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Australia and North Korea: Time to grow up before we get burnt.

By Christopher Kennedy

Caught in a strategic hub between China and Japan, North Korea has always been a place of conflict. If the Chinese or the Mongols we’re not invading the Japanese were having a go. Australia, instead of being a diplomatic hub between Chinese and American interests in this present Korean conflict, for various reasons has thrown its hand in with Trump. In part for a photo-op with Vice-President Pence and future opportunities in a very lucrative war economy. And the sheep farmers did very well out of the last one.

Yet the silliness of the timing of the statement – before a long discussion with the Chinese on the matter, was the height of diplomatic blunders. Like the driver of a car that speeds up in response to seeing a crash ahead, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull may well have added to the problem.

As for the Chinese, I think they are quietly getting more and more furious. They are asking for calm, probably as they don’t have an answer to the problem. And no one says that the nuclear weapons North Korea has aimed at Seoul cannot just as quickly be aimed at Beijing. Now Australia has called for “American leadership” in this present time is not either helping anyone and simply making the Chinese more furious.

But what do they mean by the “Americans”? Some spiritual benevolence that will somehow emanate from the current state in crisis? Do our present leaders, caught in one bad poll after another really see a quick fix with a war in a Korea? Wars in Korea tend to be long and bloody. Like Afghanistan; like Vietnam. It’s just one of those places everyone wants control of as it leads straight into the Chinese heartland. Getting the picture? The Americans refuse to lift their game into space. They are involved in the same territorial disputes the fathers of their Constitution tried to keep them out of.

So Australia is now caught in a surreal game of nuclear ping-pong between two states while annoying the hell out of the very important third state of China. As for South Korea, they are marching in the streets against American influence in the region.

If Australia played the neutral card in the Korean conflict it may have averted a confrontation in the near future. Instead of balancing its heart (American values and liberties) with its head (Chinese money), Australia has now played itself into a corner.

There is a wall across Korea – now Trump wants a wall with Mexico. Other people have built walls. Other people tear them down. Its not usually hard to tear them down as they tend to be symbolic – ever since Hadrian’s Wall was built across the northern ‘wastelands’ of Britain. It was only a couple of meters high and simply meant we have reached the end of empire – from now on you are not taxed.

North Korea is a different sort of wall. An armed wall and the consequences of attack would be horrendous for all sides.

Pushing the Chinese to let American hold the land that could conceivably mean an invasion of China is going to be very hard for them to stomach. Also hard, however, is having a nuclear armed neighbour that is increasing ties with the Russians. It may be enough for the Chinese to say, “Hey. The American press says that Trump is a puppet of Putin. By recent events this may just be true?”

Who knows? What can you understand by his actions, and he has said enough for no-one to believe his words. Does he have an inkling of what an invasion of North Korea could mean? Or is all this a cunning plan by Putin to end up with much more influence in North Korea and Asia generally?

According to Claudius the Emperor of Rome there are two reasons to invade another country and you must suit your tactics to these two. One reason is to raid. Here you take, plunder, desecrate etc. The other is to invade and take the country by force into vassalage. In that case you treat the local gods with respect, don’t cause damage, and basically keep the peace. He was a good man for his time, Claudius. He did not say kill one in two thousand people to gain respect … a solution advanced very successfully by the Emperor Qin of China. As for the Americans, killing twenty per cent of the population in North Korea during the previous conflict seems not to be enough.

However, the reality of dealing with a nuclear-armed state run by another man with a bad haircut and megalomania problems without some help is now unacceptable. And what form will that help be, and as to how much do we need to help ourselves?

Faced now with the hard reality of not one but two idiots with access to nuclear options, can we adapt quickly and independently? Do we have a framework that says “OK, following the Americans is not the best of moves at the moment – can our military work without them? Do our intelligence services adapt quickly enough? And most importantly, whom are our allies in the region seeing the problem of North Korea as a shared one?”

Presently Trump is working through the leaders in the region and their response so far has been muted. China is a major trading partner with all these countries. They are not going to be happy. The front runner of the South Korean elections has already stated he will do China’s bidding as far as missile defence systems now being installed by the Americans in South Korea and remove them.

It’s all about China and nothing to do with North Korea, it would seem. But then again, controlling North Korea has always been. Something the Koreans learned a long time ago.

So, after a week has passed since the North Koreans offered to incinerate us, what have we learned? That the blind following of the American line is not always in our best interests. American interest in Asia means military interests first – this is reflected in their attitude to Australia, where recent meetings have revolved around how much we would pay for their war machines. As a leverage point in discussion with the President. Great. How much do we get back for the lives lost in Afghanistan and Iraq? I don’t know who makes those sums work but they certainly don’t allow for the hell experienced by many of our veterans.

Getting out of the rut where we supply the raw materials and men for empire is something that both sides of Australian politics must face. We are a mature, successful country and yet we have no inkling on how to behave. And it’s putting us in danger.

Christopher Kennedy is a poet and foreign affairs analyst. He holds a degree in Asian studies from Murdoch university, has written widely for newspapers and journals, and moderated Australia Asia Internet.

 

103 comments

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  1. RonaldR

    BISHOP NEEDS TO LEARN WHEN TO KEEP HER BIG NASTY MOUTH SHUT -SHE IS A DANGER TO AUSTRALIA – in short who the “F” does she think she is ? President of the most heavily armed country in the world or a politician elected by Dumb voters in a country with small population.

  2. Jaq

    I don’t even know what to say anymore. We are being run by morons whom we cannot get rid of, who make me think more and more each day, that Australia is no longer a country. Just a subsidiary Of Make America Great Again INC.

  3. Sean Stinson

    Unfortunately, Australia is a vassal – nothing more than a US military base in the pacific. The last guy who tried to show ‘real leadership’ was deposed in a CIA soft coup.

    China’s imminent rise means time is running out for the US. They are desperate, maybe even desperate enough to risk all out nuclear war. The global empire of free trade and finance is under increasing threat from China’s One Belt One Road (silk road 2.0) project, hence the ramped up rhetoric against the Iran and the DPRK.

    In as far as nobody can win a nuclear war, I agree that we are currently on the wrong side of this equation, but we’ve all seen what happens to smaller countries who dare stand up to Yankee power. Don’t think for a second it couldn’t happen here.

  4. David1

    If ever the truth of a certain saying was more applicable regarding the ignorant big mouths in charge here at home and in Washington, it is now re Nth Korea. Indeed ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’

  5. diannaart

    We (Australia) are a mature, successful country and yet we have no inkling on how to behave. And it’s putting us in danger.

    I agree Australia is successful, but mature?

    @RonaldR – So all we need to do is just shut Julie Bishop up – life is so easy for some.

  6. helvityni

    According to Keating Turnbull lacks good judgement. I’ll add Bishop, Dutton, Morrison, et many others to the judgment-free lot….

    Mature people elect better, well, they elect more mature folk as their leaders,( and there are a lot of immature oldies, see Trump)

  7. RonaldR

    Sean Stinson you are completely wrong the Whitlam was NOT deposed in a CIA soft coup as you put it there only part was to get dirt on the people that the government were borrowing a lot cheaper money than from the City of London to fund their Buy Back The Farm project.
    What was Buy back the Farm? It was nationalising our resources to stop the looting. But it caused a shit storm at City of London and Buckingham palace .
    THE QUEEN DEPOSED WHITLAM GOVERNMENT – Kerr was just carrying out her orders and after he become the most highly decorated person by that queen.

