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Why South Korea Must Chart an Independent Path on North Korea | Cato Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 31, 2020

South Korea better finish the job because Trump won’t be allowed.

By Doug Bandow

This article appeared on National Interest (Online) on July 13, 2020.

President Moon Jae‐​in has decided to double down on attempting to negotiate with North Korea. He shuffled four top positions dealing with the North, choosing new heads of the Ministry of Unification, Presidential Office of National Security, and National Intelligence Service, as well as a new Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs and National Security.

The incoming Minister of Unification, Lee In‐​young, was a student radical and long‐​time advocate of engagement with Pyongyang. The new national security adviser is Suh Hoon, a technocrat and North Korea specialist. The latest spymaster is Park Jie‐​won, successful businessman, Kim Dae‐​jung loyalist, Kim’s interlocutor with the North, and National Assembly member. The new adviser is Im Jong‐​seok, Moon’s former chief‐​of‐​staff who left under fire for his political activities.

The first three all have direct experience with the North Korea issue. Last week Lee insisted that inter‐​Korean dialogue must “continue without stopping under any circumstances.” As for Im, presidential spokesman Kang Min‐​seok observed: “We expect that he will play a big role in defending national interest and settling peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The Sejong Institute’s Cheong Seong‐​Chang observed: “Tapping former lawmaker Park Jie‐​won as the head of NIS shows the president’s will to resume inter‐​Korean dialogue channel. His past experience in communicating with the North was likely considered.” The Hankyoreh newspaper reported that “Moon appears to have taken note of Park’s ongoing calls for the administration to move proactively and aggressively to improve ties with Pyongyang.”

How this extensive political and intellectual firepower will be employed is unclear. The Moon government’s recent initiatives have been routinely rebuffed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The DPRK recently made its point by (really) blowing up the Inter‐​Korean Liaison Office. Last week Kwon Jong‐​gun, the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Director‐​General of U.S. Affairs, criticized Seoul for attempting to mediate between the U.S. and North, referring to the Moon administration as “the meddlesome man who had again indicated his intention to arbitrate between the DPRK and the U.S. regardless of time.”

Yet while most of Pyongyang’s angry denunciations have been aimed at the South, the actual target is the U.S. It is Washington which has imposed bilateral sanctions and orchestrated the imposition of United Nations penalties. And it is the U.S., despite President Donald Trump’s claimed desire for a deal, which prevented the Republic of Korea from moving ahead with any promised economic developments. Of course, the North blames Moon for overselling his options and refusing to buck Washington: Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo‐​jong, complained that Moon had accepted “the coercion of his master,” the U.S. However, even in this view the ultimate fault remains America’s.

So far the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign has failed against every target—Venezuela, Syria, and Iran as well as North Korea. Moreover, Cuba and Russia, subject to somewhat less than maximum pressure campaigns, remain unrepentant as well. Nevertheless, Washington remains wedded to failure. It even ratcheted up economic sanctions on Cuba, which continue after six decades, without having achieved any positive political end. One suspects that U.S. policymakers would make the case for maintaining the embargo even after the Second Coming, claiming that Cuban surrender to U.S. demands no doubt was imminent. So it also likely will be with North Korea.

However, Moon may be preparing to challenge Washington’s stranglehold over policy toward the North. Before being selected, Park advocated “autonomy” for the ROK, since Washington was “responsible for the strain on inter‐​Korean relations.” He further contended that the minister of unification should “have it out with the U.S. when there are problems with it being too excessive with its sanctions,” which these days is always.

Should Moon decide to challenge Washington he has a solid political base, his party has won a sizeable majority in the recent National Assembly elections. Moreover, the election of his successor remains two years off, giving him time to pursue new initiatives toward the North. While his chance of success looks poor, given the DPRK’s recent hostility, a decision to challenge American sanctions—perhaps play a game of geopolitical chicken with an ally of seven decades—might change the inter‐​Korean dynamic.

Indeed, U.S. analysts are used to South Korean subservience to American objectives, essentially the high price exacted for accepting defense by an overweening superpower like the U.S. So the latest ROK initiative has raised Washington suspicions. Last week David Maxwell of the uber‐​hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies complained that Moon “put in place a new national security team that is composed of figures known for their close ties to North Korean officials. The composition of the team indicates that Moon plans to double down on his ‘Peace Strategy’ and will attempt to engage Pyongyang regardless of the U.S. position.”

This sign of independent thought and commitment to engagement obviously worries Maxwell, who argued that “it is imperative that such engagement does not come at the expense of sanctions. Seoul wants to force a diplomatic breakthrough at all costs; given Park’s and Lee’s histories, this could lead to a policy of rewarding the North simply for coming to the table, possibly in direct contravention of sanctions.”

Maxwell is particularly concerned that Lee desires to challenge the joint U.S.-ROK strategy working group which many in the South see as an American attempt to hinder Moon’s engagement efforts. Indeed, Lee had the temerity to observe: “North Korea sanctions are not an end in themselves.” Rather, he insisted, “the ultimate objective is peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Maxwell’s hardline position highlights the problem of sanctions, which, contra Lee’s expressed sentiments, the administration appears to be treating as an end rather than a means. America’s ever escalating economic war against the North has failed to deliver denuclearization, just as similar attacks on other nations have failed to force political change. Now administration officials routinely declare sanctions to be a success by punishing impoverished societies such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, as if that was their original objective. In effect, the administration glories in creating economic hardship, seemingly for its own sake. As long as North Koreans are hungry, administration policymakers apparently feel good about their policy towards the DPRK.

Maxwell hopes that other South Korean officials, especially Foreign Minister Kang Kyung‐​wha and Special Representative Lee Do‐​hoon, can “manage” these newly appointed advocates of engagement. However, such an attitude demonstrates the bizarre incentives created when a country contracts out its security to another party with far different interests.

