Archive for the Sanctions as weapon of war Category

US diplomacy ensnared in combat with Russia [People’s Daily]

Posted in Economic crisis & decline, NATO, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, Sanctions as weapon of war, Ukraine, US imperialism, USA on May 29, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 22, 2014

“The panic that the United States has shown on the issue of Ukraine reflects U.S. concerns about the loss of global leadership.” Such was Noam Chomsky’s observation on American reaction to the Ukraine crisis. Some analysts believe that the Obama administration underestimated Russia’s determination to defend its national interests, and had no idea that Putin would offer such a tough response. If Putin should take even tougher measures, the United States will have no strategy to deal with the situation. U.S. foreign policy is “stretched” and its lack of overall strategic planning has left it “passive and isolated” in the Ukraine crisis.

= West’s crossing of a ‘red line’ has provoked a Russian counterattack =

“The truth is that the United States was not expecting such a strong response from Russia,” says Marlene Laurelle, director of the Central Asia Program in George Washington University. For the Obama administration, preoccupied with its ‘rebalancing’ act in the Asia-Pacific and with Middle Eastern affairs, European issues were far from the top of the agenda.

Secretary of State John Kerry described Russia’s participation in the protests in eastern Ukraine as “more than deeply disturbing”. As Chomsky pointed out, from the perspective of the U.S. Putin’s annexation of the Crimea disrupted the international order established after the Cold War, which the U.S. and its allies have relied on.

However, there is one voice of reflection in the U.S. – Richard Weitz, a senior editor with World Politics Review. His view is that fundamentally, Russia’s resentment stems from the West’s disrespect for its interests and concerns. Without proper consultation with Russia, NATO has continually expanded eastward, threatening Russia’s core interests. It is the Western countries that have crossed Russia’s “red lines”; this is what has led to Putin’s counterattack.

= Sanctions on Russia are largely a propaganda tool =

Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, the United States has launched three rounds of sanctions against Russia. In terms of their effect, the media have quoted Bogomolov, the honorary director of the International Institute of the Russian Academy of Economics and Political, suggesting that the sanctions against Russia are largely a propaganda tool, and have had little effect on Russia’s economy.

Stephen Blank, senior researcher of Russia American Foreign Policy Council, offered this view to People’s Daily: “The US sanctions against Russia have not affected bilateral trade between the two countries, as the volume of U.S.-Russian trade is small and U.S. investment in Russia is very limited. Economic sanctions against Russia have had little impact on the U.S.”

Dr. Andrew Kuchins, CSIS Director, was equally skeptical about the worth of the sanctions: “Russia is one of the world’s top ten economies. Many European countries are more than willing to trade and engage in economic cooperation with Russia.”

Kuchins is right – there are obvious differences between the U.S. and Europe on expanding sanctions against Russia. Ignoring U.S. objections, France has proceeded to deliver two Northwest Wind amphibious assault ships to Russia, while German Chancellor Merkel stressed that the U.S. and Europe should work out a comprehensive set of sanctions against Russia to avoid damaging any individual EU country.

With the approach of the presidential elections in Ukraine at the end of May, the United States and its allies have proposed a fourth round of sanctions against Russian suppliers, upgrading the level from “limited” and “warning” to “comprehensive” and “substantial”. However, these aggressive measures are being tempered by voices questioning how effective the sanctions will be, and asking what are the plans to deal with any Russian counter-measures.

Many people are questioning Obama’s diplomacy. Clark A. Murdock, senior Adviser and Director of the US Defense and National Security Group, observed: “From the strategic level, Obama did not make good use of deterrence. The opponent does not fear him, and his allies are unsure about whether the US will meet its commitments.”

= America faces an inevitable decline =

American media are worried by the outcome of the stand-off between Obama and Putin in terms of leadership and international influence. Richard Weitz notes that in the past few years the world has witnessed a significant recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Under the leadership of Putin, Russia is becoming an important and independent force in determining the world order.

In his book Foreign Policy Begins at Home, Richard N. Haass describes a twenty-first century in which power is widely diffused. Globalization, revolutionary technologies, and the rise and decline of new and old powers have created a “non-polar” world where American still dominates, but no longer dictates.

One thing is clear – in the struggle between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine, Russia will not accept a swing to the west. For Russia, the concern is that any retreat or reticence might lead to a “domino effect” among other CIS countries. However, the Obama administration does not seem to recognize the profound importance of Ukraine to Russia. As a result, the United States has no draft, far less any detailed blueprint, to deal with Russia’s tough response to the crossing of its red lines.

The article is edited and translated from《博弈乌克兰,美国外交陷被动》, source: People’s Daily, author: Li Boya.

Article link: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/n/2014/0522/c98649-8730972.html

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The Iraqi resistance is justified, prosecute the criminals [Workers World]

Posted in Belgium, DU Depleted Uranium weapons, Genocide, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Pentagon, Sanctions as weapon of war, Tony Blair, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By John Catalinotto on March 25, 2014

Workers World newspaper publishes below the statement of the Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI), which summarizes the damages to Iraq caused by aggressive war and occupation on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of the U.S.-British invasion on March 19, 2003, and raises demands for prosecution of the responsible war criminals and for reparations for the victims. WW notes that CEOSI is one of the organizers of the April 16-17 commission set for Brussels, Belgium, to make legal demands on the war criminals, mostly from the U.S. and Britain, whose crimes caused so much death and destruction in Iraq.

The illegal war and occupation of Iraq, launched by the international coalition led by the U.S. and Britain, have claimed the lives of nearly two million Iraqis; it has left five million refugees inside and outside Iraqi borders, made more than one million widows and five million orphans [1]. The occupying forces have often used weapons banned by International Conventions, such as depleted uranium ammunition, agent orange and white phosphorus [2]. The planners and the executors of what the international law defines as a crime against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity remain unpunished.

