Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Long on educated guesses, short on facts--US cables on North Korea

An obituary lost into today's commentary on the release of more diplomatic cables on North Korea by Wikileaks: the death of former congressman Stephen Solarz at the age of 70. Almost 40 years ago, Solarz became the first American lawmaker to visit North Korea. Many thought that his presence in Pyongyang indicated a change in US policy; it did not; he was the lone Solon who could not initiate a thaw in US North Korean relations.
As more and more leaked US diplomatic material comes to light, the American and international public learn that among US foreign service officers North Korea is called the 'Black Hole of Asia'. This assessment simply confirms what former senior CIA analyst, former US ambassador to South Korea, and former president of the New York based Korea Society,Donald Gregg has been openly saying for years:'North Korea is our biggest intelligence failure'. And the new released cables do not belie Gregg's judgment!
What set the chattering classes buzzing was the tidbit that a Chinese ambassador to a Central Asian republic voiced the opinion that China would look benignly on a unified Korea under the leadership of South Korea. GuamDiary found in the cables opinions that contradicted that assertion. But it was a lean bit of meat for the piranha media to fight over.
GuamDiary does know that diplomats are instructed to write cables so that the infomation conveyed is selective and shaped to serve and bolster US policy. Consequently, the ambassador's thoughts gave Washington hope that it could lean more and more on Beijing to control North Korea. Wrong!
This tantalising bauble now may have the effect of putting China out of its gords, the more especially that there is every geopolitical and historical reason that it runs contrary to the facts.
Helene Cooper, writing in the 'NYT' on Sunday 28 November 2010, noted that the Bush and Obama administrations have been pushing China to do its 'dirty work' in dealing with North Korea. And China has resisted. Today [30 November 2010], Obama rebuffed China's call for emergency talks on quieting war tensions in divided Korea. [See GuamDiary's 'Washington Seoul Tokyo axis trying to stymie China's NK initiative' and 'Wikileaks lifts the veil on US North Korea policy'.]
Closer scrutiny of the facts shows, as GuamDiary observed, that positions are more and more taut, and the situation on the ground look as though the US and South Korea had turned the clock back more than 60 years to the eve of the outbreak of the Korean War.
Simply put: China does not want a hostile presence on its borders. It does not look kindly nor with a gentle wink at a united Korea dominated by Seoul. South Korea's president Lee Myung bek's policy towards North Korea as well as Obama's, militates strongly against such an eventuality.
Although South Korea is an important trading partner with China, trade does not trump political and military reality. Seoul's and Beijing's purposes are at loggerheads.
From the leaked cables we do learn that the Chinese delegate to the six party talks Wu Dawei was his 'country's most incompetent official'; an arrogant Marx spouting former Red Guard 'who knows nothing about North Korea'.
Did not the American foreign service officer ever consider that Beijing was sending Washington a clear signal that it did not consider the US' approach to North Korea's nuclear programme short of incompetency and know nothingness? Beijing may very well have been telegraphing Obama to hunker down and seriously deal with issues on the green carpet instead of engaging in military posturing and threatening more and more sanctions?
Obama's recent snub of China simply confirms that he and his allies in Seoul and Tokyo have long embarked on a forced march on the road of overthrowing North Korea. His is a gamble which could easily ratch up war fever and risk the outbreak of military confrontation.
GuamDiary hears no sane voices in the US government saying: 'whoa, hold your war horses!'
The more we read these cables on North Korea, the more GuamDiary is convinced that the US and South Korea have lost any resemblance to rational thinking for the moment.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks lift the veil on US North Korea policy

The first batch of US diplomatic cables which Wikileaks are releasing over the next fortnight, lifts the veil on US North Korea policy.
It simply confirms what GuamDiary has long suspected through its parsing of the world press: the US has forsaken diplomacy for displays of brute force and covert action.
American administrations - Republican or Democrat - have embraced sabre rattling and muscular military display, based on the shaky analysis that North Korea will sooner or later implode. In this illusion, they are willinglly joined in the pursuit of this mad passion by South Korea's Lee Myung bek.
The on going joint military exercises along the NLL [Northern Line Limit] bear this out.
The Obama administration's cool reception of China's call for an emergency meeting on rising tensions on the divided Korean peninsula confirm its intentions. Beijing is not playing the role Washington wants: to sit firmly on Kim Jong il.
Curiously enough in the Wikileaks data, we see how little in touch with geopolitical realities the US is when it dazzles before China's eye the vision of a non aggressive united Korea on its borders - a unified and united Korea under regressive forces in Seoul and Washington.
Predicated on the implosion more or less in the current future, the US' North Korean clericy have stood history on its head.
GuamDiary finds no hint that the US is wanting or desiring a peace treaty which would end the Korean War now frozen by a 1953 Armistice. Nor does GuamDiary detect that American analyses have feet planted firmly in reality. Let's suppose for a moment, the clerisy do. They dare not break the ranks of hoary consensus without risking loss of funding and becoming a political outcast from the circles of influence and power.
GuamDiary suggests reading again a CIA analyst's Rand study published in 1960: Robert Whiting's 'China crosses the Yalu'. Whiting clearly documents the reasons that Chinese volunteers entered the war. Combined with revivified North Korean forces, they steamrolled a US led UN army back to the 38 parallel which effectively stalemated America's Cold War objective of overthrowing the Communist regime in North Korea.
American administrations thought by using China as its 'honest broker foil', Beijing could make North Korea dance to the US' tune. Wrong!
China's analyses do not foresee that the US nor South Korea have peaceful intentions in restoring peace on the Korean peninsula. To Beijing, based on history, the existence of North Korea guarantees safer borders and a stability that neither Washington nor Seoul can guarantee.
The US has no intentions of ending the Korean War and for that simple and plain truth, its policy towards North Korea is doomed to failure.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seoul-Washington-Tokyo axis trying to stymie China's NK initiative

