persistently, a basis for making a success of the NATO council meeting in December, bearing in mind primarily the crisis inside the Alliance over neutron weapons deployment. Every effort should be made to counter any hesitation or vacillation among the allied nations during decision making meetings.

We will never be able to put inapprovto effect our joint plans in this vital area unless quite exceptional efforts are made to check European tendencies toward neutralism, pacifism and unilateralism. To achieve this, it is necessary, I feel, to emphasis the theme that nuclear weapons balance, particularly in the European theatre, has changed sharply in favour of the East. We should constantly bear in mind the necessity of continuously directing attention to the Soviet military threat and of further activising our collaboration with the mass media.

If argument, persuasion and impacting the media fail, we are left with no alternative but to jolt the faint hearted in Europe through the creation of situations, country by country as deemed necessary, to convince them where their interests lie. This would call for appropriate action of a sensitive nature   which we have frequently discussed and I have been greatly encouraged by the absence of disagreement between us regarding priorities. Back in the States, I shall not cease to monitor the European situation in any role I may be called upon to play and hope to continue our hitherto fruitful exchange of views.

The course of action which we have in mind may become the only sure way of securing the interests of the West.

Sincerely,

(signature)

Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
General, United States Army
Supreme Allied Commander

So it was vital that: “… quite exceptional efforts are made to check European tendencies toward neutralism, pacifism and unilateralism.” Peace, détente, the European Union even, must have presented a nightmare.

If argument, persuasion and impacting the media fail, we are left with no alternative but to jolt the faint hearted in Europe through the creation of situations, country by country as deemed necessary, to convince them where their interests lie. This would call for appropriate action of a sensitive nature …

It has to be wondered if the current onslaught on respected, well informed websites who have consistently shone light into the war propaganda darkness, being attacked as “fake news” and worse, has anything to do with the fact that they have gone a long way to waking up that public.  “… argument, persuasion and impacting the (main stream) media” have been massively sidelined.

The anti-warmongering cat has been released from the bag, yelling: “Iraq weapons of mass destruction was a lie”; “Libya was destroyed for making the country the richest in Africa and planning to switch to trading in a pan-African Dinar”; “Afghanistan was invaded because it has $ trillions in natural resources”; “the Syrian ‘uprising” was planned from within the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006”.

The cat could go on – and on, but thinks, for now, the NATO letter is food for thought in our times.

Donald Trump Marks America’s “Heavy Toll of War” From Vietnam

One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent.  The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country.  This truth escapes millions.”

— Mike Hastie, Former U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71

On 10th of November, Donald Trump made a “Presidential Proclamation Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.” (See below.)

Marking Veterans Day and Military Families Month, he wrote:

We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people …

During this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we embrace our responsibility to help our Vietnam veterans and their families heal from the heavy toll of war.  We remember the more than 58,000 soldiers whose names are memorialized on black granite wall in our Nation’s capital for having borne the heaviest cost of war.

Moreover:

To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day …

All countries commemorate and honour those lost in war. What makes the statement, in its entirety, cringe-making, is that it was released as Trump was being hosted in Vietnam, including attending State Dinner hosted by Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang.

Not one word of regret, sorrow, reconciliation is offered for the Vietnamese dead, an upper figure of 3.8 million, the near equivalent of wiping out the entire population of Panama, Bosnia Herzegovina or Mauritania – or over three times the population of Cyprus or six and a half times that of Luxembourg.

The only mention Vietnam gets is that: “I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America …” To bleed the country dry again, the cynic might think. Oh, and he is to “promote peace and stability in this region and around the world.”

The same sort of “peace and stability” Vietnam experienced at US’ hands between 8th March 1965 and 30th April 1975, though, in fact, the US had been involved in Vietnam since 1950.

Further, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and deliver “fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” in the region, also hardly squares with “peace and stability.”

The devastation wrought against the Vietnamese people was the result of America’s belief that Communism was threatening to expand across South-East Asia. If it had, what business was it of America? Regions have their own cultures, beliefs, history and should be free to take, or resolve, their own paths, without incurring a threat of annihilation by the “Leader of the free world.”

However, such freedoms were not an option; thus 13,789 kilometers from America, eight million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, more than three times the amount used in World War 11.

Chemical weapons, Napalm and Agent Orange were amongst the ordnance. The resultant effects and ongoing birth deformities are alibi to the horror still.

Napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline. This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims.

Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing.

Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F. (Emphasis added.)

Kim Phúc sustained third degree burns to portions of her body. She was one of the only survivors of such extreme measures.

Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over 4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to Agent Orange.

Such was the Trumpeted “gallant” fight against the spread of Communism and “(defence) of the freedom of the Vietnamese people …” If any one knows about “the heavy toll of war”, it is the Vietnamese.

Land in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia was also affected.

If you are trying to equate the 50th anniversary commemorations to a date, this is an annual event, which began on Memorial Day 2012 and ends on Memorial Day 2025. Whichever dates resonate from Vietnam it is hard to see what the 50th pertains to.

Donald Trump, of course, avoided the draft five times, the last time with a heel spur, which is “a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue … that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot”, thus preventing him from marching or walking long distances.

Oddly, it never prevented him from playing golf.

*****

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
November 10, 2017

Presidential Proclamation Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

Commemoration of the 50TH Anniversary of the Vietnam War
by the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation:

Today, I lead our Nation in somber reflection as we continue the 13-year Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War that began in 2012.  We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people.

Fifty years ago, in 1967, nearly 500,000 American troops served in South Vietnam, along with approximately 850,000 troops of our allies.  Today, during Veterans and Military Families Month and as the Federal Government observes Veterans Day, I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America, and to promote peace and stability in this region and around the world.  I cherish this opportunity to recall, with humility, the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedom and our Nation’s strength.

During this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we embrace our responsibility to help our Vietnam veterans and their families heal from the heavy toll of war.  We remember the more than 58,000 soldiers whose names are memorialized on black granite wall in our Nation’s capital for having borne the heaviest cost of war.  We also pay tribute to the brave patriots who suffered as prisoners of war, and we stand steadfast in our commitment not to rest until we account for the 1,253 heroes who have not yet returned to American soil.

To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.  Throughout this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, and every March 29 thereafter, we will honor all those who answered our Nation’s call to duty.  We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform of our Armed Forces.  With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.

We applaud the thousands of local, State, and national organizations, businesses, and governmental entities that have already partnered with the Federal Government in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.  Because of their remarkable leadership and dedication, countless Vietnam veterans and their families have been personally and publicly thanked and honored in ceremonies in towns and cities throughout our country.  During my Administration, I promise to continue coordinated efforts to recognize all veterans of the Vietnam War for their service and sacrifice, and to provide them with the heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude that they and their families so richly deserve.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby confirm the commitment of this Nation to the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, which began on Memorial Day, 2012 and will continue through Veterans Day, 2025.  I call upon all Americans to offer each of our Vietnam veterans and their families a thank you on behalf of the Nation, both privately and during public ceremonies and programs across our country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

North Korea: Radiation Leak Fears, International Double Standards and Trump’s Sudden Change of Plans

Urgent warnings of a radiation leak have been issued after the collapse of a tunnel under North Korea’s 7,200 foot high Mount Mantap, under which the country tests their weapons systems.

The accident, believed to have happened on 10th October – though it only came to light on 31st October – is a disaster which is reported to have killed two hundred people. Were it anywhere else on earth it would surely be a headline tragedy, with Heads of State sending their condolences and offering assistance.

Apparently, however, the parents, sons, daughters which are the workforce of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are children of a lesser God and the ‘phone lines, emails are seemingly silent; the Eifel Tower and Brandenburg Gate have not been lit with the nation’s colours in memory of those lost and mourned.

Dangers of radiation are the only headlines, assistance to attempt to assess and curtail it by the world’s expert bodies and institutions; hands held out in the light of a major disaster, have not been forthcoming.

Business Insider’s Alex Lockie reports that according to North Korean sources, the tunnel initially “collapsed on 100 workers, and an additional 100 went in to rescue them, only to die themselves under the unstable mountain.”

Not only is there no help from the “international community”, but:  “If the debris from the test reaches China, Beijing would see that as an attack on its country, Jenny Town, the Assistant Director of the U.S.-Korea Institute and a Managing Editor at 38 North, previously told Business Insider.”