After the Iraqi national resistance forced the U.S. military to withdraw its troops, tens of thousands of advisors, contractors — especially North Americans — and security personnel remain in the country to protect the interests of the United States. Foreign elements have not abandoned their goal of controlling the economic resources of the country, since they face a government unable to guarantee its population’s most basic services.

In addition, various foreign and regional powers, such as the pro-Iranian forces, are fighting each other to gain influence and dominate Iraq using their militias against the Iraqi people.

The political process and the regime imposed are part of the U.S.-British occupation of Iraq. The policy of the regime led by Nuri al-Maliki is based on revenge, totalitarianism and sectarian division; it’s a regime that promotes and encourages acts of terrorism against civilians to prevent Iraq from regaining its sovereignty after decades of sanctions, war and occupation. According to the most conservative data, the death toll caused by the violence in the past year is around 8,000 [3]. To this number at least 169 executions carried out without the standard legal guarantees must be added. Iraq ranks third in the use of death penalty after China and Iran. [4]

At the beginning of 2011, the different peaceful protests that began to struggle [and] fight against the occupation — involving trade unions, students, human rights activists, etc.,— unified their efforts in what was called the February 25th Movement [5] and reached a national level.

This peaceful resistance was suppressed by the state and intentionally ignored by the mainstream media, which largely led to its disappearance. However, this long journey of struggle and growing popular discontent has been the root of the popular revolution that we are witnessing today in Iraq.

Since late 2012, these demonstrations and popular and peaceful sit-ins have resumed in some western provinces; they have been spread to the south and have reached the capital, Baghdad. [6] Despite the government nonstop attempts to put an end to the protests, they have continued till now, especially in central and west Iraqi provinces, where people have been suffering persecution and the regime’s sectarian policies. There are many reasons for the people to take [to] the streets: corruption, sectarianism, unemployment, lack of access to basic services, illegal arrests, etc., which derive from the foreign occupation and from a class rule that triggers hatred, division, power struggles and the plundering of the national resources. In 2011, the reasons for the popular revolution were crystal clear in the mottos demanding the withdrawal of the U.S. troops and the removal of the regime.

For more than two months now, the Maliki government has been waging a war against the Iraqi people in several provinces in an attempt to end the popular revolution. Although the protests have been totally peaceful, Maliki has accused the population of these (majority Sunni) areas of being part of or supporting the terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. [7] Without any hesitation, the government continues bombing the civilians, while receiving military aid from the U.S., Russia and Iran. The bombing has caused numerous deaths and new waves of refugees. [8] In response to the government attacks, the population has organized itself into military councils to protect its territory and fight for what all Iraqis — from north to south — have demanded since the beginning of the occupation: prosperity, unity and national sovereignty. [9]

In these critical times to Iraq, CEOSI would like to express its full support for the Iraqi popular revolution — armed and peaceful — and we state that the military councils have been created for self-defense due to the total absence of legal protection and contempt for the law in Iraq; a situation where sectarian and partisan militias run the country and the government, far from ensuring the safety of citizens, exercises state terrorism, so that

We demand:

1. That the aspirations of the Iraqi people’s revolution are acknowledged, as well as the Iraqi right to decide about their own destiny, without any interference after more than 25 years of wars, sanctions, and a new war and illegal occupation.

2. That the International Criminal Court fulfills its legal obligation to investigate and prosecute every single individual or group responsible for committing the war crimes, the crimes against peace and the crimes against humanity that were committed in Iraq from 2003 onwards.

The international body of justice must ensure that the top military, civil and political leaders, from all those countries that led, supported or carried out the invasion and occupation of Iraq, are accountable for their lies and for the policies that led them to commit these crimes against Iraq and its people. In this regard, the Iraq Commission in the framework of the 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers there will be held in Brussels on April 16 and 17. The aim of this commission is to analyze and to implement legal measures that will prevent the criminals from going unpunished.

The International Criminal Court must comply with international law, establish war compensations and require them to be paid, both to civilian victims and to the Iraqi state, whose sovereignty and independence have been abused by acts contrary to the international law currently in force.

The United Nations must take an active and supportive role to aid those national courts that can take legal procedures against those accountable for the crimes committed against a sovereign nation. At this moment, in which the Spanish government has led the way to at least a minimum application of the Law of Universal Jurisdiction, an active defense of justice is particularly important…

Excerpted; full article (w/footnotes) link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/03/25/iraqi-resistance-justified-prosecute-criminals/

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“The accessories to war crimes are those paid to keep the record straight” – on media suppression of US-UK int’l aggression [JohnPilger.com]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Israeli Nukes, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Sanctions as weapon of war, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.K., US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on February 15, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

8 February 2014

by John Pilger

…The Faustian pacts that contrived a world war a century ago resonate today across the Middle East, and Asia: from Syria to Japan. Then, as now, cover-up was the principal weapon. In 1917, Prime Minister David Lloyd George declared: “If people knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know…”

…The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq cannot be “countered” indefinitely. Neither can “our” support for the medievalists in Saudi Arabia, the nuclear-armed predators in Israel, the new military fascists in Egypt and the jihadist “liberators” of Syria, whose propaganda is now BBC news. There will be a reckoning – not just for the Blairs, Straws and Campbells, but for those paid to keep the record straight.

Excerpted; full article link: http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-accessories-to-war-crimes-are-those-paid-to-keep-the-record-straight

“US Financial Sanctions Against the DPRK As the Cause of Nuclear Tests on Korean Peninsula” – China collaborates with US’ coercion against DPR Korea [Blogs.taz.de]

Posted in Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, China, Corporate Media Critique, CPC, DPR Korea, Korean War, Media smear campaign, Nukes, Sanctions as weapon of war, UNSC, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, World War II on April 14, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

3.4.2013

by Rhonda Hauben

A few weeks ago I was invited to comment on what I felt the change in China’s government and the Communist Party leadership will mean for the future of China and for the UN. (1) I am not an expert on China, but I have by now had the experience of observing China’s activity at the UN and particularly in the Security Council for almost seven years.