The ROK has an overriding interest in peace on the peninsula. South Koreans have lived with war and the possibility of renewed conflict for 70 years. In contrast, for Americans the possibility of war is more theoretical. U.S. analysts cheerfully debate the possibility of preventative military strikes on nuclear facilities as if the lives of millions of Koreans were not at stake.

Indeed, Sen. Lindsey Graham blithely dismissed the consequences of starting a nuclear war “over there,” apparently believing that the potential of a catastrophic conflagration mattered little. For him, it seems, the potential human catastrophe is just a matter of eggs and omelets, as communist sympathizers once insisted.

With a still relatively new and certainly different government in power in the North, Moon understandably wants to take advantage of every possible opportunity to end the peninsula’s unique cold war. He clearly sees peace as the end, and sanctions as only a means, one that should be discarded if it impedes achieving peace. So does his new unification minister, Lee, who insisted that “Sanctions should not be pursued for the sake of sanctions but for realizing their ultimate goal of building peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

No doubt, ROK officials might be too optimistic in their estimation of the chance of reaching a genuine accord—so far the North, which started one big war and has initiated lots of smaller provocations, has not been the easiest negotiating partner. Nevertheless, they correctly understand the counterproductive attitude in Washington. And the Korean people appear to demonstrate realism in action: nine of ten don’t believe that the North intends to denuclearize, but a plurality of 46 percent nevertheless support engagement, up from 38 percent last November.

More important, Washington has no new or useful ideas. This administration, like its predecessors, believes in more of the same. Evermore. If you just pile on enough sanctions and threaten war often enough the North Koreans will crawl to Washington and surrender. Of course, this strategy has failed for years, even decades, with the Cubans, Iranians, Venezuelans, Syrians, and Russians. Indeed, what the North accurately calls America’s “hostile policy” makes it imperative for them to build nuclear weapons. After Libya, and Muammar Khadafy’s brutal death, what rational North Korean leader would surrender the North’s nuclear arsenal?

Now also might be the right time for Moon to decide if South Korea is a truly independent nation or not. Will the ROK forever transfer responsibility for its security to another nation which believes that many other objectives have priority?

Moon should start by repealing unilateral ROK sanctions. They have limited practical effect but matter symbolically. Then he should have a heart‐​to‐​heart chat with President Donald Trump. If the U.S. won’t relax selective sanctions to empower Seoul, Moon should move ahead anyway. And dare Washington to sanction its ally which it claims to be defending.

However, the U.S. responds, in the future, South Koreans might end up celebrating that day as a second independence day. It would be long overdue for a nation long capable of defending itself and charting its own future.

Media Name: bandow-cropped.jpg

Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co‐​author of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.

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John Bolton’s Mission: Destroy Donald Trump’s Detente with North Korea | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on June 23, 2020

The only problem: North Korea isn’t some helpless punter with string bean arms and a lanky midsection. It’s a nuclear weapons state fiercely proud of its independence and sovereignty, constantly on guard for the slightest threat from a foreign power, and cognizant of its weakened position relative to its neighbors.

The more accurate question, Mr. President, is “what did you expect from John Bolton,” whose only accomplishment on the North Korea portfolio was the slaying of the only nuclear agreement (the Clinton-era Agreed Framework) that managed to stick for more than a week?

by Daniel R. DePetris

Why is this such a shocker?

John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was ousted from his job last September (Bolton claims he resigned), has been on a tear over the last week. His memoir, “The Room Where it Happened,” documents a series of allegedly explosive encounters with President Donald Trump during Bolton’s 17-month tenure. By now, you have likely come across some of the more salacious excerpts from the book—including what Bolton himself likens to a campaign of systemic obstruction of justice on behalf of the dictators and authoritarians Trump appears to respect so much.

The media is jumping all over the story, covering Bolton’s book as if it was this century’s bombshell blockbuster. While the general public doesn’t have access to the volume yet, it’s safe to say that 90% of the pages are likely designed to make Bolton look as if he was the noble insurgent fighting his boss and trying to prevent the U.S. from being on the wrong side of history. And, knowing Bolton’s reputation, there are likely a few ham-fisted attempts to drag down his former colleagues in the process.

Normally, I wouldn’t touch a Bolton screed with a 10-foot pole. I didn’t read his last memoir (“Surrender is not an Option”) when it was published over a decade ago and I don’t plan on reading this one either. But scrolling through the excerpts, I couldn’t help but marvel at Bolton’s nerve. That Bolton had the audacity to pan Trump’s outreach to North Korean Kim Jong-un when he has a decades-long record of failure on the subject is beyond ironic (weeks before Bolton was appointed as national security adviser, he wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal arguing that bombing a nuclear-armed North Korea would be an act of self-defense). You almost have to admire his lack of self-perception.

In Bolton’s recounting, Trump’s slap-dash Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un was a “foolish mistake” that could have been catastrophic to Washington’s objective of denuclearizing the North. “Trump told…me he was prepared to sign a substance-free communique, have his press conference to declare victory and then get out of town,” Bolton wrote, implying that even the president himself doubted his diplomatic gamble with Kim would result in anything substantive. In Bolton’s mind, the entire summit was an exercise in showmanship and publicity—a way to persuade voters back in the United States that Trump was a bold, new leader willing to embrace the unconventional in order to strike a deal of historic magnitude.

Bolton, of course, dismissed the entire concept of diplomacy from the very start. He never bought into the notion that North Korean officials could be talked to sensibly because they were, well, insane. Bolton’s version of North Korea diplomacy was to tighten the economic screws, brandish the U.S. military, and wait until one of two things happened: 1) the Kim regime surrendered its entire nuclear weapons program like Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, or 2) the Kim regime continued to spur Washington’s demands, in which the White House would have no option but to use U.S. military force. Bolton’s record is analogous to a stereotypical linebacker on an obscene amount of steroids—smash your opponent to pieces and don’t think twice about it.