Conveniently forgotten is America’s fecklessness in testing in Nevada, where the mushroom clouds could be seen a hundred miles away and: “Las Vegas experienced noticeable seismic effects” (“Nevada Test Site”, Wikipedia) and the fate of the so called “down-winders” who suffered radiation related diseases from the nuclear fallout.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea …” Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly in September. He is clearly ignorant of the criminal nuclear history of his own country.

Also apparently forgotten are the US and UK atomic testing in the Pacific (1946-1962) for which servicemen – unwarned of the dangers – who survived, fought for compensation for cancers and deformities of their children until the end of their lives. A few, now very elderly, still fight on.

The population of Bikini Island, of course, was evacuated and still remains so radioactive that families or descendants have not been able to return. Another of America’s disposable populations.

Whilst it is still not certain whether North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, they have been testing the possibilities in response to over sixty years of US threats. However, unlike the US, their tests have been undertaken under a vast mountain and: “Successive tests have so far not caused any radiation leaks in nearby regions”, analysts said recently.

However, in the week of the collapse there was a stark warning that:

“Continued nuclear testing by North Korean could trigger a radioactive leak, South Korea’s chief meteorologist warned this week. Nam Jae-Cheol, the head of the Korea Meteorological Administration, said the hollow space in the bottom of the mountain where the tests are conducted could implode, leading to radioactive material seeping through.”

Moreover: “Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geology and Geophysics last month also warned about the possibility of a catastrophic implosion in the mountains …”

Meanwhile the same report states that North Korea, surely in the light of Trump’s apocalyptic threats to the nation of just 25.4 million, “was reportedly conducting mass evacuation drills and blackout exercises in recent days amid increased threats of nuclear war.” Poignant and shaming.

But if there is, rightly, such fear of radiation leakage, what, as he has threatened, if Donald Trump unleashes his threat of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”?

On 22nd October, Trump decided that he was preparing to put the US fleet of B-52 fully nuclear capable bombers on 24-hour alert. “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared”, Gen. David Goldfein, US Air Force Chief of Staff, told Defense One.

The first targets, as Trump has made clear, would be the DPRK’s weapons facilities, which would make the horror of the current leak fears pale into insignificance. And as said before, the region, indeed the planet could be rendered incinerated history.

The US President, now in a tight corner, with impeachment an approaching possibility and with seemingly increasingly fading grasp on reality, might just resort to such insanity as a diversionary tactic.

Time for neighbouring countries and US allies to use this disaster to put out the hand of friendship, offer help, diplomacy and normality to a country which has literally built itself up from the ashes, of every town, city and village destroyed by America little over sixty years ago.

And the time to act is now. Next week might be too late.

Incidentally, Donald Trump is to leave for the region and for South Korea on Sunday. He was to visit the border area, a must-do photo-op for visiting warmongers. The day the possible radiation leak was announced, he cancelled the visit.

Trump has a phobia. In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, he wrote of how he hated shaking hands because of the risk of germs:

One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.

I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.

There are reports alleging that he prefers to drink with a straw in case the vessel he drinks out of carries the germs of others.

When Theresa May visited him a week after his taking office, there was speculation that the reason he gripped her hand so tightly ascending stairs was because of his fear of germs on handrails grasped by others before him.

For all his “fire and fury” perhaps he has just realized that no amount of washing can flush off radiation. Any chance that is why he has so suddenly cancelled his visit to the border? Just wondering.

North Korea: A Threat Or A Victim?

If anyone is still wondering why North Korea was being “provocative” in missile tests and repeatedly declaring what would seem to be a daunting arsenal (although there is still no irrefutable, concrete proof of deliverable, long range nuclear weapons capability) here is just a small taste of what its southern neighbor, in cahoots with Godfather America, has planned:

“Decapitation”

‘Kill the King and the regime will collapse. That is the rationale offered by South Korean military planners for a “decapitation unit” they are forming for the sole purpose of assassinating North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. They are convinced that, in the ensuing chaos, North Korea’s leadership would disintegrate and abandon the nuclear programme on which he has staked his prestige.

‘ “Decapitation means we have only one target,” said Choi Jin-wook, a long-time North Korea analyst at the government’s Korea Institute for National Unification. “It’s much simpler to eliminate the leader than attack military bases.”

‘South Korean defence planners have ordered “decapitation strikes” in air, naval and ground exercises in which the targets are simulated to resemble one of Kim’s many hideouts or residences. Such exercises are the prelude to the formal formation later this year of the unit, Spartan 3000.