  8. RonaldR

    Once again Sean Stinson you are wrong you don’t have a clue about China’s One Belt One Road project so please stop talking shit and showing us how little you really know

  9. diannaart

    Freethinker

    Sometimes the truth is just awful – nothing more or less.

    Okay, reality check – we do have to work with the USA…

    BUT… we do not have to get down on our knees and su*&^%$# – remainder deleted due to offensive language.

  10. stephentardrew

    Most certainly.

  11. RonaldR

    Freethinker and others you need to read this book DANGEROUS ALLIES by Malcolm Fraser

  12. Freethinker

    I know RonaldR, in his book he urged to end the alliance and “strategic dependence”

  13. Sean Stinson

    RonaldR

    John Pilger and others have written extensively about CIA involvement in the coup against Whitlam, particularly with regard to shutting down US military installations like Pine Gap. Feel free to do your own research. As for the City of London, this is hardly surprising since it remains the beating heart of the empire, the centre of global finance, ahead of Wall Street.

    But what would I know, right?

  14. Freethinker

    The conclusion of the paper Questioning the value of the Australia/US alliance
    Submission to the 2015 Defence White Paper
    by the
    Marrickville Peace Group

    Reads

    In November 2011, US President Barack Obama said, when addressing Australian troops
    in Darwin, ‘You can’t tell where our guys end and you guys begin…’xxii The defence
    establishment might view this as something to be proud of. The reality is that, from the
    perspective of the true defence of Australia, it should cause real concern. If Australia’s
    military can not be distinguished from that of the US, then every enemy of the US
    automatically becomes the enemy of Australia. From a strategic angle, Australia needs
    he smallest possible number of enemies. We should be very careful of close association
    with the country that probably boasts more enemies than any other.

    The US ‘pivot’ threatens regional stability.

    The alliance compromises Australia’s strategic independence.

    The US has a track record of leading Australia into unnecessary, de‐stabilising
    military interventions.

    But Defence policy continues to strengthen this dangerous alliance and maintain
    that it is ‘vital’ to Australia’s security.

    MPG says that there is a question that is even more vital‐
    Where is the wisdom in Australia being so totally dependent on the US and
    US‐made policy in the matter of its strategic defence?”

  15. Zathras

    According to a certain history University professor who specialises in that era and attends the annual openings of declassified documents each year, the CIA put pressure on MI5 who in turned leaned on Kerr to make his final move against Whitlam, The initial reason was that Whitlam wanted to share in the intelligence the USA was getting from Pine Gap but the final nail in his political coffin was that he wanted Australia to start enriching our own yellow cake. Until then the USA had a monopoly patent on the process but the French had developed a new system that we could have used.

    Jimmy Carter later wrote a personal letter to Whitlam apologising for what had happened to him and insisted that the USA would “never again interfere in the internal politics of an allied nation”. I think that suggests something.

    As for Korea, it’s acting like Iraq by hanging out a “beware of the dog” sign to warn off potential aggressors. There’s no way North Korea would invade either of its neighbours (South Korea of China) because it simply would be suicide. Despite his posturing, Saddam didn’t have “a dog” to back up his threat but Korea is trying hard to demonstrate theirs.

    Also like Iraq, Blair once insisted that Saddam’s mythical WMDs “could reach Britain in 20 minutes” and Bishop is adopting the same stance by making us also look like a nuclear target under threat. Both examples are a softening up of public opinion in case of future action.

    It’s a pity the Agreed Framework negotiations with North Korea were reneged on by Clinton but he never really intended to deliver on them in the first place. You need to look back a couple of decades to see what’s happening here – not just the last 6 months.

  16. Frederick Froth

    This essay gives an interesting perspective on the propaganda and USA motives re the situation in North Korea, and (possible) reasons as to why the USA periodically monsters other countries and regions.
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46965.htm

  17. Sean Stinson

    Frederick Froth – Excellent article. Just my observation but I get the sense the situation has cooled somewhat since Abe’s emergency pow wow with Putin. Would have liked to have been a fly on the wall.

  18. RonaldR

    The sacking of the Whitlam Government to stop them nationalising our recourses and nothing to do with our economy that reason was hatched at an offshore meeting where Prince Charles represented his mother. People were starting find out the real reason and the Media came out with the CIA bullshit. There is no question now that it was the Queen the proof has been uncovered by researchers due to Freedom of information. Rex Connor and Jim Cairns both stated it was the Queen But even today the truth is not on the surface you have to go looking for it. This works well for them as it keeps Australians divided. The average Charlie is not meant to find the truth as he is kept busy with Work and Family.
    Australia could be a lot better country for everyone, the economy could be easily fixed but our enemies are not letting that happen they control parliament, media & education system. Our Economy and resources are looted,
    But with an honest Government, a peoples Government the economy would be fixed very quickly, there would be Free education from start to finish, Much needed infrastructure would be built (the Snowy Mountain Scheme was the last, till the NBN which is nothing but a stuff up giving us 3rd World service.)
    If Rudd had listened about the reintroduction of a National Bank of Public credit like what Labor had created before but closed down by Menzies the NBN would have been completed while Rudd was PM and it would all be Fibre optic and every home would be able to afford a service with down load speeds of no less than 600Mbps (I pay for 100mbps but most of the time it is below 50Mbps.)
    The only thing that will give us the Australia we could have is an educated people’s movement but that is the hard part informing Australians and the crazy part is all the solutions are given to us in History; we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
    But instead we are heading towards a crash worse than that of the 1920’s & 30’s. The Government have done a lot over the last decade to protect the Banks (the big 4 are no less than 49% foreign owned) they have the largest mortgage bubble in the developed world and then they have a Derivatives gambling bubble of more than $38Trillion exposure. The legislation is in place that allows the Banks to steal depositor’s money and large percentage of Australian Supper funds money. But they have put in draconian legislation for the control of the population after the crash (and the legislation has nothing about feeding Australians)
    I am in my twilight years and have spent the last 15 years learning and the last 10 of them as an activist but one can only take so much fighting our enemy and negativity.

  19. RonaldR

    Sean Stinson you are right we are lapdogs for the USA (& British Empire) Things have cooled with Russia and the threat of WWIII is not so high now (but would not have happened with Clinton ) But we now need Trump to cut funding to NATO. People around the world have learnt that Syria did not Gas its own people.
    One reason North Korea is such a danger now they have seen what happened to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria Afghanistan all attacked with lies. All Free Nation States taken down by UK, USA & Saudi coalition. Then there is also the armed over throw of the elected Ukraine Government that was financed by the USA.

  20. Sean Stinson

    Donald Trump on NATO: ‘I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete’

    With Bannon and Flynn out of the way Trump has been neutered. Whatever grand ideas he may (or may not) have started out with, the permanent government (sounds better than ‘deep state’) have him right where they want him now.

  21. Kaye Lee

    You think Bannon was a voice of reason????