The only problem: North Korea isn’t some helpless punter with string bean arms and a lanky midsection. It’s a nuclear weapons state fiercely proud of its independence and sovereignty, constantly on guard for the slightest threat from a foreign power, and cognizant of its weakened position relative to its neighbors. This is one of the prime reasons Bolton’s obsession with the Libya-style North Korea deal, in which Pyongyang would theoretically discard its entire nuclear apparatus and allow U.S. weapons inspectors to take custody of its nuclear warheads before flying them back to the U.S. for destruction, was unworkable from the start. The Libya-model trumpeted by Bolton was a politically correct way of demanding Pyongyang’s total surrender—an extremely naive goal if there ever was one. When one remembers the fate of Qaddafi 8 years after he traded sanctions relief for his weapons of mass destruction—the dictator was assaulted and humiliated before being executed in the desert—even the word “Libya” is treated by the Kim dynasty as a threat to its existence. As Paul Pillar wrote in these pages more than two years ago, “Libya’s experience does indeed weigh heavily on the thinking of North Korean officials, who have taken explicit notice of that experience, as a disincentive to reaching any deals with the United States about dismantling weapons programs.”

One can certainly take issue with Trump’s North Korea policy. Two years of personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un have yet to result in the denuclearization Washington seeks (denuclearization is more of a slogan than a realistic objective at this point, anyway). But Trump’s strategy aside, Bolton’s alternative was worse. The president knew his former national security adviser’s public insistence on the Libya model was dangerously inept. He had to walk back Bolton’s comments weeks later to ensure the North Koreans didn’t pull out of diplomacy before it got off the ground. Trump hasn’t forgotten about the experience; on June 18, Trump tweeted that “Bolton’s dumbest of all statements set us back very badly with North Korea, even now. I asked him, “what the hell were you thinking?”

The more accurate question, Mr. President, is “what did you expect from John Bolton,” whose only accomplishment on the North Korea portfolio was the slaying of the only nuclear agreement (the Clinton-era Agreed Framework) that managed to stick for more than a week?

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Donald Trump’s Real North Korea Mistake | Cato Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 22, 2020

The necessity of trying to reduce that risk impels the United States to continue pursuing the chimera of getting North Korea to renounce its nukes and missiles. As I’ve written elsewhere, Pyongyang is extremely unlikely ever to abide by those demands. Those weapons are the North Korean government’s ace in the hole to prevent the United States from trying to replicate the forcible regime‐​change strategy it pursued in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere.

By Ted Galen Carpenter

This article appeared on The National Interest (Online) on Feburary 18, 2020.

President Trump needs to take advantage of his strengthened political position following the impeachment fiasco to keep his 2016 campaign promises about reassessing obsolete American military alliances. Unfortunately, thus far his approach has consisted of little more than empty talk. In terms of substance, Washington’s policies toward its NATO and East Asian allies have shifted very little. The administration’s principal change efforts have focused on demanding greater financial burden‐​sharing from its treaty partners in both regions.

That approach has worked only to a very limited extent. As Trump pointed out in his State of the Union address, the number of European NATO members meeting the agreed‐​upon target of spending two percent of their annual gross domestic product on defense has doubled during his administration. He neglected to mention, though, that the overwhelming majority of members still have not reached that target.

His track record with South Korea and Japan is not much better. In November 2019, the administration reportedly demanded that Seoul make a five‐​fold increase in its $900 million annual support payments for U.S. troops stationed in the ROK. Washington also pressed Tokyo to quadruple its $2 billion support payment. Both allies strongly resisted that pressure, and likely viewed the demands as a bluff. As with earlier calls for greater burden‐​sharing by the NATO allies going back decades, U.S. leaders have never exhibited a credible willingness to withdraw U.S. forces if the calls were spurned. Allied governments seem confident that the situation is no different this time.

Even in the unlikely event that they did accept Washington’s demands, the objective of financial burden‐​sharing fails to understand the real problem with U.S. foreign policy. The more fundamental problem is that the costs and risks of America’s alliance obligations now outweigh the prospective benefits—and the gap is growing rapidly. That situation is graphically apparent with respect to Washington’s security commitments in East Asia—especially to South Korea. The “mutual” defense treaty with Seoul entails the risk of a U.S. military confrontation with North Korea. That was perilous enough when Pyongyang lacked any nuclear capability, much less the capacity to strike the American homeland. Both conditions have now changed.

It should be puzzling, frustrating, and alarming to all Americans that the United States is still on front lines of any crisis involving North Korea. That dangerous, unrewarding role arose in a different era under very different circumstances. Washington’s commitment to defend South Korea from the communist North reflected the pervasive view among U.S. policymakers that the world was bipolar strategically, and that any victory by a Soviet or Communist Chinese client would be a dangerous setback for the United States and its “free world” allies. Thus, U.S. leaders deemed keeping the noncommunist Republic of Korea (ROK) out of the clutches of international communism important to America’s own strategic interests.

Whatever the logic of such a commitment in a bipolar Cold War setting, circumstances have changed dramatically over the past three decades. Unlike the backing that Moscow and Beijing provided to Pyongyang when the communist regime launched its military offensive in 1950 to conquer the ROK and unify the Korean Peninsula under communist rule, both China and noncommunist Russia have no desire for a second Korean war—or even a boost in tensions in the region. Even in the unlikely scenario that North Korea intends to invade the South again, Seoul’s vast economic advantage over its rival means that the ROK can build whatever forces it needs to deter or defeat such a conventional military threat. It also can choose to build a nuclear deterrent to offset anything Pyongyang does in that area.

While North Korean leaders would logically regard as credible a determination by South Korea to defend itself, their assessment of a U.S. commitment to risk the American homeland to defend a small ally is far less certain. Uncertainty about credibility has always been a problem with the entire concept of extended deterrence. In any case, the existence of a North Korean nuclear arsenal and the growing reach of Pyongyang’s ballistic missiles markedly increase the risk level to the United State of maintaining the defense commitment to Seoul.

