Category Archives: Korea

Who is burying the Olympic Movement and Why?

By the time the 2018 Winter Olympic Games opened in PyeongChang last week, the masterminds behind the so-called Russian doping scandal had finally lost their control of the narrative, causing irreparable damage to the Olympic movement and to sports in general.  The politically motivated actions of a tiny group of functionaries in the sports industry have discredited the very concept of the purity of athletics and have resulted in a sharp drop in the world’s interest in the Games in PyeongChang.  This is evident in the disastrous attendance figures (a month before the competitions began only 60% of the tickets had been sold, and the most popular events, hockey and figure skating, had the highest number of unclaimed seats) and could also be seen in the significant drop in the IOC’s ad revenues.

The reason for this downward spiral is obvious, when some athletes are discriminated against based on their nationality while others run mad with impunity, this not only ruins the element of suspense in the competitions, it also kills off spectator interest and advertising contracts.

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Let’s take a quick look back at the time line of events.  After the Russian Olympians’ stunning victories in 2014, which did much to spur the success of the “Russian Spring in Crimea” three weeks after the closing ceremonies in Sochi, influential Western players began investing serious money into hyping the scandal over the so-called “Russian doping file.”  

Back in December 2014, Germany’s ARD television channel produced a documentary featuring Russian track and field athlete Yuliya Stepanova and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), in which they “exposed” the system of doping in Russia.  The fact that one year previously Stepanova had been disqualified in Russia, losing her eligibility for two years for doping, and that her violations had only been revealed after her husband left RUSADA in 2011, had somehow escaped the attention of the documentary’s creator Hajo Seppelt (for more information on the first round of efforts to promote the doping scandal, see our July 2016 article, “The Olympics as a Tool of the New Cold War”).

A month later WADA established a commission to investigate the alleged use of doping in Russian track and field athletics.  It consisted of three people: the chairman and first president of WADA, Richard Pound (Canada), a law professor from the University of Western Ontario, Richard McLaren (Canada), and a former criminal investigator at Interpol, Günter Younger (Germany). On November 9, 2015, this commission published a report that included accusations against RUSADA.  The report also stated that in December 2014, the director of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, had ordered the destruction of more than 1,400 athlete doping tests, three days before a WADA audit team was to arrive in Russia.  On November 10, 2015 Rodchenkov resigned from his position and in January 2016 he emigrated to the US (for more details on this individual’s background, please see the article mentioned above, “The Olympics as a Tool of the New Cold War”).

Richard Pound

On May 12, 2016 the New York Times published a media bomb based on information provided by Rodchenkov.  It alleged that a special “doping program” was developed in Russia before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, involving several dozen athletes, and its “specialty” supposedly consisted of anabolic steroids that were washed down with alcohol (!).  Then, in order to verify these borderline-bizarre allegations, WADA, at the IOC’s request, established yet another commission, this one headed by McLaren, which in July 2016, just a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio, released the first (apparently urgent) section of its report that made the unsupported claim that the doping program in the world of Russian sports had the backing of the Ministry of Sports, the Sports Training Center for Russian Teams, and the Russian Federal Security Service.  On the basis of this “document,” which was never subsequently deemed convincing by any judicial authority, practically all Russian track and field athletes, as well as several competitors from other events, were banned from the Games in Rio.  

In November 2016 a new legislation took effect in Russia making it a criminal offense, with a punishment ranging from a fine to 3-5 years imprisonment, to induce an athlete to use doping drugs.

On December 9, 2016 the second part of the McLaren commission’s report was released.  It claimed that the samples taken from 12 of the Russian medal winners at the 2014 Winter Olympics had been doctored.  It also stated that more than a thousand athletes might have been involved in or benefited from manipulations to conceal positive doping tests.  On the basis of this report, the IOC decided to strip the Russian national team of 13 of its medals won at the 2014 Winter Olympics.  But on February 1, 2018, the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) issued its own verdict, restoring the rights of 28 of the 42 Russian Winter Olympians affected by the IOC’s actions, including all of those who had lost their medals, and this fact would seem to put into question the legality and validity, at the very least, of McLaren’s report, based on the following statement found in that verdict:

In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation was committed by the athletes concerned.

Decisions about what to do with the remaining athletes were either postponed because it was no longer a pressing matter (the athlete in question had already retired) or else the plaintiffs’ appeals were partially upheld.  The lifetime ban on participation in the Olympic Games was lifted from all the applicants.

Despite the fact that the court blocked the IOC’s arbitrary decision to strip the Russian athletes of the medals they had won in Sochi, there was not time to challenge another egregious verdict: suspending the Russian Olympic Committee’s membership in the IOC and forcing the Russian team to compete in PyeongChang under a neutral Olympic flag.

Before we try to get the lowdown on this story, we must emphasize once again: both of these “investigative commissions” were established in the immediate aftermath of the made-to-order and in many respects fake news reports in the Western media about “doping in Russia.”  The biggest tipoff that they were fake was the fact that the main protagonists of this “investigative journalism” were individuals who had been justifiably punished or prosecuted in Russia for either using doping drugs or inducing others to use them, and under pressure from their media patron, those individuals extrapolated from their own sad experiences in front of the cameras to condemn the entire Russian sports community.  The hack jobs by Hajo Seppelt and the New York Times on the subject of Russian doping are examples of fake news in its purest form.

Richard McLaren

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So, to all appearances, shortly after Russia’s triumphant performance at the Sochi Olympics, a small group of predominantly Anglo-Saxon sports functionaries made the decision (at present it’s hard to say whether they did so independently or at the behest of someone higher up) to ensure that there would be no more unpleasant surprises in the future.  They hired several professionals, the most publicly visible of whom were Richard McLaren and Hajo Seppelt, to help out with the media on their project and lend it an air of expertise (proof that McLaren is in no way an “independent lawyer” can be seen in his outraged reaction to the February CAS decision).

Hajo Seppelt

In addition to the challenging task of discrediting Russian athletics in the international media, these individuals had to conduct a backstage war with the International Olympic Committee at the same time.  Far from everyone in the IOC’s leadership was delighted at the prospect of the nascent scandal and the serious damage to the Olympic movement that was being broadly predicted three years ago.  This is quite evident from the copies of the email correspondence (seemingly quite genuine) between IOC officials in regard to the doping scandal that have recently appeared on the Internet.

Without question the most illustrative example of these was the exchange of harshly worded letters between McLaren and the Director General of the IOC, Christophe de Kepper, which took place in March 2017. They were prompted by de Kepper’s February 24, 2017 memo that was circulated to the members of the IOC Executive Board, the National Olympic Committees, and international sports federations, which contained criticism of McLaren.  In particular, it noted that “the work of the Oswald Commission and of the IFs is not easy,” as McLaren’s mandate “did not involve any authority to bring Anti-Doping Rule Violation (‘ADRV’) cases against individual athletes.”  In regard to accusations that a “state doping system” exists in Russia, de Kepper stated with bewilderment that in his reports McLaren could not even stick to a consistent terminology: in some places he speaks of a “state sponsored system” whilst in the final full report he described an “institutional conspiracy.”  The main problem, as de Kepper acknowledges, is the lack of sufficient evidence to back up the accusations against the Russian athletes:

The establishment of acceptable evidence is a significant challenge, as some IFs have already experienced; where in some cases they have had to lift provisional suspensions or were not able – at least at this stage – to begin disciplinary procedures due to a lack of consistent evidence.

As can be seen both from the text of the memo and in other publicly available confidential IOC documents (for example, a stunningly open list of questions for Prof. McLaren, dated December 19, 2016 and drafted by the IOC Disciplinary Commission chaired by Samuel Schmid after examining his final report), in the first days after the report’s publication, the IOC and international federations were faced with the difficulty of digging up any shreds of evidence backing McLaren’s allegations.  Questions have even been raised in regard to the accuracy of the translation of the materials found in the report (apparently translated from Russian):

At the recent meeting (21 February) held by WADA in Lausanne to “provide assistance to IFs regarding how to analyse and interpret the evidence”, it was admitted by WADA that in many cases the evidence provided may not be sufficient to bring successful cases. IFs were told by WADA to make direct contact with the IP team to try to obtain further information. WADA also explained that the translations used by the IP team were not adequate and was obtaining official translations of some of the texts.

International sports officials had a foreboding even back then that they could expect a real grilling once matters made it to the courts and arbitration tribunals:

It is already evident from the appeals filed against some International Federations provisional suspension decisions that the IOC decision will have to stand up to a strong legal challenge.

It is also interesting that in his memo de Kepper makes it clear that WADA’s flawed and one-sided efforts were much to blame for the scandal over “Russian doping”:

The IOC is also pursuing the reform of the WADA system… We are driving forward to establish an independent testing authority – independent from sports organisations and from national interests… Sanctioning should be delegated to the CAS as the IOC successfully did at the Olympic Games Rio 2016… The IOC has made proposals for more accountability, transparency and diversity [of WADA].

The Belgian lawyer and IOC Director General Christophe De Kapper was one of the few officers inside the Committee who tried to follow the rule of law during the “doping scandal”.

You are unlikely to have read Prof. McLaren’s March 2, 2017 response to this memo.  But it’s quite interesting and a few passages from it deserve to be quoted here.

First of all, the professor expresses his intense dissatisfaction with the fact that he was not informed in advance about the drafting of the memo and also that the issues in dispute were never discussed with him:

It would have been helpful if you had spoken to me in advance so that I could have addressed the various issues you raise in relation to my Report.

Second, he tries to argue that he had never been tasked with searching for evidence of doping by any specific Russian athlete:

It was not my mandate to bring violations against individual athletes. I am concerned that the IOC seems to be on a quest to re-define my mandate by attempting to establish that my Reports are inadequate for a purpose for which they were never intended.

In regard to the confusion about the terminology (“state sponsored system”), McLaren acknowledges that the fantasies of those who fabricated information for him about “Russian doping programs” did not rise higher than the ministerial level (“My evidence stopped at the Ministry of Sport”).

Finally, as for the inaccuracies in the translations, it turns out that he had no intention of making those official:

The translations into English by my team… were never intended to be ‘official’. They were provided on the Evidence Disclosure Package (EDP) to assist users and not to certify the translation for some legal purpose.

Incidentally, in later comments with respect to the last passage, de Kepper’s office quite sensibly remarked:

It should be pointed out that the IOC as well as (and maybe even more so) the IFs are being asked to take some very tough decisions, with serious legal and non-legal consequences, on the basis of the Report(s).

In general, de Kepper’s team’s reaction to Prof. McLaren’s letter and their stiff response indicate that the IOC had a pretty accurate picture of both the motives driving the Canadian lawyer as well as the mandate assigned to him:

It seems that Robert (sic) McLaren’s first Report was intended to lead to the complete expulsion of the Russian team from the Rio Games, and the second – to expulse the Russian team from Pyeongchang Games, but not to deal with athletes on an individual basis. Perhaps McLaren and WADA should have thought this through in more detail prior to the Reports being made public – in particular, to themselves to have had the courtesy to discuss this matter of principle with the IOC in further detail, before WADA went down the path of using the (first) Report to try to have the Russian team excluded from the Rio Games, rather than McLaren and WADA considering to go down the path that the IOC intended to take, namely, to deal with the individual athletes on a case-by-case basis. This put the IOC and the IFs, and the Olympic movement in general, in a very difficult position.

It should be noted that the insiders at the IOC Executive Board peppered their letter from McLaren with comments that indicate that the Canadian professor is lying at every turn:

As a result, de Kepper’s response has some harsh things to say about McLaren’s claims that he supposedly always cleared his reports with the IOC in advance:

I am sorry to inform you that this has simply not been the case. We made multiple requests to be allowed to have advanced view of your documents with the promise of total confidentiality ahead of publication but sadly this was never forthcoming. Indeed, in the case of the first interim report you even told us that “this content does not primarily concern you.”

