Spoiling for a Fight? - by Stephen Lendman
Washington is a world class menace, waging imperial wars for global dominance called peace, stability and democracy. In the run-up to the 1950 Korean War, Truman used South Korea to goad Pyongyang into a conflict it didn't want. Nor does it now, but events may spiral out of control unless cooler heads prevail.
Last March, the latest confrontation began when North Korea was falsely blamed for sinking a South Korean ship. At the time, evidence suggested a false flag, manufactured to blame Pyongyang.
Then on November 23, US media reports said North Korea incited the gravest incident since the July 1953 armistice. Analysts called it a deliberate provocation, even though South Korean forces fired first, goaded by the Obama administration for what Pyongyang, with good reason, called a rehearsal for invasion.
Decades of sanctions crippled its economy. Ten years under Bush/Obama were intimidating. South Korea's right-wing Lee Myung-bak Grand National Party replaced Uri Party's Roh Moo-hyun's Sunshine Policy, initiating hostile, provocative relations.
Lee rescinded his cooperative economic agreements, cancelled emergency communications between both sides to avoid possible conflict, stopped family reunions, ended the North's Mt. Kumgang tourist operations, and closed the North-South railroad benefitting both sides, keeping only a Kaesong, North Korea industrial park operating.
He also violated a 2004 agreement to halt propaganda campaigns, sending 400,000 disinformation leaflets north on balloons. Annual South Korean/US military exercises heighten tensions, especially with extra Washington/Seoul saber rattling. Pyongyang warned about current ones, calling them "reckless military provocations (in) our maritime territory." Promising another response, Reuters, on December 20, said:
"North Korea stepped back from confrontation over 'reckless' military drills by the South on Monday and reportedly issued a new offer on nuclear inspections, drawing a cautious response from Seoul and Washington," preferring confrontation to diplomacy.
On December 19, an emergency Security Council meeting failed to reach consensus urging peninsula calm with language condemning only Pyongyang. China and Russia want both sides blamed. They also urge reducing tensions and above all avoiding conflict.
Reuters said US, British and French delegations rejected Russia's proposal for a UN envoy mission to Seoul and Pyongyang, seeking "maximum restraint."
On December 21, Al Jazeera said Security Council negotiations "ended in an impasse, with Russia and China resisting an explicit condemnation of North Korea for last month's attack." As a result, a planned December 20 meeting was cancelled.
Korea Policy Institute analyst Christine Ahn believes "the threat of war with North Korea is very real." If so, Washington and Seoul will provoke it, not Pyongyang, with nothing strategic to gain. Moreover, it would "draw in both the United States, and potentially China, into a larger conflict that nobody wants....I think that (both US and South Korean) leaders are playing a very dangerous game that could really escalate into a full-blown war."
No one in the region wants one. With America embroiled in two unwinnable conflicts, it's hard imagining Washington does either. No matter. Given Obama's reckless agenda, no possibility can be ruled out.
Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said:
"Now we have a situation of very serious political tension and no game plan on the diplomatic side." He also warned that "within hours there may be a serious aggravation of tensions, a serious conflict for that matter."
A statement from Wang Min, China's ambassador and permanent UN representative said:
"We strongly appeal (for) relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint, act in a responsible manner and avoid increas(ing) tensions....Calm rather than tension, dialogue rather than confrontation, peace rather than warfare, this is the strong aspiration and voice of the peoples from both sides of the Peninsula and the international community."
He also called the situation "perilous." Washington and Seoul were unmoved, blaming Pyongyang unfairly. They also participated jointly in South Korea's provocative December 20 military exercises.
Held on Yeonpyeong Island, they included 90 minutes of live artillery fire with US trainers and observers present. Local residents stayed in bunkers in case Pyongyang retaliated. South Korean officials went on emergency standby. Washington and Seoul's military were on high alert. Provocative overhead flights threated attack. Warships patrolled the Yellow Sea near the disputed Northern Limited Line, unilaterally imposed by Washington in 1953, one of many thorns affecting relations.
Earlier, South Korea's Defense Minister, Kim Kwan-jin, said Pyongyang's artillery batteries would be bombed if its territory again was shelled. Instead of cooling tensions, Seoul and Washington exploit them to the fullest, including inflammatory media reports condemning the North as aggressor, the South a victim, and America as neutral arbiter.
Nonetheless, Pyongyang showed restraint, cooling tensions that heightened fears along one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers. Its official KCNA news agency said:
"The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation," calling the drills "childish play with fire."
In a show of good faith, Pyongyang also agreed to let UN inspectors return to its Yongbyon nuclear complex, offered to sell its 12,000 fuel rods to another country, and proposed creating a joint military commission and hotline with Seoul and Washington to avoid future conflict. Hardly proposals from a belligerent, yet they were quickly dismissed, US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley saying:
"We've seen a string of broken promises by North Korea going back many, many years. We'll be guided by what North Korea does, not (what) it might do under certain circumstances."
Unmentioned was Washington half century of broken promises, intimidation, threats, isolation, and economic aggression against Pyongyang to force its adoption of a market oriented economy dominated by US capital. Resistance draws ire and provocations that could escalate to war, no matter the risks of pitting a potential Pyongyang/Beijing/Moscow alliance against Washington and Seoul.