    “.. we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years….we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism.

    …we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement, and I can tell you we’re winning victory after victory after victory. ”

  22. Michael Taylor

    Kaye Lee, is that the interview where he called for a Holy War to wipe Islam off the face of the earth? The one where he fancied the deaths of billions of people? The one where he compared himself to Lenin?

  23. Kaye Lee

    Michael,

    No that one was to some Catholic group, but I know the interview you are talking about. Bannon provides a wealth of quotes – all of them weird.

    “Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too,” replied Bannon. “I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/22/steve-bannon-trump-s-top-guy-told-me-he-was-a-leninist

    “The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.”

  24. Kaye Lee

    And Flynn was sacked because he had been secretly talking to the Russians about getting rid of sanctions and lied about it to his own government. And you want him as a watchdog???????

  25. Sean Stinson

    Kaye Lee sorry to break it to you but civil rights are nothing next to the battle we are facing. I never said Flynn or Bannon were voices of reason, they are racist, sexist, islamophobic extremist christian zealots, but the fight is not against Muslims any more than it is about whether we should have 89 bathrooms to choose from or just two.

    The “trump card” was about restoring civilian control of the military, something which the US has been missing since FDR.

    The CIA overthrew the Sukarno government in ’56 using the exact same tactics they are using in Syria today. They armed and trained Darul Islamists to overthrow a socialist government to get access to the alpine region of West Papua which has the highest concentration of gold reserves discovered ANYWHERE in the world. In that very same year the British and US colluded with Islamist terrorists from Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia to stage border events which could be blamed on the Syrian government, in preparation for a coup d’état by Iraqi armed forces. Think I’m making this up? It is on the public record, documented in official correspondence between British foreign secretary Harold Macmillan and Prime Minister Anthony Eden. This is EXACTLY what is going on today with the propaganda against Assad. And those Darul Islamists? None other than Jemaah Islamiyah – the same “Islamic terrorists” who were responsible for the Bali bombings, which gave John Howard his ticket into the Iraq war.

    The CIA was set up to serve the interests of investment bankers. not to provide intelligence to US Presidents. Corporations run this world. Politicians are their lackies. The difference between having Flynn or McMaster as U.S. National Security Advisor is far more important than which useful idiot holds the office of President.

    Sorry for the ‘history lesson’.

  26. Sean Stinson

    And yes, Flynn was probably in discussions to bring forward détente with Russia. A very sensible move, considering the alternative.

  27. Matters Not

    The “trump card” was about restoring civilian control of the military

    No doubt Donald Trump will be surprised to learn what he was really on about. Just a mere passenger on the political bus.

    But the argument resonates. As do other constructions.

  28. Kaye Lee

    I am very surprised that your “lesson” did not include the installation of Shah Pahlavi. It very much should have, You are not the suppository of all wisdom Sean,

    The “propaganda against Assad” also comes from his victims. Think about it Sean. If an American billionaire sent money here to manipulate us into rising up in armed conflict against our government, how far do you think they would get? Assad has caused discontent within his own people by locking up so many people as political prisoners. Lots of players then entered the fray for their own reasons.

    I agree that corporations are basically running the world and that greedy men like Putin and Trump are profiting from it.

    Drop the arrogance and the assumption that I am an idiot and we may be able to discuss things.

  29. Sean Stinson

    Did the US intervene in Rwanda? Has the US intervened in Myanmar?

    Quit pretending this has anything to do with Assad’s so-called human rights violations. What utter hypocrisy.

    How many more times must history be repeated before you see the pattern?

    From the link posted above…

    “Unverifiable “evidence,” anonymous sources, and the broad appeal of “many experts.” Sound familiar? It should, it’s the exact same playbook used by the war machine to bomb and invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and, someday soon, Iran and Russia.

    It brings to mind this quote by Arundhati Roy: What I’m saying is that it’s the exact same trick used over and over again. Either the New York Times is the stupidest crew of reporters and editors ever with completely flat learning curves, or they are in on the racket. More likely the latter than the former, I’m convinced. The New York Times hasn’t seen a war it couldn’t support (especially in the oil-rich Middle East).”

  30. Kaye Lee

    Those “so-called human rights violations” should not be so peremptorily dismissed. Once again, you try to excuse behaviour by deflection. We can certainly discuss Rwanda and Myanmar. But we weren’t.

    What I said was that Assad created discontent. I then said many players got involved for their own reasons. Yopu then totally misquote that telling me I am “pretending” this is all about human rights. Do you ever actually consider what people write rather than deliberately misinterpret it?

    Newspapers certainly influence opinion about war as Murdoch did here about Iraq, but I am far more interested in what the actual decision makers are saying and doing and why.

  31. Sean Stinson

    And there you have it. Who are the “actual decision makers”? I can assure you they give not one flying fck about the plight of the Syrian people. Just as they cared not about the million they murdered in Iraq.

  32. Kaye Lee

    The decision makers are the politicians and judges. There are many people trying to exert their influence over them and power and politics have seen the greediest having the loudest voice.

    Let’s try to get real here. Do you accept that Assad has disappeared people, locking up thousands of political prisoners, torturing them and murdering many? No deflections to other countries or atrocities or timelines. Please just answer that.

  33. Sean Stinson

    Your question is loaded. Do I “accept” the premise? as tho it is fact? No I do not. Not without evidence. Evidence which has not so far been forthcoming. Had you asked “do I believe” I would still have to answer no, until you can show me evidence from an impartial source.

  34. Kaye Lee

    As for Flynn “bringing forward détente with Russia”, I would suggest from all the latest news that he was trying to bring forward drilling in the Arctic for the benefit of Exxon-Mobil rather than some form of altruistic world peace.

    Ahhh i see you did not bother to watch the Four Corners program I asked you to watch that provided the evidence.

    “Too many people have been physically abused, too many people have been psychologically abused, too many people have died in detention of unnatural causes to say that there’s anything else but a widespread and indeed systematic practice of abuse.”

    Investigators have amassed a vast trove of evidence, including thousands of photographs smuggled out by a regime defector.

    “They were actually numbering, indexing, photographing, building files on the people they tortured to death in total violation of international law, of their own laws, and were keeping meticulous records of it.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2017/04/24/4654878.htm

  35. Sean Stinson

    Either way, the mere proposition is a deflection. What does it matter? What gives the US the right to intervene in the affairs of a sovereign state? Who appointed the US as the world’s police? Why does Uncle Sam get to dictate that “Assad Must Go”. Why shouldn’t it be for the Syrian people to decide?

  36. Sean Stinson

    I’m out. Goodnight. For anyone interested there is some breaking news – Angela Merkel is meeting with Putin tomorrow in Sochi to discuss the situation in Ukraine. This has been planned since March 16, but now it looks like they will be joined by Erdogan, and Trump via tele-conference. Quite unprecedented, not even going to guess what this is about.

  37. Kaye Lee

    “What does it matter?”

    Are you serious? I am not condoning US intervention. I am asking you to acknowledge what is going on. The reason it matters in the context of our conversation is it was the cause of the original protests that kicked off the civil war. I know you will try to say it was George Soros. That is just silly. I am not denying he has become involved but, as I said before, without Assad’s actions no-one could have started a civil war. The country was doing well. Assad got greedy and nasty.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Oh gee could it possibly be about Russia invading the Ukraine?