De Kepper even twice transparently drops hints to McLaren, implying that the latter, in his role as a professional lawyer, must, after all, easily be able to see for himself how decisions that will inevitably face a strong legal challenge must be drafted:

As a senior and respected international lawyer, you will certainly appreciate that the process of gathering credible evidence against individuals, sufficiently robust to ensure convictions in a manner which justice is done and seen to be done, is a long and detailed process. It was for this reason that it was felt necessary and important to send a communication to the Olympic Movement on the work by the two IOC Commissions to explain the process and describe the work that was being done. Indeed, it was the very fact that your mandate did not extend to individual cases that impelled us to explain to our stakeholders the process that is underway to complete this work.

This may well be the case – but as a law professor I hope you will agree that this is another instance where the standard of evidence we will need to successfully prosecute cases is higher than the evidence you have provided.

In general, de Kepper’s letter in many places deserves to be quoted verbatim:

As for the matter of you changing your description of the affair from a ‘State sponsored’ system to an “institutional conspiracy” this does seem to mark a change in attitude on your part. However, whatever your final conclusions, whilst your report does indeed uncover a conspiracy there is precious little evidence as to who would be involved in such a conspiracy. Would this again be a case that ‘goes beyond your mandate” or would you be able to indicate and provide evidence of who exactly may have been involved in this conspiracy. At present you have left us with good evidence that a crime has been committed but little evidence of those who were responsible.

Let us both agree that cooperation has not always been what it should have been between the IP team [Independent Person – a sleek euphemism, used by Prof. McLaren to indicate himself in his reports – OR] and the Olympic Movement. You have brought to our attention the limits of your mandate. However, please note that, in view of these limits, the IOC and, in particular, the IFs have ended up bearing a huge and very difficult burden in trying to convert the material/information referred to in your Report into Anti-Doping Rule Violations against individual athletes. A further problem was created by your Report (and the previous Report regarding this subject) seemingly being used to try and justify a total ban of the complete Russian Olympic team from the Rio Games and the Pyeongchang Games when, in fact, the IOC and the IFs are/were simply not of the view that a collective punishment should be, or should have been, imposed upon all Russian athletes [all emphasizes done by OR].

It is clear that such cooperation [between the IOC and IP team – OR] is now needed if we are to do our job and to turn your general conclusions about an ‘institutional conspiracy’ into concrete findings against individuals and organizations and also if we are to successfully prosecute individual cases with at least a chance of success at CAS. WADA has said that International Federations need to contact your team directly to receive materials. It would be good to receive your cast iron agreement that your team will offer this full cooperation and allow us to go beyond your mandate and prosecute successful cases against individuals and organizations based on evidence that will stand up in a court of law.

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It is interesting that during those same few days when de Kepper was working with his staff to draft the letter answering McLaren, de Kepper was also corresponding with the chief executive officer of the US Olympic Committee, Scott Blackmun.

Scott Blackmun

That correspondence was in reference to the statement from the US Olympic Committee, circulated on March 10, 2017 by the leading global news agencies, that it was preparing some kind of “position paper” in advance of the March 11-12 World Anti-Doping Agency Symposium in Lausanne (Switzerland), which would include American proposals for reforming WADA, specifically stipulating that “there must also be a clearly independent anti-doping body with overriding global authority of those national anti-doping organization (NADO) programs, with the responsibility to test, investigate, and sanction when necessary – ensuring consistency across countries and sports.”  This was undoubtedly an attempt by the US to head off the initiative announced by de Kepper in his February 23 memo about needing reform and better balance from WADA.  De Kepper’s urgent email to Blackmun leaves no doubt that the USOC statement was entirely unexpected for him:

In his reply, Blackmun feigns surprised innocence:

The IOC’s position could not be clearer, based on the following correspondence:

De Kepper:

My point is rather that USOC had an opportunity also to show unity with the rest of the Olympic movement by openly supporting the IOC/OM positions on reforms and in particular the ITA [Independent Testing Authority – OR].

And the essential:

There is however one problematic point and this is a fundamental one. USOC is pleading for WADA to have sanctioning powers and we strongly disagree with this. The same organisation cannot be legislator, police and judge at the same time. Recent history has shown where this can lead even more so if it is a political body with only limited cultural and geographical diversity in its boards.

Christophe

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During those same few days (March 11-12, 2017), battles were raging even at the level of the Athlete Commissions (AC) between WADA and the IOC about the future of the anti-doping system.  Judging by mails coming from the same source, at the March 12 WADA AC meeting, an attempt was made to remove that body from the orbit of the IOC, and the meeting apparently became very heated.  The sponsor of the scandalous initiative was WADA’s Director General Olivier Niggli, and it was prompted by WADA’s dissatisfaction with the IOC’s position on the work of the McLaren commission:

Those who want to get a better feel for the nuances of the disputes between WADA and the IOC regarding the work of the world anti-doping agencies can study the draft presentation paper, which the Athlete Commission of the IOC drafted in the wake of Olivier Niggli’s maneuver. In our opinion, the main correction introduced into the text that day was the recommendation that WADA AC be composed with a majority of elected members and that its Chair should sit on the WADA Executive Committee as a full member:


Perhaps sports-industry insiders will be able to glean other interesting nuggets from this document.

Craig Reedie (right), president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Olivier Niggli, its director-general

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Here is the picture that is emerging based on the material available to us: There is indeed a conspiracy at the heart of the “Russian doping” scandal, but it’s quite a different one than what the global media has so fervidly described so far.  This conspiracy involves WADA bureaucrats and a few national Olympic committees (the USOC is among them for certain), and their goal is to establish complete control over the system of regulating doping in sports, independent of the IOC.  They need that control, on one hand, to prevent any PR damage from the systematic use of doping by Western athletes, and on the other – to acquire some effective leverage in the form of political and propaganda pressure that can be used on any sport nation they think needs to be hog-tied.

Even more condemning conclusions over the doping deadlock the WADA is leading the international top sport into, were articulated by the late honorary member of the IOC Hein Verbruggen in his letter to Thomas Bach on October 13, 2016. If you haven’t read it yet, we strongly recommend to do it now.

A couple of key quotations:

The dramatic events of the last months in anti-doping have made us all think about WADA’s role and responsibilities. I think we have suddenly all realized that this organisation has in fact during 17 years been in the hands of four people: Mr Pound, Mr Howman, Mr Reedie and Mr Niggli. I left out Mr Fahey who unexpectedly was put into the WADA chair without having any experience in anti-doping (which was perhaps convenient for those who wanted to retain the power but definitely not good for WADA).

With all respect for President Reedie, I think nobody familiar with WADA will contest that Mr Pound still has a dominant position within that organization.

The current WADA has to a large extent failed to be a viable and universally trusted and respected anti-doping organization, because – as well as for genuine anti-doping – it has from the beginning (17 years ago) also been used for politics. We all know – but we usually do not dare to say – that there exists a sound anti-IOC and anti-Europe attitude at the level of the WADA leadership. This WADA-leadership (appointed by the IOC, which is the cynical part of the story) usually teams up with a small group of (mainly) Anglo-Saxon NADO’s (USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Norway/Scandinavia on the sideline) and this has created a division that has allowed the same people to stay at the helm for a way too long period. This “coalition” can also be seen from the composition of the WADA committees (including panels and expert groups)…

We have to face up to the inconvenient fact that many within the Olympic Movement are afraid of criticism by WADA and Mr Pound in the sensitive and mediatic field of anti-doping. This fear explains in my view why Mr Pound and friends do not seem to worry about not being nominated anymore and why they have been able to maintain their WADA positions for 17 years, as if there were no other competent people and good governance would not recommend a change from time to time. But of course Mr Pound sees that fear also and it explains why he feels so strong in his lecturing (and in my opinion: even insulting, see e.g. his “redemption” article) the IOC.

Even recognizing the work that WADA and its leadership have done for the fight against doping, that does not allow to turn a blind eye on what went wrong. This has recently culminated in WADA arrogating a public call on the IOC to impose a last minute ban on all Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games, whereas it was precisely WADA that largely contributed to this very problematic situation by not following up promptly and adequately the information it had received since 2010.

My battle was, and still is, also for what I consider to be WADA’s genuine mission in an effective fight to protect clean sport, and in support of the IOC that has the moral leadership of the fight against doping and was and still is repeatedly chafed by the WADA leadership.

A harsh critic of WADA and honorary member of the IOC Hein Verbruggen (1941-2017)

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As we know, despite the desperate struggle for legitimacy in sports, at least by the Director General of the IOC Christophe de Kepper, the International Olympic Committee was eventually forced to yield to the pressure of the international doping lobby.  The question as to what types of leverage were being used in mid and late 2017 might be the topic of a separate investigation.  It is obvious, for example, that McDonalds’ June 2017 decision to terminate its sponsorship contact with the IOC ahead of schedule, after a 40-year partnership, did not happen in a vacuum, but was instead part of a campaign to exert pressure on the IOC leadership.

It is also symptomatic that in January 2018, United States prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas against the biggest sports organizations, including the International Olympic Committee, on “racketeering, money laundering, and fraud charges related to various elite competitions.”  An additional juicy detail is that the New York Times story on this subject not only came out within mere hours of the CAS’s verdict exonerating the Russian athletes, but also was written by the same Rebecca Ruiz, who in May 2016 was ordered to draft the fake article that triggered McLaren’s “investigation.”

Korean Olympic Diplomacy Moves Forward Despite U.S. Intransigence

By many accounts, the Koreans – North and South – have prevailed over the disruptive desires of the United States, coming together in a series of very public actions, clearly meant to turn down the political heat generated by President Donald Trump and the U.S. pressure for military action. This pressure can be seen as a continuation of President Barack Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” a policy that called for full U.S. dominance in the region, including by containing China and the new emerging regional powers through a set of expansive, coordinated, and aggressive military alliances with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong as they watch a concert by Pyongyang’s Samjiyon Orchestra at a national theater in Seoul on February 11, 2018. (AFP/Getty Images)

The high-profile actions taken by the North and the South – both acting independently of Washington – left U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pouting and twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines during some very effective international diplomacy. In this regard, there does indeed seem to be a new and genuine desire on the part of the president of South Korea to forge a more peaceful and cooperative relationship with the North, even though U.S. officials and commentators seem to be dead set against it, portraying the warming relations between North and South as an attempt by the North to subvert the long and close relationship with the South.

In congressional hearings this week, the moves toward North-South de-escalation were dismissed by a leading Republican, Sen. James Risch of Idaho, as a “smile campaign.”

“The South Korean people seem to have been charmed to some degree, some of them seem to have been captivated by it,” Risch fretted.

Meanwhile, on the media front, CBS reported that its rival network NBC “was forced to fire one of its Olympic analysts after he inexplicably said Koreans are grateful for Japan’s role in their economic development – while ignoring the one-time imperial power’s brutalization of the peninsula.”

I spoke to writer and regional expert, K.J. Noh, about the Olympics and the big-power politics swirling around the Olympic Games in Seoul. Noh is a special correspondent for Flashpoints show on Pacifica Radio.

Dennis Bernstein: Welcome back, K.J. Noh. We want to get to some of the bigger political issues but let’s start with a media story. We’ve heard that NBC fired one of its analysts because it turned out he didn’t have a clue about Korean history and ended up insulting Koreans while trying to somehow curry favor with Japan.

K.J. Noh: This commentator, Joshua Cooper Ramo, is the Co-CEO of Kissinger Associates and a supposed expert on the geopolitics and culture of Asia.  The history is that Korea was brutally colonized and subjugated by Japan for three and a half decades.  As the Japanese athletes were coming in, Ramo said “Now representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.  But every Korean will tell you,” he went on to say, “that as a technical, cultural and economic example, Japan has been so important to the transformation of Korea.”