The necessity of trying to reduce that risk impels the United States to continue pursuing the chimera of getting North Korea to renounce its nukes and missiles. As I’ve written elsewhere, Pyongyang is extremely unlikely ever to abide by those demands. Those weapons are the North Korean government’s ace in the hole to prevent the United States from trying to replicate the forcible regime‐​change strategy it pursued in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. Consequently, the risk level to the United States of trying to maintain its defense commitment to South Korea is certain to rise, not fall, in the coming years.

In a normal international system, the neighbors of a difficult and menacing state would have the primary incentive and obligation to deal with that country. The United States should take steps consistent with that realization. It is absurd for America to remain be on the front lines of a simmering crisis in a region thousands of miles from home, when other powers have far more at stake.

Washington can normalize its relations with Pyongyang—signing a treaty formally ending the Korean War, establishing formal diplomatic ties, and eliminating most unilateral economic sanctions—without persisting in the futile strategy of leading a multilateral effort to (somehow) induce Pyongyang to return to nuclear virginity. The Trump administration should make that dramatic policy shift. As it moves toward a normal relationship with Pyongyang, Washington should also inform South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia that the United States no longer intends to be on the front lines of trying to manage Northeast Asia’s security environment. South Korean President Moon Jae‐​in already has taken initiatives for détente between his country and North Korea, and he has achieved modest success. Washington should strongly encourage such moves by South Korea and other countries in the region instead of impeding them.

Because of geographic proximity and other factors, maintaining peace in that region should be far more crucial to North Korea’s neighbors than to the United States. It’s time for them to assume the necessary responsibilities and incur the accompanying risks. Donald Trump should at long last make his alleged willingness to change policies regarding America’s obsolete alliances a reality. Korea is a good (indeed, necessary) place to start.


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Despite Media Hype, No ‘Surprise’ From North Korea – News From

Posted by M. C. on December 28, 2019

Despite never happening, the expectation of North Korean action was so great that media outlets are still referring to it as the “North Korean threat” days after nothing happened, seemingly unable to accept that there was no missile launch or anything else.

Carpal Tunnel threat: Working the media sock puppet.

US media outlets spent well over a week hyping up a “Christmas gift” from North Korea to the point that it was considered a foregone conclusion that they were going to do something provocative.

Those reports got to such a frenzy that the US military was talked into taking direct action, sending four surveillance planes over the Korean Peninsula. This was described by sources as an unusual action, and a “response” to the putative threat.

From North Korea’s perspective, however, these additional planes in the air look an awful lot like provocation. Instead of North Korea provoking anything, it was ultimately the US risking the calm on the peninsula.

The lesson here would be to not overreact to speculation that North Korea might do something, which was based on off-hand comments in state media. Optimally, the US would not preemptively react to things that may or may not happen with risky operations of their own.

Despite never happening, the expectation of North Korean action was so great that media outlets are still referring to it as the “North Korean threat” days after nothing happened, seemingly unable to accept that there was no missile launch or anything else.

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All Wars Are Illegal, So What Do We Do About It? – Original

Posted by M. C. on December 1, 2019

Posted on

Every war being fought today is illegal. Every action taken to carry out these wars is a war crime.

In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact or Pact of Paris was signed and ratified by the United States and other major nations that renounced war as a way to resolve conflicts, calling instead for peaceful ways of handling disputes.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was the basis for the Nuremberg Tribunal, in which 24 leaders of the Third Reich were tried and convicted for war crimes, and for the Tokyo Tribunal, in which 28 leaders of the Japanese Empire were tried and convicted for war crimes, following World War II.

Such prosecutions should have prevented further wars, but they have not. David Swanson of World Beyond War argues that a fundamental task of the antiwar movement is to enforce the rule of law. What good are new treaties, he asks, if we can’t uphold the ones that already exist?

The United States is violating international law, and escalating its aggression

All wars and acts of aggression by the United States since 1928 have violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter since it was signed in 1945. The UN Charter states, in Article 2:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Yet, the United States has a long history of threatening aggression and using military force to remove governments it opposed and install friendly ones. Illegal attacks by the US since World War II have resulted in 20 million people being killed in 37 nations. For example, as we outline in “North Korea and the United States: Will the Real Aggressor Please Stand Down,”the United States used violence to install Syngman Rhee in power in the 1940’s and subsequently killed millions of Koreans, in both the South and the North, in the Korean War, which has not ended. Under international law, the “war games” practicing to attack North Korea with conventional and nuclear weapons are illegal threats of military action.

The list of interventions by the United States is too long to list here. Basically, the US has been interfering in and attacking other countries almost continuously since its inception. Currently the US is involved directly in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The US is threatening Iran and Venezuela with attack.

The United States has 883 military bases in 183 countries and has hundreds of outposts scattered throughout the world. Lynn Petrovich recently examined the new defense budget. With regard to the Pentagon’s 2019 budget report, she writes:

“If the planet is our community, America is the bully in the neighborhood. Reference to the word ‘lethal’ is sprinkled no less than 3 dozen times throughout The Report (‘more lethal force’ p. 2-6, ‘technology innovation for increased lethality’ p.1-1, ‘increasing the lethality of new and existing weapons systems’ p. 3-2).”


“Were it not for The Report’s dire (yet, fully funded) predictions for world domination, one would think this budget request was satire by The Onion.”

Included in the new budget are funds to recruit 26,000 more of our youth into the military, purchase ten more “combat ships,” build more F-35s, even though they don’t work, and “modernize” our nuclear weapons. At a time when the United States is losing power in the world and falling behind in wealth, the government voted nearly unanimously to provide $74 billion more than last year to be more aggressive. Imagine what that money could do if it were applied instead to improving public education, transitioning to a clean energy economy and a public works program to restore our failing infrastructure.

