Trying to Align with Trump. In fact, the areas of possible agreement between the Democrats and Trump underscore the right-wing character of the burgeoning political alliance. Among the principle policies discussed is a combined measure that would slash corporate taxes to fund infrastructure proposals.
Last year, Schumer supported a bipartisan proposal in Congress that would have allowed foreign companies to bring back profits oversees, to be taxed at a far lower level than the nominal 35 percent corporate tax rate. The proposal also would guarantee that any future profits made by US companies abroad would not be taxed at all if brought back into the US, with corporations only paying local taxes where the profits were made.
The proposal backed by Schumer would use the one-time levy on profits that have already been accrued to fund limited highway infrastructure spending. Another possible area of agreement cited by Democrats is measures to restrict foreign trade and implement a more nationalist economic policy, particularly in relation to China. Obama also declined to comment on the appointment of Stephen Bannon, the racist and white supremacist head of Breitbart News, as his chief strategist. Beyond the specific areas of agreement between Democrats and Republicans under Trump, both parties, whatever their tactical differences, are committed to a bipartisan policy of war, attacks on the working class and the destruction of democratic rights.
It is for this reason that the Democrats are desperately seeking to cover up the extremely right-wing character of the incoming administration. These increasingly intolerable costs have emerged as a major source of social unrest in recent years. A still from the documentary Under the Dome with Chai Jing in the foreground. Yet within two weeks of its release, it was no longer possible to download the film in China, and official directives prohibited the Chinese media from any further reporting on the film. It is still available on YouTube but, of course, this is also blocked in China.
Its overarching message was loud and clear: Whether either Premier Li or President Xi Jinping had seen the documentary, they seem to have gotten the message. This plan outlines strategies including strengthening laws and regulations on climate change and limiting large-scale industrialisation and urbanisation.
Other strategies include limiting total coal consumption, and proactively promoting cleaner energies.
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This will build on the seven pilot programs that have been implemented since in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Tianjin as well as Guangdong and Hubei provinces. There are also ambitious plans to develop renewable energies including wind power, photovoltaic power, biomass energy and hydropower, as well as safe nuclear power. In a key passage, he reinforces the message that in China, change must come from the top down: The draft proposal, released in November , names the environment one of five key points of the economy.
Given its global economic clout, a greener China could become a catalyst for worldwide change. These include coordinating action among ministries with conflicting interests; the blind pursuit of rapid economic growth by provincial governments; the vested interests of powerful, corrupt and monopolistic state-owned energy and power companies; and the self interests of tens of millions of new car owners, many of whom run their vehicles on low-standard fuel that fails to reach national standards. As Chai succinctly sums it up: One of many damning examples Chai Jing uses to illustrate her point begins with a visit to a truck tolling station, where trucks are checked to see if they are complying with emission standards.
Many of the truck drivers fail the test. The result puts manufacturers in a corner. As one of the factory owners explains: Chai then turns to the issue of why Chinese fuel standards are set so low compared to those elsewhere. She asks why fuel required to reach the then-highest National Standard 4 was still in such low supply, accounting for just three percent of all available fuels. As he puts it: Citing the views of an official convicted for corruption, she describes the links forged in recent years between people in the National Energy Administration, Sinopec, electricity distribution firms and the coal and mining industries.
While the plans for action announced in are encouraging, clearly far more remains to be done. If only it were that simple. If successful, this will create a middle class the size of which the world has never seen before. The number of cars in China has increased by around one hundred million in the last decade. In cities including Beijing and Hangzhou, car emissions are now the primary source of PM2. The Development Research Centre of the State Council predicts that there will be million private vehicles in China in fifteen years time.
The production of cars requires energy as an input, and other inputs that use energy as an input most obviously steel , and so on down the chain. Individuals consume energy directly in the form of coal, natural gas, petroleum and electricity and indirectly through the many goods and services that require energy. Indirect energy consumption — and associated emissions — is likely to grow substantially in China in the years ahead.
The figure below illustrates the results, plotted across income percentiles ranging from the poorest to the richest one percent of the sample population. As seen, total energy consumption, and therefore emissions, increases as income rises. This may be an obvious point: But people can only consume so much energy directly, no matter how rich they are. More importantly, we show that indirect emissions rise even more when income increases. At higher levels of income, indirect emissions are an even greater problem than direct emissions.
On the other hand, consumer choices can change, and production technologies and environmental policies can make the production of all goods and services greener over time. Given its population size, and its global emissions ranking, no country has a greater incentive than China to turn this potential into reality. Yet it needs to make serious efforts to address fundamental issues like the legal ambiguity, bureaucratic buck-passing and corporate bullying described above. In an increasingly integrated global economy — in which China is both the largest exporter and one of the largest overseas investors, we are all effectively living under the same dome.