After conferring with Russia, China, today [28 November 2010], hastily called for a press conference in Beijing of all parties in the stalled six party talks, to meet in an emergency consultations, in order to defuse the mounting tensions on the divided Korean peninsula.
South Korea's immediate response was negative, but it quickly back tracked by saying that it would study the proposal. Its refusal would have shown a poor light on Seoul who is claiming the high moral ground on the recent exchange of gunfire between the South and the North. Japan took administrative cover: it will first discuss China's call with its allies in Washington and Seoul and then decide. The US, which has been leaning heavily on China to rein in its ally North Korea, remained silent.
In the background, today began a four day major joint military South Korea and US exercises a safe 120 km from the NLL [Northern Limit Line] and the island of Yeonpyeong. A mini armada of ships composed of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and other naval battle stations joined three South Korean naval formations. They are engaging in a blustery military display of 'might'. This pretense of bravery is yet another warning to North Korea to change its behaviour, without a hint of changing their own hostile actions toward Pyongyang.
Typically the US and South Korea with Japan in tow will hardly deviate from its proven policy of the last few years of bringing North Korea to its knees. This goal has not escaped GuamDiary's eye in parsing Lee Myung bek's government revised response to China's proposition: North Korea has to make goodwill gestures in downgrading and dismantling its sophisticated nuclear programme. Seoul's position is, in substance and form, aligned with US demands.
Seoul's weary repetition of 'sine qua non' non negotiable conditions leads GuamDiary to conclude that the Seoul-Washington-Toyko axis will undermine China's proposal for renewed talks and negotiations, yet nonetheless will go through the motions to quiet renewed fears of war in Korea.
Let's look at what were the six party talks. Under the Clinton administration, discussions between the US and North Korea on Pyongyang's nuclear programme made headaway, albeit unevenly. When George Bush came to the White House, his cohort branded North Korea an 'axis of evil', in order to show that as the only superpower, small fries like North Korea should not challenge its will.
The mad men who dreamed up this course of action did not succeed either in isolating the North or stopping its nuclear programme. Concurrently with a hard line tack towards North Korea, the Bush administration also so disliked the Kim Dae Jung and Noh Moo hyung governments in Seoul, who persisted in pursuing the 'Sunshine Policy' towards the North, it did everything to treat it more like a conquered colony than an ally.
Nonetheless, looking to close down North Korea's nuclear facility at Yongbyon, the more especially since Pyongyang exploded a nuclear device thanks to the Bush perverse policy, the US came up with the idea of a six party discussion: China, Russia, Japan, the US, South and North Korea would meet in Beijing to find ways to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. This idea was so devised that it would look as though it were North Korea's neighbours and not the US who were suing for an end to North Korea's nuclear ambitions. How could the mighty US deign to talk directly to an 'axis of evil' state?
It also contained the germ for stalemating the talks, thereby allowing the US to escape its historical responsibility arising from a frozen Korean War, of dealing with North Korea. For the six parties would split into two groups: on one side, the US, South Korea, and Japan, and on the other, China, Russia, and North Korea. The Washington-Seoul-Tokyo axis would opt for such stringent proposals that Pyongyang would be forced to quit the talks. Which North Korea did.
With the arrival of the Lee Myung bek government in 2008, the Bush administration found an ideal partner for bashing North Korea. And the on again, off again six party talks in Beijing adjourned 'sine dia'. Consequently, the Washington and Seoul drew a line in the sand which Pyongyang dismissed by not recognising it.
Thus, matters lay in limbo until the sinking of the South Korean corvette the 'Cheonan' in March 2010, and joint US and South Korean military exercises began taking place, based on a calculus to force North Korea to commit a warlike action.
Last weekend Pyongyang responded to the shelling of its waters by South Korea which set the region on edge and sent shock waves throughout the world. It again war was possible in Korea 57 years after guns there were silenced by an Armistice Agreement.
So, in a round about way, GuamDiary is led back to conditions imitiating conditions on the eve of the Korean War in 1950. It, therefore, uncovers the thinking that lay behind the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] special study by 23 American North Korean clercs, who called for the revival of the US military policy of 'roll back' which wipe North Korea off the map.
China and Russia would not go along. What is clear is the duplicity of the Obama administration which on one hand is pressuring China to corral North Korea and on the other, encourages South Korea to pursue its ever aggressive policy towards the North.
Either way, the US is engaging in in a confused political and military policy which may spell disaster and end in serious military confrontation.
US policy is absurdly inefficient and dangerous. It is trying to farm off its responsibilities to solve long standing differences with the North stemming from the Korean War. It derogates its responsibility, too, to seek an ending to that war and negotiate a peace treaty directly with North Korea and its Chinese ally, and find ways for the North to denuclearise which Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong il have in word and in written statement affirmed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lee Myung bek step down! Your time is over!