The United States empire is falling and blindly taking all of us down with it as it tries to assert its power.

What to do about it

The peace movement in the United States is being revived and building alliances with peace activists in many countries, and it can’t happen fast enough. There are many opportunities for action this fall, the “Antiwar Autumn.”

The World Beyond War conference, #NoWar2018, just concluded in Toronto. The focus of the conference was legalizing peace. Among the topics discussed was how to use courts to prevent wars, stop the escalation of militarism and investigate war crimes. Professor Daniel Turp of the University of Montreal and his students have sued the Canadian government over participating in extraditing prisoners to Guantanamo, potential intervention in Iraq and providing weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Turp recommends that activists who are considering legal action first look to domestic courts for a remedy. If none exists or domestic action is unsuccessful, then it is possible to turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court or the United Nations. Any people or organizations can file a report or complaint with these bodies. Before doing so, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible, first hand accounts are strong but even hearsay can be grounds to trigger an investigation.

Currently, Popular Resistance is supporting an effort to ask the International Criminal Court to launch a full investigation of Israel for its war crimes. People and organizations are invited to sign on to the letter, which will be delivered by a delegation, including us, to the Hague in November.

William Curtis Edstrom of Nicaragua wrote a letter to the United Nations in advance of Trump’s visit to serve as the chair of the Security Council meeting. He is requesting “hearings, debate and vote on an effective plan of action against various crimes that have been committed by people working for the government of the US that are of significance to the global community.”

This week, Medea Benjamin confronted a Trump administration official, the head of the new “Iran Action Group,” at the Hudson Institute. President Trump is planning to advocate for more aggression against Iran at the United Nations. When the US tried this in the past, it has received push back from other nations Now it is clear it is the US, not Iran, that has violated the nuclear agreement and is conducting an economic war against Iran while threatening military action. The world is likely to stand up to Trump and US threats.

Recent progress towards peace by North and South Korea show that activism is effective. Sarah Freeman-Woolpert reports on efforts by activists in South Korea and the United States to build coalitions and organize strategic actions that create the political space for peace.

Leaders of both countries met this week to discuss improving relations and finding a compromise between North Korea and the United States. President Moon will meet with President Trump at the United Nations this month. Korean activists say that their greatest concern is that Koreans finally having “the ability to shape the future of [their] country.”

When we understand that war is illegal, our task becomes clear. We need to make sure that all nations, especially the United States, obey the law. We can replace war with mediation, conflict resolution and adjudication. We can legalize peace.

Here are more actions this Antiwar Autumn:

September 30-October 6 – Shut Down Creech – week of actions to protest the use of drones. More information and register here.

October 6-13 – Keep Space for Peace Week. Many actions planned in the US and UK. Click here for details.

October 20-21 – Women’s March on the Pentagon. More information here.

November 3 – Black is Back Coalition march to the White House for peace in Africa. More information here.

November 10 – Peace Congress to End U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad. This will be a full day conference to define next steps for collaboration by activists and organizations in the US. More information and registration here.

November 11 – March to Reclaim Armistice Day. This will be a solemn march led by veterans and military families on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which ended World War I, to call for celebrating Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day in the US. Click here for more information.

November 16-18 – School of Americas Watch Border Encuentro. This will include workshops and actions at the border between the US and Mexico. More information here.

November 16-18 – No US NATO Bases International Conference in Dublin, Ireland. This is the first international conference of the new coalition to close US foreign military bases. Click here for more details.

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Price of the Alliance: The F-35 Undermines Korean Peace, South Korea’s National Security – Original

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2019

One might wonder why South Korea is even taking delivery of a plane that, as a model, is still being evaluated and is by no means near full development seventeen years into the program. This is because Lockheed Martin is fast-tracking the rollout of units for foreign purchase to offset the outrageous cost of the program. Essentially South Korea is buying a fleet of unfinished, defective jets.

I wonder what the Boltonesque non-refusable deal was that would make SK buy and flaunt a piece of junk to jeopardize peace.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in did something very unusual in early October for a leader who once deemed the Korean peace process among the highest priorities of his administration: He promoted the very fighter jets that North Korea says undermine diplomacy.

President Moon was on hand to celebrate the first delivery of the Lockheed Martin F-35A “next generation” fighter jets that, with 40 in total set to arrive by 2021, represent the most expensive weapons purchase in South Korean history according to Reuters.

“The war of the future will be a fight of science and intelligence against all elements that threaten our people’s safety and property,” Moon said in a speech to promote the jets, noting that he felt “secure about the might of [South Korea’s] military armed with new … F-35As.”

Diplomacy with North Korea aside, one could accept South Korea’s introduction of the F-35A as a necessary evil for national security if the jets were crucial to addressing a critical shortcoming in military capacity. But the evidence suggests the opposite – that there is, in fact, nothing “scientific” or “intelligent” about the purchase. Nor is there any clear need to publicly celebrate the delivery of these jets, using them as a prop to appear strong on national security (itself an acquiescence to South Korea’s hawkish right wing) at a time when the peace process is hanging over the abyss by a thread.

The F-35 Fuels North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Advancements

Perception rules when it comes to national security and the F-35A is, in theory, a game-changer for South Korean force projection. Official claims suggest the jet threatens North Korea’s ability to retaliate in the face of a US-South Korean invasion. This is hugely problematic because a basic element of military strategy is maintaining not only the capacity, but (just as importantly) the appearance of the capacity, to respond with prohibitive force in the event of an enemy attack.

This appearance alone should be enough to discourage any rational actor from considering a pre-emptive strike. This concept is commonly referred to as mutually assured destruction in nuclear warfare, but the principle is the same for conventional weaponry. North Korea relies heavily on ballistic missiles and artillery targeting South Korea for this purpose. As things currently stand, the threat of massive casualties in Seoul is enough to prevent overt attempts at North Korean regime change.