As world leaders converged on Paris for the World Climate Change Conference , residents of Beijing and other cities in eastern China faced the most severe air pollution the nation saw that year. The impetus for finding a global solution to what is clearly a global problem gathered momentum in Paris. Yet the challenges of implementation remain huge, for at least two reasons. The ministers collectively called on developed countries to take the lead in emission reductions and provide financial support to developing countries for green technology and capacity building, as well as mitigating against and adapting to climate change.
This suggests that foreign investors will be drawn to countries where environmental regulations are weak and production costs relatively low. These are most likely to be found in other developing countries, where the urge for stronger environmental regulation often loses out to the pressing need for economic growth. It requires the construction of an infrastructure network, including new ports, railways, roads and so on throughout the region, as well as improvements to existing infrastructure.
The Turnbull government has given conditional approval to the Chinese state-owned company Shenhua Watermark to open a highly controversial coalmine in the fertile Liverpool Plains area of New South Wales. But its ultimate decision signalled that it was capable of choosing the environment over the economy, at least in desperate circumstances.
While there was plenty to feel negative about in , and particularly following the damning evidence presented in Under the Dome, has delivered many positive environmental outcomes for China, and the world as well. On 4 November , thirty days after the country target was reached, the Paris Agreement entered into force. While the naysayers will criticise the Agreement for its lack of binding targets, this is surely a step in the right direction for global environmental change.
The numbers he provides to back up this claim are truly impressive. Given an increasingly environmentally aware public, whose demand for greener living will only increase with time, the preservation of Party power is at stake: The motion picture, well-received by the audience, offered a carefully-edited account of the White Helmets, an alleged civil defense and rescue group. No member had any kind of background involving rescue work. Indeed, they all seemed to be either butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers.
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One alleged he had been a terrorist but had reformed and now wanted to help his fellow countrymen. The film depicted the White Helmets rescuing infants at great risk while under fire from the Syrian government and Russia. The only training they received was in Turkey, coming from classes and drills which the Anatolian government provided. Ably assisted by Kenan Rahmani and Prof. Jouejati alleged that she and her groups believed in non-violence and that the Syrian government had forced the closure of most of their offices. She insisted their members had been targeted for retaliation, while Rahmani said that the Syrians themselves should decide their own future.
Continuing, he averred that Trump opposed all people of color, Jews, essentially, anyone different from him. Jouejati went on to say that Assad must go and that the choice is not him or the extremists. He avowed that Idlib, where he was from, was a multi-religious, multi-ethnic community. CCAS allowed only two other, extremely mundane questions. In keeping with the propaganda aspect of the operation, a woman came up to the author afterwards with a remarkable story.
The White Helmets have other problems which Georgetown University never addressed. They post celebratory videos to their social media pages of the execution of civilian Arab soldiers. The White Helmets operate only in areas controlled by terrorist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra. Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector in Iraq, did shine some light on their murky beginnings. They were supposedly professionals needed as a standby force in post-conflict situations. Furthermore, our source noted that while she was in the country, the Yugoslav white helmets always seemed to be tied to CIA operational areas.
They also stirred up conflicts in locations supposedly being pacified, she said. A former professor at Georgetown clarifies this. Nicholas Greenwood Onuf once said that Georgetown. Russia deployed Bastion coastal systems, which are able to destroy both sea and ground targets at a distance of kilometers of the sea and almost kilometers of land, which virtually cover the entire Syrian coast, according to Shoigu. Pantsir systems have been also supplied to defend Russian bases from low-flying targets. Sukhoi Su fighter jets began conducting combat flights over Syria from the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser deck.
Before this, jets from the Kuznetsov deck used to do only reconnaissance of targets. Massive air strikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force were reported by pro-militant media outlets in the Aleppo-Idlib countryside. The warplanes paid special attention to the Saraqib-Khan Tuman supply line used by militants to deliver supplies and reinforcements to the area of Aleppo from Idlib province. The government forces have already launched a preemptive shelling if the Aqrab area in western Aleppo.
So, the message goes, we have two equal allies—South Korea and the US and that is often the order in which they are given —who after much deliberation are stationing this segment of Missile Defense precisely to defend South Korea against a belligerent North Korea. However, a little burrowing beneath the surface reveals that the reality is very different from the official US and South Korean government line so assiduously reported by the media. However, it is important to note that a layered defense will not be able to completely block such an attack.
As a result, missiles armed with nuclear weapons could cause significant casualties as well as damage in the South. A similar point is made by Garth McLennan, who refers to the technique of haystacking where a large number of missiles are fired, only a few of which have nuclear warheads because they are in short supply. The nuclear component then becomes a needle in a haystack:. THAAD would not, however, serve as an effective tool in countering a North Korean nuclear strike if such an attack were haystacked among a barrage of conventional warheads.
