Time For Peace Negotiations In Korea, Not Escalation

Thaad Protest in South Korea

By staff for Center for Peace and Disarmament at People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. The state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula is more volatile than ever, now that President Park has been impeached and new government is to be constituted through an early presidential election in South Korea. The Trump administration, in the meantime, is fueling the escalating tension even further with messages that it will not rule out a preemptive strike on North Korea, and that it will redeploy strategic nuclear warheads to South Korea if necessary. The situation is further destabilized by the Trump administration’s decision to send an aircraft carrier to waters near the Korean Peninsula. The latest military stance and strategy of Washington, however, completely overlooks the desire of Koreans for peace. The Kim Jong-un government in Pyongyang meanwhile has warned of another upcoming nuclear test it intends to conduct, poised as it is to show off its growing nuclear capabilities. An existing crisis is already escalating in Northeast Asia over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that the South Korean and U.S. governments have decided to deploy in South Korea. All these acts of military bravado, taking hostage the lives and peace of Koreans, must cease now. It is time for policymakers to be responsible and return to dialogue and negotiations and stop fueling the growing tensions.

Gorbachev: It Was Worse Than This, And We Fixed It

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By David Swanson for Lets Try Democracy – On Friday in Moscow I and a group from the United States met with former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He said the current relationship between Washington and Moscow alarmed him. But, he said, it is possible to rebuild trust. “We had a situation that was worse, but we were able to rebuild trust. And people-to-people contacts helped to rebuild trust.” When Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan first met, presidents of the two countries had not met for six years. Members of Reagan’s cabinet opposed the meeting. Gorbachev came out of the meeting saying of Reagan “He’s not a hawk, he’s a dinosaur.” Reagan came out denouncing Gorbachev as “a die-hard communist.” But they kept meeting. Eventually and inevitably Reagan asked what the Soviets would do if the U.S. were attacked by a meteor or aliens. Both men said their countries would help each other. However, Reagan was a fan of Star Wars, both the weapons boondoggle and the movie — which he may have kept distinct from each other in his mind. Gorbachev and Reagan accomplished a great deal of disarmament, not to mention Gorbachev’s accomplishing the nonviolent dissolution of an empire.

The U.S. Behavior That Concerns Russia

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By David Swanson for Lets Try Democracy – I attended a meeting in Moscow on Friday with Vladimir Kozin, longtime member of Russia’s foreign service, advisor to the government, author, and advocate for arms reduction. He handed out the list of 16 unresolved problems above. While he noted that the United States funds NGOs in Russia, as well as Ukraine, to influence elections, and described that as a reality in contrast to U.S. stories of Russia trying to influence a U.S. election, which he called a fairy tale, the topic did not make the top-16 list. He added to the top of the list as something that could be obtainable, and something he considers very important, the need for an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on no first use of nuclear weapons, an agreement that he thinks other nations would subsequently join. Then he stressed what he’s listed as the first item above: removing what the U.S. calls missile “defense” but what Russia views as offensive weaponry from Romania, and ceasing the construction of the same in Poland. These weapons combined with no commitment to no first use, Kozin said opens up the possibility of an accident or a misinterpretation of a flock of geese leading to the destruction of all human civilization.

Why The United States Should Negotiate In Good Faith With North Korea

Above Photo: Jimmy Carter and Kim Il Sung, 1994. Former President Jimmy Carter visited North Korea in June 1994 to successfully negotiate a “freeze” on the North’s nuclear program. Kim Il Sung died a month later but, following bilateral negotiations, the two countries signed the Agreed Framework putting in place the process for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

By Michael Haas for Common Dreams – The United States is technically still at war with North Korea. No peace agreement has been signed despite repeated requests from Pyongyang for high-level negotiations. Former presidents Carter and Clinton and other high-level officials have gone to the North and achieved negotiation successes, but no sitting president had done so. Now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, new to the job, has declared that decades of negotiations have not served to normalize relations, clearly unaware that American obstinacy and tit-to-tat overreactions are the main culprits. In the extraordinary Agreed Framework of 1994, the United States promised to provide light-water reactors by 2003 to supply electric power in exchange for North Korean abandonment of nuclear weapons development to be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States pledged never to go to war with North Korea and to begin negotiations for economic and political normalization of relations. Annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States, long seen in Pyongyang as a preparation for an invasion, were cancelled in 1994 and 1995 to show good faith.

Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017

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By Peter Linebaugh for Counterpunch. The constitution of the U.S.A. began when an assembly of rich white bankers, lawyers, and slave owners gathered behind closed doors in Philadelphia in 1787. They organized a government which in the first instance monopolized money-making and war-making and in the second instance did so with a series of legal mechanisms to minimize democracy – the Electoral College, the 3/5s clause, the Senate, the Supreme Court – so familiar to us. They were led by “the father of the constitution,” a man owning more than a hundred slaves, James Madison. He makes clear the fear that underlay this constitution; it was omnia sunt communia. The states ratified this constitution over the next two years in no small part because of the tireless efforts of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison collected in The Federalist Papers. The tenth of these papers tells it all. There Madison expresses his fear of “theoretic politicians,” that is, those who advocated an “agrarian law” or equalization of land, those who favored “perfect equality,” those who were “equalized in their possessions.” In brief, the U.S.A. was to become a massive state against the commons. This was an appeal to the men of property, the men of private property, the men who commanded property as capital.

China Urges Both North Korea And The United States To Avoid War

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By Liu Xin for Global Times – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday discussed bilateral ties and the situation on the Korean Peninsula over the phone, promising close contact to allow for the prompt exchange of views on major issues of mutual concern. China strongly opposes actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Xi said, adding that China hopes the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid actions that aggravate tensions on the peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported. It was the second phone conversation between the presidents since Xi visited Trump in Florida on April 6. Xi noted that if the parties shoulder their responsibilities and meet each other halfway, they can solve North Korea’s nuclear issue and achieve denuclearization, according to Xinhua. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are mounting, with South Korean and US media reporting that North Korea is preparing its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military. North Korea has reportedly evacuated citizens living near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where it conducted the fifth nuclear test in September 2016.

Could Proportional Representation Save French And American Democracies?

Storm Crypt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Natasha Hakimi Zapata for Truth Dig – The alternative is called proportional representation (PR). Under a PR system, the electorate casts its votes nationwide for whatever political party they choose, and then seats are distributed by percentage. You don’t have to win the majority of votes in any one geographically-bound district to enter the parliament. This allows for the rapid growth of minority parties, and more political diversity. So, for instance, in PR-using Israel, there are 10 political parties in the Knesset. PR-using Sweden has eight parties represented. … It’s impossible to know exactly what would result from, for instance, converting the U.S. Congress into a proportional system. But we do know that the current system is far from popular, while also very hard to dislodge. In 2016, members of the U.S. House had a 97 percent re-election rate; and yet the latest Gallup poll puts Congress’s approval rating at 24 percent. A shift like the one Mélenchon is proposing in France would also require Constitutional changes, which are very difficult to implement. But the same could be said for many of the ideas Sanders ran on, like a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

What We Did At The Ukrainian Embassy

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By Phil Wilayto for The Odessa Solidarity Campaign. Washington, DC – When we rang the doorbell at the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States in Washington, D.C., Ray McGovern and I heard a staff person ask “Who is it?” over the intercom. “We’re the Odessa Solidarity Campaign and we have a letter for President Petro Poroshenko,” we said. When the door opened, a bewildered-looking man was confronted by what must have seemed to him like a sea of reporters. Plus Ray and myself, with the letter. “We’re calling on President Poroshenko to release all political prisoners in Ukraine and end the repression against the relatives of the people who died at the House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014,” we said. The staff member slowly took the letter as the TV cameras filmed. (The text of the letter appears below.)

A Multi-level Analysis Of US Cruise Missile Attack On Syria

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By The Saker. I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Assad or anybody else in the Syrian government really ordered a chemical weapons attack on anybody. To believe that it would require you to find the following sequence logical: first, Assad pretty much wins the war against Daesh which is in full retreat. Then, the US declares that overthrowing Assad is not a priority anymore (up to here this is all factual and true). Then, Assad decides to use weapons he does not have. He decides to bomb a location with no military value, but with lots of kids and cameras. Then, when the Russians demand a full investigation, the Americans strike as fast as they can before this idea gets any support. And now the Americans are probing a possible Russian role in this so-called attack. Frankly, if you believe any of that, you should immediately stop reading and go back to watching TV.