When Lee Myung bek became president of South Korea in 2008, he said that he was not going to play patsy to North Korea. The gloves were off. Tough love was in.
Immediately, he scuppered Kim Dae Jung's 'Sunshine Policy'. Purse strings drawn tight, food supplies to a North on the verge of famine severely diminished, and no fertilizers to improve the yield of the North's crops...all that and more had gone the way of the flesh.
Militarily, Mr. Lee took up the sword and rattled his sabre. He encouraged right wing evangelical Christians and the more extreme right to disparge the North and whip up attacking Kim Jong il personally.
Furthermore, he aligned his policy with George W Bush's simplistic ideological approach to North Korea. Which, certainly, in the light of Kim Jong il's fragile health, invited a dogmatic belief that if Seoul and Washington showed no quarter to Kim Jong il & co.,North Korea would have to ultimately yield to their demands at worst or implode at best, it was hoped.
In faith, this creed has something of the sulphurous odour of medieval theology to it. This consequential faith in regime weakening or change in Pyongyang had the perverse consequence of being unachievable and has resulted in today's military escalation and momentary confrontation between the South and the North,along the NLL [Northern Limit Line] a breath away from North Korea's territorial waters. [Read GuamDairy's 'Do not rush to blame North Korea...' and 'President Obama's response to the shelling...']
Beyond the cliches of North Korea as, for example, 'the world's most God awful regime on earth'...shape and distort policy making in Washington and Seoul alike, resulting in but one option: the rekindling of the Korean War frozen in place by the 1953 Armistice Agreement. As we have seen as we watched the damages and victims of the North's shelling of the island of Yeonpyeong, that houses the South's military installation and a small civilian population -- a group of civilians that Seoul uses as a cover in order to carry out live fire joint military exercises with the US hardly 10km from North Korea's waters. Thus, a North Korean reliatory reply would bring immediate global condemnation on Pyongyang as 'the aggressor'.
We can trace this trail to reckless display of military power to Lee Myung bek trashing the 'Sunshine Policy', which was predicated, in the words of Winston Churchill, on belief that the pragmatic policy of 'jaw, jaw, jaw', is preferable to 'war, war, war!'
Today, we are witnessing the consequences of Mr. Lee's--and Mr. Obama's--perverse theology: apologetics for not engaging North Korea diplomatically but on a playing field cleared for war!
Step down Lee Myung bek! For you time has gone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The real substance of Dr. Siegfried Hecker's remarks on North Korea's nuclear facility

Reading the intitial media hoopla of Dr. Siegfried Hecker's remarks on North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear site, you would get the impression that North Korea with its thousands of new nuclear reactors was churning out nuclear weapons in series.
Now, it turns out from Professor Hecker's remarks in Washington, his North Korean hosts shown him, yes, reactors, which the former head of Los Alamos National Laboratory, found to his amazement, modern and highly sophisticated. The North Koreans showed him 'light water nuclear reactors'. This is significantly different from the level red reporting we have been seeing in the press or the puffed up warlike rhetoric coming from the government and the chattering class.
Dr Hecker does not deny that uranium enrichment can be used for a nuclear programme but that is not what he saw.
In fact, to modernise its infrastructure, North Korea is building light water reactors. Is it embarrassing to mention that the Clinton administration agreed to build light water reactors and then did not?
Is it also impolite to confront the US with another unpleasant fact? Were it not for the perverseness of George W. Bush's policy, North Korea might not have exploded a nuclear device when it did and uninvited jointed the restrained club of nuclear nations?
So as in the past, the war party in Washington has cherry picked Dr. Hecker's words and 'invented' a narrative for its own designs and nefarious purposes.

President Obama responds to North Korea's shelling

Barack Obama is sending the US aircraft carrier, the 'George Washington', into the NLL [Norther Limited Line] as a show of force and support for South Korea's Lee Myung bek.
Additionally, it is bruited that for the first time in 20 years, he will introduce again nuclear weapons into South Korea.
It becomes more and more obvious that the war party is in control of US Korea policy. By taking such steps, Mr. Obama, who is hardly known for grit and good management, has embarked on a slippery slop which could result on reheating the frozen Korea War.
The US media has been pounding the war drums, too. Consider the Pentagon's favourite 'New York Times' correspondent, David Sanger. His articles mimic the Obama position and conveniently omits mentioning that along the NLL, joint US and South Korean military exercises using live ammunition had been taking place, or that North Korea had issued a warning that if any shell fell on its territory on land or sea, it would respond or that Yeonpyeong island is the home of a South Korean military installation.
The American president's decision to up the military ante is yet another example of the bankruptcy of the US' policy towards North Korea.
The usual talking heads of America's North Korea clericy have taken to the airways. They fulminate and speculate and tirelessly regurgitate the same old tired hoary analyses and half truths.
The game is stacked for no one will hear another side unless he or she surfs the foreign press or listens on the web Korea watchers who tell another narrative.
And GuamDiary watches the Obama administration's vain attempt to get its way. It is not, and in the face of its own decisions which are limiting the scope of its options, we have everything to fear.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't be so quick to blame North Korea: war drums along the NLL