Yet, the F-35A is said to be a stealth jet that can travel undetected at unprecedented speeds to deliver payloads to a target. This would – again in theory – allow the South Korean air force to fly into North Korean territory undetected and destroy their ballistic missile launchers, dealing a serious blow to their retaliatory capabilities and potentially making the price of an invasion much less prohibitive…

Problems Abound for the Unfinished, Inadequately Tested F-35A

Without access to the F-35A, North Korea is forced to believe the hype – and respond to the potential threat it represents. But one would naturally assume South Korea, as an ally of the United States and reliable purchaser of US weaponry surely has in-depth knowledge of just what the F-35A is – and isn’t – capable of. This makes President Moon’s use of the jets as a national security prop all the more disconcerting because even official reports indicate the F-35A is a turkey.

Not even the US military knows whether the jet will ever be reliable because it hasn’t even come close to being adequately tested and still faces myriad issues. Dan Grazier, an F-35 expert at the Project On Government Oversight, reported in August that the F-35 test fleet has only achieved an 11 percent “fully mission capable rate” – embarrassingly low when the initial goal was to reach 80 percent readiness by the end of operational testing.

One might wonder why South Korea is even taking delivery of a plane that, as a model, is still being evaluated and is by no means near full development seventeen years into the program. This is because Lockheed Martin is fast-tracking the rollout of units for foreign purchase to offset the outrageous cost of the program. Essentially South Korea is buying a fleet of unfinished, defective jets…

The purchase of the F-35A must be viewed in this context – in the same vein as the introduction of the THAAD system, which itself is an unproven technology that strains South Korea’s relationship with China as well as North Korea. If the acquisition of flawed and untested weaponry is the price of the alliance, at what point does the alliance itself become prohibitively expensive, both in terms of raw tax dollars and the threat to regional stability?

It is bad enough that a supposed peace president not only fails to address this question; that he flaunts the dubious and provocative F-35A as a political prop is all the more troubling and indicative of South Korea’s unfortunate role in relation to the US – a loyal customer of US weapons above all, regardless of its national interest.

Be seeing you

Screenshot of Korean War from American History Lux


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We Just Witnessed 3 Major Developments That Could Easily Lead To Global War – End Of The American Dream

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2019

Even though most Americans do not realize it, Israel and Iran are already shooting at each other.

It has been a seemingly quiet summer in America so far, but meanwhile we are witnessing major developments on the other side of the globe that could change everything.  We are so close to war, and yet most people have absolutely no idea what is happening.  In fact, if you showed most Americans a blank map of the world, they couldn’t even pick out Iran, Hong Kong or North Korea.  There is so much apathy in our society today, and so little knowledge about foreign affairs, and so most people simply do not grasp the importance of the drama that is playing out right in front of our eyes.  But if a major war does erupt, none of our lives are ever going to be the same again.  So I am going to keep writing about these things, because I believe that we have reached an absolutely critical juncture in our history.

Let’s start with a stunning new development in the Middle East.

Even though most Americans do not realize it, Israel and Iran are already shooting at each other.  Israel has been striking Iranian military targets inside Syria for months, but now the rules of engagement have apparently changed, because in recent days the IDF has started conducting airstrikes against Iranian targets inside Iraq

In an unprecedented move, Israel has expanded its attacks on Iranian targets, with two bombing strikes on Iran-run bases in Iraq in the space of ten days. The Israeli Air Force carried out the military strikes with F-35 jets, according to Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London. News of the attacks comes just a day after the US and Israel tested a missile defence system which used targets “similar to Iranian nuclear missiles”.

The reason this is being called “an unprecedented move” is because this is the very first time since 1981 that we have seen Israeli airstrikes inside Iraq.

Needless to say, these latest airstrikes have absolutely enraged the Iranians.  It looks like the Israeli government has determined that any Iranian military targets outside of Iran itself are fair game, and it is probably only a matter of time before Iran strikes back in a major way.

And if Iran ultimately decides that one of the best ways to strike back is to start hitting targets inside of Israel, that could be the spark that sets off a major war in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, it appears that something major is brewing in China.

The political protests that have made global headlines in Hong Kong in recent weeks have greatly angered the Chinese government.  They were probably hoping that the protests would quickly subside and soon be forgotten, but that hasn’t happened.

So now China is faced with a decision.  If such protests were happening elsewhere in China, they would be brutally crushed, but Hong Kong is a special case.

If the Chinese are too harsh with the protesters in Hong Kong, that could turn world opinion against them, but if they do nothing that could encourage protests to start happening in other area of the country.

In the end, the Chinese will probably do what they always do, and that means crushing the opposition.  And Zero Hedge is reporting that Chinese forces are currently gathering “on Hong Kong’s border”

Massive anti-Beijing protests which have gripped Hong Kong over the past month, and have become increasingly violent as both an overwhelmed local police force and counter-protesters have hit back with force, are threatening to escalate on a larger geopolitical scale after the White House weighed in this week.

With China fast losing patience, there are new reports of a significant build-up of Chinese security forces on Hong Kong’s border, as Bloomberg reports:

The White House is monitoring what a senior administration official called a congregation of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border.

Technically, Hong Kong is considered to be part of China, but it has always been allowed wide latitude to govern itself ever since it was handed over to the Chinese.

But now things could be about to change dramatically, and some are even using the word “invade” to describe what is about to happen.  For example, just consider this tweet from Kyle Bass

“The White House is monitoring a buildup of chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border, a senior administration official said.” Here we go..the moment the pla army marches from Shenzhen, it’s over. china’s army is going to invade HK. It’s inevitable. #hk #china

If Chinese forces start pouring into Hong Kong, the Trump administration is going to throw a fit.  Relations between our two nations are already the worst that they have been since the end of the Korean War, and the situation in Hong Kong could potentially push things over the edge.

