11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

John Feffer returns to the show following his trip to South Korea and Japan where Donald Trump is visiting to continue his escalation against North Korea. Feffer details China’s role in curtailing North Korea, why the effort has fallen short, and how the Trump administration continues to pressure countries in the region. Scott wonders whether Donald Trump is really as dangerous on North Korea as everyone portrays him—and why neither the United States or North Korea has motivation to start a war. Feffer believes that the United States ultimately uses the North Korea threat to increase our leverage and influence in Asia, particularly over China. Feffer then travels down memory lane and explains how the Iraq War somehow dovetailed into escalation with North Korea. Feffer then shares his guess for the future: strategic patience—even from Donald Trump.

John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus and author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands. His latest article for FPIF.org is “Honoring Otto Warmbier.” Follow Feffer on Twitter @JohnFeffer.

Discussed on the show:

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump's escalation of North Korea

John Feffer returns to the show following his trip to South Korea and Japan where Donald Trump is visiting to continue his escalation against North Korea. Feffer details China’s role in curtailing North Korea, why the effort has fallen short, and how the Trump administration continues to pressure countries in the region. Scott wonders whether Donald Trump is really as dangerous on North Korea as everyone portrays him—and why neither the United States or North Korea has motivation to start a war. Feffer believes that the United States ultimately uses the North Korea threat to increase our leverage and influence in Asia, particularly over China. Feffer then travels down memory lane and explains how the Iraq War somehow dovetailed into escalation with North Korea. Feffer then shares his guess for the future: strategic patience—even from Donald Trump.
John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus and author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands. His latest article for FPIF.org is “Honoring Otto Warmbier.” Follow Feffer on Twitter @JohnFeffer.
Discussed on the show:

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

Atomic Scientists: North Korea’s Nuclear Missile Claims Are a Hoax

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

President Donald Trump continued his blustery North Korea rhetoric on Friday, tweeting that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and later telling reporters that Kim Jong-un had better not make any “overt threats” against the United States.

“This man will not get away with what he is doing,” Trump told reporters from his golf club in New Jersey, adding that if Kim makes a move against the U.S. or its allies “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”

In the midst of this spike in tension between the United States and the Hermit Kingdom, a team of independent rocket experts published a paper Friday asserting that North Korea’s two July test firings of supposed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were, in fact, “a carefully choreographed deception by North Korea to create a false impression” that the country has missiles capable of striking the continental U.S.

In other words, it was “a hoax,” as one of the experts explained to Newsweek.

The team consisted of Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and German missile engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie. Postol has previously disputed official reports on the parties responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

They opened their paper,  published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and titled “North Korea’s ‘not quite’ ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states,”  by highlighting that the July 3 launch was “trumpeted by the US mainstream press” as proof that the United States was vulnerable to an attack from North Korea.

But the Western press jumped the gun, the team argues in their paper:

“The rocket carried a reduced payload and, therefore, was able to reach a much higher altitude than would have been possible if it had instead carried the weight associated with the type of first-generation atomic bomb North Korea might possess. Experts quoted by the press apparently assumed that the rocket had carried a payload large enough to simulate the weight of such an atomic bomb, in the process incorrectly assigning a near-ICBM status to a rocket that was in reality far less capable.”

All these assumptions worked out great for the Kim regime, the researchers write:

“From the point of view of North Korean political leadership, the general reaction to the July 4 and July 28 launches could not have been better. The world suddenly believed that the North Koreans had an ICBM that could reach the West Coast of the United States and beyond.”

But these beliefs aren’t based in truth, Postol and his colleagues write:

“In reality, the North Korean rocket fired twice last month — the Hwasong-14 — is a ‘sub-level’ ICBM that will not be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental United States.”

The analysts concluded that North Korea is likely “years away from completion” of a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the continental United States. The team’s full report, containing the details of their scientific methods, can be found here.