Today, 23 November 2010, on the 47 anniversary of JFK's assassination, North and South Korea exchanged fire near Yeonopyeong island, close to the NLL [Northern Line Limit], on the fringe of the North's territorial waters. Three South Korean marines were killed, six others seriously injured, and some 13 islanders wounded and two dead. And fire claimed some houses. Immediately, the civilian population went into hidding.
And from an underground bunker, South Korea's president Lee Myung bek threatened a barrage of missiles should North Korea lob shells again against the South's navy.
It looked as though the field were cleared for a resumption of the frozen Korean War. Panic seized the world bourses; they plummeted.
Seizing on the moment, Mr. Lee looked for ways to disadvantage his nemesis Kim Jong il. He appealed to third party countries to soundly condemn North Korea's adventurism. And many probably will. China called for calm. Russia expressed troubled concern. The US although looking to put the damper on war fever, pushed for more sanctions and putting another leper's bell of exclusion from the world community, around Kim Jong il's neck. Japan trembled and feared the worse.
Tempers were running high. The US media, marching in lock step with the Obama administration, gave no quarter on the matter.Outside the US, the media took a more nuanced tone.
GuamDiary prefers to review the facts it knows and as they unfold hour by hour. Let's begin with the NLL, a disputed sea boundary drawn at the time of the Korean War [1950-1953], which the North never recognised since it left islands - like Seonpyeong - within South Korea's territory and within a few kilometres from its own territorial waters.
Seonpyeong houses not only a small population which makes a living from the sea, but more importantly it is home to a South Korean military installation, one of whose functions is to closely monitor North Korea.
GuamDiary thinks that it is too early to assert that North Korea is to blame for today's exchange of gunfire.
South Korea admitted that it was conducting yet another series of military exercises in the area. And what's more, its navy, ably assisted by the US, was using live fire. Seoul denies that this live fire was directed towards North Korea. But we only have its word for it. Assuming that that might be the case, live fire by the South in close proximity to North Korean waters,bodes ill and unwelcome intentions, the more especially since the Lee Myung bek government, since its installation in the Blue House, has vigorously pursued a no holds bared policy towards the North beginning with the scrapping of Kim Dae Jung's 'Sunshine Policy'. Since 2008, a relative detente with Pyongyong has been replaced by an ever increasing hard line policy. Not only that, Mr. Lee scrapped an accord signed by his predecessor Roh Moo hyun and Kim Jong il, to turn the NLL into a non military zone and peacefully resolve any differences.
The tensions between both sides took on an increasing menacing tone since the sinking of the South's corvette, the 'Cheonan' in March 2010, resulting in the loss of 46 crew. GuamdDiary has very much commented on this incident and raised doubts as to the culpability of North Korea in this act and showed the missing links of logic in the South's and US' brief against the North. [Readers are encouraged to read our postings on the matter.]
South Korea and the US began a war of propaganda to brand the North the aggressor of the sunken 'Cheonan'. They waged their war on four fronts: political, economic, an organised and selective use of [dis]information, and military. The crowning glory of their efforts was to have the UN Security Council not only condemn North Korea for the torpedoing of the 'Cheonan', but also to strange it economically through sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
The reasoning of this tack is not difficult to measure: for Washington and Seoul, the North is a failed state; its leader Kim Jong il is reportedly seriously ill; its people on the edge of starvation. By pursuing a Cold War against the North, they reasoned, it would bring down the much hated and dreaded Kim dynasty.
South Korea and the US miscalculated. They failed to persuade the Security Council;for China and Russia refused to follow their lead.
So, with the political and diplomatic fronts quieted,propaganda efforts floundered, owing to the stubborn facts that the 'Cheonan' officers were drunk at the time of the incident and that the corvette may have dredged up a torpedo lying dormant possibly from the second world war or the Korean conflict which exploded and ripped the ship in half. Equally damaging was the lack of forthrightness by the South Koreans and the Americans and their delay up to six months in publishing the findings of the incident which even then raised more questions than it answered. No one bothered to read North Korea's dossier nor listen to their firm denial of culpability. And by the time the full report became available,the rest of the world lost interest.
The only option left to Seoul and Washington was the military which they used to the hilt and tried to provoke North Korea to engage in warlike actions. And after a few tries, they finally got for what they wished during the 4 or 5 joint military exercises very near to the NLL. Seen through this lens, Seoul and Washington were aching for a military incident. It does not take much to realise that South Korea felt humiliated and insulted by the sunken 'Cheonan'. For the US, naval and air manoeuvres offered it the opportunity to harass and provoke Kim Jong il. Both allied countries felt that North Korea deserved punishment, and that violence not diplomacy is best served to resolve heightening tensions.
In spite of Lee Myung bek's threat to retaliate with missiles the next time North Korea fires at its ship tiptoeing dangerously near its territorial waters along the NLL, he cannot carry it out. For on the DMZ, North Korea has stationed more than a million troops and a mighty arsenal which could quickly flatten Seoul and bring the mighty South Korean economy to its knees. The US has ruled out a resort to war the more especially North Korea is a nuclear power!Furthermore, the Obama administration is knee deep in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More pertinently, China will not condone the destruction of North Korea and might intervene to save it as it 'rolled back' the US led UN troops during the Korean War to the 38 parallel. War in Korea would wreak havoc in the world's fragile finance market, triggering a deep global depression and might provoke revolution here and there and everywhere. In brief, Seoul and Washington have taken an uninvited road to war without truly weighing the consequences.
Diplomacy looks as though it is the sensible approach to take. But the US North Korea man,Stephen Bosworth, whilst preaching calm, rules out talking to North Korea. Translation: the US has boxed itself in a political and diplomatic cul de sac without an viable option. South Korea has an equally shaky grasp on working out differences and lessening tensions with the North. Japan is stuck in its own refusal to engage North Korea. Which leaves China and Russia: these two countries have serious doubts about Seoul's and Washington's motives; they, however, will labour diplomatically to cool hot tempers and try to prepare the ground for returning to the six party talks in Beijing. The real obstacle to this solution is the Obama administration which has enshired the hostile Bush North Korea policy into an object of slavish veneration.
So, in the end, the situation is not as neatly drawn as Seoul and Washington would have it. Will they change horses in midstream on dealing with North Korea? Or will they push the envelope of military confrontation in spite of the fact that they have much to lose by playing that card. Only time will tell...if that