What I have observed recently, is that in some areas, like the Syrian conflict, China continues to insist on its long standing principle to support negotiations and to work toward a political settlement of the conflict. But in other areas, particularly the situation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) China has seemed to be subordinating its emphasis on the peaceful settlement of conflicts to go along with the coercive actions proposed by the US government against the DPRK. (2)

One recent example occurred when the DPRK launched a satellite in December 2012. Some members of the Security Council complained that this was a violation of a resolution forbidding the DPRK from launching a ballistic missile. Though both a satellite launch and a ballistic missile launch use a rocket to do the launch, these forms of launches are not the same.

As Professor Bruce Cumings, the noted historian on the subject of the Korean Peninsula, explained in a talk he gave at Columbia University on March 2, 2013 (3):

1. A ballistic missile needs a reentry shield
2. A ballistic missile has to have targeting on reentry
3. A ballistic missile has to have a warhead.

The satellite launch by the DPRK did not have these three characteristics. As such, the satellite launch was significantly different from a ballistic missile launch.

The DPRK submitted statements to the Security Council and to General Assembly meetings explaining that there is an international treaty recognizing all nations right to the peaceful use of space. (4) The DPRK is a signatory of that treaty. The DPRK notes that there have been many satellite launches but only their satellite launch is classified as that of the launch of a ballistic missile. This is an indication, they explain, of the hostility of the US toward the DPRK.

In this situation neither China nor any other member of the Security Council asked that the DPRK be invited to present its view of this conflict to the Security Council members as provided for in Article 31 of the UN Charter. Instead the Security Council expanded the sanctions it has imposed on the DPRK by issuing a new resolution against the DPRK, Resolution 2087( S/RES/2087(2013)), on January 22.

Instead of the members of the Security Council providing a process to engage the DPRK in negotiations, as China and other members of the Security Council had done in a few instances in the past, (5) all the members of the Security Council went along with the US government program of coercion and punishment of the DPRK.

The DPRK has explained that in response to hostile actions by the US and the use of the Security Council to support hostile action by the US, the DPRK needs to develop its nuclear defense capability. On February 12, 2013, the DPRK conducted its third nuclear test. The Security Council then issued Resolution 2094( S/Res/2094(2013)) on March 7 imposing additional sanctions on the DPRK, including a set of financial sanctions which are intended to reimpose substantial financial hardship on the DPRK. These financial sanctions are part of the focus of Resolution 2094.
These sanctions, journalists were told, were negotiated by the US and China and then accepted by the other 13 members of the Security Council. This is a process similar to that which was used in creating Resolution 2087 punishing the DPRK for launching a satellite.

There is prior experience with what the US puts forward as its use of financial sanctions against the DPRK, which has been called coercive diplomacy. It is significant to recognize that the imposition of such US financial sanctions against the DPRK preceded the first nuclear test undertaken by the DPRK. In September 2005, the US government used a little known provision of the US Patriot Act, Section 311 to blacklist a bank, the Banco Delta Asia, because the DPRK had $25 million of its funds in the bank. This resulted in the funds of this bank being frozen and the DPRK losing access to the funds in its account for two years. These financial sanctions were imposed in a such a manner that they represented a threat that any bank doing business with the DPRK would be vulnerable to similar sanctions, effectively denying the DPRK access to the international banking system. (6)

Prior to the imposition of these financial sanctions against the DPRK by the US, the DPRK had not tested any nuclear device. And it was only after the DPRK carried out a nuclear test that the US State Department became willing to negotiate about ending these financial sanctions.

So the US blacklisting of the Banco Delta Asia, an action taken by the US Treasury Department against the DPRK, was the Godfather of the DPRK’s determination to develop its nuclear capability. There are present and past US government officials, however, who erroneously claim that the Banco Delta Asia sanctions were effective in stopping the DPRK’s nuclear program.(7) The opposite is the reality. The US financial sanctions against the DPRK were one of the significant factors which the DPRK cites which convinced them of the need for a nuclear weapon as a defense against such US hostility.

Hence the financial sanctions wielded by powerful nations are the thrust to spread nuclear proliferation not a means to contain proliferation. The focus on the form of financial sanctions in Resolution 2094 demonstrates the failure of the UN Security Council to learn from past experience. The DPRK has documented how it has been the victim of a hostile policy on the part of the US since its origin as a result of the US imposed division of Korea after WWII.(8)

Over 60 years ago, the US artificially divided Korea, a nation which prior to this division had a history of over 1000 years as a single nation. After WWII, Korea was divided into two states using a US manipulated UN General Assembly process in 1948 to consolidate the division.(9) That division continues until today.

Under the Patriot Act Section 311 provision used to justify the blacklisting of the Banco Delta Asia bank, a bank in Macao, China, the US government had no obligation to present evidence to back up its claims. But in documents submitted to the US government, Stanley Au, the chief stockholder of the Banco Delta Asia, effectively demonstrated that the claims presented by the US government against his bank were fallacious.(10)

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the action taken against the Banco Delta Asia has been described in testimony presented at US government hearings, as a politically motivated action targeting China. According to one of the former government officials who helped to plan this action, the Banco Delta Asia was intended as a “symbolic target.” Describing this action at one of several hearings discussing the blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia, David Asher said (11):

“(T)here’s an old saying in Chinese, ‘You kill the chicken to scare the monkeys’. We didn’t go out and cite a multitude a Chinese financial institutions that have been publicly identified as working with North Korea over the years….We did need to designate one small one though, and that one small one sent a message to all the other ones….”

Asher explained that the purpose of the action by the US government against the Banco Delta Asia was to target North Korea and its access to the international banking system. An even more important purpose for the US government officials planning this action, he clarifies, was to issue a threat to the Chinese banking system.

