Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from Chris Hedges….
Chris Hedges calls CounterPunch “the most fearless, intellectually rigorous and important publication in the United States.” Who are we to argue? But the only way we can continue to “dissect the evils of empire” and the “psychosis of permanent war” is with your financial support. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
Don’t want to donate through PayPal?
Then click here to donate through our secure server.
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Dealing With North Korea
Most Americans think of North Korea as a nation of belligerent crazy people with a political succession system more akin to the 15th century than the 21st. Indeed, it is a repressive place, with a bizarre personality cult, but the U.S., Japan, and South Korea share much of the blame for the current crisis over nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
A little history.
In June of last year, North Korea dutifully carried out “Phase Two” of the 2007 Six-Party talks by giving China the details of its plutonium program. In a separate agreement with the U.S., Pyongyang agreed to disclose its uranium enrichment program and any technology proliferation to other countries. In turn, the U.S. would take North Korea off its “state sponsor of terrorism” list.
However, under pressure from the right-wing governments of Japan and South Korea, the Bush Administration moved the goal posts and demanded strict verification procedures before it would fulfill its end of the bargain. Verification, however, was not part of Phase Two, as then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted in a speech to the Heritage Foundation last year. “What we’ve done, in a sense, is to move up issues that were to be taken up in Phase Three, like verification, like access to the reactor, into Phase Two.”
The North Korea responded by halting the dismantlement of its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor.
The U.S. then backed off and agreed to modify the verification procedures and, when North Korea accepted these, the White House took Pyongyang off the terror list. But when Japan and South Korea again protested, the Bush Administration reversed course and refused to take North Korea off the terrorism list unless it agreed to the new demands.
If your foreign policy is schizoid you are liable to make people act crazy. And sure enough, North Korea began testing long-range missiles and carried out a nuclear explosion.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is using the same carrot and stick approach that failed so dismally for the Bush administration. “I’m not sure who is giving the president his advice on North Korea, but it is all wrong,” says John Feffer, Korea expert and author of “North Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis.” Feffer says Obama’s “show of ‘resolve’ has only made matters worse.”
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Asia she met with relatives of Japanese civilians who have been kidnapped by North Korea. Japanese Prime Minster Taro Aso, a right-wing nationalist who has angered nations throughout Asia with his defense of Japanese behavior in World War II, has used the kidnappings as a way to derail any progress in the Six Party talks.
While the kidnappings were horrendous, Japan can hardly claim the moral high ground in relations between the two nations. Japan’s colonial regime in Korea was especially brutal, a fact that the Aso government refuses to acknowledge. Indeed, Japan still claims several islands that it took from Korea during its 35-year occupation of the peninsula.
Feffer argues that sharp condemnations, like the United Nations resolution that followed the April missile launch, are counterproductive. “We should have treated it [the missile launch] as a satellite launch and pressed forward with negotiations,” he said. Instead the UN passed an angry resolution, which Feffer compares to “hitting a problem with a baseball bat—except that the problem in this case was a hornet’s nest.”
Feffer says the U.S. also exaggerates North Korea as a military threat. While Pyongyang has a large army, its yearly military budget is about $500 million, one fortieth of South Korea’s and pocket change compared to U.S. arms spending.
According to Leon Siegel, author of “Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea,” this “punishment approach has never worked in the past and it won’t work now.” Siegel, who also directs the Northeast Cooperative Security Project of the New York Social Science Research Council, says “Sustained diplomatic give-and-take is the only way to stop future North Korean nuclear and missile tests and convince it to halt its nuclear program.”
In short, more sanctions, more threats, and searching ships on the high seas is likely to make the situation worse, not better.
CONN HALLINAN can be reached at: email@example.com