02-19-2017  7:58 pm      •     

I offer another take on the North Korean nuclear situation.
The day of the announcement of North Korea's first nuclear test, a specialist on North Korea was interviewed on a public television program. The gentleman said that he had visited North Korea immediately prior to the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the course of a conversation with a North Korean official he was told by the North Korean: "We see what you are about to do in Iraq, and we will not let you do it to us."
The statement by the North Korean official confirmed a conclusion that I had come to about the Iraq crisis: Contrary to everything that President George W. Bush stated about showing force in order to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. invasion of Iraq sent a very different but quite simple message — obtain weapons of mass destruction as quickly and quietly as you can to discourage big powers from pushing you around.
In the U.S. media, the North Korean crisis has focused on the alleged madness of the current leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. That is both speculative and fundamentally irrelevant. The United States, contrary to what many of us may believe, was the first power to introduce nuclear weapons onto the Korean peninsula. These weapons were introduced back in the 1950s/1960s and were allegedly tactical, but they were still powerful enough to make one glow in the dark. The reported paranoia of the North Korean government could certainly have a bit to do with having experienced nuclear weapons pointed at them.
Have the North Koreans been sneaky? I suppose the conclusion is "yes," but here's the interesting point: so have been both the Indians and Israelis. While North Korea did sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (later to drop out of it), India and Israel both possess nuclear weapons, and neither of them are signatories to the treaty (indeed, Israel will not admit to having weapons of mass destruction even though the South Africans blew the whistle on them some time ago).
Yet, the Bush administration seems to find a way to play paddy-cake with them. What sort of signal is the Bush administration conveying when it rewards countries that have not signed the treaty?
It is also a bit odd that after North Korea exploded its nuclear device, countries that possess nuclear weapons have taken few, if any, steps to reduce their nuclear arsenals (something that is supposed to take place under the provisions of the treaty) and started yelling about another country possessing nuclear weapons. Perhaps if there were an example of major nuclear powers eliminating nuclear weapons, the protests against the North Korean test would be a bit more credible.
The North Koreans have almost literally begged the United States for one-on-one talks. The Bush administration refuses to talk with them unless there are six-party discussions (involving China, Russia, South Korea and Japan). The North Koreans have been insisting on direct talks with the United States because they are extremely fearful that we are going to attack them.
Paranoid? With the United States contemplating the construction of a new generation of tactical nuclear weapons and implying (or stating outright) that they could be used against North Korea, and with the example of the illegal invasion of Iraq, why should this be surprising?
Should North Korea possess a nuclear weapon? The short answer is, in my opinion, "no." The entire Korean peninsula should be free and clear of nuclear weapons.
That said, we in the United States have to understand that our government speaks with a forked tongue when it comes to nuclear weapons. Bush wants to decide who can and cannot have weapons of mass destruction and then threatens war against those he has chosen as the undesirables. Such an approach lacks any maturity — not to mention common sense.
Backed up against a wall, any opponent — legitimate or illegitimate — in seeing no way out will decide to maximize their ability to hit back. The consequences can be catastrophic.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a long-time labor and international writer and activist.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow