Category Archives: President Kim Jong-un

Exit John Bolton, But Will That Mean An End To His Failed Foreign Policy?

Leon Neal, Getty Images

Many who oppose the aggressive foreign policy of the United States under President Donald Trump, which has resulted in record numbers of bombs dropped, regime change operations against Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran and Hong Kong, the abusive use of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) and record military budgets, cheered when uber-hawk, John Bolton was removed as the National Security Advisor.

Bolton undermined Trump numerous times such as when Trump wanted to get out of Syria and sought negotiations with North Korea and Iran. Bolton led Trump into regime-change operations in Nicaragua and Venezuela, both of which backfired.

The firing of Bolton is an opportunity for Trump to make a major course correction on foreign policy as the 2020 election heats up. The escalation of military aggression and regime-change actions that have occurred in the Trump era have been inconsistent with his previous campaign statements, which indicated he opposed never-ending wars, nation-building, and interventions abroad and wanted to focus on fixing problems at home in the United States.

Trump has long expressed skepticism about US foreign intervention in activities that he has labeled as “nation-building.” During the presidential election campaign, Trump criticized the war in Iraq, claiming he opposed George W. Bush’s Iraq War at the time and accused Bush of lying about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. In October 2015, he criticized US interventions saying, “We’re nation-building. We can’t do it. We have to build our own nation. We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have [had] dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.”

In December 2016, before his inauguration, Trump said that the policy of “intervention and chaos” must come to an end. He pledged to “build up our military not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention. In short, we seek peace through strength.”

Trump has opportunities to take another course, one that is more consistent with his rhetoric. Chairman Kim of North Korea said he was open to another meeting with President Trump on September 10, the next day, Bolton was fired. Shortly after the firing of Bolton, Secretary of State Pompeo gave the green light for Trump to meet with the President of Iran without preconditions at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in a few weeks. The firing of Bolton may not be enough, Iranian officials have refused any meeting until sanctions are lifted. After Bolton’s firing, President Hassan Rouhani said Trump “should distance itself from ‘warmongers’” after the dismissal of Bolton.

When it comes to Latin America, Trump has been silent, especially about his failed coup in Venezuela. Trump’s previous National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, strongly recommended to President Trump not to pursue a military option in Venezuela when Trump suggested it in 2017. He explained that Latin American governments were against foreign intervention in the region. John Bolton gave contrary advice when he dubbed Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba the “Troika of Tyranny” and gave Trump bad advice by urging a strategy of escalating intervention in Venezuela, recognition of a failed coup government and military threats.

When Bolton was fired, the New York Times reported:

Mr. Trump also grew disenchanted with Mr. Bolton over the failed effort to push out President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Rather than the easy victory he was led to anticipate, the president has found himself bogged down in a conflict over which he has less influence than he had assumed. The political opposition backed by the White House could not turn Venezuela’s military against Mr. Maduro and has been stuck in a stalemate for months.

President Maduro has consistently expressed his willingness to meet with President Trump, despite the brutal economic war, military threats and recognition of the fraudulent Juan Guaido. Trump knows that Maduro is solidly in place as the president of Venezuela. US efforts to undermine his re-election in May of 2018 failed, the multiple coup efforts with Juan Guaido have failed, Venezuela exposed a series of terrorist plots the US was backing and there is little support for military intervention. In addition, because of Trump’s threats, Venezuela has strengthened its relationships with China and Russia, bringing them into Latin America in ways they have never happened before and squeezing out US interests.

John Bolton has put Trump in a trap in Venezuela. Trump has two choices: continued his failed strategy of regime change which has become a quagmire or stop interfering in the internal affairs of the sovereign nation of Venezuela. Once Trump recognizes that Venezuela is an independent nation he can have a diplomatic relationship with the country as exits between most nations. It is time to give up on the embarrassing failed Bolton strategy and pursue a new approach of non-interference and diplomacy.

For most of its history, the US and Venezuela have been allies. It has only been during the eras of Clinton through Obama and the Bolton-era during the Trump administration that the US has been in conflict with Venezuela. Trump can now reverse those mistaken policies and put the United States back on a constructive track.

The Japan-Korea Semiconductor Flap

South Korean companies (Samsung and SK Hynix) produce about 17% of the world’s semiconductors. To manufacture these, they’re dependent on imports of Japanese hydrogen fluoride gas, fluorinated polyimide, and photoresists. Japanese firms control 90% of the polyimide market needed for screen applications, so the relationship between these neighboring prosperous northeast Asian countries is crucial to the operation of global communications.

Japan has begun restricting exports of these products to South Korea, in response to a South Korean Supreme Court decision in 2018 requiring Japanese firms to compensate involuntary Korean labor during the colonial period (1910-45). President Moon Jae-in is not responsible for the court decision but his nationalist Democratic Party supports it.

This is a big story, largely eclipsed by Trump-related stories in the U.S. media. It involves the 3rd and 11th largest economies in the world, and the countries which host the first and third largest number of U.S. troops abroad (56,000 in Japan, 25,000 in Korea; compare 35,000 Germany). The United States, Japan and South Korea are linked by a military alliance directed against North Korea, China, and Russia. They hold joint military operations regularly. These operations are threatened by this flap.

Tokyo points out that the 1965 treaty between the two countries settled any Korean outstanding claims for reparations—about $800 million at the time. Tokyo refuses to pay more, lest a precedent be set, and China also be prompted to make demands not already resolved in 1972. Tokyo has called for international arbitration in the wake of the court decision, but Seoul has refused. In response to the court ruling, which particularly targets Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Tokyo has removed South Korea from its “white list” of 27 countries that receive expedited treatment in trade transactions. (There is no direct causal relationship, but it’s understood Japan wants to punish Seoul for the annoying court decision.)

This means that there will be months-long delays involving paperwork, and deliveries of the above-mentioned commodities from Japan to South Korea will not be guaranteed. Stock values in alternative microchip providers in the U.S.(Intel)  and Taiwan (Taiwan Semiconductor) has soared. Largely ignored by the western press, this is a serious trade conflict occurring while Korean nationalism on both sides of the DMZ is at an all-time high, along with sympathy for reunification.

Meanwhile Japanese public opinion is disturbingly anti-Korean. 56% of those polled say the economic retaliation to the court decision was appropriate. The Koreans are depicted as unreasonable, unable to accept multiple sincere, even abject apologies from Japanese prime ministers and emperors for the legacy of Japanese colonialism, insistent on focusing on the past, insatiable in their demands for Japanese compensation. They are just anti-Japanese. Shigataganai. It can’t be helped. (Such sentiments reflect the widespread ignorance, hence insensitivity, in Japan, regarding the painful impact of Japanese colonialism on Korea between 1910 and 1945.)

Trump’s threat to annihilate North Korea (and hence the entire peninsula) caused the two Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in to meet and sign a series of agreements lowering tensions on the peninsula. South Koreans were the intermediaries in preparing the Trump-Kim summits. The best way for the Koreans to obtain the “spiritual victory” over Japan they have proclaimed over the current standoff, is to reunify, withdraw from the tripartite military pact with the U.S. and Japan, and expel the 30,000 U.S. troops.

The threat to the South Korean economy posed by Japanese actions could impede Moon’s Korean reconciliation policy; if Moon falls, the plans for railway links and renewed trade ties could suffer. Or Japanese hostility could encourage Korean unity. Seoul and Pyongyang will always unite in condemning Japan.

One missing element in the evolving crisis is U.S. involvement. The State Department is understaffed, Trump ignorant and indifferent. John Bolton was dispatched to Seoul, not to discuss the Japan-Korea crisis, but to demand that South Korea pay more to support U.S. forces. Washington seems inclined to leave the quarrel alone, which means to encourage Abe Shinzo—the strongest, most durable prime minister ever—in his nationalist militarism, and Moon in his nationalist opportunism rooted in domestic politics.

Trump’s staff claims Moon Jae-in has requested Trump to mediate the dispute. But (aside from being an ignorant buffoon) Trump is not the sort to sympathize with the victims in any historical relationship, or show any sympathies for the subjects of colonialism. After his first meeting with Xi Jinping he declared that he’d learned Korea had once been part of China, a profoundly inaccurate and offensive statement.

Moon is likely to suffer some humiliation as Japan sticks to its guns and Seoul receives little support for its legal claims. Seoul will have to back down to maintain Samsung’s profitability. And if lack of any U.S. support inclines the South Koreans to distance themselves from their patrons, the better to cozy up with the north, well and good!

The point is not more Japanese reparations but the repair of the divided peninsula. There’s no way Mitsubishi’s going to compensate any survivors of wartime slave labor. There’s no point in Korean nationalists demanding endless apologies and concessions from the former colonial power. Japan is not the power preventing Korean reunification. Only the U.S. can do that.

