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China and North Korea: unhappiest of allies

North Korea far from being a Chinese “attack dog” or satellite is a vehemently independent country, which China is trying to rein in. US threats are simply making that more difficult.

Alexander Mercouris

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As China makes no effort to hide its growing exasperation with both Washington and Pyongyang, now is perhaps a good moment to discuss the complex relationship between China and North Korea.

Korea borders China and relations between China and Korea have an exceptionally long history, to the very start of the Korean state at roughly the time the Roman empire was forming in Europe.  Any visitor to Korea – North or South – cannot fail but notice the huge and deep influence on Korea of Chinese culture.  By comparison US influence in South Korea seems ephemeral.

This long interaction has not however always been happy with the Koreans – a proud and passionate people – often allied to China, but also sometimes resisting Chinese attempts to dominate them.

This provides the essential background to understanding the present relations between North Korea and China.  Though both are nominally Communist countries and though China’s military intervention in 1950 was critical to North Korea’s survival, the North Korean leadership is wary of China and resistant to any Chinese action which it sees as intended to dominate itself.

This is what ultimately lies behind Kim Il-sung’s Juche ideology.  Its extreme doctrine of national self-reliance is ultimately an expression of North Korea’s determination to maintain the greatest possible distance that it can from China, the one country which could theoretically achieve political and economic dominance over it.  Since total independence from China can for North Korea however never be more than an aspiration this is never expressed openly, leading to confusion in the West about what Juche actually means.  However North Koreans and China’s leadership can hardly have any doubts about it.

That Juche is in fact a doctrine intended to keep North Korea independent of China is incidentally shown by North Korean practice during Kim Il-sung’s lifetime.  In reality far from being totally self-reliant or even aspiring to be so, up to the point when the USSR collapsed North Korea was actually tightly integrated into the Soviet economy.  Only after the USSR collapsed did the extent of this – and of the closeness of Soviet and North Korean political ties – become clear.  Since Juche was and is aimed first and foremost at China, this did not worry Kim Il-sung or his officials over-much, if it concerned them at all.

North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme follows the same rationale.  The solution to increasing US pressure which might have been followed by a more conventional regime after the USSR collapsed would have been to ally North Korea closer to China.  China after all is in a position to provide North Korea with all the economic assistance it needs and to provide it with security guarantees.  However that would have made North Korea dependent on China, and potentially subservient to it.  Since that would have been contrary to the North Korean leaders’ determination to achieve the greatest possible degree of independence from China, they chose to seek security by developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons instead.

Since North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is as much intended to assert North Korea’s independence from China as it is to deter the US, it is completely unsurprising that the Chinese oppose it.  Besides from their point of view by increasing regional tensions it works against Chinese interests.

The Chinese for example have in recent years been working hard to develop a close relationship with South Korea.  North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme has put that in jeopardy and has tightened South Korea’s connections to the US.

The Chinese also cannot be happy that North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons is increasing the prospects that countries which might be feel threatened by North Korea – such as South Korea and Japan – might decide at some point to acquire their own ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as well.

In the case of Japan – which conducted a prolonged and horrific war of aggression against China during the first half of the twentieth century –  and with which China still has extremely prickly relations, the prospect of Japan one day acquiring ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons which could potentially reach China is for the Chinese leadership and people an especially great cause for concern.

China therefore has good reason to dislike the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme and to want to end it.  However precisely because the North Koreans have developed their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme in part in order to distance themselves from China, China has only limited leverage over North Korea to end it – a point the Chinese repeatedly make but which the West is deaf to.

In reality, far from North Korea being China’s “attack dog” – as some Western commentators profess to think – the truth is almost the diametric opposite, and the whole thrust of Chinese policy for years has not been to incite North Korea forward but to rein it in.

Indeed this truth is so obvious to anyone who makes any serious study of Chinese-North Korean relations, that it says much about the delusional quality of Western discourse about North Korea and China that so few can see it.