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

Atomic Scientists: North Korea's Nuclear Missile Claims Are a Hoax

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 
 
President Donald Trump continued his blustery North Korea rhetoric on Friday, tweeting that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and later telling reporters that Kim Jong-un had better not make any “overt threats” against the United States.
“This man will not get away with what he is doing,” Trump told reporters from his golf club in New Jersey, adding that if Kim makes a move against the U.S. or its allies “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
In the midst of this spike in tension between the United States and the Hermit Kingdom, a team of independent rocket experts published a paper Friday asserting that North Korea’s two July test firings of supposed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were, in fact, “a carefully choreographed deception by North Korea to create a false impression” that the country has missiles capable of striking the continental U.S.
In other words, it was “a hoax,” as one of the experts explained to Newsweek.
The team consisted of Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and German missile engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie. Postol has previously disputed official reports on the parties responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
They opened their paper,  published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and titled “North Korea’s ‘not quite’ ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states,”  by highlighting that the July 3 launch was “trumpeted by the US mainstream press” as proof that the United States was vulnerable to an attack from North Korea.
But the Western press jumped the gun, the team argues in their paper:
“The rocket carried a reduced payload and, therefore, was able to reach a much higher altitude than would have been possible if it had instead carried the weight associated with the type of first-generation atomic bomb North Korea might possess. Experts quoted by the press apparently assumed that the rocket had carried a payload large enough to simulate the weight of such an atomic bomb, in the process incorrectly assigning a near-ICBM status to a rocket that was in reality far less capable.”
All these assumptions worked out great for the Kim regime, the researchers write:
“From the point of view of North Korean political leadership, the general reaction to the July 4 and July 28 launches could not have been better. The world suddenly believed that the North Koreans had an ICBM that could reach the West Coast of the United States and beyond.”
But these beliefs aren’t based in truth, Postol and his colleagues write:
“In reality, the North Korean rocket fired twice last month — the Hwasong-14 — is a ‘sub-level’ ICBM that will not be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental United States.”
The analysts concluded that North Korea is likely “years away from completion” of a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the continental United States. The team’s full report, containing the details of their scientific methods, can be found here.

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

Senior Military Official: North Korean Missiles Aren’t a Threat to U.S. Cities

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.

 

Geopolitical moves are being made on the issue of North Korea. A day after South Korea’s new government offered to hold military talks with its neighbor to the North, the United States’ second-highest ranking military official admitted Tuesday that North Korean missiles lack the accuracy to effectively target U.S. cities.

On Monday, South Korea’s defense ministry proposed that representatives from both the South and North Korean militaries meet at the border village of Panmunjom in North Korea for talks.

“We make the proposal for a meeting…aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border,” South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The man in charge of North Korean affairs, unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said his country “would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North” and suggested a positive response from Kim Jong-un’s government would represent a show of good faith.

“North Korea should respond to our sincere proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Cho said, adding that ifNorth Korea chooses the right path, we would like to open the door for a brighter future for North Korea, together, by cooperating with the international community.

The defense ministry’s overture falls in line with the approach advocated by new South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who supports diplomatic talks with the North led by South Korea.

Recently, ahead of the G20 summit in Germany, Moon stated that the need for dialogue” with North Korea is “more pressing than ever before because the situation had “reached the tipping point of the vicious cycle of military escalation.”

North Korea has yet to respond to the South’s proposal.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the primary driver of the “evil North Korea” narrative, United States appeared to go against the grain and actually downplayed the effectiveness of Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program — or, at least, one senior defense official did. From Reuters:

“North Korea does not have the ability to strike the United States with ‘any degree of accuracy’ and while its missiles have the range, they lack the necessary guidance capability, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Paul Selva said North Korea’s July 4 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test showed that the country has no hope of hitting a U.S. target with any “reasonable confidence of success” and that recent talk about its ability to strike Alaska or the Pacific Northwest is overblown:

“What the experts tell me is that the North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required.”

While the general’s admission isn’t on the same level as the actual act of diplomacy just demonstrated by South Korea, the fact that the U.S. military is walking back — even if only just a step or two — a narrative it fought so hard to establish is itself worthy of commentary.

So what gives? Why, in the last two days, have both the U.S. and ally South Korea suddenly taken a softer line — again, in their own ways — on the North Korea issue? Are all parties concerned about to knock off the rhetoric and allow the Hermit Kingdom to continue to fire missiles into the sea?

Not likely. As with most other issues of geopolitical significance in that region of the world, these moves likely have far more to do with China.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Washington, D.C., for annual bilateral talks, this year dubbed the “U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.” It will be the third meeting between the two men, after Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago three months ago and their discussions on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany.

Recently, Trump reignited concern over a trade war between the U.S. and China when he said he was considering slapping import tariffs on steel. But these kinds of tactics are nothing new ahead of economic negotiations, as the Washington Post noted last Friday:

“In 1981, the Reagan administration convinced Japan to reduce the number of cars it was exporting to the United States in a bid to boost the U.S. auto sector. In 1984, the administration used the tactic again with the steel industry, as it told dozens of countries to either limit their steel shipments to the United States or lose access to the American market.

In an article published Sunday titled “U.S.-China trade talks sputtering at 100-day deadline,” Reuters outlined how results from economic negotiations between the two countries have been less than encouraging since Trump and Xi first met at Mar-a-Lago. The general consensus is that Donald Trump needs a major win with China to prove he’s sticking to the “America first” guns that got him into the White House.

