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South Korea’s history making geo-political pivot frightens the US more than Kim’s weapons

South Korea’s President Moon has just met with China’s President Xi Jinping. The meeting affirmed that South Korea is yet another traditional Asian ally of the US that wants to participate in One Belt–One Road. The implications however, go beyond South Korea’s economy. The move could lead to an outbreak of peace in the region that the US is hellbent on retarding.

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Throughout the Cold War, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, somewhat appropriately referred to by the acronym ‘MAD’, ensured that in spite of high tensions, none of the nuclear powers ever directly attacked each other.

While the Cold War is over, the principle of understanding the mutual detriment of killing millions in two or more nations still holds strong. It is for this reason that Russian President Putin again stated that there is a clear rationale for North Korea’s weapons programme. The authorities in Pyongyang do not want to see their country and people destroyed in the way Iraq and Libya were, as the Arab states did not have a ‘MAD’ deterrent.

9 things you need to know from Vladimir Putin’s end-of-year Q&A session

But into the literally mad fray of Donald Trump, Trump’s Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and his CIA Director Mike Pompeo threatening to destroy North Korea, seemingly at least once a week, there is a very real development that is making many in Washington worried behind the scenes.

South Korea is pivoting towards the geographically close superpowers of China and Russia. Indeed, in a literal sense, all that separates South Korea from Russia and China is North Korea. In spite of this, for decades, the zero-sum Cold War mentality which dominated geo-political relations in the late 20th century, led to South Korea being cut-off from two nearby giants.

Today, this has changed greatly. Furthermore, the meaningful scope and intensity of Seoul’s relations with both Beijing and Moscow has accelerated rapidly under the moderate rule of President Moon Jae-in.

Moon has developed a visibly productive and personally warm relationship with Vladimir Putin since taking office in May of this year. Moon supported, without hesitation, Putin’s tripartite economic cooperation initiative between Russia and the two Korean states when it was first unveiled at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

South Korea and Russia continue to work on more immediate energy projects, including the delivery of Russian liquefied natural gas to South Korea. There are further talks of a wider free trade agreements between Moscow and Seoul that could be finalised in 2018.

South Korea’s relationship with China continues to expand along similar lines. This was affirmed during Moon Jae-in’s just completed visit to Beijing, where he held substantial talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The following is from a report on the visit, originally published by China’s official Xinhua news agency,

“Xi welcomed Moon on his state visit to China for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

China and the ROK are friendly neighbors and strategic cooperation partners, Xi said.

He said the two countries have made remarkable progress in exchanges and cooperation in various fields, which has brought tremendous benefits to both sides.

There have been some twists and turns in China-ROK relations, which have provided enlightenment for both sides on how to create a better future together on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s core interests, said Xi.

He said China attaches great importance to relations with the ROK and is ready to work with the ROK to maintain the original intention of establishing diplomatic relations and take full account of the well-being of the two peoples.

Both countries should uphold the basic principle of respecting each other’s core interests and major concerns as well as the principle of treating each other as neighbors with sincerity, he said.

Xi also suggested that the two sides adhere to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation to ensure that the development of bilateral relations is on the right track.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has brought broader prospects for China’s cooperation with its neighboring countries, including the ROK, said Xi.

He called on the two sides to strengthen political communication, cement the foundation of mutual trust, and make good use of the exchange mechanism between legislative bodies and political parties of the two countries.

China welcomes the ROK’s participation in the Belt and Road construction, said Xi, hoping to promote the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the ROK’s development strategy.

He called for increased exchanges in areas such as youth, education, science and technology, media, sports, health and local affairs, for the long-term and stable development of bilateral ties.

Moon’s visit coincided with China’s annual memorial for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, which fell on Wednesday. Moon extended his empathy to the victims.

This was Moon’s fifth trip to China and the first as ROK president. He expressed his admiration for China’s development achievements.

Calling the two countries important trading partners, Moon said the development of regional countries is closely linked with China’s Two Centenary Goals.

The ROK expects joint efforts with China to cement political trust and friendship between the two peoples, boost cooperation in various areas and coordination in global and regional affairs, Moon said.

The ROK hopes to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, he said.

The two leaders also exchanged their views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

“We must unswervingly uphold the goal of a nuclear-free peninsula and never allow war or chaos on the peninsula,” said Xi.

China believes that ultimately, the Korean Peninsula issue could only be solved through dialogue and consultation, he said.

China and the ROK have important common interests in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Xi added.

China will continue to strengthen communication and coordination with the ROK on maintaining stability and preventing wars on the Korean Peninsula and promoting peace and talks, said Xi.

He said China supports the continued improvement of the relations between the two countries on the Korean Peninsula through dialogues and contacts, which will help ease tensions and finally settle the issue.

Moon said the ROK is firmly committed to resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue through peaceful means, and is willing to work with China to safeguard peace and stability in the region.

Xi reaffirmed China’s position on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the ROK and hoped the ROK will properly deal with the issue.