This didn’t go over well with Koreans.  As one Korean put it, “After decades of human rights violations, exploiting our resources and attempting to destroy our heritage, Japan is not in a position to expect our gratitude.”  This is just one example of the extraordinary ignorance surrounding Korea, by so-called “experts.”

DB: What do you think was the significance in terms of diplomacy between the North and the South?  You have the United States swearing up and down that this is a ploy by the North to get in the way of our tight relationship with the South Koreans.

KJN: As you know, the Winter Olympics are usually not as well attended as the summer games and not as much a source of interest for the general global audience.  But these Olympics, held in the South Korean county of PyeongChang, have reached out to the North Koreans.  And the North Koreans have responded.

In fact, they responded very rapidly, sending over 500 of their citizens, including a cheerleading squad, an orchestra, a Taekwondo demo team, the head of the North Korean assembly, 22 athletes, and most surprisingly, Kim Yo Jong.  Kim Yo Jong is a  high-ranking Politburo member, and Kim Jong Un’s younger sister.  Just the fact of the North Koreans defying expectations and showing up was a propaganda coup.

The allegation was that the North Koreans were going to use the Olympics as a propaganda offensive. Actually, that battle was lost before it even started, because so much of the Western media has gone overboard to portray the North Koreans as brainwashed zombies or belligerent monsters.  So when these representatives of North Korea show up and they are not cowed zombies or desperate monsters, but rather vivacious, congenial, and self-possessed women, that shattered a lot of received stereotypes.

DB: It does seem that there is a strong spiritual push by the new leadership in the south to bring the two countries together.  There have been some pretty warm words, haven’t there?

KJN: Absolutely. To give some more background, although technically North Korea and the US are still at war, North Korea and South Korea signed a Treaty of Reconciliation, Cooperation, and Non-aggression in 1992.  The letter of that agreement has not always been observed and, especially during conservative administrations, the hostilities have escalated.  But the current president of South Korea, Moon Jae In, was the chief of staff of Roh Moo Hyun, who headed a progressive administration and worked very actively toward reconciliation with the North in a program known as the “Sunshine Policy.”

To a certain extent, this small break in the clouds is an attempt to return to that policy of reconciliation.  What is notable is the congeniality with which the hand was extended toward North Korea.  For example, when the North Korean and South Korean athletes entered the stadium as one team, under a single flag, a standing ovation erupted as 35,000 people rose to their feet in a celebration of this very powerful coming together.

DB: Just watching on my TV, I was totally moved.

KJN: The other thing that was notable was that Vice President Pence was the only person who did not stand up. Here’s a man who criticized African American football players for “taking the knee” and has said that sports should not be politicized.  The Korean Times described Pence’s gesture as “mean-spirited and stupid arrogance, making America look bad in the eyes of the world.”  Professor Alexis Dudden at the University of Connecticut, called it “a new low in American bullying.”

DB: These Olympics come in the context of some pretty crazy policy on the part of the United States government.  The permanent war government wants this kind of policy because it helps the weapons industry.  Can these meetings at the Olympics mean anything in this context?

KJN: It’s hard to say right now.  There seems to have been a bit of an about-face on the part of Pence, some have said because the enormous criticism he has received.  He has now said that he is willing to meet and talk with the North Koreans without preconditions. At the same time, he has said that he intends to maintain maximal pressure and that there are even more extreme sanctions in the pipeline.  Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon met with the sister of Kim Jong Un on four separate occasions over three days, including a performance by the North Korean Orchestra. During a state luncheon, Kim Yo Jong extended an invitation to President Moon from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea for a summit meeting “at the earliest date possible.”

In the visitor’s book, she wrote:  “I hope Pyongyang and Seoul get closer in people’s hearts and move forward for the future of a mutually prosperous unification.”

• First published in Consortium News.com

Fearing Peace: Olympic Diplomacy in Action

Mike Pence was a man with a mission.  At stages through the opening parts of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, he looked like a man on a mission.  With diplomatic gestures flowering all around with weedy vigour in Pyeonchang, he was intent on fighting them.  The gardener of empire had his implements at the ready.

The US Vice-President had a brief: ignore, stall, and frustrate.  Most of all, be wary of being wooed.  “We’ll continue,” he warned on Thursday, “to seize every opportunity to ensure that North Korea does not use the powerful imagery and backdrop of the Olympics to paper over an appalling record of human rights and a pattern of developing weapons and conducting the kind of missile launches that are threatening our nation and threatening neighbours across the region.”

He proceeded to meet four North Korean defectors.  He had been in Japan announcing “the toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against Pyongyang yet, exhorting troops at Yokota Air Base to guard against “the rogue regime in North Korea”.  At the opening ceremony, he refused to engage with his North Korean counterparts.  That ice, at least for the moment, would remain in place.

The fact that progress is being made by both Koreas in a multi-decade conflict goes against the grain of US foreign policy. (Admittedly, this grain varies depending on mood, timing and person.)  Rather than expressing sighs of relief that the two Koreas, who ultimately are the only ones who matter in any final accord, are speaking, larger powers are poking around the corner.  They are the potential spoilers.

President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, could not resist noting the moment of symbolic unity.  The effect of both Koreas marching into the stadium under one flag hit the mark.  “All the athletes around me, all the spectators here in the stadium, and all Olympic fans watching around the world… we are all touched by this wonderful gesture.”

High jinks of sort would have been hard to avoid.  The North Korean cheer leaders, for instance, greeted athletes with a flag sporting the disputed islands of Dokdo.  (For Japan, these are known as Takeshima.)  This ribbing was cheekier given South Korea’s continued insistence on ownership. “This issue,” according to Dong-Joon Park and Danielle Chubb, “brings together all Koreans, no matter what their political inclination – a rare occurrence in a country that is itself deeply ideologically and politically divided.”

For all that, the most important niggler was that of division.  Soft power would be used to prise apart and isolate.  Would Seoul and Washington be separated, their warm, strategic relationship cooled by the seductive advances of Pyongyang?  And what of a persistently prickly Japan, locked, by virtue of security and circumstance, in an at times awkward alliance with South Korea and the United States?

Pyongyang has certainly been stocking up on its soft power inventories, disseminating them in short sharp bursts. Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, supplied an ample “spear” in the “charm offensive” by attending the opening ceremony.

North Korean pop singer Hyon Song-wol of Excellent Horse-like Lady fame had also been doing the rounds in the South to inspect the venue where the DPRK Samjiyon Orchestra would perform, prompting concerns that she might be a good disguise as a Trojan Horse.

Rather than seeing this as opportunity, some of the paladins in Washington fear a near hypnotic control being exerted by Pyongyang.  The DPRK agenda here is to retain a nuclear capability while also seeking closer ties with South Korea, all the time attempting to isolate the US. “North Korea,” suggested former South Korean vice foreign minister Kim Sung-han, “appears to be winning gold.”

In such an assessment, the DPRK “delegation and athletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong-un’s sister is showing elegant smiles before the South Korean public and the world.  Even for the moment, it appears to be a normal state.”

The Olympic moment was something of an intoxicated binge, a high point that could, in time, dissipate into depressed normality.  Former senior US diplomat Douglas Paal suggested how “tough” it was “not to get caught up in the emotions of an Olympics event”.

Another ally to be discomforted in this moment of diplomacy is Japan.  The fact that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, decided to grace Friday’s opening ceremony with his troubling presence raised the spectre of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.  (Some 470 abductions are said to have taken place between the 1960s and 1980s.)  He also proceeded to irritate his South Korean hosts by insisting that joint military drills with the US would resume immediately after the Olympics.

South Korea has, in turn, been attacked by various Japanese figures for being soft and sympathetic to their North Korean brethren. “South Korean President Moon Jae-in,” stressed Kazuhiro Araki, head of the Unidentified Persons Investigation Committee at the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, “is pro-Pyongyang and he has used the Winter Olympics to protect North Korea from the pressure that was being applied by Japan and the US.”

The Korea Central News Agency was certainly attuned to the efforts of Japanese politicians to muddy waters.  “If Japan runs amok, defying our warnings,” went a release on January 26, “the Korean people will surely force Japan to pay a very high price for its crimes with their strong fists.”

As for Pence, North Korean soft power, at least behind the scenes, may have had its seductive effect.  From icy standoffishness at the ceremony, he would say aboard Air Force Two on Sunday that the United States would be open, despite the ongoing “maximum pressure” campaign, to talks without preconditions with Pyongyang.

There was the natural caveat, the now genetically programmed refrain. “The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step towards denuclearization.” Conditions, without preconditions, a muddled state of affairs that will not necessarily trouble the negotiating wing of the DPRK.

US Misses Opportunity For Peace Progress At Olympics

The unified Korean team marches in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit James Hill for The New York Times.

Despite President Moon’s Efforts to Encourage Diplomacy, Childish Anti-Diplomatic Behavior of Vice President Pence Undermines Opportunity for Peace Diplomacy

President Moon said at a carefully planned dinner to honor Kim Yong Nam, the North Korean president’s sister and Vice President Mike Pence that he hoped the Winter Olympics would be remembered as the “day peace began.” But, Vice President Mike Pence did his best to make sure that did not happen. He missed the opportunity to further peace on the Olympic peninsula created by Moon. The historic opening created by North and South Korea at the Olympics was an opportunity but Pence handled the situation like a childish teenager.

At a dinner dinner reception where President Moon sought an opportunity for dialogue between the US and North Korea, Pence went through great lengths to avoid talking to the North Koreans. According to Reuters, when Pence arrived late to the reception he told Moon he planned to leave directly after a photo session but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends.” Moon was trying to create a dialogue to advance peace but Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except Kim Yong Nam of North Korea.

Reuters reports that Moon said “There are some who would not want to be in the same room together if it wasn’t for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But what is more important than anything is that we are together.” That seemed to be a statement that described the behavior of Pence. The mainstream political media outlet Politico described it as a close call for Pence:

Vice President Mike Pence’s Olympic visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, began Friday with a close call with the North Korean officials, whom the vice president appeared to avoid at a diplomatic reception before the opening ceremonies.

Since Pence arrived at the dinner late the seating plan was shuffled, Pence again missing an opportunity created by Moon. Originally, the seating plan showed Pence, with his wife to the left and Moon to his right, seated across the round table from Kim, who was nestled between U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach’s wife. Kim’s visit is significant as she is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Who knows what kind of conversation could have occurred that furthered the peace process, but Pence avoided the opportunity. Pence left the event after five minutes.

Reuters reports that Pence missed the symbolic desert called “A Plate of Hope,” a “dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarized border that separates Games host South Korea and its old enemy in the North.”

Reuters reports the diplomatic response of the Moon administration’s reaction to the avoidance antics of Pence: “A source in the Moon administration said Pence’s absence at the reception was a ‘mere bump’ in an otherwise successful diplomatic event.”

At the stadium Pence sat one row in front of the North Koreans. While Kim Jong Yo was so close to her he never even tried to speak to her.  The pool report for the media was that Pence had “no interaction” with Kim Jong Yo. New York Magazine described it as Pence “avoiding eye contact” with the Korean leader.  Another missed opportunty for peace.

Vice President Pence, so close and yet so far from North Korea’s Kim Jong Yo. The two never even made eye contact.

Vice president Mike Pence, second from bottom right, sits between second lady Karen Pence, third from from bottom left, and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Behind Pence is Kim Jong Yo of North Korea. To the left is President Moon of South Korea and his wife.

While Pence was present, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, creating a historic moment and a photograph that gave hopes to many for peace between North and South Korea and movement toward unification and an end of hostilities.

Another show of unity was when two members of the Unified Korean Hockey Team, one from the north and one from the south, carried the Olympic torch up the final flight of stairs in the opening ceremonies. They handed the torch over to figure skater Yuna Kim, a South Korean who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver medal in 2014 who lit the Olympic cauldron.

