For some reason, The Washington Post lets John Bolton hold forth about China and North Korea:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing in early February to meet with his new Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang. Bilateral relations between their two countries are on shaky ground, so the agenda will be crowded.
This may seem an inopportune moment to propose North Korea as a central agenda item. But recent threatening actions from Pyongyang, including ballistic-missile testing and preparing for a seventh nuclear test, offer Blinken a good way to gauge Beijing’s sincerity about seeking Indo-Pacific peace and stability.
No other US officials have done more to encourage North Korea’s nuclear weapons program than John Bolton. He has been called the “father” of their weapons program for good reason. Bolton is famous for opposing every nonproliferation and arms control agreement that has ever been negotiated or proposed, and he is responsible for killing more than a few of them, including the Agreed Framework with North Korea. His insistence on maximalist demands for North Korean disarmament at the Hanoi summit ensured the failure of the meeting and the collapse of direct talks. There is almost no one alive with less credibility to advise the US on what to do about North Korea’s nuclear weapons than this man, but he somehow still gets to spout his usual hardline nonsense using one of the biggest platforms in the country.
Bolton’s op-ed is useful only in the sense that it restates and exposes some of the most flawed assumptions that have undergirded US policy towards North Korea. The US has erred repeatedly by exaggerating Chinese influence over North Korea and assuming that Beijing could compel North Korea into making major concessions. This is an error that Bolton himself has made many times, including during his stint as Trump’s National Security Advisor. Since leaving government, he has been banging this drum incessantly.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.
Less than a day after the US and Germany agreed to give heavy tanks, Ukraine’s president Zelensky again upped the stakes, demanding F-16s and long-range missiles that can strike deep inside Russia. US officials remain confident that Russia will not respond to the steady escalation. What if they’re wrong? Also today: China goes to Africa with briefcases instead of bombs.
Ellsberg gave the following address to the Belmarsh Tribunal on Friday night. A video and transcript follows.
Hi, I’m Dan Ellsberg. One of the foundation stones of our government here in the United States, for democracy and a republic, is our First Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids any law by Congress or the states abridging freedom of speech or of the press, along with freedom of religion or of assembly, that precluded the passage of a British type Official Secrets Act, which most countries have.
Almost no other country has a law singling out the press as protected by our freedom, by the First Amendment and the British type Official Secrets Act, which criminalizes any or all disclosure of information protected by the government executive branch. Even disclosure to the public or to the press or to Congress or Parliament is criminalized and subject to prison.
With the sudden about-face of the US and Germany on sending heavy tanks to Ukraine, the world finds itself bizarrely transported back in time to WWI or WWII. German tanks with iron crosses returning to the very ground they were expelled from in 1945. History repeats itself. First as tragedy, then as farce. Also today: GOP kicks two Dems off of Intelligence Committee – do they have a point? And…does anyone in government NOT have classified documents at home?
I’ve followed the ups and downs of the Doomsday Clock for 60 years. I first learned about it as a University of Chicago freshman in 1963, that it was created there in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. What a neat metaphor to convey how close humanity is to destroying itself. Designed by painter Martyl Langsdorf, the Clock has become an international symbol of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and disruptive technologies.
Every January the Bulletin announces the yearly setting. After 3 years at 100 seconds, the closest in its history, no one following the Clock’s countdown to Midnight was surprised today when it was moved 10 seconds closer to Doomsday. The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board cited the potential US Russian nuclear confrontation over Ukraine as the leading cause for the ominous move forward: “The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; we urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock.”