The imposition of similar financial sanctions by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2094 demonstrates its surrender to US pressure to create a resolution based on illegitimate processes previously undertaken by the US government. The US government action against the Banco Delta Asia in 2005 was an early foray into creating a system of punishment that its advocates falsely claim was effective to stem proliferation. But in reality, the opposite is the case. The blacklisting of the Banco Delta Asia represented an abusive use of the international finance system against a victim nation.

Financial sanctions as imposed on nations like the DPRK not only harm that nation and its people, but they also end up creating havoc in the international financial system. The international financial system was being used as a political weapon, rather than being protected so that its integrity could be maintained.

With the US Treasury Department blacklisting the Banco Delta Asia, it was not only the DPRK that lost access to its funds, but also private bank account holders at the bank had their funds frozen.
After the US Treasury Department actions against the DPRK in 2005, only one mainstream US media organization, the McClatchy Newspapers carried stories investigating the actions by the US Treasury Department against the Banco Delta Asia. Also a blog called China Matters and several other online publications like OhmyNews International, then an English edition of the Korean online publication OhmyNews, carried articles which helped to expose the US Treasury Department’s false claims and the support of these US government actions by the mainstream US media.

The acquiescence by UN Security Council members to sanctions designed by the US against a smaller nation like the DPRK, both in 2006 when the Security Council passed Resolution 1718 condemning the DPRK, and more recently when the Security Council passed Resolution 2094 supporting similar sanctions, demonstrates the need for a vibrant watchdog media and for netizens who will monitor what is being done by the Security Council. It is important to have a netizen media that will probe what is behind the actions taken by the Security Council and what the real effects of such actions are on the peoples and nations that such sanctions target.

The example of the US blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia demonstrates that the use of financial sanctions by nuclear powers like the US against small nations like the DPRK will not stop nuclear proliferation. Instead, it will serve to convince small nations that they need a means to protect themselves against abuse by powerful countries like the US and UN Security Council actions supporting such abuse. It will also hasten efforts by other nations to create an alternative architecture to the current US dominance of the international financial and banking systems.

Full article link, including endnotes: http://blogs.taz.de/netizenblog/2013/04/03/us-sanctions-against-dprk-as-godfather-nuclear-tests/

US intensifies pressure on China over North Korea [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, China, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Iran, Japan, Korean Reunification, Korean War, Nukes, Obama, Pentagon, Pyongyang, Russia, Sanctions as weapon of war, south Korea, UNSC, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on March 26, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Peter Symonds

21 March 2013

Amid continuing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, China has criticised the US for announcing a large increase in its anti-ballistic missile interceptors based in the Asia Pacific region. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned on Monday that “strengthening anti-missile [systems] will intensify antagonism”. He called on the “relevant country… to adopt a responsible attitude and act prudently.”

Last Friday, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel announced that the number of interceptors in Alaska would expand by 14, on top of 30 already in place in Alaska and California. While Hagel claimed that the US was responding to North [sic] Korea’s “irresponsible and reckless provocations”, the plans to boost anti-missile systems in Asia had been in the pipeline for months. Hagel also announced the establishment of a second radar station in Japan to track ballistic missiles.

Both China and Russia have opposed the US build-up of anti-ballistic missile systems in Asia and Europe, which are not primarily aimed at so-called “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea, but at undermining Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals. Far from being “defensive”, the ability to track and destroy ballistic missiles enhances the US capacity to conduct a “first strike” without the danger of retaliation.

Hagel’s announcement focuses on China, while opening the door for renewed talks with Russia. The increase in interceptor numbers in Asia involves shifting resources from Europe, effectively putting the final phase of a European-based anti-missile system on hold. Moscow has strenuously opposed the deployment of such military technology in Europe.

The Obama administration is exploiting North Korea’s third nuclear test last month to put pressure on Beijing in other ways. US Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter met with senior South Korean officials in Seoul on Monday. He noted that relations with the new administration of right wing South Korean President Park Geun-hye had got “off to a very productive start”.

As part of Obama’s so-called “pivot to Asia”, Washington has been strengthening US military ties and alliances throughout the region to contain China. Carter assured South Korea that US spending reductions would not affect its military commitment to Asia, and that its “historic priority” of rebalancing to Asia would be accomplished “no matter what happens”.

Carter also pointedly noted that a nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bomber would make a flight over South Korea on Tuesday as part of the joint US-South Korean war games currently underway. Pentagon press secretary George Little commented: “We are drawing attention to the fact that we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important to demonstrate in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric.”

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also raised the issue of North Korea during his visit to Beijing that ended yesterday. He pressed Chinese leaders to use their economic leverage, as Pyongyang’s main source of trade and aid, to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. Lew called for closer scrutiny of North Korean banks under US sanction, hinting that Washington could consider penalties against Chinese banks if its demands were not met.

Earlier this month, China voted for a new round of sanctions on North Korea in the UN Security Council. According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Tuesday, Chinese authorities have issued a warning to four North Korean financial institutions to conduct business in China strictly according to their permits or face penalties. But US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen, who was due to arrive in Beijing yesterday, is likely to push for tougher measures.

Chinese leaders are well aware that the US is using North Korea’s nuclear and rocket tests as the pretext not only for expanding anti-ballistic missile systems in the Asia Pacific, but for maintaining US military forces in Japan and South Korea and restructuring its strategic position throughout the region. But Beijing is equally concerned that pressure on the fragile [sic] regime in Pyongyang could lead to its collapse, resulting in the loss of a longstanding ally as well as likely triggering a flood of refugees into northern China.

Confronting relentless US pressure over North Korea, a debate has opened up in Chinese ruling circles as to whether to simply cut Pyongyang loose. A prominent comment published in the British-based Financial Times last month, “China should abandon North Korea”, by Deng Yuwen, a top official at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cadre school, signalled that a discussion was underway.