The enormous implications of these measures are obvious. For one thing it seems likely that the deployment, combined with US containment of China in the South China Sea, will reinforce Chinese rethinking of its conciliatory policy over the Korean issue. In South Korea there have been serious concerns raised about the commercial impact of the response from China, its major economic partner. Company officials and analysts expressed concern that THAAD may stoke anti-Korean sentiment in the neighboring country.
They also said business ties with China could worsen, heightening uncertainties about the Korean economy. Company officials expressed worries over retaliatory actions such as higher tariffs and stricter rules on some Korean products manufactured in China. South Korean companies exporting to, or producing in China, would not be the only casualties. There is also tourism. The Hankyoreh noted that. Chinese investors hold Furthermore, around 23, South Korean companies were doing business in China as of Sanctions from China would deliver a body blow to the South Korean economy.
So we have a situation where the South Korea government has, it claims, willingly agreed to the deployment of a weapon system which will afford it little or no protection against North Korea, but will exacerbate North-South tensions which are already at highest level in decades.
The United States is inflaming the situation on the Korean peninsula, and worldwide. THAAD is clearly one part of a larger pattern. And, in the case of South Korea, the self-harm? In order to make sense of this and, lay the foundation for activism, as appropriate, we must contextualise and establish a framework for analysis. The starting point for this framework is that we must look in the right direction. Most writing and discussion on Korean peninsula issues focuses almost exclusively on North Korea. We are told of the North Korea problem, the North Korea threat, how North Korea, or the Kim family, is mad, bad, unpredictable, and so forth.
The answer of course is the United States. The US is the common denominator. No doubt some wise person thousands of years ago pointed out that we will not see the mountain, however high it may be, if we are looking in the wrong direction. And the American mountain is very high indeed. The US is the global colossus. Physical sanctions may devastate a target economy without impinging on the far larger American one. Sanctions on North Korea have been in place for some 70 years, with no apparent protest from American business. The US dominance in the international business and banking architecture makes financial sanctions very appealing; again they cause great damage without much cost to the US.
The US is uniquely blessed by nature, with extensive agricultural and mineral resources meaning it cannot be blockaded into submission, however strong a future enemy might be. It is protected by vast oceans east and west and bordered by small, non-threatening countries north and south and surrounded by a huge network of overseas bases. The United States also has immense Soft Power which includes diplomatic power and its domination of the global intellectual space which are linked together, the one feeding off the other.
The US has immense diplomatic power. Again its power is not absolute, but it is extraordinary. The official US narrative not merely fashions Western media and academia but also much of that in Russia and China. If you look at Russian or Chinese media, in English at least, you will see that unless national interests are directly challenged — in Ukraine and Eastern Europe for the Russians and the South China Sea for the Chinese, the default position is to accept uncritically what the Western news agencies, and hence Western officials, portray.
This, needless to say, only works one way. No Western newspaper would ever regurgitate a statement from Tass or Xinhua without inserting it in a political envelope telling the reader not to believe it. This goes beyond hypocrisy and double standards into the construction of a special sort of unreality. Of all countries in the world North Korea alone has been censured by the UNSC for launching satellites, and that on the strange ground that they utilised ballistic missile technology.
Strange because not merely are all satellites launched by ballistic rockets, but ballistic missiles are not themselves illegal. In fact, the discriminatory charges against North Korea are themselves a violation of the norms of international law and the equal sovereignty of states.
American power means that nothing much happens in the world without the US being involved although that is frequently hidden. Sometimes it is the dominant actor, sometimes just an endorser, but the US is always there. This does not mean that the US is omnipotent. Indeed it is intriguing the way that clients sometimes have surprising leverage against the US One thinks of Syngman Rhee in South Korea the s, or more recently Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan.
These are people who were installed by the US, had not much popular support and many domestic enemies, but nevertheless at times could disobey orders quite flagrantly. However, if push comes to shove the master prevails, as Rhee found out in So, in analysing world affairs the starting point must be the US What does America want? That, needless to say, often bears little connection with what it proclaims as its objective. Analysis must be hard-nosed looking beyond the spin and rhetoric, focussing on actions and seeking real explanations.
For most countries, most of the time, the United States is their major strategic partner-cum-adversary. They tend to tailor their policy in relation to third countries in the light of their political relationship with the United States. However for many countries, and South Korea is by no means alone, there is the dilemma of reconciling the economic importance of China with the relationship with the US. Blue House photo pool The failure to put the US at the core of geopolitical analysis is a fundamental reason why so much writing on the Korean peninsula is usually off the mark.
Looking in the wrong direction, asking the wrong questions, they get misleading or meaningless answers. If they are former employees they now work for think tanks or NGOs which are, to put it politely, state-aligned. Even academics are constrained by the desire for research funding. There are very few neutral, dispassionate, disinterested in the proper meaning of the term voices.