  39. Michael Taylor

    What gives the US the right to intervene in the affairs of a sovereign state?

    Nothing gives them the right. Nothing gives any country the right. But history tells us that many countries have excerised that wrong. In recent decades, no more so than America and Russia.

  40. Kaye Lee

    Sorry, I know this was supposed to be about North Korea. I just find it really hard to take someone who mandates about haircuts seriously. I have this sneaking opinion that his own scientists are trying to keep him in check but that’s a gutsy play as he tends to bomb and burn people who displease or question him (and woe betide anyone related to him – they get killed in really bad ways).

  41. Michael Taylor

    “Unverifiable “evidence,” anonymous sources, and the broad appeal of “many experts.” Sound familiar? It should, it’s the exact same playbook used by the war machine to bomb and invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and, someday soon, Iran and Russia.

    Sean, are you seriously suggesting the USA is going to invade Russia?

    I don’t buy it.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Could I also point out that North Korea already has 72 submarines so I am just wondering what our twelve, delivered mid-century are going to achieve, since we are talking good debt bad debt and all.

  43. Kaye Lee

    Michael, the more I read about the oil connections, I think Trump (or rather those who tell him what to do), Putin, Qatar and others (no doubt including Israel) are all colluding to just make the most of the end of fossil fuels. Rape, pillage, plunder, for tomorrow you die – unless you are one of the oligarchs stashing away enormous wealth.to tide you over should anything go wrong with uncontrolled profiteering as a philosophy.

    What trading nation wants to see the interruption to supply lines and markets that war causes? The ones that profit are the offence exporters (calling them defence is a misnomer). Christopher Pyne is a little dog yapping at the heels of that industry as he tries to pretend he is doing something constructive with the hundreds of billions at his disposal.

  44. Sean Stinson

    “We have favored the advance of ISIS to overthrow the government of Assad, but we failed because of the intervention of Russia and Iran.”–John Kerry, in a meeting at UN with Syrian “rebels.”

  45. Möbius Ecko

    Kaye Lee at 12:15 am

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-koreas-submarine-fleet-big-threat-or-big-joke-20300

    Our current Collins class and our antisubmarine capability is more than a match for the entire North Korean submarine fleet, most of which is old and obsolete. The US antisubmarine capability is massive, and against the North Korean fleet would see most if not all of its submarines wiped out in a short time, especially since North Korea has little surface ship capability to shoot down antisubmarine aircraft and has no antisubmarine capability of its own to defeat subsurface submarine hunter-killers.

  46. Sean Stinson

    M.E. Agreed. DPRK’s strength is conventional weapons. They have 400 000 odd artillery pieces which could level Seoul in under an hour, but they couldn’t nuke their way out of a wet paper bag, and have nothing to match US naval power.

  47. michael lacey

    I do remember the ‘collateral damage’ question, I will refer you to Madeline Albright’s response to the murders of 500,000 Iraqi women and children. it WAS worth such a small sacrifice.
    Who’s dropping the bombs?
    Who is indulging in perpetual war?
    These are the questions I know the answer!

  48. Phil Atkinson

    The entire question of North Korea should be handed back to the United Nations. After all, it was a UN decision to send troops to repel the northern invaders back in 1950 and technically, at least, that war is still on, as no treaty has been signed. Between 1950-53, some 15 countries sent members of their armed forces to help the South Koreans. A further 25 countries sent non-military aid. This isn’t just a US-China problem, it’s a world problem. What we saw in 1950-53 was WW3 (communism -v- the west) being played out on the Korean peninsular, with massive loss of life. The threat of communism has all but vanished and we’re now left with a tin-pot regime in the north, that ardently believes that the war isn’t over (it isn’t) and that the US, in particular, wants to destroy it. Until a peace treaty between the players is negotiated, any other measure is counter-productive.

  49. Michael Taylor

    Phil, as an aside, during officer’s training we learnt that the Korean War was unlike the other major conflicts that century. And in a way more frightening.

    Frightening because of the size of the armies you were engaging in battle with. They were like a tidal wave about to crash down on you.

    If that is a glimpse of what is to come then land battles could deliver both sides an enormous loss of life.

  50. Sean Stinson

    ” I just find it really hard to take someone who mandates about haircuts seriously. ”

    What western propaganda rag did you read that in?

    I’ve also heard the “regime” executes political prisoners by firing them out of cannons.

    No wonder we can’t seem to have an intelligent conversation.

    ffs.

  51. Phil Atkinson

    Michael – yes, a resurgence of the conventional war in Korea is unthinkable, simply by virtue of the millions of casualties that would ensue. Equally, the nuclear option is also unthinkable for the same reason. We can only hope that one of the madmen involved doesn’t get overly cocky and believe they can actually win…

    My own belief is that the North Korean problem will largely resolve itself, provided we don’t interfere too much. The current Kim is (so far) childless and even if he had a male heir today, that person would be unlikely to succeed Kim Jong-un for around 25 years. Even with 3 generations of brainwashing, North Koreans are becoming better informed, due to the internet and their relationship with China. It wouldn’t take all that much – another major famine, for example – for the military to get upset and kick out the Kim dynasty. What might replace that is an unknown quantity, but it seems to be the least worst option and is something that hasn’t been openly discussed.

  52. Sean Stinson

    “Even with 3 generations of brainwashing, North Koreans are becoming better informed, due to the internet and their relationship with China. ”

    The arrogance is breathtaking. Did you know North Koreans are taught English from age 7? That they love to talk about basketball? That they listen to the Beatles and Linkin Park? That North Koreans love their beer and have particularly good micro breweries? That you have an easier time getting through customs than a lot of Western countries? This is just what I’ve heard from someone who has actually BEEN THERE.

    Why, ffs why, do people refuse to see beyond the front pages of the tabloid press?

  53. Michael Taylor

    Phil, thanks to the internet I think that many people the world over are becoming better informed. In our country, no longer do we need to rely on what appeared in print only.

    Thanks to the internet I was able to read the reaction overseas to Howard’s victory in 2001. Our national papers carried on that Howard won not because of his “boat people policies” (which is what the election was meant to be about) but because of his good economic policies. Yet all over the world other papers were saying his policies were crap.

    I grew up in an era when people were less informed, And even though I was less informed I still listened to the Beatles.

  54. stephengb2014

    Reading this article and these comments has left me with a sadness that we (the human race) spend so much energy killing each other for what amounts to greed.

    Will we ever learn

    ‘Imagine’

    The late John Lennon

  55. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Interesting discussion

  56. Kaye Lee

    Sean, North Korean officials go to great lengths to present a sanitised version of reality for foreign journalists. From all accounts, things get very different when you leave Pyongyang.

    I know you think Eva Bartlett presents the truth about Syria for example, but she was invited by the regime and accompanied by Syrian army guards the whole time.

    As for mandating haircuts, there was a five part series aired on state tv called Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle in 2005 which was before his time so I shouldn’t blame him for that.

    On education, they spend a hell of a lot of time on indoctrination.