However if China and North Korea have a tense relationship – and have had one ever since the Korean War – there is also despite the tension and the at times mutual dislike between a shared dependence – much as there was between China and North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

China is indeed North Korea’s most important economic partner and the main source of such technology as North Korea imports, though the extent of this may be exaggerated since the whole point of Juche – still very much the dominant policy and ideology of North Korea – is to limit this as much as possible.  China’s role in the North Korean economy – and its trade with North Korea – may only look big because everyone else’s is so small.  The fact that North Korea’s annual exports last year were said to be just $3 billion shows how unimportant to North Korea’s economy foreign trade actually is.  My guess is that the only product North Korea buys from China that really matters to North Korea, and which it would struggle to replace internally, is oil.  Importantly the Chinese have consistently ruled out the idea of an indefinite embargo on their oil exports to North Korea precisely because they know that that is the one step which might cause an internal crisis there which could put Kim Jong-un’s position in jeopardy.

More importantly for North Korea than the economic relationship with China is the fact that China is the regional colossus which came to its rescue in 1950, and which continues to counter-balance the US in the region.  It is because the relationship with China – however tense and unhappy – is crucial to North Korea’s security that North Korea cannot ignore it.

The same is also true for China.  Though China makes no secret of its disapproval of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme and indeed of its general dislike of North Korea’s entire Juche policy, the fact remains that China considers the survival of an independent North Korea as vital for its national security, just as it did when it intervened militarily to prevent North Korea’s collapse in 1950.

The Chinese have made it very clear what they want to see in the Korean Peninsula: total denuclearisation, with North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and the US withdrawing all its troops from the Korean Peninsula, and with North Korea establishing diplomatic relations with South Korea and the US and reforming its economy and political system on Chinese lines.  The Chinese are no doubt confident that were that to happen the two Koreas – North and South – would be drawn into China’s orbit, and would become for China an important economic partner and a counter-balance to Japan.

In order to achieve this the Chinese will exert pressure on North Korea – including by way of sanctions imposed via the UN Security Council, though they adamantly oppose sanctions imposed unilaterally – but they will act decisively to stop any attempt to overthrow North Korea’s government.

This is a difficult policy to implement given North Korean attitudes to China, if only because it creates a standing temptation to North Korea’s leaders to increase tensions with the US in order to obtain greater support from China.  A wise US policy would understand this, and would see that responding to North Korean actions by increasing tensions further will only increase China’s support for North Korea, which is exactly what North Korea wants.

A much wiser policy – indeed in the context of the regional tensions in the Korean Peninsula the only wise one – is to work with the Chinese to achieve the broad settlement of the conflict in the Korean Peninsula that the Chinese want and which is also in the US interest.  That means doing what the Chinese suggest, which is talking to Pyongyang.

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May Forces Brexit Betrayal to its Crisis Point

We’re 29 months later and the U.K. is no closer to being out of the EU than the day of the vote. 

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


The only words that were left out of Theresa May’s announcement of achieving Cabinet approval over her Brexit deal were Mission Accomplished.

Theresa May was put in charge of the U.K. to betray Brexit from the beginning.  She always represented the interests of the European Union and those in British Parliament that backed remaining in the EU.

No one in British ‘high society’ wanted Brexit to pass.   No. One.

No one in Europe’s power elite wanted Brexit to pass.  No. One.

No one in the U.S.’s power elite wanted Brexit to pass.  No. One.

When it did pass The Davos Crowd began the process of sabotaging it.  The fear mongering has done nothing but intensify.  And May has done nothing but waffle back and forth, walking the political tight rope to remain in power while trying to sell EU slavery to the both sides in British Parliament.

We’re 29 months later and the U.K. is no closer to being out of the EU than the day of the vote.  Why?

Because Theresa May’s 585 page ‘deal’ is the worst of all possible outcomes.  If it passes it will leave the EU with near full control over British trade and tax policy while the British people and government have no say or vote in the matter.

It’s punishment for the people getting uppity about their future and wanting something different than what had been planned for them.

Mr. Juncker and his replacement will never have to suffer another one of Nigel Farage’s vicious farragoes detailing their venality ever again.  YouTube will get a whole lot less interesting.