One simpler indicator is that virtually all of them express horror at the idea of North Korea having nuclear weapons but few have any qualms about the US and its arsenal. They tend to view the prospect of the US attacking North Korea with moral equanimity. There are, of course, honourable exceptions. Why is the US interested in the Korean peninsula? The answer is location. Korea is the most valuable piece of geopolitical real estate in the world.
It is the nexus where most of the great powers meet and contend. None of these powers want a unified Korea subservient to any of the others and since the US is by far the most powerful it has the most pro-active policy. The US is also different in that it alone, at the moment, has aspirations for global hegemony. This means keeping Japan subservient, and containing China and Russia with the longer term aim of fragmenting them so that they are no longer competitors.
It is easy to see how Korea fits in with these strategic objectives. As a physical location it provides bases adjacent to China and Russia and whilst the number of troops permanently deployed in South Korea is small, one of the functions of the joint exercises with the ROK is to practice the rapid influx of massive reinforcements.
Japan fulfils the same role. As an aside it might be noted that Korea also provides a base for keeping an eye on Japan. Whilst the US has been an enthusiastic supporter of Japanese remilitarisation, thinking in terms of the containment of China, it is possible this may change. In that meant the Soviet Union but as time passed China has been perceived as the bigger threat. However the military facet is less important than the political one. The US has to be concerned that Japan does not become too friendly with its Asian neighbours, South Korea and Taiwan being obvious, but ultimately perhaps partial, exceptions.
Dulles was also worried that if Japan concluded a peace treaty with the Soviet Union this might lead to a normalisation of relations with China. The Korean peninsula not merely provides the US with physical bases for its military; it provides access to a huge reservoir of Korean military assets. For comparison this is 2. The exercises practise more than the invasion of the North.
Parrish, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment So it is clear that for the Unites States the Korean peninsula is hugely important. This is partly in its own right — its 75 million people put it on a par with Germany or France. However its main significance to the US is that it is a strategic asset in its confrontation with China, and to a lesser extent, Russia.
If the peninsula could be detached from the Asian mainland, towed down to the South Pacific and parked near New Zealand, then the US would be far less interested. We would not have had the division of Korea, the war, or the militarisation of the peninsula and of Japan. In when the US had the peninsula divided its main concern was the Soviet Union. This changed over time and now China is the major component in its East Asia strategy. However Russia should not be overlooked. North Korea is important because of the role it has in that strategy; it is not really important in itself.
So, if for instance, the US decided that good relations with North Korea would better serve its containment of China than the present hostility — by no means a foolish idea — then its Korea policy would change, whatever the screams in Seoul. Most people, left or right, find that easy to answer. The reality is not quite so straightforward. More important and telling is the fact that there has never been a serious, bipartisan, and sustained attempt to negotiate with Pyongyang on the issue. There was, indeed, the Agreed Framework of but that was sabotaged by the Republicans while out of the White House, and torn up by them, by George W Bush, when they did hold the presidency.
Bush did go through the motions of negotiating for some years, but despite North Korean gestures such as blowing up the cooling tower of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in , these came to naught. American governments are also reluctant to negotiate with adversaries because negotiation implies compromise, thus exposing themselves to charges of being soft and unpatriotic by opponents — Trump, Cruz, Rubio, et al.
However, underlying this is a fundamental strategic dilemma. But it is scarcely likely that it wants to. If North Korea, by developing a nuclear deterrent, by building a formidable, but primarily defensive, military, by refusing to buckle down under sanctions and having the temerity to launch satellites — if North Korea by doing all this is able to force the US into accepting peaceful coexistence then its example might be followed by others.
The one thing empires detest above all else is independence; that and its brother, rebellion. It was for this crime that the Roman Empire reserved crucifixion. It seems that despite the posturing, they do not. Firstly it is a deterrent, not an offensive weapon, so if North Korea is not attacked then it does not come into play. Barring accidents, the initiative lies with Washington. Secondly, there is no evidence that North Korea can actually deliver a nuclear weapon, certainly not to substantial US territory.
This may change; miniaturization may proceed beyond photo opportunities, and an ICBM may someday be tested. Thirdly, the US, bolstered by its allies, has overwhelming military superiority. For the moment there is no pressing need to negotiate. This brings us back to China policy.
If China did intervene then we would have a second Sino-American war, with all that might entail. But leaving aside that possibility and just considering the implications of a peaceful Korean peninsula we immediately see problems in justifying the US military presence, and missile defences. It seems that the present situation of managed tension serves US policy towards China and towards Russia very well. There are considerable differences between China and Russia but the most relevant in this context is the huge economic interpenetration of the Chinese and US economies.
The US, and in particular Hillary Clinton appear to contemplate the economic consequences of war with Russia with so little concern that it seems never to be mentioned. It is plausibly argued that for various geo-economic and geopolitical reasons China would suffer much more than the US in the event of war. Much of US trade would be impervious to Chinese action while Chinese trade, especially imports of oil, are vulnerable to US interdiction.