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/youth/2016/08/01/north-korean-children-learn-more-about-kim-jong-un-than-english-study.html

    North Korea has executed its top education official, Kim Yong Jin, by firing squad, a South Korean government official told CNN on Wednesday. Kim was branded “anti-party and a counter-revolutionary member” by the country’s State Security Department, after he exercised a “bad attitude” during North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly in June, the official said.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/30/asia/north-korea-executes-education-official/

  57. Phil Atkinson

    Hi Sean – the comments in your second para. could equally apply to South Korea, although I readily concede I didn’t know English was taught in the DPRK from age 7. Is that just in Pyongyang or in all schools in the north? I haven’t been to the DPRK myself, but I’ve been to the south more than once and have a son who’s a permanent resident there, hence my interest in the area and history generally. You may also be glad to hear I don’t read the “gutter press”.

  58. Kaye Lee

    This is a very interesting account from someone who has also visited North Korea

    “Literacy is indeed high but the skill sets are ill suited for 21st century, There is computer training and each year I see more emphasis on computer training but without computers in the home I think it is about the same amount of computer training we received in the 1970s. ”

    https://www.quora.com/How-is-North-Koreas-education-system

  59. nurses1968

    Kaye Lee, it seems some are too well suited for the 21st century and their skill level pretty damned good .
    According to the site Torrentfreak, Norht Korea has some of the best and most sophisticated hackers around
    Best known is North Korea’s notorious hacking unit Bureau 121

    North Korea’s hacking operations are growing and getting more bold — and increasingly targeting financial institutions worldwide.
    North Korea is now being linked to attacks on banks in 18 countries, according to a new report from Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
    And the stolen money is likely being spent advancing North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, according to two international security experts.
    Banks and security researchers have previously identified four similar cyber-heists attempted on financial institutions in Bangladesh, Ecuador, the Philippines and Vietnam.
    But researchers at Kaspersky now say the same hacking operation — known as “Lazarus” — also attacked financial institutions in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Poland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uruguay.
    “Their illicit activities have always been highly adaptable,” says Professor Sheena Greitens, an East Asia specialist at the University of Missouri. “Cybercrime would likely become a higher priority in the regime’s eyes if other avenues of revenue generation are closed off.”

    Pyongyang’s hacking prowess first garnered global attention following the 2014 attack on Sony Entertainment Pictures, in apparent revenge for the satirical movie The Interview,

    He estimated that between 10% to 20% of the regime’s military budget is being spent on online operations.

    “The reason North Korea has been harassing other countries is to demonstrate that North Korea has cyber war capacity,” he added.

    “Their cyber-attacks could have similar impacts as military attacks, killing people and destroying cities.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32925495

    Speaking more specifically, Prof Kim said North Korea was building its own malware based on Stuxnet – a hack attack, widely attributed to the US and Israel, which struck Iranian nuclear centrifuges before being discovered in 2010.

    “[A Stuxnet-style attack] designed to destroy a city has been prepared by North Korea and is a feasible threat,” Prof Kim said.

    Earlier this year, the South Korean government blamed North Korea for a hack on the country’s Hydro and Nuclear Power Plant.

  60. Keyser Soze

    To understand the North Korean situation it is best to go back and look at past events. This article appeared in Counterpunch and gives a good summary of past events……

    Paul Atwood, a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provides a concise summary of the history that informs North Korea’s “relations with the United States” and “drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat”.
    Atwood notes it is an American “myth” that the “North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders.” In fact, the North/South border “had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949.”

    Part of what made the US’s ultimate destruction of Korea (which involved essentially a colossal version of one of the cross-border incursions) “inevitable” was the goal of US planners to access or control “global… resources, markets and cheaper labor power”.
    In its full invasion of the North, the US acted under the banner of the United Nations. However, the UN at that time was “largely under the control of the United States”, and as Professor Carl Boggs (PhD political science, UC Berkeley) puts it, essentially was the United States.

    While it is still today the world’s most powerful military empire, the US was then at the peak of its global dominance – the most concentrated power-center in world history. Almost all allies and enemies had been destroyed in World War II while the US strategically preserved its forces, experiencing just over 400,000 overall war-related deaths after Germany and Japan declared war on the US, whereas Russia, for example, lost tens of millions fending off the Nazi invasion. Boggs further notes that as the UN gradually democratized, US capacity to dictate UN policy waned, with the US soon becoming the world leader in UN vetoes.

    In South Korea, “tens of thousands” of “guerrillas who had originated in peoples’ committees” in the South “fought the Americans and the ROK” (Republic of Korea), the Southern dictatorship set up by the US. Before hot war broke out, the ROK military “over mere weeks” summarily executed some 100,000 to 1 million (S. Brian Wilson puts the figure at 800,000) guerillas and peasant civilians, many of whom the dictatorship lured into camps with the promise of food. This was done with US knowledge and sometimes under direct US supervision, according to historian Kim Dong-choon and others (see Wilson above for more sources). The orders for the executions “undoubtedly came from the top”, which was dictator Syngman Rhee, the “US-installed” puppet, and the US itself, which “controlled South Korea’s military.” After the war, the US helped try to cover up these executions, an effort that largely succeeded until the 1990s.

    At a point in the war when the US was on the verge of defeat, General Douglas MacArthur “announced that he saw unique opportunities for the deployment of atomic weapons. This call was taken up by many in Congress.” Truman rejected this idea and instead “authorized MacArthur to conduct the famous landings at Inchon in September 1950”, which “threw North Korean troops into disarray and MacArthur began pushing them back across the 38th Parallel”, the line the US had “arbitrarily” drawn to artificially divide Korea, where there was “overwhelming support for unification” among the country’s population as a whole. The US then violated its own artificial border and pushed into the North.

    China warned the US it would not sit by while the its neighbor was invaded (China itself also feared being invaded), but MacArthur shrugged this off, saying if the Chinese “tried to get down to Pyongyang” he would “slaughter” them, adding, “we are the best.” MacArthur “then ordered airstrikes to lay waste thousands of square miles of northern Korea bordering China and ordered infantry divisions ever closer to its border.”

    It was the terrible devastation of this bombing campaign, worse than anything seen during World War II short of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that to this day dominates North Korea’s relations with the United States and drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat.

    General Curtis Lemay directed this onslaught. It was he who had firebombed Tokyo in March 1945 saying it was “about time we stopped swatting at flies and gone after the manure pile.” It was he who later said that the US “ought to bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age.” Remarking about his desire to lay waste to North Korea he said “We burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea too.” Lemay was by no means exaggerating.

    Lemay estimated the US “killed off” some “20% of the [North Korean] population.” (For comparison, the highest percentage of population lost in World War II was in Poland, which lost approximately 16.93 to 17.22% of its people overall.) Dean Rusk, who later became a Secretary of State, said the US targeted and attempted to execute every person “that moved” in North Korea, and tried to knock over “every brick standing on top of another.”

    Boggs gives many examples of mass atrocities, one taking place in 1950 when the US rounded up “nearly 1,000 civilians” who were then “beaten, tortured, and shot to death by US troops”, another in Pyongyang when the US summarily executed 3,000 people, “mostly women and children”, and another when the US executed some 6,000 civilians, many with machine guns, many by beheading them with sabers. He notes this list, just of the major atrocities, “goes on endlessly.”