It’s almost like this whole charade was designed this way.

Because it was.

May has tried to run out the clock and scare everyone into accepting a deal that is worse than the situation pre-Brexit because somehow a terrible deal is better than no deal.  But, that’s the opposite of the truth.

And she knows it.  She’s always known it but she’s gone into these negotiations like the fragile wisp of a thing she truly is.

There’s a reason I call her “The Gypsum Lady.” She’s simply the opposite of Margaret Thatcher who always knew what the EU was about and fought to her last political breath to avoid the trap the U.K. is now caught in.

The U.K. has had all of the leverage in Brexit talks but May has gone out of her way to not use any of it while the feckless and evil vampires in Europe purposefully complicate issues which are the height of irrelevancy.

She has caved on every issue to the point of further eroding what’s left of British sovereignty.  This deal leaves the U.K. at the mercy of Latvia or Greece in negotiating any trade agreement with Canada.  Because for a deal between member states to be approved, all members have to approve of it.

So, yeah, great job Mrs. May.  Mission Accomplished.  They are popping champagne corks in Brussels now.

But, this is a Brexit people can be proud of.

Orwell would be proud of Theresa May for this one.

You people are leaving.  Let the EU worry about controlling their borders.  And if Ireland doesn’t like the diktats coming from Brussels than they can decide for themselves if staying in the EU is worth the trouble.

The entire Irish border issue is simply not May’s problem to solve.  Neither is the customs union or any of the other stuff.  These are the EU’s problems.   They are the ones who don’t want the Brits to leave.

Let them figure out how they are going to trade with the U.K.  It is so obvious that this entire Brexit ‘negotiation’ is about protecting the European project as a proxy for the right of German automakers to export their cars at advantageous exchange rates to the U.K. at everyone’s expense.

Same as it was in the days of The Iron Lady.

If all of this wasn’t so predictable it would be comical.

Because the only people more useless than Theresa May are the Tories who care only about keeping their current level of the perks of office.

The biggest takeaway from this Brexit fiasco is that even more people will check out of the political system. They will see it even more clearly for what it is, an irredeemable miasma of pelf and privilege that has zero interest in protecting the rights of its citizens or the value of their labor.

It doesn’t matter if it’s voter fraud in the U.S. or a drawn out betrayal of a binding referendum. There comes a point where those not at the political fringes look behind the veil and realize changing the nameplate above the door doesn’t change the policy.

And once they realize that confidence fails and systems collapse.

Brexit was the last gasp of a dying empire to assert its national relevancy.  Even if this deal is rejected by parliament the process has sown deep divisions which will lead to the next trap and the next and the next and the next.

By then Theresa May will be a distant memory, being properly rewarded by her masters for a job very well done.


Please support the production of independent and alternative political and financial commentary by joining my Patreon and subscribing to the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter for just $12/month.

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The DOJ Is Preparing To Indict Julian Assange

Ecuador’s relationship with Assange has deteriorated considerably with the election of President Lenin Moreno.

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Via Zerohedge…


The US Justice Department is preparing to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange which, after sensitive international negotiations, would likely trigger his extradition to the United States to stand trial, according to the Wall Street Journalciting people in Washington familiar with the matter.

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012.

The people familiar with the case wouldn’t describe whether discussions were under way with the U.K. or Ecuador about Mr. Assange, but said they were encouraged by recent developments.

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information. –WSJ

In short, the DOJ doesn’t appear to have a clear charge against Assange yet. Then there’s the optics of dragging Assange out of Ecuador’s London Embassy and into the United States, then prosecuting him, and if successful – jailing him.

Prosecuting someone for publishing truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent,” said Assange lawyer Barry Pollack – who says he hasn’t heard anything about a US prosecution.

“We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent,” he added.

Moreover, assuming that even if the DOJ could mount a case, they would be required to prove that Russia was the source of a trove of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton that WikiLeaks released in the last few months of the 2016 election.

An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Mr. Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Mr. Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign.

Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said, because a detailed explanation of the evidence against Mr. Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over. –WSJ

It’s no secret that Assange and Hillary Clinton aren’t exactly exchanging Christmas cards, however would WikiLeaks’ release of damaging information that was hacked (or copied locally on a thumb drive by a well-meaning American), be illegal for Assange as a publisher?

Despite scant clues as to how the DOJ will prosecute Assange aside from rumors that it has to do with the Espionage Act, the US Government is cooking on something. John Demers – head of the DOJ’s national security division, said last week regarding an Assange case: “On that, I’ll just say, we’ll see.”

The U.S. hasn’t publicly commented on whether it has made, or plans to make, any extradition request. Any extradition request from the U.S. would likely go to British authorities, who have an outstanding arrest warrant for Mr. Assange related to a Swedish sexual assault case. Sweden has since dropped the probe, but the arrest warrant stands.

Any extradition and prosecution would involve multiple sensitive negotiations within the U.S. government and with other countries. –WSJ

Beginning in 2010, the Department of Justice beginning under the Obama administration has drawn a distinction between WikiLeaks and other news organizations – with former Attorney General Eric Holder insisting that Assange’s organization does not deserve the same first amendment protections during the Chelsea Manning case in which the former Army intelligence analyst was found guilty at a court-martial of leaking thousands of classified Afghan War Reports.

US officials have given mixed messages over Assange, with President Trump having said during the 2016 election “I love WikiLeaks,” only to have his former CIA Director, Mike Pompeo label WikiLeaks akin to a foreign “hostile intelligence service” and a US adversary. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that Assange’s arrest is a “priority.”

Ecuador’s relationship with Assange, meanwhile, has deteriorated considerably with the election of President Lenin Moreno – who called the WikiLeaks founder a “stone in our shoe,” adding that Assange’s stay at the London embassy is unsustainable.

Ecuador has been looking to improve relations with the U.S., hosting Vice President Mike Pence in 2018 amid interest in increasing trade.

Ecuador’s Foreign Relations Ministry declined to comment. This month, Foreign Relations Minister José Valencia told a radio station the government hadn’t received an extradition request for Mr. Assange.

Mr. Assange has clashed with his Ecuadorean hosts in over internet access, visitors, his cat and other issues. Last month, he sued Ecuador over the conditions of his confinement. At a hearing last month, at which a judge rejected Mr. Assange’s claims, Mr. Assange said he expected to be forced out of the embassy soon.  –WSJ

Assange and Ecuador seem to have worked things out for the time being; with his months-long communication blackout mostly lifted (with strict rules against Assange participating in political activities that would affect Ecuador’s international relations). Assange is now allowed Wi-Fi, but has to foot the bill for his own phone calls and other communication.

In October, a judge threw out a lawsuit Assange filed against Ecuador from implementing the stricter rules,.

“Ecuador hasn’t violated the rights of anyone,” Attorney General Íñigo Salvador said after the court ruling. “It has provided asylum to Mr. Assange, and he should comply with the rules to live harmoniously inside Ecuador’s public installations in London.”Assange’s attorneys say he will appeal the ruling – however it may be a moot point if he’s dragged into a US courtroom sooner than later.

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Trump Understands The Important Difference Between Nationalism And Globalism

President Trump’s nationalism heralds a return to the old U.S. doctrine of non-intervention.

The Duran

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Authored by Raheem Kassam, op-ed via The Daily Caller:


President Macron’s protests against nationalism this weekend stand in stark contrast with the words of France’s WWII resistance leader and the man who would then become president: General Charles de Gaulle.

Speaking to his men in 1913, de Gaulle reminded them:

“He who does not love his mother more than other mothers, and his fatherland more than other fatherlands, loves neither his mother nor his fatherland.”

This unquestionable invocation of nationalism reveals how far France has come in its pursuit of globalist goals, which de Gaulle described later in that same speech as the “appetite of vice.”

While this weekend the media have been sharpening their knives on Macron’s words, for use against President Trump, very few have taken the time to understand what really created the conditions for the wars of the 20th century. It was globalism’s grandfather: imperialism, not nationalism.