A historic moment of unity, two women who play on the unified Korean ice hockey team carried the Olympic torch for the last leg of its journey at the opening ceremony for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Park Jong-ah of South Korea and Jong Su-hyon of North Korea carried the flame together across the stage and up a steep flight of stairs to the base of the Olympic cauldron.

We recognize that these images of North and South Korea shaking hands and being friendly toward each other as well as of South and North Korean athletes walking into the Olympic stadium together do not ensure peace on the Korean peninsula. It is a long hard road to peace, much needs to be negotiated. Peace is made more difficult with the US threatening a ‘bloody nose’, teenage bully talk for a military first strike, against North Korea. Pence exemplified the worst of US foreign policy with his childish behavior at the Olympics.

North Korean Olympic delegation athletes holding flag of unification before entering Olympic stadium.

New Defense Strategy: War With Great Nations and Arms Race

This week, following the recent announcement of a new National Defense Strategy that focuses on conflicts with great powers and a new arms race, the Pentagon announced an escalation of nuclear weapons development. The United States’ military is spread across the world, including several dangerous conflict areas that could develop into an all-out war, possibly in conflict with China or Russia. This comes at a time when US empire is fading, something the Pentagon also recognizes and the US is falling behind China economically. This is not unexpected considering that one year ago President Trump sought an inaugural parade that put tanks and missiles on display.

New National Defense Strategy Means More War, More Spending

The new National Defense Strategy announced last week moves from the ‘war on terror’ toward conflict with great powers. Michael Whitney, writing about the conflict in Syria, puts it in context:

Washington’s biggest problem is the absence of a coherent policy. While the recently released National Defense Strategy articulated a change in the way the imperial strategy would be implemented, (by jettisoning the ‘war on terror’ pretext to a ‘great power’ confrontation) the changes amount to nothing more than a tweaking of the public relations ‘messaging’. Washington’s global ambitions remain the same albeit with more emphasis on raw military power.

The move from military conflict against non-state actors; i.e., ‘terrorists’, to great power conflict means more military hardware, massive spending on weapons and a new arms race. Andrew Bacevich writes in American Conservative that war profiteers are popping open the champagne.

Bacevich writes the ‘new’ strategy is placed in the false claim that the US is “emerging from a period of strategic atrophy.” The claim is laughable as the US has been in never ending war with massive military spending throughout the century:

Under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump, U.S. forces have been constantly on the go. I’m prepared to argue that no nation in recorded history has ever deployed its troops to more places than has the United States since 2001. American bombs and missiles have rained down on a remarkable array of countries. We’ve killed an astonishing number of people.

The new strategy means more spending on weapons to prepare for conflict with Russia and China. Not bothering with reality, Secretary of Defense JimMattis claimed: “Our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. And it is continually eroding.”  He described the Pentagon’s plans for ‘procurement and modernization’; i.e. the arms race that includes nuclear, space and traditional weapons, cyber defense and more surveillance.

The Pentagon announced its Nuclear Posture Review on February 2, 2018. The review calls for updating and expanding the nuclear arsenal in order to respond to perceived threats, in particular by “great powers,” e.g. Russia and China, as well North Korea and others. Peace Action described a review written by Dr. Strangeglove, adding: “The expansion of our nuclear arsenal called for in the Nuclear Posture Review would cost the American taxpayers an estimated $1.7 trillion adjusted for inflation over the next three decades.”

Bachevich concludes “Who will celebrate the National Defense Strategy? Only weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, lobbyists, and other fat cat beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex.” To further the glee of weapons makers, Trump is urging the State Department to spend more time selling US weapons.

Escalating Conflicts Risk War Globally

In his first year as president, Donald Trump handed over decision-making power to “his generals” and as expected, this resulted in more “warfare, bombing and deaths” in his first year than the Obama era. There has been “an almost 50 percent increase of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during Trump’s first year in office, leading to a rise in civilian deaths by more than 200 percent compared with the year before.” Trump has also broken the record for special forces, now deployed in 149 countries or 75 percent of the globe.  So much for ‘America First.’

Many areas risk escalation to full-scale war, including conflict with Russia and China:

Syria: The seven-year war in Syria, which has killed 400,000 people, began during Obama’s presidency under the guise of destroying ISIS. The real goal was removal of President Assad. This January, Secretary of State Tillerson made the goal clear, saying that even after the defeat of ISIS the US would stay in Syria until Assad was removed from office. The US is moving to Plan B, the creation of a de facto autonomous Kurdish state for almost one-third of Syria defended by a proxy military of 30,000 troops, mainly Kurds. Marcello Ferrada de Noli describes that in response, Syria aided by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah “continues victorious and unabated in its pursuit to retake the full sovereignty of its nation’s territory.” Turkey is moving to ensure no Kurdish territory is created by the US.

North Korea: The latest dangerous idea coming from the Trump military is giving North Korea a “bloody nose.” This schoolyard bully talk risks a US first strike that could create war with China and Russia. China has said if the US attacked first it would defend North Korea. This aggressive talk comes when North and South Korea seek peace and are cooperating during the Olympics. The Trump era has continued massive military exercises, practicing attacks on North Korea that include nuclear attacks and assassination of their leadership. The US did take a step back and agree not to hold such war games during the Olympics.

Iran: The US has sought regime change since the 1979 Islamic Revolution removed the US’s Shah of Iran. The current debate over the future of the nuclear weapons agreement and economic sanctions are focal points of conflict. While observers find Iran has lived up to the agreement, the Trump administration continues to claim violations. In addition, the US, through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and other agencies, is spending millions  annually to build opposition to the government and foment regime change, as seen in recent protests. In addition, the US (along with Israel and Saudi Arabia) is engaged in conflict with Iran in other areas, e.g. Syria and Yemen. There is regular propaganda demonizing Iran and threatening war with Iran, which is six times the size of Iraq and has a much stronger military. The US has been isolated in the UN over its belligerence toward Iran.

Afghanistan: The longest war in US history continues after 16 years. The US has been hiding what is happening in Afghanistan because the Taliban has an active presence in about 70 percent of the country and ISIS has gained more territory than ever before resulting in the Inspector General for Afghanistan criticizing DoD for refusing to release data. The long war included Trump dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb in history and resulted in allegations of US war crimes that the International Criminal Court seeks to investigate. The US has caused devastation throughout the country.

Ukraine: The US supported coup in the Ukraine continues to cause conflicts on the Russian border. The US spent billions on the coup, but documents outlining the Obama administration’s involvement have not been released. The coup was complete with Vice President Biden’s son and John Kerry’s long term financial ally being put on the board of the Ukraine’s largest private energy company. A former State Department employee became Ukraine’s finance minister. The US continues to claim Russia is the aggressor because it protected its Navy base in Crimea from the US coup. Now, the Trump administration is providing arms to Kiev and stoking a civil war with Kiev and western Ukraine against eastern Ukraine.

These are not the only areas where the US is creating regime change or seeking domination. In another strange statement, Secretary of State Tillerson warned Venezuela may face a military coup while winking that the US does not support regime change (even though it has been seeking regime change to control Venezuelan oil since Hugo Chavez came to power). Tillerson’s comment came as Venezuela negotiated a settlement with the opposition. Regime change is the mode of operation for the US in Latin America.  The US supported recent questionable elections in Honduras, to keep the coup government Obama supported in power. In Brazil, the US is assisting the prosecution of Lula, who seeks to run for president, in a crisis that threatens its fragile democracy protecting a coup government.

In Africa, the US has military in 53 of 54 countries and is in competition with China, which is using economic power rather than military power. The US is laying the groundwork for military domination of the continent with little congressional oversight — to dominate the land, resources and people of Africa.

Opposition to War and Militarism

The anti-war movement, which atrophied under President Obama, is coming back to life.

World Beyond War is working to abolish war as an instrument of foreign policy. Black Alliance for Peace is working to revitalize opposition to war by blacks, historically some of the strongest opponents of war. Peace groups are uniting around the No US Foreign Military Bases campaign that is seeking to close 800 US military bases in 80 countries.

Peace advocates are organizing actions. The campaign to divest from the war machine kicks off from February 5 to 11 highlighting the economic cost of war. A global day of action against the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is being planned for February 23, the anniversary of the US seizing Guantanamo Bay from Cuba through a “perpetual lease” beginning in 1903. A national day of action against US wars at home and abroad is being planned for April. And Cindy Sheehan is organizing a Women’s March on the Pentagon.

There are many opportunities to oppose war in this new era of “Great Power” conflict. We urge you to get involved as you are able to show that the people say “No” to war.

Korea: What the Generals Aren’t Telling You

The retired Generals on the talk-show circuit look grim.  They say if the US attacks North Korea, it will retaliate and bomb Seoul, South Korea’s capitol.  Hundreds of thousands could die.  The Generals look even grimmer.  There will be a ground invasion.  Result? A possible 20,000 casualties per day.

No one mentions the X factor.

James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly, Nickki Haley – not a peep from them either.

In his State of the Union address the President lingers on the gruesome death of Otto Warmbier, promises “Resolve.” Trump also won’t touch it.

Twenty-four.  South Korea has 24 operating nuclear power plants.

Fact: All of the recent US-coalition wars have involved countries where there were no – repeat no – large, operating nuclear power plants.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.  None of them had or has any large, commercial nuclear-reactors at the time of these wars.  Thus, bombing missions, for all their hideous destructiveness, have not put at risk, the huge amounts of cesium-137, strontium-90 and other deadly radioactive contaminants in reactor cores.

So how do 24 nuclear power plants change the equation regarding a US war versus North Korea – a war which, by most predictions, quickly morphs into a war both on South and North Korea soil?

After the US launches a strike (pre-emptive or not) the Kim Jong Un regime unleashes artillery located immediately north of the DMZ.  Hidden behind blast doors – the doors open for firing and then close up again – this fire-power is also buried deep in granite mountains.  According to the DC-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, North Korea has thousands of these medium and long-range rockets.

Presumably, the US bombers (some nuclear-armed) tightly massed in Guam, the hundreds of Tomahawk ballistic missiles aboard US nuclear submarines and destroyers, the huge arsenal of bombs aboard US aircraft carriers, plus an array of Japanese and South Korean fighter jets, would indeed constitute the Fire and Fury which President Trump has so famously described.  The border and key North Korean cities are immediately pulverized.  Yet, even if the North Korean artillery could be 80 to 90% neutered, still, there would be a counter-strike of some sort.

Where do the artillery and rockets land?

Well within range is the busy metropolis of Seoul and environs (population 25.6 million). This fact alone ought to drive all sides to the negotiation table pronto.  But there is more.

Most of Korea’s 24 nuclear power plants are located in the south, way beyond the range of said artillery.  There’s an exception.  The Hanul reactors located at Uljin are about midway down the South Korean portion of the peninsula.  Here, right on the east coast six reactors sit side-by-side.  A strike could simultaneously disable one, two or more nukes.  Not to mention possibly jeopardizing the on-site pools where old (and highly radioactive) reactor cores are cooling down.

Estimates are that the North’s artillery range is about 100 miles.  If that range is accurate then Kim Jong Un’s rockets would – just barely – fall short of the Hanul complex. (Uljin is about 110 miles from the DMZ.)

It’s not just a direct hit that could compromise the Hanul nukes.  A North Korea strike on Seoul and other South Korean cities could, either deliberately or by accident, take out electric substations, high voltage transmission lines and/or other key aspects of the electric power grid.

Sounds unlikely?  Well, it’s exactly what happened during the first year of the 2003 war in Iraq.  Baghdad was without regular electricity for months.  The power would flicker on for a few moments, flicker off.  Then, there’d be a black-out for the next 22-or-so hours.

There’s a big difference between Iraq and Korea.  The electrical grid in Iraq had been badly degraded by two wars, plus years of harsh UN sanctions.  But ask any of the people who lived (or are currently living) in the midst of long-term war – say in Aleppo or Sana – for them regular electricity is a fond and distant memory.