Kim Jung-un’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has forced the U.S. to negotiate with North Korea, and facilitated a series of positive exchanges with the south. A Confederation of Goryeo (on the model of one country, two systems) realistically beckons. There is a Silicon Valley waiting somewhere in the lap of Mt. Paekchong.

Demanding more Japanese reparations at this time is to change the subject, distracting attention from the prospect at hand: Korean  reunification and the expulsion of the occupiers.

The New Politics of Starvation

President Donald Trump’s use of the most vicious aspects of economic warfare prompt another examination of the politics of starvation.

After George W. Bush’s administration, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump lessened Bush’s aggressive war policies and leaned to economic warfare. Sounds harmless when compared to exploding bombs, but it is not — economic warfare can crush an adversary without firing a shot. Gone to its extreme, economic warfare has the force of a neutron bomb; it disables the nation’s infrastructure and debilitates its population. Isolation from the international financial system, material embargos, and other sanctions reduce living standards and bring populations close to starvation The most serious aspects of economic warfare are major crimes and a form of terrorism.

Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Iraq endured the most punishing sanctions from the United States. Results of sanctions against these countries, models for the effects of sanctions, show that sanctions have rarely accomplished their stated purposes and their intentions may be for other reasons — stalling economic progress, weakening challenges to antagonistic actions, advancing dominance, and promoting regime change.

Iran

Disturbed with the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and infuriated by the hostage taking of 52 of U.S. embassy personnel by extreme Islamic students and militants, President Jimmy Carter froze several billions of dollars in Iranian bank deposits, gold and other properties, and followed with a 1980 embargo on trade with and travel to Iran. These punitive actions accomplished nothing for the United States, strengthened the Ayatollah’s Authority and hardened the student demands for releasing the captured embassy officials.

President Reagan, who partially owed his climb into the executive office to the hostage crisis, showed contempt for Iran’s resolution of the problem. Driven by the unproven assertion that Iran was involved in the 1983 bombing of a marine barracks in Beirut, and favoring Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iraq-Iran war, the U.S. president imposed additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic. and, in 1987, banned all imports from Iran.

Duriing the Clinton administration, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) penalized all foreign companies that provided investments over $20 million for the development of petroleum resources.

Iran’s entrance into the atomic age provoked a series of new sanctions. Economic warfare soon reached full scale by subduing Iran’s earnings from its most precious resource and export – oil. The U.S. Congress passed unilateral sanctions that targeted Iran’s energy and banking sectors. Sanctions did not halt Iran’s nuclear activities, or prevent it from signing contracts with foreign firms to develop its energy resources. Exports slowly grew to an estimated $82 billion in 2012, with liberated Iraq and independent China filling the gap as trading partners.

Nevertheless, economic warfare affected Iran’s industries and welfare. In October 2012, Iran’s currency, the rial, fell to a record low against the US dollar, losing about 80 per cent of its value in one year. Lack of spare parts and inability to replace planes affected aviation safety. Real growth rate in GDP, at a steady six per cent a year during the first decade of the twenty first century, fell to two per cent in 2011-2012. One report, citing officials from the U.S. Departments of State and Energy, concluded that gasoline imports in the Shah’s former kingdom declined from 130,000 barrels a day in 2009 to 50,000 barrels a day in 2011. Machinery wears, and the  costs and time for repairs rapidly increased. A nation of educated professionals, who depended upon access to foreign technology and scientific cooperation, had their access to knowledge severely curtailed.

In a October 5, 2012 report to the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summarized effects of sanctions on Iran’s population.

The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine,

The embargoes have also hampered humanitarian operations, as the imposed restrictions on Iran’s banking system have halted the imports of medicines needed for treating diseases like cancer and heart and respiratory conditions.

The Obama administration eventually eased restrictions on the sale of medicines to Iran, and, after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which Iran halted and downsized its uranium enrichment, the UN lifted sanctions. In a following year, Iran GDP increased 15 percent.

On May 8, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. and U.S. sanctions came into effect again in November 2018. President Trump articulated his plan for renewed sanctions as, “to bring Iran’s oil exports to ‘zero’ and remove a main source of revenue for the regime.” Trump imposed the ultimate harm afforded by economic warfare — starve the people and have them revolt against the regime.

That has not happened nor is predicted to occur. World Bank statistics indicate a severe slowing of the economy and steady rise of inflation.

As shown in the charts, oil production, and GDP growth dropped monotonically and severely. Currency value suffered an initial shock and had some recovery. Inflation was up 40%, especially in food (up 60%) — a suffering economy, a suffering people, and no political gain for the U.S.

Cuba

Immediately after the 1960 Cuban revolution, the United States imposed an embargo against Cuba. Fifty plus years of sanctions have not succeeded in accomplishing the purposes for which the United States proposed the sanctions — compensation to U.S. firms nationalized by Cuba and the overthrow of the Castro regime. The only result of the embargo has been deprivation of the Cuban people.

Although the United Nations General Assembly on November 2, 1995, voted 117 to 3 to recommend an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, President Clinton, on March 12, 1996, signed into law the misnamed Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. This Act imposed penalties on foreign companies doing business in Cuba, permitted U.S. citizens to sue foreign investors who make use of American-owned property seized by the Cuban government, and denied foreign investors in Cuba’s industry to enter the U.S.

The World Health Organization (WHO) complimented pre-90’s Cuba for its public health system, which had been credited with eliminating hunger and malnutrition and wiping out infectious diseases. A tightened embargo reinforced Cuba’s suffering after Russia withdrew subsidies. and, soon, Cuba of the mid-90’s portrayed another image. The American Association for World Health and the American Public Health Association ascertained that the embargo caused significant deterioration in Cuba’s food production and health care:

  • Cuba was banned from purchasing nearly 1/2 of new drugs on the market.
  • Physicians had access to only 890 medications, down from 1,300 in 1989.
  • Deterioration of water supply increased water borne diseases.
  • Daily caloric intake dropped by 33% between 1989 and 1993.

In 2000, the Clinton administration finally allowed Cuba to have some relief from an aggressive economic warfare. The administration allowed the sale of agriculture and medicine to Cuba for humanitarian purposes. According to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba reached $380 million in 2004. However, after hitting a peak of $710 million in 2008, U.S. food sales to Cuba declined over 50 percent by the year 2011. Reasons for the decline were largely economic – lack of foreign currency and better financial terms being offered by other countries.

Representatives of a dozen leading U.S. business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, signed a letter in December urging Barack Obama to scrap the embargo. The letter pegs the cost to the U.S. economy at $1.2 billion per year. The CPF’s estimates are much higher: up to $4.84 billion annually in lost sales and exports. The Cuban government estimates the loss to Cuba at about $685 million annually. Thus the blockade costs the United States up to $4.155 billion more a year than it costs Cuba.1

After a period of harsh policy toward Cuba under President George W. Bush, President Obama announced in late 2014 that Washington and Havana would begin normalizing relations. To that end, the Obama administration achieved three pillars of normalization: 1) the removal of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which allowed Cuba to access international finance; 2) the reestablishment of diplomatic relations; and 3) relaxed restrictions on travel and trade through executive action. The embargo remained in place.

In 2017, the Trump administration reversed some of the changes made under President Obama, but the vast majority remained U.S. policy. Despite some tighter trade sanctions and limitations on authorized travel, there are still legal pathways for Americans to export and travel to Cuba. On the list of  new sanctions is allowing Americans to sue foreign companies in Cuba that are profiting from or using properties that were seized during the Cuban revolution.

Havana — The Cuban government announced Friday it is launching widespread rationing of chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap and other basic products in the face of a grave economic crisis. Commerce Minister Betsy Díaz Velazquez told the state-run Cuban News Agency that various forms of rationing would be employed in order to deal with shortages of staple foods.

Díaz blamed the hardening of the U.S. trade embargo by the Trump administration. Economists give equal or greater blame to a plunge in aid from Venezuela, where the collapse of the state-run oil company has led to a nearly two-thirds cut in shipments of subsidized fuel that Cuba used for power and to earn hard currency on the open market.2

Another suffering economy, suffering people, and no political gain for the U.S.

North Korea

The proud and impoverished nation of North Korea has been continually subjected to sanctions, threats of economic sanctions, and hastily withdrawn sanctions. The media is peppered with the words: “U.S. Lifts sanctions,” “U.S. recommends sanctions,” “South Korea wary of sanctions.” It’s difficult to know if North Korea is being sanctioned or being forced into being sanctioned. After its 2006 claim of conducting a nuclear test, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic Korea) leaders responded to intended sanctions by labeling them as “a declaration of war.”