This appears to have been understood at least until the 1980s, though forgotten now. With historical revisionism applied to nationalism and the great wars, it is much harder to understand what President Trump means when he calls himself a “nationalist.” Though the fault is with us, not him.

Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism … By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others,’ we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values,” President Macron declared from the pulpit of the Armistice 100 commemorations.

Had this been in reverse, there would no doubt have been shrieks of disgust aimed at Mr. Trump for “politicizing” such a somber occasion. No such shrieks for Mr. Macron, however, who languishes below 20 percent in national approval ratings in France.

With some context applied, it is remarkably easy to see how President Macron was being disingenuous.

Nationalism and patriotism are indeed distinct. But they are not opposites.

Nationalism is a philosophy of governance, or how human beings organize their affairs. Patriotism isn’t a governing philosophy. Sometimes viewed as subsidiary to the philosophy of nationalism, patriotism is better described as a form of devotion.

For all the grandstanding, Mr. Macron may as well have asserted that chicken is the opposite of hot sauce,so meaningless was the comparison.

Imperialism, we so quickly forget, was the order of the day heading into the 20th century. Humanity has known little else but empire since 2400 B.C. The advent of globalism, replete with its foreign power capitals and multi-national institutions is scarcely distinct.

Imperialism — as opposed to nationalism — seeks to impose a nation’s way of life, its currency, its traditions, its flags, its anthems, its demographics, and its rules and laws upon others wherever they may be.

Truly, President Trump’s nationalism heralds a return to the old U.S. doctrine of non-intervention, expounded by President George Washington in his farewell address of 1796:

” … It must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of [Europe’s] politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

It should not have to be pointed out that the great wars of the 20th century could not be considered “ordinary vicissitudes”, but rather, that imperialism had begun to run amok on the continent.

It was an imperialism rooted in nihilism, putting the totality of the state at its heart. Often using nationalism as nothing more than a method of appeal, socialism as a doctrine of governance, and Jews as a subject of derision and scapegoating.

Today’s imperialism is known as globalism.

It is what drives nations to project outward their will, usually with force; causes armies to cross borders in the hope of subjugating other human beings or the invaded nation’s natural resources; and defines a world, or region, or continent by its use of central authority and foreign capital control.

Instead of armies of soldiers, imperialists seek to dominate using armies of economists and bureaucrats. Instead of forced payments to a foreign capital, globalism figured out how to create economic reliance: first on sterling, then on the dollar, now for many on the Euro. This will soon be leapfrogged by China’s designs.

And while imperialism has served some good purposes throughout human history, it is only when grounded in something larger than man; whether that be natural law, God, or otherwise. But such things are scarcely long-lived.

While benevolent imperialism can create better conditions over a period of time, humanity’s instincts will always lean towards freedom and self-governance.

It is this fundamental distinction between the United States’ founding and that of the modern Republic of France that defines the two nations.

The people of France are “granted” their freedoms by the government, and the government creates the conditions and dictates the terms upon which those freedoms are exercised.

As Charles Kesler wrote for the Claremont Review of Books in May, “As a result, there are fewer and fewer levers by which the governed can make its consent count”.

France is the archetypal administrative state, while the United States was founded on natural law, a topic that scarcely gets enough attention anymore.

Nationalism – or nationism, if you will – therefore represents a break from the war-hungry norm of human history. Its presence in the 20th century has been rewritten and bastardized.

A nationalist has no intention of invading your country or changing your society. A nationalist cares just as much as anyone else about the plights of others around the world but believes putting one’s own country first is the way to progress. A nationalist would never seek to divide by race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, or otherwise. This runs contrary to the idea of a united, contiguous nation at ease with itself.

Certainly nationalism’s could-be bastard child of chauvinism can give root to imperialistic tendencies. But if the nation can and indeed does look after its own, and says to the world around it, “these are our affairs, you may learn from them, you may seek advice, we may even assist if you so desperately need it and our affairs are in order,” then nationalism can be a great gift to the 21st century and beyond.

This is what President Trump understands.

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