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Korea Society explains G20 or the moon is made of green cheese

Korea Society convoqued its general membership to gather and hear a 'blue ribbon panel' comment on the following topic: 'After the G20: Issues & Outlook'.
Its members could have spared the trouble to plunk down us$20 or us$30 for salty beef,sticky rice, some kimchi, and three meagre slice of lotus root. They would have had more substance to chew on if they had read the 'Financial Times of London' or the 'New York Times' or the 'Wall Street Journal'.
The format of the meeting was pretty typical. On the dais of the Samsung conference room sat the moderator former ambassador Thomas Hubbard who is now senior director at McLarty Associates and chairman of the Korea Society. To his right ambassador Kim Young mok ROK consul general in New York, William Rhodes senior advisor to Citigroup and advisor to the Lee Myung bek government, and James Glassman managing director and senior economist at JPMorgan Chase. They all attended the G20 in Seoul.
Facing them a sea of some 60 Koreans, Korean Americans, and Americans and a lone British. They represented the financial, business, and the media to a large measure.
The presentation had free flow of ideas which Plato would easily recognise as an 'idea of self'. It had the feeling that the panel was trying to smooth out the crumpled lack of a clear direction that came out of the G20.
The participants also spoke of the empty bags that president Obama returned with from Seoul. Not only did he not find 'common ground' on the US Federal Reserves' 'quantative easing', but he failed to get South Korea to sign the long awaited and hoped for FTA [Free Trade Agreement].
Among the panel reigned the spirit of a self admiration society. So the audience was regaled with agreement on principles and a long term strategy to elaborate a plan of action and monetary reform. In other words, there was a large element of play acting.
The quality of the speakers' accounts of the G20 would hardly rate a passing garade in Economics 101. It could only be defended by the true believers and the credulous.
Let's cut to the chase of the 'substance' of the Korean Society lunch hour meeting:
it is an open secret that the two bankers and two ambassadors preached the gospel that the private sector will save us all. For business now has the certainty and the self assurance to dig the world out of a global recession. [Read: the high rate of savings in east Asia must needs be tapped for rescue the US.]
The fly in this ointment is that it was a government bailout which narrowly saved the banks from complete collapse and restore a degree of muscle to global finance.
Needless to say, this salient point was hardly bruited. In fact, the two US bankers haughty dismissed the Fed chairman Ben Bernanke as a mere professor who had little understanding of finance and economics.
Ambassador Kim held his fire the more especially of the strong role of the South Korean government in the economy and with which its liberal hand distributes tax breaks and give aways to Korea's business and banking community.
It was not a stretch for Rhodes and Glassman to urge an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the rich and the tiresome mantra to the restoration of a more right conservative economic orientation.
They argued for coherence and private authority. They never for once took responsability for the disastrous policy that finance capitalists like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase,visited on the world, thereby triggering the serious world recession. That was ancient history and with a wave of a magician's wand, they tried to transorm a crisis of finance capitalism into a crisis that government policy occasioned.
The discussion on the FTA was brief. Ambassador Kim was diplomatic in not reminding the audience that the US had tried to weasel out of agreed terms, and hence Mr. Obama's returning home empty handed. Rhodes and Glassman skated over this annoying fact, with a certainty that within a short time the ink would dry at the bottom of the FDA.
During the Q&A session, no Korean asked a question. It feel to a group of bankers who knew the panelists. Their questions lacked punch; they were lobbed for easy answers.
Judging by the journalists eyes, no one was fooled by viewing 75 minutes of a B film.