Whilst economic considerations may be a restraint, especially in respect of China, it would be foolish to lay too much hope on economic rationality. Despite their differences what China and Russia have in common is more relevant in this context. Both are competitors to the Unites States and so both are targets of US global strategy.
In addition, both are resurgent states. Other things being equal, this means that both are getting stronger relative to the US, but both are currently very much weaker, Russia of course more than China. This in itself does not mean that the US will attack either of them, although there is plenty of conjecture from all quarters on that. However, current weakness combined with the likelihood of greater security in the future, as the balance of military power moves against the US does present both China and Russia with a shared predicament.
This surely is no easy matter. It requires cool and calm judgement in balancing the need to be firm on core issues while giving the United States neither cause nor pretext to attack on more peripheral ones. But what is core and what is peripheral? And where does Korea fit in? It is often said that the Korean peninsula is the most likely place for conflict between the United States and China though the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea are also candidates.
It is also the place where Russia is most vulnerable. Whilst the US keeps a pretty firm grip on South Korea it does have wartime control of its military for example 66 China has little leverage over North Korea and Russia even less. So while the US can ratchet tension up and down as it requires, neither China nor Russia have much control over Korean events; an unenviable strategic position to be in.
However, whilst recognising the dilemma they face it can be argued that they have erred on the side of timidity, even perhaps appeasement, especially in relation to the UN Security Council. They were both complicit in voting for UNSC resolutions censuring North Korea for actions which were quite legal such as attempting to launch a satellite. Country A makes a demand of country B. If country B complies will that be the end of the matter; indeed will A reciprocate with a gesture of good faith? If so, well and good. The same, with obvious differences, applies to Russia.
It might be argued that China, and Russia, have followed a strategy in the UNSC of conciliation rather than confrontation. Given that the present composition of the Council automatically favours the United States they would have either been defeated or forced to use the veto which both, though China more than Russia, have been loath to do.
Instead they have negotiated a softening of the resolutions and then not implemented them vigorously. North Korea will remain intransigent, because it has no choice, and the US will continue its pressure. Nimble footwork and countermeasures, a judicious amount of military intervention, both in quantity and duration, while at the same time restraining criticism of America with plenty of face-saving gestures. China, supported by Russia, calls for the resurrection of the Six Party Talks as a solution to the problem.
Allowing China, your main competitor, to chair and host the major security forum in East Asia while you, and your allies Japan and South Korea, sit on the second tier with North Korea and Russia was not a smart move. The US can go in either of two directions. They have condemned North Korea for its violations of the UNSC resolutions forbidding satellite launches and nuclear tests, but they are partly responsible for the resolutions in the first place.
They are also partly responsible for the nuclear tests. The United States does provide security and a nuclear umbrella for South Korea. But what does this mean in practice? If so, surely it would be wise for China to be more explicit. It should be recalled that in , with no direct communication with the US, China conveyed a message through Indian Ambassador K.
Panikkar that it would intervene if US forces invaded the North and moved towards the Yalu. Washington did not hear, did not listen, or just ignored that warning. Will history repeat itself for a lack of a clear understanding of the consequences of invasion? If, however, the U S decides that now is the time to give resurgent China a bloody nose, explicit warnings will be irrelevant. Starting the conflict in Korea would give the US signal advantages, not available elsewhere. This process has accelerated under Abe Shinzo.
His policy had been such a disaster that it seemed that the new president would move in some ways to correct things. Even on his own terms nothing had been achieved. Whilst Park was less likely than a progressive to want to improve the relationship with the North she has a distinct advantage in being able to do so, if she wishes. Yet her actions have always belied her words.
Obviously, if she had been serious about building trust she would have cancelled the May 24 Sanctions, have built economic and social links between South and North, and have at least attempted to curtail the joint military exercises She did none of those things. It is commonly agreed that she has brought inter-Korean relations to a nadir.
The Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents of were spurious but they did provide Lee with an alleged justification for his actions. The things that did happen, and were seized upon by her to escalate tension with the North, related primarily not to South Korea but to the United States. Long range missile development and nuclear tests were a response to US policy and had little to do with South Korea in itself. The exception was the satellite launch programme which was in fact part of North-South competition. All the other actors in this drama, from the US through to North Korea, have their lines written for them.
The United States is an empire and will do what empires do. It has many options within that characterisation but the general thrust is fairly ineluctable. North Korea is a vulnerable target state and will do what it can to defend itself, wisely or unwisely. It has few options and cannot avoid the role it has to play. South Korea is different. Born as a client state of the US from the ruins of the Japanese empire it now has considerable economic and social strength.
It can make choices. It can, at its most brutal, choose between putting Korea first or serving the US. Roh Moo-hyun, in a rather sad exchange with Kim Jong Il at their summit described how he was attempting to make gradual moves towards autonomy from the US. South Korea is beset with economic problems, due in part to encroaching Chinese competition. Dreams of Seoul becoming an East Asian financial hub are fading.