After their talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of cooperative documents in areas such as economic and trade, green and ecological industries, environment, health, agriculture, energy and Winter Olympics”.

The report clearly indicates that each country is sincere about embracing warm relations in the 21st century, after not having official relations during the Cold War period (official relations were only established in 1992). Most crucially, Chinese media appears to be optimistic about South Korea’s participation in the One Belt–One Road initiative.

In many ways, One Belt–One Road remains one of the critical points which can insure the success of a would-be de-escalation of North/South Korean tensions. It would appear that South Korea realises this as much from its own self-interested economic perspective as it does in respect of overriding security concerns for the region and wider world.

North Korea’s nuclear deterrent proves One Belt–One Road is the only hope for peace

While the US seeks to literally starve the DPRK into submission, a tactic which the Russian President has warned will never work as North Koreans would sooner “eat grass” than capitulate to international bullying, China and Russia are clear in the knowledge that only mutual opportunities can solve geo-political crises.

Threatened US Naval blockade of North Korea represents the illegal starvation of a nation

China implemented a “win-win” model of crisis management during its first ever modern peace initiative in a dispute involving third parties. China’s peace plan for Myanmar’s Rakhine State was announced with little fanfare, but it is already being implemented.

China proposes peace process for Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh

The key to the programme’s success was fostering cooperation among the authorities in both Myanmar and Bangladesh, through the promise of increased economic investment and trading opportunities as part of One Belt–One Road. Sure enough, while the US made threats, China’s “win-win” model, secured the trust and enthusiasm of both Naypyidaw and Dhaka–two countries currently being warned off and wooed away from One Belt–One Road by India. Chinese method has quietly secured a victory against both US threats and Indian gamesmanship.

In Myanmar, the US just tried to derail China’s peace plan, but actually ended up alienating India

For South Korea, a similar “win-win” model is being pursued, albeit in very different circumstances.

On the 30th of October, Beijing and Seoul reached a still undisclosed agreement regarding China’s deep concerns over the presence of US THAAD missiles on South Korean soil. Russia and China have each sought to negotiate the removal of THAAD from South Korea, as the presence of the US missiles has been illustrated as a major point of provocation against Pyongyang, while also representing a threat against China and Russia.

America uses North Korea as a transparent excuse for meddling in South Korea and provoking China

China maintains its opposition to THAAD and while the missiles are still in place, the fact that both China and South Korea reached an agreement on the issue, means that in this sense, China trusts the good will of the South Korean President more than that of the US, when it comes to such issues.

This good will has resulted in the positive meeting in Beijing wherein both countries agreed to increase both their short and long-term trading ties.

This clearly is not what the US wants as the US model of trade seeks to build up a network of nations which are largely dependant on the US for their security and consequently policy making, in exchange for economic deals.

The Chinese model by contrast, does not come with such heavy strings attached. China has made it clear both in word and deed that it requires nothing in terms of domestic policy making and governance, once an understanding in-line with an agreement to cooperate on trade and investment  is reached.

The fact that the Chinese model is now attractive to South Korea, a nation once so firmly under the grip of the US that it was nothing more than a satellite state, is demonstrative of the fact that as US allies mature, they seek to diversify their economic and geo-political portfolios, and often at the expense of indelible ties to the US.

This is not to say that South Korea is not still a US ally and partner, it still very much is. But according to the Chinese model, there is room both for traditional allies and new partners in One Belt–One Road.

The idea that everything in geo-politics is a head-to-head competition is a Cold War relic that ironically and worryingly,  continues to shape US thinking more than it did even in the Cold War when the US courted Communist states like Romania as well as left leaning non-aligned states ranging from India to Egypt. Of course, Nixon’s own rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China and his detente with the USSR, proved that even at the height of the Cold War, the US used to be less dogmatic and extreme than it has become since the early 1990s.

In such a paradigm as that which is formulated by the US of 2017, the only loser is the nation seeking to compete, rather than make the best of every situation. In this sense, the US is the clear loser and both China, Russia and South Korea are winners. In time, North Korea could be a winner too as Russia and China have renewed calls to lead a peace process that the US continues to send mixed signals about.

When it comes to an eventual peace process, the cooperation of South Korea is implicitly important. If Russia, China and South Korea end up forming a chain of trade and cooperation among each other, the only missing piece will be North Korea.

In spite of North Korea’s stance vis-a-vis the South, Pyongyang officials have stated that they do not seek hostility with the South, so long as Seoul can demonstrate that it is a sovereign state that represents something more than an instrument of aggressive US foreign policy in the region.

By cooperating with both China and Russia, South Korea can make this message increasingly clear and thus gradually win increased trust from Pyongyang.

As it is with so many other geo-political conflict zones. The logical conclusion of this scenario is that the lone obstacle to peace and cooperation is the presence of the US in East Asia.

South Korea is charting its own course, which is why the US is trying to provoke tensions on the Korean peninsula in order to prevent the outbreak of peace as a result of Seoul’s undeniable geo-political pivot.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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