    When Chinese forces followed through on their threat and entered North Korea, successfully pushing back US troops, Truman then threatened China with nuclear weapons, saying they were under “active consideration.” For his part, “MacArthur demanded the bombs… As he put it in his memoirs:
    I would have dropped between thirty and fifty atomic bombs…strung across the neck of Manchuria…and spread behind us – from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea- a belt of radioactive cobalt. It has an active life of between 60 and 120 years.
    Cobalt it should be noted is at least 100 times more radioactive than uranium.
    He also expressed a desire for chemicals and gas.

    In 1951 the U.S. initiated “Operation Strangle”, which officials estimated killed at least 3 million people on both sides of the 38th parallel, but the figure is probably closer to 4 million [“mostly civilians” and “mostly resulting from US aerial bombardments” in which civilians “were deliberately targeted” (54, 67-8), as were “schools, hospitals, and churches”. Estimates for the death toll also go “much higher” than 4 million .

    Boggs notes US propaganda during this time period (the US was a world leader in eugenics scholarship and race-based “legal” discrimination) dehumanized Asians and facilitated targeting and mass executions of “inferior” civilians: the “US decision to target civilians … was planned and systematic, going to the top of the power structure. …no one was ever charged…” Some in the US forces, such as General Matthew Ridgeway, claimed the war was a Christian jihad in defense of “God”. Analysts at George Washington University, looking at US contingency plans from this era to wipe out much of the world’s population with nuclear weapons, determined a likely rationale for the US’s doctrine of targeting of civilians is to “reduce the morale of the enemy civilian population through fear” – the definition of terrorism.

    Atwood continues:

    The question of whether the U.S. carried out germ warfare has been raised but has never been fully proved or disproved. The North accused the U.S. of dropping bombs laden with cholera, anthrax, plague, and encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever, all of which turned up among soldiers and civilians in the north. Some American prisoners of war confessed to such war crimes but these were dismissed as evidence of torture by North Korea on Americans. However, none of the U.S. POWs who did confess and were later repatriated were allowed to meet the press. A number of investigations were carried out by scientists from friendly western countries. One of the most prominent concluded the charges were true.

    At this time the US was engaged in top secret germ-warfare research [including non-consensual human experimentation] with captured Nazi and Japanese germ warfare experts, and also [conducting non-consensual human experimentation on tens of thousands of people, including in gas chambers and aerial bombardments, with mustard gas and other chemical weapons,] experimenting with Sarin[, later including non-consensual human experimentation], despite its ban by the Geneva Convention.
    Boggs notes the US “had substantial stocks of biological weapons” and US leaders thought they might be able to keep their use “secret enough to make a plausible denial”. They also thought that if their use was uncovered, the US could simply remind its accusers that it had never signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol on biological warfare. (135-6)

    A 1952 US government film made to instruct the US armed forces on the US’s “offensive biological and chemical warfare program” says the US can “deliver a biological or chemical attack … hundreds of miles inland from any coastline” to “attack a large portion of an enemy’s population.” The film shows US soldiers filling bio/chemical dispersal containers for “contamination” of enemy areas, and then a cartoon depiction of US bio/chem weapons agents being delivered from US ships, passing over Korea, and covering huge swathes of China.
    Boggs notes “the US apparently hoped the rapid spread of deadly diseases would instill panic in Koreans and Chinese, resulting in a collapse of combat morale”.
    Atwood adds that as in the case of the Rhee/US mass executions of South Koreans, Washington blamed the evident use of germ warfare on “the communists”.

    The US also used napalm, a fiery gel that sticks to and burns through targets,
    …extensively, completely and utterly destroying the northern capital of Pyongyang. By 1953 American pilots were returning to carriers and bases claiming there were no longer any significant targets in all of North Korea to bomb. In fact a very large percentage of the northern population was by then living in tunnels dug by hand underground. A British journalist wrote that the northern population was living “a troglodyte existence.” In the Spring of 1953 US warplanes hit five of the largest dams along the Yalu river completely inundating and killing Pyongyang’s harvest of rice. Air Force documents reveal calculated premeditation saying that “Attacks in May will be most effective psychologically because it was the end of the rice-transplanting season before the roots could become completely embedded.” Flash floods scooped out hundreds of square miles of vital food producing valleys and killed untold numbers of farmers.

    At Nuremberg after WWII, Nazi officers who carried out similar attacks on the dikes of Holland, creating a mass famine in 1944, were tried as criminals and some were executed for their crimes.

    Atwood concludes it is “the collective memory” of the above “that animates North Korea’s policies toward the US today”.
    Under no circumstances could any westerner reasonably expect … that the North Korean regime would simply submit to any ultimatums by the US, by far the worst enemy Korea ever had measured by the damage inflicted on the entirety of the Korean peninsula.

  61. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Keyser Soze.

    “They also thought that if their use was uncovered, the US could simply remind its accusers that it had never signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol on biological warfare. (135-6)”

    Has the US signed such an agreement after the Korean War?

  62. diannaart

    As Jennifer said, “Interesting discussion”.

    Sometimes, I get caught up when people are trying very hard to score a point or not. I got stuck with the claim that Northern Koreans are far more advanced than much of the western world realises. I get that most countries are more sophisticated than the citizens of arrogant western nations believe, although I would place a caveat that Northern Koreans are given a more austere diet of knowledge than China. Why do I think that? Because someone suggested that listening to the Beatles indicated sophistication.

    I would think Northern Koreans should at least be listening to Nirvana, only 30 years behind.

    Just sayin’.

  63. Sean Stinson

    Ahh yes, Vladimir Kara-Murza, the “prominent” Russian opposition leader who nobody in Russia seems to have ever heard of.

  64. Kaye Lee

    That is my biggest problem Michael. We are free to criticise our government but I do not feel that is the case in North Korea, Russia or Syria so these polls showing how much their leaders are loved fill me with scepticism.

  65. Michael Taylor

    Ahh yes, Vladimir Kara-Murza, the “prominent” Russian opposition leader who nobody in Russia seems to have ever heard of.

    Well that’s OK then. Doesn’t matter that he was murdered because nobody in Russia seems to ever have heard of him.

    But, I’m compelled to ask: how do you know that nobody in Russia seems to ever have heard of him?

  66. Michael Taylor

    When Abbott was PM he came to our town for a day.

    I was talking to a couple of young shop assistants the day before this vomitous event and mentioned to them that Tony Abbott was visiting town tomorrow. They said, “who is Tony Abbott?”

    It seemed as though nobody had ever heard of him.

  67. Kaye Lee

    Michael, Kara-Murza survived the alleged attempts to poison him. He gave evidence to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in the US.

    “Kara-Murza worked with former deputy prime minister and Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov before Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow in 2015. Kara-Murza worked until recently with Russian anti-corruption lawyer and political candidate Alexei Navalny, who suffered eye injury Thursday after being attacked with a chemical following his release from jail for leading unsanctioned protests against the Putin government across Russia this spring.”

    And I too wonder how Sean could possibly know if this guy has come to the attention of the Kremlin.