At this month’s National People’s Congress, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who has since been appointed as state councillor in charge of foreign affairs, insisted that Chinese support for UN sanctions did not indicate a change of approach to North Korea. He renewed China’s call for dialogue through the stalled six-party talks involving the two Korea, China, the US, Russia and Japan.

The New York Times, however, reported that an intense debate took place in a side session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, a government advisory body. “Delegates to the conference, according to a senior Communist Party official, Qiu Yuanping, talked about whether to ‘keep or dump’ North Korea and debated whether China, as a major power, should ‘fight or talk’ with the North,” the Times wrote.

Like Deng’s article in the Financial Times, Qui’s public comments are unusually open. They constitute a warning to the North Korean regime that it cannot necessarily count on China’s continued support. Qui, who is deputy director of the CCP’s Central Foreign Affairs Office, made the remarks in the presence of journalists at session titled “Friendship with Foreign Countries”, attended by several Chinese ambassadors.

In his Financial Times article, Deng concluded: “China should consider abandoning North Korea. The best way of giving up on Pyongyang is to take the initiative to facilitate North Korea’s unification with South Korea.” Such a step, he wrote, would assist China in a number of ways, including to “undermine the strategic alliance between Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.”

Such a project confronts huge political and economic obstacles. But the fact that it is even being contemplated, let alone aired in the premier mouthpiece of British finance capital, points to growing desperation in Beijing and underscores the acute geopolitical tensions being generated in North East Asia by Obama’s aggressive “pivot”.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/21/kore-m21.html

Iraq: 10th anniversary of U.S. crime against humanity [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Corporate Media Critique, Depleted Uranium weapons, Economic crisis & decline, El Salvador, Hiroshima, Kuwait, Libya, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Nagasaki, NATO, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, Sanctions as weapon of war, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Torture, Turkey, USA, War crimes, Wikileaks on March 21, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Sara Flounders on March 19, 2013

The corporate media in the U.S. play a powerful role in preparation for imperialist war. They play an even more insidious role in rewriting the history of U.S. wars and obstructing the purpose of U.S. wars.

They are totally intertwined with U.S. military, oil and banking corporations. In every war, this enormously powerful institution known as the ‘fourth estate’ attempts, as the public relations arm of corporate dominance, to justify imperialist plunder and overwhelm all dissent.

The corporate media’s reminiscences and evaluations this week of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, which began March 19, 2003, are a stark reminder of their criminal complicity in the war.

In the many articles there is barely any mention of the hundreds of news stories that totally saturated the media for months leading to the Pentagon onslaught. The news coverage in 2003 was wholly unsubstantiated, with wild fabrications of Iraqi secret ”weapons of mass destruction,” ominous nuclear threats, germ warfare programs, purchases of yellow cake uranium, nerve gas labs and the racist demonization of Saddam Hussein as the greatest threat to humanity. All of this is now glossed over and forgotten.

No weapons were ever found in Iraq, but no U.S. official was ever charged with fraud. Heroes such as Private B. Manning, however, face life in prison for releasing documents exposing the extent of some these premeditated crimes.

Today, in the popular histories, the barest mention is made of the real reason for the war: the determination to impose regime change on Iraq in order to secure U.S. corporate control and domination of the vast oil and gas resources of the region. Iraq was to be an example to every country attempting independent development that the only choice was complete submission or total destruction.

Now it is no longer even a political debate that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq were a howling disaster and major imperialist blunder for U.S. strategic interests. Despite every determination to occupy Iraq with 14 permanent military bases, the U.S. army of occupation was forced to withdraw in the face of fierce Iraqi national resistance.

Bush stood on the deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier Lincoln on May Day 2003, with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, to declare the war over. But what the U.S., puffed up by its imperialist arrogance, did not foresee was that the resistance had just begun.

U.S. strategists, so full of conceit about their powerful weapons, ignored the message displayed on signs, billboards and headlines of every Iraqi newspaper. It was even the headline of an English-language newspaper there, when this reporter was in Iraq with a solidarity delegation just a few weeks before the U.S. “shock and awe” onslaught.

The oft-repeated slogan was: “What the jungles of Vietnam were to their resistance, the cities of Iraq will be for us.”

The Iraqi government opened the warehouses and distributed six months of food rations to the population in advance of the war. Each package bore the sign: “Remember to feed a resistance fighter.” Small arms, explosives and simple instructions for making improvised explosive devices were publicly distributed.

Ultimately U.S. corporate power was defeated in Iraq due to its inability to be a force for human progress on any level. It was incapable of reconstruction.

The overpowering force of U.S. weaponry was able to destroy the proudest accomplishments of past decades of Iraqi sovereignty and inflame old sectarian wounds. But it was unable to defeat the Iraqi resistance or even gain a vote on a status of forces agreement in an Iraqi Parliament that the U.S. planners created.

– U.S. media non-coverage –

In covering the 10th anniversary, the same media that sold the war 24/7 recount the criminal decision to invade and occupy Iraq as just mistaken intelligence or wrong information. At the same time that they wring their hands over lost opportunities and lack of foresight, they give a passing salute to the 4,448 U.S. soldiers who died and the 32,221 wounded. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors died as well, a number barely mentioned or underreported.

More than 1.1 million U.S. soldiers served in Iraq. The National Council on Disabilities says up to 40 percent of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was the most widely and closely reported war in military history. Yet the enormity of the crime committed against the Iraqi people, the hundreds of thousands of silent deaths from lack of medical infrastructure, the millions of refugees, the environmental catastrophe, the radioactive and chemical waste left behind were ignored in coverage then, and today are barely noted.

At the start of the war in March 2003, 775 reporters and photographers were registered and traveling as embedded journalists. The number grew to thousands. These reporters signed contracts with the military that limited what they were allowed to report on.