The DPRK has,suffered from economic warfare, which includes restrictions on trade and financial transactions. Export of sensitive dual-use items (items that have both military and non-military uses) have, at times, been prohibited.  During March 2012, the politics of starvation entered the situation; angered by an intended North Korea missile test, the U.S. suspended food aid to the “hermit kingdom.”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has suspended planned food aid to North Korea as Pyongyang vows to push ahead with a plan to launch a long-range missile in defiance of international warnings, U.S. military officials said on Wednesday.

Under President Obama, sanctions increased as a policy of “strategic patience;” the US waited for North Korea to change its bad behavior before engaging with the state. As a result, trade between North Korea and China increased and sanctions did not encourage Kim Jong-An to discuss de-nuclearization.

On September 21, 2017, President Donald Trump, as part of his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, allowed severing from its financial system and/or freezing assets of companies, businesses, organizations, and individuals who traded in goods, services, or technology with North Korea.

U.S. negotiations with North Korea have a built-in error; they request de-nuclearization in exchange for improved relations and reduction in sanctions. Not considered is that North Korea’s development of a nuclear arsenal was a response to its regard of U.S. actions in the Korean peninsula as a direct threat to its regime and the developments had no relation to sanctions. Therefore, the DPRK will not trade de-nuclearization for relief of sanctions, and that approach is a non-starter.

Sanctions, intended to collapse the North Korea regime, have not halted its development of nuclear weapons and guided missile delivery systems. They have collapsed the economy and harmed the North Korean people; starvation during droughts have occurred. Although some international assistance has been provided to North Korea, the intensive economic warfare waged against the “hermit kingdom” has exacerbated its problems, without any apparent benefit to its principal antagonist, the United States.

Iraq

If Iraq were Pompeii, then the US would be Mt. Vesuvius.

The sanctions against Iraq began August 6, 1990, four days after Hussein invaded Kuwait, and featured a near-total financial and trade embargo. Resultant suffering has been outlined in a UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, submitted to the Security Council, March 1999.  Due to the length of the report, only significant features are mentioned.

Before the Iraq War

  • before 1991 Iraq’s social and economic indicators were generally above the regional and developing country averages.
  • Up to 1990, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) cited Iraq as having one of the highest per capita food availability indicators in the region.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prior to 1991, health care reached approximately 97% of the urban population and 78% of rural residents. A major reduction of young child mortality took place from 1960 to 1990; with the infant mortality rate at 65 per 1,000 live births in 1989 (1991 Human Development Report average for developing countries was 76 per 1,000 live births). UNICEF indicates that a national welfare system assisted orphans and children with disabilities and supported the poorest families.
  • Before 1991, southern and central Iraq had well developed water and sanitation systems, composed with two hundred water treatment plants (“wtp’s”) for urban areas and 1200 compact wtp’s to serve rural areas, as well as an extensive distribution network. WHO estimates that 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water.

From Sanctions After the Gulf War

  • Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that Iraqi GDP may have fallen by nearly 67% in 1991, and the nation had “experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty” and had infant mortality rates that were “among the highest in the world.”
  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated the maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997. The under-five child mortality rate increased from 30.2/1000 live births to 97.2/1000 during the same period. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) calculates that the infant mortality rate rose from 64/1000 births in 1990 to 129/1000 in 1995 (the Human Development Report set the average infant mortality rate for Least Developed Countries at 109/1000). Low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg) rose from 4% in 1990 to around a quarter of registered births in 1997, due mainly to maternal malnutrition.
  • Calorie intake fell from a pre-war 3120 to 1093 calories per capita/per day in 1994-95. The prevalence of malnutrition in Iraqi children under five almost doubled from 1991 to 1996 (from 12% to 23%). Acute malnutrition in Center/South rose from 3% to 11% for the same age bracket.
  • The World Food Program (WFP) estimated that access to potable water decreased to 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and 33% in rural areas.
  • School enrollment for all ages (6-23) declined to 53%. According to a field survey conducted in 1993, as quoted by UNESCO, in Central and Southern governorates, 83% of school buildings needed rehabilitation, with 8613 out of 10,334 schools having suffered serious damages. The same source indicated that some schools with a planned capacity of 700 pupils actually have 4500 enrolled in them. Substantive progress in reducing adult and female illiteracy ceased and regressed to mid-1980 levels. More families are forced to rely on children to secure household incomes. Figures provided by UNESCO indicate that drop-outs in elementary schools increased from 95,692 in 1990 to 131,658 in 1999.

Sanctions, and its toll on the Iraqi people, continued until the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Excerpts from Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Joy Gordon. Harvard University Press, 2010, describe the extent of irrational economic warfare conducted by the United states against a defenseless Iraq.

While the United States consistently justified its policies in terms of preventing Iraq from developing weapons or threatening its neighbors, the U.S. policy went well beyond any rational concern with security. There was an elaborate architecture of policies that found a dozen other ways to simply do gratuitous harm that had not the least relation to the threat Iraq might have posed to its neighbors or to anyone else.

For thirteen years the United States unilaterally prevented Iraq from importing nearly everything related to electricity, telecommunications, and transportation, blocked much of what was needed for agriculture and housing construction, and even prohibited some equipment and materials necessary for health care and food preparation.

As the criticism grew, there is no sign that anyone in the U.S. administration, and only a tiny handful within Congress, actually took it to heart– actually questioned the sanity and legality of reducing an entire civilization to a preindustrial state, of bankrupting an entire nation for the purpose of containing one tyrannical man.

On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on the CBS program 60 Minutes. Commentator Lesley Stahl asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” Madeleine Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.”  Is that an expected response from a normal human being?

The U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq accomplished what sanctions failed to accomplish —  push Iraq to total ruin. A question, “Why war, if had sanctions, or why sanctions if need to go to war?”

Conclusion

As shown, sanctions never accomplished their stated purposes and gravely harmed populations. The economic warfare had equivalents to military war. The country that took the offensive became the aggressor, as in any war, and the destruction to the defending state was equally brutal. In the one-sided engagement, the civilian population of the defending nation suffered greatly and the aggressor country suffered few losses. The economic wars never achieved the results that the offended party desired, and no peace treaties were signed. The struggles remained an open issue.

A limited form of economic warfare may, at times, have a legitimate purpose. A complete economic war, that invades all aspects of a country’s life and continues until it debilitates the population, cannot be accepted. In a military campaign, atrocities and human rights violations are often committed. Although no shots are fired and battlefields are not identifiable, economic warfare cannot camouflage its atrocities and disguise its human rights violations.

  1. Dollars and Sense, 2009, The Costs of the Embargo, by Margot Pepper
  2. From CBS News, May 11, 2019.

The Trump and Kim Summit in Hanoi: Was Trump forced to Walk?

Yes, Mr. Trump had to walk. As he didn’t get his way, he had the audacity to get up and walk out of a meeting with Kim Jong-un, the President of the DPRK, of North Korea. As arrogant as it behooves the king of a failing and crumbling empire. But did he walk by his own will? Or was he, the most “powerful man in the world”, coerced by his handlers, represented by former CIA boss, Mike Pompeo, to abandon the denuclearization negotiations; i.e., no concessions on killer sanctions, or as Kim Jong-un said, “we would like to see the five sanctions (out of eleven) lifted, those that most harm our people and their economic well-being.”

Therefore, Pyongyang was ready to permanently shut down the Yongbyon nuclear complex, an important nuclear research center for DPRK. Kim Jong-un was also ready to invite international observers to witness the dismantling process, and he was ready to stop medium range missile testing – all for giving his people, the North Koreans a ‘breather’ – a better life.

He requested some of the most harming sanctions to be lifted. A reasonable request. And at the outset it looked like Trump was happy with this arrangement. He had already basically agreed to stopping the aggressive annual military maneuvers with South Korea on the borders of the DPRK.

In any case, Trump was in no hurry. This was the second of a series of one-to-one summits with Kim. Trump’s ego seems to enjoy this publicity. Why not make it last a bit longer? Give a little bit, but not too much, so the talks continue – and he would still call the shots. But Trump didn’t even give a little bit. He gave nothing, zilch, zero. So, something happened. Pompeo was constantly by Trump’s side, except for the 45 minutes Trump and Kim had a truly one-to-one talk – of which so far nothing has penetrated into the public, other than that it was cordial.

The turn-around was sudden. Trump demanded full denuclearization before he would even talk about lifting sanctions. The give-nothing and demand-everything approach obviously didn’t fly with Mr. Kim. Trump apparently didn’t even want to talk about a long overdue peace agreement – technically DPRK and the US have been at war for the last 70 years. Stalemate. Trump walked. No written statement. Nothing.