South Korea has social problems common to many countries — corruption, ageing society, lack of meaningful employment, nepotism, and limited social mobility. All countries tend to utilise foreign threat — real , imagined, or exaggerated- to divert attention from domestic problems but for South Korea this has been so inbuilt by historical circumstance that it is more part of the political fabric than is the case in most other places. Park Geun-hye, under American pressure, has given into Japan over the comfort women issue.
This is not a temporary irritant because THAAD is just a stage in the incorporation of South Korea into the US missile defense architecture, so the problem will not fade away, but rather grow. Pawns, as we know, sometimes survive but are often sacrificed. President Park Geun-hye, center, who served as first lady for her father President Park Chung-hee, left, after her mother was assassinated, speaks to Choi Tae-min, her mentor and the father of Choi Soon-sil, at a hospital owned by Guguk save-the-nation missionary group, set up by the senior Choi, in Most writers put North Korea first; here it is last because there is less to say.
There are few options to discuss. Militarily speaking, as we have seen, North Korea is vulnerable and far inferior to its adversaries who outspend it from a hundred to a thousand times. It has survived sanctions so far — some 70 years and counting — but that is to a large degree due to uncertain and undependable Chinese policy. There are many things about North Korea policy that are difficult to fathom. It is unclear, for instance, why Kim Jong Un has not worked harder at relations with China and Russia. There may be good, but unknown reasons, why he did not attend the anniversary celebrations in Moscow and Beijing in , leaving the stage to Park Geun-hye.
Having lived in Switzerland he must have been aware of how superbly the Americans do these sorts of things. Lack of resources is clearly an issue and frankly however sophisticated and adroit the communications became it would not make much difference to the way that North Korea is portrayed in the mainstream Western media. But it would help on the margins. Then there are the ridiculously excessive prison sentences imposed on foreigners, most of whom are seemingly mentally unstable or pawns, for petty crimes.
Nevertheless these are relatively minor matters compared with the overriding reality of the problems that North Korea faces, circumstances forged by geography and history, and forged primarily, but not exclusively, by US policy. If South Korea can be seen as a pivot state with some freedom of action to develop autonomy, North Korea can be thought of as a responsive state whose main challenge is how to cope with the United States.
It cannot deflect or ignore American hostility, but it must respond to it. North Korea is constantly portrayed as a threat to the United States. However given the huge disparity in power between the US, buttressed by its allies, its bases, and with its geographic invulnerability the assertion of a North Korea threat is nonsense. It is a belief produced by unrelenting propaganda and indoctrination which even a cursory examination of reality should dispel.
It is part of a pattern in which the US is depicted as threatened by countries which are far weaker and have absolutely no ability to project power to attack it — Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iran come immediately to mind. Occasionally it is very petty as illustrated by a couple of stories from Japan, one of a South Korean who was arrested for sending sweets, garments, dishes, spoons and forks to North Korea and another of the Chinese woman arrested for selling knitwear.
Perhaps the unfortunate textile workers in Pyongyang lost their jobs — which were probably highly prized — just like those of their compatriots in Kaesong. The intention is to dissuade countries from permitting the employment of North Korea citizens by a mix of bilateral pressure and action through the United Nations. There is no credible evidence that North Korean workers overseas in general fare any worse than others.
Plenty of lurid stories from the propaganda mills of course but nothing substantial. It was reported in August that the State Department had issued a report to Congress on the subject and it might perhaps have been expected that it would contain some solid evidence. Many of the stories about North Korean overseas workers revolve around allegations that they are left with little disposable income after deductions by North Korean government agencies. Andrei Lankov, the Seoul-based Russian academic who is certainly no friend of the North Korean government, is scathing:.
Most discussion about North Korea are infused with hypocrisy — for a country which has conducted over a nuclear tests, many atmospheric with damage to both humans and the environment, to express such indignation over a country that has conducted just five underground tests requires considerable chutzpah. The subject of overseas labour is no exception, providing fruitful ground for displays of insincerity and historical amnesia. The United States was founded to some extent on slave labour and, more relevant, the economic development of South Korea was due in large part to the export of labour.
Park Chung-hee sent over , troops to Vietnam between and , which provided a great stimulus to the economy, and foreign exchange In the peak year of Middle East construction constituted 6. The ostensible rationale given for trying to stop North Koreans working overseas, and for sanctions on exports — from coal to fish — is that the foreign revenue is used for nuclear weapons.
This is both untrue and masks the strategy behind sanctions. Since money is fungible and the North Korean government, like others, spends its revenue on a wide variety of activities from defense through to importing grain for domestic consumption, building hospitals and schools, agricultural and industrial development and so on, then constraining revenue streams does not necessarily impact on expenditure of a certain type. Moreover, as noted below, since a nuclear deterrent is cheaper than a conventional one, the nuclear weapons programme is unlikely to suffer from sanctions, and may even get a boost.