So it should come as no surprise that what is completely missing from coverage is any responsibility for the calculated destruction of Iraq, the massive corruption and systematic looting, or the conscious policy of inflaming sectarian hatred and violence as a tactic to demoralize the resistance.

Statistics cannot convey the human loss. One out of every four Iraqi children under 18 lost one or both parents. In 2007, there were 5 million Iraqi orphans, according to official government statistics. By 2008, only 50 percent of primary-school-age children were attending classes. Iraq was reduced from having the lowest rate of illiteracy in the region to having the highest. Women suffered the greatest losses in education, professions, childcare, nutrition and their own safety in the brutal occupation.

According to figures of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, there are now 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis and 2.2 million refugees, mostly in neighboring states. More than one-fourth of Iraq’s population is dead, disabled or dislocated refugees due to the years of U.S. occupation. This is hardly liberation.

Missing in the many 10th anniversary evaluations is the essential historical context. The 2003 war was a continuation of the 1991 war to destroy Iraq as a sovereign nation in control of its own resources. There is barely a mention of the targeted destruction in 1991 of drinking water, sanitation, sewage, irrigation, communications and pharmaceutical industry facilities, as well as the civilian electric grid and basic food supply. Erased today is all mention of 13 years of U.S./U.N. starvation sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1990 to 2003, which caused the deaths, through hunger and disease, of more than 1 million Iraqis, more than half of them children.

Despite the horrendous toll, the failure of U.S./U.N.-imposed sanctions to create a total collapse in Iraq compelled U.S. corporate power to opt for a military invasion to impose regime change.

– Second anniversary of wars in Libya, Syria –

Also missing from evaluations of the U.S. war on Iraq is any mention that this is a week of two other war anniversaries.

March 19 is the second anniversary of the U.S./NATO war on Libya — the seven months of bombing that destroyed the modern, beautiful cities, schools, hospitals and cultural centers built with nationalized oil and gas of Libya. The NATO operation assassinated the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and laid waste to the whole country. But it has not yet secured a stable source of U.S. profits.

March 15 is the second anniversary of the continuing U.S./NATO effort to destabilize and utterly destroy modern, secular Syria.

Despite U.S./NATO backing and funding from the corrupt feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, diplomatic support, the arming of death squads and mercenaries, and the setting up of safe havens and bases in Turkey, the Syrian government has mobilized the population and resisted another U.S.-orchestrated regime change. The conflict is at a stalemate. The death toll has passed 70,000.

– The Salvador option: mass terror –

The clearest expose that the years of sectarian violence in Iraq following the U.S. invasion, death squad assassinations, mass terror campaigns and the harrowing use of torture by trained commando units were deliberate acts sanctioned and developed at the highest level of U.S. political and military command was published the week of March 18 in the London Guardian, with an accompanying BBC documentary film. The expose was based on 18 months of research.

The expose names Col. James Steele, a retired Special Forces veteran, who was sent to Iraq by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to organize paramilitaries to crush the Iraqi insurgency. Another special adviser, retired Col. James Coffman, worked alongside Steele and reported directly to General Petraeus.

This U.S. policy of counterinsurgency was called the “Salvador option” — a terrorist model of mass killings by U.S.-sponsored death squads. It was first applied in El Salvador in the 1980s’ heyday of resistance against a military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths. One million out of a population of 6 million became refugees.

The Salvador option is the central tenet of General David Petraeus’ often-praised counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guardian researchers analyzed a number of documents from Wikileaks and assembled a huge number of reports of torture carried out by militias trained and supported by the U.S. under this program. The BBC and The Guardian report that their requests for comment to key members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, which could investigate the allegations, were declined or ignored.

But in Samarra, an Iraqi city where Iraqis were tortured in a library and that the BBC documentary focuses on, residents held mass demonstrations against the government and planned to set up big screens in the central square to show the whole film.

– ‘Shock and awe’ = terror –

From the very beginning of war preparation, U.S. plans were calculated to use the most extreme forms of terror on the Iraqi people to force submission to U.S. domination. “Shock and awe” is terrorism by another name.

“Shock and awe” is technically known as rapid dominance. By its very definition, it’s a military doctrine that uses overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze and destroy the will to fight. Written by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade in 1996, the doctrine is a product of the U.S. National Defense University, developed to exploit the “superior technology, precision engagement, and information dominance” of the United States.

This well-known military strategy requires the capability to disrupt “means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure.” According to these criminal military strategists, the aim is to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

– War profiteers –

The looting and pillage of Iraq on a grand scale were also planned from the very beginning. It was hardly an accident, a mistaken policy or the fog of war.

The official who had total authority in Iraq immediately following “shock and awe” destruction, the chief of the occupation authority in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, enacted 100 orders which turned Iraq overnight into a giant U.S.-dominated capitalist free market. The 100 orders guaranteed 100 percent foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30- to 40-year deals and leases. In the official turnover to Iraqi sovereignty, these colonial orders were to stay in place.

Billions were stolen outright from Iraq. According to Dirk Adriaensens of the BRussells Tribunal, U.S. administrators, as the occupation “authority,” seized all Iraqi assets and funds all over the world — totaling U.S. $13 billion. They confiscated all Iraqi funds in the U.S. (U.S. $3 billion). They enforced transfers of funds from the Iraqi UBS account (Swiss bank) to the U.S. forces. They demanded and received from the U.N. the accumulated oil-for-food program funds up to March 2003 (about U.S. $21 billion).

In the first weeks of the occupation, U.S. troops got hold of about U.S. $6 billion as well as U.S. $4 billion from the Central Bank and other Iraqi banks. They collected this money in special government buildings in Baghdad.

Where did all these funds go? Instead of setting up an account in the Iraqi Central Bank for depositing these funds, as well as the oil export funds, the occupation authorities set up the “Development Fund for Iraq” account in the American Central Bank, New York Branch, where all financial operations are carried out in top secrecy. Around $40 billion is “missing” from a post-Gulf War fund.