Noting that “North Korea has cast a long shadow over the relationship between Trump and Xi, Reuters points out that the Hermit Kingdom and its nuclear weapons program has been a hindrance to cooperation for the U.S. president:

“Trump has linked progress in trade to China’s ability to rein in North Korea, which counts on Beijing as its chief friend and ally.”

On Tuesday, the Associated Press also highlighted how Trump has used the issue of North Korea as a bargaining chip at the negotiating table with China:

“As a presidential candidate, Trump attacked China for refusing to pressure Pyongyang to back off from developing nuclear weapons. After the Mar-a-Lago summit, though, Trump praised Beijing for agreeing to help deal with North Korea. As a reward, he abandoned his vow to accuse China of manipulating its currency to benefit Chinese exporters.

So it may be that this one-two punch from the United States and ally South Korea was a coordinated effort to ease tensions and create an atmosphere conducive to cooperation ahead of critical negotiations between the U.S. and China.

It may be that the Trump administration is signaling that it would be willing to back off on pressuring China to rein in Kim Jong-un if China is willing to make concessions on the economic front — and give Trump the win he needs.

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

Senior Military Official: North Korean Missiles Aren't a Threat to U.S. Cities

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.
 
Geopolitical moves are being made on the issue of North Korea. A day after South Korea’s new government offered to hold military talks with its neighbor to the North, the United States’ second-highest ranking military official admitted Tuesday that North Korean missiles lack the accuracy to effectively target U.S. cities.
On Monday, South Korea’s defense ministry proposed that representatives from both the South and North Korean militaries meet at the border village of Panmunjom in North Korea for talks.
“We make the proposal for a meeting…aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border,” South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The man in charge of North Korean affairs, unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said his country “would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North” and suggested a positive response from Kim Jong-un’s government would represent a show of good faith.
“North Korea should respond to our sincere proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Cho said, adding that ifNorth Korea chooses the right path, we would like to open the door for a brighter future for North Korea, together, by cooperating with the international community.
The defense ministry’s overture falls in line with the approach advocated by new South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who supports diplomatic talks with the North led by South Korea.
Recently, ahead of the G20 summit in Germany, Moon stated that the need for dialogue” with North Korea is “more pressing than ever before because the situation had “reached the tipping point of the vicious cycle of military escalation.”
North Korea has yet to respond to the South’s proposal.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the primary driver of the “evil North Korea” narrative, United States appeared to go against the grain and actually downplayed the effectiveness of Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons program — or, at least, one senior defense official did. From Reuters:
“North Korea does not have the ability to strike the United States with ‘any degree of accuracy’ and while its missiles have the range, they lack the necessary guidance capability, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Paul Selva said North Korea’s July 4 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test showed that the country has no hope of hitting a U.S. target with any “reasonable confidence of success” and that recent talk about its ability to strike Alaska or the Pacific Northwest is overblown:
“What the experts tell me is that the North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required.”
While the general’s admission isn’t on the same level as the actual act of diplomacy just demonstrated by South Korea, the fact that the U.S. military is walking back — even if only just a step or two — a narrative it fought so hard to establish is itself worthy of commentary.
So what gives? Why, in the last two days, have both the U.S. and ally South Korea suddenly taken a softer line — again, in their own ways — on the North Korea issue? Are all parties concerned about to knock off the rhetoric and allow the Hermit Kingdom to continue to fire missiles into the sea?
Not likely. As with most other issues of geopolitical significance in that region of the world, these moves likely have far more to do with China.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Washington, D.C., for annual bilateral talks, this year dubbed the “U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.” It will be the third meeting between the two men, after Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago three months ago and their discussions on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany.
Recently, Trump reignited concern over a trade war between the U.S. and China when he said he was considering slapping import tariffs on steel. But these kinds of tactics are nothing new ahead of economic negotiations, as the Washington Post noted last Friday:
“In 1981, the Reagan administration convinced Japan to reduce the number of cars it was exporting to the United States in a bid to boost the U.S. auto sector. In 1984, the administration used the tactic again with the steel industry, as it told dozens of countries to either limit their steel shipments to the United States or lose access to the American market.
In an article published Sunday titled “U.S.-China trade talks sputtering at 100-day deadline,” Reuters outlined how results from economic negotiations between the two countries have been less than encouraging since Trump and Xi first met at Mar-a-Lago. The general consensus is that Donald Trump needs a major win with China to prove he’s sticking to the “America first” guns that got him into the White House.
Noting that “North Korea has cast a long shadow over the relationship between Trump and Xi, Reuters points out that the Hermit Kingdom and its nuclear weapons program has been a hindrance to cooperation for the U.S. president:
“Trump has linked progress in trade to China’s ability to rein in North Korea, which counts on Beijing as its chief friend and ally.”
On Tuesday, the Associated Press also highlighted how Trump has used the issue of North Korea as a bargaining chip at the negotiating table with China:
“As a presidential candidate, Trump attacked China for refusing to pressure Pyongyang to back off from developing nuclear weapons. After the Mar-a-Lago summit, though, Trump praised Beijing for agreeing to help deal with North Korea. As a reward, he abandoned his vow to accuse China of manipulating its currency to benefit Chinese exporters.
So it may be that this one-two punch from the United States and ally South Korea was a coordinated effort to ease tensions and create an atmosphere conducive to cooperation ahead of critical negotiations between the U.S. and China.
It may be that the Trump administration is signaling that it would be willing to back off on pressuring China to rein in Kim Jong-un if China is willing to make concessions on the economic front — and give Trump the win he needs.

