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US sanctions policy against North Korea is wrong and dangerous. Here’s why.

Provoking a crisis in a nuclear armed state is a disastrous idea

Alexander Mercouris

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The recent Global Times editorial, discussed by me in my article on UN Security Council Resolution 2753, has spoken of US attempts to use sanctions to ‘collapse’ North Korea’s economy and to ‘suffocate’ the North Korean regime as an idea that is both dangerous and counterproductive

Some Americans and South Koreans have attempted to collapse Pyongyang’s economy and suffocate the current Pyongyang regime. This is dangerous. North Korea’s nuclear crisis requires arduous efforts to find a final solution, and any attempt to immediately end the crisis will only escalate tensions and eventually jeopardize self-interests.

This is exactly correct.  Indeed one of the most concerning aspects of the swirl of discussion that takes place in the West and the US especially about sanctions on North Korea is that there is never any real explanation of what sanctions on North Korea are supposed to achieve.

Every so often Western leaders speak of sanctions as intended either to ‘force’ the North Koreans to negotiate – though since the US refuses to give North Korea security guarantees it is never made clear what the North Koreans are supposed to agree to ‘negotiate’ about – or to abandon their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme entirely.

If these are the objectives behind the sanctions policy, then it has visibly failed.  Since North Korea carried out its first nuclear test on 9th October 2006 there have been eight UN Security Council Resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea, whilst the US has imposed unilateral sanctions of its own.  Far from deterring the North Koreans from pursuing their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme or causing them to abandon it, the North Koreans have instead accelerated it.

That sanctions, however severe they become, will never persuade the North Koreans to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme was recently pointed out by President Putin of Russia. Speaking in his usual direct way, President Putin set out the position clearly on 5th September 2017 at a press conference in China following the latest BRICS summit

Sanctions of any kind are useless and ineffective in this case. As I said to one of my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass, but they will not abandon this programme unless they feel safe.

Whilst few world leaders have the confidence to say this as forcefully as President Putin did, the comments at the UN Security Council meeting on Monday at which Resolution 2753 was passed of the ambassadors of China, Italy, Sweden, Egypt, Uruguay, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Senegal, South Korea and Ethiopia, show that privately it is widely shared.  In comments which were clearly addressed to the US, all of them in their different ways pressed for negotiations to begin with the North Koreans without further delay, though none of them spelt out exactly how these negotiations should take place.

If sanctions will not force the North Koreans to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, what else might they achieve?

One possibility is that they will achieve nothing.  North Korea’s Juche economic policy is specifically intended to insulate North Korea from the effect of sanctions.  As I have recently pointed out, despite the various sanctions which have been imposed on North Korea since 2006, its economy is apparently growing strongly.  The latest sanctions imposed on North Korea by Resolution 2753 will not change that.

More likely is that the sanctions will reduce North Korea’s economic growth and inflict greater hardship on its people.  Since that will not however stop North Korea from pursuing its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, it is difficult to see the sense of this.

Resolution 2753 speaks at length of the UN Security Council’s concern for the welfare of North Korea’s people.  How is that consistent with imposing sanctions, which will reduce their welfare but which will not prevent or even slow down the North Korean government’s pursuit of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, which is the ostensible target of the sanctions?

A less likely alternative, but one which as Global Times rightly says “some Americans and South Koreans” are clearly aiming for, is that the sanctions will provoke an economic and eventually a political crisis in North Korea, putting in jeopardy the existence of the North Korean regime.

Not only is that the least likely alternative, but it is also by far the most dangerous.  North Korea is now a nuclear armed state in possession of ballistic missiles which have Tokyo and Seoul within range.  Given the nature of the North Korean regime and its possession of both ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, it is difficult to imagine any more dangerous scenario than one in which it comes to fear for its survival because of an internal crisis caused by sanctions imposed upon it by the US.

It is commonly though rather glibly said that the US has no ‘good options’ with respect to North Korea.  Though that may be true, there are most definitely some options which are far worse than others.  If launching a military attack on North Korea is the worst option of all, engineering an internal crisis within North Korea seems hardly better.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the reason the US continues to press for sanctions against North Korea is not because it has any coherent plan for what these sanctions are supposed to achieve.

It is because the US hates being backed into a corner and having to retreat, and rather than do this and lose face it instead strikes out at North Korea in the only way it can, with more and more sanctions.  That doing this is either pointless or dangerous apparently matters less than the loss of face negotiating with Pyongyang might cause.

Negotiating with Pyongyang is something that the US will however eventually have to do.  The comments of the ambassadors at the debate in the UN Security Council shows that even some US allies like Italy and Sweden are now close to demanding it.

With the Chinese and the Russians clearly signalling that the sanctions route is now all but exhausted, and with the Chinese-Russian roadmap for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula visibly gaining traction, the US risks becoming isolated in the UN Security Council if it persists with its current stance.

Should that position ever be reached, the US could find that a security treaty brokered by the Chinese and the Russians and backed by a majority of UN Member States is agreed by the two Koreas in which the US has no part.

For the ‘exceptional’ ‘indispensable’ country – which is what the US claims itself to be – that would of course be the greatest humiliation of all.

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Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

2375 Alexander?

Unfortunately for the ‘exceptional’ ‘indispensable’ country they are fast losing their face over so many issues.

Their arrogance and hubris gets in the way of any logic regarding the changing geo-political landscape.

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

Exceptional ??

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have
heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more
children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.!

JNDillard
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JNDillard

Has North Korea shown any interest to date of taking Putin up on his offer to develop three-way economic projects with North and South Korea and Russia? This is, of course, an intrinsically beneficial direction for all three and for the world as a whole.

Shahna
Guest

Read somewhere they’ve expressed interest “but not yet.”

Shahna
Guest

It’s time for the nations of the world (and the UN esp) to grow a spine.

1. North Korea is not a member of the NPT – the treaty therefore does not apply to them.
2. All nations with military programs research and test ballistic missiles incl. IR and IC.

Voltaire
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Voltaire

Former President Carter said on Tuesday, http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-13/i-know-what-north-korea-wants-president-carter-warns-us-oligarchy-refuses-do-it “The first thing I would do is treat the North Koreans with respect.” “I know what the North Koreans want,” he said. “What they want is a firm treaty guaranteeing North Korea that the US will not attack them or hurt them in any way, unless they attack one of their neighbors.” Carter said, “But the United States has refused to do that.” Carter said he would send his top person to Pyongyang immediately, adding: “If I didn’t go myself.” The former president visited North Korea three times between 1994 and 2011. “Until… Read more »

samo war
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samo war

World is crazy cia matrix ???
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B_F91aOhfDw

JNDillard
Guest
JNDillard

Fearing loss of face is the quickest and surest way to generate a loss of face.

tjoes
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tjoes

Israel has 200 ++ nukes and is ALWAYS threatening it’s neighbors. I see Israel as more of a threat (read samson option) than NK. Israel was a perp of 9/11….count on it (read Oded Yinon plan for growth of Israel by “regime change” ).

Jett_Rucker
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Lead? Like plumbum?

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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