“We will meet again. I actually enjoy our meetings” – or something to that effect he told the press, as he ‘walked’. All the focus on Mr. Trump. The narcissist. The big master who can command world leaders around the globe to meet with him, the one-man show, the self-styled brilliant negotiator, is raising expectations – but never delivers. And even if there are mutually signed statements or legally binding agreements, Trump breaks them.

One of the latest flagrant breaches of an international agreement, is the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1, and the European Union. Instead of lifting sanctions as was the deal, Trump imposed more sanctions and threatened the other signatories with more sanctions, if they didn’t follow Washington’s lead. That’s where we are in this world of deceit and more deception and lies. How could Mr. Kim trust any word President Trump utters in his wonderfully colorful language that he uses for the common people to understand what he means!

But it seems all of this still does not explain everything that’s going on, be it with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan – and who knows – whatever other victim is in the crosshairs of the United States for regime change, for exploitation, economic and humanitarian strangulation.

Is Pompeo the answer? Did he boycott the Hanoi meeting? He is indeed the murderer-in-chief, as former CIA director, who doesn’t shy away from suggesting that if Mr. Kim Jong-un shows up dead one day, well, don’t ask me or the CIA. Pompeo has watched over a long list of political assassinations – he insinuated a similar fate for Mr. Maduro. He is dishing out death threats left and right. And the world is not even stunned anymore, it’s common practice of the US of A – murdering ’inconvenient’ people. The CIA is the chief instrument for these killings; they have hundred years of practice – with an insane intensification after WWII.

Is Pompeo representing the “Deep Government”? Which in desperation needs to show muscle; must demonstrate to the world that US hegemony is still reigning the globe. Alas, it’s a mere propaganda scheme, upheld by a bought corrupt western media system. It’s Goebbels lie-propaganda by a factor of hundred. “Let me control the media and I will turn any Nation into a herd of Pigs” (Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister). Western society may already be converted into a ‘herd of pigs’.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, than what the western Anglo-Zion media propagates day-in-day out. It is beating the war drums. It becomes “common values” and is believed and found natural by masses of people. “War is Peace” as the current opinion goes, openly propagated by such illustrious newspapers as the WashPost. Death and destruction are very, very profitable, for a few weapon industry oligarchs. Thus, the steaming Washington swamp – and add to it Hollywood – is still a brilliant example for the world and therefore, still intimidatingly relevant.

Ever-so-often, we, the public at large should be reminded of UN Resolution 1947: Propaganda for war is a war crime. This was echoed in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of November 3, 1947 that denounced war propaganda: “The General Assembly condemns all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.”

*****

Back to DPRK and Donald Trump: On February 27 and 28, the two leaders of North Korea and the United States met to talk ‘de-nuclearizing’ of the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, and, of course, the lifting of the killer sanctions – and I must repeat time and again – totally illegal sanctions. All interference by one country in another sovereign nation, especially economic and military meddling, as the US is doing, is by all international standards, including the UN Charter, and by the rules of Human Rights – ILLEGAL. The world should remember – and light up, instead of falling asleep and nodding, when Washington’s arrogance hit another ‘un-aligned’ un-submissive country with economic sanctions. Wake up, vassals, it may happen to you while you are watching idiotic Hollywood soap.

Yes, Mr. Trump, you should “walk”, not just out of summit meetings with leaders of other countries but walk as far as to disappear for good in a distant cloud – and take Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams along. The world would be a better place. Not good, but better. It might wake up and think about sovereignty, about solidarity, about friendship and about friendly trading again. What if a New Order of Peace, Harmony and of a Multipolar world would be born? Instead of the One World Order of aggression, exploitation and indiscriminate killing, currently driven by Washington and its crony vassal states.

What, then, would “Deep Government” do? Those who won’t relent until achieving full world hegemony, or as the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) calls it – Full Spectrum Dominance. Might it pull the ultimate trigger and eradicate civilization as we know it, humanity that we are supposed to be into the abyss of extermination? Would it invent a new clan of Trumpnicks to finish the job?

Mr. Kim traveled in good fate by train from Pyongyang to Hanoi, to the second meeting with the Donald, hoping to get some sanctions relief as was agreed when they met the first time, last June in Singapore. North Korea destroyed nuclear testing tunnels and a missile test stand. The US counterpart obligation was to begin denuclearization of South Korea and start peace talks. It didn’t happen. This time, Kim was ready to give up even more. According to Trump, “they were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that, so we’ll continue to work and we’ll see. But we had to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.”

This propaganda stint should show the world who is still the master. Kim wanted a better life for the people of the DPRK, a life without sanctions, a life of wellbeing that may develop with the strength and will of North Korea’s sovereign people. Trump just wanted his ego boosted – again and again. He is a sick man. In that sense he is ideal for the “Deep State”, for those who pull the strings from their invisible darkness. Imagine, the western world is run by a psychopath. To accept such leadership (sic), the vassalic west must be psychotic too. Are we, western un-civilization – for lack of a more accurate word – committing unwittingly suicide? There is no sanity left. We seem to have gone way beyond the point of no return.

Yes, Mr. Trump, it looks like you let your apparent noble thoughts for the summit be sabotaged by the bloody hands of Mike Pompeo, and maybe with a little help from John Bolton. Yes, you should be walking away; you should be walking away from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and also Iran, all of which you attempt to suffocate with sanctions and more sanctions. In Iran it doesn’t work anymore. Iran has chosen the east – is moving towards the east, adapting to and soon will be integrating into eastern monetary systems, as well as political and military alliances, like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Is it possible that in the larger scheme of things empire’s last straw strategy is intimidating the world that there will be no concessions, no lifting of sanctions, no abandoning of the path of destruction for those nations who refuse to bend to Washington’s master and its European and South American puppets?

• First published at New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Walkout in Hanoi: The Second Trump-Kim Summit

“Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times.”  That was US President Donald Trump’s remark about something he has been doing a lot of lately: walking away from agreements or understandings in the hope of reaching the ultimate deal.  North Korea’s Kim Jong-un had been pressing his advantage in Hanoi with an attempt to convince Trump that sanctions needed to be eased. He ended up seeing the back of Trump after the appropriate handshakes.

The loose drama at such events is often hard to detach from the firmly rooted substance.  Trump’s relationship with the accurate is tenuous and free flowing, so we have little to go on.  Ahead of the meeting, the White House was busy sending various signals designed to baffle and confuse friend and foe alike.  The president was keen to praise the “special relationship” with Kim, the sort of term reserved for gatherings such as those between the UK and US.

At the end of January, Stephen Biegun, designated special representative for North Korea in the US State Department, suggested that Pyongyang had made a commitment in pre-summit talks to eliminate uranium and plutonium enrichment facilities for a price.  His mood seemed to jar with the more bellicose stance taken by national security adviser and pro-bombing enthusiast John R. Bolton and fellow belligerent companion and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In carefully chosen words, the representative noted how, “Chairman Kim qualified next steps on North Korea’s plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities upon the United States taking corresponding measures.”  Biegun was optimistic at the time, drawing upon themes of flexibility and novelty. “Neither leader is constrained by traditional expectations that might doom their teams to try the exact same approach as in the past, with no expectation of anything but the same failed outcome.”

The president’s preliminary chats over dinner with Kim prior to the formal summit did not give much away.  “Great meetings and dinner tonight in Vietnam with Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” he tweeted.  “Very good dialogue. Resuming tomorrow!”  Those aching for detail were left disappointed.  By breakfast the next day, things had cooled.  Cancellations of a working lunch followed.

The smoke has yet to clear, and may be hovering for some time yet.  But Trump was impressed by Kim’s offer to dismantle the enrichment facility at Yongbyon in its entirety (though it is clear that the totality of the DPRK’s capacity goes beyond it).  The discussion and proposed transaction list seemed somewhat threadbare; a total lift of sanctions for Yongbyon’s dismantling?  According to Trump, “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.”

The response was not long in coming.  Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, suggested another version, somewhat more nuanced, less absolute: that only some sanctions be lifted in exchange for the permanent and complete dismantling of the main facility, verified by US experts. “Given the current level of trust between North Korea and the United States, this was the maximum step for denuclearization we could offer.”

Prior to the summit, there was a transfixed terror that Trump was going to give all earthly concessions, and a good number of goods on gold platter, to the North Korean leader.  A bemused Trump simply deemed it “false reporting” on his “intentions with respect to North Korea.”  Both parties would “try very hard to work something out on Denuclearization & then making North Korea an Economic Powerhouse.”