In fact, the Chinese have already been placing the blame for the protests in Hong Kong squarely on the U.S. government

“It’s clear that Mr. Pompeo has put himself in the wrong position and still regards himself as the head of the CIA,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing. “He might think that violent activities in Hong Kong are reasonable because after all, this is the creation of the U.S.”

China’s position has been to recently declare the protests going “far beyond” what’s legal and “peaceful” amid clashes with police.

We shall see what happens, but this certainly has the potential to push the United States and China much, much closer to conflict.

On top of everything else, North Korea just fired two more missiles into the ocean

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, only days after it launched two other missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to stop upcoming military drills.

The latest launches were from the Hodo peninsula on North Korea’s east coast, the same area from where last week’s were conducted, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement. It said it was monitoring in case of additional launches.

The North Koreans are greatly alarmed by the joint military drills that the U.S. and South Korea will soon be conducting, and whenever they get greatly upset about something they seem to express that displeasure by firing off more missiles.

Yes, President Trump and Kim Jong-Un have been talking, but things remain extremely tense and it wouldn’t take very much at all for a major conflict to erupt on the Korean peninsula.

Without a doubt, we live at a time of “wars and rumors of wars”, and those with discerning eyes can see what is happening.

The chess pieces are slowly being moved into place, and the combatants are almost ready.

Any number of things could ultimately spark World War 3, and once it begins it is going to be nearly impossible to stop.

Be seeing you



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Only Trump Could Go To North Korea – Gold Goats ‘n Guns

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2019

Donald Trump did the unthinkable. He went to North Korea. He stepped over the line in the sand demarked by Washington protocol for nearly seventy years.

And that Washington establishment, predictably, hates him for it. It can be felt from all sides of the political rotunda. They hate that Trump realizes their position, one of maximum pressure, isn’t working.

They despise that Russia and China will benefit from ending this frozen conflict not to mention Koreans on both sides of the DMZ.

The cynic in me thinks they are angry that the American people will benefit as well.

So this weekend was a good one for peaceniks around the world. Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping agreed to back down on the worst of his trade war demands.

Trump presumably had a good meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which likely set the stage for his meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un. Remember Kim met with Putin earlier this year and designated him as his go-between with Trump after the talks in Hanoi fell apart…

And only people so full of bile and despite would not be happy about this. Only people so enthralled with the thought of war and their own political and social ambitions would look at this event and seek to tear it down.

These are the people who lost yesterday in Trump’s historic and brilliant bit of diplomacy. And they are complaining bitterly about it today.

Everyone else wins.

In the land of the Twitterati, after stripping away the snark masquerading as analysis, we are left with a bunch of malcontents bemoaning their lost relevance…

In the past few weeks we’ve seen a smarter, savvier Trump avoid the traps his allies and advisors set for him. He’s showed immense restraint.

And now, Trump is climbing down off the immense mountain of entitlement he and his advisors placed him on. By stepping over the line into North Korea and meeting with Kim for nearly an hour he’s beginning to deliver on the promises he made during the 2016 campaign.

Why wouldn’t I or anyone else be cheering?

When Iran shot down that drone I said on Sputnik Radio that to solve Iran’s nuclear weapons problem Trump should be looking to North Korea. Getting Kim to agree to freezing warhead production, and presumably dissemination, ends the possibility of Iran achieving that goal anytime soon.

After meeting with most of his ‘enemies’ at the G-20, Trump did just that. He pivoted away from Iran, now a source of political pitfalls, back to North Korea which was the right thing to do.

If Iran wanted a bomb they would have one. If Russia and China wanted Iran to have one, they would have one.

So all of this talk is simply theater. Just like the strategic importance of North Korea in 2019 is still relevant with China fully capable of projecting its interests on its own.

It’s time for this insanity to end. Full stop.

The Koreans want it. The Russians want it. The Chinese want it. Japan wants it.

And we should want it too…

Be seeing you

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Survey: Americans Have Remarkably Ignorant Attitude Toward Nukes And North Korea – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on June 28, 2019

“Most Americans have been taught that using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified because the bombings ended the war in the Pacific, thereby averting a costly U.S. invasion of Japan,” reads an excellent 2016 LA Times article on this subject by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznik. “This erroneous contention finds its way into high school history texts still today.”

In reality, the sole purpose of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was not to end the war, but to show the rest of the world in general and the Soviets in particular that the United States had both the capability and the savagery to wipe out any city in the world with a single bomb. The war, in fact, had already been won, and the Japanese were already on the brink of surrender as the fearsome Soviet forces entered into the war in the Pacific

Half of the responders to an innovative new survey of 3,000 Americans conducted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the British research firm YouGov reported that they would support a nuclear strike against North Korea if it tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the continental United States. A third said they’d actually prefer such a strike over other hypothetical responses.

“For example, while ‘only’ 33 percent of the US public prefer a US preventive nuclear strike that would kill 15,000 North Koreans, 50 percent approve,” the report reads.

The study found little change in preference for a preemptive nuclear strike whether the hypothetical scenario offered to respondents entailed the death of 15,000 North Korean civilians or one million. Preferences for a preemptive strike only dropped when the hypothetical scenario reduced the probability of success (meaning elimination of North Korea’s nuclear retaliatory capabilities) was reduced from ninety to fifty percent.

The survey found a large knowledge deficit in responders regarding nuclear weapons, with a majority reporting an unrealistic amount of confidence in both the US military’s ability to eliminate all of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in a preemptive strike and in its ability to shoot down North Korean missiles using current missile defense systems. This inaccurate perspective was significantly higher among Trump supporters.

While the study found that a majority of Americans would prefer to de-escalate against North Korea if given the choice, a jarring number of them would be willing to use nuclear weapons at the drop of a hat, and believe it’s possible to do so at relatively little risk to Americans.