Kim Jong-un Orders Evacuation Of Pyongyang

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By Korea Herald. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered 25 percent of Pyongyang residents to leave the city immediately, according to a Russian news outlet on Friday. The Pravda report said that in accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be urgently evacuated. Experts note that the evacuation will most likely be conducted due to extremely strained tensions in relations with the US. Reportedly, Pyongyang’s bomb shelters will not be able to accommodate the entire population of the North Korean capital. Therefore, 600,000 people – mostly individuals with criminal records – will have to leave Pyongyang to let others use bomb shelters, the report added.

China’s Rise, America’s Fall

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By Ron Unz for The Unz Review – The rise of China surely ranks among the most important world developments of the last 100 years. With America still trapped in its fifth year of economic hardship, and the Chinese economy poised to surpass our own before the end of this decade, China looms very large on the horizon. We are living in the early years of what journalists once dubbed “The Pacific Century,” yet there are worrisome signs it may instead become known as “The Chinese Century.” But does the Chinese giant have feet of clay? In a recently published book, Why Nations Fail, economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson characterize China’s ruling elites as “extractive”

China Report On Human Rights Violations In US At Home And Abroad

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The colonial history, enslavement, segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remained a serious challenge,” the report noted. On Thursday, China’s State Council Information Office released a human rights report on the U.S., noting that while that country continues to act as “the judge of human rights” it continues to ignore its own “terrible problems.” The report, called “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016,” cites both international and U.S. academic and NGO sources focussed on that country’s domestic and international human rights record. “Wielding ‘the baton of human rights,’ (the U.S.)

China Proposes N. Korea Halt Nuke Program And US Halt Wargames

We say No to War sign seen at a 2007 anti-war protest. (Photo by Thiago Santos on flickr)

By Jason Ditz for Anti War – Speculation that China is trying to get the US and North Korea to negotiate instead of having these annual escalations of tensions proved true today, with Chinese officials proposing a deal in which the US, North Korea, and South Korea would halt their respective provocative actions. Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed that North Korea would suspend work on both its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, in return for the US and South Korea agreeing to halt their annual wargames, which grow every year, and simulate a joint invasion of North Korea. Wang said the suspension-for-suspension deal would be both a chance to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula

North Korea And United States: Will Real Aggressor Please Stand Down?

Pyongyang, capitol of North Korea after US bombing.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Truthout – US political leaders and media pundits trumpet North Korea’s recent testing of missiles and nuclear weapons as a great threat. But the US mass media do not tell the whole story. Without the context of history and current events, the actions of North Korea look insane, but when put in context we find that the United States is pushing North Korea on this path. North Korea is really not a significant threat compared to what the United States is doing with nuclear weapons, the Asia Pivot and war games off the Korean coast. In this article, we seek greater understanding by putting ourselves in the place of North Korea. Historical Context: Korea, a Pawn for Big Power, Brutalized by the United States…

It’s Time to Scrap NAFTA, Not ‘Tweak’ It

NAFTA opened the doors for a flood of subsidized agricultural products and large-scale consolidation, eviscerating small farmers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo: Bread for the World / Flickr)

By Victor Suarez and Alejandro Villamar for Foreign Policy in Focus. Some politicians and “experts” still don’t understand — or don’t want to understand — that a great deal of popular discontent in the United States, Mexico, and Canada alike is rooted in undemocratic policies that have produced inequality, unemployment, migration, food dependency, and pollution. NAFTA isn’t the only factor — but it’s one of the most powerful. The reason is that NAFTA was never designed for the development of our peoples through trade, but instead to advance the narrow corporate interests of multi-national firms and the governments that serve them. In the case of Mexico, it was negotiated and signed by an authoritarian government that only served the interests of large Mexican and global corporations, and which turned its back on productive sectors linked to the domestic market.