‘South Korea’s Defence Minister, Song Young-moo, has ordered a special forces “kill brigade” of crack commandos to spearhead the group. Fighter planes and guided missile destroyers would provide whatever support they needed.’

“The ministry cited the successful test-firing of a German-made Taurus missile at a target off the south-west coast as an example of the weaponry that might be deployed in an attempt to kill the North Korean leader.

“The missile, with a range of 310 miles, flew about 150 miles, hitting its target in the Yellow Sea.”

South Korea, of course, is not threatened with being wiped off the face of the earth for test firing a missile into the sea, as is its northern neighbor.

Think about the words “decapitation unit” – the horrific image which leaps into any even semi-normal mind. This kind of plotting dwarfs even the horrors of deranged criminals literally decapitating in the Middle East. But then swathes of them too are US backed.

Perhaps “decapitation” is now casual verbal currency in US-dominated political and military circles.

Chilling Principles of Defence Secretary Mattis

It should also not be forgotten that in the Trumposphere, where General James Mattis is now Defence Secretary the General has some pretty arresting principles. Life is clearly very cheap and killing the most casual of undertakings:

A few of his views include:

The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.

Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.

Precisely the “experiment in American democracy” inflicted most recently on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, with North Korea and Iran in their sights.

With thanks to William Blum, the list of US mass slaughtering “democracy” projects since 1949 is here.

Talking of Afghanistan, here are General Mattis’ thoughts on democracy- spreading there:

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

In the real world these are surely views which might well find the holder in a secure psychiatric unit, if not a maximum secure prison.

Diplomatic Overtures Ignored

Contrast this to an ignored approach from the Korean Peninsular, where both Australia and North Korea have Embassies in Seoul.

On 28th September:

The Embassy of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the Republic of Indonesia presents its compliments to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia and has the honor to inform that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly sent the open letter to the Parliaments of the different countries.

… the Embassy of the DPRK has further the honor to enclose hereby the above-mentioned letter.

The preamble ends with diplomatic courtesies and “highest considerations.”

The letter in part (full document here) written in the third person, reads as follows:

Open Letter to the Parliaments of Different Countries.

The letter noted that Trump, President of the U.S., styling itself ‘the superpower’, denied the existence of the DPRK, a dignified sovereign state (and threatened) ‘total destruction’ at the UN …

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK … mission (is to) promote friendly and co-operative relations with the parliaments and peace-loving people of the countries around the world … based on the ideas of independence, peace and friendship, bitterly condemns the reckless remarks of Trump as an intolerable insult to the Korean people, a declaration of war against the DPRK and a grave threat to the global peace …

(From his first day in office, the President): “has engaged in high handed and arbitrary practice, scrapping international laws and agreements (putting America first) at the expense of the whole world.

Threats of annihilation and sanctions have denied the people of the DPRK “normal economic development, in breach of the UN Charter …

Trump, the letter states “threatened to totally destroy the DPRK, a dignified, independent and sovereign State and a nuclear power. It is an extreme act of threatening to destroy the whole world.”

The correspondence concludes with:

… the belief that the parliaments of different countries, loving independence, peace and justice will fully discharge their due mission and duty in realizing the desire of mankind for international justice and peace (and with vigilance) against the reckless moves of the Trump Administration trying to drive the world in to a horrible nuclear disaster.

With Trump threatening that his finger is hovering over the nuclear button, few could surely disagree with much of the DRPRK’s sentiments.

Donald Trump, of course, boasted menacingly to “totally destroy” North Korea in his address to the UN General Assembly on 19th September, the UN Charter’s fine founding words clearly unknown to him.

There has been a deafening silence from world governments regarding the above letter. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who visited South Korea in August, instead of reacting to a hand held out commented:

I read this as showing that the collective strategy of allies and partners to impose maximum pressure and diplomatic and economic sanctions on North Korea is working … So I think that this shows they are feeling desperate, feeling isolated, trying to demonise the US, trying to divide the international community.

However, Australia’s Lowy Institute Director of International Security, Euan Graham, was more positive, commenting:

This is effectively an invitation to have high level access, to send an (Australian) delegation from Seoul.

Now would be a good time for Australia to exercise its still existing, even if on-off, diplomatic relations with the North.1

North Korea the Aggressor?