“As we have previously found, the US public exhibits only limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians,” write the report’s authors.

And really, why would we expect anything else? After all, Americans are taught the lie since they are children that their nation, the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, did so with the goal of bringing a quick and painless end to a horrible world war. Like so much else, this ultimately boils down to the effects of propaganda.

“Most Americans have been taught that using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified because the bombings ended the war in the Pacific, thereby averting a costly U.S. invasion of Japan,” reads an excellent 2016 LA Times article on this subject by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznik. “This erroneous contention finds its way into high school history texts still today.”

In reality, the sole purpose of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was not to end the war, but to show the rest of the world in general and the Soviets in particular that the United States had both the capability and the savagery to wipe out any city in the world with a single bomb. The war, in fact, had already been won, and the Japanese were already on the brink of surrender as the fearsome Soviet forces entered into the war in the Pacific. The narrative that the use of nuclear bombs was a tragic but necessary means to end World War II is a lie that the US has used its cultural hegemony to circulate around the world, much like the lie that America was mostly responsible for Germany’s defeat and not the USSR.

I always get a lot of pushback from Americans when I point to this, not because I don’t have facts on my side but because it’s so glaringly different from the dominant narratives that Americans are spoon fed in school. If you don’t believe me, read the aforementioned LA Times article titled “Bombing Hiroshima changed the world, but it didn’t end WWII“, or this article from The Nation, or this one from Mises Institute.

Seriously, read the articles if this is upsetting you. This is an established fact to which contemporary generals at the time have attested. The uncomfortable feeling you’re experiencing upon reading this is called cognitive dissonance. It’s what learning you’ve been lied to your whole life feels like.

This report on the American public’s widespread ignorance of and indifference to the consequences of nuclear weapons use comes shortly after the US Joint Chiefs of Staff briefly published and then removed from public access an update on their position on the use of nukes which contains the alarming line, “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

So the people responsible for forming America’s nuclear strategies believe using nuclear weapons is not just acceptable, but potentially beneficial. The mass media have been completely ignoring this horrifying revelation, and the public are too awash in disinformation to do anything about it themselves.

Anyone who believes it’s acceptable to use nuclear weapons for any other reason than retaliation against another nuclear attack shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery, much less participate in the formation of nuclear strategy for the most powerful military force in the history of civilization. The correct response to North Korea having nuclear retaliatory capabilities is the same as the response to any other nuclear power: leave them alone. The narrative that North Korea’s leadership is likely to launch an unprovoked attack is exactly as baseless and moronic as the narratives about Iraq or Iran launching an unprovoked attack. It’s not a thing.

As tensions continue to escalate between nuclear powers around the world while the faltering US empire becomes increasingly desperate to maintain its global hegemony, human extinction via nuclear annihilation is just as real a possibility as it was at the height of the last Cold War.

But it isn’t just the use of nuclear weapons which threatens us. Their very existence warps us as a species. Arundhati Roy writes the following in her book The Algebra of Infinite Justice:

“It is such supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they are used. The fact that they exist at all, their very presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behaviour. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meathooks deep in the base of our brains… The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made. Through it, man now has the power to destroy God’s creation.”

This needs to change. And it won’t be changed by those in power who benefit from the status quo. Humanity itself must awaken from the propaganda cages which have been built around our minds so that the people can use the power of their numbers to force a change. The time to wake up is now.


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Top US journalists spread fake news claiming North Korean official was ‘purged’ – then he shows up on TV | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on June 10, 2019

By Ben Norton

Virtually every major Western corporate media outlet and a who’s who of pundits circulated a blatantly false report that North Korean nuclear negotiators were killed and imprisoned, exposing their non-existent editorial standards on Official Enemies.

The corporate media’s editorial standards for reporting on Official Enemies of the US government, especially North Korea, are as low as ever. Blatantly false stories are regularly circulated by leading news outlets without any kind of accountability.

In the latest example of fake news disseminated without any hint of skepticism by America’s top journalists, virtually every major media outlet reported that a senior North Korean official named Kim Yong-chol was supposedly forced into a “labor camp,” as part of a larger deadly “purge.”

Two days later, that same official turned up alive at a public art performance, seated next to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Bloomberg kicked off the fake news frenzy on May 30 by publishing a report claiming, “North Korea executed its former top nuclear envoy to the U.S. and four other foreign ministry officials in March after a failed summit between Kim and Donald Trump.”

Bloomberg’s source for this false story was South Korea’s far-right newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which has a long history of fabricating stories about North Korea. In turn, Chosun Ilbo’s story was based on a single unidentified source.

That is to say, the fake report obediently echoed by the Western press corps was based entirely on the claims of one unnamed person.

This obvious lack of evidence did not stop credulous reporters from jumping on the sensationalist propaganda. The false story was circulated by The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, The Daily Beast, Fox News, CNBC, TIME, ABC News, The Financial TimesThe Telegraph, VICE, Rolling Stone, The Independent, The Washington Times, The New York Post, HuffPost, France 24, The Japan Times, Haaretz, The Times of Israel, Democracy Now, the US government’s Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, and many more.

Twitter even went out of its way to create a shareable Moment based on the fake news.

Careful readers (only a small percentage of total readers) might have noticed that Bloomberg quietly admitted in its original report, “Previous South Korean media reports about senior North Korean officials being executed following the talks have proven false.” But this concession didn’t stop the rest of the corporate media from running with this fake story.

On June 2, the commentariat’s favorite fable fell apart: North Korea’s nuclear negotiator Kim Yong-chol showed up on state media, sitting a few seats away from Kim Jong-un at a musical performance.

The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, and CNN quickly published new reports making light of the news  — but none of these contained mea culpas or official retractions.

As of June 3, the vast majority of blatantly false reports published in dozens of outlets remain uncorrected…

Lots of Tweets-hit the link if you want

Be seeing you





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