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North Korea

Biden Needs To Accept That The US Can’t Intimidate North Korea

An increasingly tense standoff has been simmering on the Korean Peninsula for months, and is now escalating to a potentially “uncontrollable phase,” North Korean officials warn. Since August, the US and South Korea have conducted five major joint military exercises and numerous smaller ones—the most recent of which, Vigilant Storm, just concluded on Nov. 5 and involved over 240 military aircraft in the largest ever aerial drills the countries have conducted together. In the same time frame, North Korea has conducted several rounds of weapons tests involving dozens of ballistic missiles. The largest of these occurred on Nov. 2 in response to the impending Vigilant Storm exercises and reportedly involved 23 missiles, two of which landed off the east coast of South Korea, and one of which landed in waters south of the Northern Limit line, a maritime buffer zone in the Yellow Sea. This is the first time North Korean missiles have landed in waters delineated as South Korean.

What’s Behind The Escalations In Korea?

On October 4, in response to ongoing U.S. military buildup in the Pacific, North Korea fired missiles that flew over Japanese airspace — putting an end to five years of relative stability on the Korean peninsula. The United States responded by firing four missiles off the east coast of the peninsula. At the time of this writing, tensions will likely continue to escalate, but it’s unclear by how much.  The U.S. action was taken in close coordination with the militaries of Japan and South Korea. In September the United States and South Korea began their first large-scale joint military exercises since 2017. Large South Korean anti-war protests in opposition to these war games were ignored by corporate media outlets, which are now fearmongering over North Korea’s actions.

Joint US-South Korea Military Exercises Conclude

Between August 22 and September 1, the United States and South Korea concluded their largest joint military drills in the Korean Peninsula since 2017, under the name ‘Ulchi Freedom Shield’. Over the last four years, the scope of the annual exercises had been scaled back, first because of Donald Trump’s attempts at diplomacy with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and later because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With these drills, however, the US and South Korea seem to be attempting to send a clear message to both North Korea and China of their united military posture in the region, and come at a time when the US’ encirclement of China continues rapidly.

DPRK Korea Is Faced With US ‘Decapitation Drill’

The western corporate media described the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of two missiles Aug. 17 as threatening, aggressive and paranoid. What most media failed to report was the prior U.S. military exercises with Japan and South Korea off Hawai’i, in preparation for extensive war exercises off Korea, that provoked the DPRK’s two warning shots. An Aug. 19 article in the Daily Beast, an online news website, headlined a longer and upcoming military land, sea and air exercise this way: “U.S. to Enrage Kim Jong Un With Assassination Dry Run.” The article then reads: “For the first time in years, joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korea this month will culminate in a trial run of decapitating the North Korean leadership.

South Korea Declares Multilateral Agreement To End Korean War

In a major development in the Korean peace process, South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States have agreed to declare an end to the Korean War. The announcement was made by South Korean president Moon Jae-in on Monday, December 13, who said the four parties to the Korean War agreed “in-principle” to formally declare its end, 71 years after it broke out in 1950. Speaking from Canberra, Australia, during his four-day visit to the country, president Moon Jae-in also pointed out that US hostility towards North Korea was among the reasons why peace talks were held back. North Korea has demanded an end to the “hostile policy” of the US, including sweeping sanctions and a virtual US-led blockade, as a precondition for the continuation of talks.

Biden Is Reviewing US Policy In North Korea

Since 2018, hundreds of new sanctions targeting the civilian economy have been imposed on the people of North Korea. In 2018 alone, new and existing sanctions caused almost 4,000 preventable civilian deaths. Around 11 million North Koreans are deprived of sufficient access to basic foodstuffs, clean drinking water or essential medical services. Subjected to ever-increasing sanctions, North Korea is projected to suffer a food deficit of 1.3. million tons this year, worsening the already dire condition endured by a broad swath of the population. More than 40 percent of North Korea’s 25 million people are considered chronically food insecure, and one out of every five children under the age of 5 is impacted by stunted growth.

North Korea Speaks Out On US Foreign Policy, Demands Respect

Choe Son Hui, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, gave a statement to media on the 17th. The statement said: The United States has tried to make contact with us through several channels including that in New York since mid February. Recently, it requested the contact with us by e-mail and telephone message through different channels and, at the night just before the start of the joint military exercises, sent us through a third country another message for our affirmative response to the contact. However, we deem it not necessary to consent the US attempt to get time again. We declared already our stand that any DPRK-US contact and dialogue cannot be made unless the US hostile policy is withdrawn and, accordingly, will ignore such US attempt in the future.