According to the BBC, in June 10, 2008, another $23 billion in Western aid funds to Iraq were lost, stolen or “not properly accounted for.” Tales abounded of millions of dollars in $100 bills that went missing from skids at airports and of deliveries of pizza boxes and duffle bags full of cash.

According to BusinessPundit.com’s list of the 25 most vicious war profiteers, these stolen funds were just the beginning of the theft. Major U.S. corporations reported record profits. In the years 2003 to 2006, profits and earnings doubled for Exxon/Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco.

Halliburton’s KBR, Inc. division, which was directly connected to Vice President Cheney, bilked government agencies to the tune of $17.2 billion in Iraq war-related revenue from 2003 to 2006 alone.

– The cost of war –

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculated the cost of the Iraq war, including the many hidden costs, in his 2008 book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War.” He concluded: “There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.”

Stiglitz lists what even one of these trillions could have paid for: 8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or health care for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to universities for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America’s so-called Social Security problem for half a century.

According to a Christian Science Monitor report, when ongoing medical treatment, replacement vehicles and other costs are included, the total cost of the Iraq war is projected to cost $4 trillion. (Oct. 25, 2012)

– Peoples resistance & the anti-war movement –

The corporate media play another important role in rewriting history. Their aim is always to do everything possible to marginalize and disparage the awareness of millions of people in their own power.

While the “shock and awe” attack of March 19, 2003, is still described today, it is rare in the major media to see any reference to the truly massive demonstrations of opposition to the impending war that drew millions of people into the streets. it is projected that before the war, more than 36 million people in more than 3,000 demonstrations mobilized internationally to oppose it — in the two coldest winter months. This was unprecedented.

In Iraq, despite the overwhelming force of “shock and awe,” the planned use of sectarian war and mass use of death squads — despite the destruction of every accomplishment built by past generations, along with the destruction of schools and the confiscation of resources — the U.S. war failed on every count. Despite horrendous conditions, the Iraqi resistance drove the occupation out of Iraq. This is an accomplishment of great significance to people all around the world.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/2013/03/19/iraq-10th-anniversary-of-u-s-crime-against-humanity/

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“Armistice Agreement Withdrawal: North Korean Belligerence? ” by Stephen Gowans [what’s left blog]

Posted in Australia, Black propaganda, Canada, Capitalist media double standard, China, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Hillary Clinton, Korean War, Myanmar, Nukes, Obama, Pentagon, Sanctions as weapon of war, south Korea, U.K., UNSC, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on March 20, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 16, 2013

Why has North Korea withdrawn from an armistice agreement that has kept overt hostilities on the Korean peninsula at bay since 1953? Does the withdrawal portend an imminent North Korean aggression? Hardly. North Korea is in no position to launch an attack on its Korean neighbour, or on the United States, at least not one that it would survive. North Korean forces are dwarfed by the US and South Korean militaries in size, sophistication and fire-power. The withdrawal serves, instead, as a signal of North Korean resolve to defend itself against growing US and South Korean harassment, both military and economic.

– US provocations –

For decades, North Korea has been subjected to the modern form of the siege. “The aim of the siege is to reduce the enemy to such a state of starvation and deprivation that they open the gate, perhaps killing their leaders in the process and throw themselves on the mercy of the besiegers.” [1] North Korea withstood the siege, and even flourished, during the years it was able to trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe’s socialist countries. But with the demise of Soviet socialism, the country has bent, but not broken, under the pressure of US-led sanctions of mass destruction.

Sanctions against North Korea are multi-form, and include a trade blockade and financial isolation. Significantly, no country in history has been menaced by such wide-ranging sanctions for so long. North Korea is, as then US president George W. Bush once remarked, the most sanctioned nation on earth. [2] Sanctions, military harassment (which I’ll come back to in a moment), and the US nuclear threat — Washington has threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation on countless occasions [3] — have forced the North Koreans to bulk up militarily, build ballistic missiles, and test nuclear devices in order to survive.

Led by Washington, the UN Security Council has authored a number of resolutions to deny North Korea rights of self-defense and other rights that other countries are free to exercise: the rights to: build ballistic missiles; withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty; launch satellites; sell arms abroad; and transfer nuclear technology to other countries. These are rights that every permanent member of the UN Security Council exercises freely. They are also rights that many other countries enjoy with impunity.

On top of besieging North Korea, Washington and South Korea have for decades kept up a campaign of unrelenting military harassment in the form of regular war games. The latest war games began March 1 and will last for two months. Undertaken as practice in mobilizing US troops and military hardware from abroad for rapid deployment to the Korean peninsula, the war games this year have activated not only US and South Korean militaries, but British, Canadian, and Australian forces, as well. While labelled “defensive,” the war games force the North Koreans onto a permanent war footing. It can never be clear to North Korean generals whether the latest US-South Korean mobilization is a drill or preparation for an invasion. The effect is to force Pyongyang to maintain its military on high alert, an exhausting and expensive exercise.

The view propagated by Western officials and, in train, the Western mass media, is that the sanctions are aimed at correcting North Korea’s “bad behaviour” and that the war games are carried out to deter North Korean aggression. But what’s called “bad behaviour” — the building of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles — is Pyongyang’s reaction to the US-led permanent state of siege. A tiny country with a military budget dwarfed by South Korea’s and the United States’ [4] is not credibly an offensive threat to Washington and Seoul, but the United States and South Korea are unquestionably offensive threats to the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.)

After the UN manoeuvred the Security Council to slap still more sanctions on North Korea, and began its latest round of war games, the Wall Street Journal alerted the world that “North Korea [had] moved to further stoke tensions with South Korea…” [5] On the contrary, the United States had further stoked tensions with North Korea.

– A dead letter –

There are three reasons to regard the armistice agreement as existing in form alone, and not substance.