Sanctions are one way of achieving such objectives — propaganda campaigns and funding opposition movements — being alternative or complementary mechanisms. However, sanctions tend not to be very effective in achieving these objectives. Famine in the s did not lead to massive protest against the government and realistic observers see no likelihood of that happening today even if increased sanctions were to result in similar food shortages. North Korea has sought to counter American hostility by a dual strategy.
It has basically been open to genuine negotiations with the US. North Korea is a small, tightly controlled state for whom these negotiations are of huge, existential importance. It has a strong incentive to honour an agreement. The US is very different. It is the global hegemon with many choices to make and is run by a large fractious elite within which foreign policy is contested between cliques, institutions, personalities and of course succeeding administrations.
The US finds it very difficult to honour its commitments. This strategy of a simultaneous development of a nuclear deterrent with economic development is sensible and perhaps inevitable although it has often been pilloried as evidence of economic mismanagement and irrationality. For all their direct and indirect costs, they do make sense. They are cheaper than conventional arms. It may be the best option for North Korea in the circumstances, but it does have its drawbacks.
This obvious point is often avoided or obscured by people who do not recognise the predicament that North Korea is in; a predicament produced by geographical location, by history and by US global strategy. This is not a situation that North Korea can avoid, but only seek to cope with. Being cheaper than conventional weapons means that more resources can be devoted to the economy. There are indications that this is happening. As a corollary, it should be remembered that one function of the military threat, as exemplified by the invasion exercises, is to force North Korea to divert resources from the productive economy into defence.
The most authoritative assessment of the Byungjin policy comes from the Russian Koreanologist Georgy Toloraya. This is evidenced by empirical data I have collected during recent visits to North Korea…. What are the sources of this [economic] growth? One explanation might be that less is now spent on the conventional military sector, while nuclear development at this stage is cheaper—it may only cost 2 to 3 percent of GNP, according to some estimates. Firstly the early stage of nuclear weapons requires physical testing. The US no longer needs that, because it already has under its belt those physical tests in the past that brought it to this position.
Unlike, for instance, acquiring an F fighter or an Aegis destroyer nuclear tests are obvious and newsworthy and attract much opprobrium, hypocritical though most of that is. One of the great successes of American propaganda has been to attach to non-proliferation the assumption of peace and disarmament. In fact it has nothing to do with that, it is merely preserving the monopoly of nuclear weapons states. The authoritative US political scientist Kenneth Waltz argued that proliferation is peace-enhancing because it provides protection to small states that that they would not otherwise have.
Secondly, nuclear weapons for North Korea can only be used as a deterrent. In any case deterrence is a matter of convincing the other side that attacking you would result in intolerable damage to them, and that it is not worth the risk. So it is a matter of perception rather than reality. You may be bluffing — and bluff is an inherent aspect of deterrence — and your defences may in reality be weak, but that is irrelevant.
North Korea is often mocked for making extravagant claims about its military capabilities and accused of being crazy for threatening to attack the US. That is a misunderstanding of what it is all about. North Korean threats are always essentially conditional. The military exercises, the practising of decapitation and amphibious landings, and of the invasion of North Korea are surely threatening and belligerent — one can well imagine the uproar in the West if it were Chinese and North Korean forces practising to invade the South.
North Korean statements therefore are not a matter of threat, but of deterrence. However, the third problem for North Korea is that its deterrent in respect of the US is a nuclear one. In this context bluff is quite reasonable since it is a matter of instilling doubt in the minds of the other side. The phrase used above -not worth the risk- is relevant here. From the point of view of the US it is a matter of risk-benefit analysis. The amount of risk must be related to the amount of benefit. We might image some megalomaniac strategist sitting in Washington and calculating that it might be worthwhile losing the West Coast if it meant destroying China.
With China out of the way the US would have no challengers for generations. The world would be at its feet. It would be a big prize. It is a very small prize and as discussed above removing it through war, or indeed peace, would cause problems for the containment of China. Moreover a nuclear deterrent is a blunt instrument. For a small country like North Korea, faced by vastly more powerful adversaries, a retaliatory attack has to be all out, no holds barred. No calibrated response, no escalation such as a powerful country might apply to a weak one — Vietnam comes to mind.
But, as noted above, this is the Samson option, one that could result in the devastation of North Korea. Bush to mean unprovoked. A simple dictionary definition is an action to prevent attack by disabling the enemy. Since Iraq was in no position to attack the US, the invasion was clearly not pre-emptive. Pre-emption is normally associated with the action of a weaker person or country faced with what is perceived as an imminent attack by a stronger adversary.