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

7/12/17 John Feffer on escalation in North Korea

John Feffer, of Foreign Policy in Focus, joins Scott to discuss whether the escalating war of words (and missile tests) between North Korea and the United States is just bluster or something more sinister. Feffer explains how China and Russia help mitigate conflict, why the U.S. would be heavily incentivized to use conventional weaponry if war were to break out, and in what circumstances the United States might use nuclear weapons in North Korea. According to Feffer the U.S. has three unpalatable options: ignore North Korea, go to war, or negotiate. Scott wonders how North Korea would respond to a truly non-interventionist U.S. foreign policy and Feffer explains how the Bush administration jettisoned a working deal with North Korea that had paused their nuclear proliferation and how Obama’s negligent attitude toward North Korea killed momentum toward non-proliferation.

Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus and author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands. His latest article for FPIF.org is “Honoring Otto Warmbier.” Follow Feffer on Twitter @JohnFeffer.

Discussed on the show:

11/6/17 John Feffer on Donald Trump’s escalation of North Korea

China Issues Firm Warning to U.S. on Potential Trade War

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.

 

Beijing — Hours ahead of Rex Tillerson’s first visit to Beijing as secretary of state, China’s premier said Wednesday that the Asian superpower doesn’t want a trade war with the United States, but that if one were to break out, U.S. companies would be the biggest losers.

“Recently I came across an article from an authoritative international think tank,” Li Keqiang said at a news conference in Beijing. “It says that should a trade war break out between China and the United States, it would be foreign-invested companies, in particular U.S. firms, that would bear the brunt of it.”

As Anti-Media has been reporting, the financial world has been waiting to see how the battle of wills between China and newly-elected President Donald Trump will play out. Trump’s “America First” rhetoric stands in opposition the “One China” policy that the Asian nation requires trading partners to recognize.

The subsequent back-and-forth through comments in the media has those invested in global financial markets worried of a trade war and currency manipulation. On Wednesday, China’s premier pointed out that all the squabbling isn’t good for anyone.

“We don’t want to see any trade war breaking out between our two countries,” Li said. “That wouldn’t make our trade fairer.”

This is all fine and good, but the premier was also certain to note that the “One China” policy must still be the guiding principle behind good U.S.-Chinese trade relations:

“With that foundation in place, we believe there are bright prospects for China-U.S. cooperation.”

And while locking down a good economic relationship with China is high on the list of things to accomplish on Tillerson’s first trip to Beijing, the Washington Post suggested Wednesday that the man’s top priority is North Korea.

“While relations with China will be discussed during Tillerson’s visit,” writes the Post, “the top of the agenda for the new secretary of state is expected to be North Korea’s nuclear program.”

The narrative is that the North Koreans are so out of control that the U.S. must step in and do some policing because China has failed to act.

Take, for instance, how the New York Times opened its coverage of Tillerson’s visit to Beijing on Wednesday:

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will warn China’s leaders that the United States is prepared to step up missile defenses and pressure on Chinese financial institutions if they fail to use their influence to restrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to several officials involved in planning his first mission to Asia.”

It’s all about the nukes, the corporate media would have you believe.

And whether you choose to believe the narrative or not, the cold hard facts are that the largest Chinese naval fleet since World War II is readying to steam down the hotly-contested South China Sea, and that the United States military just deployed units of its most elite soldiers — including Navy SEALS, Delta Force, and Army Rangers — to South Korea for “training.”

Now, perhaps more than ever, is a time for vigilance when analyzing the content coming down from the corporate media.

 

 

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