Ignored also was America's refusal to resume six-party talks to ease tensions and avoid what no one, except perhaps Washington, may want. It includes greater confrontation with China, its main economic rival that, if unchecked, will surpass the US in the current century as the world's dominant economy. A potential showdown looms to prevent it - the unthinkable, another Asian land war against a super-power far stronger than Vietnam and a land mass the size of America.
America's Global Dominance Agenda
Imperial America also threatens Russia, its main military rival with a near-matching nuclear capability and strength to strike globally if attacked. Pentagon strategists regard Afghanistan as strategically crucial to project military power against Russia, China, Iran, and other oil-rich Eurasian states, including Middle East ones.
Russia and China know the stakes - that Washington wants unchallengeable military power to assure control of global resources, as well as "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming strength to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including preemptively with nuclear weapons.
As a result, nuclear war by miscalculation or design remains as conceivable under Obama as Bush - a reckless possibility for "mutually assured destruction." During the Cold War, it was prevented. The two Koreas, are just pawns in this reckless game for dominance that potentially could consume everyone, including an American aggressor.
After nearly 60 years of confrontation and hostility, any nation would feel paranoid. More recently, Pyongyang recalls that, in 2003, George Bush, told Chinese President Jiang Zemin that if North Korea's nuclear issue wasn't resolved peacefully (meaning entirely abandoned for commercial use) he'd "have to consider a military strike."
The possibility remains, especially with Obama as belligerent as Bush. He also rejects diplomatic efforts to cool tensions and resolve differences peacefully. Instead, US policy remains aggressive and confrontational, risking nuclear war, an unthinkable alternative anywhere, but design or miscalculation may cause it.
Targeting North Korea
A charter "axis of evil" member, imperial America targets North Korea, perhaps more aggressively than earlier with help from the International Criminal Court (ICC). On December 7, Washington Post writer John Pomfret headlined, "Court looks into alleged war crimes by N. Korea," saying:
The ICC "launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that North Korean forces committed war crimes when they shelled civilian areas in South Korea and allegedly sank a South Korean warship, the court announced Monday."
Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said complaints prompted its action, notably from South Korea. In fact, the alleged ship sinking was a red herring, and Seoul's belligerence precipitated Pyongyang's response, shelling military, not civilian, targets on Yeonpyeong Island, eight miles from its coast.
Instead of holding responsible parties culpable for crimes against humanity, war crimes, illegal aggression and genocide, the ICC serves US, Western, and Israeli interests, guilty of enough criminality to demand prosecution for decades. Instead, victims, not aggressors are charged and convicted. Pyongyang's leaders may be next if they travel abroad and become vulnerable. The rule of might over right prevails, justice always denied.
A Final Comment
For decades, Israel has been a regional bully and global menace, more proof from Amos Harel's December 20 Haaretz article headlined, "IDF to deploy super-armored tanks along Gaza border," saying:
Equipped with "active armor (Windbreaker) protection, they'll deploy in January "following assessments that the threat of anti-tank missile attacks in the area is on the rise. (Israeli) security sources (claim Gazan) militants upgraded their anti-tank missile capabilities. (Windbreaker) neutraliz(es) advanced anti-tank missiles at different ranges."
In fact, Palestinians don't initiate attacks. In self-defense, they occasionally respond legally to Israeli aggression. On December 18, Reuters reported a recent incident involving Israeli air strikes killing five Gazans. Israel called them "terror operatives who were preparing to launch rockets toward Israeli territory." They're always freedom fighters or civilians.
On December 21, Al Jazeera headlined, "Israeli fighter jets attack Gaza," saying:
Two Palestinians were wounded according to witnesses. "The overnight raids came after the Israeli army accused Palestinian fighters of firing nine mortar shells into southern Israel, which fell on open ground and caused no deaths."
Seven raids were conducted against Khan Younis and northern Gaza locations, "targeting the Jabailya refugee camp and the towns of Beit Lahya, Beit Hanoun and Zeitoun." No casualties were reported, but often civilians are killed or wounded. A tunnel near Rafah was also attacked, again with no casualties. Israel, in fact, reported that throughout 2010, only around 200 rockets or shells were fired, causing little damage and few casualties.
In contrast, Israel launches regular air and ground attacks, destroying non-military targets, targeting civilians, and causing frequent deaths and injuries, including Gazan farmers, workers and fishermen. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, homes and communities are assaulted, property destroyed, and civilians attacked, including women and children.
Virtually daily, Israel violates international law with impunity. Western leaders and ICC justices stay silent despite decades of criminal acts. Silence makes them complicit.
Instead, might rules over right. Victims, not aggressors, are blamed, even 1.5 million Gazans suffocating lawlessly under siege since June 2007. They're denied enough food, medicine, electricity, fuel and other essentials to survive.
In mid-2010, Israel cut wheat and animal feed let in by 25%, making conditions more dire. As a result, Gazans' fundamental human rights, dignity, and right to life are compromised. No one cares enough to act, nor in Asia where nuclear war might erupt unless global pressure prevents it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.