This is probably what would happen in a conflict between the US and China, apart from the scenario of China intervening, as in , in response to a US invasion of North Korea. Leaving aside the moral deception involved in shifting blame there is the danger that the weaker party might misinterpret the actions of the stronger and launch a pre-emptive strike unnecessarily. The war, so long desired in certain quarters, comes about. It might well be argued that for North Korea nuclear deterrence is unwise and might in fact incite the US to attack now, before it is too late.
If tomorrow the enemy will be invulnerable, better to attack today. This is the inevitable predicament in developing a deterrent. Certainly to do so is to enter a dangerous period, as Stratfor explains:. As Pyongyang approaches a viable nuclear weapon and delivery system, the pressure is rising for the United States and other countries to pre-empt it. For North Korea, then, these final steps must happen quickly. This is probably the explanation for the frenetic pace of North Korea nuclear and missile tests in It is probable that the bellicose Hillary Clinton will be in her first year of office, and Park Geun-hye in her final full year.
The report that the US command in Korea United States Forces Kores, USFK has begun to practice the evacuation of US civilians is surely a better indicator than any article of speech that the US military is anticipating that conflict is likely under the incoming administration. Stalingrad, it has been said, was easier to defend against the Germans when it had been reduced to rubble. But who wants their cities reduced to rubble? The American empire is a curious one, rather different to the ones with which most of us are familiar — the Roman, the British, or the French.
It is an empire which does not proclaim itself; indeed it denies its existence, to the condescending amusement of admirers such as Niall Ferguson. The United States does not erect statues of its presidents in its foreign possessions. There is little doubt where the power really lies; an American general is in command of both. Indeed, General Curtis M. Any analysis of a geopolitical situation must start with the US, though not end there. This means the relationships have to be carefully scrutinised, avoiding simplistic narratives. Nevertheless it is the dominant factor in most circumstances and in general, and in the long term though not necessarily in the short term it is the initiator to which other countries respond.
The US divided Korea in as part of its strategy of containing the Soviet Union and protecting its war booty of Japan. The focus has now shifted to China but the basic thrust is the same. The US has a necessary and crucial interest in Korea because of its strategic location and this situation informs its Korea policy. North Korea is far too small to threaten the US, but the US does threaten North Korea and has conducted economic and diplomatic war against it since the late s.
The Korean War itself had its own specific causes and effects but it was one episode in a longer historical struggle. This hostility has moulded North Korean politics into a particular defensive and distorted configuration, and has produced, amongst other things, the putative nuclear deterrent. American policy on that may conceivably change as it attempts to cope with shifts in the international landscape.
In order to understand what is going on, and attempt to anticipate future developments, it is essential to start with the US and move out from there. Political, Economic and Social Issues , ed. Marvin Harrison New York: Eric Heginbotham et al.
Defense Department is developing Thaad 2. British Media and North Korea. Korea, US, Japan to conduct joint military exercise against N. Korean arrested in Japan for export to N. State Department to release report on N. Peterson Institute for International Economics, New interviews reveal why it derailed. Adelpi Papers The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, have launched a fresh offensive against Islamist militias backed by the US and its regional allies both in the besieged eastern sector of Aleppo and in Idlib and Hama governorates in northwestern Syria.
Syrian fighters and helicopters carried out airstrikes against eastern Aleppo, where Russia had maintained a suspension of all air operations for the past month. Russia, meanwhile, confirmed that it had conducted bombing runs and missile strikes for the first time from the war fleet it has positioned off the Syrian coast in the eastern Mediterranean. It has been a common practice for the US-backed Islamist militias to monopolize food and supplies, selling them to the people in areas they occupy at exorbitant rates.
There have also been reports of Al Qaeda-linked fighters killing civilians for attempting to leave the besieged zone of Aleppo. None of these crimes, needless to say, have evoked any protest from the State Department. A defeat for the Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Aleppo would deprive the so-called rebels of their last major urban stronghold in Syria. The same level of political hysteria has been directed at the prospect that an incoming Trump administration would seek a rapprochement with the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin, including over military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Putin the green light for atrocities. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Tuesday passed by a voice vote a sweeping new sanctions bill against Syria and anyone doing business with the country. Stephen Hadley, the former national security advisor to George W. Bush, who is reportedly under consideration for nomination as secretary of defense, has repeatedly called for launching strikes against Syria with Tomahawk cruise missiles, a weapon produced by defense contractor Raytheon, where he has served on the board of directors.
Sources close to the Pentagon have expressed buoyant optimism that the incoming Trump administration will initiate a massive US military buildup. Decree instructing Daesh fighters not to attack US-led coalition aircraft. In return for supporting Hillary after campaigning against what she represents, Democrats rewarded him with a low-ranking leadership position, choosing him as outreach chairman in charge of winning over blue-collar Trump supporters. How when his self-styled independent socialist credentials are phony.
His congressional voting record proves it. Kindle Edition File Size: Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review.
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