This was far from the case.  As Joel S. Wit and Jenny Town note with some accuracy,  “It’s ironic that while most pundits and the media kept up a steady drumbeat that he was going to give away the store, he did just the opposite, holding out for a better deal.”

The issues at stake here on the Korean Peninsula seem monumental, but when seen together, constitute the pieces of a jigsaw.  Any comprehensive talks will have to address these, and this summit was evidently not going to do that.  To only see one or two pieces in isolation (abductees, for instance, or the issue of exclusive, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation) is to ignore the number of steps in the entire affair.

Trust needs to be restored, a peace treaty neutering the war status of the Peninsula signed, undertakings against the use of force and hostile intent made with heft, and ultimately, an understanding that the parties at the negotiating table aren’t going to bump you off.  Pyongyang is being asked to relinquish its highest grade insurance in the face of a superpower which has shown more than an unhealthy tendency to inflict regime changes with catastrophic consequences.  Brinkmanship and theories of managed lunacy in the diplomatic realm will only get you to a point.

With Trump being advised by the likes of the gun slinging Bolton (known in North Korean circles as the paternal inspiration for Pyongyang’s nuclear program) and Kim ever mindful about the vulnerabilities of his regime, more walkouts are bound to happen.  As Jeffrey Lewis rightly noted, the old guard (Bolton and company) represent “the cold wind” and “pretty much the rest of the government bureaucracy.”  The warmth of reform in securing peace on the Korean Peninsula, spurred on by the fanning of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and the likes of Biegun, act as counters.  This walkout, at least, means that each can live to talk another day, though it will keep their respective public relations teams busy.

As matters stand, there will be no resumption of North Korean ballistic and nuclear testing, and a promise for more negotiations.  The chatter will continue, and channels will remain open.  As for Trump himself, “This wasn’t a walkaway like you get up and walk out.  No, this was very friendly. We shook hands.”

Attention, War Criminals: Prizes Still Available

In the long, confounding history of inappropriate or unwarranted awards and prizes, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger being named the joint winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize has to rank at the top of any such list.

Clearly, it ranks higher than Roberto Benigni beating out Ian McKellen for the Best Actor Oscar, in 1998, and way higher than the Chevrolet Vega being named Motor Trend magazine’s 1971 “Car of the Year.”

Kissinger’s fellow co-winner in 1973 was the Vietnamese revolutionary and politician Le Duc Tho.  So the almost saintly Mahatma Gandhi gets nominated for the Peace Prize five times but never wins?  And yet the Teutonic Supercock wins it on his very first try?  Irony doesn’t come in any more bizarre a package.

The Nobel Committee, presumably to prove that, God forbid, they weren’t “taking sides,” chose to honor both men simultaneously.  They honored the man who (along with his accomplice, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara) was responsible for deliberately bombing and killing countless civilians, and the man representing the country whose civilians were being bombed and killed.

Although it was never adequately explained, this particular Peace Prize had to be the product of some twisted international calculus—some preposterous tit for tat—where a powerful, highly mechanized country that was committing the murders, and the largely peasant country whose women and children were being murdered, were elevated to equal status.

To his credit, Le Duc Tho refused to accept the award.  He rightly believed that until there was legitimate peace in Vietnam—which included, obviously, a cessation to the killing and foreign occupation—sharing the honor with Kissinger would be a sham.  Meanwhile, Kissinger had no problem accepting his trophy and placing it on his mantle, doubtless regarding it as evidence of his humanitarianism.

All of this reminds us of one of Mort Sahl’s political quips.  He said that if Richard Nixon saw a man drowning in a lake, fifteen feet from shore, he would throw him a ten-foot rope.  And then Henry Kissinger would go on national TV and solemnly announce that “the president had met him more than halfway.”

Which brings us to the present day.  Not that he’s a “war criminal,” but given the Nobel Committee’s obvious capacity for self-delusion and squirrellyness, would it be totally out of the question for them to give the Peace Prize to Donald Trump?  Award it to him in recognition of his having reached out to the heretofore “unreachable” Kim Jong-Un of North Korea?

After all, even though nothing substantive or remarkable was achieved as a result of the meeting (other than Trump appearing even more Mussolini-like, and Kim Jung-Un appearing even weirder and more inscrutable), the Committee could view this as being the all-important “first step” in normalizing relations.

According to Gore Vidal, there is an astounding amount of shameless lobbying, arm-twisting, and self-promotion accompanying the Nobel Prizes.  Chemists do it; physicists do it; novelists do it.  Everybody wants to be considered for a Nobel Prize, and then, after making the short list, everybody wants to win.

Given Trump’s shallow narcissism and his insistence on being praised and made to look “presidential” at every turn, the thought of this man being awarded something as prestigious as the Nobel Prize is almost too gruesome to contemplate.  We think his tweets are insufferably self-serving now, just wait until he becomes a Nobel Laureate.  He could fly to the moon on the gas it would create.

And let’s not kid ourselves.  Because the precedent has already been firmly established, Donald Trump winning the damn thing is not that farfetched.  President Barack (“Have drone, will travel”) Obama won the Peace Prize in 2009.  Anything is possible.

Sanctions, Sanctions, Sanctions: the Final Demise of the Dollar Hegemony?

Sanctions left and sanctions right. Financial mostly, taxes, tariffs, visas, travel bans, confiscation of foreign assets, import and export prohibitions and limitations; and also punishing those who do not respect sanctions dished out by Trump, alias the US of A, against friends of their enemies. The absurdity seems endless and escalating exponentially, as if there was a deadline to collapse the world. Looks like a last-ditch effort to bring down international trade in favor of — what?  Make America Great Again? – Prepare for US mid-term elections? Rally the people behind an illusion? – Or what?

All looks arbitrary and destructive. All is, of course, totally illegal by any international law or, forget law, which is not respected anyway by the empire and its vassals, but not even by human moral standards. Sanctions are destructive. They are interfering in other countries sovereignty. They are made to punish countries, nations, that refuse to bend to a world dictatorship.

Looks like everybody accepts this new economic warfare as the new normal. Nobody objects. And the United Nations, the body created to maintain Peace, to protect our globe from other wars, to uphold human rights, this very body is silent. Out of fear? Out of fear that it might be ‘sanctioned’ into oblivion by the dying empire?  Why cannot the vast majority of countries – often it is a ratio of 191 to 2 (Israel and the US) – reign-in the criminals?

Imagine Turkey – sudden massive tariffs on aluminum (20%) and steel (50%) imposed by Trump, plus central bank currency interference had the Turkish Lira drop by 40%, and that ‘only’ because Erdogan is not freeing US pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces in Turkey a jail sentence of 35 years for “terror and espionage”. An Izmir court has just turned down another US request for clemency, however, converting his jail sentence to house arrest for health reasons. It is widely believed that Mr. Brunson’s alleged 23 years of ‘missionary work’ is but a smoke screen for spying.

President Erdogan has just declared he would look out for new friends, including new trading partners in the east – Russia, China, Iran, Ukraine, even the unviable EU, and that his country is planning on issuing Yuan-denominated bonds to diversify Turkey’s economy, foremost the country’s reserves and gradually moving away from the dollar hegemony.

Looking out for new friends, may also include new military alliances. Is Turkey planning to exit NATO? Would turkey be ‘allowed’ to exit NATO given its strategic maritime and land position between east and west?  Turkey knows that having military allies that dish out punishments for acting sovereignly in internal affair spells disaster for the future. Why continue offering your country to NATO, whose only objective it is to destroy the east, the very east which is not only Turkey’s but the world’s future? Turkey is already approaching the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and may actually accede to it within the foreseeable future. That might be the end of Turkey’s NATO alliance.

What if Iran, Venezuela, Russia, China and many more countries not ready to bow to the empire, would jail all those spies embedded in the US Embassies or camouflaged in these countries’ national (financial) institutions, acting as Fifth Columns, undermining their host countries’ national and economic policies? Entire cities of new jails would have to be built to accommodate the empire’s army of criminals.

Imagine Russia – more sanctions were just imposed for alleged and totally unproven (to the contrary: disproven) Russian poisoning of four UK citizens with the deadly nerve agent, Novichok – and for not admitting it. This is a total farce, a flagrant lie, that has become so ridiculous, most thinking people, even in the UK, just laugh about it. Yet, Trump and his minions in Europe and many parts of the world succumb to this lie and out of fear of being sanctioned, they also sanction Russia. What has the world become?  Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, would be proud for having taught the important lesson to the liars of the universe: “Let me control the media, and I will turn any nation into a herd of Pigs”. That’s what we have become – a herd of pigs.

Fortunately, Russia too has moved away so far already from the western dollar-controlled economy that such sanctions do no longer hurt. They serve Trump and his cronies as mere propaganda tools – show-offs, “we are still the greatest!”.