  68. Michael Taylor

    Obviously a random killing, Kaye. Or maybe even a botched robbery attempt.

    Just another nobody to add to the statistics.

  69. paul walter

    This was a good thread to miss.

    One brief remark, I find Sean Stinson has defended his position well and question the nature of some of the misreadings of him.

    Because he recognises the extent of big power interference throughout the region and elsewhere throughout recent history does not automatically infer he is an Assad lover, please be fair some of you!

    Or should I wander if this site has been taken over by ABC news and current affairs?

  70. paul walter

    Btw, I didn’t make the comment re the ABC as complimentary- I had to find out on Al Jazeera in the wee small hours a couple of nights ago that a thousand people a week are dying or wounded in Afghanistan in a renewed civil war the Taliban is now winning. The particular news story featured the return of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

    On ABC 24, I got to find out in minute detail detail who won the rugby.

  71. Kaye Lee

    paul, my problem with Sean is that he only sees the wrongdoing by the US and on much of that I agree. But having spoken on many occasions, he has never once found anything at all to criticise about Russia, Syria or North Korea. In fact, he dismisses any criticism as fake news. I doubt there is a government/regime in the world that could be so blameless as he would have us believe, with all three leaders supposedly adored by the people. The fact that you end up dead if you don’t adore them seems to be ignored.

    Certainly American imperialism and intervention, both military and covert, is cause for great concern, demanding scrutiny and accountability. But that must not preclude us from scrutiny and accountability elsewhere as well.

  72. Kaye Lee

    “a thousand people a week are dying or wounded in Afghanistan”

    Whilst the number of casualties is horrific, I don’t think it is quite that bad. I don’t have total numbers of military deaths but these are the stats for civilians from the UN.

    “Civilian casualties caused by the war in Afghanistan declined slightly in the first three months of 2017, the United Nations said on Thursday, a rare drop that officials attributed mostly to residents fleeing areas of fighting.

    From January to March there were 715 civilians killed and 1,466 wounded, an overall 4 percent decrease compared to the same period last year, according to a quarterly report released by UN human rights investigators in Kabul.

    In the first quarter of 2017, 72 civilians were killed and 76 wounded in aerial operations by Afghan and American forces, compared to eight dead and 21 injured in the same period last year.

    Overall in 2016, 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 wounded, making it the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians.

    The report highlighted a 24 percent spike in casualties among women, and a 3 percent increase for children.

    At least 62 percent of casualties were attributed to anti-government groups like the Taliban, as well as Daesh, which launched several of the deadliest attacks ever in Kabul last year.”

    http://in.reuters.com/article/afghanistan-casualties-idINKBN17T0GS

  73. nurses1968

    A Kazakh diplomat has confirmed that a Russian proposal to set up safe zones in Syria is under discussion at talks in Astana.
    The Interfax news agency quoted Aidarbek Tumatov as saying the proposal involves the creation of at least four zones
    Reports in Russian state media say the zones would be patrolled by forces from Russia, Iran and Turkey.

  74. Kaye Lee

    Where’s that leave the Kurds?

  75. nurses1968

    I suppose a lot depends on size and location of the safe zones.

  76. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sean,

    I am only too happy to find fault with American regimes throughout my life of 60 years but especially now. Yet I am cynical also about Putin’s regime and disillusioned by Assad’s.

    Your expertise of geopolitics is to be respected but I agree you need to identify proportional rights and wrongs of both sides in the Middle East assorted conflicts because otherwise your arguments will often fall on deaf ears if they don’t see you addressing the discrepancies of the side you support.

    This site is read by intelligent people who accept they don’t know everything and who are lifelong learners. Understand those elements when you explain in layperson’s language the complexities of the ME geopolitics.

  77. Sean Stinson

    Jennifer, i have no time for the type of bourgeois liberalism that argues Stalin was as bad as Hitler; Russia is as bad as the US; Putin, Assad, Trump are all equally culpable for civilian deaths in Syria. There is clear right and wrong here. For instance the USA is 100% responsible for creating the migrant crisis in the Middle East and North Africa and the hundreds of thousands of resulting deaths. Nobody else. The US decided to go to war (illegally) against Iraq in 2003 and created a failed state. Basher Assad is the democratically elected president of Syria and has the absolute right to defend his country for foreign invasion, irrespective of whether or not he locks up and tortures people (I happen to believe he’s not the monster he’s made out to be). If anyone is deflecting here, it is those who try to obfuscate these fundamental truths with irrelevant claims such as Putin, Assad, Ghaddafi, Saddam, Kim – insert whichever name you like – is a vengeful tyrant. It does not change the fact that the US is still the chief aggressor. It is the US which supports terrorist armies from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan. It is the US which has 900 military bases around the world. It is the US which has overthrown, or attempted to overthrow the governments of 70 countries in as many years. If you think I’m being one sided then sue me. I refuse to pander to moral relativism or give any quarter to the one party directly responsible for these heinous crimes.

  78. Kaye Lee

    “the USA is 100% responsible for creating the migrant crisis in the Middle East and North Africa and the hundreds of thousands of resulting deaths. Nobody else.”

    Well that’s that then. Problems in the Middle East only started because of the US. Previous history, like the Sykes-Picot agreement for example, is irrelevant. No-one else needs take any responsibility for their actions. They have every right to lock up, torture and murder their own citizens because it is all the fault of the US. Tell the families of those who have been disappeared that Sean thinks Assad is a nice guy and even if he’s not… it’s the fault of the US. The US let Pearl Harbour happen and they killed JFK, did 9/11 to themselves and took down two Malaysian airline flights. Martin Bryant is innocent, and Monsanto is seeding the world with aluminium chem trails so they can sell their aluminium resistant crops. Vaccinations cause autism, Jewish bankers are using environmentalists via the UN to take over the world. HAARP is being used to either cause catastrophic weather events or control our minds, depending who you talk to. Fluoride in our water is evil.

    The US selling weapons to Saudi Arabia is terrible but Russia selling them weapons is just fine. And any time Russia invades or bombs another country it’s because the other country asked for it.

    There will be no bourgeois liberalism or moral relativism here. We know the truth. Whatever evil and suffering there is in the world is the fault of the US.

  79. Michael Taylor

    Sean, I agree with Jennifer – and you, for that matter, and everybody else here – that the US is to blame for many of the ills in the world. (You can even add a new one, thanks to Trump … climate change). But what leaves everybody gasping is your absolute denial that Russia or Putin have their own histories. Your unqualified defence of them comes without any demonstrated justification.

  80. Matters Not

    Yes Sean you have the ‘theory’ – the ‘world view’, ‘mental construct’ or whatever descriptor you care to use. You proceed on that assumption – always! Never wavering! Never questioning!

    The only task remaining becomes the gathering of evidence to support your preconception. And you do that very, very well

    And the disturbing thing for me is that you may be completely correct. The only historian who never has to seriously entertain a contrary view.

    In some ways I admire your surety but at a deeper and more significant level I am relieved I don’t.

  81. Kaye Lee

    The trouble with certainty is that it tends to blinker you. Look at Malcolm Roberts. Look at Harquebus. When you invest so much into telling everyone else they are fools, you can’t really afford questions or doubt.