The foolhardy US North Korea policy--the nuclear three card monty

US policy towards North Korea, like a naughty student, is sitting in a corner, with a dunce cap on its head,staring at two walls. It sees nothing but hears voices and sounds it has trouble making out what they mean.
Barack Obama took a hard line much failed tack towards North Korea and frozen it in his administration's overconfidence that it can bend Pyongyang to its will. Wrong!
The Obama administration has an quasi total ban on official contact with North Korea but it has left the door ajar for American citizens to travel there.
A delegation of US scientists, who visited North Korea at Pyongyang's invitation, has returned with a 'bombshell': they were taken to a very modern, underground nuclear facility where 'hundreds and hundreds' of centifuges were up and running.
The messenger who brought this news to the White House's attention, Siegried Hecker of Stanford and formerly director at Los Alamos National Laboratory, expressed shock that North Korean scientists have shown a high degree of sophistication in nuclear enrichment and that a country verging on the edge of starvation and collapse could run such an ultra modern and clean programme.
Obviously Kim Jong il & co. are sending the US a message. It is the latest in North Korea's signalling Washington that it is open to talks. They have been left unanswered.
What is the administration response? It immediately sent its North Korean man scurrying like a frighten laboratory rat to Seoul to consult with the hard nosed Lee Myong bek government on what steps to take.
And the media have make hay out of Dr. Hecker's news: panic in the corridors of power. Substitute Pyongyang for Tehran and you get the drift. North Korea's accelerated and expanded nuclear programme points in the direction of building a nuclear bomb stockpile.
US policy towards North Korea under the Bush and Obama administrations has travelled an uninvited road leading to nowhere. If Washington is taken unawares, it has but its ownself to blame. With an embargo on official contacts with North Korea, it has little recourse to rely on second hand reports of visitors and the faulty speculation of its own North Korea clericsy.
GuamDiary makes no case for North Korea. They are well able to fend for themselves. It does marvel at the high degree of condension that the US elite hold North Korea. They live in an exotic climate where North Korea are irrational and incapable of adapting to seeing the world the way the US does. Wrong! But that is a discussion for another time.
Left unsaid in 21 November 2010 fears of North Korean 'gnomes' stockpiling atomic bombs, is the news in the back pages of 19 and 20 November 2010. Pyongyang is building light water reactors to modernise and replace its rusty utilities. So, it seems, this push towards nuclear energy is for peaceful use!
Here a little history is in order. In the last years of the Soviet Union, Moscow had promised Kim Il sung that it would build light water nuclear reactors to replace the aging and inefficient utility infrastructure it helped fund and bill decades earlier. We know what happened to that pledge. The USSR collapsed.
Bill Clinton's administration stepped into the Soviet's shoes a few years later. It too promised to build light water reactors on condition that North Korea forego a nuclear programme. It too did not live up to its words; it wagered that Kim Jong il's regime plagued by famine would collapse. Wrong!
And of course, George W. Bush's pigheaded flummery turned North Korea into a nuclear power. [GuamDiary has long commented on this. It suggests that its readers look at those commentaries.]
In brief, where does this leave the US? Apparently itching to go to the UN Security Council to sanction yet another time North Korea. Will it open official lines of communication with Pyongyang? Maybe but GuamDiary cannot say for sure.
What GuamDiary can and does say: current US policy towards North Korea is a self defeating bundle of goals. It relies on flummery and self deception and when all is said and done has evolved under a blanket of ignorance.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eric Cantor, dual Loyalty, & the rise of anti Semitism in the US

Eric Cantor, soon to be the Republican majority whip in the US lower house of Congress, is a political naif,in spite of the fact that his Virgina congressional district sent him back to Washington for a fifth term.
As a Jew, he keeps kosher home. He may observe Jewish dietary laws and pray at his local synagogue and is a member in good standing of the pro Israel lobby group AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee, since he was first elected to Congress in 2001, but as a Republican whip with large powers, he has allowed his loyalty to the US to take back seat to his fealty to Israel.
After a cozy tete a tete with the conniving visiting Israeli prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu, his office issued a statement making clear that the security of the US is dependent on Israel's.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency bureau chief in Washington qualified Cantor's position as 'extraordinary'. It was before long that the incoming Republic whip's allegiance to a foreign government raised political uproar, the more especially since the Obama administration has been willing to sell its shirt in order to get Netenyahu back to talks with the Palistinian Authority. His personal commitment to Israel could have sabotage America's two state strategy.
The uproar Cantor caused put him in a bad light. He beat a hasty retreat. He apologised in haste. [Cantor has a long history of as having a loose mouth followed by apologies.]
His thoughtless words reveal the immense influence Israel can and does exercise in the US government. They raise the anti Semite's old bugaboo of dual loyalty. In other words, as a Jew, first political attachment is not to the US but to a Jewish state.
Jews in the Diaspora suffer from an existential insecurity that in whatever country they live in, someone will accuse them of disloyalty. Cantor's thoughtlessness may have muddied the waters of America's Jews political adhesion to the Constitution. And adds fuel to the fires of an energised anti Semitism in what Jews call 'de goldene Medina' or the US where they have been embraced and accepted. Now, Cantor has called that 'security' into question.
The fallout of a severe economic recession has awakened the sleeping dogs of anti Semitism in all segments of the right. It ain't nothing that the shibboleths of a Jewish conspiracy. Consider the CNN's sacking of reporter Rick Sanchez for condemning the Jewish control of the press. Consider, too, the dusted off innuendos of Glen Beck & his clones who raise the spectors of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy in manipulating the levers of banking, the media, education, the chattering classes, so on and so forth.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Remorseless: George W Bush's 'decisions'