The mind balks at the image of a huge nuclear power plant in the midst of a rubblelized city.  The mind screams no.  No.  The chaos of war doesn’t jibe with these delicate and complex machines – machines that require near-perfection of both operating components and of personnel.

Besides, we already know what happens to a big nuclear power plant when the grid goes out.  It’s called Fukushima.  In that case, an earthquake and a tsunami cut off power, jeopardizing the reactor’s core-cooling systems.  Presto, a flat out emergency.  The emergency backup diesel generators had to kick in.

The generators did not kick in.  (They were flooded).  Result?  Three core meltdowns. And reactors that – to this day – are still pouring deadly radioactivity into the environment.

Okay, that was Fukushima.  Why assume history will repeat itself?  Sometimes, it does.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.

Backup generators might work perfectly at Hanul.  After all South Korea is one of the most highly-industrialized, tech-savy countries on the planet.

Besides, post-Fukushima, electric utilities around the world made changes that assure even more reliability and redundancy for backup systems.  Right?  Reactors now have emergency diesel generators that won’t go the way of Fukushima.

Yet…even if all backup systems in a nuclear power plant work exactly as planned, there’s always the something that wasn’t planned.  There’s one little bolt that might shear off.

South Korea is the country where back in 2013 a scandal rocked the nuclear industry.  According to World Nuclear News, over one hundred people were “indicted for falsifying safety certificates.”  The sub-standard parts included control cables vital to emergency shut-down-procedures.  The CEO of Korea Electric and Power Company, who had received a huge bribe, was forced to resign.  Later that year there were four more top executives at the same company accused of taking bribes.  None of this is particularly inspiring regarding the current state of Korea’s nukes.

Let’s assume those nuclear power plant scandals are over.  Then, can’t we just put our hopes on North Korea deciding NOT to respond if attacked?  Or assume its response will be so minimal as to be ineffective?  Can’t we eliminate artillery from the equation?  Oh, yes and let’s mentally jettison the few decrepit submarines the North Koreans have lurking about.  Also forget Russia and China and how they might respond.  Presto, the skies are wide open for whatever the US wants to deliver.

Sorry, no go.  It’s not worth the risk.  A disaster at a nuclear reactor in Korea would be an utter catastrophe for Korea, its citizens, and its land.  It would also be a catastrophe for the planet.  The Sea of Japan with its rich harvest of shrimp, tuna, and other fish would be at risk.  Japan itself could be at risk.  Depending upon which way the winds were blowing, dangerous contaminants could head north towards Russia, then sweep across the Pacific towards the coast of Alaska and then on down to California.

Citizens of the planet need to look this threat stark in the face.  Ignoring the threat is the worst we can do.

The Generals must start thinking about it.

The US pilots climbing into the cockpits of F-35 fighter-bombers in Guam should think about it.  The Koch Brothers should think about it.  Senator Tammy Duckworth should think about it.  (Just back from a recent trip to Korea, she warned “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.”)  The millions watching the Winter Olympics should think about it.

Bernie should think about it.  John Lewis and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren should think about it.  We all, great and small, must think about it.

And the world needs to roar.  It is unacceptable.  It cannot happen.  No war in a country where there is one operating commercial nuclear power plant – much less twenty-four.  Period.  End of Story.

Saber-Rattling, Nuclear Threat or an Even More Devastating War?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has come and gone, and nothing has really changed. The wonderful people of the world struck again – blowing hot air to the four corners of the world. When in reality the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, wars and conflicts are on the rise – and humanity, at least in the western world, is ever more exposed to propaganda lies and mind manipulations, of which then WEF is just one tiny, miserable example.

For instance, was anybody still listening to the bombastic nonsense coming out of Trump’s and Macron’s throat? It is a soft version of “Fire and Fury” — to confirm to the World of the Noble who is in charge, and to assure the elite that nothing, but nothing, will change in the balance of power. That’s the neoliberal Davos Club of always. And they, this elite of beautiful people, would certainly not want a ‘hard core’ nuclear war to destroy their properties and luxury yachts, castles and comfort zone.

So, rest assured, sable-rattling about nuclear Armageddon is just a smoke screen, a deviation maneuver to hide a much worse atrocity. An atrocity, or rather a set of atrocities by which the WEF crowd will most likely never be touched. Trump, for the moment, is the best salesman and mouthpiece the Deep State could muster for their ploy. He is pompous, pretentiously egocentric, and an absurd bully. His America First and Make America Great again, repeated over and over, sounds so silly, but said often enough, it takes hold and becomes the truth in people’s minds.

In Davos Trump’s speech was so simple, it was even catchy: America will always be first; and each one of you, addressing the statesmen in the crowd, he said, should do the same for your country. Then we can work together. This sounds like a complete anti-globalist declaration. The world is now to believe that globalization – which most of the universe has woken up to understand is a disaster – is over, a thing of the past. Another smoke-screen to let the corporate machine push harder to globalize the last corner of Mother Earth – suck the last juice out of the poor, the dispensable “shithole” people.

From 2008 to 2016 Obama was the ideal liar with credibility – so much so that he got the Peace Nobel Prize even before he really started his Presidency. Hectoliters of tears of hope were shed during his inauguration on the Washington Mall. His smooth and charming smile convinced everybody, his eloquent and articulate speeches swayed the world into believing that change was coming, that after the horrible Bush years, the United States wanted only the good for the people of the world. With this false image, Obama managed to leave the Presidency with seven active wars (he inherited two) to his credit – and a record of drone killings – all approved by the Commander-in-chief, Obama, himself – unimaginable. Tens of thousands of innocent people were assassinated or maimed, all extrajudicial killings. That was the Peace Man at the time.

The Donald is, indeed, of a different breed, color and style. Precisely the style needed by his masters for the next at least four years. Maybe eight. We don’t know yet. His controversial preposterous character, crying wolf along with nuclear saber-rattling over and over again, is to diverge the attention of the public at large – within the US, as well as around the globe, so that a much more sinister war can be developed, advanced and rapidly expanded.

The dark elite that pulls the strings, the would-be and wannabe hegemon, has, I honestly believe, no intention in destroying themselves, ‘their’ planet, along with their properties, their fiscal paradises, castles, yachts and casinos, yes, casinos, like the western all dominating central banks. They are the casinos of the rich. They live too well to wanting to see their feudal lives destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse.

They, the new feudals, may think it is all right to use precision nuclear weapons “light” – destined to take out specific targets, but they also know – those who direct the Red Nuclear Button (Trump’s ‘Bigger Button’) – that they don’t know what the reaction from the targeted enemies or their allies might be. Perhaps a total annihilation. Not unlikely. The deep dark elitists may survive. But what is life in bunkers and contaminated air, water and soil, perhaps for decades or centuries? “Fire and Fury” life and in real time are no good. Just screaming and yelling to scare people into submission. That’s always good.

These somber masters of the universe, they are smarter than nuclear war. They have another, a quieter war in mind, a gradual but steady destruction of the useless, expendable humanity, leaving infrastructure and their safe havens in place, increasing their living space of opulence.

It is a war that is already in full swing; not a cold war – a hot war, a medium-to long-term execution of mankind. This strategy will work like an octopus with many tentacles operating simultaneously around the globe. If one tentacle fails, the others will do its job, until the damaged one has recovered. It’s a combat, where hardly anybody targeted can escape.

Think of biological warfare, as one of the tentacles. There exists already more than 100 secret Pentagon – CIA controlled biological weapons labs around the world. Often, their store front is a “scientific research” lab, looking for cures of human and animal diseases or biological means to eradicate agricultural pests. They are coverups. In reality, these labs develop new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, even new generations of vaccines, to be tested on local populations, of course, without their knowledge or consent. Among such research centers is the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia, known to be a biological weapons lab. See

In addition to developing new bio weapons, the lab is investigating the links between DNA groups and bio weapons, targeting Russia and possibly other geographic and ethnic regions; i.e. the Middle East. Kamens, the author of the above article, quotes Russian Senator Klintsevich as saying, “It is no secret that different ethnic groups react to biological weapons in different ways and that is why the West is meticulously collecting material all across Russia.”  No doubt this or comparable labs around the globe will do similar research on the East Asian populations, with emphasis on China. Latin America. Washington’s backyard will not be spared.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – 2014 to 2016 – covering Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, was very likely a “man-made” bio-trial. Ebola today can be contained. It registered officially close to 30,000 cases and killed according to official statistics more than 11,000 people. Unofficial figures put the death toll way above 20,000. It also reduced the economic output of these countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered the most from the outbreak. It’s a perfect test for what to do to subjugate this kind of developing country. This is applicable, basically for most of resources rich Africa.

Another tentacle of the monster octopus is genetically modified organisms (GMO). Monsanto is known since the late sixties early seventies to be working with Henry Kissinger, the Mastermind of the Bilderberg Society, whose major objective it is to drastically reduce world population. Almost any bio-disease strain can be implanted into GMO seeds. Nobody will notice and know. In the 1990s Monsanto tested a GMO wheat in India that rendered women infertile. The test was carried out on poor women, the untouchables. The exercise blew open, created a short-lived scandal, but was soon muffled by the media. Imagine, GMOs targeting specific populations with genetic diseases? The poor are the most vulnerable and defenseless not only with infertility, but with any kind of deadly diseases or brain or neurological long-term insufficiencies. Some of these health failures develop only over time, so that nobody can trace them back to GMOs.

Climate warfare is another nefarious tentacle of the would be-wannabe emperor, or his handlers. Climate manipulation technology is already at least 50 years old. Environmental modification techniques – ENMOD – is the Pentagon’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It is a sophisticated electromagnetic weapon operated from the outer atmosphere.

The technology was developed in the 1990s by the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), based in Alaska, enabling selectively changing weather patterns, causing excessive precipitations, floods, droughts, hurricanes and other excessive weather phenomena, thereby destroying infrastructure, agricultural production, entire economies of a country or a region, without the deployment of bombs, troops and tanks. In 1977 the UN General Assembly banned ‘military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.’ In 2014 the HAARP center was officially closed. However, this secretive technology is alive and well – and ready to be applied anywhere Washington wants to coerce a ‘regime change’, including destroying or weakening a population to facilitate access to the country’s natural resources.

An early version of climate modification was used in the late sixties and early seventies in Vietnam. Cloud-seeding, Operation Popeye, allowed prolonging the monsoon season, thereby blocking or rendering the Vietcong’s supply routes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail more difficult. This was accompanied by the Napalm defoliant which was supposed to expose, maim and kill Vietcong insurgents and allied populations.

While no climate change theorists talk about this secretive technology, it is possible, though not proven, that climate modifications are already ongoing in Africa, for example, in strategically situated Somalia and Ethiopia, causing extended droughts and famine, and in Afghanistan with extremely cold and wet winters, thereby weakening and possibly exterminating entire swaths of populations. Possibly, though also not proven, as an undesired result, by an ever equalizing Mother Nature, the West is also experiencing excessive weather patterns – the record cold in the eastern US, the drought-provoked forest fires followed by heavy rain and mudslides in California, as well as stronger and more frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Gulf area.

Talking about man-made climate modificationrain forests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%. According to The Guardian, every year an area of about 180,000 km2 of rain forest is lost, the equivalent of the size of England and Wales. At this rate, in 40 years 10 million km2, the size of Europe, will have been razed. At current rates, linearly expanded, all of the rain forest may have gone in 100 years. The good news is that linearism does not apply to long-term projections; this horrendous trend of destruction can, thus, still be stopped by awakened people.