For Peace With North Korea, End The US-South Korea Military Exercises

One of the thorniest foreign policy challenges the Biden administration will need to face is a nuclear-armed North Korea. Talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled since 2019, and North Korea has continued to develop its weapons arsenal, recently unveiling what appears to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile. As a retired U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat with 40 years of experience, I know all too well how actions by the U.S. military can exacerbate tensions that lead to war. That’s why the organization I am a member of, Veterans for Peace, is one of several hundred civil society organizations in the U.S. and South Korea urging the Biden administration to suspend the upcoming combined U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

Washington Post ‘Expert’ Linked To Defense Companies Hypes North Korea Missile Threat

An alarming report published Monday in the Washington Post claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile right as Joe Biden is inaugurated.  “North Korea appears to be taking steps toward a new test of a powerful submarine-launched missile, U.S. weapons experts said, as it steadily dials up the pressure on President-elect Joe Biden,” it wrote, suggesting that the Supreme Leader is, “planning a very different fireworks display to greet the incoming U.S. president.” One of the weapons experts the story relies upon is Michael Elleman, a director at the hawkish and secretive think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), who told the Post that the Korean missiles might have a range of around 1,900 miles and have the ability to hit U.S. targets in the Pacific. 

This Book Turns Everything You Thought You Knew About North Korea Upside Down

In the United States today, North Korea is the standard reference point for modern-day totalitarianism: a land of darkness that is considered a dangerous security threat because of the development of nuclear missiles capable of striking the U.S.  A.B. Abrams’ new book, Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power (Clarity Press, 2020), shows that the common perceptions in the U.S. of North Korea are mostly wrong. Though the Kim dynasty has ruled through autocratic methods, it has also adopted rational and at times intelligent policies, which have enabled North Korea to weather unprecedented outside hostility and develop into something of a military powerhouse.

Biden Signals Flexibility On North Korea

The friendly interplay last week between Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, and Joe Biden, the incoming president of the United States, signaled subtle but important differences about how to make peace with a nuclear-armed North Korea. On Thursday, Moon, who has made engagement with the North the hallmark of his presidency, followed other world leaders in congratulating Biden for his election victory. In a 14-minute telephone call, he pledged to “communicate closely” with Biden’s incoming administration “for a forward-looking development of the alliance, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of lasting peace.”

How South Korea’s Intelligence Service Quietly Pushes Peace Talks

Tensions between the two Koreas escalated again last month after a South Korean fisheries official, possibly attempting to defect, was shot dead by North Korean army troops after he swam across their disputed maritime border known as the Northern Limit Line. A shocked President Moon Jae-in, who has made engagement with North Korea the centerpiece of his administration, demanded an explanation. Some US “experts” boldly predicted that North Korea had killed off Moon’s peace initiative. Within days, however, the tables were turned. On September 25th, Kim made an unprecedented public apology to South Korea for the “unsavory” killing, which he admitted (rightly) had “delivered a big disappointment” to the people of the South.”

What Trump And Biden Get Wrong About North Korea

But this is a false dichotomy. Meeting or not meeting with the North Korean leader hasn’t been the failure of U.S. policy. And more pressure and sanctions will not convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons arsenal. To make any substantial progress, the next administration must take a wholly new approach to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Most urgently, the next administration should officially end the Korean War with a peace agreement. Contrary to the belief held by most Americans, the 70-year-old war never officially ended and was only halted by a fragile ceasefire signed in 1953.

Time To Rethink The US-ROK Alliance

Perhaps it’s time for South Korea, then, to assert more independence and become a master of its own fate. Above all, that will require a reconsideration of the military alliance with the United States. From a military point of view, South Korea doesn’t need the presence of U.S. troops on the peninsula. They serve a largely symbolic function as a concrete sign of U.S. commitment. At some point, after the resolution of ongoing negotiations, South Korea will assume full operational control of military forces. After years of arms imports, South Korea’s hardware advantage gives it a vast military superiority over the North. The United States has been an obstacle in the way of improving inter-Korean relations. And it has forced a partnership with Tokyo that Seoul finds uncomfortable. On top of that, South Korea periodically worries that it will be drawn into the conflict between Washington and Beijing.

US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ Of Peace

This is not a column defending Donald Trump. Across my career I have said more positive words about the scolex family of intestinal tapeworms than I have said about Donald Trump. (Scolex have been shown to read more.)  No, this is a column about context. When The New York Times reports anonymous sources from the intelligence community say Russia paid Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers, context is very important. Some of that context is that Mike Pompeo said, “I was the CIA director – We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.” So we know for certain that U.S. intelligence agencies lie to you and me. We saw it with WMD, and we might be seeing it again now.  But that’s not the context I’m referring to. 
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