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The US Tiger and the North Korean Mouse

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North Korea’s claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test January 5 has been both ridiculed as completely implausible and condemned from all sides as provocative and a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. Without any hard evidence that North Korea has a single H-bomb, official “concern” needs to be manufactured if our weapons contractors are to stay in business.

We could expect to hear Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chant that he wants the US “to take a more assertive role in addressing North Korea’s provocation.” But Anna Fifield, the Washington Post Bureau Chief in Tokyo who should be an impartial observer, wrote Jan. 6 that the underground test was a “brazen provocation and a clear defiance of international treaties.” She later told National Public Radio that she wouldn’t want to speculate about what motivated the North’s President Kim Jong Un, because the inside of his head “is a scary place.” The interviewer let this assertion go unchallenged.

North Korea is such a military, economic and political nothing, that it’s astounding to see the national media parrot official Pentagon and State Department fear-mongering about its patently obvious and unquestionably terrible intentions. When was the last time North Korea bombed, invaded, militarily occupied, or installed puppet regimes in other lands? Those provocatively brazen violations of international treaties were committed by … the United States of America.

When has North Korea placed 5,000-man, 60-aircraft “super carriers” (the largest ships in the world) in the Persian Gulf and attacked Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan using Reaper drones and jet fighter-bombers? Oh right; that was the North Americans.

In 1999, US-led NATO air forces bombed Serbia and Kosovo for 78 days. That wasn’t long after US cruise missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan — which in turn barely followed Clinton’s 1998 Christmas-time bombing of Iraq. That of course was only an intensification of the ongoing carrier-based campaign of bombing Iraq two or three times every week for 12 years from 1991 to 2003 — when under false pretenses the Bush/Cheney horror went viral with extreme prejudice. At least 370,000 civilian deaths can be blamed on the 1991 (Bush I) and 2003 (Bush II) US wars on Iraq.

In October 2001, the Air Force and Navy returned to bombing and rocketing Afghanistan, eventually toppling the government and occupying the country. Now with the private contractors and hand-picked presidents having turned Iraq into a failed police state, it is easy to see how the global public, when polled, declares the United States the most dangerous country on earth. I haven’t forgotten that in 2003 protesters in nearly every capital city carried posters depicting the US president as a “Most Wanted” fugitive from justice, a war criminal and a danger to world order. What a relief that Barak Obama has a Peace Prize with which to conduct indiscriminate warfare, torturous force-feeding of hunger strikers, and indefinite detention of suspects without charges just like his predecessors.

A danger to the world? 

But forget the opinion of the world’s 95 percent, the Mpls. Star Tribune reported without attribution that, “US military planners view [North Korea] as the world’s most dangerous state.” With two-thirds the population of California, no oil, and having endured in the mid-1990s a famine that killed one-tenth of its population, North Korea is certainly more threatening than the US which has military bases in more than 100 countries, 10 aircraft carriers (Russia and China each have 1), and 14 ballistic missile submarines.

According to US intelligence services, North Korea is suspected of having perhaps two nuclear weapons and an annual military budget of $7.5 billion in 2014.  The US’s roughly $600 billion Pentagon allotment includes 4,000 nuclear warheads on alert. Any one of the (eight) Trident subs that the US Navy keeps in the Pacific is capable of burning down the entire Korean landmass.

Even if North Korea had a rocket that could aim straight, what could it expect to gain by attacking South Korea or Japan? This central question is never asked, much less answered, by the screamers on FOX, the Senators from Lockheed-Martin, or the Representatives from Northrop-Grumman.

If the illogic sounds familiar, it is. There was never an answer to the question: Why would the USSR attack Western Europe or the United States during the Cold War? What the Soviets would have gained by attacking, and what North Korea could achieve with aggression, is obvious: Absolutely nothing — beyond self-destruction.

With luck, the US tiger will just hold its breath and tremble at the mousey shadow of North Korea, which never stops provoking. A few years ago it had the nerve to ask the White House for a promise that it won’t be preemptively attacked.

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John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

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