First, the purpose of the agreement was to set the stage for a permanent peace. Despite North Korea repeatedly asking Washington to enter into a peace agreement, none has been struck. After one North Korean entreaty for peace, then US secretary of state Colin Powell said “We don’t do non-aggression pacts or treaties, things of that nature.” [6]

Second, the agreement was to be followed by the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Korean peninsula. The Chinese withdrew, as did most members of the UN forces. But US forces, which have remained in South Korea for the last 60 years, have become a permanent fixture on the peninsula. Incredibly, South Korean forces remain under US command.

Third, the agreement prohibits “the introduction into Korea of reinforcing combat aircraft, armoured vehicles, weapons and ammunition…” The US violated the agreement by introducing nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1958. And it’s questionable whether the war games-related deployment of massive amounts of US military hardware to Korea doesn’t violate the agreement, as well.

– What Washington wants from North Korea –

On March 11, U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon announced publicly that what Washington wants from North Korea is open markets and the country’s integration into the US-led system of global capitalist exploitation. At least, that’s what he meant when he said, “I urge North Korea’s leaders to reflect on Burma’s experience.” [7]

Burma (Myanmar) turned its self-directed, locally-, and largely publicly-owned economy into a capitalist playground for foreign investors.

When Myanmar’s military took power in a 1962 coup, it nationalized most industries and brought the bulk of the economy under government control, which is the way it stayed until three years ago. Major utilities were state-owned and health-care and education were publicly provided. Private hospitals and private schools were unheard of. Ownership of land and local companies was limited to the country’s citizens. Companies were required to hire Myanmar workers. And the central bank was answerable to the government. In other words, Myanmar’s economy, inasmuch as it markets, labor and natural resources were used for the country’s self-directed development, was very much like North Korea’s. And like North Korea, Myanmar was an object of US hostility, subject to sanctions, and targeted by US-orchestrated low-level warfare.

Bowing to US pressure, Myanmar’s government began in the last few years to sell off government buildings, its port facilities, its national airline, mines, farmland, the country’s fuel distribution network, and soft drink, cigarette and bicycle factories. The doors to the country’s publicly-owned health care and education systems were thrown open, and private investors were invited in. A new law was drawn up to give more independence to the central bank, making it answerable to its own inflation control targets, rather than directly to the government.

To top it all off, a foreign-investment law was drafted to allow foreigners to control local companies and land, permit the entry of foreign telecom companies and foreign banks, allow 100 percent repatriation of profits, and exempt foreign investors from paying taxes for up to five years. What’s more, foreign enterprises would be allowed to import skilled workers, and wouldn’t be required to hire locally.

With Myanmar signalling its willingness to turn over its economy to outside investors, US hostility abated and the sanctions were lifted. President Obama dispatched then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to meet with Myanmar’s leaders, the first US secretary of state to visit in more than 50 years. William Hague soon followed, the first British foreign minister to visit since 1955. Other foreign ministers beat their own paths to the door of the country’s military junta, seeking to establish ties with the now foreign investment-friendly government on behalf of their own corporations, investors, and banks. And business organizations sent their own delegations, including four major Japanese business organizations, all looking to cash in on Myanmar’s new opening. Announcing the easing of US sanctions, then US secretary of state Hilary Clinton enthused, “Today we say to American business: Invest in Burma!” [8]

That, then, is what the United States wants for North Korea: for a US secretary of state to one day announce, “Today we say to American business: Invest in North Korea!”

– Effects, not causes –

In the US view, North Korea is a militaristic, aggressive state, bent on provoking South Korea and its American overlords and setting the peninsula aflame, for reasons that are never made clear. Pyongyang must, therefore, be deterred by sanctions and displays of US military “resolve.” Yet North Korea has never pursued an aggressive foreign policy, hasn’t the means to do so, and unlike the United States and South Korea, has never sent troops into battle on foreign soil. (South Korea hired out its military to the United States as a mercenary force to battle nationalists seeking independence in Vietnam.) By contrast, the DPRK’s militarism, expressed in its Songun (military first) policy, is defensive, not aggressive, mercenary or imperialist.

It is a misconception that the incursion of North Korean forces into the south in 1950, marking the formal start of the Korean War, was an invasion across an international border. The boundary dividing the two Koreas had been drawn unilaterally by the United States in 1945, and never agreed to by Koreans. The Korean War was a civil war in which sovereigntists, and collaborators with the Japanese, now with the Americans, battled over control of their country, aided by foreign militaries. Had the United States not intervened the country would have been re-united under a socialist government committed to independence.

The US view, far from providing an accurate account of North Korea and its relationship with the United States, turns reality on its head. The reality is that US public policy, including foreign policy, is largely shaped by corporations, banks, and elite investors, through lobbying, the funding of think tanks, and placement of corporate officers, Wall Street lawyers, and ambitious politicians dependent on the wealthy for campaign financing and lucrative post-political job opportunities, into key positions in the state.

US foreign policy seeks to protect and enlarge the interests of the class that shapes it, by safeguarding existing, and securing new, foreign investment opportunities, opening markets abroad for US goods and services, and ensuring business conditions around the world are conducive to the profit-making imperatives of US corporations.

From the perspective of the goals of US foreign policy, North Korea’s publicly-owned, planned economy commits the ultimate sin: it reserves North Korean labor, markets and natural resources for the country’s own welfare and self-development. Accordingly, US foreign policy aims to reduce North Korea to such a level of deprivation and misery that the people overthrow their leaders and open the gate, or the leaders capitulate and heed Donilon’s urging to follow Myanmar’s capitulatory path. All attempts to resist integration into the US-superintended global capitalist system are deceptively presented by the United States as evidence of North Korea’s bellicosity, rather than what they are: acts of self-defense against an imperialist predator.

Article link [includes footnotes]: http://gowans.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/armistice-agreement-withdrawal-north-korean-belligerence/