For anyone reading most of the Western media where the DPRK is the latest nation to be demonized, here is the best and most succinct summary of endless US betrayal since the armistice of July 1953. Remember too that the US had nuclear weapons in South Korea from the late 1950’s until 1991. An excerpt from the early 1990’s onwards reads as follows:

In January 1993, president Bill Clinton announced the largest military war games ever (in which all sorts of nuclear weaponry featured).

These took place in and around Korea’s shores in March. The DPRK reacted to a more belligerent environment by giving notice of intention to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it had joined in 1985. The North also demonstrated the viability of a medium-range missile, the Nodong 1, in May 1993.

If ever cause and effect were starkly demonstrated here is a prime example.

Kim Il Sung died in July 1994 and his son, Kim Jong Il, replaced him as leader.

In the early summer of that year the US government concluded that a military strike on Yongbyon – under serious consideration – would start a war with the North.

But instead of war, influenced by a voluntary shutdown by the North of the Yongbyon reactor, talks led to the October Framework Agreement of 1994.

Under this agreement, the North agreed to continue the reactor’s shutdown in exchange for light water reactors and a new relationship with the US.

Loans and credits were to ease the agreement, and the US undertook to supply heating oil to tide over the North’s heating problems in the short term.

The agreement called for full diplomatic relations and a US pledge not to threaten or target the North with nuclear weapons.

Eloquently, no missile testing by the North proceeded between May 1993 and August 1998.

In June 1998 the Pentagon staged simulated long-range nuclear attack drills against North Korea, and in October that year a US Lieutenant General spoke publicly about plans for replacing the North Korean regime, and of even beginning the project preemptively if there were solid grounds for expecting an attack.

These developments hardly confirmed US commitment to developing a more co-operative relationship with the North.

George W Bush’s ascension to president in 2001 produced a declaration from his advisers that the 1994 agreement was dead in the water. (Thus) in December 2002, the DPRK expelled the IAEA inspectors, restarted the Yongbyon reactor and withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Bush, meanwhile, declared his intention of dealing with North Korea after Iraq.

In spring 2003 the North made another offer to the US: it would scrap its nuclear development if the US would normalise relations and provide basic security guarantees.

Six years later, in 2009, substantive talks involving Russia and China as well as Japan, the US and both Koreas had goals which included the normalising of diplomatic relations, an end to trade sanctions and acknowledgement of the North’s right to use nuclear energy.

But these talks collapsed after both the US and the ROK rejected the North’s gradual dismantling of its nuclear weapons.

In 2011 Kim Jong Il died and his second son, Kim Jong-un, became the North’s new leader.

The summary concludes:

During these past three months the risk of war, indeed of nuclear war – not necessarily restricted to the Korean peninsula – has increased dramatically.

General Mattis Visits South Korea.

General Mattis is, at time of writing, in South Korea, where he has delivered a near dead ringer copy of the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq. Washington’s mantra was that Iraq “threatened its neighbours” though even hostile neighbours responded that it did not. Iraq, of course, could destroy parts of the West “in 45 minutes.” It was a pack of lies.

Here’s Mattis:

North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs … The situation had developed a “new urgency.

Next month Trump is to visit South Korea, the man who has threatened to unleash on the small nation “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

This is the man of whom twenty seven eminent psychiatrists and psychotherapists have written in a just published book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”:

We collectively warn that anyone as mentally unstable as this man simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the Presidency.

It is time for the world’s diplomats to respond to North Korea’s letter and rise to the urgent occasion, before it is too late for the region and very possibly the planet.

  1. Sydney Morning Herald, 20th October 2017.

As Trump Threatens, North Korea Still Struggles with America’s Lethal Legacy

Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ … More often than not, the United States shares the blame.

— Amnesty International, 1996.

As the US threatens to decimate North Korea again – if not the entire planet, given Donald Trump’s chillingly casual approach to the use of nuclear weapons – an article has revealed the criminal legacy remaining from America’s last attack, ending sixty-four years ago, on a country smaller than Mississippi. (North Korea is a landmass of 120,540 square kilometers, Mississippi is 125,443 square kilometers.)

“Experts say it will take a hundred years to clean up all of the unexploded ordnance”, says Major Jong Il Hyon: “but I think it will take much longer.”