The Amazon rain forest encompassed in 1970 still 4.1 million km2 and in 2015 about 3.3 million km2, a reduction of 800,000 km2 in 45 years. The main reason is cattle farming, beef and leather trade, but also bio fuel and logging, to a large extent illegal logging. The impact of rain forest razing in the Amazon is already noticeable in the form of increased drought in Argentina’s Patagonia, damaging agriculture and Argentina’s beef industry. Deforestation as climate weapon? Capitalism, when left free destroys everything, not just the environment, but mankind’s entire social fabric.

Privatization of water is another weapon of the monster. It is quietly and often clandestinely advancing, driven and coerced by the multilateral development banks, the IMF and often governments themselves. Privatization of water is already going on a grand-scale, and I’m not referring in the first place to the abhorrent water bottling by Nestlé and Coca Cola and thousands of others, destroying the environment and often robbing the water, or making it inaccessible, of poor population. Case in point is Nestlé. Nestlé India with its bottled water brand “Pure Life” was eventually forced to quit India, because of multiple social conflicts with local populations, where Nestlé’s massive groundwater pumping lowered the water level so drastically that the local poor had no longer access to their traditional groundwater, but had to buy Nestlé’s expensive bottled “Pure Life” water.

Nestlé ran into similar problems in Africa and even in the US. In Flint, Michigan, where unpolluted drinking water is scarce, Nestlé paid an annual fee of a mere US $200 for pumping one of the few remaining sources for private rather than public water use. In drought-stricken California in 2015 and 2016, Nestlé in 2017, over-extracted water from the San Bernardino National Forest Park with some 40 million gallons and with an expired license of some US $500 per year, while water to farmers was rationed due to the drought. Regulators eventually forced Nestlé to stop pumping. See the multiply rewarded documentary film, Bottled Life.

Nestlé’s ex-CEO, Peter Brabeck, said “Water has to be our chief priority”, to which Maude Barlow, former Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations replied, “Nestlé is a predator, a water hunter”. Coca Cola, Pepsi and other water bottlers follow the same unethical ways of basically stealing groundwater from the common people, forcing them to buy their expensive bottled water.

But the real predators of water and those that are massively privatizing the last uncontaminated sources of water in, for example, Amazon’s huge aquifers and the Guarani fossil aquifer, arguably the world’s largest freshwater reserve, are the giant water corporations like the French Veolia, and Suez: followed by US ITT Corporation; United Utilities and Severn Trent, Thames Water, UK; American Water Works, US; and an ever growing number of corporations that see the future in privatizing first the source, then the city water supply of mega-cities, where already today the poor and favela inhabitants are deprived of fresh water, because they can no longer afford privately supplied drinking water which increases intestinal diseases and child mortality all over the globe. And worse is to come, as privatization of water is becoming a worldwide powerful weapon.

Numerous huge water giants install themselves through proxy companies or farmers on top of the Guarani aquifer which is almost entirely fossil water (non-renewable), and receive lifelong water licenses. The Guarani aquifer is said to have the capacity to supply the world population for the next 200 years with some 100 liters per capita per day.  The inhabitants of Frankfurt use some 120 l/c/d. Imagine, this huge non-renewable aquifer in the hands of private corporations which could turn on and off the spigot at will – or according to ‘maximizing profit’ principles. A powerful weapon. If remaining unchecked, it is clear who is losing and who is winning.

Today, RT reports that Greek President Tsipras has just launched a sales pitch to the Greek people, that it would be a good idea to privatize Greek water supply. Can you imagine? After all that this criminal despot leader has already done to Greece – now privatizing water.

Studies carried out by the very World Bank, the institution that pushes for water privatization like no one else, except for the IMF, found that in parallel with water privatization in South Africa – intestinal diseases and child mortality increased in townships. After Nelson Mandela was elected President of a free South Africa in 1994, the western international financial vultures, like WB, IMF, FED via Wall Street, descended on Pretoria to persuade him and his government to privatize most everything. “It was good for paying back the accumulated debt of South Africa.” Yes, of course. People had no choice. Poor people in townships could no longer afford drinking water supplied to their modest homes or yards – but had to resort to traditional sources, like polluted ponds and streams.  How will the Greek cope with privatized water?

France, home to the two largest water corporations, Viola and Suez, started in 2010 remunicipalization of water with the city of Paris, followed by all major cities in France. Authorities realized that the cost of water was way too high for the quality of service provided. Similar motives prompted Berlin to go the same way.

Water is life. And life does not just cave in. It will fight for survival. But the enemy, the privatization corporations, like mining companies that irreparably destroy nature and populations social fabric, are backed by entire armies – the US, UK, German and NATO armed forces – to defend the rights of corporations… and the loser is…. Or would be, if the population would not wake up in time to defend their right to water, their Human Right to Water.

Digitization of money and the economy is another tentacle of the evil octopus. Its advancing very fast with cryptocurrencies leading the way. Digitization of money is a means for the government or any oppressing force to control populations by holding on or confiscating their vital resources to sustain live, their income. Block-chain moneys like Bitcoins, ‘specialists’ say, are more secure than any banking system the world has known so far. That myth seems to have been broken. CNBC reported on 29 January that the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked and about US$ 535 million equivalent of Bitcoins were stolen. This is the largest Bitcoin heist in Bitcoin’s relative short history of barely nine years. So much for security.

As of January 2018, there are close to 1,400 different cryptocurrencies on the market and rising. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and speculative and therefore preferred currencies for crooks and speculators. One of the major hubs for cryptocurrencies and their ‘marketization’ is – you guessed it – Switzerland, the banking center of everything and ‘smart’ banking. Block-chain currencies are so complex and complicated for the common citizen to understand that even an IT expert has a hard time weaving his way through the maze of cryptocurrency technologies. Which is good. Because propaganda will assure that enough people who have no clue of what they are doing are duped into making a quick buck. They have seen how. The price of Bitcoins is listed on a daily basis along with the regular stock market fluctuations. Bitcoins have increased in value from zero in 2009 to more than US $20,000 at their peak in December 2017. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value has slipped to about US $10,000 (30 January 2018), but could be way different tomorrow.

But digitization is not just about cryptocurrency. It is also a small octopus, advancing on several fronts, of which block-chain currencies are just one tentacle. There is at least one other more potentially harmful menace to the common citizen, like gradually eliminating cash and replacing it by digital currencies.

This is already happening, almost clandestinely – throughout Europe, starting with Scandinavian countries where certain department stores do no longer accept cash. Imagine what it means when you can’t go anymore to your corner ATM to get cash to buy your groceries? You will be enslaved to the gnomes of banking, of digital banking, that is. It is another powerful weapon to subjugate people to do what they are told, lest sanctions in the form of blocked or outright confiscated accounts might be used as the “new sanctions”. These modes of punishment can induce famine, expropriation of properties and savings, poverty, eventually disease and reduction in life expectancy as a result of ever growing destitution –- see Greece, which has been made poor by sticking to a fake and fiat currency, the euro, that is like digital money, stealing the country’s assets through debt.

If we eventually were to live in a digital economy, it means that every value is electronic, the tangibility of hard work and physical output, the production of labor, is worth only what smart ‘digits’ will allow it to be. If the neoliberal system wants to save on labor costs, the value of labor output can be reduced to almost zero. So, every social value, social statistic, becomes a potential farce, is manipulatable which today is already the case with the figures of unemployment, inflation and ‘growth’, economic growth. For example, in our linear western world destruction is growth. It requires production of weapons (growth) and eventually reconstruction, growth again. And everything in between, like the industry around war injuries and war deaths, is growth. All with a profit motive and an overarching motive of subjugating populations to the hegemon of Washington.

This leads to yet another tentacle – Propaganda – all-embracing propaganda, controlled by six Zion-Anglo media giants that control some 90% of the news the west receives 24/7. The news sells you all evil about Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and whoever else does not want to submit to the empires rules. Propaganda in the west is nothing less than propaganda of deceit. It sells you the idea that war is good for peace – hence a never-ending war against terror. Propaganda invents terror and terrorists by making you believe that all those who disagree with a despotic system are terrorists and have to be fought. Propaganda sells you false flags as reality.

Propaganda western style is one of the worst, most deadly weapons to hegemonize the world, as it makes the common citizen root for war, root against North Korea, a country whose only objective is to defend itself, not to threaten the world, as western propaganda has you believe. Propaganda is also omission of facts, important facts, namely, that the western powers, the US and its European puppets, the EU and NATO are the most dangerous rogue nations and organizations populating Mother Earth these days, and have been for at least the last 200 years. But despite the endless killing by these monsters, constituting the head of the evil octopus with its multiple tentacles, people do not realize who is their enemy thanks to western deceit-propaganda.

Take the Olympics. After banning Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Games following the infamous McLaren Report on doping which has often been criticized of being manufactured, the same McLaren Report is behind prohibiting Russia from participating in South Korea’s winter games in Pyeongchang this month. This is sheer politics, Russia-denigrating propaganda. And now banning even the majority of the some 600 “clean Russian athletes” from participating under the most ludicrous arguments, is not only unjustly hurting individual athletes, who have never had anything to do with doping, it’s a repeat Russia bashing.

The President of the World Anti-Doping agency (WADA) said in a recent interview with RT, there was, in fact, not enough evidence to prove a state sponsored doping system in Russia. Nevertheless, he obviously went along – had to go along – with the Russia banning decision. We never know what would be at stake for these officials, if they were to follow their common-sense judgment and internal moral standards. The IOC (International Olympics Committee) is totally corrupt and bought by Washington. This is, by the way true for all International courts and UN organizations. They have all become a travesty.

Nothing prevents Russia from calling and organizing her own Olympic games, the Russian Olympics. It would be interesting to see how many western countries would dare to participate. I bet, many would wake up, because they would love to bond with Russia, if for nothing else but business, but are afraid to do so with Washington bully’s sword swinging above their necks. Sports is always a good reason for mending disagreements, which are actually only imposed ‘disagreements’. How long will fear prevail over reason? The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Albeit, it is a shame and surprising that the world just looks on. People cannot be that dumb not to recognize that this is all a propaganda to portray Russia around the world as evil. This sort of propaganda, adding to the military threat that Russia is said to present to the world, when the real danger comes from the US and its NATO allies, is deadly propaganda, provoking war. President Putin plays it “Tao” – he is relatively quiet, non-aggressive – the non-aggressor will always win in the long run.

The final blow, however, the ultimate tentacle, is conventional warfare, sowing conflicts and proxy wars – what we know too well – what has dominated the last two decades. When none of the other tentacles do their illegal job radically enough, then comes the traditional killing machine, enhanced Regime Change through Color Revolutions, through false flag assassinations, NATO or mercenary invasions, planted “civil wars”; i.e., Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan – and now even Iraq. Take the case of Falluja, where massive weapons of depleted uranium were purposefully used by the US army, leaving the city and surroundings scarred for decades, for generations to come.

It is mass murder perpetrated by Washington and its dark invisible string-pulling handlers. These killings have genocide proportions. Yet, genocide is almost never mentioned when the most atrocious killings are carried out by the United States. I wonder why?

If we do not wake up, we will not escape. If few do, we may. It’s five to high-noon. It would be hell, not nuclear hell, but ‘octopus hell’, as we will be surrounded by different killing techniques or tentacles of the monster – and don’t know where to go and cry for help. Certainly not to our western leaders, not to those, which we believe we elected to do the best for Us, the People. No, these leaders are all corrupted, bought, they all have their little space reserved in paradise, for doing what they are doing helping the minuscule elite to dominate all — literally to reach Full Spector Dominance. That’s what the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) openly declares as the hegemon’s ultimate goal. At the end of the day, they – our lovely puppet leaders – may get a cold shower, when they have done their job as they were told and find out that they too are dispensable like trash; like Us, The Common People. No scruples by the self-styled dark handlers of the western race. You only live once.

Big Power Diversions: Olympic Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula

The more overtures, sudden but entirely appropriate, being made by North Korea to their South Korean counterparts, the more concern seems to emanate from quarters in Washington and Tokyo.  A recurring streak in these engagements is the fear that Pyongyang is simply prevaricating, distracting and diverting: they are having us all for fools.

