day, another threat of war – this time on the North Korean
front. Surely Pyongyang's startling admission that indeed
it is actively pursuing the nuclear option – "and more
powerful things as well," according to this New York
– has pulled the rug out from under the War Party, even as
the U.S. gets ready to move on Iraq. Saddam, we are told,
may have "weapons of mass destruction" at
some point down the line, but North Korea has now upped the
ante considerably by strongly hinting that they already
have them, with the unspoken addendum: and so whaddaya gonna
do about it?
Times reports that the bluster has suddenly gone out
of the American hegemon:
the administration's demands on North Korea tonight were muted.
'The United States is calling on North Korea to comply with
all of its commitments under the Nonproliferation Treaty and
to eliminate its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable manner,'
an American official said. There was no discussion of the
consequences if that appeal was ignored, even though the announcement
came only hours after President Bush (news - web sites) issued
some of his toughest and most ominous-sounding warnings yet
is right. This White House doesn't want to go down in history
as the administration that presided over the vaporization
of Tokyo and large segments of South Korea. How they will
prevent that outcome is bound to take up more of their attention,
as the crisis worsens, and leave room for little else. The
President recently received Ariel Sharon at the White House,
and reportedly promised
that the Israelis will get at least two
weeks notice before we attack Iraq. If I were Sharon,
I wouldn't hold my breath.
U.S. is pretty cocky when it comes to pushing around a dilapidated
fifth-rate military power like Iraq: Saddam's army is in far
worse shape than it was a decade ago, when it was decimated
during Gulf War I. But the Stalinist Sparta of North Korea
is a far different matter. Aside from its large but malnourished
land force of nearly two million, the world's last Stalinists
have developed long-range missiles capable of hitting Tokyo.
Its fighter planes are short of fuel: but they're also only
6 minutes from Seoul, the South Korean capital. Washington
must also contend with the fiercely nationalistic and grim
defensiveness of the Hermit Kingdom, developed in response
to a series of foreign invasions – or maybe it's something
in the water. At any rate, compared to North Korea's "Great
Jong-il, Saddam Hussein is a veritable pussycat.
the irony and symbolic fecklessness of our foreign policy!
The White House was so confident, the chickenhawks were so
arrogant, the warhawks were so gung-ho to go in there
and prove that the U.S. of A was going to assert its global
hegemony after the humbling shock of 9/11 – and it all went
up in smoke in an instant, as the North Korean monster rose
from hidden depths and took the Bushies by surprise. Just
in time for Halloween….
trick is no treat. Back
in 1994, CNN reported these comments by then-Deputy Defense
secretary John Deutch:
do not want to have North Korea think that they can steal
a march on us when we are involved in Iraq."
look now, but that is precisely what has happened.
Clinton administration's solution to this problem was a strategic
perspective that guaranteed the
ability to fight two and a half wars at once. But as CNN
correspondent Jamie McIntyre remarked at the time of Deutch's
two wars depends on getting to two wars, something the U.S.
now can't do without months of warning."
Bushies had no clue: when the U.S. ambassador confronted the
North Koreans with the evidence of a secret nuclear program,
they denied it initially. But when they came back the next
day, the North Korean delegation did the unexpected: they
the two-and-a-half wars doctrine of the Clinton era, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his clique of civilian defense
intellectuals were intent on "modernizing" the military
for a "new era" of unchallenged American hegemony.
It was all to be based on high technology, and the assumption
that no single threat of any economic or geopolitical weight
could arise in the foreseeable future. There were no obstacles
on the road to empire. As one commentator put it:
the 'two war' military will help accelerate the Pentagon's
process of change, moving from defending a world that was
to promoting peace in a world that is."
not so fast….
developing crisis on the Korean peninsula vastly complicates
the projected Iraq attack on two levels: militarily and also
on the diplomatic-political front. Aside from having to face
obvious logistical and readiness issues, the White House now
has to deal with the North Koreans' open defiance. For the
conquest of Iraq was supposed to establish the precedent of
the new U.S. doctrine of "pre-emption," i.e. America's
imperial prerogative to take out anyone, anywhere, at any
time, on the mere suspicion that they might one day
pose a threat. Now, with the North Koreans openly thumbing
their noses at the would-be American hegemon, flaunting their
nukes and their defiance, how can the U.S. continue to issue
ultimatums to the considerably less well-armed-and-dangerous
Saddam? The Bushies found out about the North Korean nuclear
gambit 12 days ago, just as the congressional debate over
the Iraq war was
gearing up. They sat on the information until the vote was
in because it would have entirely undermined their
position. Why come down on Iraq when the crazed North Koreans
really do have "weapons of mass destruction"? This
is a question the Bushies are clearly unprepared to answer.
war-hawks have no one but themselves to blame. The Washington
Post cites a U.S. official who, in noting the
genesis of the crisis, "said the North Koreans decided
to go ahead with the program after President Bush identified
the country as a member of an international axis of evil."
The U.S. maintains that the evidence predates the President's
infamous speech, but no one can doubt that naming North Korea
as a potential target of American wrath must have convinced
the already paranoid "Great Leader" that he'd better
prepare for war.
in March of last year, I
predicted that the Bush administration's undoing of the
reconciliation process between the two Koreas was a sign of
impending disaster. No sooner had Colin Powell announced that
the process begun under the Clinton regime would continue
with the new administration then the President contradicted
him less than 24 hours later during talks with South Korean
President Kim Dae-jung.
seems like two decades rather than two years ago that the
two Koreas were on the verge of an historic
reconciliation. The leaders of a divided nation met for
the first time in half a century, and many analysts were confident
that Kim Jong-il had decided North Korea must avoid complete
economic collapse by opting for a "soft
landing." The Bushies put the kibosh on that, however,
and then pushed the Koreans over the edge with the "axis
of evil" nonsense. Powell has far too much class to say
"I told you so" – but, then again, he doesn't have
the typically hyperbolic style of the "mainstream"
news media these days, Bush's confrontation with Iraq was
being characterized as comparable to the Cuban missile crisis.
Of course it wasn't anything even close – but the Korean crisis
is. The North Koreans could wipe out any number of Japanese
cities with the push of a button, and have demonstrated this
ability by shooting missiles over the Sea of Japan.
is what the "pre-emptive" triumphalism of George
W. Bush & Co. has brought us – or, rather, brought the
Japanese and South Korean people. As is usual with the civilian
chickenhawks who rule the "Defense" Department roost,
other people will have to pay the price of their hubris. To
anyone related or close to U.S. military personnel stationed
in South Korea or Japan, I strongly suggest that you give
them a call, write them a note, and tell them you love them.
This may be your last chance.
dweeb who coined the "axis of evil" phrase is
in the President's employ, having been relieved of his
post by a White House that doesn't take to people who blow
their own horns too loudly. However, the damage was not
in the phraseology, but the policy – and a lot more heads
will have to roll, on a much higher level, before the real
roots of the unfolding foreign policy disaster are excised.
the military already rising in open opposition to the war
plans of our civilian chickenhawks, who envision a "cakewalk"
in Iraq, the prospect of a two-front war is no doubt throwing
the Pentagon into a panic. It is their worst nightmare come
true. Already in open rebellion against this administration's
strategic perspective, the generals took
the field against their own commander-in-chief over the
question of war with Iraq – and now they are confronted with
this. The grumbling in the barracks is going to get
louder, and pressure on the administration to put off the
Iraq attack indefinitely, at least until this current crisis
blows over, is bound to ratchet up.
up by their own hopped-up rhetoric, the War Party faces a
strategic conundrum. After all the crowing during the Clinton
years of America as "the indispensable nation,"
and, more recently, the out-and-out neo-imperialism of the
chickenhawks, who are already divvying
up the Iraqi spoils, somebody has finally called the Americans'
may have been saved from the prospect of war in the Middle
East – only to be faced with an even greater crisis on the
other side of the Asian landmass. We are out of the frying
pan, and into the fire – and isn't that the story of empires
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