Major Jong has lost five colleagues in the still ongoing ordnance disposal work and “carries a lighter one gave him before he died. He also bears a scar on his left cheek from a bomb disposal mission gone wrong.”

In Hamhung, the country’s second largest city three hundred and seventy mortar rounds were found in an elementary school playground in October last year, with a rusted, lethal round discovered nearby in February this year.

“Bombs, mortars and pieces of live ammunition” are still found in “thousands. Virtually all of it is American”, but “over a dozen” countries “fought on the US side and every now and then their bombs will turn up as well.”

In the region this lethal legacy is mirrored in: “Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and even Japan”, with a “huge amount of unexploded ordnance” needed to be disposed of by those courageous enough to risk their lives, daily, doing it.

The scale of the regional horror is near incomprehensible. For example:

“From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions – equal to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, twenty four hours a day, for nine years …”

It is thought that possibly a third of the bombs did not explode and over twenty thousand people have been killed by unexploded ordnance since.

Moreover:

“Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War (210 million more bombs than were dropped on Iraq in 1991, 1998 and 2003 combined); up to 80 million did not detonate.”

Less than 1% of these munitions have been destroyed, with commensurate deaths and maimings ongoing.

The US is undoubtedly the “Leader of the Free World” in one thing: killing. It is also clearly the undisputed king of overkill and the most murderous of legacies, ensuring its actions will never be forgotten or indeed forgiven by the populations affected. Which, of course, is why North Korea is trying to ensure it is powerfully enough armed to deter another attack. Whatever it has or has not achieved in this respect, compared to America’s planet threatening nuclear arsenal, it is utterly insignificant, for all Washington’s undiplomatic, bombastic bluster.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson statement regarding North Korea that: “(Trump) has made it clear to me to continue our diplomatic efforts – which we are. As I’ve told others, those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops”, is hardly likely to encourage anything but frantic efforts at armed deterrence – whilst still clearing the poisoned legacy from over half a century ago.

Major Jong’s “bomb squad is one of nine … one for each province. His unit alone handled 2,900 left over explosives – including bombs, mortars and live artillery shells, last year.” This year: “they have already disposed of about 1,200.”

North Korea has said that 400,000 bombs were dropped on the capitol, Pyongyang: “roughly one bomb for every resident at the time.” 32,500 tons of napalm was also dropped on the country.

Some bombs are not easily recognizable to the untrained eye, Major Jong pointed out, thus an eleven year old lost his fingers investigating an item he had found. There are a “surprising variety.” He described one as a “butterfly bomb” which had “wing like attachments to disperse small ‘bomblets’ over a wider area.” It was “devised by the Nazis in World War 11. The US revised its design and used them in North Korea”, points out Associated Press.

Aging bombs become even more unstable, rust erodes detonators, thus the slightest movement causes them to explode.

“I’m sure that my daughter’s generation will also suffer from this problem”, said Major Jong: “I want the world to know.”

Historian Charles Armstrong of Columbia University points out that the saturation bombing: “marked something of a turning point for the United States and was followed by the use of an even heavier version during the Vietnam war.”

He also makes the point, ignored by the blinkered and apparently supremely ignorant new incumbent in the White House that:

To this day the North Korean Government and media point to the American bombing as a war crime and a major justification for the continued mobilization of the North Korean people – as well as the development of nuclear weapons – in defence against nuclear attacks.

Has anyone on Capitol Hill heard of “cause and effect”?

North Korea and Trump’s Reality Free Zone: Tweeting About Armageddon

When US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stated of North Korea (4th September 2017): “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that”, she unwittingly put her finger on why the DPRK has been conducting missile tests and stating that they have ever bigger, better and longer range capabilities. There is no certainty that either of the latter is the case, but the tiny country has been subject to nearly seventy years of vilification and ever more threatening behavior from the US and allies, with the language of Donald Trump, from near day one of his Presidency of the US regime reaching ever more apocalyptic heights.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that dialogue and communication are vital:

Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences … The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific.

One can only hope “diplomat” Haley – who told the UN Security Council: “The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means …” and that North Korea was “begging for war” – was listening. This of a country which in living memory had every town, village and its capitol city near erased from the map by the United States and lost at least twenty percent, some estimates state nearer thirty percent, of its population of then just nine million people.