Venezuela is being sanctioned into the ground, literally, by from-abroad (Miami and Bogota) Twitter-induced manipulations of her national currency, the Bolívar, causing astronomical inflation – constant ups and downs of the value of the local currency, bringing the national economy to a virtual halt. Imported food, pharmaceuticals and other goods are being deviated at the borders and other entry points, so they will never end up on supermarket shelves, but become smuggle ware in Colombia, where these goods are being sold at manipulated dollar-exchange rates to better-off Venezuelan and Columbian citizens. These mafia type gangs are being funded by NED and other similar nefarious State Department financed “NGOs”, trained by US secret services, either within or outside Venezuela. Once infiltrated into Venezuela – overtly or covertly – they tend to boycott the local economy from within, spread violence and become part of the Fifth Column, primarily sabotaging the financial system.

Venezuela is struggling to get out of this dilemma, which has people suffering, by de-dollarizing her economy, partly through a newly created cryptocurrency, the Petro, based on Venezuela’s huge oil reserves and also through a new Bolivar, in the hope of putting the brakes on the spiraling bursts of inflation. This scenario reminds so much of Chile in 1973, when Henry Kissinger was Foreign Secretary (1973-1977), and inspired the CIA coup, by “disappearing” food and other goods from Chilean markets, killing legitimately elected President Allende, bringing Augusto Pinochet, a horrendous murderer and despot, to power. The military dictatorship brought the death and disappearance of tens of thousands of people and lasted until 1990. Subjugating Venezuela might, however, not be so easy. After all, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary Chavista experience and a solid sense of resistance.

Iran is being plunged into a similar fate. For no reason at all, Trump reneged on the five-plus-one pronged so-called Nuclear Deal, signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015, after almost ten years of negotiations. Now, of course, driven by the star-Zionist Netanyahu – new and ‘the most severe ever’ sanctions are being imposed on Iran, also decimating the value of their local currency, the Rial. Iran, under the Ayatollah, has already embarked on a course of “Resistance Economy”, meaning de-dollarization of their economy and moving towards food and industrial self-sufficiency, as well as increased trading with eastern countries, China, Russia, the SCO and other friendly and culturally aligned nations, like Pakistan. However, Iran too has a strong Fifth Column, engrained in the financial sector, that does not let go of forcing and propagating trading with the enemy; i.e., the west, the European Union, whose euro-monetary system is part of the dollar hegemony, hence posing similar vulnerability of sanctions as does the dollar.

China – the stellar prize of the Big Chess Game – is being ‘sanctioned’ with tariffs no end, for having become the world’s strongest economy, surpassing in real output and measured by people’s purchasing power, by far the United States of America. China also has a solid economy and gold-based currency, the Yuan which is on a fast track to overtake the US-dollar as the number one world reserve currency. China retaliates, of course, with similar ‘sanctions’, but by and large, her dominance of Asian markets and growing economic influence in Europe, Africa and Latin America, is such that Trump’s tariff war means hardly more for China than a drop on a hot stone.

North Korea – the much-touted Trump-Kim mid-June Singapore summit – has long since become a tiny spot in the past. Alleged agreements reached then are being breached by the US, as could have been expected. All under the false and purely invented pretext of DPRK not adhering to her disarmament commitment; a reason to impose new strangulating sanctions. The world looks on. It’s normal. Nobody dares questioning the self-styled Masters of the Universe. Misery keeps being dished out left and right, accepted by the brainwashed to-the-core masses around the globe. War is peace and peace is war. Literally. The west is living in a “peaceful” comfort zone. Why disturb it?  If people die from starvation or bombs, it happens far away and allows us to live in peace. Why bother?  Especially since we are continuously, drip-by-steady drip, being told it’s right.

In a recent interview with PressTV I was asked why does the US not adhere to any of their internationally or bilaterally concluded treaties or agreements? Good question. Washington is breaking all the rules, agreements, accords, treaties, is not adhering to any international law or even moral standard, simply because following such standards would mean giving up world supremacy. Being on equal keel is not in Washington’s or Tel Aviv’s interest. Yes, this symbiotic and sick relationship between the US and Zionist Israel is becoming progressively more visible; the alliance of the brute military force and the slick and treacherous financial dominion, together striving for world hegemony, for full spectrum dominance.  This trend is accelerating under Trump and those who give him orders, simply because “they can”. Nobody objects. This tends to portray an image of peerless power, instilling fear and is expected to incite obedience. Will it?

What is really transpiring is that Washington is isolating itself, that the one-polar world is moving towards a multipolar world, one that increasingly disregards and disrespects the United States, despises her bullying and warmongering, killing and shedding misery over hundreds of millions of people, most of them defenseless children, women and elderly, by direct military force or by proxy-led conflicts – Yemen is just one recent example – causing endless human suffering to people who have never done any harm to their neighbors, let alone to Americans. Who could have any respect left for such a nation, called the United States of America, for the people behind such lying monsters?

This behavior by the dying empire is driving allies and friends into the opposite camp – to the east, where the future lays, away from a globalized One-World-Order, towards a healthy and more equal multi-polar world. – It would be good, if our world body, the members of the United Nations, created in the name of Peace, would finally gather the courage and stand up against the two destroyer nations for the good of humanity, of the globe, and of Mother Earth.

Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class

The decision by Democrat party president Harry Truman to bomb the cities of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on the 9th with the newly developed nuclear weapon signaled to the world that the U.S. was prepared to use military force to back up its new-found position as the leader of the Western colonial-capitalist powers, now referred to as the “Western alliance.” The main audience for that grotesque display of racist violence in 1945 was the Soviet Union but some 73 years later, militarism and war continue to be the central instruments of U.S. foreign policy.

This is the lesson we must stress continually as the public is being subjected to a constant barrage of incitements to support the use of military force by the U.S state against a growing array of enemies and potential enemies from Russia and China to Iran and the never-ending war on terror. Working-class and poor people must oppose war in part because they are the expendable cannon fodder used to advance ruling-class dominance under the banner of protecting the “national interests,” which are really only those of the economic elites. Fighting for those interests means killing poor and working-class people in other parts of the world.

In this era of economic warfare between competing capitalist nations and newly forming capitalist blocs, taking an anti-war position is a pro-working class, pro-poor, pro-displaced peasant/farmer, and internationalist position. The economic sanctions (a form of warfare) that the U.S. levies against various nations have nothing to do with concerns for human rights – official rationales notwithstanding – but everything to do with undermining economic competitors and non-compliant states and movements as in Venezuela. It should be clear that supporting U.S. aggression in the form of economic warfare, subversion, proxy war and direct military intervention is, in fact, supporting the interests of the U.S.-based transnational capitalist class. Yet many leftists have embraced a crude national chauvinism and joined liberals in demonizing various peoples and nations and thus objectively providing support to and political cover for the capitalist/imperialist system that they pretend to oppose.

The structural crisis of international capital is also a crisis of the nation-state, especially in the centers of global capital from London to New York. The imposition of neoliberal economic restructuring in the West generated a crisis of legitimacy for the neoliberal global architecture that was carefully crafted over the last four decades. The post-war compromise between capital and labor that was officially negated with the economic crisis of 1973-75 and the turn to neoliberalism produced the conditions and politics that produced Donald Trump in 2016.

But the crisis of legitimacy also produced something else – a more pronounced dependency by the state on the use of force, be it in the Black and Brown colonized areas where the economically marginalized reside or in the Black and Brown areas of the world that are no longer accepting their suffering as an inevitable and unchanging condition of their existence.

The $717 billion military budget Congress passed that transfers public resources to the pockets of the military-industrial criminals who profit from war is not only a rip-off scheme but also a recognition on the part of the rulers that military might is their best and perhaps only means to hold on to the loot they stole from the peoples of the U.S. and the world. And it is also why taking an anti-war and an anti-imperialist position is such a political threat to the rulers at this specific moment in history.

In April the Trump administration called on all agencies to expedite the process for increased arms sales abroad. So when Trump raises questions about NATO, we know he is hustling for the military industrial complex. When he calls on NATO countries to increase their military spending, the beneficiaries of that spending will be the shareholders of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics Corporation, United Technologies and Northrop Grumman. At the same time, his critique of NATO begs legitimate questions: Why does NATO still exist, and why are nations like Colombia being brought into its structure?

It is an absurd position for the left to bash the Trump administration for undermining the so-called Western alliance when he criticizes NATO. For oppressed people around the world, NATO is an instrument of Western capitalist dominance, a structure of European/U.S. colonial power that is an enemy of humanity. So the responsibility of the left is to build on Trump’s anti-NATO remarks – whatever his motivations – by offering a real critique of NATO.