The publication of George W. Bush's 'apologia pro sua vita' entitled 'Decisions' is out in print.
On the television and in print interviews, he is the same lippy, cocky, insecure, indadequatr individual as he was as president of the US.
He has no regrets. His tone is playful; it rings false with mock humility. He is, when all is said and done, a spoilt, rich kid with all the advantage without the benefit of psychological spine.
Bush thinks history will judge him kindly. Iraq was no mistake. Torture, no mistake. Katrina, no mistake. And this laundry list of blameless goes on and on.
Apparently Bush has little or no remorse. His utter cynicism has an echo from Edward Arlington Robinson's 'Tristram'--'There are mistakes too monstrous for remorse'.

The living mummy Ariel Sharon is going home to die

Israel can prolong the life of the brain dead Ariel Sharon only for so long.
Recent articles in the press announce that the living mummy Ariel Sharon, kept from the grave yea these five years on life support, is being shipped to his home in the Negev desert.
This public declaration tells us that the bodily functions of Sharon may be shutting down. He will die in the Negev, but his bloody legacy of war against the Palestinians will live long after the worms have eaten his flesh.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A missed occasion to renew Pyongyang Washington dialogue

The death of Jo Myong rok a senior and high ranking North Korean officer and confidant of Kim Jong il offered an opportunity to invite former US officials to attend his funeral.
His obituary appeared in the US media. His death at the age of 82 was entitled to spoken and written coverage: in a visit, marked by its significant gesture, to the US in October 2000, North Korea's first vice president of its National Defence Commission, met with then secretary of state Madeleine Albright and afterwards he held discussions with the White House national security advisor Sandy Berger and later shook hands with president Bill Clinton at the White House.
His rare presence in Washington might have signaled a willingness to go beyond the wooden watchwords of the Korean War which in 2000 was a half century old.
In his meeting with Mme Albright, Mr. Jo gave the US reason to hope that North Korea would engage in significant steps to improve relations with the US.
It was during his trip, he extended an invitation to Mr Clinton to visit North Korea. As a result, Mme Albright flew to Pyongyang where she had talks with Kim Jong il.
Mme Albright is no push over but she came away from her discussions with Mr. Kim with the feeling that the North Korean leader was truly sincere in pursuing more open and better relations with the US.
Alas, poorly advised by America's North Korean clericy, Mr Clinton, already weakened by impeachment and the Lewinsky affair, did not go to North Korea.
On the other hand, Mr Jo chaperoned by the New York Korea Society met members of America's elite. It is pertinent to stress here that at that time South Korea's 'Sunshine Policy' had a magical effect of favouring better and improved relations with Pyongyang.
On one hand, you can say that Mr Jo offered America leaders and elite an undreamed opportunity to meet an official of Mr Jo stature. They also saw that he was not the devil incarnate.
George W Bush and South Korea's president Lee Myung bek turned a promising climate into the deepest freeze of Cold War politcs.
Had North Korea made an effort to invite former American officials to Mr Jo's funeral, there would be no certainty that say Mme Albright or former ambassador to Seoul and president of the Korea Society would attend.
But such an invitation would convey a strong message that Pyongyang is willing to seriously deal with Washington. Such a gesture would have put the Obama admistration's back to the wall. It would then have to seriously review a regressive and failed policy towards North Korea.

Inconsequential New York Korea Society

Once a venue for a robust platform for an exchange of views on South and North Korea, the New York Korea Society has become insignificant.
Now, it encourages new members to a private recpetion to the newly launched Sulwhasoo Skincare Boutique at posh Bergdorf Goodman. Obviously, the society is targeting the idle, upper class wife.
The Korea Society was always a graveyard of elephants for former US ambassadors, military, intelligence agents, and advisors and policy makers, as well as scholars.
Although an NGO or 501(c) non profit, it in directly receives government funding from Washington and Seoul. So, like a weather vane, it spins in the direction of gusts of political wind out of South Korea and the US.
The gathering of cobwebs in its programming is no more apparent than in the particular emphasis of Korean films and literature and arts and general culture. It goes without saying, making Korea more relevant to its American membership, Korea art and culture is a necessary ingedrient but not KS' exclusive crutch.
More damning is the society's two tiered membership: more substantive programmes are for an elite membership and more and more meetings of substance are by invitation only. [Edited i casts are for lesser mortals.]
GuamDiary has commented on the Council on Foreign Relations launch on a special report on US policy on Korea echoing the Obama administration's attempt to dress up a failed 60 year policy of 'rolling back' North Korea. At the time of its publication, the Korea Society invited its general membership to an informational meeting. Evans Revere a former KS president sheparded the report with assistance from a former high ranking military officer and a scholar who wrote it.
So when it is pushing overtly an American political agenda, it calls upon the general membership to recite prescribed prayers of affirmation and delivrance. Otherwise, the 'little people' are fed a pleasing and lotus eater diet of films and books and arts and crafts and music until the moment they are called to a rump parliament to rubber stamp political aims.

