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Tensions between U.S. and N. Korea continue to escalate

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Nov 28, 2017 - 10:15:49 PM

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President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

WASHINGTON—Despite fears in diplomatic and academic circles of the consequences of a military conflict involving the United States and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea), President Donald J. Trump officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, escalating the rising tensions between the two countries. Other countries on the list are: Sudan, Syria and Iran.

“I call it the peaceful pressure campaign, the president calls it the maximum pressure campaign, so there is no confusion, they are one in the same,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said shortly after the announcement. “And I think this is to hold North Korea accountable for a number of actions that they have taken.”

The escalation came after Mr. Trump’s relatively calm, 12-day visit to several Asian countries including a one day stop in South Korea. Before the trip, the president repeatedly threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and to unleash “fire and fury” on the nation of 25 million people. Meanwhile, the North Koreans continue to test nuclear explosives and long-range missiles, greatly aggravating the U.S.

At the end of the trip there was another round of insults: North Korea described Mr. Trump as a “warmonger” and an “old lunatic.” The president responded on Twitter by writing, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’” Then came the terror designation, as the U.S. appeared to “get even” for a number of recent North Korean provocations.

North Korea views its weapons program as a deterrence against U.S. wishes to bring about “regime change,” according to observers. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Pyongyang since 1950, even before the Korean War, which ended in 1953 in a “cease fire,” not a peace agreement.

One former diplomat said in a broadcast interview, the people of North Korea support the country’s leadership despite suffering harsh conditions caused by sanctions, and would rather “eat grass” than surrender their nuclear ambitions.

Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi “had come in out of the cold,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told a press conference in Washington Nov. 16. “Gadhafi gave up all his weapons of mass destruction.  And (Pres. George W.) Bush used to be so proud to say: ‘Gadhafi got the message.  He’s come in …’ and then under (Pres.) Barack (Obama, Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton imposed her will, and they murdered Muammar Gadhafi.  And the killing of Muammar Gadhafi wrapped ‘a ribbon’ around Kim Jung-un. You will never get North Korea to give up what she has as a trump card,” said Min. Farrakhan.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea during a visit to the Joint Security Area in South Korea, Oct. 27. Photo: DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
Mr. Trump glossed over U.S. differences with South Korea, spending only one day in Seoul, while actively courting the support of Russia and China in reigning in North Korea, the government in Pyongyang sought some advice from another country—Cuba—which has successfully withstood decades of U.S. embargoes and sanctions.

Cuban President Raul Castro entertained North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho Nov. 24, amid hopes the Caribbean island might be able to convince its Asian ally to avert a showdown with the United States. Cuba has maintained close diplomatic ties with North Korea since 1960 but is opposed to nuclear weapons.

“In the brotherly encounter, both sides commented on the historic friendship between the two nations and talked about international topics of mutual interest,” Cuban state television said in a broadcast, according to published reports.

South Korea is where the U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek is located. It’s the largest American military base in the world outside the United States. There, the U.S. has operational control, in a crisis, of 650,000 South Korean soldiers. But the U.S. is angry over a deal that South Korea made with China just before Mr. Trump’s arrival.

“I think that’s probably the most important thing regarding South Korea that happened on this trip,” Bruce Cumings, professor of history at University of Chicago and the author of a number of books on Korea told “Democracy Now!” “China and South Korea agreed that there would be no more THAAD anti-missile batteries installed in South Korea.

“And the South Korean president said explicitly that he would not join an alliance of the U.S. and Japan, whether it’s targeted at China or anybody else. And he pointedly said the U.S. is an ally—we have a mutual defense treaty with Korea. Japan is not an ally,” Mr. Cummings said. The South Koreans are politically inclined toward eventual reconciliation with the North. The U.S., on the other hand, favors perpetual hostilities and arms sales in the region.

“That’s over, Mr. Trump,” said Min. Farrakhan at his press conference. “Can you live with North Korea with nuclear weapons?  I think you are going to have to—even though you have war plans already to knock out North Korea.  

“But China said, ‘If you attack North Korea, we have to defend them.’  China is right!  Allah don’t love aggressors. ‘But if North Korea attacks you, America, we’ll lay out of it.’  So, you went there thinking that you’re making friends. Wrong. You didn’t discuss with China his plans for war; you have laid out in the Pentagon how you could wipe the Chinese out!  But you don’t want China—not yet!  And you don’t want Kim Jung-un yet.  But you are looking for a softer target, and you think that’s Iran.  Wrong.  Wrong …” Min. Farrakhan said.

“A nuclear war between North Korea and the United States would devastate the region,” said Dr. Cumings. “But more than that, it would probably lead to at least two years of nuclear winter, where the debris swirling around the planet and the atmosphere would make it impossible to grow crops. Anyone who talks about nuclear war in this day and age, with all we know about nuclear winter and the terrible effects of nuclear weapons, is basically a war criminal, in my view.

“To see a president of United States, go to the United Nations and threaten to totally destroy North Korea, I mean, that was just nauseating. And one thing he forgot, since he knows no history, is we already did that during the Korean War. We razed every North Korean city to the ground with firebombing and incendiaries. And it still didn’t work. They still fought us to a stalemate. There’s no military solution in Korea. We should have recognized that in 1953.

“What would solve the Korean problem—and it’s important to say, you know, to put this alongside the horrible specter of nuclear war—is for the U.S. to agree to freeze its own huge military exercises in South Korea in return for a freeze on North Korean testing of its missiles and atomic bombs,” Dr. Cumings explained.

“That’s a so-called freeze-for-freeze proposal, that, for example, former Secretary of Defense William Perry supports. The Chinese support it. It’s not clear that the North Koreans support it, but we haven’t tried. And then, once that freeze is in place, to open diplomatic relations with North Korea.”