When Trump meets with Kim Jong-Un, the anti-war and anti-imperialist position would be to support any de-escalation of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. If it wasn’t for U.S. imperialism there would be no North and South Korea in the first place, so how can any self-respecting leftist not support at least the rhetoric of peaceful resolution, knowing full well that the U.S. is eventually going to have to be kicked out of Korea entirely?

The same thing goes with capitalist Russia. How can someone position themselves on the left and align with a fraction of the ruling class to agitate against Trump’s Russia policies? What do those policies have to do with the economic contradictions facing workers in the U.S., unless those policies lead to potential conflict that must be opposed?

The imperial left has entangled itself in all kinds of political and ideological contradictions. It finds itself in alignment with the neoliberal right because it desperately believes the neoliberal right that controls the state (don’t be confused – governments/administrations come and go, but the state endures until it is smashed) will somehow put the brakes on the more extreme right that is not even in power! The left’s embrace of bourgeois patriotism and support for liberal totalitarianism in the form of collusion between the state and big telecommunications firms to restrict and control speech and information provides a foundation for the legitimization and expansion of fascistic forms of rule.

Our analysis of the duopoly must be unsparing. Both parties are the enemies of the people. Both parties are committed to policies that deny human rights to the people of the U.S. but also the world. And both parties have never hesitated to support the use of military force to advance U.S. geostrategic interests.

When Trump demanded more spending by European governments on NATO, that demand was widely panned as an assault on the interests of working-class Europeans. Many correctly noted that more expenditures by European governments for NATO amounted to policies that would “plunder and loot their citizens through higher taxation to help pay for NATO’s exorbitant expenses.” But the Democrats join the Republicans in the wholesale plundering of the public with obscene levels of military expenditures, including the commitment of more than a trillion dollars to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years while claiming there are no resources for housing, universal child care, public transportation, services for elders and clean water for the working class.

Therefore, we must engage in unrelenting agitation against both parties while urgently developing independent non-state and non-electoral popular structures. While we do this, we must build an anti-war movement and embrace the position of the Black Alliance for Peace that says without equivocation: “not one drop of blood from the working class and poor to defend the interests of the capitalist oligarchy.”

Sharat G. Lin Offers U.S. Apology for Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

Sharat G. Lin, in addressing the International Anti-war Anti-nuke Rally in Hiroshima held on August 5, 2018, offered a resolute apology for the U.S. government’s dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. He called it a “monstrous war crime” that must never be allowed to happen again. He called for universal nuclear disarmament that must focus first on the U.S.A. and Russia.

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome 5, Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima

On the 73rd anniversary of the infamous U.S. dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, there are many memorials, rallies, and marches taking place in Hiroshima, both official and those organized by grassroots peace and justice activists. Sharat G. Lin, representing the San José Peace and Justice Center, addressed the International Anti-war Anti-nuke Rally at the East Ward Cultural Center in Hiroshima held on August 5, 2018.

In calling the U.S. dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki “monstrous war crimes,” he offered an apology from the people of the United States to the people of Japan for “the most concentrated instantaneous mass killing in human history.” He called for universal nuclear disarmament starting with the U.S.A. and Russia, which have by far the largest nuclear weapons arsenals, rather than focusing exclusively on North Korea and Iran, of which neither have started any wars in the last century.

The full text of his speech follows:

It is truly an honour to be able to speak to you today at this International Anti-War Anti-Nuclear Rally here in Hiroshima! I come from the San José Peace and Justice Center in California which was founded 61 years ago precisely to challenge the growing threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear war.

Tomorrow is the 73rd Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the U.S.A. Sadly, today we still face the threat of nuclear annihilation from irresponsible powers.

It is absolutely not true that the atomic bomb was necessary to hasten Japan’s surrender and “save American and Japanese lives,” as we are so often told. Not only was this the first use of the atomic bomb on a living city, but it was the most concentrated instantaneous mass killing in human history. This was a monstrous war crime, only to be followed by a second monstrous war crime on Nagasaki only 3 days later. We now know that Emperor Hirohito, despite his militarism and war crimes, was reluctantly prepared to surrender well before the atomic bombings on the condition of preserving the institution of the Emperor. His offer was communicated to Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin to be conveyed to U.S. President Harry Truman in June 1945. The infamous decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in spite of Emperor Hirohito’s offer served only to assert U.S. military pre-eminence, to test the bomb on a civilian population, and to nip in the bud Soviet entry into the war against Japan in an attempt to deny the Soviet Union any role in negotiating the post-war order in East Asia.

So today, I am going to declare what no U.S. president has been willing to declare. I am going to say something that the present government of Japan also does not want to hear for fear that this will give a boost to peace and anti-war activism in Japan. On behalf of the vast majority of the American people who want to see a world without nuclear weapons, I hereby apologize for the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and I again apologize for the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The U.S.A. remains the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in a first strike on human populations. This is an apology from the people of the United States to the people of Japan. I may not have the legal authority to make this apology, but I have the moral authority to make this apology, for moral authority stands above legal authority. We bypass our callous governments to say that all nuclear weapons must be dismantled, not just those in North Korea, and not just those that we are trying to prevent in Iran, but all nuclear weapons starting with the strategic nuclear arsenals of the U.S.A. and Russia, and then those of China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

Speaking of North Korea – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – I recently visited North Korea to find out what the country is really like. To my surprise, it is much more different from what our governments and media tell us than I had ever expected. Despite what we are relentlessly told about “starvation and deprivation” in North Korea, there has not been a famine since the Arduous March famine of 1994-1998. There is no homelessness since state-owned housing is provided to all free of rent! While the state is undeniably authoritarian, the incarceration rate is half that of the U.S.A. and half of the police in North Korea do not even carry guns. So why is North Korea being so demonized and targeted with relentless sanctions, non-recognition, attempts at regime change, and provocative military exercises? In contrast, nuclear powers and proliferators like Pakistan and Israel receive unparalleled support and military aid. Both have refused to rule out first use of tactical nuclear weapons. Now the Korean people, starting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and the Winter Olympics, have made a new beginning where they have stood united as one people against militarism and for cooperation and peace. We stand here today in full support for the Korean people’s right to self-determination, reunification, and peace through negotiation between the two Koreas!

No to war! No to all nuclear weapons (not just some nuclear weapons)! No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more Fukushima! No to depacifying the Constitution! No to U.S. bases in Japan! No war on North Korea! No war on Iran! Yes for peace, equality, inclusion, the environment, and social justice!

• Sharat G. Lin is a research fellow and past president of the San José Peace and Justice Center. He teaches and writes on global political economy, migrant labor, war and peace, public health, environment, and arts in social activism.

Trump’s Grand Strategy from Quebec to Singapore

Trump takes on the world

How to explain the welter of contradictions in US politics these days?

  • Trump’s enthusiasm for peace with Russia vs his acceptance of Cold War II with Russia, launched even as Trump declared victory in 2016.
  • Trump’s virtually declaration of war against the mouse, Canada, next door, with his cutting insult to Justin Trudeau as weak and dishonest, as he left the summit early and refused to endorse its free trade plea.
  • Trump’s original enthusiasm for pulling out of Syria and elsewhere, pursuing an old fashion Republican isolationism, vs his sudden flurry of bombings in Syria recently and the threat of invasion of others (Iran, North Korea, Venezuela).
  • Trump’s dumping of the carefully crafted nuclear agreement with Iran, renewing sanctions and threats in the face of world opposition, both domestic and foreign (ok, the Zionists are happy, but no one else).
  • Trump’s unsolicited ‘deal of the century’ with Israel-Palestine.

The Russians are coming

There are behind-the-scenes forces at work with Russia at the centre. Obama’s and the western media’s human rights spat with Russia over Ukraine and Crimea are not important to the long term strategy of the neocons. Trump and his deep state backers understand this. Kissinger admitted it in June. They want Russia back in a new G-8, as Trump so loudly proclaimed at the G-7 in Quebec in June. But a Russia on the defensive is also in their interests, the better to make Russia bow more respectfully to US world hegemony in any grand compromise. Good cop, bad cop.

Trudeau was comforted by his Euro colleagues when called a liar by the bully, but Trump has no time for wimps,* pious words attacking Russia or promoting gender equality and the environment. The ‘grand strategy’ of the Pentagon and neocons is about world control. “His message from Quebec to Singapore is that he is going to meld the industrial democracies to his will — and bring back Russia,” said Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign and White House adviser. Bannon said China is “now on notice that Trump will not back down from even allies’ complaints in his goal of America First.” What Europeans deride now as “G-6 plus one” would become again the G-8. Russia will dump Iran and China, and be a nice US puppet.