This betrays the whole premise of how US policy, and to a good degree that of Japan, has been linked to an obsession to place nuclear weapons dismantling and removal as a first step of talks rather than a final outcome with an enduring peace settlement.

Such a settlement, by its very composition, would have to normalise affairs between both Koreas, end the armistice with a peace treaty, with the possible icing on the cake being a Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone.  But surely, a declaration of non-hostility on the part of Washington might be a good start?

Initial freezes in terms of testing (ballistic weapons, the nuclear program) complemented by a suspension or delay of large military exercises by the United States and South Korea, would then follow as a way of smoothing the way.

In many security channels, this might seem like very large pie in a very distant sky.  Various powers, led by the United States, see a North Korean nuclear weapons program as satanic, untenable, the freakish sore of the international comity.  It must be removed, excised, disarmed, or shackled.  But even in the darkest moments of theatre, bluster and boisterousness, talks have been taking place.  There have been discussions, albeit quietly held, reverberating in the background.

These talks have led, in balletic, searching format, to Olympic diplomacy.  In a sense, it is fitting.  The Olympics have often been the scene of protest, propaganda and boycotts, a grandiose and costly hypocrisy that crushes the host city even as it drains its coffers.  But this occasion at Pyeongchang promises to be slightly different, returning the games to their initial, if contrived purpose: to promote peaceful engagement in sporting ventures and a cession of hostilities for the duration of the event.

The security mandarins in Washington and Tokyo are seemingly not convinced.  Last weekend, it transpired that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, had made a secret journey to San Francisco to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program with Japan’s Shotaro Yachi of the national security council, and officials from South Korea.  The agenda item – the recent resumption of communications between Pyongyang and Seoul – was treated with some scorn, with Olympic diplomacy here deemed a diversion that will have little if any impact on the nuclear weapons program.

Again, the narrow horizon, the chatter of small minds prevailed, evinced by such remarks by McMaster to Fox News’ Bret Baier at the Reagan National Security Forum in California.  For McMaster, the nuclear program is a bacillus that requires expunging with immediacy, leaving little, if any room, for accommodation.  Being alarmed is a way of being.

“I think it’s increasing everyday,” he spoke with orthodox, rehearsed urgency. “It means we’re in a race.  We’re in a race to be able to solve this problem.” (On this score, McMaster is hardly being original, having insisted on this futile contest for months.)  While there were “ways to address this problem short of armed conflict” this was a “race because he’s getting closer and closer and there’s not much time left.”  Such a sinister suggestion, the self-clapping in irons that restricts diplomacy because the war monger longs to reach for his weapon.

As Leon Sigal, Director of the Northeast Asia Security Project at the Social Science Research Council explained to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year, denuclearisation was the “ultimate goal”.  However, “demanding that Pyongyang pledge that now will only delay a possible agreement, enabling it to add to its military wherewithal and bargaining leverage in the meantime.”

This point is being insistently ignored by a set of policy makers in Washington, leaving no room for manoeuvring, theatre, dissimulation, in short, all aspects that are vital to the resolution of lingering disputes.  Senator Lindsey Graham, for one, claimed on Wednesday that Seoul was “undercutting what Trump’s trying to do” in allowing Pyongyang to participate at the Winter Olympics.

What McMaster is alluding to is brutal, surrendering simplicity: come out with your hands up, surrender your weapons, and all will be well.  He does this by insisting that, “The greatest immediate threat to the United States and to the world is the threat posed by the rogue regime in North Korea and his continued efforts to develop a long range nuclear capability.”

In Vancouver, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson carried out his usual double act in a press conference following a meeting with Canadian, Korean, Japanese and UN Command officials.  He began with “one policy and one goal”: “the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”  The pressure of sanctions, long shown to be ineffective in having any actual impact on Pyongyang’s weapons program, would continue, albeit in a more targeted way.  Combating the evasion of sanctions and interdiction to prevent “ship-to-ship transfers” was also discussed.

Then came a slight adjustment in tone: while “maximum pressure”, one designed to push Pyongyang to denuclearisation talks, buttressed by a “resolute military option” had been the object of the Trump administration, Vancouver provided a different setting, featuring “constructive discussions about how to push our diplomatic efforts forward and prepare for the prospects of talks.”  All to the good, though heavily qualified by the next spurt of bellicosity from President Trump himself.

North Korea: an Agent of Peace?

The false alarm on a ballistic missile attack on Hawaii last Saturday from North Korea did not help the Peace Talks which were essentially initiated by DPRK’s President, Kim Jong-un. They spread enormous fear of a nuclear annihilation of Honolulu, pulverization of homes and people – of Armageddon for the Hawaiian population. Was this a Trump attempt to boycott the talks? Or was it the war-mongering faction of the deep state wanting more threats of war, scaring the Hawaiian population into believing that this might become reality; pushing them with a false alarm into wanting the devastation once and for all the Korean Peninsula – because an attack on the North would not spare the South? Is the war industry desperate for more wars, more profit? They may be wheezing from exhaustion as the world is turning towards peace.

Another sign that the empire, the rogue controllers of the universe, are running on empty, that they are in sheer fear of losing their grip on the world, is that Canada and the US have decided to hold an international meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on North Korea on 15 and 16 January 2018. The Conference is hosted by Canada, sponsored by the US. In addition to Canada and the US, there are 18 countries in the “Vancouver Group”, including Denmark, Greece, Norway, New Zealand and others – but not Russia, nor China — and most ridiculously of all – North Korea itself is absent. Russia and China will be briefed at the end of the meetings, in the evening of 16 January; that was the proposal. Have these wannabe hegemons along with their breath also lost their marbles?

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the obvious: This is not acceptable. Adding with his always positive humor, “With all due respect towards those who came up with such an initiative, I don’t expect anything productive. Hopefully, nothing counterproductive will happen. It’ll be a great result already, while it’s hardly believable.”

The Peace talks were initiated under the pretext of the North wanting to participate in the South’s winter Olympics in PyeongChang in February this year. A clever move. It reminds of the Ping-Pong diplomacy between Nixon’s America and China of the early 1970’s. Interestingly this was the thawing of relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which was being ‘sanctioned’ – alas! sanctions are not new! – because of Beijing’s ‘interference’ in the totally illegal, unjustified, criminal and devastating US-led Korean war which from 1950 – 1953 totally destroyed North Korea, with a death toll of at least 4 million people, almost half of the then North Korean population. The US bombs left not a brick untouched in the now DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). The goal of this inhuman atrocity was then, as are Washington’s 60 years-plus aggressions towards Pyongyang today, an attempt of further encroaching on China with the final goal of full domination.

The US table tennis team was in Nagoya, Japan, in 1971 for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, when in April 1971 the team received an invitation to visit Beijing. Hence started a diplomatic journey which later opened the (flood) gates for an immense, intense and at times controversial trade relationship between Washington and Beijing. For the PRC sports played an important diplomatic role, reflected in the slogan “Friendship First, Competition Second”.

Was Pyongyang inspired by this example of sports paving the way for a new and improved relationship between brothers? Possibly. Yet. It is not clear, who really took the initiative, and who persuaded the Donald to be quiet and let it happen.  Will he indeed be quiet and let these historic peace talks take place undisturbed? What is happening behind the curtains in Trump’s camp – other than the Vancouver Group gathering – is anybody’s guess. That these Peace Talks are taking place is what the world should concentrate on – a step forward in a peace movement that cannot be undone. It is a masterpiece of two sovereign nations to cement their relationship which unites them, plus portions of China and today’s Russian Federation with a 5000-year history.

It is important to understand Korea’s history to comprehend that everything that comes out of the lie-infected mouthpieces of Washington is incoherent and does not fit reality, the thousands of years of a peaceful Korea, whose beliefs are still today largely influenced by Confucius. The history and image of thousands of years of peaceful Korea is a revelation. See box – below.

Returning to today’s reality – only a few weeks ago, all fifteen members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) have condemned the DPRK as an aggressor that has to be punished, piling insult after lies and more insults on President Kim Jon-un and on his nothing-else-but-defense strategy. Today, the same UNSC should get together again and unanimously praise DPRK for this tremendous feat of, against all odds, engaging in peace talks with its natural brother for millennia. Why will such praise for a peace-loving nation not happen? Because the Donalds and Nikki Haleys of this world, the master aggressors of the universe, and all the President’s Men and Vassals, would have to bite their tongue.

However, we know this is not the end of it. Washington still has more than 28,000 servicemen and women stationed in South Korea and a deadly arsenal of warships, fighter planes and nuclear bombs to strike pre-emptively, if the hegemon deems it necessary. Never mind that 80% of South Koreans want this murderous occupation to end. Similar with Japan’s Okinawa US base with more than 40,000 US servicemen and women – the vast majority of Japanese, and especially Island inhabitants, want them out. They bring crime, drugs, prostitution and even murder to the island. Rapes are on the rise.

Okinawa Demonstration

May these Korean talks set in motion something bigger than just peace talks between two brothers. Could this first serious encounter in over sixty years (delegations of the two countries have met in 2014 for an exchange of family visits) become an eye-opener for the 15 UNSC members who thoughtlessly dished out murder sanctions to North Korea just a few weeks ago?

Could this be an eye-opener for the world, showing how fake the entire UN-operation has become, how subservient to the paymaster they have become? Could this be a signal for China and Russia that their non-veto, their submission to the bully, for whatever strategic reason they may have had was a mistake?  Or would they simply claim credit for what is happening – that threats and sactions do work? Any thinking person who knows the history and Mission of Peace of Great and Ancient Korea, the Gojoseon Kingdom – and surely China and Russia ought to know it – will see either how ignorant the world is, or else, how blood and greed thirsty humanity has become under the Kingdom of Capitalism.

The two Koreans may have seized the opportunity to fulfill their highest goal, to become one again, bringing their families together in a lasting way; initiating a movement of joy and harmony; a new era of unification that cannot be broken. This is fully in line with the Buddhist preachings of love, still deeply enshrined in the two Koreas.

President Kim Jong-un has always and repeatedly said that he is not seeking war, is not threatening anybody, but that the nuclear arms are a defensive weapon aiming only at the aggressors – the one and only aggressor, the United States, which for over 60 years has not let go, not allowed converting a shaky armistice agreement into a peace agreement. The people of the DPRK want nothing more than peace.

Wars over the last century and especially during the last 17 years, with the onset of the eternal “war on terror”, the one business terminology that drives the profit of the military-security industrial complex, has become so ingrained in people’s minds, that a world of peace, harmony and love is almost unimaginable.

Under what type of regime would a united North-South Korea function? A hard-core socialism, DPRK style, a Seoul type capitalism, with a soft Moon Jae-in touch, or a Chinese type socialism with a capitalist coating, yet controlled by a centralized socialist party?  Difficult to predict at this point, but given Korea’s historic link to Manchuria, to both today’s China and Russia, it would likely be a political model of social sensitivity.

The regional pressure led by China to withdraw the US military base from the Korean Peninsula would grow – and in parallel the Japanese people would find an additional argument for expulsing the US occupiers from the beautiful island of Okinawa. Would the US supported puppet leaders – leaders, not people – Japan, Guam, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia – cave in to peoples’ pressure and kick the war hounds out of their sovereign territories, as they should, if they want to deserve even a shred of the meaning of democracy?

Let me dream for a moment: If this tremendous endeavor – peace and unification – were to succeed, it might set an agenda in motion, the world at large has not thought of yet. China and Russia would come out stronger with their objective of a multi-polar world.