  82. Sean Stinson

    What unqualified defence? Point to a time I have said, as Kaye seems to insist EVERT TIME i comment on a post, that Assad, or Putin, is blameless. What I’m saying is that Putin and Assad’s relative merits and faults are IRRELEVANT. It is the US which fomented the crisis in Syria to advance their own agenda, by sponsoring armed terrorists, just as they have done right across the middle east for the better part of a century. This is not even up for debate any more. As Ive said above, this has been freely admitted and is now a matter of public record.

    Absolutely the US is responsible for the migrant crisis. Ghaddafi warned that this would happen as soon as they destabilised Libya. Libya was the cork in the bottle. Now African migrants are pouring into the Mediterranean. That is the ones who aren’t being sold into slavery for $200 a piece. So Obama brings slavery back to Africa, probably the single greatest achievement of his tenure, and instead of facing an international war crimes tribunal he is rewarded with $400k speaking engagements.

    As for the ludicrous horse shit drivel that Kaye just tried to put in my mouth, when have you heard me talk about HAARP or chemtrails or Jewish bankers? I’m pretty sure everyone agrees by now that the CIA knocked off Kennedy, the trouble is when you step outside the limits of accepted discourse you end up having to continually defend yourself. There are some things, true or not, that it does not pay to say – but there are also some things that must be said, truths that need to be told.

  83. paul walter

    Sorry, yet again, that I must say that people again seem to have misconstrued Sean Stimson’s last comment.

    Why not have instead quoted, “Russia is as bad as the USA. Putin, Assad, Trump (presumably since the beginning 2017, as the latest in a long line of US leaders) are all equally culpable…”

    What I i think Sean is trying to say is that the USA, as the global hegemon since WW2 or at least since the fall off the Soviet Union, is the biggest influence simply because of the extent of its power against/over all others.

    In fact the problem of Imperialism in the oil rich Mid East, already a strategic locus of trade routes a century ago, seems to date for all intents and purposes to Sykes-Picot, the naked carve up of the old Ottoman Empire back then. Unsurprisingly, given thepower of the USA Se4an identifies it as the determinent or initiator. In short the US controls a dungheap the rest may or may not also want a piece of, including the locals.of whatever follows and its mere insistent presence is factor in the behaviour of other parties and how the situation has evloved and continues to evolve.

    Israel Palestine is a typical example, the decison to assuage Western WW2 war guilt came at the expense not of the negligent West that allowed Hitler to rise as a means for combatting the Soviet bogy, but was taken without reference to the needs and wishes of people already there. Inevitably resentment flared and the situation as we know it today emerged. And the US has done nothing to rein in Israel’s treatment of Arabs, and is thus at the core of what causes today’s angst. The problem with the dungheap is OIL; all else seems ” collateral”, particularly, it might seem, to people like Cheney.

    Sean is not saying the US are the worst, or any more “evil” than any other player, he is saying it is the biggest and thus most determinent, factor in the politics of the region for several generations for the mere size of it militarily and because of its habit of putting its own interests in front of everyone else’s.

    It is very easy to see Russia’s response as derived of fear of being hemmed in and cut off and the Iraq wars have never produced any thing in my thinking that could mollify those fears in the least. Nor has done very much to reassure thepeople of the region that its intentions are thought through and honourable.
    ….

    Just observed Seans latest showing, so will leave it for now to see what he is adding.

  84. Michael Taylor

    What I’m saying is that Putin and Assad’s relative merits and faults are IRRELEVANT.

    I’m not talking about the situation in Syria. I’m talking about every post or comment here that mentions anything negative about Putin or Russia.

  85. Michael Taylor

    What I i think Sean is trying to say is that the USA, as the global hegemon since WW2 or at least since the fall off the Soviet Union, is the biggest influence simply because of the extent of its power against/over all others.

    Paul, I think you’ll find that nobody disagrees with that.

    People just have difficulty accepting that there is nothing wrong with Putin or Russia. Nothing whatsoever.

    People just have issues with repeatedly being told they know nothing.

    People are sick of being told that everything they read is fake news.

    People are sick of being treated like idiots.

    I’m over it.

  86. Matters Not

    truths that need to be told.

    And Gospels that must be delivered!

    While doubt may not be a pleasant state of mind – certainty seems ridiculous.

  87. Kaye Lee

    How can their actions be irrelevant? As I have put to you before, if an American billionaire tried to make Australians rise up in armed conflict against our government, it wouldn’t work because, whilst they severely piss me off, they aren’t torturing and murdering their citizens (they save that for refugees). Look at how they deal with opposition protest. Surely you must agree it creates fertile ground for those, like the US, who want regime change.

    You say the US has been sponsoring armed terrorists across the middle east for the better part of a century. Could I have some historical justification of that. It was Britain, Russia and France who were dividing up the Middle East and Africa 100 years ago.

    “I’m pretty sure everyone agrees by now that the CIA knocked off Kennedy”

    Oh really?

    And paul, the US had nothing to do with Sykes-Picot.

  88. paul walter

    Michael, how can you, of all people, misread my last post so grievously. Now I am grievously wounded.

    I though I offered a reasoned comment.

    Geez, folks… cool down.

  89. Matters Not

    paul walter, as soon as you can work out how to ensure the ‘reader’ gives the meaning you intend then you’ve solved the ‘communications’ problem.

    In short, readers ‘give’ meanings. Look above for evidence. Or better still look at the writing of history. Same facts (often) but so many different meanings given,

  90. Michael Taylor

    Paul, I didn’t misread your last post and there was nothing in there that I found objectionable.

    I was just explaining why people are getting rubbed up the wrong way.

  91. Kaye Lee

    As both a teacher and a parent, I always said to the kids as they would try to deflect blame, “I am not interested in what the other person did. I am talking to you about what you did.”

    That is why I am finding this conversation so frustrating. As I have stated many times, I am not condoning US intervention. But the behaviour of the US does not make me blind to the behaviour of others.

    And Sean, I did not try to put that “ludicrous horse shit drivel” in your mouth or attribute it to you though you have mentioned some of those things before. I was trying to point out that people say a whole heap of shit without having any possible way of proving it but they are very certain they are right.

    I so wish we could talk normally – we might both learn from each other. But you seem to feel you already know it all.

  92. paul walter

    I suppose, MN.

    Maybe it all comes out in the wash, good nght’s sleep for now.

  93. paul walter

    So many “lurv” songs over the years…

    “Try to say I love you,
    but the words just got/get in
    the way”.

    Yes, I can feel it?

    Can you feel it, too?

    Can you FEEL the love just now?

  94. paul walter

  95. Kaye Lee

    harmony and understanding? Sympathy and trust abounding? No more falsehood or derision?

    That was then when we would give strangers flowers rather than coward punches. This is the dawning of the age of a hairy ass

  96. paul walter

    Seems to be. Actually having a little trip down memory lane…at the moment “Go where you wanna go” from the Mamas and Papas.

    Seemed promising back then. Nostalgia (gleep!)

  97. paul walter

    Anyway, after watching Comey, do thinking people not wonder that the US some times has a credibility gap?

  98. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good choice @12.54 am, Paul

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