There is a reason that neoconservatives are said to be the heirs of Trotsky: Trotsky wanted to export revolution to all countries, whether they were ready for it or not (with the subsequent goal of destroying national boundaries and traditional cultures); Trump’s neoconservatives want to spread neocon ideology to all countries (e.g., globalism, the dominance of western corporations and markets, ‘democracy’, relativising traditional society). The dialectic has come full-circle.

In a weird sort of way, the (Christian) US is the anti-Christ to the (atheist) Soviet Christ. Both are/were radical universalists. Putin understands this and is neither a communist nor is he likely to take the neocon bait, as did Gorbachev-Yeltsin. Neither is Kim Jong-un.

The Palestinians are coming

Trump enthusiast Leon Haider praises Trump’s rejection of a “make-believe ‘peace process’”, replacing it with his “deal of the century”, that counts on moderate Arabs convincing the Palestinians to “take the route towards coexistence” with Israel that will “eventually lead to a peace deal, the deal of the century.” Bully the Palestinians into a deal that they can’t refuse. Trump somehow thinks this bullying will succeed where all of his predecessors have failed.

But the so-called moderate Arabs are anything but.

  • Saudi Arabia is a feudal fiefdom, the source and inspiration of al-qaeda/ISIS through Wahhabism and petrodollars, provided discretely both officially and unofficially (by dissident princes). Its list of human rights violations grows daily, presently torturing its old rival Yemen for no apparent reason.
  • Egypt is being run into the ground by a vicious dictator-general.
  • Turkey, the most important actor, is ignored and isolated over the Kurdish problem.
  • Jordan is in upheaval protesting IMF-backed price increases and a new tax reform law.

These countries are hardly poster children for the advantage of being a friend to the US and Israel. The other Arab country, Syria, just barely survived the US-backed insurgency and is back in the anti-imperialist fold (i.e., pro-Iran/ Russia) after 7 brutal years when it was betrayed by ‘moderate Arabs’ (not to mention Turkey). It is my choice as a ‘moderate Arab’, but will continue to oppose the US ‘grand stategy’ for the region, along with a chastened Turkey.

Where is the grand strategy here? Bin Salman personally delivered Trump’s secret ‘deal of the century’ to Abbas, who refused to even open the envelope. For Trump’s ‘moderate Arabs’, read: Shia-hating Sunnis, led by King Bin Salman. Their hatred is mostly sour grapes for Iran’s proud defiance of US dictates. Arabs were traditionally the freest of peoples, the heirs of the Prophet, who was no friend of Rome. Those Sunnis would dump the US in a flash if they didn’t need Bin Salman’s billion-dollar bribes, and if there was another patron to feed them. Do they help the US achieve world control, the underlying strategy?

Only Israel is more or less happy. It is their ‘grand strategy’ for the Palestinians that is closer. Its goal appears to be to annex the occupied territories unilaterally, set up a Quisling Palestinian Authority to police what’s left of the West Bank, under Israeli control. A variation would be to force Palestinians and Jordan to make the occupied territories Jordanian (but policed by Israel) and make all Palestinians ‘Jordanians’, after first taking most of the desirable bits for Israel. If the Israeli Arabs cause too much fuss, they too can go to their new ‘homeland’ (Jordan West Bank), along with Gazans, once Gaza is declared uninhabitable. Postmodern ethnic cleansing. Not so many deaths, wipe out the refugee problem at a stroke, dispense with the pesky ‘return’ problem.

That would leave Iran or Iran/Syria as the target of Israel’s next and final war, not the Palestinians — and the Sunni Arab world will watch from the sidelines, and would not be unhappy to see Iran destroyed. That would allow Israel to proceed with its ‘final solution’ for the Palestinians, once Iran is out of the picture, even as these ‘moderate Arabs’ squawk (or are overthrown).

The Iranians are (not) coming

Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore looks and tastes like Nixon in China, but was it a fraud, the icing laced with artificial sweetener or maybe arsenic? Surely Kim realizes that he must hold out for the closure of US bases in South Korea, as only that could possibly guarantee denuclearization of the peninsula. And why no mention of Iran in all the hype, let alone a stopover in Tehran, if denuclearization is the real issue?

It appears that by allowing the interventions in Yugoslavia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. (R2P responsibility to protect), the so-called international community did only one thing, it created more possibilities for new interventions, interventions that promote western control; i.e., imperialism. Russia will have no truck with this, as it is not interested in promoting western imperialism. Libya was the last straw, and instead, Russia moved on its own to help stabilize Syria without these dubious ‘protectors’. The disasters these interventions have resulted in means it is unlikely they can be repeated, despite Pence’s warning to Kim that he might end up “like Libya”. Probably Iran is safe, given Russia.

A real strategy would involve making peace with Iran, not war. War is the way imperialism deals with problems, and is what US ‘allies’ Saudi Arabia and Israel want for their own reasons, which have nothing to do with peace or US security. Both the Saudis and Israel benefit(ed) from terrorism directed at US targets and celebrate them. (To the Saudis, the Americans are kufar and deserve to die. Remember Netanyahu’s comment on 9/11 “It’s very good”?). [Update: Trump pulled yet another fast one on July 31, 2018, offering to meet Rohani, but the jury is still out.]

Peace with Iran would knock some sense into both the Saudis and Israel, and would curb the lust for war. The Saudis would fume, maybe instigate some terrorism themselves, but they are so tightly knit in the US orbit, this could be managed. Israel has its Jerusalem but nowhere to turn to. Israel’s life blood — Jewish Americans — are increasingly hostile to Israel, given its murderous policy of expansion.

The fallout from such a truly ‘grand strategy’ would benefit both the US and the world, as the US and Russia revive their ‘grand compromises’ of the past (WWII, 1960s–70s detente). A ‘grand compromise’ for Turkey’s, Iraq’s and Iran’s Kurds could finally be addressed. Devastated Syria and Iraq would not be distracted by US-Iranian hostility and would rebound quickly. Iran’s only pretension internationally is to help the Palestinians, though the US did leave a vacuum in Iraq with the destruction of that state, and Iran is now playing its logical role as supporter of Shia next door and as a good neighbour.

“Don’t hold your breath,” writes Stephen Walsh in Foreign Policy. Making peace with Iran would require Trump (and Congress) to ignore the lobbying and propaganda emanating from the Israeli and Saudi lobbies. But after the recent Israel massacre of Gazans, and given the ordinary American’s distaste for the Saudis and their massacre of Yemenis, there is no better time.

Congress is not lying down. The sole Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, put together a nonpartisan amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act to specifically prevent the president from launching war against Iran without congressional authorization. Even if the Ellison amendment survives the Senate, Trump could ‘pull a Trump’ and violate it. He could target Iranian individuals as “suspected terrorists” on his global battlefield and/or attack them in Iran with military force under his new targeted killing rules. It does not prohibit the expenditure of money to attack Iran. Nor does it proscribe the use of sanctions against Iran. But it shows that Trump does not have a blank check for his ‘grand strategies’.

Jewish Americans hold the key

Nor are the ‘good’ Jews in the US, energized by Israeli atrocities, silent anymore. A groundswell of Jewish protests is making room for the rest of Americans to brave the Zionist thought police.

It is complicated piecing Trump’s grand strategy together, partly because he is a loose cannon, with his own self-aggrandizing agenda, and partly because of the chaotic conditions and opposing forces elsewhere. He is gambling on using good-cop/ bad-cop with Russia, plain old bad-cop with Iran and North Korea, to achieve his ends. Gunboat diplomacy.

The US (and more so Trump’s) unreliability as a representative of US policy, willing to tear up treaties, makes it unlikely that Trump’s fish will bite. Israel’s strategy is also unlikely to prevail. Young US Jews** are already getting arrested protesting Israeli actions, much like they did in the 1950s–60s when they virtually led in the civil rights movement for blacks, and again in the 1980s, when they backed the anti-apartheid struggle. Then, their Jewishness was downplayed, but in this last war, they hold the trump card to successfully fight Israel, and must speak out for peace.

As for Russia and Iran, Trump finally got some cajones and defied his backstabbers, not only meeting Putin, but out of the blue declaring he will meet Iran’s President Rohani, “no pre-conditions”. This is now a ritual for him facing off against his ‘enemies’: threaten to invade (Kim the Rocketman, NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE) and then coolly agree to negotiate.
As for drama and idiocy, ‘Who could ask for anything more?’ ***

*Trudeau is indeed weak and dishonest, as Trump’s advisers told him after perusing his many broken promises as prime minister

** IfNotNow is the latest, composed of Jewish teens.

*** Thank you, Gershwin.