In 1953 when the US had destroyed all and there was nothing left to bomb they turned to bombing the dams, flooding the rice fields and causing starvation. North Korea’s government and the country’s collective and inherited memory have not forgotten and are simply attempting to ensure such a horror never again afflicts their small nation.

There has been no empathy, knowledge of history, compassion in the Trumposphere. The five times draft dodger has threatened “fire and fury” along with legality-detonating assassination of the Head of State, referring to him as “Little Rocket Man”, adding that he and his government “won’t be around much longer.”

Trump is also threatening generating the potential extinction of life on earth. His obsession with “if we’ve got nuclear weapons why don’t we use them” argument goes back decades – but his kindergarten level rhetoric shows a frightening disconnect from statesmanship, diplomacy – and reality. This is not conjecture. Twenty-seven eminent psychiatrists have put their reputation on the line writing in the just published book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump that:

 He is dangerously mentally ill and presents a clear and present danger to the nation …  (exploring) Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses (they) find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man.

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists whilst on a recent visit to Beijing that the State Department had: “a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang” and “We can talk to them … we do talk to them”, Trump tweeted: “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” wrote the President from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. How cheap human life is to a man who has never witnessed, indeed five times evaded, seeing the carnage even one bullet can do. In context, it has just come to light  that:

President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room …

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a ‘moron.’

Trump has vociferously denied the report, predictably falling back on his seemingly miniscule vocabulary and calling it “fake news”, even threatening the broadcaster’s license. So far he hasn’t threatened to nuke their New York headquarters.

Back to North Korea and the President’s chilling ignorance. On 1st October he tweeted: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

Kim Jong-un is thirty three and was formally announced as his father’s successor on 26th December 2011. He has thus been in power just short of six years. Twenty five years ago he would have been eight years old.

The US simulates invading North Korea annually. In the last such manoeuvres in August one South Korean defense official told the newspaper Chosun Ilbo that this year’s exercises would include: “a nuclear war game for the first time.”

Currently, in addition to the massive war games the US has been overflying North Korea with B-52 bombers, with further exercises taking place in and with South Korea and in the last days also with Japan. It should also be remembered that the US has in the Pacific:

Total military personnel, 87,000
US 7th Fleet
50-70 ships and subs including …
Up to 14 destroyers and cruisers
1 aircraft carrier
Up to 12 nuclear powered submarines
140 aircraft

In South Korea
23,468 personnel
300+ tanks

In Guam
personnel
B52 bombers and fighter jets

In Hawaii
40,000 military personnel
200 ships including …
5 aircraft carriers
1,060 aircraft

Moreover, as has been pointed out:

In Donald Trump’s first six months in office, he dropped over 20,650 bombs in approximately seven countries, which killed thousands of civilians. By comparison, Kim Jong-un bombs the ocean.

The same source makes a vital point, ignored by media and politicians:

“The media’s insistence that North Korea will never give up its weapons systems is completely disingenuous when one reads the entire context of the statements offered by Kim Jong-un’s government. On July 4, Kim’s statement read as follows:

The DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.

Indeed – and with arch hawk retired Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters writing an op-ed in the New York Post (4th September): “Better a million dead North Koreans than a thousand dead Americans” and with the Pyongyang government and people well aware of what happened to Libya which was persuaded to give up its weapons programme and Iraq which had done the same after 1991. Of course, Kim Jong-un and his colleagues are going to try to persuade that they can give as good as they fear getting in hope of avoiding annihilation.

Given the reckless rhetoric of Trump and others, as the New York Times puts it:

Congress has been sufficiently alarmed to consider legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

…  As things stand now, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, passed when there was more concern about trigger-happy generals than elected civilian leaders, gives the president sole control. He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.

Moreover:

A New York Times analysis found the U.S. could use 1,103 nuclear warheads and decimate China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Libya, Iraq, and Syria … and still have 2,897 left.

Given that the man who tweets casually about “fire and fury” and smirks as he talks of “calm before the storm”, took the nuclear “football” (briefcase) down to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort and allowed its minder to have “selfies” taken with it, him and guests, it seems pretty clear that the current incumbent of the White House still resides in the fantasy land of reality shows with no grasp of the potential global pyromaniacal armageddon he jokes about unleashing. Twenty seven eminent psychiatrists, of course, have far more disturbing diagnoses.

Apparently he likes watching movies. Perhaps someone should give him a copy of “The Day After.”