Mr. Putin, who supports the Moon-Kim Plan knows very well what political role the Olympics play and how sports act in politics. He and Russia are living “sports as politics” almost on a daily basis. Russian athletes being banned from Olympics, and other sports events; Russian athletes consistantly being singled out for doping, when the number of US athletes caught doping is much larger. US sports people found doping fill pages on internet, but nobody cares to look and dares speaking up against injustice. The Olympic committee is a puppet of the same league as are the United Nations, the European Union and all the international courts. For what reasons?  I can only think of cowardice. That’s what globalized neoliberalism has made us – afraid of sanctions, afraid to stand up for justice and instead subservient to bullies. That’s greed above integrity.

President Putin, along with the Presidents Moon and Kim, cleverly turns sport around as a peace initiative – who could oppose DPRK athletes from participating in South Korea’s Olympics – and behind the scene is an actual peace initiative being mounted that could literally turn the world’s techtonic power plates around. Dynamics of such developments, coupled with a rapid shift towards more economic equilibrium, already taking place in the form of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) growing strength, and with increased monetary independence from the west – such dynamics are unpredictable. But they could rapidly move our civilization from darkness into light.

Day of Infamy for the UN Security Council: Triggering a Devastating Humanitarian Crisis in North Korea

Ignoring the avalanche of evidence that prior sanctions on the DPRK are causing a devastating humanitarian crisis for the people of North Korea, especially the most vulnerable, on December 22, despite warnings of the catastrophic consequences to the people, the UN Security Council passed a new set of sanctions so draconian and inhumane that they must be compared to Hitler’s Nuremberg laws.

In quintessentially bad faith, many of these Security Council diplomats who voted “yes” professed ignorance of the human suffering their prior sanctions were inflicting, or are wantonly indifferent to the human agony their votes for these new sanctions make inevitable.

In view of the collapse of the DPRK’s socialist economic system these sanctions are intended to provoke, the ultimate question remains why China and Russia failed to veto these sanctions, while they have the power to prevent this catastrophe. What “arrangements” were made? Has the U.S. juggernaut succeeded in inducing the short-sighted submission of Russia and China, who must certainly anticipate the horrific results of a collapse of the DPRK, which will lead to the complete destabilization of the Eurasian continent, a permanent American military presence, and probably nuclear war. Surely Russia must remember that Gorbachev was assured by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, that, in return for the Soviet Union’s agreement to the reunification of Germany,

NATO will not expand one inch east of Berlin.

Today Russia is surrounded by NATO bases. Was Gorbachev gullible or treacherous? Russians frequently suspect the latter.

All five permanent members of the Security Council are themselves are in gross violation of Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires their divesting their military arsenals of nuclear weapons; they are, instead, investing trillions of dollars in upgrading “nukes.” Article 6 of the NPT requires their negotiating, in good faith, a treaty to abolish nuclear weapons; this United Nations treaty was adopted this year, ignored by Russia and China, and opposed by the US, UK and France in a virulent campaign. The US is also violating article 1 of the NPT, placing nuclear weapons in 5 NATO countries: these 5 countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany are in violation of Article 2 of the NPT. In violation of the NPT, themselves, the Permanent 5 members of the Security Council have absolutely no right to condemn the DPRK, which is not even a party to the NPT.

United Nations Security Council resolution 2397 dooms the UN to a legacy of destruction of stable, progressive independent nations including Iraq, Libya, and now the DPRK.

Prior to the adoption of resolution, 2397, the UN Human Rights Commissioner revealed that the tough sanctions already imposed on the DPRK are obstructing delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. As a result, 70% of the population, 18 million North Koreans suffer from acute food shortages. Sanctions obstructing international bank transfers are blocking UN ground operations, preventing delivery of food, medical equipment and other humanitarian aid.

According to AFP:

‘Aid groups are facing hurdles to clear customs for goods destined for North Korea, to ensure procurement and transport of aid supplies, as well as rising food prices that have shot up 160% since April,’ said UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca.

On December 9, NBC news reported:

The Trump administration’s primary North Korea strategy would do little to curb the country’s nuclear program, and could trigger a famine, according to experts. The White House is urging China to turn off oil supplies to the 25 million Koreans…many analysts say such a move would have minimal impact on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and would instead hit the country’s agricultural sector, potentially leading to mass starvation.

Dr. David Von Hippel, a senior adviser at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability warned the results of an oil embargo could have a catastrophic impact on a humanitarian level.

An oil cutoff would drastically reduce the amount of domestically grown food available to the civilian population….What arable land there is the DPRK farms intensively. They rely on tractors, irrigation pumps, refrigerators and transportation trucks to harvest and distribute food before it rots….even the current level of sanctions imposed in September (Resolution 2375) will impoverish North Korea’s breadbasket.

On October 25 UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK, Tomas Quintana stated that he was

alarmed by reports that sanctions may have prevented cancer patients from access to chemotherapy…the shipment of wheelchairs and essential equipment for persons with disabilities is now constrained…humanitarian actors are facing difficulties to source much-needed supplies and carry out international financial transactions.

Following his return from Pyongyang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman stated:

What I was concerned about was the reduction in programs for the DPRK. The program is only 30 percent funded. It’s having a large impact on how the UN can deliver on its humanitarian programs. I was concerned about the overall lack of funding…which affects the UN’s ability to deliver life-saving equipment on the ground.

This humanitarian disaster is neither accidental nor coincidental. All this information was publicly available to all 15 members of the Security Council prior to December 22, when they inflicted even more deadly sanctions on the people of North Korea. The Security Council is an accessory to these crimes. Though they boast, irresponsibly, that the sanctions contain “humanitarian exemption,” how do they explain the alarming failure to implement these “humanitarian exemptions,” and the fact that the tragic victims of these criminal and fatal sanctions are the majority of the people of North Korea?

The damning answer is revealed in the investigation of the failure of “humanitarian aid” in the case of sanctions against Iraq, which resulted in another humanitarian catastrophe, including the death from starvation of more than half a million Iraqi children. In a brilliant work of investigative journalism by Joy Gordon, entitled “Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” (Published in Harper’s, 2002) Ms. Gordon States:

News of Iraqi fatalities has been well documented (by the United Nations, among others), though underreported by the media. What has remained invisible, however, is any documentation of how and by whom such a death toll has been justified for so long…..But I soon learned that all U.N. records that could answer my questions were kept from public scrutiny. This is not to say that the UN is lacking in public documents related to the Iraq program. What is unavailable are the documents that show how the U.S. policy agenda has determined the outcome of humanitarian and security judgments…The operation of Iraq sanctions involves numerous agencies within the United Nations…These agencies have been careful not to publicly discuss their ongoing frustration with the manner in which the program is operated…Over the last three years, through research and interviews with diplomats I have acquired many of the key confidential UN documents concerning the administration of Iraq sanctions. I obtained these documents on the condition that my sources remain anonymous. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively throughout the last decade to purposefully minimize the humanitarian goods that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread epidemics…what is less well known is that the government of Saddam Hussein had invested heavily in health, education, and social programs for two decades prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Iraq was a rapidly developing country with free education, ample electricity, modernized agriculture and a robust middle class.

The diplomats who heedlessly refer to failed “humanitarian exemptions” to these DPRK sanctions are privy to the facts excavated by Joy Gordon, and published in Harpers, and these diplomats are aware of the actual cause of the failure of “humanitarian aid.” This failure is the deliberate, premeditated killing of innocent North Koreans, and that is the purpose of these sanctions, which do not, in fact, affect the nuclear program. In any civilized, responsible organization, the perpetrators of these sanctions would be convicted of premeditated murder.

North Korea is not an aggressor: they fought successfully against brutal Japanese colonization, and were then provoked into defending themselves from guerrilla attacks by U.S. client Syngman Rhee’s army, in 1949, which violated the 38 parallel to attack North Korea, the provocation that ignited the Korean War of 1950-1953. Today, the US, South Korea and Japan are imperiling the survival of North Korea with their incessant military threats.

In the 1950-1953 U.S. led UN attack of North Korea, more than 3-4 million North Koreans were murdered by carpet-bombing, napalm, germ warfare and other weapons of mass destruction. These figures are confirmed by US General Curtis LeMay, and numerous others involved in perpetrating this massacre of North Koreans. As traumatic memories of the slaughter of 1 million Armenians by the Turks over 100 years ago still fester within the lives of today’s Armenians, as Hitler’s genocide of 6 million Jews 70 years ago cannot be forgotten by today’s Jews, so the massacre of more than three million North Koreans by a US controlled UN army can never be forgotten by North Korea, whose government is determined to protect North Korea from a repetition of this horror. And the only weapon that might deter the United States from another attempt to totally destroy the last remaining socialist country is their nuclear weapon, which might require the US to think twice before another attack.

Thus, an alternative method of slaughter, UN Security Council Resolution 2397, despite alarming warnings of catastrophic humanitarian consequences, ruthlessly cuts 90 percent of oil supplies to the DPRK; the resolution demands that 150,000 North Koreans working in other countries must be expelled, and have their jobs eliminated within 24 months, exacerbating the impoverishment of North Korea; in addition to other restrictions, and together with a large number of previous travel bans against individuals crucial to the economic sector of the DPRK, Resolution 2397 includes further travel bans against 15 key members of the economic sector, and foreign trade representatives.

Ambassador Han Tae Song, at the UN in Geneva earlier stated:

It is obvious that the aim of the sanctions is to overthrow the system of my country by isolating and stifling it and to intentionally bring about humanitarian disaster instead of preventing weapons development as claimed by the U.S. and its followers.

On December 7 it was reported that South Korea will spend almost $1,000,000.00 to purchase drones and grenade machine guns, for a “Decapitation Unit” to murder Kim Jong UN. This, of course, is not only criminal homicide, it is in violation of international law. On December 10 Reuters reported that Japan, the US and South Korea will hold additional military drills, immediately following the December 4 US- South Korea large-scale military drills held the prior week. This is an incessant military threat to the survival of the people and government of North Korea, and an intolerable provocation. On December 17 South Korean and U.S. forces conducted a joint military plan to invade North Korea, ostensibly to “remove weapons of mass destruction.” This “Warrior Strike” military exercise was held at Camp Stanley, north of Seoul, near the 38 parallel. US commander of Forces Korea Vincent Brooks, and Lt. General Thomas Vandal were present at the “Warrior Strike” military drills.

By November 28, the government of the DPRK had not tested anything for almost three months. Instead of attempting peaceful negotiations in this stable atmosphere, as required by all Security Council Resolutions, the US, on the contrary, escalated its military threats against North Korea, with a series of deadly military drills. It is therefore preposterous that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated on December 15 that North Korea must “earn” the right to negotiations. North Korea had conspicuously halted any testing for almost three months prior, and instead of seizing the opportunity to establish negotiations for peace, the US aggressively increased military threats.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry called US President Trump’s national security strategy

the most recent American policy seeking to stifle our country and turn the entire Korean peninsula into an outpost of American hegemony…Trump is seeking total subordination of the whole world.

UN Security Council Resolution 2397 will be fatal to North Korea’s economy. It will destroy the majority of the people, but have little or no impact on weapons development.

Finally, it is revealing that on December 4 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: report of the Conference on Disarmament”. The DPRK voted “Yes” in support of this resolution. The U.S. voted “No,” in opposition. Again, on the General Assembly resolution on the “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” the DPRK voted “Yes,” in support of this resolution, while the U.S. voted “No” in opposition. It is obvious which country is a threat to world peace: it is not the DPRK.

It is freezing in New York today. If an 90% oil cutoff were imposed on the United States, a huge number of civilians would freeze to death. The winter in North Korea is even colder. Resolution 2397 will condemn the people of North Korea to excruciating deaths. Ironically, December 22 is the United Nations “Holocaust Remembrance Day.” It is shameful that on December 22 the United Nations Security Council voted to inflict the Twenty–First Century’s Holocaust upon the people of North Korea. With the passage of Resolution 2397, the United Nations Security Council has become an instrument of barbarism and terror.

Featured image is from Zobiyen TV.

Article first published in Global Research