Mme Clinton crawls on hands and knees to Jerusalem

Once again the 'audacity' of Barack Obama to pursue a two state solution to the intractable Israeli Palestine question has led to his secretary of state to cave into to right wing Likud prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu's hard line demands.
After seven hours of closeted and 'tough' talks, Netenyahu might consider a 90 day halt on illegal building in the Palestinian occupied territory, but not in Arab East Jerusalem which the Palestinians consider their capitol.
As usual the Obama administration 'compromised' its own integrity bt grabbing a tiger by the tail in pursuit of a policy that is going nowhere but to further Israel's illegal land grab so that the biblical land of Judea and Sumaria [Translation: the Palestinian West Bank occupied 'manu militari' by Israel since June 1967] are incorporated into 'greater Israel'.
And what else is the price the US is willing to pay to get Netenyahu back to exploratory talks with the Palestinian Authority? Mme Clinton stuck to the decades old position of the US to vote against any resolution condeming Israel before the United Nations. And, of course, to guarantee Israel's borders, but no such guarantee exists for Palestinians! But how can it with such isolated and surrounded patches of land created by Israeli aggressive, methodical, and planned illegal seizure of Palestinian territory?]
Let's recall these salient points: the US provides annually Israel with billions of
taxpayer dollars in military and economic aid--repayment of which Washington does not expect. It allows Zionist organisations in the US to solicit funds which is against American law. It hardly blanches at Israel's sinking its ships nor if it engages in military, political, and industrial espionage.
Once again, the US has refused to play its strong suit. Obama lacks the anger of a Dwight Eisenhower during the Suez Crisis [1956] nor the 'realpolitik' of George WH Bush in forcing former terrorist and then prime minister Itzhak Shamir to meet in Madrid with Arab states including the Palestine Liberation Front [1991].
Mr. Obama has the financial and military means to make Israel dance to its jig on a two states solution.
Israel is a client state of the US. Without unconditional US support since its creation in 1948, Israel could not have kept its nose above the water as a viable state.
Consequently, like a beggar Mr. Obama comes to the Israeli table seeking crumbs. His timidity and lack of spine guarantees that Israel will never allow a viable Palestinian state see the day.
As such, Israel is sowing the seeds of reenforcing its condition as a pariah and apartheid state. Israel has forced the PA's hand. With complete support of the Arab and the broader Muslim world, it will sue the UN General Assembly for global recognition 'de jure' of a Palestinian state.
The US cannot bribe nor browbeat the 183 members of the General Assembly to defeat such a move. Let's not miss the salient point: the US has no veto power there. And sooner than later, a Palestinian state will be born no matter how much Israel like Rumplestilskin can stomp its atrophied foot.
When all is said and done, Mme Clinton's surrender is yet another stone in the tomb of America's decline in world power. Mr Obama is a prisoner of his own lack of wisdom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lee Myung bek throws in the 'Cheonan' towel

There is no way to fly over nor swim under the importance of South Korea's president Lee Myung bek's abandoning his insistent call on North Korea to apologise for sinking the corvette 'Cheonan' in March 2010.
The sparkle had gone out of the propaganda war that he and America's Obama administration waged with vigor and much fanfare in the global arena.
GuamDiary has long commented on the US' and South Korea's attempt to strong arm the UN Security Council to condemn North Korea for torpedoing the 'Cheonan', which Pyongyang steadfastly denied.
Guam Diary in broad strokes questioned the case that Seoul and Washington presented:
the lack of transparency, the unanswered questions and holes in the logic of their brief, their unwillingness to immediately issue their full findings on the sunken vessel, their donning the cloak of 'national security' to skirt broader enquiry, and the unwillingness of a Norwegian expert to sign the report of experts, so and on.
GuamDiary raised other doubts: the drunkenness of the 'Cheonan's' officers at the time of the accident during which 46 crew lost their lives. And the statement by former US ambassador to Seoul Donald Gregg who thought that the Russians had it right in saying that the corvette itself churned up a dormant torpedo--a torpedo which may have lain at the ocean's bottom if not from world war 2 but certainly from the Korean War--as the 'Cheonan' ventured dangerously close to North Korean territorial waters.
Now, Mr. Lee has cried 'Uncle!' He's given up. He does not expect North Korea to apologise for a 'scenario of guilt and blame' it has never stopped rejecting as 'sheer fabrication'. [Even though Pyongyang was willing to send a delegation to Seoul to investigate South Korea's evidence, Mr. Lee demurred. In addition, the North issued its own dossier on the incident which no one in the international media bothered to read let alone [....]
To wipe the egg off his face, Mr. Lee hides behind the pious words that he is doing this in the interest of restoring dialogue with the North, for he has detected a good degree of sincerity in Pyongyang's present behaviour. All said and done, it is his way of sugaring the pill of defeat.